Friday, April 11, 2014

Augustine: Scripture over icons and statues and sacraments; and the Bondage of the will

1.  A Quote from Augustine that emphasizes Scripture.  (seeing Scripture as the way to connect personally with the face of God, instead of through icons or the Lord's supper, seems to point more toward Sola Scriptura.)

I came across this quote by Augustine years ago when I checked out from a local library a book by Robert L. Wilken, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought:  Seeking the Face of God   Robert L. Wilken is a convert to Roman Catholicism (from Lutheranism), and I had the privilege of meeting him at an ETS meeting in Atlanta several years ago. He was an invited guest of the Patristics group at ETS. I think it was in 2003.  (As I recall, N. T. Wright also had a big speaking role that year, and I think the voting members were still hashing things out over the "Open Theism" controversy with John Sanders, Gregory Boyd and Clark Pinnock.  I am only an associate member, so I am not even able to vote.)    Robert Wilken doesn't see this quote the way it strikes me, obviously.  It seemed to me, in all honesty, that he appreared irritated at me when I asked him some questions about the early church and Mary.  (after his lecture)  Oh well; I decided not to push the issue, and let others also greet him and ask questions.  A lot of his material is very good and useful.  Another book of his, The Land Called Holy,  gave me useful information about the early church and Islam.  It is hard to understand why a person would convert to Rome.  
Augustine:  “For now, treat the Scriptures of God as the face of God; melt in its presence” (Sermones 22, 7)
 I cannot find these sermons on line.  Apparently they are not part of the ccel.org or newadvent collections.  
That kind of emphasis on the Scriptures seems to put them above the sacraments, and the external church, and rituals, and statues and icons.  Did they even start to have statues in church settings yet then, in Augustine's day?  I consider it a good emphasis toward Sola Scriptura.


2.  A Quote from Augustine that shows his change in 396 AD from libertarian free will, to his belief in the bondage of the will after that point. 

In reading the Five Views book on Justification, I came across an interesting quote by Augustine.

( Note: As of today, April 11, 2014, I have almost read all of the first 3 chapters on "Justification in Historical Persepctive", the New Perspective overview, the traditional Reformed View (by Michael Horton) and chapter 7, the Roman Catholic view (by Gerald O'Collins and Oliver Rafferty.   Chapter 4 is called the Progressive Reformed view by Michael Birth, chapter 5 is the New Perspective view by James D. G. Dunn, and chapter 6 is the Deification - eastern Orthodox view. 
Augustine had a "significant theological shift" in 396 AD in a letter to Simplicianus.  Before that time, Augustine held to a view of human freedom and God's predestination as "predicated upon divine foreknowledge of future human choices, as opposed to divine predetermination.  However, with his 396 response to Simplicanus' questions on these matters, Augustine essentially rejects his earlier approach - and with it the patristic consensus - and instead locates the reason for the divide between the elect and the reprobate as, ultimately, residing in God's mysterious will.  Decades later, Augustine would explain this 396 reversal:  "I indeed, labored in defense of the free choice of the human will; but the grace of God conquered, and finally I was able to understand, with full clarity, the meaning of the apostle . . . "what hast thou that thou has not received?" (citing Augustine, Retractions 2:1:3, in Justification:  Five Views.  Edited by James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy. Inter-Varsity Press, 2011, p. 19. ) 
There are many quotes of Augustine that confirm he believed in the bondage of the will after this point.  Nick Needham has compiled many in this book, The Triumph of Grace:  Augustine's Writings on Salvation.  


40 comments:

John said...

How does a quote that doesn't even mention the sacraments establish a priority between scripture and the sacraments?

For that matter, even if scripture has a priority over the sacraments (whatever the heck that would mean), what would that even have to do with the idea of sola scripture?

[shakes head]

Ken said...

It's a matter of emphasis and priority - I tried to communicate that.

It is an emphasis and teaching that the way to personally and spiritually connect to God (the face of God) - through Scripture. Through hearing it, reading it, meditating on it, studying it, praying over it - asking the Holy Spirit to change us - worshiping the Lord and extoling His attributes in Scripture - "On the glorious splendor of His majesty, I will meditate" - Psalm 145:5 - Augustine treats Scripture alone as the way to connect with God here.

1.  A Quote from Augustine that emphasizes Scripture.  (seeing Scripture as the way to connect personally with the face of God, instead of through icons or the Lord's supper, seems to point more toward Sola Scriptura.)

That kind of emphasis on the Scriptures seems to put them above the sacraments, and the external church, and rituals, and statues and icons.  Did they even start to have statues in church settings yet then, in Augustine's day?  I consider it a good emphasis toward Sola Scriptura.

Pete Holter said...

Hi Ken!

Some food for thought:

“[A] man who is resting upon faith, hope and love, and who keeps a firm hold upon these, does not need the Scriptures except for the purpose of instructing others. Accordingly, many live without copies of the Scriptures, even in solitude, on the strength of these three graces” (On Christian Doctrine, Bk. 1, Ch. 39.43).

Compare what I just quoted with Augustine’s Letter 228, where he speaks of the sacraments as “the ministry of Christ, without which men could neither live a Christian life nor become Christians.” Especially this observation, likewise pertaining to the sacraments, wherein he is exhorting priests and bishops to remain with their people in times of danger to life (military invasion):

“[W]hen these dangers have reached their height and there is no possibility of flight, do we not realize how great a gathering there usually is in the church of both sexes and of every age, some clamoring for baptism, others for reconciliation, still others for acts of penance: all of them seeking consolation and the administration and distribution of the sacraments? If, then, the ministers are not at hand, how terrible is the destruction which overtakes those who depart from this world unregenerated or bound by sin!” (Letter 228).

I took my translation of Letter 228 from The Life of Saint Augustine by his friend Possidius over at CCEL.

With love in Christ,
Pete

Ken said...

Hi Pete!
I went back and read some of the preceding paragraphs of Augustine's On Christian Doctrine, and he wrote other things there in that same context that don't communicate what your quote by itself seems to imply in the way that you seem to intend it.

You quoted chapter 39, yet taken with 37 and 38, they give a different result that what you seem to intend.

Chapter 37
"For if he takes up rashly a meaning which the author whom he is reading did not intend, he often falls in with other statements which he cannot harmonize with this meaning. And if he admits that these statements are true and certain, then it follows that the meaning he had put upon the former passage cannot be the true one: and so it comes to pass, one can hardly tell how, that, out of love for his own opinion, he begins to feel more angry with Scripture than he is with himself. And if he should once permit that evil to creep in, it will utterly destroy him. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Now faith will totter if the authority of Scripture begin to shake. And then, if faith totter, love itself will grow cold. For if a man has fallen from faith, he must necessarily also fall from love; for he cannot love what he does not believe to exist. But if he both believes and loves, then through good works, and through diligent attention to the precepts of morality, he comes to hope also that he shall attain the object of his love. And so these are the three things to which all knowledge and all prophecy are subservient: faith, hope, love.

Chapter 38
42. But sight shall displace faith; [he is quoting 2 Cor. 5 when we get to heaven; and precedes to talk about very old and mature believers, it seems to me, who have the word in them by study, meditation, prayer] and hope shall be swallowed up in that perfect bliss to which we shall come: love, on the other hand, shall wax greater when these others fail. For if we love by faith that which as yet we see not, how much more shall we love it when we begin to see! And if we love by hope that which as yet we have not reached, how much more shall we love it when we reach it! For there is this great difference between things temporal and things eternal, that a temporal object is valued more before we possess it, and begins to prove worthless the moment we attain it, because it does not satisfy the soul, which has its only true and sure resting-place in eternity: an eternal object, on the other hand, is loved with greater ardour when it is in possession than while it is still an object of desire, for no one in his longing for it can set a higher value on it than really belongs to it, so as to think it comparatively worthless when he finds it of less value than he thought; on the contrary, however high the value any man may set upon it when he is on his way to possess it, he will find it, when it comes into his possession, of higher value still."

So, that is the context of the next paragraph that you quoted; it seems Augustine is talking about very old saints who have grown in the word for years, and they have matured in their faith, and hope and love, and the 2 Cor. 5 passage points to a time after death, when faith will give way to sight.

Ken said...

Pete!
The context of the letter 228 is about people responding to circumstances, (military invasions, Barbarians - Vandals, Goths? ) and that before people die, they are motivated to be baptized, repent, confess their sins, take the Lord's supper. Those are all good things, properly understood as fruits of faith and desires of true believers to be obedient. Nothing contradicts what I wrote, since we also believe in all those things as results and fruits of true faith. And they are right to be motivated to get things right - reconcile with others, repent, confess sins, be baptized (if they never have and yet believe in Christ), etc. The only thing is "do penance" was wrong in Latin and later RCC theology of deeds that a priest assigned in order to make the repentance satisfactory. Rather, repentance is deeper and ongoing, and Luther was right to make it his first point in the 95 theses. So nothing there contradicts Sola Scriptura either.

But even if something that Augustine writes in another place contradicts Sola Scriptura, that is ok, since Augustine is not infallible and he made mistakes. The key is that the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant and they rule over and test all the statements of all the early church fathers and writers. We can test everything that they wrote and accept what they wrote when they get it right and reject it when they get it wrong. Like Jerome's translating metavoia and metavoew as "do penance" rather than "repent" and "repentance".

John Bugay's post on this issue of the Latin mistranslation for repent and repentance was excellent: http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/01/words-mean-things-1.html

Ken said...

to be more accurate on the transliteration above:

to repent = μετανοεω (transliterated: metanoeo)

repentance = μετανοια (transliterated: metanoia)

Translating it in Latin the way it was was a big mistake.

Cletus Van Damme said...

Ken,

Interesting that you say Pete's quotes don't negate the emphasis Augustine places on Scripture, but then your original point was that his emphasis on Scripture must negate or supercede any strong emphasis on the sacraments. As if popes or other saints have not shared sentiments you outline:

"It is an emphasis and teaching that the way to personally and spiritually connect to God (the face of God) - through Scripture. Through hearing it, reading it, meditating on it, studying it, praying over it - asking the Holy Spirit to change us - worshiping the Lord and extoling His attributes in Scripture - "On the glorious splendor of His majesty, I will meditate" - Psalm 145:5 - Augustine treats Scripture alone as the way to connect with God here."

Of course how you justified saying Augustine thinks it's Scripture alone as the way one connects with God is a jump. You're injecting false dichotomies with no warrant, as your response to Pete's citations continue to show. Augustine emphasized both Scripture and the sacraments, just as countless RCs have.

And the RC view of sacraments/justification was not founded on a single verse so a mistranslated verse does not carry the weight you (or John) seem to put on it. Further it doesn't explain how the East shared the West's strong view of the sacraments - they obviously didn't encounter translation issues.

Pete Holter said...

Hi Ken!

The problem is with making the statement that the Scriptures are “above the sacraments.” The sacraments are necessary to the Christian life in a way that the Scriptures are not. The sacraments are channels of grace that take our relationship with God from out of enmity and into amity. The Scriptures, however, cannot take one out of a state of unrighteousness and into a state of grace. In terms of how one is saved, this gives precedence to the sacraments, for they are the difference between heaven and hell. In Letter 228, the people described there were all desiring the grace of the sacraments, but they were still all to be condemned without the actual reception of the sacraments. The reading of the Scriptures could also lead one to desire the grace of the sacraments, but the actual celebration of the sacraments would be the crowning moment of grace.

Augustine wouldn’t have a problem with a Catholic view of sola scriptura. But his definition would entail that the Scriptures have their home in the Church that traces its history back to the apostles through the succession of bishops sacramentally ordained, and that holds hierarchical communion with the local Churches founded by the apostles themselves, for example, Rome. He would see this Church as the one appointed by God to authentically interpret the Scriptures.

Happy Easter weekend!

With love in Christ,
Pete

Pete Holter said...

Like Jerome's translating metavoia and metavoew as "do penance" rather than "repent" and "repentance". ... Translating it in Latin the way it was was a big mistake.

When the Catholic Church speaks of “penance,” we understand this to include the Biblical concepts of an internal, fundamental conversion and repentance, as well as “the movement whereby the preceding attitudes of conversion and repentance are manifested externally.” This comes from Pope John Paul II’s document, Reconciliation and Penance. It’s really good! Here’s some more:

“The term and the very concept of penance are very complex. If we link penance with the metanoia which the synoptics refer to, it means the inmost change of heart under the influence of the word of God and in the perspective of the kingdom. But penance also means changing one’s life in harmony with the change of heart, and in this sense doing penance is completed by bringing forth fruits worthy of penance: It is one’s whole existence that becomes penitential, that is to say, directed toward a continuous striving for what is better. But doing penance is something authentic and effective only if it is translated into deeds and acts of penance. In this sense penance means, in the Christian theological and spiritual vocabulary, ‘asceticism,’ that is to say, the concrete daily effort of a person, supported by God’s grace, to lose his or her own life for Christ as the only means of gaining it; an effort to put off the old man and put on the new; an effort to overcome in oneself what is of the flesh in order that what is spiritual may prevail; a continual effort to rise from the things of here below to the things of above, where Christ is. Penance is therefore a conversion that passes from the heart to deeds and then to the Christian's whole life.”

He says that repentance and conversion are a “real overturning of the soul.” He says that the Greek word for conversion, metanoia, “literally means to allow the spirit to be overturned in order to make it turn toward God.” I love this way of saying it because it makes me think that, it’s not us just being simply turned around by God’s love, but of Him turning us around in the most dramatic way by bending us backwards headfirst, and ultimately flipping us upside down in order to bring us back to Himself. “These men… have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). :)

We Catholics define “doing penance” as “repenting, showing this repentance, [and] adopting a real attitude of repentance” (again, John Paul II, Reconciliation and Penance). We take what John the Baptist said, “Bear fruit(s) in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8), and call this entire concept “penance.” We take Paul’s thought, “that [the Gentiles] should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20), and label this course of life “penitential.” That John the Baptist and Paul separated out the “fruits” of repentance from repentance itself and referred to these fruits as “deeds in keeping with their repentance,” demonstrates that the word “repentance” by itself does not necessarily entail the deeds that issue from it, but only necessarily entails the inner disposition that leads to the subsequent performance of these works. In other words, it was not superfluous for Paul to tell the Gentiles that they had to do both: (1) repent, and (2) perform works in keeping with their repentance. Penance is simply a larger concept that we use to capture this Biblical data in a single word. The Catholic Church very beautifully defines “repentance” itself as “a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace” (CCC, 1431).

With love in Christ,
Pete

Ken said...

Hi Pete, thanks for your continued response.

Pete wrote:

The sacraments are channels of grace that take our relationship with God from out of enmity and into amity. The Scriptures, however, cannot take one out of a state of unrighteousness and into a state of grace. In terms of how one is saved, this gives precedence to the sacraments, for they are the difference between heaven and hell.

I think this is a big area where Protestants and Roman Catholics disagree in a big way. Without faith and without the working of the Holy Spirit, the Roman sacraments are dead rituals in the Roman Catholic Church. Marriage is a creation ordinance, applicable to all cultures. (Genesis 1-2; John 2, Song of Solomon) It does not in itself confer grace on someone, as if grace is like "glue" that "adheres to the soul" ( a common phrase in Roman Catholic theology). Baptizing babies in water does nothing to them at all, except get them wet, and perhaps give the parents a religious feeling, since the infant cannot understand who the Lord is nor sin nor the holiness of God, cannot repent nor believe, so, all of that theology in the RCC is truly a "legal fiction". The Roman version is totally different from a balanced Protestant understanding that infant baptism sets the child of believing parents apart from the world and is a sign of entering into the covenant community. (Presbyterian and others)

I went back and reviewed the CCC on sacraments. I had studied this issue before, but I also want you to know that I looked at the issue again on the CCC. First, the word is not even a Scriptural word, as it comes from the Latin translation of Ephesians 5:32 - musterion -μυστεριον - "mystery". It seems somewhere after Jerome translated it, (around 400 AD), as such, the Roman Catholic Church made it more and more mysterious as the centuries continued until the poor people were convinced that salvation came through the actual physical acts of just doing the rituals and that grace would come to them from heaven, etc.

What is a sacrament? I have read definitions, etc. before, but you say they take our relationship with God out of enmity into amity. They don't do that within themselves, just the bare ritual. Romans 5:1 and Ephesians 2:1-9 say that the only 'channel" that takes our relationship out of enmity to amity is the grace of God in Christ and His redemption/atonement (Romans 3:19-26; 1 Peter 3:18) through the channel of our faith in Christ alone. Ongoing repentance and confession of sin is the results of a true believer, the fruits of real justification, not conditions so as to keep the justification. Lack of fruit or change or repentance means the person never had real saving faith in the first place. Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:19; 2 Peter 2:22 - their nature was never changed. they are still a dog who returns to his vomit and a pig who returns to the slime and mud. They just got washed externally in water, but the heart was not changed.

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1

Continued

Ken said...

Part 2

Baptism is an external symbol of the reality of our being in Christ and the Lord's Supper/Eucharist is a symbol of our remembering the Lord's death/atonement and our continued abiding in Him. We believe in marriage obviously, and it is always better to have a Christian wedding and marriage, but the marriage ordinance is a creation ordinance and a valid and good thing in all cultures. But it doesn't "confer grace". The others of the seven of the RCC are not channels of getting grace. "Do Penance" in RCC theology is a wrong concept from the start, even though Pete has provided some better more modern definitions that seem to emphasize the internal change and issues, that surely was prompted as improvements of explanations because of Luther and others objections to the crass way that the RCC was teaching it and exemplifying penance - for example, giving money and getting a certificate of indulgence, going on one's knees up the steps of St. Peter's, praying 100 "Hail Mary's", staring at the skull of dead martyrs and visiting graves and kissing relics, etc. Ridiculous!

Just reading over your discussion of penance and repentance, most of it sounds right, because you are now grounding the concept in Scripture. So Evangelicals who truly take the Scriptures seriously also have these proper concepts of repentance and faith for justification and ongoing repentance for sanctification (Mark 1:15, Acts 2:38, Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20) and we also believe that true repentance results in good works. But Roman Catholic rituals are not good works; they are dead religious works. They in themselves don't give you grace.

Ken said...

Hi Cletus,
Good to see you back again. The concept of "Scripture over sacraments and icons", etc. is an emphasis on priority. What comes first?

Scripture comes first. the person must hear, and understand the message and it is God who chooses who and when to draw people and give grace. John 6:44, 65

After one is a believer, the Scriptures are still the primary way in which a person gets connected to God, with a humble heart and prayer of seeking God, both privately and corportately in a Biblical church. "Seek My face" - Psalm 27:8, and other passages - if that is a priority and the Holy Spirit works in someone's heart, certainly a Protestant view of baptism and the Lord's supper are means of growth in sanctification, as I explained in the comments above to Pete. The point is that icons or statues or relics or the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Churches are not ways to get connected to God. They are dead rituals. In fact the RCC mass and transubstantiation are offensive and blasphemous because they are based on the idea that the once for all sacrifice of Christ at the cross was not sufficient for all time, so you have to re-present the sacrifice all over again, and believing that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus is superstitious and blasphemous and then bowing down or genuflecting to them is idolatrous.

Pete Holter said...

Hi Ken!

I think this is a big area where Protestants and Roman Catholics disagree in a big way. Without faith and without the working of the Holy Spirit, the Roman sacraments are dead rituals in the Roman Catholic Church.

Yes, the Church highly esteems the sacraments: they are Christ’s sacraments. The view that I was giving you was Augustine’s. Although the sacraments are one thing, and walking in a manner worthy of the gospel is another, the two are intertwined and both are necessary for salvation. The sacrament itself does not become a dead ritual if it meets with a hard and faithless heart. The sacrament is what it is regardless: God’s precious offer of grace. It’s ok to write a post that tries to elevate the Scriptures above the sacraments. I just don’t think you should use Augustine to try to make that point.

Also, I by no means want to denigrate God’s Scriptures in any way. I’ve assembled a good bit of Augustine’s thought on the Scriptures, here: Augustine on Sacred Scripture.

With love in Christ,
Pete

Ken said...

The problem is that the Roman Catholic Church developed Augustine's doctrine of the Church and sacraments after his death beyond what he seems to have intended. In between Augustine and Luther, and after Council of Orange in 529 AD, Semi-Pelagianism, even though officially condemned, crept back in, through Purgatory, indulgences, ex opere operato priestly powers, further exaltation of Mary and prayers to Mary and statues, icons, pilgrimages, treasury of merit, etc.

All of this demonstrates the truth of the often quoted statement by B. B. Warfield, “For the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church. “ (Warfield, Calvin and Augustine, p. 321-322)

See also here:
http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/06/scripture-over-church.html

Cletus Van Damme said...

"In between Augustine and Luther, and after Council of Orange in 529 AD, Semi-Pelagianism, even though officially condemned, crept back in"

Define semi-Pelagianism. And then tell me how Augustine and Orange are not Semi-Pelagian by your definition.
The Warfield quote sounds nice, but is simply wrong. Augustine believed in infused righteousness as justification (as Calvin admits), merit, pre-Fall man needed sanctifying grace, distinction betweeen cooperative/operative grace, sacraments as necessary means of grace, baptismal regeneration, loss of salvation amongst the justified, mortal/venial sin distinction, a notion of purgatory, concupiscence is not sin proper, and so on.

Ken said...

As I understand it, "Semi-Pelagianism" was not a term actually used until the efforts of Jesuit Luis de Molina (where Molinism comes from) (Molina - 1535-1600), Molina's teaching was accused of sounding like the teaching of the 3 persons who had taught things that the Council of Orange in 529 AD condemned later - at the time, they were called "Marsaillians" (from around the city of Marsailles, France). - Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian, and Faustus of Riez .

Between 1590 and 1600 the term "Semi-pelagianism" was applied to Luis de Molina's doctrine of grace, which at that time was accused of similarity to the teaching of the Monks in Southern France.

Molina was charged by the Jesuits to come up with an answer to Reformed Theology.

The problem is that the "Semi-Pelagianism" of the 400s and 500s and Molina (1600) seems to have treated the will of man as something neutral and capable of responding to God, and that it was not totally enslaved to sin and dead to God. It seems to say that God's grace could make it so, or explain to a person so that the person could choose by the power of his/her own free will, or that if God's grace awakens the soul, it is only neutral, and could then reject God's grace also. The problem with that is that John 6:37-39, 44, 65 and Romans 8:28-30 shows that God's grace so draws and wins a person that they don't want to reject God/ Christ anymore. "all that the Father gives to Me will come to Me"; "the Father draws them. . . and I will raise them on the last day"; and "those who are justified, are also glorified". That guarantees that perseverance and sanctification are in between justification and glorification. They are drawn all the way to regeneration, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification.

Warfield's statement reflects the fact that the centuries between Augustine and Luther, the Roman Catholic Church developed the things such as man's cooperative efforts in doing things - penances, confession, giving to the poor, prayers to Mary and dead saints, partaking in the Eucharist, visiting graves, pilgrimages, fastings, indulgences, purgatory, treasury of merit, (those things are things more tied to going to church and doing the rituals and the efficacy of the priest as performing the ritual and dishing out God's grace as if it was a substance, etc. - the emphasis became so strong on those things that the meaning of God's grace was lost. When you emphasis those things so much, it reached a high point in Tetzel and the selling of indulgences, that the meaning of God's grace was lost. It is the same problem repeated, Galatians all over again. That there were others who were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church is telling, such as the Jansenites and Blaise Pascal, etc. That is why Warfield is describing the Reformation and the triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over his doctrine of the church. His doctrine of the church was emphasized and developed in the centuries later so much so that the doctrine of grace was eclipsed.

Ken said...

Is there an on-line article that points to these things in Augustine with references?

"Augustine believed in infused righteousness as justification (as Calvin admits), merit, pre-Fall man needed sanctifying grace, distinction betweeen cooperative/operative grace, sacraments as necessary means of grace, baptismal regeneration, loss of salvation amongst the justified, mortal/venial sin distinction, a notion of purgatory, concupiscence is not sin proper, and so on."

His notion of purgatory was, it seems, a passing comment; but others later added to it and developed it.

Joe said...

Jordan Cooper of Just & Sinner wrote wrote an article on this book, 5 Views of Justification.

http://logia.org/blogia/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Cooper_Justification.pdf

Apparently, it does represent the full Lutheran view, which he explains.

Cletus...FYI, I have tried to respond a few times in our discussion under the Nicene Creed thread, but my posts are not taking for some reason. We could continue the conversation via email though (joeyjackamy@gmail.com).

in Him,

Joe

Joe said...

Correction:

It (5 views book) does NOT represent Luther's full view.

Pete Holter said...

Hi again, Ken!

Thank you for this discussion.

All of this demonstrates the truth of the often quoted statement by B. B. Warfield, “For the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church. “ (Warfield, Calvin and Augustine, p. 321-322)

Another way of saying this is that the Reformed tradition is a living example of what it looks like to make a caricature out of Augustine’s soteriology at the expense of his explicitly held ecclesiology. John Piper confessed concerning that quote, “There are unresolved issues in Augustine… I don’t want to make much of that, but something like that is probably the case because as I read his views on sacraments and baptism I cannot put them together with some other things that he says. But that’s for another time. I’m not expert enough in Augustine to resolve those things” The Swan Is Not Silent; Note: This statement is not found in the written transcript, but is in the audio recording beginning at 11 minutes 45 seconds). The only way to “resolve those things” is to become Catholic. :)

The problem is that the Roman Catholic Church developed Augustine's doctrine of the Church and sacraments after his death beyond what he seems to have intended…

The real problem is the situation that I’ve just described wherein Augustine is used against himself. And not only that, but used in such a way that he himself would repudiate. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, developed the thought of Augustine in the very way endorsed by Augustine: the Church—being led by bishops in apostolic succession, with the bishop of Rome serving as bishop of the highest rank—interpreting the Scriptures in council and with a desire to be found in agreement with the Church that came before.

With love in Christ,
Pete

Ken said...

Pete wrote: "The only way to “resolve those things” is to become Catholic. :) "

or become Reformed, and realize Augustine was inconsistent on those issues, and that he was a fallible human being.

Baptismal regeneration is definitely wrong and unbiblical and any kind of ex opere operato RCC stuff and NT priests and purgatory was all completely wrong.

Thanks for the link to Piper's lecture on Augustine and pointing out those comments on the audio.

infused righteousness as a process that makes justification for eternal life a process is only complete at death or after time in Purgatory is definitely wrong.

infused righteousness as the process of sanctification (being conformed to the image of Christ - Romans 8:28; 2 Cor. 3:18) and the necessary result and fruit of justification by faith alone (Romans 5:1; 4:1-16; 3:9-28; Galatians 2:16; 2:21; Philippians 3:9, Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:3-7; John 5:24; 3:15-18; 1 John 5:12-14) is the proper way to understand the Biblical data. The Reformation recovered proper Biblical interpretation on that issue.

Ken said...

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, developed the thought of Augustine in the very way endorsed by Augustine: the Church—being led by bishops in apostolic succession, with the bishop of Rome serving as bishop of the highest rank—interpreting the Scriptures in council and with a desire to be found in agreement with the Church that came before.

Bishops originally were equal to the presbyters, another word for the work (overseeing, leading, managing) for the work of presbyters, along with shepherding, pastoring. Acts 20:17, 28, I Peter 5:1-5; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7 make that clear; along with 1 Clement 44, and the statements of Jerome that the presbyters and bishops are the same office. So making Ignatius' take on that was a mistake for all the time after that.

But even Cyprian and 85 or 86 other bishops around 257-258 AD recognized that the bishop of Rome was NOT "bishop over all the other bishops". Give it up, Pete and Cletus and all other RCs! You need to admit how unbiblical and unhistorical in the early centuries the Papal claims of RCC is.

Apostolic succession should be understood as the churches ordaining leaders / pastors/elders - as in Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5-7, but that is no guarantee of infallibillity or that they could not interpret things wrong later down the line. The RCC understanding of apostolic succession is wrong, since many of the priests and bishops later taught wrong, taught heresies, and made mistakes. There was no guarantee of infallibility.

Ken said...

Joe,
Thanks for the link to the Lutheran view.

Pete Holter said...

Hi Ken!

Going back to a couple of items on Cletus’s list, I take a look at Augustine on mortal vs. venial sins here. I come back to it here. And my very next post (Post #19) links to a couple of other posts dealing with concupiscence.

In Christ,
Pete

Pete Holter said...

Hi Ken!

Going back to a couple of items on Cletus’s list, I take a look at Augustine on mortal vs. venial sins here. I come back to it here. And my very next post (Post #19) links to a couple of other posts dealing with concupiscence.

In Christ,
Pete

PeaceByJesus said...

Yet i was just reading Ratzinger today on Luther who invoked Augustine as providing foundation for Luther's ecclesiology in his Principles of Catholic Theology:

To understand Luther's protest, we must go beyond what has already been said and examine another thread in the relationship of sacrifice, sacrament and priesthood in the development of the church - a thread that reaches back to the reflections of Augustine, the explosive power of which had long been concealed but which came now to their full power.

Augustine experienced a split in the church of the native Africa that was unparalleled in the rest of the ancient church. In every city, altar stood against altar episcopacy against episcopacy; Donatists and Catholics were found everywhere in almost equal numbers. Conversions went back and forth from one church to the other, often for superficial reasons. Against this background, we can understand why Augustine could not immediately see the true church and those who came together for the Eucharistic celebration - quite possibly by tomorrow they would belong to a different church. To him, consequently, the true church consisted of those who would ultimately be brought together by God's final call - the number of the elect. One who was presently within the church could actually be outside her when that call came, and vice versa...


A notion was thus generated that, under other circumstances, would and did lead to a complete devaluation of the church as a liturgical communio.

Even Hus' followers had pointed out that church communities existed that were larger than that of the Bishop of Rome, from which they concluded that what was important was not the institutional organization but membership in the hidden community of true Christians. Even Luther look to the Greek church, which had remained to church without being submissive to the Pope, and he, too, concluded that what was important was not the concrete, structured communio but the community behind the institutional one...pp. 257ff

The real protest of course is how this negatively affects the church being centered around the Eucharist, t “the source and summit” of their faith upon which all revolved in the NT church.

Just reading the amount of attention and instruction on that in the epistles must make the evident. If you read the Scripture with Catholic spectacles.

PeaceByJesus said...

The RCC understanding of apostolic succession is wrong, since many of the priests and bishops later taught wrong, taught heresies, and made mistakes. There was no guarantee of infallibility.

It is also wrong since they fail of the requirements, (1Cor. 9:1; Gal. 1:11,12) and manner of attestation,(2Cor. 6:4-10; 12:12) and even the method of election,(Acts 1:26) in addition to zero support for any successors (like for James: Acts 12:1,2) except for Judas, which was to maintain the original plural numbers of 12. (Rv. 21:14) Who are these today?

Then you have the unScriptural distinctive use of the title "priest" for NT pastors.


Ken said...

Hi Pete - you quoted Augustine -
“He, however, is not unreasonably said to walk blamelessly, not who has already reached the end of his journey, but who is pressing on towards the end in a blameless manner, free from condemnable sins, and at the same time not neglecting to cleanse by almsgiving such sins as are venial” (On Man’s Perfection in Righteousness, Ch. 9:20).
Augustine

Where in the Bible is the idea that almsgiving can cleanse from sins?

Ken said...

“It is, however, one thing for married persons to have intercourse only for the wish to beget children, which is not sinful: it is another thing for them to desire carnal pleasure in cohabitation, but with the spouse only, which involves venial sin” (On Marriage and Concupiscence, Bk. 1, Ch. 15:17; cf. 24:27).

Married persons desiring one another is sinful, venial sin. Augustine was really messed up on some things!

I am glad we who are married have the book of Song of Solomon and Proverbs 5:18-19, rather than having to follow a certain man's interpretation. No man is infallible.

"Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love."

PeaceByJesus said...

Augustine indeed held a perverse view of marital relations, believing that Heb. 13:4 only means the marriage bed is not defiled if fornication and adultery or relations without the intent to procreate is avoided, and that marital intercourse could not be engaged in without sinful passions, though these were excused for Christians. In On Marriage and Concupiscence (Book I, cp. 27) he states,

Marriage is itself "honourable in all" Hebrews 13:4 the goods which properly appertain to it; but even when it has its "bed undefiled" (not only by fornication and adultery, which are damnable disgraces, but also by any of those excesses of cohabitation such as do not arise from any prevailing desire of children, but from an overbearing lust of pleasure, which are venial sins in man and wife), yet, whenever it comes to the actual process of generation, the very embrace which is lawful and honourable cannot be effected without the ardour of lust, so as to be able to accomplish that which appertains to the use of reason and not of lust....

This is the carnal concupiscence, which, while it is no longer accounted sin in the regenerate, yet in no case happens to nature except from sin. — http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15071.htm

Now, this ardour, whether following or preceding the will, does somehow, by a power of its own, move the members which cannot be moved simply by the will, and in this manner it shows itself not to be the servant of a will which commands it, but rather to be the punishment of a will which disobeys it. It shows, moreover, that it must be excited, not by a free choice, but by a certain seductive stimulus, and that on this very account it produces shame. This is the carnal concupiscence, which, while it is no longer accounted sin in the regenerate, yet in no case happens to nature except from sin. It is the daughter of sin, as it were... http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf105.xvi.v.xxvii.html

The reasoning here would easily extend to any gratification of the flesh, from eating chocolate to scratching a itch, yet, again, Scripture does not teach that the marriage bed is unclean, nor (by extension) that anything that gratifies the flesh must be sinful (cf. Col. 2)

Similarly, Tertullian argued that second marriage, having been freed from the first by death,

“will have to be termed no other than a species of fornication,” partly based on the reasoning that such involves desiring to marry a women out of sexual ardor. (An Exhortation to Chastity, Chapter IX.—Second Marriage a Species of Adultery, Marriage Itself Impugned, as Akin to Adultery; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf04.iii.vi.ix.html)

PeaceByJesus said...

The imbalanced tradition on marriage versus celibacy led to the belief that clergy were to be single and practice continence even if married, and that single or widowed ones could never marry.

However, married pastors with children was evidently the norm in the NT church, (1Tim. 3:1-7) with the only known single pastors being two traveling apostles, and who yet had the power to marry. (1Cor. 9:5)

Consider the perverse exegesis of this church "father" (without attacking his piety):

Jerrome:

The same Apostle in another place commands us to pray always. If we are to pray always, it follows that we [priests] must never be in the bondage of wedlock, for as often as I render my wife her due, I cannot pray...

Now a priest must always offer sacrifices for the people: he must therefore always pray. And if he must always pray, he must always be released from the duties of marriage.

The skewed conclusion of Jerome is readily apparent in the light of the fact that marital relations are not the only things that may distract from prayer for a time (which does not mean it cannot/should not be practiced prayerfully like other activities), but eating, driving, etc. also may. Thus to be consistent, Jerome's logic is that a minister (which are never called priests as a distinct class) cannot eat or drink, or engage in any like physical activity.

Yet in further seeking to use Scripture to support his skewed view of marriage, Jerome next invokes Genesis 2 and 7, arguing,

"This too we must observe, at least if we would faithfully follow the Hebrew, that while Scripture on the first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days relates that, having finished the works of each, “God saw that it was good,” on the second day it omitted this altogether, leaving us to understand that two is not a good number because it destroys unity, and prefigures the marriage compact. Hence it was that all the animals which Noah took into the ark by pairs were unclean. Odd numbers denote cleanness. (Against Jovinianus, Book 1, Cps. 7,13,16,33; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.vi.vi.I.html)

So much for sending out disciples by pairs, while this renowned Bible scholar (for his day) ignores that it was after the 4th and 6th days that God said His creation was God (Gn. 1:18,19,31) Thus according to Jerome's logic even numbers also denote cleanness.

Pete Holter said...

PeaceByJesus quoted Pope Benedict:

To him, consequently, the true church consisted of those who would ultimately be brought together by God's final call - the number of the elect. One who was presently within the church could actually be outside her when that call came, and vice versa...

Thus far, the summary is Augustinian. And it’s important in the context of our discussion to include Pope Benedict’s further point about the visible and invisible Church being intertwined in Augustine’s thought:

“Appearance (visible church) and being (invisible church) continued to be intertwined in his thought. Even if the always changing state of the assembly did not reflect the community that would exist at the end of time, the ecclesial communio was, nevertheless, an indispensable prelude to the community that was to come. Final membership in the Church that celebrates the Eucharist is the sign of election.”

For Augustine, the invisible Church is essentially a subset of the visible Church.

You also quoted the following:

“A notion was thus generated that, under other circumstances, would and did lead to a complete devaluation of the church as a liturgical communio.

“Even Hus' followers had pointed out that church communities existed that were larger than that of the Bishop of Rome, from which they concluded that what was important was not the institutional organization but membership in the hidden community of true Christians. Even Luther look to the Greek church, which had remained to church without being submissive to the Pope, and he, too, concluded that what was important was not the concrete, structured communio but the community behind the institutional one...pp. 257ff”

Here, I would just like to say that this material is the description of an ecclesiology not held by Augustine and is one with which he would disagree.

Your brother in the Lord,
Pete

Pete Holter said...

Hi Ken!

You asked,

“Where in the Bible is the idea that almsgiving can cleanse from sins?”

Augustine discusses this subject in The City of God, Bk. 21, Ch. 27 and The Enchiridion, Chs. 70-77. Here is Augustine in Sermon 206:

“For, in the person of the poor, He who experiences no hunger wished Himself to be fed. Therefore, let us not spurn our God who is needy in His poor, so that we in our need may be filled in Him who is rich. We have the needy, and we ourselves have need; let us give, therefore, so that we may receive. In truth, what is it that we give? And in return for that pittance which is meagre, visible, temporal, and earthly, what do we desire to receive? What the ‘eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man.’ Without the assurance of God it would have been effrontery to wish to gain such treasures in return for such paltry trifles, and it is effrontery to refuse to give to our needy neighbor these things which we would never have possessed except from the bounty of Him who urges us to give. With what confidence do we hope to see Him giving to our neighbor and to us, if we despise His commands in the least details? ‘Forgive, and you shall be forgiven,’ that is, pardon and you shall be pardoned. Let servant be reconciled to fellow servant lest he be justly punished by the Lord. In this kind of almsgiving no one is poor. Even he who has no means of livelihood in this world may do this to insure his living for eternity. Gratuitously this alms is given; by being given away it is increased; and it is not consumed except when it is not shared. Therefore, let those enmities which have lasted even to this day be broken up and ended. Let them be ended lest they end you; let them be no longer held lest they hold you; let them be destroyed by the Redeemer lest they destroy you, the retainer” (Sermon 206).

Pete Holter said...

Ken wrote:

“Married persons desiring one another is sinful, venial sin. Augustine was really messed up on some things!”

Paul says to married persons in 1 Corinthians 7 that they can come together “as a concession” … “because of your lack of self-control” in order to thwart Satan. On the other hand, he wishes that all were otherwise and as he himself is in order to secure our “undivided devotion to the Lord.” When you stack the negatives on the one hand, over against the positives on the other, it seems that what Paul is conceding to, is something undesirable and sinful, but in a venial way. The lack of self-control leading to the need to come together isn’t a good thing.

That example is the more difficult to see, but the easier one is Paul’s discussion about lawsuits in Chapter 6. Paul says that going to court is already a defeat for the Corinthians; but, if they have to have a third party settle such disputes for them, at least have them be placed before other believers to judge. Paul says this to their shame, but he allows it. Augustine makes the point that Paul would certainly not have allowed this if the sin was mortal. But the fact that it is shameful and a defeat for the Corinthians shows that it is certainly something of sin, but not mortal, and therefore venial.

These two examples are both covered by Augustine in The Enchiridion Ch. 78.

With love in Christ,
Pete

Ken said...

Pete,
I didn't see your latest comments until today, May 9.

I didn't ask you for a reference from Augustine about almsgiving forgiving sins, I asked you were in the Bible is that found.

It is not there.

the other stuff I don't have time for right now; but Lord willing, later.

Pete Holter said...

Good evening, Ken!

I gave you Augustine’s thoughts because he was the one you were quoting from. So I thought it was important to explore his thought on the matter so that you could see what he meant by it. All of the biblical passages he draws from when he discusses the topic would inform his understanding.

Sirach says that “almsgiving atones for sins” (3:30), and Tobit says that “almsgiving saves from death, and purges all sin” (12:9). The meaning should be understood in the sense of Daniel 4:27 and 1 Peter 4:18: “break off your sins by practicing righteousness,” for “love covers a multitude of sins.” All is of grace, and all depends upon and flows from the atonement provided by the cross of Christ.

In Christ,
Pete

Pete Holter said...

“The reasoning here would easily extend to any gratification of the flesh, from eating chocolate to scratching a itch…”

Hi PeaceByJesus!

In Against Julian, Augustine approvingly quotes Ambrose, who said that, regarding sexual intercourse, “according to the Apostle, no one can give himself to prayer at the time when he exercises this bodily function” (2.7.20). Augustine makes the point that sexual lust is unique among the various lusts of the body. He argues that sexual lust so overwhelms our mental faculties, even to the point of rendering them incapacitated, and that it does this to a degree that surpasses any of the other bodily lusts. To show the unique nature of sexual lust, he points out that the word “lust,” when used by itself, is normally intended to have the meaning of sexual lust. And that, for example, even when we are enjoying a good tasting food, we can still reason and hold conversation; but not so during orgasm. There are other points that he makes to show the uniqueness of the way in which concupiscence exploits and corrupts sexual intercourse. I’ve included some of his main points below, but see The City of God, Bk. 14, Ch. 16ff. and Against Julian, Bk. 4, Ch. 14.65ff. for more discussion of these points:

“The pleasure in eating and drinking may be tolerated when, with the strongest effort of will we can muster, we are satisfied with less, rather than go to excess in food. We oppose this concupiscence by fasting and taking food sparingly; we use well this evil when we use it for nought but what is conducive to health. I say such pleasure may be tolerated, because its power is not so great that it interrupts and turns us away from thoughts of wisdom, if we should be engaged in such mental delight. We often not only think, but even dispute, about important matters at feasts, even between morsels of food and sips of drink; we pay close attention when listening and speaking; we learn what we wish to know, or recall if it is read to us. But that pleasure about which you argue with me so contentiously, does it not engage the whole soul and body, and does not this extremity of pleasure result in a kind of submersion of the mind itself, even if it is approached with a good intention, that is, for the purpose of procreating children, since in its very operation it allows no one to think, I do not say of wisdom, but of anything at all? But, when it overcomes even the married, so that they come together, not for propagation, but for carnal delight, which the Apostle says is concession not command, and after that whirlpool the mind emerges and inhales, as it were, the air of thought, it may follow, as someone has truly said, that it regrets that close association with pleasure. What lover of the spiritual good, who has married only for the sake of offspring, would not prefer if he could to propagate children without it or without its very great impulsion? I think, then, we ought to attribute to that life in Paradise, which was a far better life than this, whatever saintly spouses would prefer in this life, unless we can think of something better” (Against Julian, 4.14.71).

“Although, therefore, lust may have many objects, yet when no object is specified, the word lust usually suggests to the mind the lustful excitement of the organs of generation. And this lust not only takes possession of the whole body and outward members, but also makes itself felt within, and moves the whole man with a passion in which mental emotion is mingled with bodily appetite, so that the pleasure which results is the greatest of all bodily pleasures. So possessing indeed is this pleasure, that at the moment of time in which it is consummated, all mental activity is suspended” (The City of God, Bk. 14, Ch. 16).

With love in Christ,
Pete

Ken said...

Pete,
Thanks for the extended quotes from Augustine about sex. I think it is clear, as other Roman Catholics have admitted to me, that Augustine and many of the early church fathers, went overboard in their ideas about sex, that they seemed to say that sex within the marriage bond of one man and one woman is "dirty" and evil and tainted with sin. Clement of Alexandria and Jerome also have this attitude. Jerome knows his emphasis does this, so he has to include a statement of "don't take me as saying that marriage is wrong", etc. (but he is still so negative against sex and marriage and even women, that they have been long criticized for their attitudes. They then exalt virginity above marriage so much that it seems like an imbalance.

It is possible for a man to have perverted thoughts even in marriage (thinking about another woman while making love to his wife, etc.) but the marriage act of love-making is holy and good within itself.

The early church emphasis on virginity above marriage, it seems, led them to think that Mary and Joseph could not have had a normal godly sexual marriage after Jesus was born. That is wrong and has always been wrong. The Virgin conception and birth of Jesus is truth (Matthew 1:18-25; Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26-36 ff); but the perpetual virginity of Mary belief, was wrong, based on an unhealthy view of sex itself. It seems that these guys allowed some Gnostic thought to affect their ideas.

PeaceByJesus said...

what pleasure about which you argue with me so contentiously, does it not engage the whole soul and body, and does not this extremity of pleasure result in a kind of submersion of the mind itself,

What lover of the spiritual good, who has married only for the sake of offspring, would not prefer if he could to propagate children without it or without its very great impulsion?

His problem is that he cannot conceive (pun unintended) of sexual relations as being a mutual expression of love, a oneness that is a God-designed culmination of a spiritual and emotional oneness, sealed in lifetime covenant.

And in which two such persons of opposite genders, being created uniquely compatible and complementary (the latter in a somewhat symbiotic way), can, in full control of their will, and in which one could even pray, engage in expressions of mutual affection knowing where it is going, "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!" (SoS 7:6) even though the culmination will be an act that has no kill switch.

Yet this is so with another act of relief, one we do wish we could do without, but in that case is quite necessary. And if unnecessary relief that results in pleasure is wrong, then scratching an itch must be.

Augustine's issue seems to be that either one cannot engage in marital relations without lust, which is absurd, though for many or most that may be the case, and that pleasure is itself evil, and thus it is only to be endured if for the purpose of procreation.

Yet God hates a false balance, and the Bible is a book of balance, and both condemns the hedonism of today, as well as the other extreme in asceticism.

Christian faith requires a sacrificial life, and in which fastings are part, and it deplores anything other than the Creator being our ultimate object of affect and allegiance and source of security, while at the same time not treating the pleasure gained from eating, etc. as necessary evil in itself, for as 1 Timothy 6:17 states,

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; (1 Timothy 6:17)

The prima NT church did "eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart," (Acts 2:46) and which i do not think was tasteless or required them to avoid exhaling thru their nose in so eating.

And the Lord's supper need not tasteless nor to satisfy hunger, though to shame them that have not by letting them go hungry was a denial of it, as it was to show the Lord's death by the caring for each other as part of the body for whom Christ died, which the communal meal signifies, as 1Cor. 11:17 ff teaches.

And in marriage conjugal love serves more of a purpose than procreation, and the bed is undefiled even apart from it, as it is to be a mutual giving of affection, grounded in covenant of oneness, and expressive of the love behind it, and which strengthens the marital bond in oneness.

And rather than annihilation of any passion, the Lord choose most passionate men such as David and Paul and commended their holy expressions of such.

PeaceByJesus said...

I should have explained that i had forgotten about this thread till i checked emails from the addressed the notifications are sent to.

Paul says to married persons in 1 Corinthians 7 that they can come together “as a concession” … “because of your lack of self-control” in order to thwart Satan. On the other hand, he wishes that all were otherwise and as he himself is in order to secure our “undivided devotion to the Lord.” When you stack the negatives on the one hand, over against the positives on the other, it seems that what Paul is conceding to, is something undesirable and sinful, but in a venial way. The lack of self-control leading to the need to come together isn’t a good thing.

That is skewed and perverse. You have God sanctioning sin due to persons not having the gift of celibacy, (1Cor. 7:7) and then commanding and encouraging more of it! Thus according to Catholic reasoning, venial sin can be a result of not having a gift.

In addition, the concession clause can apply to many things needful due to human nature, and ideally we would go without, from magisterial courts to food, but which are not necessarily sin to have nor disadvantageous overall.

In response to questions, Paul does not tell married couples they can come together “as a concession” … “because of your lack of self-control” in order to thwart Satan, as if they were supposed to live in a novel sexless marriage and continually resist showing conjugal aspect of marital love, but he actually forbids this ("Defraud ye not one the other") except it for a time of fasting, but God defined marriage as "leave and cleave," and as they would be subject to temptation, thus they were to revert back to their normal state. And in which sex is commanded.

Thus Paul is not allowing anything to be sin, but what he is dealing with is what is conditionally superior. He does indeed wish all were celibate as he was and for basically sound reasons, but which are only as valid insofar as the reasons behind them are true.

There are many men, including pastors, who have wives who are more of an asset to them spiritually and for spiritual work then they would be without them. In which case, to be consistent with the apostle's intent, marriage would be advised. And in fact we see superior spirituality in many married men such as Spurgeon.

And rather than being an state of continued venial sin, Paul teaches this illustrates the Lord Jesus and the church. (Eph. 5:25)

Finally, Paul's consideration of the value of marriage is in the light of what he expects is the Lord's imminent return, and for preterists this would be 70AD, but which is not the same as the 1800's.

And consistent with your concession contention, children would also be a concession, with being childless being the higher ideal in this world, with children being superflous.

As for settling personal disputes being a sin of concession, this is not by concession any more than having a magisterial office is, which ideally should not be necessary along wit many other things. But settling such manner of disputes has clear OT support, and is what the Lord instructed the disciples on in Mt. 18:15-17, which RCs love to invoke in seeking to support their church which is essentially invisible in Scripture.

Thus celibacy certainly has advantages and is generally the higher good, but it is only for those so gifted, while far from being sin, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4)