Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Whitaker's Disputations: A Refutation of Stapleton's Arguments on the Authority of the Church (Part 4)

Stapleton's fourth argument is as follows (all material taken from pages 312-316 of Disputations):

The apocryphal books of the second class [the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, etc.] are therefore not divine, because the church hath never chosen to approve them. Therefore, the whole matter (namely, of receiving and rejecting books) depends upon the authority and judgment of the church.

To this Whitaker issues three responses:

1. Since it has the Holy Spirit, the Church does, indeed, distinguish "the true and genuine books from spurious." But how does it then follow that we "judge by no other criterion than the church's determination"?

(Whitaker also suggests that whatever reasons the Magisterium and/or her apologists produce to refuse something like the Gospel to Thomas into the canon, these reasons are also accessible to the Protestant.)

2. Against heretics, the "authority and consent" of the Church on the matter of the canon is a useful and powerful argument. The Church universal is better able to judge the matter of the canon than any private individual (such as a heretic), so its testimony carries a good deal of weight (although Whitaker suggests in the very same sentence that it does not have binding, ultimate authority). The fathers made this argument often enough, yet how does it therefore follow that an appeal to the Church is the only and/or best argument on the subject of the canon? Even some of the fathers Stapleton quotes use other arguments to support the authenticity of the canon.

3. The fathers appealed not just to the authority of the Church, as if it alone were sufficient, but also to "other proofs which were taken and derived out of the books themselves." (Whitaker cites Eusebius and Augustine to support his position. While this testimony is interesting, for the sake of time, I will not address it here.)

Whitaker's response stands on its own, so I only have a few observations to add:

This is a variation of the other canon arguments we've looked at, but I still find it valuable to analyze given my experience over the years on various discussion boards and sites. The argument that the church determines the canon comes in various forms, and I've encountered the one Stapleton uses here often enough. I recall a Catholic once asking how I would show that the Gospel of Thomas should not be considered Scripture (without, I assume, an appeal to the testimony of the Catholic Church). While I am fortunate enough to have the resources at hand to investigate and respond to this kind of challenge, some Protestants don't have these resources and might have to admit they do not know why the Gospel of Thomas might have to be excluded other than it contradicts other Scripture. While this would be a public concession of sorts, I don't think it gives any sort of significant victory to the Catholic position.

The modern versions of these canon arguments stem from an underlying strategy to create epistemological and theological uncertainty in the mind and heart of the Protestant. Consider their similarity to the "33,000 denominations" argument. The (oft-refuted) "fact" of 33,000 denominations within Protestantism is sometimes cited as a means to demonstrate that no lay Protestant could ever hope to determine which one was correct above all others. Therefore (the argument goes) we need some infallible, authoritative body to settle the matter for us. The same reasoning is applied to the canon. There are possibly dozens of documents claiming to be of the Apostles. How will the Protestant ever hope to know which documents are part of Scripture without the help of some authoritative body to tell them?

It's important to recognize this strategy--to create a need where none exist and to quickly fill it with the Magisterium of Rome before any other possible sources are considered--and to deal with it on its own terms. Is the only answer for these kinds of questions to turn to Rome? No, since as noted in the last two posts of the series (see here and here), the Holy Spirit is a valid means by which we can come to know the true extent of the canon (among other items of knowledge). So the question here is not whether we internally--that which is in our hearts and minds--are unable to know the canon. The Catholic can only cast doubt on our external reasons for what we believe. Just as the witness of a parent stands for a child who does not understand the reasons behind it, the testimony of the Holy Spirit stands even if we cannot always explain to someone else why, according to other principles, it does so.

Of course, in this situation we do have recourse to additional evidence and principles (via historical inquiry) to reject books like the Gospel of Thomas as later novelties and to demonstrate the historical reliability of (for example) the Resurrection and the Gospels (thus creating a standard by which the Gospel of Thomas can be judged as heretical). But even if we didn't, it doesn't logically follow that we must turn to Rome to solve the question for us.

Possible Uses of the Apocrypha in the New Testament

Did the New Testament writers use the apocrypha? Most Roman Catholics will at least admit there are no explicit apocryphal citations in the New Testament. Most argue there are allusions to the apocrypha in the New Testament. Recently we saw just how these allusions sometimes play out in an example provided from the book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger.

I recently read The Old Testament Apocrypha in the Early Church and Today by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.. This is found in the book, The Canon Debate (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), pp.196-210. The author of this chapter is Roman Catholic. I found some of his conclusions quite interesting. How refreshing to read a Roman Catholic writer that isn't grasping for any New Testament verse that may possibly be an allusion to the apocrypha.

Possible Uses in the New Testament and Early Christian Writings

A. New Testament
Can one prove that Jesus or the New Testament writers knew and used the apocrypha? One way to begin to answer this question is to consult the list of loci citati vel allegali in the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. Both Sundberg and McDonald haw culled this source for references to the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and have produced their own lists that are very impressive at first glance.' But what do such lists prove?

The first problem emerges with the Latin adjective allegati. How strong are these alleged references? This in turn raises the question whether we are dealing with verbal sim ilarities, or background information, or conceptual parallels, or merely "will-o'-the-wisps" proposed by modern scholars. Each of these references must be weighed on its own merits On closer examination many of the alleged sources or parallels disappear.

The second problem is that even if one could prove that Jesus or a New Testamest writer did use one of the apocrypha, this alone would not prove that they regarded the text as sacred scripture or as canonical. After all, Acts 17:28 has Paul quoting the Greek poet Aratus, and no one regards Aratus as canonical. Also, Jude 14-15 contains a quotation from 1 Enoch 1:9. In the rhetorical context of both passages, the quotations are presented as possessing some intrinsic authority but not necessarily as scriptural or canonical. Moreover, neither Jesus nor any New Testament author introduces a real or alleged quotation from the apocrypha with a fulfillment formula such as "all this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet" (Matt 1:22).

The most that can be proved from the loci citati vel allegati is that Jesus and the New Testament writers may have used some of the apocrypha. Nothing can be inferred about the authority, canonicity, or sacred character that they may or may not have attributed to these books.

After this comment, Harrington looks at "three promising cases" in which it's possible the New Testament writers utilized the apocrypha (Matthew 11:25-30; Romans 1:18-32; Hebrews 1:3). In each of these, Harrington raises enough doubt for each, and concludes this section with skepticism.

I've done one other entry on related to this issue: Is Hebrews 11:35-37 a Proof for the Inclusion of the Apocrypha to the Canon?

Why I use the term "Roman Catholic"

There has been some discussion on the terms "Romanism," "Catholic," and "Roman Catholic." For my part, I have decided to use the term "Roman Catholic" because that institution has defined itself as the "Roman Catholic Church," and because it at the same time is somewhat uncomfortable for those who would rather call themselves "Catholics."

Catholics don't call themselves "Romanists" -- although I think the reasons given by Protestants for using that term are accurate. And for that reason, I don't use the term "catholic" or "universal," in an unqualified way. Roman Catholics have cast their lot with Rome and are stuck with it -- they have wrapped themselves in it, and the provincialness of that term necessarily accrues to them. If it is uncomfortable with them, that is just what they have chosen.

Yet, "Roman Catholic" is a preferred designation, somewhat officially. For example, my 1927 "Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism" asks, in Question 118, "Why is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the visible head of the Church?" And the answer given, "The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible head of the Church because he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of the apostles and the visible head of the Church."

And the explanation:
"Of Rome." That is why we are Roman Catholics; to show that we are united to the real successor of St. Peter, and are therefore members of the true apostolic church." (Rev. Thomas L. Kinkead, "On the Church," from "Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism,) (c)1891, 1921, 1927 New York: Benziger Brothers, "Printers to the Holy Apostolic See," pg 131).
It really is a fascinating work. It might clarify some things to cite more of it here.

More recently, in his 1987 work "The Catholic Moment," Richard John Neuhaus, convert par excellence, writes of his decision to to use the designation "Roman Catholic" throughout that work:
I have generally written Roman Catholic, and there are three reasons for that. First, in Christian history, catholic is frequently synonymous with orthodox, and it would be both rude and wrong to suggest that Roman Catholicism has a monopoly on orthodox Christianity. Second, many non-Roman Catholic Christians make a point of calling themselves catholics, and we should be sensitive to their convictions on the subject. Third--and this gets into the argument of the book--I suggest that Roman Catholics should not be so hesitant to name themselves as such, for it is turning out, at least under this Pope, that Catholicism is more fully catholic as it is less hesitantly Roman. (From the Introduction.)
One might argue with that last point -- certainly it seems as if, as over the last 30+ years, the Roman Catholic Church has become more "Roman" it has become more provincial and less truly "catholic."

Even Joseph Ratzinger, in his 1961 work "Primacy, Episcopacy, and Successio Apostolica (reprinted in the 2008 work "God's Word: Scripture, Tradition, and Office" San Francisco: Ignatius Press), admits to the tension between being "Roman" and "catholic." He ultimately concludes that the "Roman" part guarantees "true catholicity." One may certainly disagree with that notion. But that's for another time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dueling Footnotes: Steve Ray vs. Francis Beckwith

Here's an interesting comparison having to do with R.C. Sproul's assertion that the canon is a fallible collection of infallible books. Steve Ray says Sproul has a weak position, Beckwith says it's a coherent position.

Steve Ray, from his book, Crossing the Tiber, pp. 38-39:

And also Steve Ray states:

I know R. C. Sproul admits that the classic Protestant position is that we only have a “fallible collection of infallible books”. I would never have admitted to that three years ago. I would have (and I think you would have to) fought to the death on that one. A fallible collection is not very assuring. If I was still an Evangelical and had to struggle over Sproul’s statement, I think, like others, I would have seriously been pushed toward agnosticism. [source]

Francis Beckwith, from his book, Return to Rome page 142, footnoting his statement on page 123, "because the list of canonical books is itself not found in scripture- as one can find the Ten Commandments or the names of Christ's Apostles- any such list, whether Protestant or Catholic, would be an item of extra-biblical theological knowledge" :

Reformed theologian R. C. Sproul seems to concede as much: “Roman Catholics view the canon as an infallible collection of infallible books. Protestants view it as a fallible collection of infallible books. Rome believes the church was infallible when it determined which books belong in the New Testament. Protestants believe the church acted rightly and accurately in this process, but not infallibly.” (R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005], 54). It seems that Sproul is claiming that the ecclesiastical body that determined (or discovered) the canon was not infallible but that its list of canonical books is in fact right and accurate (and by implication “inerrant”). That is a coherent position. For example,I am fallible, but I am able to issue inerrant statements, such as, “It is the case that I am fallible,” “2 + 2 = 4,” “The United States is in North America,” and “All bachelors are unmarried males.

Beckwith is correct- Sproul's position is coherent, and actually reflects the Old Testament church, so why not the New Testament church as well? As to Mr. Ray's comments, simply because fallible people discover the canon, this doesn't mean that God's providence in revealing his Word to humanity isn't perfect. God can still perfectly reveal his word through fallible beings.

For more on this topic, see my earlier blog entry: Sproul: "The Bible is a fallible collection of infallible books."

The Birth of the Inquisition

Part 1: Augustine as Conduit to the Inquisition
Part 2: How Confession became a Divinely Instituted Sacrament
Part 3: The Origins of Payment for Penance
Part 4: Crusading and Other Indulgences
Part 5: The Great Schism of the Fifth Century
Part 6: “Deliver us from the hands of the Romans”
Part 7: Impetus for the Crusades
Part 8: “Babies roasted on spits”
Part 9: The Insecurity of the Medieval Church
Part 10: When Suppressing Heresy Became a Crusade

This will be the last of the longer selections I’ll post from Johnson’s “A History of Christianity.” Though it's possible that I will bring up a point or two in another post.

As I noted at the outset of this series, I thought it was important to show that the roots of the Inquisition go back to Augustine -- his world and theology. Many Reformed and Evangelical Protestants know that the Inquisition occurred, but are less familiar with why it occurred or how it came about. What we have in this series is the gestation and the birth of that institution. I know that this series has been tedious for some; perhaps it has been interesting for others. I found it interesting and edifying.

Of course, the ultimate purpose, on this blog, is to talk about the Reformation in an apologetic sense. And that, too, is what I hoped to do – to put “out there” just one more reason for the Reformation.

The Inquisition itself provided the sort of “mood,” or “back-drop” within which other theologies developed. That may or may not be important. Some memories of the Inquisition made it into the U.S. Constitution, in the form of a prohibition against a state religion, and also a prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Just precisely how these came about should be the topics of another study. I don’t have all the answers. I merely hope to arouse some curiosity, and to provoke some questions.

* * *

Ever since the eleventh century, secular rulers had been burning those who obstinately refused to fit in with established Christian arrangements; the Church had opposed capital punishment, successive councils decreeing confiscation of property, excommunication, imprisonment or whipping, branding and exile. But in the 1180s, the Church began to panic at the spread of heresy, and thereafter it took the lead from the State, though it maintained the legal fiction that convicted and unrepentant heretics were merely 'deprived of the protection of the Church', which was (as they termed it) 'relaxed', the civil power then being free to burn them without committing mortal sin. Relaxation was accompanied by a formal plea for mercy; in fact this was meaningless, and the individual civil officer (sheriffs and so forth) had no choice but to burn, since otherwise he was denounced as a 'defender of heretics', and plunged into the perils of the system himself.

The codification of legislation against heresy took place over half a century, roughly 1180-1230, when it culminated in the creation of a permanent tribunal, staffed by Dominican friars, who worked from a fixed base in conjunction with the episcopate, and were endowed with generous authority. The permanent system was designed as a reform; in fact it incorporated all the abuses of earlier practice and added new ones. It had a certain vicious logic. Since a heretic was denied burial in consecrated ground, the corpses of those posthumously convicted (a very frequent occurrence) had to be disinterred, dragged through the streets and burnt on the refuse pit. The houses in which they lived had to be knocked down and turned into sewers or rubbish-dumps.

Convictions of thought-crimes being difficult to secure, the Inquisition used procedures banned in other courts, and so contravened town charters, written and customary laws, and virtually every aspect of established jurisprudence. The names of hostile witnesses were withheld, anonymous informers were used, the accusations of personal enemies were allowed, the accused were denied the right of defence, or of defending counsel; and there was no appeal. The object, quite simply, was to produce convictions at any cost; only thus, it was thought, could heresy be quenched. Hence depositors were not named; all a suspect could do was to produce a list of his enemies, and he was allowed to bring forward witnesses to testify that such enemies existed, but for no other purpose. On the other hand, the prosecution could use the evidence of criminals, heretics, children and accomplices, usually forbidden in other courts.

Once an area became infected by heresy, and the system moved in, large numbers of people became entangled in its toils. Children of heretics could not inherit, as the stain was vicarial; grandchildren could not hold ecclesiastical benefices unless they successfully denounced someone. Everyone from the age of fourteen (girls from twelve) were required to take public oaths every two years to remain good Catholics and denounce heretics. Failure to confess or receive communion at least three times a year aroused automatic suspicion; possession of the scriptures in any language, or of breviaries, hour-books and psalters in the vernacular, was forbidden. Torture was not employed regularly until near the end of the thirteenth century (except by secular officials without reference to the Inquisition) but suspects could be held in prison and summoned again and again until they yielded, the object of the operation being to obtain admissions or denunciations. When torture was adopted it was subjected to canonical restraints - if it produced nothing on the first occasion it was forbidden to repeat it. But such regulations were open to glosses; Francis Pegna, the leading Inquisition commentator, wrote:

'But if, having been tortured reasonably (decenter), he will not confess the truth, set other sorts of torments before him, saying that he must pass through all these unless he will confess the truth. If even this fails, a second or third day may be appointed to him, either in terrorem or even in truth, for the continuation (not repetition) of torture; for tortures may not be repeated unless fresh evidence emerges against him; then, indeed, they may, for against continuation there is no prohibition.'

Pegna said that pregnant women might not be tortured, for fear of abortions: 'we must wait until she is delivered of her child'; and children below the age of puberty, and old folk, were to be less severely tortured. The methods used were, on the whole, less horrific than those employed by various secular governments - though it should be added that English common lawyers, for instance, flatly denied that torture was legal, except in case of refusal to plead.

Once a victim was accused, escape from some kind of punishment was virtually impossible: the system would not allow it. But comparatively few were executed: less than ten per cent of those liable. Life-imprisonment was usual for those 'converted' by fear of death; this could be shortened by denunciations. Acts of sympathy or favour for heretics were punished by imprisonment or pilgrimage; there were also fines or floggings, and penance in some form was required of all those who came into contact with the infected, even though unknowingly and innocently. The smallest punishment was to wear yellow cloth crosses - an unpopular penalty since it prevented a man from getting employment; on the other hand, to cease to wear it was treated as a relapse into heresy. A spell in prison was virtually inevitable.

Of course there was a shortage of prison-space, since solitary confinement was the rule. Once the Inquisition moved into an area, the bishop's prison was soon full; then the king's; then old buildings had to be converted, or new ones built. Food was the prisoner's own responsibility, though the bishop was supposed to provide bread and water in the case of poverty. The secular authorities did not like these crowded prisons, being terrified of gaol fever and plague, and thus burned many more people than the Church authorized. The system was saved from utter horror only by the usual medieval frailties: corruption, inertia, and sheer administrative incompetence.

Where the system was employed against an entire community, as in Languedoc, it evoked resistance. There were riots, murders, the destruction of records. Many countries would not admit the Inquisition at all. In Spain, however, it became a state instrument, almost a national institution, like bullfighting, a mystery to foreigners but popular among the natives. It is surprising how often admirable, if eccentric, individuals were burned, not only without public protest but with general approval. Thus the fourteenth century breakaway movement of Franciscans, the fraticelli, who opposed clerical property and reasserted the apostolic practices of their founder, were hunted and burned all over Europe but especially in their native Umbria and the Mark of Ancona; the crowds who watched them destroyed were apathetic or inclined to believe antinomianism was rightly punished. In the Middle Ages, the ruthless and confident exercise of authority could nearly always swing a majority behind it. And the victims of the flames usually died screaming in pain and terror, thus appearing to confirm the justice of the proceedings.

Paul Johnson, History of Christianity, © 1976 Athenium, pgs. 253-255.

Monday, June 28, 2010

When Suppressing Heresy Became a Crusade

Part 1: Augustine as Conduit to the Inquisition
Part 2: How Confession became a Divinely Instituted Sacrament
Part 3: The Origins of Payment for Penance
Part 4: Crusading and Other Indulgences
Part 5: The Great Schism of the Fifth Century
Part 6: “Deliver us from the hands of the Romans”
Part 7: “Impetus for the Crusades”
Part 8: “Babies roasted on spits”
Part 9: The Insecurity of the Medieval Church

Continuing with Johnson:

Yet returned crusaders undoubtedly brought back heresy with them…

'Cathar' was first applied to heretics in northern Europe about 1160. They were also called Publicans, Paterines (in Italy), Bougres or Bulgars in France, or Arians, Manichaeans or Marcionites. Around Albi the Cathars were termed Albigensians. The confusion over names reveals a confusion over ideas. But basically all these heresies were the same. They aimed to substitute a perfect elite for the corrupt clergy.

Where they were numerous enough, as in southern France, they organized churches and bishoprics, and constituted an alternative Church. Very few of the sect were 'perfected' - perhaps 1,000 to 1,500 in the whole of Languedoc in c. 1200. The majority were 'believers', who married, led normal lives, and 'received the consolamentum' only on their deathbeds, thus dying 'in the hands of the Good Men'. The Cathars were well-organized and orderly people. They elected bishops, collected funds and distributed them; led admirable lives. Unlike most Charismatics, they could not be broken up by a sharp cavalry charge. They got on well with the local authorities. The only effective evangelizing against them came from equally poor groups, like the Poor of Lyons, founded by a former Lyonnais merchant, Waldo, around 1173-6. These men were strictly orthodox in their beliefs, but they took apostolic poverty literally and were outside the Church's organizational structure. The clergy thus regarded the Waldensians as a threat. As Walter Map put it, when he saw some in Rome in 1179: 'They go about two by two, barefoot, clad in woolen garments, owning nothing, holding all things in common like the Apostles ... if we admit them, we shall be driven out.' They were excommunicated three years later.

There was, indeed, no shortage of men prepared to defend orthodoxy. But they set standards which exposed the existing structures and personnel of the church, and thus formed a remedy more serious than the disease. Innocent in, despite his many limitations, did grasp the essence of this problem very clearly, and was the only pope to make a systematic attempt to solve it. His creation of the Franciscan and Dominican orders - the first to beat the heretics at their own game of apostolic poverty, the second to preach orthodox concepts in popular terms - sought to harness volcanic Christian forces to institutional objectives. But the dilemma could not be solved by a once-and-for-all operation. It was permanent; it was endemic in Christianity. If the Franciscans, for instance, were allowed to pursue their idealism, they got out of control; if they were controlled, they promptly lost their idealism and became corrupt. Within two generations, the whole friar experiment was a failure; within three it was a liability.

There remained the Augustinian solution: force. It was, in a way, a recapitulation of the fourth and fifth centuries. The Church was terrified by the rapid disintegration of Christianity in southern France. There was no question of peaceful coexistence of orthodoxy and heresy: orthodox bishops could not function and there was imminent danger that the collapse would soon be extended to other areas. It is notable that where there was strong, centralized royal power, to back up the organized Church, heresy was weak or even non-existent (as, for instance, in England at this time). Heresy took root in areas where the ultimate source of secular authority was obscure, and where secular power was divided or remote.

Thus the Church, in its fear, tended to appeal to secular power outside the infected area. Suppressing a heresy became a crusade, promising tangible benefits, and bringing into play differences of language and culture, the forces of racism and the spur of greed for land. The Albigensian crusades, organized from 1208 onwards, the precursors of many other 'internal' papal crusades, were preached by upper-class Cistercians, the great disciplinarians of peasants. Heretics were either rabble or, if not, forfeited their privileged class status. Conversely, a crusade was an opportunity to rise in the social scale, for younger sons, would-be knights, and any kind of professional soldier with genteel aspirations. These crusaders got a plenary indulgence for forty days service, plus a moratorium on their debts and any interest payable; if they had lands, they could tax both their vassals and clergy. The Church reserved to itself the right to redistribute among the more faithful crusaders the confiscated lands of the defeated heretics.

Thus the crusade attracted the most disreputable elements in northern France, and the result was horror. In 1209, Arnold Aimery exulted to the Pope that the capture of Beziers had been 'miraculous'; and that the crusaders had killed 15,000, 'showing mercy neither to order, nor age nor sex'. Prisoners were mutilated, blinded, dragged at the hooves of horses and used for target practice. Such outrages provoked despairing resistance and so prolonged the conflict. It was a watershed in Christian history. Of course it aroused much criticism even at the time. Peter Cantor asked: 'How doth the church presume to examine by this foreign judgment the hearts of men? Or how is it that the Cathari are given no legitimate respite for deliberation but are burned immediately?

... Certain honest matrons, refusing to consent to the lust of priests ... were written in the book of death and accused as Cathari ... while certain rich Cathari had their purses squeezed and were let go. One man alone, because he was poor and pale, and confessed the faith of Christ faithfully on all points, and put that forward as his hope, was burned, since he said to the assembled bishops that he would refuse to submit to the ordeal of hot iron unless they could first prove to him that he could do this without tempting the Lord and committing mortal sin.'

A few years later, Innocent III abolished the ordeal on precisely these grounds. More generally, it was the type of criticism voiced by Cantor which led to the organization of a regular inquisition system, which would be effective yet less open to the abuses developed under the haphazard methods hitherto employed.

Paul Johnson, History of Christianity, © 1976 Athenium, pgs. 251-253.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Canon of the Council of Laodicea

Here's a stray canon tidbit that doesn't get a lot of attention. A canon list purporting to have been compiled by the Council of Laodicea (about A.D. 363) excludes the apocrypha and the book of Revelation, and includes Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah (as part of Jeremiah).

59. Let no private psalms nor any uncanonical books be read in church, but only the canonical ones of the New and Old Testament.

60. It is proper to recognize as many books as these: of the Old Testament, 1. the Genesis of the world; 2. the Exodus from Egypt; 3. Leviticus; 4. Numbers; 5. Deuteronomy; 6. Joshua the son of Nun; 7. Judges and Ruth; 8. Esther; 9. First and Second Kings [i.e. First and Second Samuel]; 10. Third and Fourth Kings [i.e. First and Second Kings]; 11. First and Second Chronicles; 12. First and Second Ezra [i.e. Ezra and Nehemiah]; 13. the book of one hundred and fifty Psalms; 14. the Proverbs of Solomon; 15. Ecclesiastes; 16. Song of Songs; 17. Job; 18. the Twelve [minor] Prophets; 19. Isaiah; 20. Jeremiah and Baruch, Lamentations and the Epistle [of Jeremiah]; 21. Ezekiel; 22. Daniel.

And the books of the New Testament: 4 Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; seven catholic epistles, namely, 1 of James, 2 of Peter, 3 of John, 1 of Jude; fourteen epistles of Paul, 1 to the Romans, 2 to the Corinthians, 1 to the Galatians, 1 to the Ephesians, 1 to the Philippians, 1 to the Colossians, 2 to the Thessalonians, 1 to the Hebrews, 2 to Timothy, 1 to Titus, and 1 to Philemon. [source]

The Old Testament list is very similar to Cyril of Jerusalem's list, as well as that of Athanasius (with the exception of including Esther). If someone did add it at a later date, it's at least evidence that someone else denied the apocrypha, or felt the need to clarify Laodicea. An interesting question to ask about Canon #60: Did someone add it to make Canon #59 make more sense? If a Council is going to say "Let no private psalms nor any uncanonical books be read in church, but only the canonical ones of the New and Old Testament," the next question is then "which books"?

While I wouldn't use this list as any sort of definitive canon proof, it does have an interesting history. Below are a sampling of some of the opinions on canon #60.

Phillip Schaff on Canon 60

Philip Schaff states:

In 1777 Spittler published a special treatise to shew that the list of scriptural books was no part of the original canon adopted by Laodicea. Hefele gives the following resume of his argument:

(a) That Dionysius Exiguus has not this canon in his translation of the Laodicean decrees. It might, indeed, be said with Dallaeus and Van Espen, that Dionysius omitted this list of the books of Scripture because in Rome, where he composed his work, another by Innocent I. was in general use.

(b) But, apart from the fact that Dionysius is always a most faithful translator, this sixtieth canon is also omitted by John of Antioch, one of the most esteemed and oldest Greek collectors of canons, who could have had no such reasons as Dionysius for his omission.

(c) Lastly, Bishop Martin of Braga in the sixth century, though he has the fifty-ninth, has also not included in his collection the sixtieth canon so nearly related to it, nor does the Isidorian translation appear at first to have had this canon. Herbst, in the Tubingen Review, also accedes to these arguments of Spittler’s, as did Fuchs and others before him. Mr. Ffoulkes in his article on the Council of Laodicea in Smith and Cheetham’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities at length attempts to refute all objections, and affirms the genuineness of the list, but his conclusions can hardly be accepted when the careful consideration and discussion of the matter by Bishop Westcott is kept in mind. (History of the Canon of the New Testament, IIId. Period, chapter 2:[p. 428 of the 4th Edition.]) [

On the absence of Revelation, Schaff states:

The Council of Laodicea (363) gives a list of the books of our New Testament with the exception of the Apocalypse. The last canon which contains this list, is probably a later addition, yet the long-established ecclesiastical use of all the books, with some doubts as to the Apocalypse, is confirmed by the scattered testimonies of all the great Nicene and post Nicene fathers, as Athanasius (d. 373), Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386), Gregory of Nazianzum (d. 389), Epiphanius of Salamis (d. 403), Chrysostom (d. 407), etc. [source]

von Hefele on Canon 60
The major source Schaff is using is Karl Joseph von Hefele - A History of the Christian Councils: from the original documents. von Hefele was a Roman Catholic theologian (see the Catholic Encyclopedia). He actually argues in favor of canon #60, "the silence of Dionysins, John of Antioch, and Martin of Braga, are not in my opinion sufficient to outweigh the many manuscripts and quotations which support the sixtieth canon. And that only fifty-nine Laodicean canons are cited by many of the ancient Fathers proves nothing for Spittler, because, as he himself states, in very many old manuscripts the fifty-ninth and sixtieth canons were written as one, as the latter does in fact belong to the former".

He states in full:

In this list of the canonical books, which approaches that given in the Apostolic Canons, No. 85 (84), are wanting of the Old Testament, the books of Judith, Tobias, Wisdom, Jesus the son of Sirach, Maccabees; of the New Testament, the Apocalypse of S. John, Such an omission is, however, the less remarkable, as it is known that in the fourth century it was the custom, even among the Fathers of the Church (for instance, Athanasius), to reckon in the catalogue of the Holy Scriptures only the proto-canonical, and not the deutero-canonical books. The same applies to the Revelation of S. John, which was also in the fourth century thought not to be genuine by a large number of Greeks.

A special treatise concerning the genuineness of this canon was published by Spittler in 1777, in which he seeks to show that it did not emanate from the Synod of Laodicea, but was only added later, and taken from the eighty-fifth Apostolic Canon. His principal reasons are:

(a) That Dionysius Exiguus has not this canon in his translation of the Laodicean decrees. It might, indeed, be said with Dallaeus and Van Espen, that Dionysius omitted this list of the books of Scripture because in Rome, where he composed his work, another by Innocent I was in general use.

(b) But, apart from the fact that Dionysius is always a most faithful translator, this sixtieth canon is also omitted by John of Antioch, one of the most esteemed and oldest Greek collectors of canons, who could have had no such reasons as Dionysius for his omission.

(c) Lastly, Bishop Martin of Braga in the sixth century, though he has the fifth-ninth, has also not included in his collection the sixtieth canon so nearly related to it, nor does the Isidorian translation appear (?) at first to have had this canon. Herbst, in the Tubingen Review also accedes to these arguments of Spittler's, as did Fuchs and others before him. But Schrockh at least, even if somewhat hesitatingly, has raised the objection, that if this Synod in its fifty-ninth canon ordered that only the canonical books should be read, an explanation was obviously needed as to which are the canonical books. To this I may further add, first, that the Laodicean Canon of Scripture and that of the Canones Apost. are by no means identical, as Spittler assumes, but differ essentially both in the Old and New Testament; secondly, that the two argumenta ex silentio which Spittler alone employs in favour of his assertion, namely, the silence of Dionysins, John of Antioch, and Martin of Braga, are not in my opinion sufficient to outweigh the many manuscripts and quotations which support the sixtieth canon. And that only fifty-nine Laodicean canons are cited by many of the ancient Fathers proves nothing for Spittler, because, as he himself states, in very many old manuscripts the fifty-ninth and sixtieth canons were written as one, as the latter does in fact belong to the former. [

Wescott on Canon #60
Brooke Foss Westcott has also weighed in on canon #60. While Wescott argues against its authenticity, he suggests it was included to reflect the Eastern canon rather than the Western canon:

Of this Canon the first paragraph is recognised as genuine with unimportant variations by every authority; the second, the Catalogue of the Books itself, is omitted in various Manuscripts and versions; and in order to arrive at a fair estimate of its claims to authenticity, it will be necessary to notice briefly the different forms in which the Canons of the ancient Church have been preserved.

The Greek Manuscripts of the Canons may be divided into two classes, those which contain the simple text, and those which contain in addition the scholia of the great commentators. Manuscripts of the second class in no case date from an earlier period than the end of the twelfth century, the era of Balsamon and Zonaras, the most famous Greek canonists. Yet it is on this class of Manuscripts, which contain the Catalogue in question, that the printed editions are based. The earliest Manuscript of the first class with which I am acquainted is of the eleventh century, and one is as late as the fifteenth. The evidence on the disputed paragraph which these Manuscripts afford is extremely interesting. Two omit the Catalogue entirely. In another it is inserted after a vacant space. A fourth contains it on a new page with red dots above and below. In a fifth it appears wholly written in red letters. Three others give it as a part of the last Canon, though headed with a new rubric. In one it appears as a part of the 59th Canon without interruption or break; and in two (of the latest date) numbered as a new Canon. It is impossible not to feel that these several Manuscripts mark the steps by which the Catalogue gained its place in the present Greek text; but it may still be questioned whether it may not have thus regained a place which it had lost before. And thus we are led to notice some versions of the Canons which date from a period anterior to the oldest Greek Manuscripts.

The Latin version exists in a threefold form. The earliest (Versio Prised) is fragmentary, and does not contain the Laodicene Canons. But two other versions by Dionysius and Isidore are complete. In the first of these, which dates from the middle of the sixth century, though it exists in two distinct recensions, there is no trace of the Catalogue. In the second, on the contrary, with only two exceptions, as far as I am aware, the Catalogue constantly appears. And though the Isidorian version in its general form only dates from the ninth century, two Manuscripts remain which are probably as old as the ninth century, and both of these contain it. So far then it appears that the evidence of the Latin versions for and against the authenticity of the Catalogue is nearly balanced, the testimony of Italy confronting that of Spain.

The Syriac Manuscripts of the British Museum are however more than sufficient to turn the scale. Three Manuscripts of the Laodicene Canons are found in that collection, which are as old as the sixth or seventh century. All of these contain the fifty-ninth Canon, but without any Catalogue. And this testimony is of twofold value from the fact that one of them gives a different translation from that of the other two.

Nor is this all: in addition to the direct versions of the Canons, systematic collections and synopses of them were made at various times, which have an important bearing upon the question. One of the earliest of these was drawn up by Martin bishop of Braga in Portugal at the middle of the sixth century. This collection contains the first paragraph of the Laodicene Canon, without any trace of the second; and the testimony which it offers is of more importance, because it was based on an examination of Greek authorities, and those of a very early date, since they did not notice the Councils of Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, which were included in the collection of the fifth century*. Johannes Scholasticus, a presbyter of Antioch, formed a digest of Canons under different heads about the same time, and this contains no reference to the Laodicene Catalogue, but on the contrary the list of Holy Scriptures is taken from the last of the Apostolic Canons. The Nontocanon is a later revision of the work of Johannes, and contains only the undisputed paragraph ; but in a third and later recension the Laodicene and Apostolic Catalogues are both inserted.

On the whole then it cannot be doubted that external evidence is decidedly against the authenticity of the Catalogue as an integral part of the text of the Canons of Laodicea, nor can any internal evidence be brought forward sufficient to explain its omission in Syria, Italy, and Portugal, in the sixth century, if it had been so. Yet even thus it is necessary to account for its insertion in the version of Isidore. So much is evident at once, that the Catalogue is of Eastern and not of Western origin; and, except in details of order, it agrees exactly with that given by Cyril of Jerusalem. Is it then an unreasonable supposition that some early copyist endeavoured to supply, either from the writings of Cyril, or more probably from the usage of the Church which Cyril represented, the list of books which seemed to be required by the language of the last genuine Canon? In this way it is easy to understand how some Manuscripts should have incorporated the addition, while others preserved the original text; and the known tendency of copyists to make their works full rather than pure, will account for its general reception at last. [

Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger
Gary Michuta likewise comments on this list in his book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger. Gary notes Laodicea was a local council issuing no doctrinal decrees, but rather disciplinary decrees (p. 117). He states of canon #60, "Furthermore, even if it could be proved to represent the authentic view of the council, this Sixtieth Canon would have been a disciplinary measure not a doctrinal one. That is, it sought to legislate the practice of the Church (discipline) and not the teaching of the Church (doctrine)" (pp.118-119).

On the other hand, when commenting on the local councils of Hippo and Carthage, Gary insists these local councils are a witness to the inspiration of the apocrypha reflecting "the common usage of the church" (p.162). Now that's interesting because the Catholic Encyclopedia says of these councils:

Carthage was formerly the head of the whole of Africa, as St. Augustine tells us in his Epistle CLXII. From this cause it happened that a great number of councils were held there, gathered from all the provinces of Africa. Especially while Aurelius as Archbishop was occupying the throne were these meetings of bishops frequently holden; and by these, for the establishing of ecclesiastical discipline in Africa, many canons were enacted. [source]

I sense a double standard, but I do agree with Gary that in Romanism a local council doesn't make definitive statements for the entire Roman Catholic Church. William Webster points out:

...the Councils of Hippo and Carthage... were provincial Councils which had no authority to rule on the canon for the Church as a whole. Augustine, who was the guiding spirit of these Councils, admitted as much:

Now, in regard to the canonical Scriptures, he must follow the judgment of the greater number of catholic churches; and among these, of course, a high place must be given to such as have been thought worthy to be the seat of an apostle and to receive epistles. Accordingly, among the canonical Scriptures he will judge according to the following standard: to prefer those that are received by all the catholic churches to those which some do not receive. Among those, again, which are not received by all, he will prefer such as have the sanction of the greater number and those of greater authority, to such as are held by the smaller number and those of less authority. If, however, he shall find that some books are held by the greater number of churches, and others by the churches of greater authority (though this is not a very likely thing to happen), I think that in such a case the authority on the two sides is to be looked upon as equal [NPNF1, Vol. 2, Augustin, On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Chapter 8].

Augustine acknowledged the lack of unanimity in the Churches regarding the canon and gave advice on how to determine which books were truly canonical. In effect he said one was to follow the judgment of the majority of churches. So, if it could be shown that some of the books sanctioned by Hippo and Carthage were not accepted as canonical by the majority of Churches then the North African Churches must yield on this point. Obviously, then, in promulgating the decree on the canon, Hippo and Carthage were not laying down a law for the universal Church but expressing the opinion and practice of their particular region. Since the Bible used by the North African Church was the Old Latin, a translation of the Septuagint which included a number of the books of the Apocrypha, these Councils were simply confirming the traditional canon for the North African Church based on the Septuagint.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Qur'an Proves Bible is True

"Thy Word is Truth" John 17:17
"کلام تو حقیقت است"

The picture is of the Bible in Farsi/Persian. کتاب مقدس = "Holy Book"

I interacted with comments by a Muslim named Yahya Snow over at Turrentfan's website/blog: I changed a few details for better wording and added some more thoughts.


Turretinfan rightly used Surah 10:94 to exhort Muslims to read the Gospel and ask the people of the previous Scriptures: "To my Muslim readers who live in non-Islamic countries, now too is your chance. Recall what your Koran says was told to Mohammed:

Surah 10:94 If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt."

Turretinfan's combox

Yahya Snow wrote:

Before I do so I would like to stress the Quran does in no way shape or form ask us to consider what you have today as 100% inspired.

Since the Bibles we have today are essentially the same as the Bible manuscripts long before Muhammad came along; you are wrong. Dr. James White has adequately shown in debates with Bart Ehrman and Shabir Ally and others that the honesty and openness we have about the history of the text and the textual variants do not affect any major doctrines and are a very small percentage and that is an issue of scribal errors, not affecting the doctrines of inspiration or inerrancy.
The Scriptures are essentially the same (textual variants about Mark 16:9-20 and a few other minor passages do not affect any major doctrine of the Bible) as those long before Muhammad's time, (many Manuscripts from 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th centuries - all before Muhammad; and "there is no changing of God's word" (Qur'an 10:65; 6:116; 18:27; 6:34); and "ask the people reading the book before you" means both the Torat (OT) and the Injeel (NT); you are therefore wrong.

These articles below from by Sam Shamoun show that Muhammad did doubt a lot in the Meccan period after Warqa died - the Islamic sources show this.

They also show that it means the Scriptures before the Qur'an including both OT (Torat) and NT ( Injeel) and that the Qur'an and the Muslim sources did not believe that the texts of the previous Scriptures had been altered.

Surah 10, Yunis (Jonah) was revealed in the Meccan period, Pickthall says in the last 4 years of the Meccan period before the Hegira. (The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, Mohammad Marmaduke Pickthall, p. 157)

Surah 10:94 is talking to Muhammad. It was a encouragement for him to stop doubting. He is to ask the people reading the book that was revealed before the Qur'an. ( Includes both Torah and the Injeel. - both OT and NT)

These articles show that "no one can change the word of Allah" and since our Bible today is the same as in 600-700 AD; it has not been corrupted; never was. The articles show that the commentaries say that the "Christians and Jews distort the meanings of the words", but it never accuses them of changing the text itself.

The articles below by Sam Shamoun also use famous Muslim commentators like Ibn Kathir and Ibn Abbas; and Hadith of Al Bukhari and other Muslim sources.

Yahya Snow wrote:
“The Quran is al-Furqan(the Criterion) thus it is used to confirm what parts of your book is correct and which parts are incorrect.“

The Bible is also called “Al Furqan” (the Criterion) الفرقان
by the Qur'an: (Surah 2:53; 21:48)

It is also called a light
And a Reminder - ذ کر

And in Surah 21:7 - it says that the OT was inspired (وحی)
And to go ask the follower of the Reminder “if you know not”.

So, these passages confirm that our understanding of Surah 10:94 is correct. Muhammad is instructed to not doubt the previous revelations, because no one can change the word of God; and they were true, inspired, perfect, guidance, light, criterion, and reminder of the true path and give wisdom for salvation. ( 2 Timothy 3:15-17)

Yahya Snow wrote:
So whatever agrees with the Qur'an from your book then we know this material within your books is correct.

It is the opposite, whatever comes later (the Qur’an) and does not agree with the previous revelation, the Bible, the later supposed revelation is proved to be the false revelation. (Galatians 1:8-9; Jude 3, Revelation 22:18 and the Qur’an also teaches this in Surah 2:79 – “Woe to those who write Scripture with their hands and then say, “This is from Allah” . . . I realize this, according to the Qur'an, is not applied to Muhammad and his revelation, but the principle is correct. If the Bible is true, OT and NT, then the Qur’an is false. Only what agrees with the previous Scriptures is correct.

Yahya Snow wrote:
“At-Tabari goes further and states “do not ask those who are dishonest or are unbelievers”

Problem with that is the Qur’an calls the Christians honest, that the disciples of Jesus are true believers, followers of Allah, helpers of Allah, and therefore, full of integrity. (Surah 61:14; 5:111 (the disciples of Jesus are believers and helpers of Allah); 5:68-69 (the Christians believe in the Scriptures, Allah as One (Mark 12:29; Deut. 6:5; I Timothy 2:5-6); and believe in judgment day, and seek to do the right things); 5:82 (the monks at the time of Muhammad in the east who are not proud). It also calls some of the Christians and Jews dishonest and unbelievers – and those who believe God has a physical son with a wife as unbelievers – Surah 6:101; 112 – this is true; since no true Christians have ever believed this; nor that there are three gods, nor that Mary was a part of the Trinity (Surah 5:116); it proves the Qur’an mis-understood what Christianity was all about; and the true Christians are vindicated in history; and God did indeed cause true Christians to be the uppermost, victorious (Surah 61:14) in history.

The history of the church of the first 4 Centuries shows that the Christians won the Roman Empire by evangelism in love and good deeds under persecution and torture. They were victorious through weakness. The message of the cross is foolishness to unregenerate people because it means we must be weak and admit we are sinners and in need of a Savior and that we must die in order to live. This is the opposite of the flesh – human efforts and human striving for power in politics and military might and force and externalisms and legalisms; these are the very heart and emphasis of the Islamic religion.

All Christians and all history shows Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. So, the victory of the Christians is the victory of the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This was the message that won the Roman Empire and all subsequent western history. Much of the Middle East and N. Africa also held to this message until Islam forced by the sword and wiped out the churches in N. Africa and most of the Middle East.

According to the Qur'an, Allah deceived the Jews and Christians and everyone else to believe that Jesus was killed on the cross - Surah 3:54-55; 4:157-158.

Allah is the best of deceivers. (kheir ol makkareen- الله خیر المکارین
Qur'an 3:54

But the living and true God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) and God cannot sin (1 John 1:5; Habakkuk 1:13).

This is a big contradiction in the Qur'an, because the "uppermost" and victorious group was the Christians who believed in the death of Christ on the cross and the resurrection and the Deity of Christ and the Trinity.

Surah 3:55 says that the true believers would be the victorious ones until the day of resurrection.

History shows that the Allah of the Qur'an failed; because where are those "Muslim" believers in the first century? There is no evidence of their existence. This shows the Qur'an is wrong.

Then, there are more verses that are perhaps the strongest in the Qur'an that show the Bible is true - Surah 5:46-47 (below) and 5:68, which many Christians have pointed out before. Sam Shamoun did a great job recently here with Dr. White and here on the program "Jesus or Muhammad?" on the Aramaic Broadcasting Network that "confirming what had come before him" actually literally says, "confirming what is between his hands".
بین یدیه
Farsi speakers know these words also from Arabic, we use بین
(be'n) for "between" and know of "yad" (ید) as "the hand". We can see it. (Farsi is not a Semitic language, but contains about 40% Arabic in it; because of the Arab Islamic conquering of Persia and converting Iranians to Islam and changing their script and affecting their language.)

وَقَفَّيْنَا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِم بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ فِيهِ هُدًى وَنُورٌ وَمُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَهُدًى وَمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

46 And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.
وَلْيَحْكُمْ أَهْلُ الْإِنجِيلِ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

(47 Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.

How the Inquisition Changed Clothes

Dr. R. Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California, makes the case that The Inquisition Isn't Over, It Just Changed Clothes.

The Insecurity of the Medieval Church

Part 1: Augustine as Conduit to the Inquisition
Part 2: How Confession became a Divinely Instituted Sacrament
Part 3: The Origins of Payment for Penance
Part 4: Crusading and Other Indulgences
Part 5: The Great Schism of the Fifth Century
Part 6: “Deliver us from the hands of the Romans”
Part 7: “Impetus for the Crusades”
Part 8: “Babies roasted on spits”

Here Johnson begins to tie some of the loose ends together. In a way, this post provides a response to some of the comments which suggested that things might not be coming together. Johnson is a writer who writes 1000 page books; he takes a while to get to his point – he necessarily must tie in a lot of information – but when he gets there, you genuinely have an understanding of what he was trying to say.

After the twelfth century, the crusading idea lost its appeal in the West. Population was no longer rising at the same rate, and the surplus, in France, tended to drift instead to the towns; in Germany, led by the Teutonic knights who transferred their activities to Prussia and Poland, it pushed to the east. After about 1310 population actually fell, and from the mid fourteenth century there was an acute labour shortage in Europe. Population did not begin to expand again significantly until the sixteenth century, when emigration was resumed, but in a westerly direction. But the decline of the crusade was due to more than demographic factors. … By the end of the twelfth century some Europeans, at least, rejected the crude popular theology of the crusading movement. …

By this time, of course, the papacy had long since devalued the crusading ideal by adapting it for internal political and financial purposes. The legal mechanism of crusading was too tempting to escape abuse. A man who took the cross enjoyed the protection of the courts. He might evade his debts and taxes. On the other hand, careful investigations were made after a crusade had been preached to ensure that people had fulfilled their vows. Reneging was punished canonically.

The papacy was quick to use the procedure against the Hohenstaufen. Fredrick II was first excommunicated for not going on crusade, then for going without the Popes permission; and he was denounced as an infidel for showing that, with the Saracens, more could be obtained by negotiation than by force. Later the weapon was turned against Henry III of England, who could not fulfil his vow to go on crusade by midsummer 1256: Alexander IV commuted it, but Henry in return had to provide troops for the Pope’s anti Hohenstaufen campaign in Italy, and pay in addition 135,541 marks, with excommunication and interdict in default. England could not pay and the result was a constitutional crisis and the famous Oxford Parliament of 1259, the episode forming an important landmark in the progressive breakdown of Rome’s relations with England.

It is, in fact, a misleading over-simplification to see the crusade simply as a confrontation between Christian Europe and the Moslem East. The central problem of the institutional church was always how to control the manifestations of religious enthusiasm, and divert them into orthodox and constructive channels. The problem was enormously intensified when large numbers of people were involved. At what point did mass-piety become unmanageable, and therefore heresy? It was a matter of fine judgment, a dilemma s old as the Montanists.
A crusade was in essence nothing more than a mob of armed and fanatical Christians. Once its numbers rose to over about 10,000 it could no longer be controlled, only guided. It might be used to attack the Moslems, or unleashed against Jews, or heretics; or it might become heretical and antinomian itself, and smash the structures of established society. This fear was always at the back of the minds of the clerical and secular authorities. In the Dark Ages, the West had been comparatively free of heresy.

The Church was cocooned within the authoritarian tradition of Augustine.
But occasionally strange figures popped up: nearly always lay-folk, spontaneously reenacting the Montanist tradition. Gregory of Tours tells of a freelance preacher from Bourges, who called himself Christ, collected an army of followers and amassed booty in the name of God. He and his men finally presented themselves to the Bishop of Le Puy, stark naked, leaping and somersaulting. The leader was killed on the spot, his female companion, Mary, tortured until she revealed “their diabolical devices”. This type of incident became more common with the development of long-distance pilgrimages.

Pilgrims brought back weird religious ideas and cults from the East, where dualist or Gnostic heresies had always flourished, and indeed ante-dated Christianity. And then, the man from Bourges was an example of the low-born charismatic leader who often led mass pilgrimages, which in the eleventh century developed into popular crusades: Peter the Hermit was an archetype. The phenomenon took on huge and dangerous dimensions in the eleventh century, with the rapid growth of population, the increase in travel and the spread of ideas, and the impact of the Gregorian reforms. Gregory’s vision [Gregory VII] of a pure, undefiled church aroused more expectations than it could fulfil. The clergy, in particular, simply could not produce the results, in terms of piety and pastoral enthusiasm, which Gregory had seemed to promise. Hence, as with the original Montanists, Christian activists tended to turn against the clergy, and take the religious reform, or revival, into their own hands.

Here was a mortal threat to the Church. We mistakenly think of medieval institutional Christianity as an immensely solid and stable structure. But in some ways it was much more vulnerable than the civil power, itself a fragile vessel. Like civil government, the regular routine of organized Christianity could easily collapse; the two often disintegrated together, under pressure. The Christian system was complex and [could be] disorganized with comparative ease; an accidental conjunction of two or more of a huge number of forces could bring about de-Christianization over quite a large area very suddenly. Thus St Bernard of Clairvaux on a preaching tour of southern France in 1145 reported that a number of heresies were common and that in large areas Catholicism, as he understood it, had disappeared.

Naturally, where antinomian mobs were liable to sweep away church institutions, established authority was anxious to get them out of Christendom – preferably to the East, whence few would return. These mass crusades or armed pilgrimages were usually led by unauthorized prophetae or Montanists, and were a form of popular millenarianism, highly unorthodox but to some extent controlled or canalized by authority. Sometimes they attacked the Jews, regarded as devils like the Moslems, but more accessible. But if now Jews or Moslems were available, they nearly always, sooner or later, turned on the Christian clergy.

Paul Johnson, History of Christianity, © 1976 Athenium, pgs. 248-249.

I’m envisioning two more posts in this series after this one: the “crusade” against the Cathars, one of these “de-Christianization” events that the Institutional Church chose to combat by force, and also, the development of the Inquisition, which was the stated intention of this series at the beginning.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Babies roasted on spits"

The title was for one commentator, augustinefan, who so far has seen nothing shocking in this series. We aim to please here.
Part 1: Augustine as Conduit to the Inquisition
Part 2: How Confession became a Divinely Instituted Sacrament
Part 3: The Origins of Payment for Penance
Part 4: Crusading and Other Indulgences
Part 5: The Great Schism of the Fifth Century
Part 6: “Deliver us from the hands of the Romans”
Part 7: “Impetus for the Crusades”

We are coming to my point in this Paul Johnson series. We are not there yet, but what we have in this posting is close.

And my point with all of this is, theology has consequences. What follows is certainly not pretty. But it is the fruit of Augustine’s theology of coercion, put into practice, by “a total Christian society,” one led by popes and bishops, and “the faithful.”

From Paul Johnson, “A History of Christianity”.

The crusades were thus to some extent a weird half-way house between the tribal movements of the fourth and fifth centuries and the mass trans-Atlantic migration of the poor in the nineteenth. … numbers were large, particularly in the first two generations of the crusading movement. Peter the Hermit led a mob of 20,000 men, women and children, including, one presumes, many families carrying all their worldly goods with them. Most of these people were very poor; they had been unable to obtain land on any lease, or agricultural work during an acute and prolonged labour surplus; they intended to settle.

So, of course, did the most determined of the knights. Most of them had no money or lands. Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, who emerged as the leader of the First Crusade, claimed descent from Charlemagne, but he held his duchy as an office not a fief, and may have been in danger of dismissal: hence his crusade. Apart from Raymond of Toulouse, all the crusaders who settled in the Holy Land were poor men; the rich, like Stephen of Blois, or the Counts of Flanders and Boulogne, returned to Europe as quickly as they honourably could.

From the start, then, the crusades were marked by depredations and violence which were as much racial as religious in origin. Mass-gatherings of Christians for any purpose invariably constituted a danger to Jewish communities in European cities. Local rulers nearly always tried to protect them, for their own selfish financial reasons; but they were powerless to control the vast crusading bands. To Christian crusaders, in particular, the Jews were hateful: they were believed to have helped the Roman pagans to persecute the early Christians, and they had assisted the Islamic conquests.

Men like Godfrey de Bouillon terrorized Jewish communities into providing considerable sums to finance crusading transport; the mobs, in 1096, turned to outright massacre - 12 Jews were murdered at Speier, 500 at Worms, 1,000 at Mainz, 22 at Metz, and so forth. Some groups dispersed after attacking the Jews. But the great majority pressed on through the Balkans and Anatolia. They do not seem to have discriminated between Christians and Moslems.

Thus, in the villages attacked around Nicea by Peter the Hermit's band, non-Latin Christians were slaughtered in great numbers, and it was said their babies were roasted on spits. When cities fell, even to regular crusader forces, it was customary to kill some at least of the non-Latin inhabitants, irrespective of their religion. Dark-skinned people, or even those who simply wore conspicuously different garments, were at risk. The fall of Jerusalem was followed by a prolonged and hideous massacre of Moslems and Jews, men, women and children.

This episode had a crucial effect in hardening Islamic attitudes to the crusaders. Unfortunately, it was not the only one. When Caesarea was taken in 1101, the troops were given permission to sack it as they pleased, and all the Moslem inhabitants were killed in the Great Mosque; there was a similar massacre at Beirut. Such episodes punctuated the crusades from start to finish. In 1168, during the Frankish campaign in Egypt, there were systematic massacres; those killed included many Christian Copts, and the effect was to unite Egyptians of all religions (and races) against the crusaders.

Of course, the crusading animus was chiefly directed against the Moslems -in 1182 there were even raids on the Moslem Red Sea pilgrim routes, in which, to the horror of Islam, a crowed pilgrim ship was sunk with all aboard. But from the start the crusaders learnt to hate the Byzantines almost as much, and in 1204 they finally attacked and took Constantinople, 'to the honour of God, the Pope and the empire'. The soldiers were told they could pillage for three days. In St Sophia, the hangings were torn down, and the great silver iconostasis was wrenched into pieces and pocketed. A prostitute was put upon the Patriarch's throne and sang a rude French song. Sacred books and ikons were trampled under foot, nuns were raped and the soldiers drank the altar wine out of the chalices.

The last of the great international crusades, in 1365, spent itself on a pointless sacking of the predominantly Christian city of Alexandria: native Christians were killed as well as Jews and Moslems, and even the Latin traders had their houses and stores looted. The racialism of the crusaders vented itself particularly against any sign of alien culture. When Tripoli fell to them, in 1109, the Genoese sailors destroyed the Banu Ammar library, the finest in the Moslem world. In general, the effect of the crusades was to undermine the intellectual content of Islam, to destroy the chances of peaceful adjustment to Christianity, and to make the Moslems far less tolerant: crusading fossilized Islam into a fanatic posture.

They also did incalculable damage to the eastern churches, whether Orthodox or Monophysite. One of the first acts of the crusaders after the taking of Jerusalem was to expel the Orthodox and members of other non-Latin Christian sects, and Orthodox priests were tortured to force them to reveal the fragments of the True Cross. No attempt was made to reach an accommodation with Christians who did not acknowledge Rome fully. They lost their churches and their property, they were displaced from their bishoprics and patriarchates, and at best they were tolerated; even the Maronite Christians, who were in communion with Rome, were treated as second-class citizens in the states the Latins created in the twelfth century.

Paul Johnson, History of Christianity, © 1976 Athenium, pgs. 245-247.

I want to thank those of you who have stayed with me through this series. I know it’s been a bit tiring. A thousand years is a long time. It's been tiring for me as well. I typed in very much of this series from the book, silly me, before I found a .pdf version of it online.

Certainly, this sort of thing isn't pretty, and at some points, it gets worse. I was moved to delve into this time frame by a lecture series I heard from Dr. Carl Trueman, of Westminster Theological Seminary. The series is called “The Medieval Church” and it’s made available through iTunesU. If you’re interested in putting all of this into perspective, I’d highly recommend that you give it a listen.

History is like a great symphony, and Trueman paints it as such. While all of this is going on, there is also a counter-movement in which some of the “cathedral schools” of the Dark Ages were uniting in some of the larger cities, and beginning to form universities. It was the rise of the universities, he says, which was the greatest, most influential event in the last 1000 years. (He puts the Reformation as the third most influential, behind the Universities and the Enlightenment.) It was the rise of the universities that enabled Europe to “modernize itself” by pulling itself up by its bootstraps.

Luke and Moses, witnesses against the Immaculate Conception

Luke 2:21And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
22And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”

Leviticus 12:1Then the LORD  spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying:
‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. 3‘On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4‘Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. 5‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.
6‘When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. 7‘Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. 8‘But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”
Mary brought a sin offering after the birth of Christ.  The priest made atonement for her.  But if she was born without the stain of original sin and never sinned herself, why?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whitaker's Disputations: Stapleton Objects to the Internal Witness of the Holy Spirit

Do Disagreements between Christians Refute an Appeal to the Holy Spirit as Testimony to the Canon?

In Part 3 of this series we looked at Whitaker's discussion of external and internal testimony to the canon. For Whitaker, all external testimony, as useful as it is, cannot bring about much of any true belief without the internal work of the Holy Spirit. On this point, Stapleton issues the following objection:

If it be by the testimony of the Spirit that we know the scriptures, how comes it that churches, which have this Spirit, agree not amongst themselves? For (so he argues) the Lutherans disagree with you Calvinists, because you receive some books which they reject: therefore, either you or they are without the Spirit. This is an objection urged also by Campian and by others.

Stapleton presents quite the dilemma: either we are forced to say the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit is unreliable since it produces contrary beliefs among true Christians (thus abandoning the internal testimony for the canon), or we are forced to say that Christian groups that disagree with ours on smaller points of belief really do not have the Holy Spirit at all.

This is also an objection more generally applied to Sola Scriptura and doctrinal division today, so Whitaker's responses will be useful to analyze.

Whitaker thinks the dilemma is unreasonable, for three reasons, the first of which is as follows:

I answer: In the first place, it does not follow either that they who reject those books, or we who receive them, are without the Holy Spirit. For no saving truth can be known without the Holy Spirit; as for example, that Christ died for us, or any other. This the papists will themselves allow. Yet it does not follow that all who have learned this truth from the Holy Spirit must agree in all other points of faith. Nor does it immediately follow, that all who are in error are without the Holy Spirit, because all errors are not capital. Now the reason why all who have the Holy Spirit do not think exactly alike of all things, is because there is not precisely the same equal measure of the Holy Spirit in all; otherwise there would be full agreement in all points.1

1. I'm not specifically sure what Whitaker means by "the same equal measure of the Holy Spirit." I assume it is with respect to how much the Holy Spirit is being followed and obeyed, but perhaps he has some other concept in mind, such as some sort of pouring out of the Spirit in different quantities (if that term may be used in this situation) which leads to a greater alignment with God on matters of truth. Either way, the point is useful, for however the spiritual mechanism occurs, it seems reasonable to say that various followers of God will obey the Holy Spirit to greater or lesser degrees.

2. A example of this response is the disagreement between Peter and Paul over the Judiazers. Peter was endowed with the Holy Spirit by direct promise from Jesus in what was a great amount2, at it seems equally reasonable (although ultimately irrelevant to the argument) to say that Paul enjoyed a similar endowment. Yet we would not say their disagreement forces us to choose one or the other as having the Holy Spirit. Paul doesn't treat Peter as a non-Christian in his confrontation with him, even if he had fallen into serious error. So Stapleton would have us follow a line of argument that Paul did not believe.

3. I'd also observe that Stapleton's argument wouldn't succeed today. Can you imagine a Catholic bishop arguing that the Eastern Orthodox do not have the Holy Spirit because their canon differs from what was determined at Trent? That would not fit with the ecumenical spirit now present in the post-Vatican II era.

Whitaker's second point is as follows:

Secondly, both we who receive some books not received by the Lutherans, have the precedent of some ancient churches, and the Lutherans also, who reject them. For there were some churches who received these books (that is, the epistle of Jude, the second epistle of Peter, and the second and third of John), and also some who rejected them, and yet all meanwhile were churches of God.3

The appeal to the "ancient churches" is useful here because it plays on the Roman Catholic denomination's claims to being a continuation of the tradition of the early fathers. If disagreement over the canon (or any doctrinal issue) means the Holy Spirit is not present in one (or more) disagreeing parties, then we should also be willing to say that the Holy Spirit was not present in one or more disagreeing early church communities and church fathers. But the theological and historical commitments of Rome in using and approving of the church fathers make this impossible for a Roman Catholic to accept.

Finally, Whitaker argues:

Thirdly, it does not presently follow that all have the Holy Spirit who say they have it. Although many of the Lutherans (as they call them) reject these books, yet it is not to be concluded that such is the common opinion of that whole church. The papists, indeed, understand and denote by the name of the church only the bishops and doctors; but the sentiments are not to be judged of by merely a few of its members.4

How many times do objectors to Sola Scriptura uncritically lump all professing Protestants together and assume that we believe the Holy Spirit is leading all of them? Any criticism of this line of argument for the canon must take into account this qualification--that not all who profess the Holy Spirit have it.


1. William Whitaker,
Disputations on Holy Scripture (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1894; reprint, Orlando: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2005), 295-296.

2. Cf. John 16, esp. v. 13. The Apostles were to be led by the Spirit "into all truth" (NIV).

3. William Whitaker,
Disputations, 296.

4. Ibid.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Impetus for the Crusades

Part 1: Augustine as Conduit to the Inquisition
Part 2: How Confession became a Divinely Instituted Sacrament
Part 3: The Origins of Payment for Penance
Part 4: Crusading and Other Indulgences
Part 5: The Great Schism of the Fifth Century
Part 6: “Deliver us from the hands of the Romans”

Paul Johnson, “A History of Christianity”:

Three factors combined together to produce the militant crusades. The first was the development of small-scale 'holy wars' against Moslems in the Spanish theatre. In 1063, Ramiro I, King of Aragon, was murdered by a Moslem; and Alexander II promised an indulgence for all who fought for the cross to revenge the atrocity; the idea was developed in 1073 by Gregory VII who helped an international army to assemble for Spanish campaigning, guaranteeing canonically that any Christian knight could keep the lands he conquered, provided he acknowledged that the Spanish kingdom belonged to the see of St Peter. Papal expansionism, linked to the colonial appetite for acquiring land, thus supplied strong political and economic motives.

There was, secondly, a Frankish tradition, dating from around 800, that the Carolingian monarchs had a right and a duty to protect the Holy Places in Jerusalem, and the western pilgrims who went there. This was acknowledged by the Moslem caliphs, who until the late eleventh century preferred Frankish interference to what they regarded as the far more dangerous penetration by Byzantium. From the tenth century, western pilgrimages grew in frequency and size. They were highly organized by the Cluniac monks, who built abbeys to provide hospitality on the way. There were three well-marked land-routes through the Balkans and Asia, as well as the more expensive sea-route; and elaborate hospices in Jerusalem itself. Powerful lords were allowed by the Moslems to bring armed escorts; other pilgrims joined them; so western Christians moved in large, armed contingents - in 1064-6, for instance, 7,000 Germans, many armed, travelled together to Jerusalem. There was not all that much physical difference between a big pilgrimage and a crusade.

What really created the crusade, however, was the almost unconscious decision, at the end of the eleventh century, to marry the Spanish idea of conquering land from the infidel with the practice of the mass, armed pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And this sprang from the third factor - the vast increase in western population in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and the consequent land hunger. Cistercian pioneer-farming at the frontiers was one solution. Crusading was another - the first great wave of the European colonial migrations. It was, in fact, deeply rooted in Christian cosmology.

The Ptolemaic conception of a circumambient ocean had been accepted by the Fathers and reconciled with the bible in Isidore's encyclopaedia. The three continents were allocated to the sons of Noah after the Flood – Shem stood for the Jews, Japhet for the Gentiles, and Ham for the Africans, or blacks. Alcuin's commentary on Genesis reads:' "How was the world divided by the sons and grandsons of Noah?" "Shem is considered to have acquired Asia, Ham Africa and Japhet Europe."' The passage then went on to prove from the scriptures that Japhet-Europe was by its name and nature divinely appointed to be expansionist. Within a generation of Alcuin, early in the ninth century, we first hear of 'Christendom', an entity judged to be coextensive with Europe, but with special privileges and rights, including the right to expand. Phrases like the 'defence of Christendom' against the Saracens were used (ninth century) and in the eleventh century Gregory VII referred to the 'boundaries of Christendom' and the Church being 'mistress of the whole of Christendom'.

The idea that Europe was a Christian entity, which had acquired certain inherent rights over the rest of the world by virtue of its faith, and its duty to spread it, married perfectly with the need to find some outlet both for its addiction to violence and its surplus population. The famous sermon at Clermont with which Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade in 1095 survives in a variety of conflicting texts. William of Malmesbury's text, for instance, should not be regarded as Urban's actual words, but more an expression of the mood which generated the crusading movement. It contains some striking phrases, the real adumbration of European expansion and colonialism: 'Can anyone tolerate that we [Europeans] do not even share equally with the Moslems the inhabited earth? They have made Asia, which is a third of the world, their homeland. ... They have also forcibly held Africa, the second portion of the world, for over 200 years. There remains Europe, the third continent. How small a portion of it is inhabited by us Christians.' Of course, he added, 'in one sense the whole world is exile for the Christian' but in another 'the whole world is his country'. In any case, he concluded, 'in this land' - meaning Christian Europe - 'you can scarcely feed the inhabitants. That is why you use up its goods and excite endless wars among yourselves.'

Paul Johnson, History of Christianity, © 1976 Athenium, pgs. 243-244.

Philip Jenkins gives a fairly good picture of this “three-part world” on the cover of his “The Lost History of Christianity.”