Thursday, February 28, 2008

Some dealings with Islam

A recent thread has gotten off track and so I'd like to set this post in place to continue the discussions started there.
Many thanks to Shahiroz for the contributions and discussion thus far.

Just so you can have an idea of what we're talking about, I'll post my latest comment here. It is responding to this and this comments.

Hi Shahiroz,

Thanks again for your thoughts.

How is Islam false if Christ is divine?

B/c the Quran states explicitly that Isa is not divine.
Surah 5:116-120 (YusufAli) -
And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah'?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.
"Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, 'worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord'; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.
"If Thou dost punish them, they are Thy servant: If Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power, the Wise."
Allah will say: "This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are gardens, with rivers flowing beneath,- their eternal Home: Allah well-pleased with them, and they with Allah: That is the great salvation, (the fulfilment of all desires).
To Allah doth belong the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, and it is He Who hath power over all things.

There is only one God in both Christianity and Islam…please tell me you agree with me.

The question is not monotheism (as we are both monotheists) but Unitarianism. Specifically, whether Christ is God.

Accepting a claimant by what he says is insufficient proof.

You are not an atheist. You are a Muslim, are you not? Then you must believe that Isa was at the least a prophet of Allah. Would a prophet of Allah make false blasphemous claims like "I am God"?

I do believe Christ is Divine.

May I say that you are a strange Muslim?
Forget "divine". Is Christ God?

I didn’t say Isa might have been making a false claim

Well, you said "there have been many claimants". I don't see why you said that.
But OK, when He claimed to be God, accepted worship in place of God, claimed divine attributes, what does that mean?

Muhammad affirming His own authority makes Him worthy of the same acceptance

Muhammad never claimed to be God. We evaluate what he DID claim. We must do the same with Isa to be fair-minded.

Simply put “There is one God, Muhammad and Jesus are two of his Divine Messengers.

But Isa did not allow the option to treat Him like a simple messenger of God. He claimed to be God.

I have no problem saying God in flesh, we all have God in our flesh

I repeat, and I mean no offense, but I've never met a Muslim with stranger beliefs than yours.
You said you're Shia...I am just a little confused. Oh well.
A few questions based on this:
1) Do we all have God in our flesh in the same way that Jesus did? If so, could you briefly describe how you know that?
2) Jesus accepted worship from humans along with the appellation "My Lord and my God!". Does that mean that, since I have God in my flesh, I can also legitimately accept worship from others? Will God be perfectly OK with that?
3) Is it OK for me to say "Before Abraham was, I am"?

A few things since TurretinFan is putting some time in answering David Waltz. Of course he can comment on what he wants, but here's what I'd like to know:

We only have Christ’s words through the NT as represented by the Apostles-Not his words.

But they are quoting Christ.
On what basis can you determine whether they were accurately quoting Christ or not? You clearly believe some of what the NT says about Christ. How can you tell which parts are wrong?


Here are 3 reasons:
1) B/c the Qur'an says in Surah 5:116-120 that Christ is NOT God.
2) B/c the Qur'an says in Surah 4 that Christ was not even crucified.
3) Re: What fruit does the ministry of the prophet bring? Does it lead God's people to holiness and purity? Matthew 7:15,20; 1 Corinthians 14:3,4 Muhammad's teachings have led people into a false idea of how they might be saved. He has taught them that their works can play a part in bringing about their salvation, while the revelation of the NT is that we are saved by unmerited grace only, through faith only.

The Quran teaches the punishment of the wicked is endless too.

This contradicts your earlier statement: just and merciful God saves everyone

Which is it? Are some wicked people punished endlessly or is everyone saved?

The Lord Jesus himself never said to worship him.

He accepted worship.

He denied the idea of tritheism of any kind

Oh! You've been doing so well! Please don't fall back into the careless and dishonorable caricatures that so many other Muslims do, calling Christianity tritheistic. Let's stay on topic!

For this concept of the “Trinity” is an esoteric concept. Nothing literal about it

What is your argument for that?
And is there a reason why you did not respond to T-Fan's Quranic citations?

Only Christ can justly judge my love for Him

True, but He has already clearly revealed the verdict and its bases:
John 8:24 - He said to them, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."
John 3:18 - Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

We judge your BELIEFS as beliefs that do not save, based on God's revelation.
We don't need to judge your sins; the New Testament judges you a sinner already. Everyone is a sinner. We need grace from God to be saved, and that grace is given through faith in the true Jesus Christ.

Let me reiterate that I appreciate very much your hanging around and answering questions and interacting. That is hard to find on the Internet! Thanks again.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A week and a half ago, he set Patrick Madrid, the Art Of Attack goes after Robert Sungenis...

"I call on Bob Sungenis as a professed loyal son of the Catholic Church to submit to his Ordinary in this matter. We Catholic apologists are the victims of the lies and bigotry of Anti-Catholics all the time. We should be very careful ourselves not to promote falsehoods about other people."

Yes, I have followed the Sungenis issue, off and on. My point in bringing it up is to show that Catholic apologists confess unity because of an infallible Church authority, and do not have... unity. This does not "prove" that the Roman Church is not an infallible authority (I would argue this in another way), but it does show that the fault for non-unity is not with an infallible authority, but rather with those who ascribe to it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

U.S. Catholic Landscape

A recent survey from The Pew Forum shows some interesting trends in the U.S. Roman Catholic population:

“While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic. These losses would have been even more pronounced were it not for the offsetting impact of immigration. The Landscape Survey finds that among the foreign-born adult population, Catholics outnumber Protestants by nearly a two-to-one margin (46% Catholic vs. 24% Protestant); among native-born Americans, on the other hand, Protestants outnumber Catholics by an even larger margin (55% Protestant vs. 21% Catholic).”

“…Another example of the dynamism of the American religious scene is the experience of the Catholic Church. Other surveys - such as the General Social Surveys, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago since 1972 - find that the Catholic share of the U.S. adult population has held fairly steady in recent decades at around 25%. What this apparent stability obscures, however, is the large number of people who have left the Catholic Church. Approximately one-third of the survey respondents who say they were raised Catholic no longer describe themselves as Catholic. This means that roughly 10% of all Americans are former Catholics. These losses, however, have been partly offset by the number of people who have changed their affiliation to Catholicism (2.6% of the adult population) but more importantly by the disproportionately high number of Catholics among immigrants to the U.S. The result is that the overall percentage of the population that identifies as Catholic has remained fairly stable.”

“…Major changes in the makeup of American Catholicism also loom on the horizon. Latinos, who already account for roughly one-in-three adult Catholics overall, may account for an even larger share of U.S. Catholics in the future. For while Latinos represent roughly one-in-eight U.S. Catholics age 70 and older (12%), they account for nearly half of all Catholics ages 18-29 (45%).”
Perhaps Catholic apologist's time would be better spent promoting immigration.

Checking ECF Quotes

This morning I was thumbing through Appendix 1 of the book, Not By Scripture Alone, a volume with articles by different Catholic apologists, compiled and edited by Robert Sungenis. In this Appendix, Sungenis lists, "A Dossier Illustrating the Authority of Tradition and Church." The first quote he uses is from Alexander of Alexandria and appears on pages 487-488. Below I have reproduced the quote as cited by Sungenis. The entire context from Alexander can be found here.

As you read through this quote, let me know why this quote is against sola scriptura. Remember, sola scriptura does not deny the church has authority, nor does a correct understand of the doctrine fumble over "tradition" and such verses like 2 Thes. 2:15. I did highlight and underline one phrase below, not highlighted in Not By Scripture Alone (I wonder why...hmm...)

"Who will not either that any of the ancients should be compared with them, or suffer that any of those whom, from our earliest years, we have used as instructors should be placed on a level with them. Nay, and they do not think that any of all those who are now our colleagues, has attained even to a moderate amount of wisdom; boasting themselves to be the only men who are wise and divested of worldly possessions, the sole discoverers of dogmas, and that to them alone are those things revealed which have never before come into the mind of any other under the sun. Oh, the impious arrogance! Oh, the immeasurable madness! Oh, the vainglory befitting those that are crazed! Oh, the pride of Satan which has taken root in their unholy souls. The religious perspicuity of the ancient Scriptures caused them no shame, nor did the consentient doctrine of our colleagues concerning Christ keep in check their audacity against Him. Their impiety not even the demons will bear, who are ever on the watch for a blasphemous word uttered against the Son...

Concerning whom we thus believe, even as the Apostolic Church believes...

And besides the pious opinion concerning the Father and the Son, we confess to one Holy Spirit, as the divine Scriptures teach us; who has inaugurated both the holy men of the Old Testament, and the divine teachers of that which is called the New. And besides, also, one only Catholic and Apostolic Church, which can never be destroyed, though all the world should seek to make war with it; but it is victorious over every most impious revolt of the heretics who rise up against it. For her Goodman has confirmed our minds by saying, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."3 John 16:33 After this we know of the resurrection of the dead, the first-fruits of which was our Lord Jesus Christ, who in very deed, and not in appearance merely, carried a body, of Mary Mother of God, who in the end of the world came to the human race to put away sin, was crucified and died, and yet did He not thus perceive any detriment to His divinity, being raised from the dead, taken up into heaven, seated at the right hand of majesty.

These things in part have I written in this epistle, thinking it burdensome to write out each accurately, even as I said before, because they escape not your religious diligence. Thus do we teach, thus do we preach. These are the apostolic doctrines of the Church, for which also we die, esteeming those but little who would compel us to forswear them, even if they would force us by tortures, and not casting away our hope in them."

If you do have a chance, I strongly suggest reading the entire context of this quote. It's not that long. I found it interesting that after Alexander produced Biblical argumentation about the Deity of Christ, he states,

"Wherefore I do not think that he is to be reckoned amongst the pious who presumes to inquire into anything beyond these things, not listening to this saying: 'Seek not out the things that are too hard for you, neither search the things that are above your strength.' For if the knowledge of many other things that are incomparably inferior to this, are hidden from human comprehension, such as in the apostle Paul, 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.' "

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Larry Norman (April 8, 1947 – February 24, 2008)

Christian music artist Larry Norman died today. As a kid, I was a big fan of his music. Well, even as an adult I was a big fan of his music. I have quite collection of LN CD's and albums.

I don't really know what to say- Larry was only visiting this planet, and he knew it. It saddens me he's gone, but...he's now in another land, a much better land.

This website recorded LN's final words written yesterday:

I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

My brother Charles is right, I wont be here much longer. I cant do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.

My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you.

I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.

It was around 1980 when a guy at church gave me some Christian rock albums on cassette. Up until that time, I was listening to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and most of the popular rock on the radio. He gave me Resurrection Band's Awaiting Your Reply, and a few others I just simply don't remember anymore. The music was, well, pretty bad. I really tried to like it. The music was simply not as good as "real" music. The guitar players were not Jimmy Page, if you know what I mean.

He also gave me a cassette of Larry Norman, telling me it was not as "heavy" but I might like it. The album he had recorded for me was Norman's Only Visiting This Planet. Indeed, the music was not as heavy, but for some reason, the lyrics and music resonated with me. I really liked the album. It was...real. I didn't feel like the music was trying to be preachy or contrived. The songs spoke about rejection, loneliness, politics, racism, the facade of popular music, and...often and overtly....Jesus. I was hooked.

During the 1980's, as I went from a pimply teenager to an adult, I tracked down a lot of Norman's recordings. This was not easy. Norman had totally rejected the CCM "industry." His music was not easy to find. But, I did manage to find some rare gems. His album, So Long Ago The Garden had been pulled from Christian bookstores because of a controversial cover. somewhere down in my basement, I have an original MGM copy of this album. Larry then began his own company, distributing his own records. At this time, he had his father doing the orders. I still have some letters from Larry's dad, thanking me for my interest in his son's music.

I first saw Larry Norman perform in 1982 (somewhere, I have pictures and a recording from the concert). I recall going backstage to meet Larry. He would stay for hours after a concert to talk with people. During the 80's and early 90's, I saw Larry perform many times. Larry was always a treat to watch perform. He wasn't a great musician, but he was real.

Well, I wouldn't call Larry theologically "Reformed." In fact, as I reflect on the theology of Norman, I guess he was a quasi-dispensational, quasi-Arminian, if not bordering on Pelagianism at times. As my own theology shifted, I lost interest in Norman's music. It was not easy to listen to "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" and his other dispensational eschatological songs. That being said, I can honestly say that Norman's music was very influential in my life, and I would still classify it as "real" music. I still don't like Contemporary Christian music. I probably never will. That's why I'm tempted to say, Norman did not really do Contemporary Christian Music. Larry was a singer/songwriter who happened to be a Christian.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Too Much Time

Often when I am researching something online I happen across a website or article that just makes me wonder. I thought I would share this one.

Here is a clear example of someone with way too much time on their hands:

Was Mary like other women in her biological cycle?

That article comes out to 11 printed pages. Seriously, is this question keeping people up at night?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A prayer for judgment

I think I've caused a bit of a stir when I said:

I pray that God will have mercy on many unknowingly in the darkness of RCC and cause Mary to be elevated to the title of a person of the Divine Quadernity.

Apparently my previous explanation was not sufficient.
Let me try something else.

Romans 1:18-32
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
What relevance does this passage have to the topic at hand and my expressed hope?
RCC is, to many people, a viable option when it comes to Christian churches. Why? For the same reason that the Word of Faith and Oneness Pentecostal heretics like TD Jakes are seen that way - they use the words "Jesus", "Holy Spirit", "forgiveness", "grace", "faith", "love", "God", "church", "Bible", etc. They quote from the Bible. They have crosses (usually) in their buildings and around their necks.
Insufficient differentiation between them and that which is truly biblical has taken place, and that's of course partly the fault of the true people of God. But it's also the fault of those who wish to take some of the labels of the biblical faith upon themselves and cut out other parts they find less convenient.

I want this mixing, this near-syncretism, to be eradicated, so that the difference between truth and error may be clearly visible. I join my tiny voice to the bold voice of the Scripture - "come out from them and be separate" (2 Cor 6:17) - and to Jesus' own words in Matthew 16:6-12 -

Jesus said to them, "Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 7And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." 8But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Now, why the boldfaced print in the Rom 1 passage above? It is to point out that a fair amount of the perverted actions that are described in the passage are results of God's judgment on those who had already rejected God's revelation and the worship of God. They went from bad to worse, from rejection to perversion, from lust to homosexuality, from self-hurt to other-hurt as well, because God took what was in their hearts and caused it to be amplified, to distinguish it further from that which is good, to carry out further judgment and receive glory for His justice.

Our RCC friends will of course object, but all are invited to take a look at the three recent posts on that very topic and decide for themselves just how relevant the "images of mortal man" part of Romans 1 is to RCC practice, as well as the many references to Mariology/Mariolatry that have gone before on this blog.
Thus my prayer is that the institution of the church will go from bad to worse, from blasphemy to serious blasphemy, from implicit rejection of biblical truth to explicit, etc. I pray that individual people in great numbers would come out from the church, and that others would be swayed against joining her because the dogma is just too blasphemous for even the most clueless to accept.
And of course it should always be our prayer that God be glorified in all things. He has chosen to glorify Himself through such judgments visited upon blasphemous institutions. Glory to God in the way He chooses His glory to come. And may God have mercy.

Max Lucado's Trinity

Recently, I've been teaching a class covering various periods in church history. This past week, I covered the Council of Nicea, so I've been reading a lot on the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Truly brilliant was B.B. Warfield's "The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity (The Works of B.B. Warfield vol. II). Also very helpful was Dr. White's book, The Forgotten Trinity (as well as his article, "What Really Happened at Nicea?").

On the other hand, while looking around in the library of my church, I came across Max Lucado's book, No Wonder They Call Him The Savior. I had completely forgotten about this book. I had read it some years back, probably ten years ago. My copy, wherever it is, is penciled up with my own notes, as most of my books are (I tend to interact with the texts I read). There was one particular point in this book that I've never forgotten. So, I thumbed through the copy from the library. For a moment, I wondered if the text really said what I had remembered. It had been at least ten years since I had read it. Sure enough, it was there.

Commenting on, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46), Lucado states:

"The despair is darker than the sky. The two who have been one are now two. Jesus, who had been with God for eternity, is now alone. The Christ, who was an expression of God, is abandoned. The Trinity is dismantled. The Godhead is disjointed. The unity is dissolved" (p. 47).

Contrary to Max Lucado, the Trinity has never been dismantled, and the Godhead has never been disjointed. The persons of the Trinity are coeternal. The word "coeternal" would cease to describe the Trinity if Lucado is right.

I know many struggle with Matthew 27:46, but one thing should be perfectly clear. If Jesus intended by his words to state that "the unity is dissolved," one has to explain why Luke records Jesus then saying, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). If such separation between the Godhead had taken place, certainly Jesus would not have said these words.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rhology's Wish Comes True

Rhology said the following in the combox of the Rome defining Mary as Co-Redemptrix post:

"I'd like to see the title adopted by the RCC. And then I'd like to see Mary taken as the 4th member of a Quadernity by the RCC.

Apparently Rhology, a Filipino man, and Our Lady of Fatima all have something in common: seeing Mary elevated to part of the Godhead.

"The Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima states Mary’s divinity. Mary is God, Mary is the Soul of the Holy Spirit.

...Mary is God, is the Final Dogma of the Holy Catholic Church. The Most Holy Trinity demand its declaration by the Holy Father as ABSOLUTE prerequisite for the TOTAL Redemption of Creation.

...With this Last and Final mission that was entrusted to us, The Catholic Church, The Communion of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ, will without any doubt also come the Greatest outpouring of The Most Holy Spirit’s Grace. It is only through DIVINE GRACE that The Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima will be understood." Mary-Is-God Catholic Movement

I realize this message isn't condoned by the Catholic Church, but it was too bizarre not to share.

At 3 P.M. today, Chris Arnzen will continue his interview with MARK MICHAEL ZIMA, a Traditionalist Catholic in good standing, addressing the very controversial question "IS MOTHER TERESA A SAINT?: A Catholic's Critical Examination of a Modern Day Catholic Hero."

The show can be heard live at the Iron Sharpens Iron blog. Just follow the "Listen Live" link on the top right. The show takes live calls (if you have a point to make on this). The show will also be available as an MP3 later in the day.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blog Reading Level

Turretinfan found a fun little tool, the Blog Readability Test.

I checked Beggar’s All and the result was:

blog readability test

Then I checked my own blog and got:

blog readability test

I was surprised that my blog scored better and wondered what was pulling Beggars All down. Perhaps Rhology’s blog result is a clue:

blog readability test

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Calvinism, Arminianism and John 6:44

I've been a little busy lately, but I wanted to share some food for thought with some folks.

Brian Bosse has written on his blog A Logical Analysis of John 6:44. He also provides a link to the .pdf file of his paper which is here. It's a very interesting and maybe a somewhat difficult read.

He concludes:
given the Arminian understanding of universal atonement one is left with Universalism, while the Calvinistic understanding of a limited atonement is consistent.



Friday, February 15, 2008

Whitaker on the Canon of Scripture

“In the first place, we do not deny that it appertains to the church to approve, acknowledge, receive, promulge, commend the scriptures to all its members; and we say that this testimony is true, and should be received by all. We do not,therefore, as the papists falsely say of us, refuse the testimony of the church, but embrace it. But we deny that we believe the scriptures solely on account of this commendation of them by the church. For we say that there is a more certain and illustrious testimony, whereby we are persuaded of the sacred character of these books, that is to say, the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, without which the commendation of the church would have with us no weight or moment. The papists, therefore, are unjust to us, when they affirm that we reject and make no account of the authority of the church… But we deny that we believe the scriptures solely on account of this commendation of them by the church. The sum of our opinion is, that the scripture is ἀυτόπιστος [autopistos], that is, hath all its authority and credit from itself is to be acknowledged, is to be received, not only because the church hath so determined and commanded, but because it comes from God; and that we certainly know that it comes from God, not by the church, but by the Holy Ghost. Now by the church we understand not, as they do, the pastors, bishops, councils, pope; but the whole multitude of the faithful. For this whole multitude hath learned from the Holy Spirit that this scripture is sacred, that these books are divine. This persuasion the Holy Spirit hath sealed in the minds of all the faithful.

The state of the controversy, therefore, is this: whether we should believe that these scriptures which we now have are sacred and canonical merely on account of the church's testimony, or rather on account of the internal persuasion of the Holy Spirit; which, as it makes the scripture canonical and authentic in itself, makes it also to appear such to us, and without which the testimony of the church is dumb and inefficacious.”

-Disputation on Holy Scripture, William Whitaker (1588)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sippo vs. Madrid

Art Sippo has an interesting entry on Rome defining Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces. Patrick Madrid says don't do it, Art Sippo says do it. This issue hasn't been defined yet, so Roman Catholics are free to come to any stance they want to on it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Semi-Authoritative Catholic Canon

A popular argument by online Roman Catholic (RC) apologists centers around the certainty of the biblical canon. The RC apologist will ask the Protestant, “how can you be sure you have the right books without the infallible authority of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC)”? Likewise, the RC apologist will claim that the biblical canon taught since Hippo/Carthage and throughout history is the RC canon (with the Protestant canon “missing” books) despite acknowledging Church fathers and theologians who expressed doubts about the deuterocanonical books.

In previous posts we have seen that the vote to make the RC canon an article of faith by the addition of an anathema was not overwhelming supported by the council members at Trent. If the exact contents of the biblical canon was crystal clear throughout history as the RC apologists maintain, and clearly defined by past councils, one would have expected solid support for making the canon an article of faith. Yet that was not the case, why?

If we look at some of the canon discussions that occurred at the Council of Trent both before and after the February 15th vote in 1546 (which according to Catholic historian Hubert Jedin “committed the Council to the wider canon”), we will get a glimpse into some of the uncertainty around the canon. What we will see is what Chadwick described as quoted in a previous post, “In the cold light of finality, the formulas look rigid against Protestants. Seen as the end of a long debate with differing opinions, the formulas have more nuance, more flexibility, than any Protestant hitherto supposed.”

Following on a previous post, after describing the vote on Feb 15th, Jedin goes back to summarize the discussions that occurred in prior meetings leading up to the vote and the final implication:
“This question was not only a matter of controversy between Catholics and Protestants: it was also the subject of a lively discussion even between Catholic theologians. St Jerome, that great authority in all scriptural questions, had accepted the Jewish canon of the Old Testament. Thc books of Judith, Esther, Tobias, Machabees, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, which the majority of the Fathers, on the authority of the Septuagint, treated as canonical, Jerome described as apocryphal, that is, as not included in the canon though suitable for the edification of the faithful…The general of the Franciscans Observant, Calvus, dealt thoroughly with the problems raised by Cajetan in a tract drawn up for the purposes of the Counci1. He defended the wider canon, and in particular the canonicity of the book of Baruch, the story of Susanna, that of Bel and the dragon, and the canticle of the three children (Benedicite). On the other hand, he refused to accept the oft-quoted Apostolic Canons as authoritative for the canonicity of the third book of Machabees. The general of the Augustinians, Seripando, on the contrary, was in sympathy with Erasmus and Cajetan and sought to harmonise their views with the Florentine decree on the ground that the protocanonical books of the Old Testament, as "canonical and authentic", belong the the canon fidei, while the deuterocanonical ones, as "canonical and ecclesiastical books", belong to the canon morum. Seripando, accordingly, follows the tendency which had made itself felt elsewhere also in pre-Tridentine Catholic theology, which was not to withhold the epithet "canonical" from the deuterocanonical books, yet to use it with certain restrictions.

The tracts of the two generals of Orders show that opinions diverged widely even within the Council. The prestige of the Augustinian general and that of the Bishop of Fano who sided with him, may have prompted Cervini to discuss the whole complex question in his class. It became evident that no one supported the subtle distinction between a canon fidei and a canon morum, though it met with a somewhat more favourable reception in the general congregation of 12 February when several of the Fathers deemed it useful, though not necessary. The majority agreed with the opinion of the general of the Servites, that controverted theological questions, which had already been the subject of discussion between Augustine and Jerome, should not be decided by the Council but should be allowed to remain open questions. The result of the above-mentioned vote of the general congregation of 15 February committed the Council to the wider canon, but inasmuch as it abstained from a theological discussion, the question of differences between books within the canon was left as it had been.” History of the Council of Trent, pgs 56-57

Additional details around the discussion in the general congregation of Feb 12th are provided by Duncker:
“Cardinal Cervini, reporting the previous day's discussion in his Classis, brought up the two points still to be settled : First, whether a distinction is to be made between Sacred Books from which the foundations of our teaching are drawn and those which, though truly canonical, are not so in the same sense as the former (Acts: "not of the same authority") but are received by the Church so that from them the multitude may be instructed, such as the books of Proverbs, Wisdom and so on. This distinction would seem to be pertinent (…Acts:…does not seem off the point), because this question is still much disputed and not yet determined by the Church, though Augustine and Jerome and other ancient writers often spoke of it.

After having mentioned incidentally that Cardinal Pacheco was against this distinction, Severoli (and the Acts) only say that "Although many esteemed it useful and even not less necessary (Acts: 'yet less necessary'), nevertheless the view of several (Acts: Of the majority') prevailed, that this question be left intact to posterity (Acts: 'be omitted and left*) as it was left to us by our Fathers." The General of the Servites, Bonucci, insisted, in his turn, ". . . that this question must surely be left intact (Acts omit this part of his statement) as, in points on which Jerome and Augustine disagree, the Church has not been accustomed to pass judgment (Acts: 'the Synod should not pass judgment, as the Church has not been accustomed to do so').”

…The question was not yet settled, for that same night the Cardinal legates reported to Rome that the point about the degrees of the books of the Old Testament, which had come up during the debate, had still to lie examined, as many of the ancient holy Doctors had said that some were canonical and suited to settle dogmas and that others did not have so much authority but were only "agiographi" (sacred writings).” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol 15, pgs 285-286

The implication of the Tridentine decision on the Catholic canon is outlined by F. J. Crehan, S.J.:

“After sharp discussion the Council came to the decision that it received and held in honour pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia, with equal devotion and veneration, the books of Scripture and the divine and apostolic traditions (that is, those coming from Christ or the apostles) which concerned faith or morals. It did not mean that each book of Scripture was inspired in exactly the same way, as some modern theologians have claimed, for the Council was not comparing book with book but the body of Scripture with the body of apostolic tradition. …The further question, whether in the decree of Trent anything should be said about the status of books within the canon (that is, of the deuterocanonical books), was left to one side. Writing on 16 February 1546, the day after the debate, the legates report to Rome that there was general agreement not to enter into that question (Acta, x, 382) and the notice in the official account of the proceedings (Acts, V, 10), recording that there was a majority in favour of putting the books all on an equal footing but that nothing was put into the decree about it, seems to agree with this. The fact that the words pari pietatis affectu recipit do not appear in the decree, but another place, where they establish an equality between Scripture as a whole and Tradition, has led some theologians into a short-sighted attempt to twist the story of the Council. The legates cannot have been mistaken when they wrote that there was agreement not to enter into that difficult matter.” The Cambridge History of the Bible, pgs 199-202

So what does this all mean? First, it shows that the Catholic canon is imprecise in that it potentially contains books that are less authoritative and not adequate for proving dogma. A two-fold Catholic canon is still an open question according to the Council of Trent. Second, this imprecision translates into uncertainty for the faithful as the authority of any one book in the canon has intentionally been left undecided by the Catholic magisterium. Add to this the fact that a few books in the Vulgate were passed over in silence at the Council of Trent (3 & 4 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh), meaning that these books may or may not be inspired and deserving of a place in the canon, and we are left with an open Catholic canon containing books of potentially variable authority in matters of faith.

Likewise, the Catholic arguments against the Protestant canon as “missing books” or “inconsistent with church history” are also invalid in light of these facts. Where the Catholic Church has left the theological difficulties regarding the canon open, the Protestant canon could be a functional option from a Catholic point of view. As the Thomist, Scotist and Molinist schools of thought are all allowed to coexist in in areas of RC theology that are not precisely defined, a possible position to be held by a Roman Catholic is that the apocryphal books do not establish doctrine, which is quite close to the Protestant position in regard to these books. Jerome’s opinion of the biblical canon has not been rejected by the RCC, and Protestants have simply sided with Jerome as well as others throughout church history.

As such, the certainty that the standard RC apologist claims regarding their biblical canon is far from valid in my mind. The Council of Trent specifically chose not to provide clear answers to historical questions around the canon, leaving Catholics with uncertainty around the level of authority for individual books. The Protestant canon seems to provide far more certainty for understanding doctrine, as we have included in our canon all inspired books of God (none passed over in silence), all of which can be equally consulted in matters of faith (no degrees of authority). So while the "charisma of infallibility" possessed by the Catholic Church has been able to firmly establish the bodily assumption of Mary as dogma, they have been unable to adequately define the authoritative status of the components of Scripture in matters of doctrine. Once again, the facts of history do not align with the lofty claims of RC apologetics.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Welcome Envoy Participants: Compare & Contrast

Welcome Envoy participants.
A friend of mine was posting on the Envoy boards and was asked by Patrick Madrid to take the conversation "elsewhere." Please continue here if you so choose.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Chadwick's Catholicism & History (Trent)

Owen Chadwick’s Catholicism and History (C & H) tells the fascinating story of Augustin Theiner, the prefect of the secret archives of the Vatican, whose ambition it was in 1856-1857 to publish the Acts of the Council of Trent. The history of the documentation of the Council of Trent is almost as interesting as the Council itself. The Acts of the Council were extremely well-documented by the secretary of the Council, Angelo Massarelli, however the majority of the documentation lay unpublished for three hundred years in what eventually became the Vatican Secret Archives.

“The original acts of the Council, as prepared by its general secretary, Bishop Angelo Massarelli, in six large folio volumes, are deposited in the Vatican, and have remained there unpublished for more than three hundred years. But most of the official documents and private reports bearing upon the Council were made known in the sixteenth century, and since…The history of the Council was written chiefly by two able and learned Catholics of very different spirit: the liberal, almost semi-Protestant monk Fra PAOLO SARPI, of Venice (first, 1619); and, in the interest of the papacy, by Cardinal SFORZA PALLAVICINI (1656), who had access to all the archives of Rome.” Creeds of Christiandom, Schaff

“By Massarelli's diligence, no Council in Church history was better documented. But at that date, probably with the intention of silencing unnecessary discussion about predestination and grace, popes consciously adopted the policy of allowing no one to consult these papers. Not to make them available became an established rule of the Roman Curia.” (C & H, pg. 46)

Pallavicino’s History was Rome’s answer to Sarpi’s very popular work and became the excuse to not allow access to the Vatican’s documents on Trent for many years. However, as time went on, private collections of documents concerning Trent began to emerge publically, influencing Rome's stance.

“Everywhere documents were published - except from the place where the best documents lay. Historians see the past through the eyes of the authors of the archives which they use. Pallavicino - it was later seen as a defect - saw Trent only through the eyes of cardinals then in Rome. But now men were seeing Trent through the eyes of men in Madrid or Paris or Vienna. Pressure built up, that Rome must publish all, or at least more, of the original documents of the Council of Trent. No project could be dearer to Theiner. He persuaded Pope Pius IX that publication was desirable if not necessary. The Pope appointed a commission with a Dominican cardinal as chairman, and the commission (April 1857) reported favourably.” (C & H, pg. 49)

With this approval, Theiner moved forward with his work on Trent with the intent of publication. But as the details of the Council uncovered by Theiner came forward, the tide began to change with regards to approval,

“That autumn the course of the commission did not run smoothly. Some of the speeches at Trent, which Theiner wanted to publish, contained doubtful matter, even of uncertain orthodoxy. The Dominican chairman Cardinal Gaude asked Theiner to insert footnotes to refute what was wrong or explain what might be misunderstood. Theiner's sense of integrity was offended. He rejected such footnotes, and won… That winter of 1857 the commission, appointed to advise, suddenly recommended that the plan be suspended. One member of the commission, Father Tosa the Dominican, who began by being hesitant and soon was enthusiastic, suddenly turned against the scheme. The commission saw sheets already printed, and changed its mind.” (C & H, pg. 49-50)

Why the change of heart? Apparently, the discussions at the Council as documented by Massarelli provided detail that the commission felt could undermine the authority of the Church. The reaction of the commission gives some interesting insights into the discussions at Trent around both the canon of Scripture and Tradition:

“Massarelli reported what was said. He recorded the differences of opinion, the follies as well as the wisdom of the speakers, the unedifying as well as the edifying. If Massarelli's diaries were published, the decisions of the Council of Trent, sacred in so many minds, would no longer appear the unchallenged expression of a common Catholic mind, but the end of hard-fought debates over nuances of expression. Only the result had authority, not the course of events or utterances which led to the result. The upholders of Pallavicino maintained that to publish Massarelli could do nothing but weaken the authority of the canons of Trent, as well as the official history by Pallavicino. This was particularly true of the early debates on scripture and tradition, the authority of scripture, and its canon. In the cold light of finality, the formulas look rigid against Protestants. Seen as the end of a long debate with differing opinions, the formulas have more nuance, more flexibility, than any Protestant hitherto supposed. The examining commission particularly objected to the minutes which Theiner proposed to publish, and had already in proof, of the debate on the canon of holy scripture. Thus the Dominican Father Tosa, lately an enthusiast, became the main speaker on the commission of enquiry, that to publish was dangerous, or harmful to the Church. He said emphatically that to print these minutes could hand weapons to Protestantism to attack the Catholic Church and the Council of Trent. By the autumn of 1857 Tosa sufficiently carried the day for the commission to recommend suspension of the plan.” (C & H, pg. 50-51)

After the commission's decision, Theiner appealed to the Pope and continued to attempt to publish his work, but he ultimately failed to get approval. He later fell out of grace with the Vatican due to suspicion that he had passed on documents concerning the order of business at Trent, documents that were being suppressed by the Curia to avoid any effect on the Vatican I Council.

The short-lived potential of Theiner's original work is evident in the Journal of Sacred Literature, dated October 1857, which contains an announcement for the expected publication of the Theiner’s work:

“...The result is, that the Pope has consented to its publication, and added ten thousand scudi to aid in the project, and besides has re-instituted the famous printing- press of the Vatican, which will commence its new life with Padre Theiner's Complete History of the Council of Trent, and with the publication of all the original documents which have been so long kept from vulgar gaze among the countless MSS. of the Vatican. The first part will appear in three folio volumes, containing the complete diary of the Council as it was arranged by Signor Massarelli, the secretary, and signed by the fathers themselves; also the acts of the Council, from its formation on the 13th December, 1545, to its close on the 4th December, 1563, with all the disputes, controversies, and correspondence during that time. These acts are now for the first time presented to the world in an unmutilated form.”

Unfortunately, for Theiner, that day never came. After his fall from grace, Theiner was able to move much of his work on the Council of Trent out of Rome and with the help of friends, worked towards private publication. However, the scope of his work was much reduced from the initial expectations some fifteen years earlier (just two volumes instead of the anticipated seven). Theiner died just prior to the publication in 1874 of his Acta genuina ss. oecumenici Concilii tridentini. It wasn’t until 1901 when the first volume of Concilium Tridentinum was published that "the world" would finally have access to the full Acts of the Council of Trent (over many volumes/years).

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Warning: Envoy Forums

I'm wondering if someone hacked into Patrick Madrid's Enovy Forums (Surprised by Truth). I get a very odd virus alert message when I try to get in. It looks like someone was able to get the link to the forums redirected to something else, someplace that my virus software immediately views as a threat. I noticed that the http link changes to something when I click on it. Someone else tried the link and was given the warning that the site contained pornographic content.

The link is giving me trouble is the main page for the forums. DO NOT USE IT!

Speaking of trouble, it seems as if the Blogger spellcheck no longer works on my end over here.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

On The Legend of the Apostolic Origin of the Creed

In preparing some lecture material, I came across the folowing tidbit from Philip Schaff about how helpful the Early Church Fathers and infallible Tradition can be in preserving truth:

Note on the Legend of the Apostolic Origin of the Creed.

Till the middle of the seventeenth century it was the current belief of Roman Catholic and Protestant Christendom that the Apostles' Creed was 'membratim articulatimque' composed by the apostles in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, or before their separation, to secure unity of teaching, each contributing an article (hence the somewhat arbitrary division into twelve articles).

Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, commenced: 'I believe in God the Father Almighty;' Andrew (according to others, John) continued: 'And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;' James the elder went on: 'Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;' then followed John (or Andrew): 'Suffered under Pontius Pilate;' Philip: 'Descended into Hades;' Thomas: 'The third day he rose again from the dead;' and so on till Matthias completed the work with the words 'life everlasting. Amen.'

The first trace of this legend, though without the distribution alluded to, we find at the close of the fourth century, in the Expositio Symboli of Rufinus of Aquileja. He mentions an ancient tradition concerning the apostolic composition of the Creed ('tradunt majores nostri'), and falsely derives from this supposed joint authorship the name symbolon (from συμβάλλειν, in the sense to contribute); confounding σύμβολον, sign, with συμβολή, contribution ('Symbolum Græce et indicium dici potest et collatio, hoc est, quod plures in unum conferunt').

The same view is expressed, with various modifications, by Ambrosius of Milan (d. 397), in his Explanatio Symboli ad initiandos, where he says: 'Apostoli sancti convenientes fecerunt symbolum breviter;' by John Cassianus (about 424), De incarnat. Dom. VI. 3; Leo M., Ep. 27 ad Pulcheriam; Venantius Fortunatus, Expos. brevis Symboli Ap.; Isidorus of Seville (d. 636).

The distribution of the twelve articles among the apostles is of later date, and there is no unanimity in this respect. See this legendary form in the pseudo-Augustinian 23 Sermones de Symbolo, in Hahn, l.c. p. 24, and another from a Sacramentarium Gallicanum of the seventh century, in Heurtley, p. 67.

The Roman Catechism gives ecclesiastical sanction, as far as the Roman Church is concerned, to the fiction of a direct apostolic authorship.** Meyers, l.c., advocates it at length, and Abbé Martigny, in his 'Dictionnaire des antiquitées Chrétiennes,' Paris, 1865 (art. Symbole des apôtres, p. 623), boldly asserts, without a shadow of proof: 'Fidèlement attaché à la tradition de l’Église catholique, nous tenons, non-seulement qu’il est l’œuvre des apôtres, mais encore qu’il fut composé par eux, alors que réunis à Jérusalem, ils allaient se disperser dans l’univers entier; et qu’ils volurent, avant de séparer, fixer une règle de foi vraiment uniforme et catholique, destinée à être livrée, partout la même, aux catéchumènes.'

Even among Protestants the old tradition has occasionally found advocates, such as Lessing (1778), Delbrück (1826), Rudelbach (1844), and especially Grundtvig (d. 1872). The last named, a very able but eccentric high-church Lutheran bishop of Denmark, traces the Creed, like the Lord's Prayer, to Christ himself, in the period between the Ascension and Pentecost. The poet Longfellow (a Unitarian) makes poetic use of the legend in his Divine Tragedy (1871).
On the other hand, the apostolic origin (after having first been called in question by Laurentius Valla, Erasmus, Calvin) has been so clearly disproved long since by Vossius, Rivetus, Voëtius, Usher, Bingham, Pearson, King, Walch, and other scholars, that it ought never to be seriously asserted again.

The arguments against the apostolic authorship are quite conclusive:

1. The intrinsic improbability of such a mechanical composition.

It has no analogy in the history of symbols; even when composed by committees or synods, they are mainly the production of one mind. The Apostles' Creed is no piece of mosaic, but an organic unit, an instinctive work of art in the same sense as the Gloria in Excelsis, the Te Deum, and the classical prayers and hymns of the Church.

2. The silence of the Scriptures.

Some advocates, indeed, pretend to find allusions to the Creed in Paul's 'analogy' or 'proportion of faith,' Rom. xii. 7; 'the good deposit,' 2 Tim. i. 14; 'the first principles of the oracles of God,' Heb. v. 12; 'the faith once delivered to the saints,' Jude, ver. 3; and 'the doctrine,' 2 John, ver. 10; but these passages can be easily explained without such assumption.
3. The silence of the apostolic fathers and all the ante-Nicene and Nicene fathers and synods.

Even the œcumenical Council of Nicæa knows nothing of a symbol of strictly apostolic composition, and would not have dared to supersede it by another.

4. The variety in form of the various rules of faith in the ante-Nicene churches, and of the Apostolic Symbol itself down to the eighth century.

This fact is attested even by Rufinus, who mentions the points in which the Creed of Aquileja differed from that of Rome. 'Such variations in the form of the Creed forbid the supposition of any fixed system of words, recognized and received as the composition of the apostles; for no one, surely, would have felt at liberty to alter any such normal scheme of faith.'

5. The fact that the Apostles' Creed never had any general currency in the East, where the Nicene Creed occupies its place, with an almost equal claim to apostolicity as far as the substance is concerned.
** Pars prima, cap. 1, qu. 2 (Libri Symbolici Eccl. Cath., ed. Streitwolf and Klener, Tom. I. p. 111): 'Quæ igitur primum Christiani homines tenere debent, illa sunt, quæ fidei duces, doctoresque sancti Apostoli, divino Spiritu afflati, duodecim Symboli articulis distinxerunt. Nam, cum mandatum a Domino accepissent, ut pro ipso legatione fungentes, in universum mundum proficiscerentur, atque omni creaturæ Evangelium prædicarent: Christianæ fidei formulam componendam censuerunt, ut scilicet id omnes sentirent ac dicerent, neque ulla essent inter eos schismata,' etc. Ibid. qu. 3: 'Hanc autem Christianæ fidei et spei professionem a se compositam Apostoli Symbolum appellarunt; sive quia ex variis sententiis, quas singuli in commune contulerunt, conflata est; sive quia ea veluti nota, et tessera quandam uterentur, qua desertores et subintroductos falsos fratres, qui Evangelium adulterabant, ab iis, qui veræ Christi militiæ sacramento se obligarent, facile possent internoscere.'

Extra: Baptists to Debate Calvinism at Liberty!

A debate on Calvinism is scheduled to be held in a month at Liberty University. You read right, at Liberty! Is this the debate we've been waiting for between James White and Ergun Caner?, unfortunately, it won't be. However, it will be between two Liberty students who are good friends and hold each other as brothers in the Lord.

How are they going to pull this one off you ask? Well...
And now from our secret bunker deep beneath Liberty University - where no one would think to look -A Calvinism Forum at Liberty University!

The debate is supposed to be recorded via audio and video.

So mark your calendars for February 29, 2008!