Friday, June 01, 2012

Catholics for Excommunication

Seen in the right-side advertisement column on my Facebook page today (which, if you think about it, is ironic and sort of funny):






Links to here.


Is not the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on contraception crystal-clear? Perpiscuous Perspicuous?

Or, let us ask it another way:
What might we label a so-called Roman Catholic who advocates ignoring what the Magisterium teaches and instead agreeing with a group of laymen over against what the Magisterium has clearly taught?

Well, what might we label a so-called member of a PCA church who advocates ignoring what the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches and instead agreeing with a group of laymen over against what the WCF has clearly taught?
What might we label a so-called member of a Reformed Baptist church who advocates ignoring what the London Baptist Confession of Faith teaches and instead agreeing with a group of laymen over against what the LBCF has clearly taught? 

In the latter two cases, would not many of our Roman Catholic friends point excitedly to the fact as evidence of the 29 30 33-thousand denominations myth? And/or of disunity among Protestants and chaos? A blueprint for anarchy?

Shall we expect "Catholics for Choice" to face church discipline pretty soon?

14 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Shall we expect "Catholics for Choice" to face church discipline pretty soon?"

I wouldn't have this expectation. Nor would I recommend anyone else to have this expectation.

James Swan said...

After spending a little time on the Catholic Answers forums recently, I can only speculate that some sort of absurd illogical defense would be given.

I've come to this conclusion: a large majority of the Internet-Romanists that I've interacted with over the years are at best unable to do simple logic or at worst too deceived to even begin to understand their own biases and presuppositions.

Nick said...

Rhology,

One who knowingly rejects a Catholic dogma is guilty of heresy. But a PCA pastor who knowingly rejects the WFC is not a heretic (properly speaking) but simply a disobedient member. That's because there is no such thing as dogma in Protestantism; I know people who consider themselves Calvinist and agree with most of the WCF but not all. In fact, folks like James White follow the LBCF precisely because he disagrees with parts of the WCF.

Thus, neither the WCF nor LBCF are authorities in any dogmatic sense, only 'statements of faith' as conditions for affiliating with one of multiple denominations.

The 33k denominations thing is a myth and shouldn't be repeated; and no informed Catholic apologist should be repeating it because it's false. That doesn't mean there arent' serious problems with unacceptable and scandalous numbers of denominations. The mere existence of the WCF and LBCF shows two denominations, and from there one can readily see how many others can emerge.

Constantine said...

Another rich irony, James, is the subject matter of the ad on your page. And the irony is this – the Roman Catholic Church for most of its history was pro-choice!


The Council of Vienne (1312) officially adopted the (Thomistic) view that a fetus was not human and for centuries thereafter the Church of Rome forbade the baptism of babies born prematurely on those grounds. That same view was reaffirmed at Trent.


“And in the 1617 edition of the Roman Ritual…it is asserted that “Nobody enclosed in the mother’s womb should be baptized,” a formula that remained until 1895.” (Dombrowski and Deltete, “A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion.” University of Illinois Press, 2000. P. 48)


Additionally, numerous popes were pro-choice: Innocent III, Sixtus V and Gregory XIV to name a few.


Since this “doctrine” has been proclaimed by two councils and supported by numerous popes, I wonder if Catholics like Nick will be true to their Tradition?

Oh, wait a minute, there are TWO Traditions…or…no…..

Which brings us back around to your point, James.

Thanks for the interesting post.


Peace.

natamllc said...

Those Catholic playing BINGO! grrrr.

If not for that, Catholics playing games on Indian reservations there would never have been the passage of IGRA!

It's the Catholics' fault of Indian casinos around the country!!

IGRA=Indian Gaming Regulatory Act!

:)

Rhology said...

But a PCA pastor who knowingly rejects the WFC is not a heretic (properly speaking) but simply a disobedient member.

Evidence?
And what do you mean by "properly speaking"?


That's because there is no such thing as dogma in Protestantism

"Protestantism" is far too vague. Be specific.
I can tell you with certainty that someone actively denying the Trinity in my SBC church will be asked, then told to repent, then removed forthwith. It wouldn't be immediate (so as to allow time for repentance) but it wouldn't take 4 months either. So I'm not at all sure what you mean.


folks like James White follow the LBCF precisely because he disagrees with parts of the WCF.

Is that what Dr White said, or is that your strange and skewed interpretation of White's motivation?
My guess is, from being a White fanboy for many years and listening to him talk for hundreds of hours, that he would happily affirm the WCF if it didn't contain parts he disagrees with. And the same for me.
Of course, that's 100% tautological; it doesn't tell us anything, and that's where your statement ends up.


Thus, neither the WCF nor LBCF are authorities in any dogmatic sense, only 'statements of faith' as conditions for affiliating with one of multiple denominations.

What are you talking about? Of course the WCF is an authority in a dogmatic sense for being a member of a Presby church that holds to it and is a confessional church.



That doesn't mean there arent' serious problems with unacceptable and scandalous numbers of denominations

You mean like pro-choice Roman Catholics?


The mere existence of the WCF and LBCF shows two denominations, and from there one can readily see how many others can emerge.

So? Why should that concern anyone?

Nick said...

Rhology,

For something to be heresy - properly speaking - it must be the willful denial of a formally established dogma. But only a Magisterium can formally define dogma.

Because Protestants lack a Magisterium, at most they can do is gather like minded believers and form a 'statement of faith' on what they believe is true, and other believers are free to 'join' that denomination or not. Otherwise, the Christian remains in the realm of "unaffiliated," or 'mere Christianity', which is both ridiculous and very revealing of the problem at hand. This is perfectly demonstrated in your claim that "Protestantism is far to vague".

If someone goes to your SBC Church and denies what the SBC considers important, they very well could be removed... BUT unless you believe the SBC is the one true denomination, you're saying the SBC isn't right on everything, which only raises the question: if the SBC is wrong on X, and I disagree with the SBC on X, then should kicking me out of the SBC for denying X really be a problem?

Take the classic case of infant baptism. You WOULD BE kicked out of the SBC for believing infant baptism, but fewer and fewer Protestants would actually consider that a "heresy" that renders you a heretic who has compromised the Gospel.

You said James White "would happily affirm the WCF if it didn't contain parts he disagrees with. And the same for me."
Do you see what you did here? You just made disagreeing with the WCF a matter of total indifference as to whether one is a good Christian or not. One can be a 'bad Presbyterian' but a perfectly good and orthodox Christian (Protestant).

Rhology said...

For something to be heresy - properly speaking - it must be the willful denial of a formally established dogma.

Confessional churches DO have formally-established dogma.



But only a Magisterium can formally define dogma.

Give us a reason to think this is true.
Rather, the Magisterium is nothing more, at its base, than the confession-writing arm of the RCC. But if a Prot church has a confession-writing arm, that's the "Magisterium" for that church, if you will.
And if that Prot church's "Magisterium" doesn't claim infallibility, that's not a demerit but rather a credit to them, for no human institution is infallible.




Because Protestants lack a Magisterium, at most they can do is gather like minded believers and form a 'statement of faith' on what they believe is true, and other believers are free to 'join' that denomination or not.

1) Even though RCC has a Magisterium, at most they can do is gather like minded believers and form a 'statement of faith' on what they believe is true, and other believers are free to 'join' that denomination or not.
2) As I explained, for the purposes of this discussion, Prot churches do have a "Magisterium".



Otherwise, the Christian remains in the realm of "unaffiliated," or 'mere Christianity', which is both ridiculous and very revealing of the problem at hand.

What problem? That individuals disobey the command of Christ and don't join a church? How is that Protestantism's problem?



If someone goes to your SBC Church and denies what the SBC considers important, they very well could be removed

No, at MY church, they WOULD be removed. Not "could".



BUT unless you believe the SBC is the one true denomination, you're saying the SBC isn't right on everything,

Which I would say. The SBC isn't right on everything, and neither is my local church. Yet my local church is not wrong on MAJOR issues, things that deny the Gospel. Only on smaller things is my local church wrong about.




if the SBC is wrong on X, and I disagree with the SBC on X, then should kicking me out of the SBC for denying X really be a problem?

Yes, it should be, b/c the NT commands us to kick out unrepentant heretics and to bear with one another on smaller issues. When's the last time you read 2 Timothy, 1 Corinthians 8, and Romans 14?



You WOULD BE kicked out of the SBC for believing infant baptism, but fewer and fewer Protestants would actually consider that a "heresy" that renders you a heretic who has compromised the Gospel.

My local church wouldn't consider it heresy. I doubt they would excommunicate me for holding to pædobaptism, FYI, but they would insist that I go ahead and not agitate for that belief; they might recommend I join the solid OPC church down the street if it's a big deal for me. In that sense, the elders of my church would be looking out for EVERYone - me, other Baptists, and the elders. No reason to raise a big ruckus about that issue, and that goes for the individual believer just as much as it goes for everyone else.
Your view of Baptist ecclesiology is too simplistic. I doubt you've had any serious exposure to such a church. If you have, you forgot.




Do you see what you did here? You just made disagreeing with the WCF a matter of total indifference as to whether one is a good Christian or not

Yes, on smaller issues like pædobaptism or church polity. 1 Cor 8, Rom 14.




One can be a 'bad Presbyterian' but a perfectly good and orthodox Christian (Protestant).

Depends on what "bad" means.

Nick said...

Rhology,

You said:
"Confessional churches DO have formally-established dogma."

No, they don't, since they deny infallibility. That's why no Protestant will say any Confession is infallible. Teaching dogma and infallibility go hand in hand; otherwise all you have is opinions, no matter how well formed.

You said: "Prot churches do have a Magisterium."

False, otherwise there would be a single, unified hierarchy. Instead, every pastor is self-appointed and does their own thing. The PCA has no authority over someone like James White. At most you could say is that the PCA is a Magisterium and James White makes up his own Magisterium, but saying there are or can be 2 Magisteriums is self-refuting.

You said: "What problem? That individuals disobey the command of Christ and don't join a church?"

You're stopping short of asking the full question: not "join A church" but WHICH? Surely Jesus wasn't saying "I don't care which denomination you attend, just as long as you attend one". THAT is where things start to break down for you.

Suppose Jason wants to dump the PCA and go solo, so now he's attending his own start-up church. Is that just as good? Surely not.

You said: "Which I would say. The SBC isn't right on everything, and neither is my local church. Yet my local church is not wrong on MAJOR issues, things that deny the Gospel. Only on smaller things is my local church wrong about."

This only begs the question as to what is "Major" and what isn't. It further raises the question why join a Church that is wrong on "smaller things" rather than seek out or form one that is right on both Major and Minor? Once you start making a list of "Majors" then you'll see things begin to break down. The difference between Jason and others is that Jason was willing to attempt to derive such a list.

You don't realize that you're essentially acting as Pope when you go around saying "smaller issues like pædobaptism or church polity". Who says those are "smaller issues" when HISTORICALLY those and similar issues have bitterly divided Protestantism. Luther and Calvin hated and damned the anabaptists, and the more traditional Confessionally Reformed and Baptists would still find each other objectionable and closed communion. It's only today when things are playing themselves out that people see the absurdity and rush to "downgrade" teachings like infant baptism and church polity to "non essential" matters.

Logically speaking, indifference in church polity is even more of a severe problem, for it's absurd to suggest a hierarchic, democratic, and individualist polity are equally acceptable.

The million dollar Protestant converting question is simply this: If you are in a debate about some major point of doctrine or morality with a good friend who's of a different denomination, which "church" do you approach for correction as per Christ's instructions in Matthew 18 to "tell it to the church"?

Stephen Galanis said...

Nick, a challenge. Join the dots between Matthew 18:15 "if a brother sins against you" to your example of doctrinal dispute in which neither party sins against the other nor feels it so.

Rhology said...

I don't see why infallibility is necessary to have formally-established dogma. If a group gets together and says "this is our formally-established dogma. Nobody is infallible of course but this is our formally-established dogma, b/c although nobody is infallible, this dogma is actually true", what's wrong with that? You need to give an argument that infallibility is a necessary precondition for formally-established dogma.

A Prot church DOES have a single, unified hierarchy. I have told you this many times; it's disappointing to see you haven't learned anything in the years since I pointed it out to you.


Instead, every pastor is self-appointed and does their own thing.

That depends entirely on the church/denomination. What makes you think these overgeneralisations do anyone any good?


The PCA has no authority over someone like James White

Duh, but PCA does have authority over someone like a PCA pastor.


You're stopping short of asking the full question: not "join A church" but WHICH?

Well, of course, but we each have to answer the same question. Which church? Which infallible interpreter? EOC? WatchTower? Salt Lake City?
Seriously, these answers have been around for many years. Why haven't you advanced the argument any?


Surely Jesus wasn't saying "I don't care which denomination you attend, just as long as you attend one".

Please argue for this assertion.


Suppose Jason wants to dump the PCA and go solo, so now he's attending his own start-up church. Is that just as good?

If he did so b/c he doubted paedobaptism and embraced credobaptism, that would be a good thing.
If PCA went apostate like Rome has, it could be a good thing.
If he did it to reach previously unreached ppl, sure, why not?
For reasons of swapping out doctrine, no, it wouldn't be good, b/c PCA's doctrine is very, very good.
But all churches are "start-up" churches, so I don't really understand what you're saying. RCC does not extend back from Jesus and the apostles; neither does EOC or any other church.



This only begs the question as to what is "Major" and what isn't.

Of course it does, but the NT tells us. And I already reminded you of it. A shame you once again refused to advance the argument.


It further raises the question why join a Church that is wrong on "smaller things" rather than seek out or form one that is right on both Major and Minor?

I did, and I found one that is about the closest to right on things major and minor that's in my area. I'm blessed; there are several like that and I am a member of one of them.



Once you start making a list of "Majors" then you'll see things begin to break down.

That's false; I've done that before and it worked out fine.
There are also these things called confessions that have stood for hundreds of years. Those also work quite well.



The difference between Jason and others is that Jason was willing to attempt to derive such a list.

No, the difference between him and others is that he had already given up on Sola Scriptura.


You don't realize that you're essentially acting as Pope when you go around saying "smaller issues like pædobaptism or church polity".

You need to argue for this. I don't think I'm infallible; I merely recognise that I have responsibility to do what Jesus told me to do. And I've already pointed out where the NT teaches the major/minor distinction.

Rhology said...

Who says those are "smaller issues" when HISTORICALLY those and similar issues have bitterly divided Protestantism.

The fact that they don't corrupt the Gospel or necessary doctrine fundamentally "says" those are smaller issues.
As for whether they have bitterly divided ppl, why should it bother me that men before me have been sinners and let conflicts go farther than they should have?
And why doesn't it bother YOU that the same is true of RCC and RC history? One of us can deal with his own history.



Luther and Calvin hated and damned the anabaptists, and the more traditional Confessionally Reformed and Baptists would still find each other objectionable and closed communion.

So?
RC and EO bishops/popes/patriarchs have hated and damned each other, and they would still find each other objectionable and closed communion.


it's absurd to suggest a hierarchic, democratic, and individualist polity are equally acceptable.

I didn't suggest that. I"m afraid you may be having difficulty with the idea that people can recognise that a given idea is a minor matter and also that someone else is wrong on that minor matter and also that, since it's minor, it does not merit wholehearted anathemas. Since Jesus and the apostles did that, who am I to demur?


If you are in a debate about some major point of doctrine or morality with a good friend who's of a different denomination, which "church" do you approach for correction as per Christ's instructions in Matthew 18 to "tell it to the church"?

At the risk of stating the obvious, no church. How am I supposed to address "the church" when we're not part of the same church? How would you deal with an EO friend about his disaffirmation of the filioque?

Nick said...

Rhology,

Infallibility is what links the teachings on earth with divine approval from Heaven, so to speak. It allows the Church to speak with the authority of Christ to settle disputes and clarify. This binds men to believe it, where as without this men are not bound to believe it. Take the Acts 15 Council of Jerusalem for example. If Infallibility were not involved, then the Judaizers could say to the Apostles, "that's just your opinion," and go on Judaizing. Take (almost) any doctrine and notice how some Protestant somewhere will deny it on the basis that the Protestants who believe it are not infallible.

This is precisely why no Protestant is bound to accept the Westminster Confession, because it holds no real authority. People can submit to it in the same way an employee submits to the office rules, but that's by no means infallible or binding on all Protestants.

And from that you can see that it's plainly ridiculous to speak of each and every denomination having their own distinct formally established dogma. Baptists will say it's dogma that infants not be baptized, and Presbyterians will disagree.

You said: "A Prot church DOES have a single, unified hierarchy. I have told you this many times"

You're not distinguishing between "The Church" and "A Church". There is only One Church in reality, with various local manifestations (e.g. parishes), but not in Protestantism. In Protestantism, everyone is autonomous, there is no single denomination where everyone comes together.

You said:
[Instead, every pastor is self-appointed and does their own thing.]
"That depends entirely on the church/denomination. What makes you think these overgeneralisations do anyone any good?"

You make my point for me, by saying it depends on the denomination you have made church authority worthless. Now anyone can go and start their own denomination and make themself pastor, and they become just as much a pastor/elder as the next guy. All a dissatisfied Presbyterian has to do is go start his own Presbyterian denomination and just rename it.

You said:
[The PCA has no authority over someone like James White]
"Duh, but PCA does have authority over someone like a PCA pastor."

Are you seriously not seeing the implications? That means the PCA is just a bunch of men pretending to have authority over Christians when in fact they hold no divine authority at all.

Nick said...

You said:
[Surely Jesus wasn't saying "I don't care which denomination you attend, just as long as you attend one".]
"Please argue for this assertion."

You have not given any indication there is one church Jesus approves of above all others. I have, which I why as a Catholic I say the Catholic Church is the one true Church. What you're saying is that either there is no way to know which denomination Jesus approves of above all others, or that Jesus doesn't really care where you go as long as you join one.

You said:
"But all churches are "start-up" churches, so I don't really understand what you're saying. RCC does not extend back from Jesus and the apostles; neither does EOC or any other church."

There's the crux of the problem. In other words, the original Church Jesus established flopped at least once, if not multiple times, and fresh new start ups had to arise from the ashes whenever a prior church went bad. That's pure Mormonism. There is no historical continuity from Christ upto now in your view. To you the Early Church Fathers practiced an extinct form of Christianity.

You said:
[This only begs the question as to what is "Major" and what isn't.]
"Of course it does, but the NT tells us. And I already reminded you of it. A shame you once again refused to advance the argument."

The NT does not give a list of Majors/Essentials, nor can such a list be derived. If it did, then there would never have been debate on issues such as paedobaptism between folks like White and R Scott Clark in the first place.


You said:
[If you are in a debate about some major point of doctrine or morality with a good friend who's of a different denomination, which "church" do you approach for correction as per Christ's instructions in Matthew 18 to "tell it to the church"?]
"At the risk of stating the obvious, no church. How am I supposed to address "the church" when we're not part of the same church? How would you deal with an EO friend about his disaffirmation of the filioque?"

And this highlights the very problem you and all of Protestantism is stuck in. There is no "the church" in Protestantism to be able to follow Our Lord's instructions.