Wednesday, March 09, 2011

On “Ash Wednesday”, remember, it is “for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

For all you Catholics out there, today is “Ash Wednesday,” traditionally held to be the beginning of the Lent season – the 40 days prior to Easter, reputedly a very old tradition of the early church. For all you Protestants, you should know that there’s a difference between “tradition” and “Tradition” in Catholic understanding.

This is essentially a reprint of a blogpost I had written about a year ago. I’m reprinting it here as a reminder that many of us will see folks walking around today with little black dots on their foreheads, and they no doubt will have been taught that this little black dot is somehow a mark of piety.

It’s true that Lent is one of the earliest church traditions. But it’s also one of just a handful of such “traditions.” Most of these are really just practices, which in fact are no longer practiced. Yves Congar, in his “The Meaning of Tradition,” (and derived from his scholarly “Tradition and Traditions” and a textbook for Roman Catholic seminarians), provides a list (pg. 37) of some of the traditions that can be traced to the early church:

-- The Lenten fast (Irenaeus, Jerome, Leo)

-- Certain baptismal rites (Tertullian, Origen, Basil, Jerome, Augustine)

-- Certain Eucharistic rites (Origin, Cyprian, Basil)

-- Infant baptism (Origen, Augustine)

-- Prayer facing the East (Origen, Basil)

-- Validity of baptism by heretics (pope Stephen, Augustine)

-- Certain rules for the election and consecration of bishops (Cyprian)

-- The sign of the cross (Basil, who lived 329-379)

-- Prayer for the dead (note, this is not “prayers to the dead”) (John Chrysostom)

-- Various liturgical fests and rites (Basil, Augustine)

Again, while such practices as Lenten fasts the sign of the cross are still practiced, many of these “apostolic traditions” – really those extending earlier than the 4th century – such as prayer facing east, and Cyprian’s rules for electing and consecrating bishops are, well, in the dustbin of history.

Note, too, that the only way we can trace these “traditions” is not because they are somehow held “orally”; rather, we know of the origins of these practices because we trace their beginnings through the writings of various fourth and fifth century writers.


Yves Congar was one of the leading experts on the early church. He was influential at Vatican II, and John Paul II named him a Cardinal in 1994. (I mention this because Congar was a noted liberal, as well, and I’ve had some Catholic apologists dismiss “liberal” theologians as if their writings had no official standing in Rome.)

Congar wrote, “We should be prepared to find that the apostles had not recorded in writing all the rules they gave the churches in view of the fragmentary and occasional nature of their writings.” (pg 34)
“What do the written documents we possess tell us of the preparation for baptism, of the Eucharistic celebration, of the way to deal with sinners, and so on? St. John tells us he has not written everything concerning Christ, at least with regard to his miracles (Jn 30:30; 21:35). The apostles preached before they wrote (cf. 1 Cor 15:1); they preached more than they wrote, and their letters speak of certain of their actions that are not recorded in writing. St. Paul gave this advice to the Thessalonians: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess 2:15); he congratulated the Corinthians because they “maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Cor 11;2); just as without repeating them he reminded the Thessalonians of the instructions he had given them verbally (1 Thess 4:1-2; 2 Thess 2:15); finally he told the Corinthians that he would settle a certain number of points at his next visit (1 Cor 11:4).” The existence of unwritten traditions is therefore a certainty…”
However, as I noted above, the only “unwritten apostolic traditions” that exist, from the time of the earliest church, are the items listed above.

Catholics are wont to trumpet the fact that their church has “tradition,” but the paucity of actual extra-Scriptural traditions means that any other “unwritten traditions” from the Apostles were either unimportant enough to be forgotten, or written down as Scripture.

David King, in his work “Holy Scripture: A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura,” explains this very well:
“Roman apologists use [these texts mentioning tradition, including 1 Thess 4:1-2; 2 Thess 2:15] often when objecting to the principle of sola Scriptura. What they attempt to prove is that if we hold only to those traditions delivered in Scripture, then we are not receiving God’s full or complete revelation, leaving the impression that the Roman communion has access to special revelation not contained in holy Scripture. So then, failure to hold to the traditions passed down orally in the Church is disobedience to the complete revelation of God. However, as has been repeatedly shown, the problem is that they cannot even identify what these orally ‘preserved’ traditions are. (pg 119)

So now, for those Protestants concerned that you might be missing out on “the fullness of the faith,” you can know that many of the “infallible [T]raditions” are accretions that were added in post-apostolic times.

And when all is said and done, the best advice about this day comes from the pen of the Apostle Paul:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—"Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Col 2:8-22).
It is “for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

I am not among those who think that the practice of asceticism in the early church was a good thing. Even if the early church did not explicitly adhere to a doctrine of “sola Scriptura,” what was preventing them from adhering even to this not-unclear admonition from Paul? In the light of this passage of Scripture, what good reason is there for anyone to walk around today with a black dot on his forehead? NOT having a dot on your forehead today also means something in that context.

115 comments:

Lvka said...

Since you mentioned Scripture...

And since you mentioned Saint Paul: 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 11:27.

And since you also mentioned `yoke`: remember what (the same) Saint Paul said concerning those whose God is their belly, in Philippians 3:19 ? Or how he describes idolatry in 1 Corinthians 10:7 ?

The same New Testament that declares all foods clean, also proclaims fasting: why do you not `rightly divide the word of truth`?

John Bugay said...

Fasting for a time of prayer is not asceticism. You don't know when and how often I fast for the purpose of prayer. An ecclesiastically-mandated "season" is clearly contrary to the command, "Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism".

Suffering for the gospel is not ecclesiastically-mandated asceticism. Exercising moderation in what you eat is not a blanket recommendation to stop eating meat on Fridays.

How is this statement from Paul, let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath ... consonant with the idea that eating meat on Ash Wednesday or Fridays is a sin?

You say "rightly dividing the word of truth," and that certainly entails reading scriptures such as those you have posted, in the light of the ones that I have posted.

I don't see the linkages that you're suggesting are there.

Kim said...

John, it is said that the Orthodox are vegans for about half the year because of the numerous fasts they observe.

I remember during those months as a catechumen in the OC, I felt a burdensome yoke over me just on that one issue. When I decided to no longer pursue membership (for other reasons) it was as if a great weight had been lifted.

It's one thing to fast as the Spirit leads. It's another thing to require the whole church to participate in regular fasts. I know they make exceptions for health issues (of which I have) which I was thankful for, but there is still the guilt you feel if you don't fully participate - not that I was made to feel guilty by anyone. They were very gracious and in fact, preferred that we keep our fasting habits to ourselves because we were to be more concerned with our own spiritual habits and not the habits of others. It was an internal thing I struggled with, wanting to be a good OC and all. Trying to keep up with all the OC required took away my peace because I felt I was less of a Christian unless I followed the Church fully.

Fasting is good, no doubt. It helps us grow closer to Christ and mortifies the flesh. But I think it can lose its power if treated more like an exercise routine or taking vitamins.

I also thought of this Scripture:

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:17-18 (Emphasis mine)

I used to want that bit of ash on my forehead when I began my "journey to find the ancient church", but why? So I could feel in some way superior to others around me? I don't know. Maybe so I could feel like I was a part of something bigger?

It's far more difficult to fast privately and not to show any outward signs of it. That is the way that God prefers, according to Scripture. It then is about true humility rather than making a show.

Then this Scripture also came to mind:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:

'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:9-14


What struck me about this passage is that the man who fasted regularly, as the Orthodox do, was full of pride. And I think that is a danger. Fasting is good for us, but regularly scheduled fasting can be a catalyst for spiritual pride.

As always, thanks John for a great post. You're a real blessing.

John Bugay said...

Kim, thanks for sharing your personal struggles, and for the kind word.

Lvka said...

John,

I didn't say that you don't fast, or that God does not receive your love for Him, which you express in and through those special times of fasting and prayer... where's all this coming from? :-\

-----------------------------------
You seem to perceive me as an attacker: I'm not. You also seem to confuse the Law of Moses, which Christ abolished, with the fasting that He Himself recommended (and practiced) in the Gospels. You're also interpreting Saint Paul in a way that would make his writings contradict themselves, and his own life, which I find odd. [The same Apostle that did not eat "kosher" also fasted: it's that simple].



Kim,

when you were Orthodox, there was no pride in fasting, because you knew that no matter how hard you'll try, you'd never rise up to fulfill or embody its definition. Not only that, but there were hundreds of saints in the church calendar (starting with Christ and John the Baptist) that not only embodied that definition, but even exceeded it. Besides, everyone else was more or less doing it, so even that reason (for pride) was also gone. That "dissatisfaction" with yourself kept you meek, with your eyes in the ground, focused on your own sins, helplessness, and inability (not lifted up to the heavens, like the Pharisee's), and made you realise your own weakness and powerlessness, and also your total dependence on God's grace, mercy, help, power, and forgiveness. We ARE supposed to judge ourselves in this life, so that we might not be judged by Christ in the next (Saint Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 11:31). The height of the Orthodox fasting-standards and its communal character help eliminate the temptation of pride, that's what I was trying to say.

Kim said...

I understand what you're saying, Lvka. There is much goodness in fasting. But it can also become a yoke of oppression. That was my point. We are not to be put under a yoke of bondage to anything or anyone, but Christ. He has not required me to fast half the year, so it should be a decision I make, not one that is made for me by the Church. Fasting is a HUGE part of Orthodoxy, at least that was my experience.

Did you catch this Scripture that John quoted?

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—"Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Col 2:8-22) (Emphasis mine)

Paul speaks against harsh treatment of the body for holiness's sake.

John Bugay said...

Paul's admonition is a general principle; not a double-minded warning to "avoid Jewish fasts and feasts, but definitely become enmeshed in a new generation of Christian-originated fasts and feasts". But that seems to be exactly how it turned out.

Kim said...

Paul's admonition is a general principle; not a double-minded warning to "avoid Jewish fasts and feasts, but definitely become enmeshed in a new generation of Christian-originated fasts and feasts". But that seems to be exactly how it turned out.

Yes, it was dizzying how often there was a fast or feast going on. It certainly kept one busy! At first I thought it was all quite beautiful to me. But then it became a burdensome thing.

Lvka said...

Fasting is a HUGE part of Orthodoxy, at least that was my experience.

And why would I (or anyone) have a problem with that?

Aren't we recquired to imitate Christ? (Saint Paul sure thought so: 1 Corinthians 11:1). -- And we know that Christ fasted for forty days: so we also try to do the same.


In the translation you offered the (Greek-origin) words "ascesis" or "asceticism" appear: BUT they're NOT there in the Greek New Testament! The word there is "tapeinofrosyne", meaning "(false) humility". (The same as in Acts 20:19, Ephesians 4:2, Philippians 2:3, Colossians 3:12, and 1 Peter 5:5).

WHY did you feel the need to CHANGE the words of Holy Scripture in order to make your point

natamllc said...

LVKA

Your comment in my view is simply a comment to draw attention to yourself and to your choice of religious piety making a distinction about your choice over John's.

I gather you are of the OC or EOC?

In any event, in my view, it is as your comment suggests:

LVKA:

And since you mention Saint Paul: 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 11:27

I want to overshadow the reference you made to 2 Corinthians 6 adding to those two verses verses 3, 6 and 7 because I believe you are misquoting them out of their proper context:

2Co 6:3 We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,
2Co 6:4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
2Co 6:5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;
2Co 6:6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;
2Co 6:7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;


I also wanted to say it seems you are living in the era before the New Covenant era of Biblical Christianity.

Christ has come already. Christ has risen already. Christ is now exercising His God given "Right Hand Power" in the world today so we don't have to go about putting ourselves under yokes of religious piety and constraints that accomplish nothing to cause submission of our sinful flesh to His Righteousness. The Good News, LVKA, is our righteousness is counted as nothing before God. It is Christ's Righteousness alone that saves us from ourselves and our religious pieties.

I also, (besides a fuller scope from 2 Corinthians 6 verses 3-7), want to commend you to consider what the Spirit is teaching God's Children through Isaiah's Word at chapter Eleven and these verses which, in my view, establish the need to let go of religious piety as a course men should take together and simply get on board with Christ and what He is doing now according to His purpose and grace:

Isa 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
Isa 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Isa 11:3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
Isa 11:4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Isa 11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.


Another way of going at this comes to us from the Apostle Paul's exhortation to Timothy when he isolates "works" of righteousness making a distinction about them and God's reason for calling us to stop practicing our righteousness because of His Holy Calling we are called into to live the rest of our lives for His purpose and grace, here:

2Ti 1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,
2Ti 1:9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
...".

If you can hear it, God has preplanned the times and seasons for you to fast. Those times and seasons are not a burden to anyone of us as long as we are led by the Spirit. Fasting then becomes a weapon of the left hand, not the right, see again 2 Corinthians 6:3-7.

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

WHY did you feel the need to CHANGE the words of Holy Scripture in order to make your point

I didn't change anything. I cited from the ESV, which is hardly an inaccurate translation (much less, one that felt any need or desire to CHANGE the words of Scripture.)

TimB said...

it cut the link when I tried to post last time but Pastor Cwirla has a good blog post on this and why he does not practice it. So let me put a space after .org http://blog.higherthings.org
/wcwirla/Articles/ashwednesday.html

John Bugay said...

Tim, I was able to get to the page from your original link; I think I just copied and pasted it.

At any rate, welcome to Beggars All!

Kim said...

Christ fasted for 40 days ONCE that we know of. And it was for a specific purpose (the preparation for His ministry). It's honorable that some want to fast for long periods of time. I doubt many would try it as Christ did with no food or water, though. Although I'm sure many Orthodox monks would try some version of it. But Paul points out that harsh treatment of the body cannot "restrain sensual indulgence".

I did not "CHANGE the words of Holy Scripture in order to make [my] point." The translation I quoted was John's choice, not mine, dude. If it makes you happy, here is the NIV translation which I usually use:

Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self‑imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Viisaus said...

Western travellers to Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries noted that Russians kept Orthodox fasts strictly, but this did not stop them from recklessly binge-drinking, on vodka and other substances.

Consuming booze was approved by clerical authorities (priests themselves indulged in it a lot) while meat was a big no-no.

LosPilones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Western travellers to Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries noted that Russians kept Orthodox fasts strictly, but this did not stop them from recklessly binge-drinking, on vodka and other substances.

I wonder if it's any different now? Perhaps Lvka can tell us what it's like in Romania.

Viisaus said...

When Protestant sects like the Stundists began to spread in the 19th century over the Czarist Russian Empire, one thing that immediately set them apart from Eastern Orthodox natives was their attitude towards alcohol.

I'd say that only after EOs have themselves adopted a Biblically strict attitude towards drunkenness (among laymen as well as monks), could they afford to scold committed Protestants for their lack of fasting!


http://rs.as.wvu.edu/Zhuk.html

"From the very beginning of Ukrainian Stundism even the Orthodox press described the new peasant dissidents in positive terms. Orthodox journalists contrasted the “good morality,” “sobriety,” and diligence of the Stundist peasants with “the prevalent alcoholism all over the countryside.”
...

Stundist communities often transformed the lifestyle of their villages and offered new priorities to their Orthodox neighbors. In some localities they eradicated hard drinking and introduced a culture of reading. Before 1878 in the village of Liubomirka (the province of Kherson), a center of Ukrainian Stundism, there were two taverns [“kabak”], and peasants spent all their free time there drinking vodka and smoking tobacco. After 1878 the local peasants, who joined the Stundist community (“more than a half of the village households belonged to the sect”), stopped visiting the taverns and petitioned the local administration to close them. As a result of this initiative, the taverns were closed. Later, using the money they had saved because of the closing of the taverns, the Stundists bought a fire-engine for their village.
...

In part, their success resulted from their temperance campaign (The normal Orthodox peasant spent more than one third of his budget on vodka). 14 During the public trial of the Kherson Stundists in 1878 all their Orthodox neighbors praised their lifestyle. One Orthodox witness told the court that the Stundist peasants “lead virtuous lives, they do not steal and do not drink alcohol.” Another Orthodox peasant explained to the judge that it was impossible “to find bad people” among the Stundists. “I can say only good things about them,” he continued, “There are neither thieves nor drunkards among them. Moreover, anybody who was alcoholic or criminal after joining the sect would be transformed into a virtuous person.”15"

Viisaus said...

Hey J.B., one of my posts on this thread may have again been caught on the spam-filter...

CathApol said...

The "little black dots" are not a sign of piety - they are a reminder that from dust we have come and to dust we shall return. While our bodies will perish, our souls will live on - either in eternal Grace, or eternal damnation.

Also, the "little black dot" is not just a "dot" - it is made as a cross on the forehead. Yes, as the day wears on the edges wear off - leaving a "dot" - and eventually the whole thing goes away (mine lasted till sometime shortly after lunch).

Scott<<<

Frank Luciani said...

I just wanted to the blog owners know that you are the laughing stock of apologetics. We like to get a good laugh once a week when we see what your latest joke of a post is going to be. I mean you have a guy names John Bugay who cuts and pastes entire chapters of books, and then stands by like a cheerleader telling everyone how he agrees with them. He does none of his own work. It is equivalent to someone presenting a pop up book for a college dissertation. Then you have another guy who thinks he is a Luther scholar, yet has no clue as to what he is talking about. Is this blog a parody or are you guys serious?

Dozie said...

“In the light of this passage of Scripture, what good reason is there for anyone to walk around today with a black dot on his forehead”.

Then almost immediately the writer of the above is “forced” to boast: “You don't know when and how often I fast for the purpose of prayer”. Is this more than personality problem?

Kim said...

Then almost immediately the writer of the above is “forced” to boast: “You don't know when and how often I fast for the purpose of prayer”. Is this more than personality problem?

How is that boasting? He's just stating that he keeps his fasting to himself, as we all should.

The 27th Comrade said...

Dear Luka;

I hope that some time you will stop blinding yourself so obstinately against the shockingly-"Good" in the Good News, so that you do not be one of those of whom it was written: "I will do things that you will not believe, even if one told you." The Gospel is Good News precisely because your like are wrong.

1 Cor 7:5 obviously does not speak of food. Sex and food are different, especially to people in Corinth (or, should I say, even to people in Corinth). 2 Cor 6:4-5 is not Paul recommending that people walk into having to endure, but rather that they endure when they have to: when it comes to them. It is why that "endurance, sleepless nights and hunger" that seems to excite you is couched in "troubles, hardships, and distress". You who seek to be seen as righteous because of your ascetic "sufferings" glory in such, actively seeking out hardship so that you can boast to yourselves and to others; I glory in Christ's perfection. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. 2 Cor 11:27 is similarly not a recommendation! The same chapter says that Paul is ashamed he has to boast about these stupid things, in order to humble you lot who glory in yourselves ("Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about."). The same chapter says "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." And weakness, of course, being not strong enough (of course) to endure hardship. Do you just quote lines without reflection? As for Paul suffering, well still in the same chapter he says that the apostles are suffering so that we do not; that they are going without so that we do not; that they are fools (bragging about sufferings, knowingly doing the foolish) that we may be wise and brag instead about how excellent the Work of Our Redeemer is!

Also, Luka, Christ did not abolish the Law of Moses. You are not required to immitate Christ in the way you understand it; for example, you should not have to pay for sin with death.

But wait. Reading on, I realise why I do not take part in these debates anymore. Because, for example, it gets clear that though they claim to be immitating Jesus in their fasts, as Luka has said he does, they do not annoint themselves and look their best when in the fast, as Jesus said; no, rather, they wear marks of piety, so that they receive their full reward here in our solemn nods.

The 27th Comrade said...

[The same Apostle that did not eat "kosher" also fasted: it's that simple].
The same Apostle who fasted also did not marry. It's that simple. (So, let me see you recommend Celibate Christianity.)

[The Orthodox fast] made you realise your own weakness and powerlessness, and also your total dependence on God's grace, mercy, help, power, and forgiveness.
Remove the last word, and you would be correct. After all, where sins have been forgiven, there is no more consciousness of sins. But you yourself have said that your fasts point people to their sins. We, on the other hand, point people to the sufficiency of the Sacrifice of Christ (so thorough that He sat down, which is a first for a High Priest). Hebrews 9-10, anyone?

The height of the Orthodox fasting-standards and its communal character help eliminate the temptation of pride, that's what I was trying to say.
Except it does not. Not having pride, per Luke 18, is not being to say to God "I thank you that I am not like those losers who do not fast." Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. All this ascetism I now consider dung, so that I may be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of my own, but one that comes from God through Christ on the basis of faith.

And we know that Christ fasted for forty days: so we also try to do the same.
Do you succeed? If not, you are not immitating Christ. If yes, I hope your success stands up to you on that Day. You will realise, then, that fast in which you have committed adultery and murdered (Matt 5) is useless. Nobody has had a Jesus-like fast before or since Jesus. By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified. By the way, fasting means not eating at all, not abstaining from meat.

The word there is "tapeinofrosyne", meaning "(false) humility".
Which is what Catholics have. After all, they claim to be immitating Jesus, even as they wear dour faces in their fasts. False humility is getting angry (aka, murdering) in one's fast, and then answering in the affirmative when asked "Are you fasting?

The 27th Comrade said...

The "little black dots" are not a sign of piety - they are a reminder that from dust we have come and to dust we shall return.
Whatever. Jesus said do not parade your fasting. But then, you follow the Pope, not Christ. To you, the Pope's words are clear, but Christ's are not.

[John] does none of his own work. ... Then you have another guy who thinks he is a Luther scholar, yet has no clue as to what he is talking about.
John's method works for me. If it doesn't work for you, do not read. Thanks. James Swan has a clue what he is talking about, to put it very modestly and spare him having to deal with a thick and serious compliment.

Then almost immediately the writer of the above is “forced” to boast: “You don't know when and how often I fast for the purpose of prayer”. Is this more than personality problem?
Yes, it's a reading comprehension problem on top of a personality problem.

[Blogger has swallowed an earlier comment of mine.]

John Bugay said...

CathApol: The "little black dots" are not a sign of piety - they are a reminder that from dust we have come and to dust we shall return. While our bodies will perish, our souls will live on - either in eternal Grace, or eternal damnation.

Yes, as has been said before, these have the appearance of wisdom and piety, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

The actual reminder that we need, that God makes available to us, are the preaching of the law in the Scriptures, and the preaching of the Gospel, which alone can save.

John Bugay said...

Frank Luciani, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, and I'm very pleased to know that I get under your skin.

As I've mentioned here many times, my goal is to help people to understand the claims of Roman Catholicism. That requires a lot of background information.

And I don't really do a lot of copy and paste -- I key in large selections of work that leading scholars have done -- writers who are top in their fields, and whose works are not necessarily connected with each other in the way they could be.

Rome had a long time to assemble its story; it takes a long time and a lot of patience to dismantle it properly.

John Bugay said...

Hi Viisaus, I believe James has released your post from the spam filter; and I have emailed him that several of 27th's comments are stuck there too.

James Swan said...

Then you have another guy who thinks he is a Luther scholar, yet has no clue as to what he is talking about. Is this blog a parody or are you guys serious?

Frank,

Thanks for letting me know!

(Cue X Files Theme...and begin)....

Lvka said...

Natamllc (and everyone),


I never said one word against John or his fasting and praying methods.

He's been the one that took the liberty to criticize ours. (Why? I don't really know..) -- So, here I am, defending them. That's all.

-----------------------------------
Kim (and John),

what have "false piety" and "angel-worship" to do with fasting?

-----------------------------------
I offered you enough New Testament passages that have the decency of actually using the word "fasting", and recommend that we should fast, whereas you've offered none that actually forbids us from fasting (the word just ain't there). You'd WANT it to be there, but it just isn't. [You talk about worship of angels, and kosher meats... while conveniently forgetting the verses that actually touch directly upon the subject at hand]. Why do you do that?...

The 27th Comrade said...

Nobody is forbidding you your fast. Rather, they are forbidding you this tendency to tie your righteousness to what you do (such as fasting). Your citing passagages that tell you to fast is actually your condemnation, because the letter kills. You have made of those passages a Law, and cursed is everyone who lives under the Law.
(For one, I have never actually fasted for religious reasons; only for medical reasons, as happened, ironically, yesterday. I will probably fast some time for religious reasons, but only when I am sure that I will not make a Pharisaical phylactery of it. For what shall it profit a man to score sacramento-liturgical points and yet forget the most-important whosoever-believeth? It is by Grace you have been saved, and that not of yourselves, but of God, that none may boast.)
For one, I am not against people doing as God says. Would that they all did! I am against people thinking that by these their works they improve on God's own salvific handiwork; this is what the fast has become, unfortunately.

Viisaus said...

"Yes, as has been said before, these have the appearance of wisdom and piety, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."

Indeed, one thing about these Pharisaical rituals is that they do not seem to improve practical everyday morality. (I recall that early Reformers used to argue that "fasting from evil deeds is the true fast.")

I have already given one example of "sin of flesh" that EO fasting practices could not eradicate, alcoholism. Another one would be monetary corruption, for which Russia was notorious already in its Czarist era (btw, let us remember that Protestant countries have been known as some of the least corrupted on earth right down to present days).

In the pre-PC days of old, it was widely known that in areas like Middle East, Muslims and Jews and also Eastern Christians might be respectably scrupulous about their religious rites, and yet very corrupt in their dealings with their fellow men. The notorious simony of RC/EO prelates was just one aspect of this venality.

Mark Twain wrote in his travel-book "Innocents Abroad":

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3176/3176-h/p4.htm#ch34

"Commercial morals, especially, are bad. There is no gainsaying that. Greek, Turkish and Armenian morals consist only in attending church regularly on the appointed Sabbaths, and in breaking the ten commandments all the balance of the week. It comes natural to them to lie and cheat in the first place, and then they go on and improve on nature until they arrive at perfection. In recommending his son to a merchant as a valuable salesman, a father does not say he is a nice, moral, upright boy, and goes to Sunday School and is honest, but he says, "This boy is worth his weight in broad pieces of a hundred—for behold, he will cheat whomsoever hath dealings with him, and from the Euxine to the waters of Marmora there abideth not so gifted a liar!" How is that for a recommendation? The Missionaries tell me that they hear encomiums like that passed upon people every day. They say of a person they admire, "Ah, he is a charming swindler, and a most exquisite liar!""

Kim said...

what have "false piety" and "angel-worship" to do with fasting?

First of all, Lvka, I have nothing against fasting and have done it many times. It's a good thing IN MODERATION. My problem is with fasting for half the year (on and off), which is what the Orthodox do. To me that is excessive. And I'd like you to show me where we are mandated to fast so heavily from Scripture.

Fasting, yes. Excessive fasting, no. In fact, the kind of fasting I see in Scripture is fasting from all food. Not fasting from certain foods. But I've not done an intensive study on the subject. I'm just speaking of what I've learned in 20 years of reading the Scriptures. And what I've seen in Scripture does not match the rules the Orthodox Church has set up for its people.

It's the Orthodox fascination with monks and asceticism that creates this atmosphere of excessive treatment of the body. And like others have said, some in countries steeped in Orthodoxy are not changed by their excessive fasting. They compartmentalize it, as we would if we did it so regularly. Harsh treatment of the body has the appearance of wisdom, but it doesn't truly restrain the flesh.

Rhology said...

Frank Luciani said:
John Bugay who cuts and pastes entire chapters of books

No, not, not...BOOKS!!!! AHHHHH!
John, take Frank's advice here. It's just a lot better to shoot from the hip. Books just clog everything up.


Lvka said:
we know that Christ fasted for forty days: so we also try to do the same.

That's something that Lvka has in common with all the EOx I've talked to, but he has the sand to actually say it out loud - We TRY.
Just so you know, Lvka, Matthew 5:48 does NOT say "Therefore you are to try to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Good luck with the whole keeping of the Law thing.

bkaycee said...

John and James are blessed brothers in Christ, very accurate and truthful. Me thinks Frank has drunk too deeply from the fountains of Denifle, Grisar and O'Hare.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Frank Luciani said:

Is this blog a parody or are you guys serious?

Your insults were just about to derail my otherwise fabulous day. But then I saw what passes for "serious" over at your blog.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Rhology said:

No, not, not...BOOKS!!!! AHHHHH!
John, take Frank's advice here. It's just a lot better to shoot from the hip. Books just clog everything up.


Right, Rhology. Much better to follow the standard lay Catholic methodology and copy and paste long strings of out-of-context quotations from non-reputable websites.

Dozie said...

"I have nothing against fasting and have done it many times. It's a good thing IN MODERATION. My problem is with fasting for half the year (on and off), which is what the Orthodox do. To me that is excessive".

What you are essentially saying is that fasting is bad except when it is done how Kim prescribes. You do not have any obligation to join any group. The Protestant madness of inserting itself in things concerning Christian Traditions ought to stop at some point.

Dozie said...

"He's just stating that he keeps his fasting to himself...".

No, he is not keeping it to himself as he should; I am hearing about his fasting. Do you get it? Can you or he point to scriptural examples of individuals talking about their fasting, except the example of the Pharisees?

Kim said...

Dozie, I'm not going to waste my time arguing with you as it would be a complete waste of time. You can poke at me with your stick if you like, but don't expect me to bite. And no, this is not a bite, although I have no doubt you'll say it is.

bkaycee said...

Rhology Said
Just so you know, Lvka, Matthew 5:48 does NOT say "Therefore you are to try to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Good luck with the whole keeping of the Law thing.


Yoda Said
"No! Do, or do not. There is no try."

natamllc said...

I believe Satan has blinded the understanding of some commentors in here?

Apparently, if they at one time had eyes and ears to see and hear they would still be in the "joy" of the Lord written about in John's epistle, chapter one?

1Jn 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life--
1Jn 1:2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us--
1Jn 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
1Jn 1:4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.


There really really is a joy and completeness enjoyed when in true fellowship with God and the Saints by the Spirit.

Our fellowship is truly with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus, of course, takes it even farther when we read this from John's Gospel account:

Joh 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Joh 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
Joh 14:17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.


Now, of course, no one "takes" this LOVE to be their own. No, it truly is an exclusivity God, Who is Love, shares with His Elect Children.

The world knows nothing about His Love as Jesus shows us in the "left handed" prayer He prays at the end of that great prayer He prayed to Our Heavenly Father found here:


Joh 17:25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
Joh 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."


So, I simply and continually encourage you, who know who you are, you who know that the Father sent the Son to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, to endure hardship like good soldiers knowing your day of salvation is closer now to you than when you first believed!

Brigitte said...

Hi, I read the link to Pastor Cwirla, whom I respect very much, and I see his point.

Still, our synod (LCMS)(and his synod) has come out this year with an Ash Wednesday service that includes the putting on of the ash cross, for those who desire to come up and get it. So we did have that and everyone who was there came up and got a cross, including myself, with the customary words.

(If I could find the bulletin, I would print out the words that were printed there. I will find it.)

Where I grew up we defined ourselves strictly against the RC culture (Bavaria) and our parents would have railed against all that as "pagan practice". Also, I have resented all talk of fasting because the nuns in my school were particularly dour when in lent and this was not good for us girls. (Most of them were usually quite nice.)

But on the internet, I started reading about all these Lutheran pastors who said: "Jesus did not say: 'do not fast'. He said 'when you fast'." So, yes, he did. He told us what to do and not to do WHEN we fast.

So, I've thought about it.

As we have this great Christian liberty, we can chose to fast or not. I think we agree with that and some scripture was posted to that effect.

And in my mind something else rings: "The Pope commands, and Karlstadt forbids." So, we don't at all want to forbid a practice that Christ did not forbid.

What did the ash cross do for me, last night?

Did it bring my mortality closer to my understanding? Yes, it did bring it home. But we cannot take out of our mind, that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. We know this already and so we are also joyful.

And in good fashion we had coffee and treats afterward, which seemed a little bit the wrong thing to do. But I had been asked to do it, so I brought fresh baking and made decaf. So much for "fasting". We are indeed not making a "show" of it. :)

About my mortality: what came to my mind was that all the worry we carry for pure doctrine, for Islam beating on our doors, the secularization of the west, all the needs of the church and our neighbor... is all fine. BUT God is God and he is in charge! This short life will soon be over. It is not my burden. My problem is another: I am dying and what I need is what Jesus came to give me, namely life, resurrection, forgiveness, salvation. I need the God who is my Savior and the Savior of the world.

There. So in some ways I agree with Lvka.

This is the lenten practice, Rev. Harrison has suggested for us this year. I think it is interesting. What better time than to pray and rely on God, but do it in your quiet space, as Jesus said.
http://cyberbrethren.com/2011/03/09/how-to-pray-the-litany-text-and-users-guide/

The cross on the forehead throughout has not been an issue since our lenten services tend to be in the evening. But, though it is a public display for some, I appreciate the witness therein. Our culture is trying to forget about Jesus. It might give a chance to say what he has done, always making things Christ-centered.

Frank Luciani said...

Shultzie says, "Your insults were just about to derail my otherwise fabulous day. But then I saw what passes for "serious" over at your blog."

Look kid, I was never trying to be serious on my blog. On the other hand, over here you guys take yourselves way, way too serious. I have never witnessed anything so laughable in my life. For anyone to take anything that is posted here serious needs to have their head examined.

Rebecca said...

bkaycee!

Don’t forget the “Try not.” :)

“No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Frank Luciani: don’t be so mean.

With love from a Papist friend in Christ,
Pete Holter

GeneMBridges said...

Look kid, I was never trying to be serious on my blog. On the oter hand, over here you guys take yourselves way, way too serious. I have never witnessed anything so laughable in my life. For anyone to take anything that is posted here serious needs to have their head examined.

Yet you took it seriously enough to comment. Ergo, by your own yardstick you should have your head examined.

The Protestant madness of inserting itself in things concerning Christian Traditions ought to stop at some point.

The Romanist habit of asserting there is such a thing as oral Traditions apart from Scripture handed down from the Apostles that we should follow today should stop at some point. Document one, just one, Dozie.

John Bugay said...

Frank Luciani, your kinds of insults are not welcome here. If you want to make a comment you are welcome to do so; but insults are not welcome.

PeaceByJesus said...

Piety, like prayer, and expressions of it, are not wrong simply because pagans do them, but God does not need to borrow from paganism, and while skeptic charge this, they are refuted: http://christianthinktank.com/copycat.html)

It is not clear to me how much Ash Wednesday is, though Christmas certainly is, but the N.T. church is to be led by the Spirit in such, and need not to bow down to an annual mandatory observance which is not set forth as such in the N.T., but was made by Rome, which we are told accommodated paganism:

We are told in various ways by Eusebius [Note 16], that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [Note 17], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. {374} - http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/chapter8.html

Tertullian of Carthage (in eastern Egypt) noted near the beginning of the third century:
Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan,) sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 40. Translated by Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S.)

Barbara Walker reported:

Ash Wednesday This allegedly Christian festival came from Roman paganism, which in turn took it from Vedic India. Ashes were considered the seed of the fire god Agni, with the power to absolve all sins…

At Rome’s New Year Feast of Atonement in March, people wore sackcloth and bathed in ashes to atone for their sins. Then as now, New Year’s Eve was a festival for eating, drinking, and sinning, on the theory that all sins would be wiped out the following day. As the dying god of March, Mars took his worshippers’ sins in with him into death. Therefore the carnival fell on dies martis, the Day of Mars. In English, this was Tuesday, because Mars was associated with the Saxon god Tiw. In French the carnival day was called Mardis Gras, “Fat Tuesday,” the merrymaking day before Ash Wednesday. (Walker B. The woman’s encyclopedia of myths and secrets. HarperCollins, 1983, pp. 66-67).

In the Republic of Ireland, Ash Wednesday is National No Smoking Day. The date was chosen because quitting smoking ties in with giving up luxury for Lent. (WP)

But what we need to do more of is the “sigh and cry ministry:

“{4} And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. “ (Ezekiel 9:4)

PeaceByJesus said...

Rome had a long time to assemble its story; it takes a long time and a lot of patience to dismantle it properly.

Indeed, and rather simply doing cut and paste, or cut and run, you are presenting evidence and interacting with it, which results in attempts to discourage you by those who rest upon Rome. But we are not ignorant of such tactics.

"{1} But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. {2} And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? " (Nehemiah 4:1-2)

John Bugay said...

Hi PBJ, I got your comment on the pagan origins of Ash Wednesday through my subscription to this thread; I've emailed it to James noting that it got stuck in the spam filter.

I think it's worth some wider distribution though.

Brigitte said...

I made a long comment which went missing.

Turretinfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Swan said...

For all of you with missing comments, that's bloggers auto spam feature. If your comment goes missing, It'll be up within the next 24 hours, when I check the spam box.

zipper778 said...

Well, this has turned into an interesting post, lol. Lvka introduces some thoughtful arguments, which I don't agree with, but I appreciate his comments. But then we get a hate filled person named Frank Luciani who is only interested in yelling at Protestants and calling them names.

I personally will not be forced into doing a ritual it I don't want to. But if someone wants to fast, and even if they want to be linked to other Christians by fasting at the same time, I don't really see the problem in that either. But to be clear, it is not sinful to not fast on Ash Wednesday or to refrain yourself from eating meat on fridays during Lent. The Scriptures are clear about that:

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim 4:1-5

I will always be thankful to the Lord for giving me the food that I need everyday. God is good :)

Kim said...

Interesting Scripture quote, Zipper. It's interesting in that Paul equates "things taught by demons" with "forbid[ing] people to marry and order[ing] them to abstain from certain foods".

So what does that make of the Catholic priesthood and church-wide fasting from "certain foods"?

If forbidding people to marry and requiring them to abstain from certain foods is considered to have come from demons, well, hmmmmm.

PeaceByJesus said...

I tend to post too many words, esp. when documenting something. But rather than wait, here it is in two parts.

Piety, like prayer, and expressions of it, are not wrong simply because pagans do them, but God does not need to borrow from paganism, and while skeptic charge this, they are refuted: http://christianthinktank.com/copycat.html)

It is not clear to me how much Ash Wednesday is, though Christmas certainly is, but the N.T. church is to be led by the Spirit in such, and need not to bow down to an annual mandatory observance which is not set forth as such in the N.T., but was made by Rome, which we are told accommodated paganism:

We are told in various ways by Eusebius [Note 16], that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [Note 17], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. {374} - http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/chapter8.html

Tertullian of Carthage (in eastern Egypt) noted near the beginning of the third century:

Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan,) sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 40. Translated by Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S.)

Barbara Walker reported:

Ash Wednesday This allegedly Christian festival came from Roman paganism, which in turn took it from Vedic India. Ashes were considered the seed of the fire god Agni, with the power to absolve all sins…

At Rome’s New Year Feast of Atonement in March, people wore sackcloth and bathed in ashes to atone for their sins. Then as now, New Year’s Eve was a festival for eating, drinking, and sinning, on the theory that all sins would be wiped out the following day. As the dying god of March, Mars took his worshippers’ sins in with him into death. Therefore the carnival fell on dies martis, the Day of Mars. In English, this was Tuesday, because Mars was associated with the Saxon god Tiw. In French the carnival day was called Mardis Gras, “Fat Tuesday,” the merrymaking day before Ash Wednesday. (Walker B. The woman’s encyclopedia of myths and secrets. HarperCollins, 1983, pp. 66-67).

In the Republic of Ireland, Ash Wednesday is National No Smoking Day. The date was chosen because quitting smoking ties in with giving up luxury for Lent. (WP)

PeaceByJesus said...

But what we need to do more of is the “sigh and cry ministry:

“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. “ (Ezekiel 9:4)

How many would be marked today in America?

But remember, we must first look at ourselves more, for “judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1Pt. 4:17,18)


(For the degree of abominations quantified, see http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/RevealingStatistics.html)

PeaceByJesus said...

It's interesting in that Paul equates "things taught by demons" with "forbid[ing] people to marry and order[ing] them to abstain from certain foods".

What you also see is excess, as the devil and false religion go to either extremes of indulgence or asceticism.

Yet i the dress code for us these days should be more sackcloth and ashes, metaphorically speaking.

There actually is nothing necessarily wrong with placing ashes on one's forehead, as it is not like a Christian wearing the Hindu Tilaka, unless it signifies submission to Rome, and which, but not restricted to it, institutionalized ritualism and formalism takes the place of a religion of living faith, centered on a relationship with God resulting from as transformative regeneration, which lives as dependent upon God to manifest His providence, and power, to faithfulness fulfill His word to those who obey Him.

O for grace to trust Him more, and as i should have so often.

Ikonophile said...

This might be a bit late into the conversation but Orthodox Christians pray facing east. I do this in my parish and I also do this at home.

Kim said...

What you also see is excess, as the devil and false religion go to either extremes of indulgence or asceticism.

Excellent point. You're right. And once again I'd like to point out that fasting is also good, in moderation. Moderation is the key. It's a sign of order. And order is of God.

Brigitte said...

OK, I found the bulletin; this is what it had for explanation:


"The seasons of the church year reflect differing moods, as does life itself: overwhelming triumph, deep sorrow, quiet joy, eager anticipation, and even normal, ordinary life and growth. today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of contemplative sorrow over our own sinfulness and special remembrance of the sufferings of Jesus Christ for our sin. Ashes have been a sign of sorrow for millennia, and there are numerous biblical examples of people covering themselves with ashes. Today we invite you who wish to participate to come forward at this time to receive the mark of ashes on your forehead as a vivid reminder of your own mortality (ashes to ashes) as an expression of repentance before God. The ashes are the remains of last year's palm branches, thereby showing how fickle our praise to God often becomes. But ashes also suggest cleansing and renewal, and they point to the gift of forgiveness God gives us in Jesus Christ."

zipper778 said...

That's exactly what I was getting at Kim. The Roman Catholic Church is more interested in controlling it's followers rather then reaching out and preaching the Gospel to the world. Roman Catholics themselves are sincere and devout no doubt, but they are being led astray by their leadership.

If people would just read the Scriptures more, they would see that we need to avoid such a religion as Roman Catholicism, because all we need is Jesus. Not a pope.

Like I said though, I'm okay if people want to fast at the same time as other Christians, but to make people feel guilty for not participating is ridiculous. We do not follow a magisterium, we follow our only Head, the Lord Jesus Christ our Rock.

Praise God for His wonderful, perfect, and complete Sacrifice :)

Dozie said...

"but insults are not welcome"

But in reality the writer himself thrives on emotional outbursts of insults or how does one explain something like this: "I came across this little gem from Joseph “foot-in-mouth” Ratzinger"?

PeaceByJesus said...

The Roman Catholic Church is more interested in controlling it's followers rather then reaching out and preaching the Gospel to the world.

The 2nd part is now more true than the first.

It i true that Rome holds that,

The Scripture teaches us, and the tradition of the Fathers confirms the teaching, that the Church is the mystical body of Christ, ruled by the Pastors and Doctors (I Ephes. iv. II sqq.) -- a society of men containing within its own fold chiefs who have full and perfect powers for ruling, teaching and judging (Matt. xxviii. 18-20; xvi. 18, 19; xviii. 17; Tit. ii. 15; 11. Cor. x. 6; xiii. 10. & c.)

It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of per sons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors. VEHEMENTER NOS, an Encyclical of Pope Pius X promulgated on February 11, 1906.

And thus the exhoration:

"having discovered the authority established by God, you must submit to it at once. There is no need of further search for the doctrines contained in the Christian Gospel, for the Church brings them all with her and will teach you them all. You have sought for the Teacher sent by God, and you have secured him; what need of further speculation?...

“All that we do [as must be patent enough now] is to submit our judgment and conform our beliefs to the authority Almighty God has set up on earth to teach us; this, and nothing else.”

“Absolute, immediate, and unfaltering submission to the teaching of God's Church on matters of faith and morals-----this is what all must give..”
— Henry G. Graham, "What Faith Really Means", (Nihil Obstat:C. SCHUT, S. T.D., Censor Deputatus, Imprimatur: EDM. CANONICUS SURMONT, D.D.,Vicarius Generalis. WESTMONASTERII, Die 30 Septembris, 1914 )

"Obey blindly , that is, without asking reasons. Be careful, then, never to examine the directions of your confessor....In a word, keep before your eyes this great rule, that in obeying your confessor you obey God. Force yourself then, to obey him in spite of all fears. And be persuaded that if you are not obedient to him it will be impossible for you to go on well; but if you obey him you are secure. But you say, if I am damned in consequence of obeying my confessor, who will rescue me from hell? What you say is impossible." St. Alphonsus De Liguori, True Spouse of Christ, p 352, Benziger Brothers, NY

Ctnd.

Dozie said...

"The Roman Catholic Church is more interested in controlling it's followers rather then reaching out and preaching the Gospel to the world".

You should know that if you were doing what you are preaching, you would not be here writing about what might have been. Perhaps you should take your own advice - go and make desciples.

Rhology said...

Yeah go do something...like ministry.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 2.

But though she holds that,

"The Church has the right, as a perfect and independent society provided with all the means for attaining its end, to decide according to its laws disputes arising concerning its internal affairs, epecially as to the ecclesiastical rights of its members, also to carry out its decision, if necessary, by suitable means of compulsion, contentious or civil jurisdiction. It has, therefore, the right to admonish or warn its members, ecclesiastical or lay, who have not conformed to its laws and also, if needful to punish them by physical means, that is, coercive jurisdiction." - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08567a.htm

yet having lost her secular power, which she used to do the dirty work of torture, etc., and opposed separation of church and state, Rome is rampant with liberal theologians and writers, and her flock is overall "liberal" as compared with her evangelical counterparts.

The message effectually conveyed by Rome is no longer strict obedience, but more the basic necessity of identifying with Rome, by which the most nominal of RCs , from homosexual and abortion-promoting politicians to laity who favor the like, are given good hope as long as they die in the arms of Rome.

Little alarm is shown regarding such, but if they become truly born again with works following as conservative evangelical, then there is real concern for their souls.

And while Lumen Gentum may allow that such may be saved - if they have perfect contrition even though their "communities" are not fit to properly be called churches - that is treated as much open to interpretation in the light of past statements by many RC apologists (for good reason i would add) who seems to yearn for the Inquisition.

Kim said...

"having discovered the authority established by God, you must submit to it at once. There is no need of further search for the doctrines contained in the Christian Gospel, for the Church brings them all with her and will teach you them all. You have sought for the Teacher sent by God, and you have secured him; what need of further speculation?"

Wow. Is Pope Pius referring to the Teacher as Christ or himself? In what context is he saying this?

I can't help but think of this Scripture in the book of Acts:

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11

The Bereans were of noble character because they "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

Shouldn't that be the responsibility of every believer? How else can we know if what is being presented to us is true or not if we are ignorant of the Scriptures? We must be in the Scriptures!

Lvka said...

Kim,

the Orthodox Church DOES teach its faithful to both fast and feast with moderation, discernment, and temperance, avoiding extremes in both cases.

-----------------------------------
Rho,

our Saviour gave us the Parable of the Talents: each man multiplying them according to his own power (God did not give us all the same number of talents).

He also gave us the Parable of the Workers: some were hired later in the day, some earlier, but they all were paid with the same wage, regardless of how much or how little they worked (much to the distress of those who worked more and/or harder).

Your attitude reminds me of that of the servant who, because he only had one single talent, chose to burry it, instead of humbly submitting to the Master's will, and multiply it according to his own ability. -- And this kind of negative attitude goes counter to the Spirit of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus.

John Bugay said...

Kim, that admonition, "having found the authority ... you must submit to it at once" is not from Pius, but it is a conclusion drawn by a Roman Catholic writer, Henry G. Graham, "What Faith Really Means", (Nihil Obstat:C. SCHUT, S. T.D., Censor Deputatus, Imprimatur: EDM. CANONICUS SURMONT, D.D.,Vicarius Generalis. WESTMONASTERII, Die 30 Septembris, 1914 )

That's the line that the CTC guys use all the time; that's why they use the phrase "the Church that Christ founded."

The implication is that Christ put this group of people in charge, and gave them His authority.

Bryan Cross noted that this is not a "discovery" though, as it is a "presupposition". See this paragraph in Keith Mathison's response:

Of course the inquirer has to determine whether there is a succession of authority from the Apostles to the bishops of the present day, and whether Christ gave to St. Peter and his successors the primacy. But just as our discovery of Christ does not entail that the basis or ground of His authority is our judgment that He is the Son of God, and just as a first century Roman citizen’s discovery of the Apostles would not entail that the basis or ground of their authority is his judgment that they were sent by Christ, so the contemporary inquirer’s discovery of the Catholic Magisterium extending down through the centuries by an unbroken succession from the Apostles to the present day does not entail that the basis or ground of this Magisterium’s authority is the inquirer’s judgment that it is the divinely authorized teaching authority of the Church Christ founded. The reasons by which he grasps its authority are not the ground of its authority, whereas without apostolic succession the only ground for the authority of any confession or pastor is its or his general agreement with one’s own interpretation of Scripture.


What he's saying is, they're authoritative whether you think that's true or not. But he begs the question here: he merely assumes what he needs to prove.

And note, Christ came in power -- and the Apostles talked about "what you yourselves have seen".

But on the other hand, the "unbroken succession" that they're talking about is shrouded in such mist, and really is a late second-century development.

Rhology said...

Lvka,

Your comment is irrelevant to mine.

Kim said...

the Orthodox Church DOES teach its faithful to both fast and feast with moderation, discernment, and temperance, avoiding extremes in both cases.


You're correct, Lvka, but must one fast for half the year? The feasting sure goes by quickly. But the fasting seems never-ending (although, it's not). Still, my point is that half a year of living as a vegan for piety's sake is excessive. And that's just the laymen. The monks are even stricter.

Kim said...

Kim, that admonition, "having found the authority ... you must submit to it at once" is not from Pius, but it is a conclusion drawn by a Roman Catholic writer, Henry G. Graham, "What Faith Really Means"

Thanks for the correction, John. I must've been careless in reading that comment properly.

But on the other hand, the "unbroken succession" that they're talking about is shrouded in such mist, and really is a late second-century development.

I know Bryan Cross's argument well. I've heard it countless times and was almost convinced. He strongly urged me to read The Early Papacy thinking it would be the one-two punch that would do in my doubts. But it didn't. Do you have that book, btw? It's a book written to Anglicans to convince them to cross the Tiber.

Off-topic question: Why do you think so many intelligent Reformed Christian men end up convinced of Rome's claims? That really puzzles me.

John Bugay said...

Kim, I not only have that Forescue work, but I've commented on it several times.

Why do you think so many intelligent Reformed Christian men end up convinced of Rome's claims? That really puzzles me.

I'd say that there could be any combination of a number of reasons. One reason, as I've mentioned, is that Rome has simply had a very long time to assemble its story. In some ways, it is an attractive story. [Although, in the most important way -- the Gospel way -- it misses the mark. "Christ died to save sinners" -- that verb, "to save" -- it is the activity done by God.]

It's true that the Gospel places some obligations upon us -- but our salvation is not in any way dependent upon us fulfilling these obligations. Rather, these obligations are a joyful part of serving God.

In other words, they confuse "justification" with "sanctification". And some form of pelagianism has been around for a long time.

At some level, too, I suppose that these are individuals who have it in their hearts to follow Christ; they want to follow him, but they misunderstand what that really entails.

And too, with sin being sin, (and human pride being what it is), some of these individuals are truly deceived. They choose to follow sin, rather than Christ.

I won't say that any one of these reasons applies to the individuals you may have in mind. But the devil may appear as an angel of light. I imagine that's a fairly attractive thing to some people.

Kim said...

Kim, I not only have that Forescue work, but I've commented on it several times.


Thanks for the link! I have a copy of that book that I'm hesitant to sell because I don't want to participate in encouraging anyone toward Rome. If any one of you Beggars All guys needs it let me know. I'll be glad to pass it along. I'd prefer that it go to an apologist.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Kim said:

Why do you think so many intelligent Reformed Christian men end up convinced of Rome's claims?

To add to what John said:

It's difficult to generalize, but it seems likely for emotional reasons (and emotional reasons are certainly what have driven those converts I've known personally). Rome is grand, (allegedly) ancient, traditional and all that. Reformed churches in America do not have the same sort of prestige. Plus there's the well-established cult of celebrity within lay Catholic apologetics; some intelligent people will find that very attractive, loving the praise of men more than the praise of God (which is not a new phenomenon, John 12:42-44). I'm sure the Reformed community could manage some high-publicity converts if we likewise created a media culture that emulated the superficial and vain American celebration of personalities and "stories".

I wouldn't characterize it as "so many" though, which plays into the agenda of the Catholic conversion ministry to portray converts from Protestantism as part of an ever-widening trend (and thus providing the emotional validation that comes with being part of a growing majority). The statistics show people are leaving Roman Catholicism in droves, despite the vocal minority of a few Reformed converts:

http://pewforum.org/Faith-in-Flux%283%29.aspx

So if a few leave the Reformed tradition, that is of little consequence when considered against the large picture. The great tide is flowing out of Catholicism, despite whatever is said by a couple of up-stream swimmers with digital megaphones.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

(That should be John 12:42-43, not through 44.)

Kim said...

I wouldn't characterize it as "so many" though, which plays into the agenda of the Catholic conversion ministry to portray converts from Protestantism as part of an ever-widening trend (and thus providing the emotional validation that comes with being part of a growing majority). The statistics show people are leaving Roman Catholicism in droves, despite the vocal minority of a few Reformed converts

Yeah, I'll admit that I was a bit taken in by the "seeming" flood of Reformed to Catholicism converts, not to mention the big name conversions like The Donut Man (if you have kids you'll likely know who he is), Hank Hanegraff, Newt Gingrich, etc. etc. etc. It gives the impression that Catholicism is the place to be. Not to mention, the flood of negative online comments toward Protestantism that is meant to demoralize us. Michael Spencer's blog comes to mind, may he rest in peace.

The bells and whistles that go with the older communions are certainly a temptation against the more stark Protestant accouterments, but the early church wasn't all gold and glittery, it was people living out their faith, sometimes in prisons, sometimes hiding in homes, sometimes as martyrs. No golden cathedrals for them. It wasn't until the persecution stopped that anyone had a chance to make the pretties.

Kim said...

Btw, Matthew, I always enjoy your wit and your clear and concise commentary.

John Bugay said...

Kim: ... Hank Hanegraff, Newt Gingrich ...

I understand Newt Gingrich - he married a Roman Catholic, and that's sort of a part of the package.

I hadn't heard anything about Hank Hanegraaf. A son by that name maybe?

PeaceByJesus said...

That's the line that the CTC guys use all the time; that's why they use the phrase "the Church that Christ founded."

The implication is that Christ put this group of people in charge, and gave them His authority.


That's not the implication, that's the (developed) doctrine.

What he's saying is, they're authoritative whether you think that's true or not. But he begs the question here: he merely assumes what he needs to prove.

While RC apologists (RCAs) must allow for private interpretation to be used in placing faith in the Infallible Magisterium (IM), this is a uncertain fallible decision which then requires implicit "assent of faith" to the Infallible Magisterium's teachings.

It is one thing to conditionally submit to leadership by trusting God to lead them, while examining it veracity according to the Scriptures, and another to trust that when leadership speaks according to a certain (content and scope-based) criteria, then what they states is de facto infallible (impossible to err)

This required assent to the IM cannot be based upon ascertaining the veracity of it by Scripture, and its manner of Divine attestation and "manifestation of the truth" (2Cor. 4:2) that established the apostle's preaching, as certainty of doctrine is only by the formulaic assuredly infallibility of the IM.

And in reality its authority is itself, as it has infallibly declared that it is infallible, when speaking according to its infallibly defined formula, rendering its very declaration to be infallible.

Yet very little of the Bible has been infallibly defined, and that which is can require some interpretation, as is how many times the IM has spoken infallibly, while much of what RCs practice is part of the Ordinary Magisterium, and its non-infallible teachings allow for some degree of dissent.

And while RCs are forbidden to teach contrary to the IM, or the claimed "unanimous consent of the fathers" (but which need not be unanimous as Rome defines it), they have great liberty to interpret the Bible to defend Rome, according to their private interpretation, which can vary btwn RCAs.

Constantine said...

I think that was a typo or there's another Hank Hanegraff.

Peace.

Kim said...

I hadn't heard anything about Hank Hanegraaf. A son by that name maybe?

Hmm, I think I'm in error on that, sorry.

Turretinfan said...

Someone suggested the abbreviation I used in my previous comment could be taken as an insult to Frank Luciani. I have, therefore, revised my comment omitting the potentially offensive abbreviation:

Luciani wrote: "I just wanted to [let] the blog owners know that you are the laughing stock of apologetics."

Notice the omitted "let," and the shift from third person to second person in the middle of the sentence.

Luciani again: "We like to get a good laugh once a week when we see what your latest joke of a post is going to be."

Notice the strange mix of tenses. Also notice the curious use of "we." Does Luciani have some friends? One might expect them to be here joining in the laughter.

Luciani again: "I mean you have a guy names [sic] John Bugay who cuts and pastes entire chapters of books, and then stands by like a cheerleader telling everyone how he agrees with them."

I for one don't really associate cheerleaders and quotations from books - or even cheerleaders and agreement.

What would that even look like: "Go Team! We agree with your philosophy, expressed on pages 3-7 of the football manual, for moving the ball toward the end zone! Yay!"

Luciani continued: "He does none of his own work."

This would only be a problem if he were expected to do his own work. Is Mr. Bugay supposed to be doing original research? Has received a grant to do archaeological digs in Rome? If so, then this is a legitimate complaint.

Luciani again: "It is equivalent to someone presenting a pop up book for a college dissertation."

What a poor analogy! The analogy is bad for two reasons. Mr. Bugay hasn't been assigned to do original research and write a dissertation. And quoting from scholarly materials isn't the equivalent of a pop-up book, even to the most illiterate street rat on the planet.

Luciani again: "Then you have another guy who thinks he is a Luther scholar, yet has no clue as to what he is talking about."

Of course, considering the content of Luciani's blog and the Luther scholar's blog, it's pretty clear who knows his Luther and who couldn't find his Luther with two hands and a flashlight.

Luciani concluded: "Is this blog a parody or are you guys serious?"

I guess we should really be asking this question of the commenter. Part of me wonders if Luciani is just a sock puppet of a bored member of this blog - someone attempting to provide a caricature of a stereotypical Roman advocate (I can't say "apologist," because Luciani doesn't provide any arguments).

-TurretinFan

PeaceByJesus said...

Off-topic question: Why do you think so many intelligent Reformed Christian men end up convinced of Rome's claims? That really puzzles me.

I believe in many cases they never were manifestly born again by coming to the cross as a soul damned and morally destitute, and as a result being surrendered enough to Christ in a relationship to know His leading, and find their real satisfaction in a faith relationship Him above all. Maybe all converts should have to go out on a one or two year missions trip, by faith.

Not that one cannot be mistaken in making choices, but if one wants to be a personal disciple of Christ according to Scripture, they should know His leading enough to sooner or later leave Rome, for doctrinal reasons and or for fellowship with those who also have experienced said regeneration and want to serve the Lord who saved them.

But i think another reason is that the more the church itself becomes superficial in doctrine and practice, and immature, and seeks quantity over quality, or substitutes academia over anointing (which is not an either or proposition), then the more likely it produces superficial disciples, who can end up looking for more depth, and may suppose they find it in a church with a peddled pedigree, and stable but sterile ceremony.

The aforementioned superficiality is because the evangelical church, which grew as a result of a depth of holiness and preaching that resulted in manifest conversions and testimony, has much, if gradually, replaced preaching that worked conviction as per Jn. 16:8, and its consecrated living, and being rooted and ground in the truth, with a more sanitized message. (Not that i have not compromised too much myself)

It is also true that as a church matures it needs to teach its roots, to write its chronicles, and the lack of doing so, in perspective, as in seeking how God moved, is also part of its superficiality, which good men like br. Swan are helping to correct. I should also listen to more of J. Edwin Orr's history of revivals. (http://www.jedwinorr.com)

How many young evangelicals even heard of men like Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon, etc.? The church that is the pillar and ground of the truth is that of the living God, not its institutionalized counterpart, but it is also one that will have a testimony, and "many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." (Ps. 40:3)

GeneMBridges said...

You should know that if you were doing what you are preaching, you would not be here writing about what might have been. Perhaps you should take your own advice - go and make desciples.

Really? Dozie, you are in no position on this blog to tell people to "take their own advice."...In case you have forgotten, I shall remind you. It wasn't so long ago that you posted here that those on your side of the aisle shouldn't post here because doing so legitimizes this blog and its contents; yet you continue posting here.

Dozie said...

"It wasn't so long ago that you posted here that those on your side of the aisle shouldn't post here because doing so legitimizes this blog and its contents; yet you continue posting here".

But you can't provide the actual statement or the context.

GeneMBridges said...

Dare I say that's a limitation of the archives, not a lack of evidence per se. Are you suggesting I'm lying? Simply put, I'm not. I remember it well. That is sufficient for my purpose: to remind you of your own words.

You simply interjected yourself into a thread here as you usually do and made that proclamation. That's the context and the statement.

zipper778 said...

Dozie said: You should know that if you were doing what you are preaching, you would not be here writing about what might have been. Perhaps you should take your own advice - go and make desciples.


I didn't write about what might have been, but what is actually happening in today's Roman Catholicism. However, I do try to take my own advice on a daily basis. I'm sorry to say that I'm not able to always do it the right way, but praise God that He has delivered me from my sins through Jesus Christ. He is the guarantee of Salvation and He is the same to everyone else who believes :)

Dozie said...

"Are you suggesting I'm lying?"

YES

Dozie said...

Are you suggesting I'm lying?

You asked the question and your answer is YES.

John Bugay said...

Dozie, I am certain that Gene is not lying.

Rebecca said...

Kim wrote, “Off-topic question: Why do you think so many intelligent Reformed Christian men end up convinced of Rome's claims? That really puzzles me.”

I came to know Christ as an adult largely through www.sovereigngraceministries.com. My return to the Catholic Church happened through a series of events… Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology led me to John Calvin’s Institutes, and John Calvin led me to Saint Augustine. The writings of Saint Augustine had a large impact on me. I compared some of his writings and the Council of Orange with the Council of Trent, and I saw the continuity. The doctrine of baptismal regeneration was key for me at the beginning. I ended up becoming convinced by Augustine that the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus started 2,000 years ago and has been building since. That’s my abridged, abridged version. :)

Your brother in Christ our Lord,
Pete

John Bugay said...

Pete, you must be aware then that the Warfield described the Reformation as "the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church.

I see the Reformation as a kind of "righting" of Augustine in this way. That is, his "doctrine of the Church" was largely shaped by ideas and structures that had gotten out of whack. Similarly, given his emphasis on Scripture, I'm inclined to believe he was on the right track (without having fully understood the types of things the Reformers were in a position to understand).

Over the next several weeks and months, my hope is to explore the emergence of church structures out of the synagogue, and really challenge the current Roman understanding of those church structures.

I think, if you read someone like Francis Sullivan on Succession, that that "current Roman understanding" is deeply challenged at an internal and historical level; and the Reformers, especially Calvin, hit the nail on the head. Of course, fleshing this out will take some time, and Lord willing, I am willing to put in the time to help folks make this connection.

Rebecca said...

John Bugay wrote, “Pete, you must be aware then that Warfield described the Reformation as ‘the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church.’ ”

Hey brother!

Yes. I touched on that quote here: Saint Augustine and John Piper.

John Bugay wrote, “I see the Reformation as a kind of "righting" of Augustine in this way. That is, his "doctrine of the Church" was largely shaped by ideas and structures that had gotten out of whack.”

I suppose one of the biggest faults you’ll find with Augustine is that he identified Aerius as a heretic for asserting, among other things, that “there was no difference to be put between a priest and a bishop” (Of Heresies, 53).

Covenant Life Church of Sovereign Grace Ministries had an ordination service in 2008 and, at the time, their website stated that “[t]heir ordination is a process modeled on the New Testament pattern of church leadership in which men are called to the ministry by God, and affirmed in that call by existing leaders.

This is indeed the New Testament model as I’ve noted here in a post… to you!!!. :) It’s the bolded portion above that sent me looking for the Church of Jesus started through the apostles.

With love in Christ,
Pete

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Augustine is varied enough in his (prolific) writings that both the Protestant and Catholic traditions, and some traditions within those respective traditions, can claim him to a certain, if not significant, extent.

John Bugay said...

Couple of things Pete:

Lay off the "brother" stuff -- we're not good buddies. I don't even know you, and if you've gone from being Reformed into Roman Catholicism, I don't consider that to be a "brotherly" activity. There is a huge distance between Roman Catholicism and the Reformed faith; I'll be polite and respectful, but I'm not inclined to get all kissy-faced with a Reformed convert to Roman Catholicism.

Second, you saidI suppose one of the biggest faults you’ll find with Augustine is that he identified Aerius as a heretic for asserting, among other things, that “there was no difference to be put between a priest and a bishop” (Of Heresies, 53).

There was a time when there was no difference between a presbyter (there were no priests) and a bishop. That in itself is not ground for heresy. And this is one of those situations in which some false ideas got spread around, and then they got spread around some more, and then they got spread around so much that everybody forgot they were false.

I've posted a lot of information on this topic already, and I hope to make this a lot clearer in the coming weeks.

Third, there were so many responses in that Catholic Answers thread, I didn't get a chance to read all of them, much less to respond to them. Looking at your response, briefly, you've picked up the typical Roman "authority" line. That doesn't carry much weight in my book, and if you stick around, Lord willing I'll be sure to have that discussion here.

Rebecca said...

I noticed that my post is being responded to, but isn’t showing up. Here it is again without the a-tags…

John Bugay wrote, “Pete, you must be aware then that Warfield described the Reformation as ‘the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church.’ ”

Hey brother!

Yes. I touched on that quote here: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=525439&page=11#165.

John Bugay wrote, “I see the Reformation as a kind of "righting" of Augustine in this way. That is, his "doctrine of the Church" was largely shaped by ideas and structures that had gotten out of whack.”

I suppose one of the biggest faults you’ll find with Augustine is that he identified Aerius as a heretic for asserting, among other things, that “there was no difference to be put between a priest and a bishop” (Of Heresies, 53: http://books.google.com/books?id=ayoBAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA294&dq=%22there+was+no+difference+to+be+put+between+a+priest+and+a+bishop%22&hl=en&ei=x6d7Td76HMq-0QHy4JzQAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22there%20was%20no%20difference%20to%20be%20put%20between%20a%20priest%20and%20a%20bishop%22&f=false).

Covenant Life Church of Sovereign Grace Ministries had an ordination service in 2008 and, at the time, their website stated that “[t]heir ordination is a process modeled on the New Testament pattern of church leadership in which men are called to the ministry by God, and affirmed in that call by existing leaders.

This is indeed the New Testament model as I’ve noted here in a post… to you!!!. :) http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=532097&page=8#106. It’s the bolded portion above that sent me looking for the Church of Jesus started through the apostles.

With love in Christ,
Pete

John Bugay said...

Pete, sorry, I get all the posts thru my subscription to this post, and I responded to that, but I didn't realize it hadn't posted.

For some reason, the Blogger spam filter catches lots of our comments. It should be released some time soon.

Rebecca said...

Matthew Schultz wrote, “Augustine is varied enough in his (prolific) writings that both the Protestant and Catholic traditions, and some traditions within those respective traditions, can claim him to a certain, if not significant, extent.”

Hi!

Augustine is aghast at his writings being used by the Reformed tradition to promote Christian disunity.

I can include you in my emails with Constantine if you’d like, as we discuss this very issue. I’m at pholter@amrl.net.

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Pete Holter

Rebecca said...

John Bugay wrote, “Lay off the "brother" stuff -- we're not good buddies. I don't even know you, and if you've gone from being Reformed into Roman Catholicism, I don't consider that to be a "brotherly" activity. There is a huge distance between Roman Catholicism and the Reformed faith; I'll be polite and respectful, but I'm not inclined to get all kissy-faced with a Reformed convert to Roman Catholicism.”

Oh, ok. But your smiley profile pic is just so smiley! I guess that smile is for someone else. Waaah! Well, if you’re ever in Maryland, let’s hook-up for an arm-wrestling match then. :)

John Bugay wrote, “Looking at your response, briefly, you've picked up the typical Roman "authority" line.”

Or maybe it’s “the Biblical authority line” that I’ve picked up. :)

In Christ,
Pete

Kim said...

Or maybe it’s “the Biblical authority line” that I’ve picked up.

Specifically?

Dozie said...

"Dozie, I am certain that Gene is not lying".

Well then, somebody is lying. But you have all the chances and resources to be certain; let's see if you will use them. Beyond your "certainty" however, you've made yourself a hostile witness and your testimony and credibility (believeability) as far as I am concerned are in serious question.

Rebecca said...

Hi Kim!

This is the post that we are talking about: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=532097&page=8#106

You might want to click on the link to the book that had that excerpt from Augustine’s Of Heresies too. The book is about fasting. A providential combination for this blog! :) Another heretical opinion of the Aerians that Augustine mentioned was “that the solemn set fasts were not to be observed; but that every man was to fast when he pleased, lest he should seem to be under the law”.

I hope you have a blessed day, Kim!

In Christ,
Pete Holter

Kim said...

Ugh. I detest going to that forum. It gives me a headache. I read a bit of your post over there and I automatically take issue with your assumptions about Mary. While I am all for calling her blessed, it's a different matter when she is exalted as almost equal with Christ and I'm then seeking her mediation per Church teachings. Ain't gonna do it. Scripture is what all doctrines should be measured by and the exaltation of Mary is not in there. I think she would be appalled at how her image has been distorted. You can thank the monks for that one. Before you say it's been taught from the beginning, please prove it with 1st century evidence and I might believe you. As far as I know, it wasn't until the 4th century that Mary's role started becoming overblown.

I didn't get beyond that part of your post because I had to get away from that forum. Sorry.

Rebecca said...

That’s ok, Kim!

I think the best approach to appreciating what God has done for Mary is to start with her choice to remain a virgin her whole life for the sake of the kingdom. Augustine was convinced that “even if she had said this only, ‘How shall this take place?’ and had not added, ‘seeing I know not a man’ (Luke 1:34), certainly she would not have asked, how, being a female, she should give birth to her promised Son, if she had married with purpose of sexual intercourse” (Of Holy Virginity, 4). I think that this is the best starting point. If you do not accept this truth about Mary, then I think it will not be possible to see the other truths that God has revealed about her. It would be like trying to come to faith in the divinity of the Holy Spirit without first believing in the divinity of the Father. So I would start there.

Before long, it won’t be offensive to think that our Perfect Savior saved someone perfectly. :)

I don’t bring Mary up again in that post. If you get past that first short paragraph, the rest of the post provides the New Testament evidence for apostolic succession.

Keep in mind, when thinking about when this or that doctrine was first proposed within the Church, the 27 book New Testament canon as we know it was also not put forward by anyone until the 4th century.

With love in Christ,
Pete

Kim said...

Pete, Paul's letters were widely distributed before the canon was ever set. It wasn't necessary for the canon to be set before the teachings of Paul could be accepted, nor the gospels. The church was not without Scripture. Technically, the Old Testament was "the Scriptures" before the New Testament was finalized.

Can you tell me your sources for accepting Mary's perpetual virginity? There is nothing in Scripture that indicates that she ever continued in her virginity.

John Bugay said...

Given the letter-copying technologies of the day, there is a very good probability that Paul himself began his own letter collection.

And if you note the newer post (about Ignatius) today, the Old Testament Scriptures were very highly revered, you might say.

Rebecca said...

Hi Kim!

Luke 1:34 is the first place I go for Mary’s decision to remain a virgin. I’ve written a series of posts about her that I’ve collected here (if you follow the links): http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=532097&page=10#149

The Church was not without the Scriptures, but not all of the local Churches had access to all of the Scriptures. And some books were doubted. So it would not be surprising for “new doctrines” to be discerned once all of the Scriptures were brought together and imbibed.

The point I was trying to make was that it took over 300 years for the first Christian to get the New Testament canon right. This helps us to appreciate that it could take another 300, 2,000, or even 1,000,000 years to figure out what can be learned from the books comprising that same canon.

Have a blessed night!

In Christ,
Pete Holter

Kim said...

Pete, there is nothing about perpetual virginity in that verse. I'm not doubting she was a virgin up until Christ's birth.

PeaceByJesus said...

Rebbecca said:

I compared some of his writings and the Council of Orange with the Council of Trent, and I saw the continuity. The doctrine of baptismal regeneration was key for me at the beginning.

Thanks for another aspect on why some think the Tiber water is wine.

For me, the scriptures are the authority by which i must judge a church, and (from what i know or have seen) am rather unimpressed with the "fathers" insights into the meaning of Scripture, (much less being close to it) against which i would compare an evangelical commentator like Matthew Henry.

I am not blaming them, as they were pious men, and we have inherited much, but if the then-incomplete Scriptures were the authority by which the preaching of the very apostle's was examined by, and after i became born again (at age 25, as a RC) it was thru the scriptures that God led me, then that is what i must judge a faith by.

And in so doing i do not see a perpetuated Petrine papacy, or the Roman demi-god of a Peter which Rome developed his office into (nor do the father's provide unanimous consent on Mt. 16:18), or even consistency with the manner of selecting an apostolic successor.

Nor do i find an assuredly infallible magisterium and its supremacy over Scripture, or even Rome's basis for authority, and which effectively becomes the IM.

Much more can be added, and while i can certainly see the evangelical church (and me!) coming short, the most essential basis for the authenticity of a church is that of preaching the Biblical gospel that renders a man damned for his sins and destitute of any moral merit whereby he may escape Hell and gain Heaven, and must cast himself upon the mercy of God in Christ out of a broken and contrite heart, trusting the risen Lord Jesus to save Him by His blood, his faith being counted for righteousness, by the living God who justifies the unGodly. With a kind of faith that confesses Him before others, in word and deed, manifesting the living transformative effects of regeneration.

In the Bible this is what we see, with souls being convicted as per Jn. 16:8, and being converted and baptized on the same day, and continuing in the simplicity that is in Christ with a rather uncomplicated life of faith.

In contrast, RC's typically never experiential such a "day of salvation," but claim infant sprinkling did it by proxy faith, and are usually treated as Christians from that day. Adult converts may know what they are doing, but the faith they both profess is one that is much based upon their own merit and that of the church of Rome, and in any case this is largely (being generous) what is conveyed.

And which is revealed in doctrine and in life, and the manifest difference between what results when one is truly born again versus institutionalized religion, on either side.

Rebecca said...

John Bugay wrote, “Given the letter-copying technologies of the day, there is a very good probability that Paul himself began his own letter collection.”

I wrote a series of 3 posts on collections of Paul’s letters here: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=246488&page=7#97

The topic was really the dating and authorship of 2 Peter (a project I never finished), but, as you know, the timing of Paul’s letters being collected together is related to that.

In Christ,
Papist Pete

Lvka said...

Your comment is irrelevant to mine.


Rho,

I fail to see how. -- I'd say it's very relevant.