Monday, January 19, 2015

The Protestant's Dilemma: A Review (Part Four): Ecumenical Councils

This is a continuation of my review of The Protestant’s Dilemma: How the Reformation’s Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2014, Kindle edition) by Rome's defender, Devin Rose. The book throughout presents caricatures of Protestant positions, illogical conclusions, shoddy documentation, assumes the truth of the Roman Catholic worldview without proving it, and demonstrates that the author did not apply his own criteria to his own position.

Section 3 of TPD  is entitled, "Ecumenical Councils." It's a longer chapter, almost 2300 words. The temptation in reviewing it is is to respond at a much greater length. One of the problems bloggers succumb to is responding at double or triple the length of that under review (yes, I've done this). So,  I'm going to strive to keep the reviews around the same word count.


Tedium
First, there are the tedious errors of this chapter. TPD refers to the Westminster Confession of Faith XXXI,4 in Endnote 9, whereas the actual reference should be to XXXI,3. TPD claims The Westminster Confession of Faith is "the most important confessional document of Calvinist (or Reformed) Protestantism." No, this confession holds this pedigree typically for confessional Presbyterians. Then there are the errors of undocumented assertions. TPD asserts,"Most Protestants allege, however, that even these early councils contained errors. For example, few are willing to accept that Mary is the 'mother of God,' as the third ecumenical council in Ephesus declared."  No documentation is given as to whom the author is referring to. In actuality, what Protestants have historically rejected is Rome's misuse of the term theotokos, not the theological term itself used at the third ecumenical council [see for instance, James White, Mary- Another Redeemer? (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998, chapter 5].  TPD asserts Martin Luther "had no problem" with the title "Mother of God." Yes, Luther used the term, but he certainly had a problem with Rome's mariolatry and the meaning they pour into the term. TPD explains Luther "presented the accepted Protestant belief that ecumenical councils have erred and 'contradicted themselves' by deviating from the true meaning of God’s word as found in the Bible" but shows no interaction with or understanding of why Luther believed this.  There is also this odd undocumented claim:

More traditional Protestants of the Anglican or Reformed communities, however, do view the first four councils as authoritative. They contend that for a council to be considered an ecumenical (and therefore authoritative) one, it had to have been attended by all five major patriarchs (bishops of important cities or areas): those of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. They claim that the first four councils met this criterion. But, they argue, due to the divisions that have occurred in the Church since—notably the Coptic and Eastern Orthodox schisms—it has become impossible for these five patriarchs to be present at a council, making ecumenical councils a practical impossibility to this day.

Which Anglicans or "Reformed Communities" believe this?  The author doesn't say. He goes on later to refute this theory, known as "pentarchy" saying, "Modern Protestants have taken up the theory as an objective way of identifying authoritative councils; but, as we have seen, it simply doesn’t work." Now he says the ecclesiastical body adhering to pentarchy are simply, "modern Protestants." The theory though appears to be primarily an Orthodox argument, not an Anglican or Reformed argument. If he just meant "modern Protestants" a simply footnote would have been helpful to see whom he was referring to.


The Protestant Conception of Ecumenical Councils
TPD summarizes the Protestant position on church councils as follows: None of the early church councils "carry any authority—except insofar as they accurately interpret Scripture, in which case the authority is the Bible’s, not theirs." Protestants generally accept the first four ecumenical councils, "only insofar as they are accurate deductions from the words of God in the Bible."  This is true enough as far as it goes. If one were to make a general statement for Protestants, the author would have done well to simply say these councils have authority, but not infallible authority. Beyond this, TPD launches into creating its own straw-man: "If Protestantism is true: Ecumenical councils somehow no longer have the authority they used to have. This is very similar to TPD's earlier arguments on authority and the papacy. " While it takes Mr. Rose some paragraphs to get to it, the ultimate paradigm he argues for is an infallible council with infallible authority. Placed in this form, the straw man becomes obvious. TPD says Protestants hold that "councils must somehow have ceased to carry that universal teaching authority," or rather, infallible authority. In actuality, Protestants don't believe any post-enscripturated council has ever had infallible teaching authority to lose to begin with.


Answering TPD's Objections
TPD posits it does not "make sense, as Protestants argue, that ecumenical councils are authoritative only insofar as they accurately represent scriptural truth." It does so by arguing that since the entire Bible had not been completed, the infallible extra-biblical authority of the Council of Jerusalem had to settle the matter about circumcision and salvation.  What this argument fails to interact with is that sola scriptura applies to the normal means God has conveyed His truth to the church after Scripture had been completed. As Dr. White said long ago, "Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is ‘sufficient.’ It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, 'See, sola scriptura doesn’t work there!' Of course it doesn’t. Who said it did?

TPD also asks,

Who has the authority to accurately interpret the scriptures (and therefore rule whether a council affirms or contradicts their truths)? Luther believed that he did. Other Protestants claimed that Luther erred and that they had the correct key to Scripture’s meaning. The problem of varying Protestant interpretations of biblical truth persists to this day. Without a standard for interpreting Scripture, then, according to this test it’s impossible to say with certainty whether a given council teaches authoritatively.

This is a typical Roman Catholic double standard. How many verses has Rome infallibly interpreted? Some say only a small handful of verses have an infallible interpretation, others deny the Church has defined the literal sense of any single passage. Roman Catholics aren't even united on a basic issue like the inerrancy of Scripture. The problem for Roman Catholics is compounded even more, because their church holds that a doctrine can be defined, but the scriptural proofs used to support it utilized by the church's theologians might not actually support it. In other words, one can have certainty for a doctrine, but not have certainty in the scriptural proof texts for that doctrine. The infallibility is in the decree, not in the reasoning to that decree. The dogmatic pronouncements of Rome are still left up to private interpretation. For instance Trent speaks of Scripture and Tradition, yet Jimmy Akin states, "While these considerations may be useful as an apologist explores the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, he ultimately will have to decide how he thinks they fit together. So far, the Church has left him considerable latitude." Throw "development of doctrine" into the mix, and it creates more of a problem because it can grant differing possible authentic interpretations. If doctrine develops, and one cannot know when a doctrine has completely developed, one must consider many differing Roman Catholic opinions as possible authentic Roman Catholic opinions.


The Roman Catholic Criterion for an Ecumenical Council
TPD states, "If none of the Protestant theories makes sense, what makes a council ecumenical and thus authoritative? Quite simply: the pope." There's a bit of historical anachronism here at best, or at worst ignoring the development of papal primacy over the authority of a council (the concilliar movement). As noted in a previous review, TPD simply assumes beforehand a monarchical episopate functioning in Rome controlling the entire church from the beginning. A study of The Council of Nicea shows  that "when the bishops gathered at Nicea they did not acknowledge the bishop of Rome as anything more than the leader of the most influential church in the West."

But even the very Council of Jerusalem cited by TPD speaks against its claim.  The account in Acts 15 does not say the Pope and the council met. Peter is considered simply as one of the apostles, meeting with the elders. James appears to be directing this meeting. TPD thinks that Peter speaking first at the Council implies he's the leader and the pope, when the text shows that it's James who has the decisive word in verse 19-21. Exegetically,  it's James who commands the others to listen to him in verse 13. The letter written at the end shows the decision of the council and a letter from the council. Nowhere do we find this council being confirmed by Peter as "the final guarantor" of its "orthodoxy" as TPD claims a pope should be doing.

TPD uses the classic prooftext, Matt. 16:18-19 to establish Petrine primacy, ignoring Matthew 18:18 as well as the testimony of many of the early church fathers who identify "the rock" as all of the apostles or the testimony of Peter [See James White, The Roman Catholic Controversy (Minneapolis:Bethany House, 1996 ) p. 119-120; William Webster, The Patristic Exegesis of the Rock of Matthew 16:18].

TPD claims, "The Catholic Church is the only Christian Church or community that still holds ecumenical councils today. No other group dares to claim that it has held one, which makes sense when you realize that no other group is led by the bishop of Rome." Illogical assertions like this based on false premises occur throughout the book. Other church bodies meet together in similar fashion to what Rome does, all the time. My own church is part of a larger body that meets at least once every three years, and interestingly, often other denominations are involved, or at least invited to attend.


The Protestant's Dilemma?
This section of TPD ends with the following "dilemma":

Assuming the Catholic Church is wrong about what makes a council ecumenical, why did God design his Church such that, for centuries, these councils were the primary way in which vitally important matters of the Faith were discerned and authoritatively proclaimed, but then remove his authority from them such that they could no longer be trustworthy?

To simply reiterate the point made earlier, in his review of TPD, TurretinFan stated, "No, the authority of ecumenical councils has not changed. They were never infallible. Nicaea was right – not infallible. Ariminum was a larger council than Nicaea, but it was wrong." The unproven assumption throughout TPD is the infallibility of Rome

In my community, I attend a local church, of which I'm a member, and that church meets with other churches on a concilliar level. Many churches still do this. "Vitally important matters of faith" are addressed at these meetings. Yes, it's a sad fact that there are different denominations, but this isn't due to the failure of the sole infallible rule of faith, but rather the sinfulness of those who interpret it. Before one of Rome's defenders runs with this, consider the following:  the Orthodox church is waiting for you to repent of your errors and cease your denomination. Note the following from an Orthodox website:
The Orthodox attitude to the Papacy is admirably expressed by a twelfth-century writer, Nicetas, Archbishop of Nicomedia: 
My dearest brother, we do not deny to the Roman Church the primacy amongst the five sister Patriarchates; and we recognize her right to the most honourable seat at an Ecumenical Council. But she has separated herself from us by her own deeds, when through pride she assumed a monarchy which does not belong to her office ... How shall we accept decrees from her that have been issued without consulting us and even without our knowledge? If the Roman Pontiff, seated on the lofty throne of his glory wishes to thunder at us and, so to speak, hurl his mandates at us from on high, and if he wishes to judge us and even to rule us and our Churches, not by taking counsel with us but at his own arbitrary pleasure, what kind of brotherhood, or even what kind of parenthood can this be? We should be the slaves, not the sons, of such a Church, and the Roman See would not be the pious mother of sons but a hard and imperious mistress of slaves.'

34 comments:

Cletus Van Damme said...

James,

"What this argument fails to
interact with is that sola scriptura applies to the normal means God has conveyed His truth to the church after Scripture had been completed."

So given this, are all appeals to Scripture to substantiate sola scriptura invalid?


"This is a typical Roman Catholic double standard. How many verses has Rome infallibly interpreted?"

It's not a double standard because Rome offers infallible/irreformable dogmas that circumscribe proper Scripture interpretation, whereas Protestantism cannot.

"Throw "development of doctrine" into the mix, and it creates more of a problem because it can grant differing possible authentic interpretations."

Differing interpretations does not entail lack of authoritative teaching. You reference Tradition - although both partim/partim and material sufficiency views (amongst others that lie between that spectrum) are permitted, sola scriptura in the Protestant sense is not - that is the shared authoritative teaching. Similary the case with Thomist/Molinist views on grace (the shared authoritative teaching is that sufficient grace is offered to all) or Mary's body and so forth.

"Exegetically, it's James who commands the others to listen to him in verse 13."

Bishops have local control today in enforcing doctrines.

"many of the early church fathers who identify "the rock" as all of the apostles or the testimony of Peter"

The CCC also identifies the rock in multiple senses. It's a false dichotomy to assume it only can have one sense (which is why fathers appeal to multiple senses as well).

" Other church bodies meet together in similar fashion to what Rome does, all the time. My own church is part of a larger body that meets at least once every three years, and interestingly, often other denominations are involved, or at least invited to attend."

The difference is that those meetings can never yield infallible/irreformable authoritative binding decisions, only provisionally binding ones. That is what Devin means by ecumenical councils which you recognize in your first paragraph - " In actuality, Protestants don't believe any post-enscripturated council has ever had infallible teaching authority to lose to begin with. "

So Devin is right in saying Rome is the only one who dares to claim it has held one, Protestants reject such "daring" claims in the first place.

" Nicaea was right – not infallible. Ariminum was a larger council than Nicaea, but it was wrong.""

You mean Nicaea was right because it agrees with one's current provisional interpretation of Scripture - it's authority (and authority of confessions) is just - and can never rise above - a paper tiger authority. Arminum was a larger council and had its followers - that's why the Magisterium authoritatively interprets not only Scripture but Tradition. Arians appealed to both, but both were invalid appeals.

Ken said...

Guy,
Just keeping up with reading the posts and your comments takes a lot of time. I read what I can and comment when I have time. There are other issues and work that I have. Also, I have been commenting on the Shameless Popery site and Devin Rose's cite.

You are questioning William Webster's local church, etc. You are taking David Waltz' interpretation of it.
Since the church that Webster teaches at has a doctrinal statement and teaching basing the church on the 1689 London Confession, it seems that his church is a Reformed Baptist Church, so I don't understand why you and Waltz call it "forming his own denomination"; or using pejorative language like "the one true church".

Look around under the documents and sermons.

Ken said...

Guy,
I don't know the answer to any of those questions. He has a series of messages on the London Baptist Confession. They have a plurality of elders and bylaws and a constitution.

Ken said...

Getting back to the subject of the post . . .

By the way, James, thanks for all your hard work in reviewing Devin Rose's book thoroughly.

Your review, with Turretinfan's, together are very good.

Regarding The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, since it also itself is written down in Scripture, it has a different quality than the historical ecumenical councils.

Peter says that the Gentiles are saved by grace alone, through faith alone - "cleansing their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9)

James quotes from Amos 9:11-12 to affirm Peter's statements; the book of Galatians brings Paul's statements together with it. Perfect apostolic harmony on the gospel.

The first four Ecumenical Councils in church history - Nicea (325 AD), Constantinople (381 AD), Ephesus (431 AD), and Chalcedon (451 AD) are authoritative in that they properly interpret the infallible Scriptures on the issues of Christ, His Deity, eternal Sonship, homo-ousias with the Father, the Deity of the Holy Spirit, the humanity of Jesus, that Jesus is one person with 2 natures, and that Jesus is 100 % man and 100 % God in nature.

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

Guy Fawkes / Jim wrote:
Christ, in his high priestly prayer, prayed that the Church all be One. No way can you square Jesus' prayer with the myriad denominations that are Protestantism.

True, but there was complete harmony in the apostolic band, and we see this in their harmony in the doctrine of the gospel in Acts 15, that the Gentiles don't have to add anything to faith in order to become justified before God. Peter - "cleansing their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9), etc. James quoting Amos 9:9-11, and Paul's book of Galatians - all teach the same gospel of salvation by grace alone and justification by faith alone.

Later in history, some false practices, doctrines, and traditions of men were added in slowly, and later was over-developed into full blown heresies and it took centuries to get things back on tract.

Also, the unity of the state and church from Theodosius (380-392 AD) onward in history, and the force and punishments and harshness and persecution against heretics is a problem of church history. The culture and context of the Reformers also inherited that practice, which was going on for centuries. It took a while to overcome that in western European - American culture.

Bottom line, Protestants put Truth above external uniformity, while at the same time, seek to promote peace and unity in their churches; Roman Catholicism puts organizational uniformity under the Pope as supreme, but they wrongly think that that is somehow obedience to John 17. John 17 says nothing about a Pope to help hold the unity together.

Ken said...

Guy,
Then why did the God-breathed Scriptures only talk about a plurality of elders/overseers?

Acts 14:23 - the apostles appointed elders (plural) for every church.

Acts 20:17 - Paul calls the elders (plurality) of the church at Ephesus.

Acts 20:28 - same context - tells those elders that they all are to: 1. lead as overseers/bishops 2. shepherd/pastor/feed/guard the flock

1 Peter 5:1-4 - Peter calls himself "fellow-elder"

Peter says the elders are to:
1. lead as overseers/bishops
2. feed/shepherd/guard/pastor the flock

Titus 1:5-7
appoint elders (plurality) verse 5
verse 7 - continuation - the overseer/episcopas must . . . etc.

meaning the elder and overseer is the same.

nothing about one man leader.

Ken said...

Also,
Philippians 1:1 - overseers and deacons (2 groups of plurality). Overseers are same as elders in the other passages above.

After Scripture was finished:

I Clement 42-44
and

The Didache 15

confirms this - only 2 offices and the elders (presbyters) and episcopai (overseers/bishops) are the same office.

James Swan said...

If William Webster were to start 8 new denominations, this does not mean his argumentation against Romanism innacurate.

Ken said...

Laying on of hands and appointing bishops means nothing if the doctrine is wrong. Emptry rituals and dead religion; Romanism.

The succession of Romanism was broken because of the ugliness of all these false doctrines - especially adding Purgatory and Indulgences (600 AD and beyond)

Transubstantiation - 800s - 1215

1302 - Unam Sanctum - Boniface VIII adding to Scripture that in order to be saved every human creature must be in submission to the Pontif of Rome. Ha!

Trent - 1545-1563 - gutting the gospel of its heart.

IC of Mary - 1854

Pope, Infall.- 1870

BA of Mary - 1950

The RC is a false church and no matter of laying on of hands of succession of bishops makes it a true church, since people are fallible and they added false doctrines into the deposit, so that that RC doctrinal statement (the CCC) is false.

Unity around heresies is not Biblical unity.

Cletus Van Damme said...

Ken,

"Regarding The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, since it also itself is written down in Scripture, it has a different quality than the historical ecumenical councils."

Now this is interesting. James keeps on asserting Devin is assuming what he needs to prove, and yet what proof do we have that the model/precedent set by the Jerusalem council was a one-off thing that would no longer be followed once the final word of Scripture was penned? Granting sola scriptura, I would think that would have to be pretty explicitly stated in Scripture to be consistent.

Similarly, you and James seem to agree apostolic preaching/practice of the faith preceded inscripturation. So at a minimum it seems Tradition and inscripturation were operating in parallel until the last sentence of the last book was written correct? So why assume that pattern and the rule of faith suddenly changed and shifted in essence in terms of transmission and operation when the last inspired word was penned – would it not be more reasonable to assume the pattern continued by default (especially when the church was already operating for decades) unless there was strong evidence to the contrary? And given your rule of faith, such evidence would have to exist in the writings/Scripture themselves correct? But if your rule of faith was not operating during inscripturation (as James notes), I fail to see how that can even be possible, let alone probable since any appeal to support SS would violate the original meaning/intent of the words.


"The first four Ecumenical Councils in church history - Nicea (325 AD), Constantinople (381 AD), Ephesus (431 AD), and Chalcedon (451 AD) are authoritative in that they properly interpret the infallible Scriptures"

Yep, sola reduces to solo scriptura. Councils/confessions are only authoritative insofar as they conform to my current interpretation of Scripture.

Unknown said...

All the bluster over Mr. Webster's exit because of a disagreement, fails to recall that God
ALLOWED there to be a rift between Paul & Barnabus; a disagreement so great that they had to SEPARATE one from the other (Acts 15:39). Have you ever stopped to consider that the Lord ordained two perfectly capable servants to (gasp!) disagree.... so that they would go in two opposite directions to more widely spread the good news and minister effectively in different locations? He thus accomplishes a greater objective than their being in agreement.

Unknown said...

Cletus said:
"The CCC also identifies the rock in multiple senses. It's a false dichotomy to assume it only can have one sense (which is why fathers appeal to multiple senses as well)."

The real point of the issue, which you omit to say, is that the allegedly infallible Vatican 1, (after incorrectly identifying Peter as the pillar of the church, contrary to Scripture which says the CHURCH is the pillar), went on to dictate a PRIMARY sense of Matt 16, which makes adhering to "multiple senses" pointless. Why? Because if one does not submit to their PRIMARY meaning that Peter was the rock on which the church was to be built, non-Catholics must take those secondary "multiple senses" with them into hell, because salvation has now been forfeited. We read that...

"the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both individually and collectively, are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, not only in matters which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the whole world, in such a way that once the unity of communion and the profession of the same Faith has been preserved with the Roman Pontiff, there is one flock of the Church of Christ under one supreme shepherd.
This is the teaching of the Catholic truth from which no one can depart without loss of faith and salvation."

These sentiments are in unison with Boniface VIII, in his Bull, "Unam Sanctam", which demands that it is, "altogether necessary for every human creature to subject to the Roman Pontiff."

However, the current catechism would seem to refute all of these notions when they say:

"It is right and just to entrust ourselves wholly to God and to believe absolutely what He says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature" (#150).

Count on it then: Jesus Christ did not break through the curtain of this world to suffer a bloody and ignominious death just so that we be subservient to a man wearing a religious costume in Rome, Italy. Hence, like a phony $2.00 bill, Catholicism must be branded as counterfeit Christianity.

Unknown said...

Sneaky Mr. Fawkes said:
"But remember, the Apostles were given two things; a power and authority. The power to forgive sins and offer sacrifice and the authority to rule, shepherd,teach, oversee, bind and loose doctrine."

Sneaky because of the unbiblical insertion that the apostles were given the power to "offer sacrifice". Spare me.
Under no circumstances whatsoever were the apostles ever given the power to offer any sort of sacrifice in the midst of an imaginary sacerdotal priesthood the Bible does not even hint at. Not only does the Text never mention such an office in the list of church offices (1 Cor 12:28-29 & Eph 4:11-12), but In an epistle replete with sacrificial language, never once does the book of Hebrews equate the notion of sacrifice with the eucharist, which is where it OUGHT to be mentioned if Catholicism were true.

Ken said...

Cletus Van Damme wrote:
So why assume that pattern and the rule of faith suddenly changed and shifted in essence in terms of transmission and operation when the last inspired word was penned – would it not be more reasonable to assume the pattern continued by default (especially when the church was already operating for decades) unless there was strong evidence to the contrary? And given your rule of faith, such evidence would have to exist in the writings/Scripture themselves correct?

When we look at the content of "the rule of faith" or "the tradition" or "the preaching" or "the faith" in Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Athanasius - when they tell us what it consists of - it is always a Trinitiarian doctrinal statement that later became creedal statements similar to the Apostles Creed, the Nicean-Constantinopolatian Creed, developed into the Athanasian Creed, etc.

God the Father and creator (against Gnosticism and Docetism)
Jesus the Son, the eternal Word
became flesh
born of virgin Mary
suffered, died, buried, rose from the dead
the Holy Spirit

eternal life for those that believe, hell for those who reject

second coming, judgement
etc.

None of them have any of the particular Roman Catholic doctrines or seeds that became Roman dogmas in later centuries.

These doctrinal statements functioned in the early centuries to teach and disciple new converts, even though they didn't have all the 27 books in one place. But because all of those doctrines were Biblical and were taught orally by the apostles while the scriptures were being written, the idea of the apostolic rule of faith is not contradictory to Sola Scriptura, since every point of the Trinitarian Creeds is rooted in Biblical truth.

Ken said...

Of course we believe 1 Tim. 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6-7 the council of elders/presbytery bestowed a charisma (spiritual gift/ grace gift) onto Timothy; and in the 2 Tim. passage it was Paul.

Do these passages teach that all future presbyters/bishops have that same ability that the apostle had in those passages?

Is the gift a spiritual gift of teaching, or is it the legitimate office of a bishop (as Roman Catholicism claims)?

where is the meaning of infallibility of interpretation promised to be passed down by the laying on of hands down through history?

What about the anti-popes in history ?

What about the Avignon Papacy?

Ken said...

Rules of faith in the early church:

Irenaeus - Against Heresies 1:10:1 to 1:11:1

1:22:1

3:4:2

Tertullian
Prescription Against Heretics, 13:1-6

Against Praxeas, 2:1-2

Origen
On First Principles, 1. preface. 2-8

Athanasius
to Serapion 1:28-29

Ken said...

After a litany of articles of the Creed, you said,
"None of them have any of the particular Roman Catholic doctrines or seeds that became Roman dogmas in later centuries."

No? What about calling God the CREATOR? That is a major Catholic distinctive not found in your version of the OT.
(Pssssst, Ken! The Genesis account makes God out to be a maker, not a Craetor Ex Nihilo. For that doctrine, you need to go to Maccabees.)


Guy,
What I meant was that none of the rule of faith in the early church (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Athanasius, Nicean Creed, etc.) are the particular Roman Catholic ones that Prostestants/Evangelicals disagree with and are still protesting against.

God as creator ex nihilo is evident in Genesis and Hebrews 11:3; and we Evangelical Protestants agree with that.

You cannot find Irenaeus, or Tertullian or Origen or Athanasius, when they list the doctrines in the rule of faith (see the references above) adding anything like a Pope or prayers to Mary or IC of Mary or BA of Mary or indulgences or Purgatory or treasury of merit or Transubstantiation in those explications of what the rule of faith is.

Ken said...

I don't know ken, you tell me about the wicked sons of Eli, the apostasy of Israel in the desert, David's sin, Kaiphas, Judas, etc. etc.

The parallel of the Roman priesthood/succession of bishops with OT Israel breaks down, because there was no infallible interpretative authority in OT, only Scriptures and fallible men and Jesus rebuked them for wrong teaching and false doctrine - Matthew 16:12; Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23

Or what about Calvin instituting a reign of terror in Geneva, Luther getting the peasants butchered, Henry VIII murdering his wives, Zwingli getting laymen to eats meat while he abstained, Jimmy Swaggart and worst of all, you sir.

I am worst of all ? Wow. Tell me how?

I have zero respect for Henry VIII - admittedly, he was a total jerk and the spiritual Reformation in England did not take place through him.

Calvin - the RCs were going to execute Servetus also - he inherited that culture from the RCs.

same thing with Luther on the peasants revolt.

Swaggart is not in the same category. He is a nut.

Zwingli - I dont know how that relates.

When the Zurich city council drowned Felix Manz, that is better parallel. I agree with Manz - he rebaptized himself the proper way, as a believer first, not an infant who cannot understand or repent or believe. That excecution of him was unjust and evil.

Anyway, the parallel doesn't work, or your "tu quoque" doesn't work because we don't claim any kind of succession of infallible coucil of presbyters down through history.

We can pick the good from Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and reject the areas where they went wrong or overboard, etc. We can test all things by Scripture.

Ken said...

3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Hebrews 11:3

Creation ex nihilo

Ken said...

So, "Irenaeus, or Tertullian or Origen or Athanasius," had nothing to say on prayers for the dead, Mary or the Eucharist, eh Ken?

Not in the sections that explicate "the rule of faith". They affirmed the virgin conception/birth of Jesus, but not perpetual virginity. Real presense of the Eucharist is not physical or transubstantiation, but even the simple Eucharist or Lord's supper is not mentioned in the "rule of faith". don't know about prayers for the dead.

Ken said...

Even the Image of God was erased from you . . .

Protestant theology does not teach that.

You are mis-informed.

The image of God is not erased or destroyed, rather, damaged in every part of mind, soul, spirit, emotions, will, conscience.

Cletus Van Damme said...

Ken,

"How is that "my current interpretation of Scripture" when I am agreeing with the interpretation of the early church on..."

Because you only agree with those councils solely because they happen to agree with your interpration of Scripture; that's precisely why you limit "authority" only to the first 4 councils and reject subsequent councils - because you believe they teach contrary to your interpretation of Scripture. That's also exactly why you reject Augsburg or other non-Reformed confessions as authoritative. Sola is just a smokescreen for solo - it can't help be otherwise.

"When we look at the content of "the rule of faith" or "the tradition" or "the preaching" or "the faith" in Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Athanasius "

Obviously I disagree with your conflation of material sufficiency or a high reverence for Scripture amongst the fathers as them endorsing sola scriptura. But the fathers are not germane to my questions/points I raised to you.

"None of them have any of the particular Roman Catholic doctrines or seeds that became Roman dogmas in later centuries."

Great - so become Eastern Orthodox. Again this is not germane to the questions/points I raised to you concerning the rule of faith, not specific Roman dogmas.

"These doctrinal statements functioned in the early centuries to teach and disciple new converts, even though they didn't have all the 27 books in one place. But because all of those doctrines were Biblical and were taught orally by the apostles while the scriptures were being written, the idea of the apostolic rule of faith is not contradictory to Sola Scriptura"

Sola Scriptura proposes Scripture is the sole infallible authority and that everything necessary for salvation is perspicuous and may be deduced from it. You are telling me that a rule of faith that has infallible preaching/practice (i.e. Tradition) alongside infallible Scripture is not contradictory to Sola Scriptura. That would mean there are 2 infallible authorities, not one, which is contradictory to SS. As White (and Swan) said, SS cannot be operative during apostolic times by definition. You are also apparently telling me that an incomplete canon is not necessary for SS to function which seems incoherent - how is one able to determine "all of those doctrines were biblical" if the canon is incomplete and the hermeneutic of "Scripture interpreting Scripture" is necessary to determine whether a doctrine is indeed "biblical" or not?

Ken said...

Guy,
I have not had time to keep up with your comments till now.

Those who are justified are sanctified also. A truly born again person has the love of God (your expression, "Charity") in their hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:5
"and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Romans 8:9 - if a person does not have the Holy Spirit, they are not a Christian.

We of course also believe in Galatians 5:6 -

Galatians 5:6 "faith working through love"

We are new creatures in Christ, cleansed by the blood of Christ - the dead of Christ - and by faith alone, He imputes His righteousness to us - look at Revelation 7:9-14 - the white robes are the righteousness of Christ that He imputes / gives to us, based on the blood/death/atonement of Christ - His blood washes us white - meaning His death - how can literal blood make white? It cannot - it means by faith in His atonement (Romans 3:21-26), His perfect rightousness is imputed to us, and our sinfulness was transferred to Him on the cross. (Lev. 16; Isaiah 53:6; 10; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18, 2 Cor. 5:21)

Ken said...

Hi Guy,
The whole issue of a whether a truly born-again Christian can loose their salvation is a big topic.

You know the Reformed view of that, I think.

God is able to keep His own, and does so.
John 10:27-30

"no one is able to snatch them out of My hand"

Romans 8:28-34
"all who are justified are also glorified"
God gives perseverance to true believers.

But there are many who say they have faith and believe and it even seems like are believers, but later turn away and it turns out they never really were true believers.

Matthew 7:23 - Jesus said, "I never knew you"

1 John 2:19, etc.

2 Peter 2:22 - like a pig after washing returning to the mud. - shows the heart/nature was not changed.

Anyway, you can research those issues here: lots of material:
Perseverance of the saints

http://www.monergism.com/topics/perseverance-saints

Ken said...

The Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine by John Jefferson Davis
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society [JETS] 34/2 (June 1991) p. 213-228

I. AUGUSTINE
The first extensive discussion of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is found in Augustine's Treatise on the Gift of Perseverance, written in A.D. 428 or 429 in the context of the controversies with Pelagius on the issues of grace, original sin, and predestination. [1] At the very outset Augustine affirms the grace of God as the ultimate basis for the believer's final perseverance: "I assert....that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God." [2] From a human perspective it is inscrutable why, given two pious men, one should be given the grace of final perseverance and the other not. From a divine perspective it must be the case that the individual who perseveres is among the predestined while the other is not. [3] The one who fails to persevere has not been called according to God's plan and chosen in Christ according to God's purpose. [4]

God's sovereignty in election and predestination, then, is the basis for Augustine's understanding of final perseverance. The grace of God

"which both begins a man's faith and which enables it to persevere unto the end is not given in respect of our merits, but is given according to His own most secret and at the same time most righteous, wise, and beneficent will; since those whom He predestinated, them He also called, with that calling of which it is said, 'The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.' " [5]

It is clear for Augustine, based on his understanding of the Pauline texts in Romans, that God's elect will certainly persevere to the end and attain eternal salvation.

Ken said...

Footnotes from the article on Augustine:

[1] Citations of the treatise are from The Works of Aurelius Augustine, vol 15, Anti-Pelagian Works (ed. M. Dods; T and T Clark, 1876). The Latin title is De Dono Perseverantiae, "On the Benefit of Perseverance."
[2] Ibid. 172 (chap 1). [3] Ibid. 187 (chap 21). [4] Ibid. 188 (chap 21). The references are to Rom 8:28; Eph 1:4.
[5] Ibid. 200-201 (chap.33). Augustine cites Rom 8:30; Rom 11:29 in relation to God's predestining the elect.

James Swan said...

I just did a quick count. Out of the 80 comments left under this thread, around 50 of them were posted by Guy Fawkes.

James Swan said...

The blog entry states:

In actuality, what Protestants have historically rejected is Rome's misuse of the term theotokos, not the theological term itself used at the third ecumenical council [see for instance, James White, Mary- Another Redeemer? (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998, chapter 5].

Ken said...

Istanbul (modern Constantinople) has lots of cats also.

:)

Pete Holter said...

Hi Guy!

“Mariolatry” isn’t a pejorative term, but it’s how they encapsulate their understanding of our belief system in a single term. They view “adoration” and “hyperdulia” as being a distinction without a difference. They view prayer as something to be made only to God and as an extension of worship. Etc. Mariolatry is an accurate description from their perspective. Mary is in undisturbed, eternal felicity. We may leave it to God to avenge His cause.

It can take people a long time to craft a response to online interactions. And the owner of a blog simply does not always have an interest in pursuing the related points of discussion raised by those who comment. Their blog is a means of sharing their own theological interests and inviting others to join in on their pursuit. But it’s to their own discretion how far the interaction will go on any given topic without our needing to assign bad motives.

Several times I’ve noticed you make the comment about not being the initiator of “nastiness.” But our Lord Jesus says to those who hear, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:27-29). “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:46-48). He commands us, and His love in us compels us to it. We Catholics are held to a higher standard and will be judged more strictly.

Based on the volume of comments you’ve posted here, you may want to consider having your own blog and interacting with Beggars All from there. Volume is not necessarily a bad thing (Calvin complained of Augustine’s wordiness; but, although Augustine tried to guard against this, Augustine could also make the point that his wordiness might be helpful to the slow of learning), but I think that it would be a better witness if you were at least less demanding, less provocative, and less insulting towards our host (less caffeine???).

At the same time, thank you for your desire to bring people into the unity of love and faith that we share in the Catholic Church. May God bless your ardent desire! And I think you have also shared some helpful information. Thanks!

With love in Christ,
Pete

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

Hey Pete,
That was excellent and exactly right.

Guy,
If you click on "Mariolatry" on the labels/topic/subject sidebar, you will see that many of the articles are ones that I wrote - and I labeled them "Mariolatry".

I agree with James that the theological intention and meaning of Theotokos was about Jesus. Mary as "The one who was bearing and bore God" - that Jesus always existed and when entered the womb of Mary, He was always God even in the womb. Mary provided the human nature for Jesus to have 2 natures - a human nature and divine nature.

The main reason for not engaging you lately is time and also a lot of the information that you keep demanding either we already discussed or is available in past articles here, or easily available somewhere else.

Pete is right and a good model for how to engage the issues.

Zacharias said...

"They contend that for a council to be considered an ecumenical (and therefore authoritative) one, it had to have been attended by all five major patriarchs (bishops of important cities or areas): those of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. They claim that the first four councils met this criterion."

The 2nd Oecumenical Council does not match this criterion since Rome had no part in it. It was presided by Meletius who died during it. Meletius was the rival of Paulinus, Damase was in communion with the later and not with the former.

So Meletius and Rome were not in communion and this Council was held without Rome participation in any way.

The meletian schism is a known event and that Devin Rose does not seem to know about it is no surprise.