Saturday, June 30, 2012

Roman Catholics and Private Interpretation

The following is a brief excerpt from Eric Svendsen's book, Upon This Slippery Rock, Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority (New York: Calvary Press, 2002) pp. 74-76. This is posted because a few Roman Catholic bloggers decided to tell me what they think "private interpretation" means for Roman Catholics. This book can be purchased here.

Appendix B: The Roman Catholic Teaching on Private Interpretation
I INCLUDE this section because there are many Roman Catholics who deny that they argue in the way this book represents. When confronted with these epistemological fallacies, rather than present a defense of the Roman Catholic view, they claim that the fallacies are meaningless since Rome has never condemned private interpretation in the way this book suggests. I have included writings from Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II, to demonstrate the contrary; namely, that Rome really does condemn private interpretation, and that individual Roman Catholics really do commit the epistemological fallacies we have enumerated. I have italicized text within each council's documents to draw attention to the relevant points. Where clarification of a point is necessary, I have interspersed my own comments, offset in bracketed italicized text.

Vatican I Council
"Likewise I [the Bishop of Rome] accept sacred scripture according to that sense which holy mother church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy scriptures; nor will I ever receive and interpret them except according to the unanimous consent of the fathers" (Session II, 3).

"Everybody knows that those heresies, condemned by the fathers of Trent, which rejected the divine magisterium of the church and allowed religious questions to be a matter for the judgment of each individual, have gradually collapsed into a multiplicity of sects, either at variance or in agreement with one another; and by this means a good many people have had all faith in Christ destroyed" (Session III, 5).

The Council of Trent
"Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,—in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,—wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, —whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,—has held and does hold, or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established" (Session IV, "Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books").

Vatican 11 Council
"But the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church.... It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls." ("Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation" [Dei Verbum] II, 10).

[The council goes on to assert a contradictory principle]:
"To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to `literary norms.' For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at the period in their everyday dealings with one another." (Ibid., III, 12 ["Sacred Scripture, Its Inspiration and Divine Interpretation"]).

[The principle is contradictory, because those who follow it will invariably depart from the Roman Catholic interpretations on many issues, including Mary's perpetual virginity, Mary's status among the NT writers, Mary's role as mediator, as well as a host of other issues. Predictably, the council is quick to revert back to its original position in the very same section]:

"For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgement of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the Word of God" (Ibid.).

[The council likewise addresses the study and interpretation of the patristic writers as it pertains to private interpretation]:

"The bride of the Incarnate Word, the Church taught by the Holy Spirit, is concerned to move ahead toward a deeper understanding of the sacred Scriptures so that she may increasingly feed her sons with the divine words. Therefore, she also encourages the study of the holy Fathers of both East and West and of the sacred liturgies. Catholic exegetes then and other students of sacred theology, working diligently together and using appropriate means, should devote their energies, under the watchful care of the sacred teaching office of the Church, to an exploration and exposition of the divine writings" (Ibid., VI, 23 ["Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church"]).

[Contrary to the claims of some modern Roman Catholic apologists, the Roman Catholic church does indeed condemn private interpretation of both the Scriptures and the writings of the churchfathers. "Private interpretation" is defined in these documents as any interpretation that is contrary to what the Roman Catholic church has decided the meaning is. Obviously, any religious system could claim that—and many in fact have. Therefore, individual Roman Catholics do indeed commit the epistemological fallacies presented in this book; for in evaluating the claims of Rome, each and every one of them must interpret the Scriptures and church history for themselves to decide that it is Rome who is the true guardian of the truth, and not some other contender.]

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thank You, Douglas Wilson

Though I confess I don't understand everything about the "Federal Vision" and the Auburn Avenue Controversy; I still think that Dr. James White won the debate vs. Douglas Wilson on "Are Roman Catholics our brothers and sisters in Christ?" ;

And . . .

I really appreciate Douglas Wilson's recent engagement with our culture on the homosexual issue (see below) and his debates with Christopher Hitchens (and also here in book form); and against atheist Dan Barker.  Thank you for those!

Thank You, Douglas Wilson, for, in my opinion, being a real life Daniel and going into the lion's den like I have never seen before.

Wilson's 2 lectures and 2 hours of questions and answer session on the Homosexual issue is probably the best Gospel cultural engagement in today's world that I have ever seen in my life, both in content and tone.  

If you have not watched them yet, I would encourage everyone to watch all three sessions.

Dr. White reviewed some of the Questions and Answers from Douglas Wilson's presentation at Indiana University on the first half of the Dividing Line yesterday, June 29.

Dr. White pointed out the bad and obnoxious behavior of the college students and pro-homosexual folks there; and the lack of a Biblical worldview and lack of ability to think logically and coherently.

The bad behavior of many of the students, and their cussing and yelling is amazing; and it has been exposed for all to see.  I am glad Wilson's film crew (or whoever) took the time to film the protest outside and put that in the presentation and put their obnoxious behavior into sub-titles to fully expose them.  Reminds me of Ephesians 5:11-13.  But beware, if you have not seen it yet; lots of profanity and cursing and nastiness.  The anger of the GLBT crowd is palpable.

Douglas Wilson did a good job, presented God's design in creation for marriage, and preached the gospel, and never got angry back at them.  I don't think I would have been able to keep my cool for so long.  Pastor Wilson did an excellent job of explaining that Christians are not better than anyone and that Pharisee-ism, moralism, hypocrisy is wrong.

Wilson did an excellent job of explaining Genesis and God's creation design of marriage.  He also did an excellent job of exposing the world view of atheism/evolution/materialism and how that results in certain kinds of thinking and behavior; and he had a good application of explaining how the Islamic worldview of Allah as a hermit (all alone) results in lack of love and creates a culture of force and will-power-law in order to make people behave.  Only the Trinity, the God of the Bible, can fill the emptiness of the heart for true love, because God is love. ( 1 John 4:8-10)  The God who is eternally and by nature - lover (Father), beloved (Son), and love (Holy Spirit) from all eternity is amazing, Biblical, True, and satisfying.

I love his expression of the story line drama of the Bible:  "Kill the Dragon; get the girl" = meaning "God is defeating Satan, and will win a bride, the church for His Son, Jesus Christ, the bride was a harlot, a sinner, and Christ is winning her back, cleansing her to be a pure and spotless bride."  See Ephesians 5:21-33 and Revelation chapters 21- 22.

He did an excellent job of explaining Matthew 5:29-30 - your hands or your eyes don't cause you to sin - your heart causes you to sin - the gospel is that you need a heart transplant and that by repenting of your sin and believing in Christ you get a heart transplant.  Jesus did not mean those things literally(pluck out your eye, cut off your hand), because one can still lust in their heart and mind, and kill with their heart and mind, and covet (steal) in their heart and mind, etc.

There is much more that I could comment on, and Lord willing, when I have time, comment on other aspects of Wilson's excellent 2 lectures and Q and A session.

Stuff You Don't See on Catholic Answers or CTC

"A Miracle similar to that at Fatima, a great wonder to convince many, predicted to take place on the Feast Day of a "young martyr" of the "Eucharist" but NOT on a holy day of Our Lady. The miracle will last for about a quarter of an hour and will be visible from Garabandal, Spain, and the surrounding mountains. Our Holy Father will see it no matter where he is at the time. This miracle will take place on a date which will be "announced" eight days BEFORE. Afterwards, God will leave a sign in memory of it."

Reformation Organs

Interesting stuff for those of you involved in Church music wars-

The Anabaptist movement was born in Zurich Switzerland in 1525 during a time of iconoclastic fury (literally, demolishing icons). Conrad Grebel and Felix Mantz’s spiritual mentor, Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli led Zurich in its rejection of all things Catholic—ceremonies, rituals, liturgy, images, and instrumental music. Though he was a musician of extraordinary talent, Zwingli said the New Testament taught none of those popish mockeries; thus they were rejected and forbidden. Sharp said a prime example of what was rejected and forbidden was the organ.

The organ was characterized as the “Devil’s Bagpipe,” the “Pope’s Bagpipe,” the “Devil’s Trumpet,” and a “Seducer to the Worship of the Roman Anti-Christ.” Organs in the city’s five churches were silenced, then destroyed. The organ in Zwingli’s Grossmunster, the Cathedral Church, was relatively new. Sharp surmised that this organ was like the grand organ in Lucerne, another Swiss city that remained Catholic—therefore escaping Protestant axes and sledge hammers.

Historian Sharp said eyewitness Gerold Edlibach described the instrument—it was massive, gorgeous, superb, and very expensive with an imposing cluster of registers. Edlibach also described its destruction—it was “ripped down and smashed” while the cathedral’s organist, Pelagius Karlschmid, “stood by, helpless, and weeping.”

Sharp reported that in various cantons of Switzerland, pipes were melted and recast. In Schauffhausen, pipes became wine cans; in Winterthur, a new roof for the prison tower; and in Geneva dinnerware for the city hospital by order of reformer John Calvin.

This is a fun little link (thanks Louis).

Against Musical Instruments in Public Worship by R. L. Dabney

"The music of an organ may be appropriate to Popish worship, and may be in good taste in a Popish cathedral; and yet may be in wretchedly ill taste, when applied to Protestant worship."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Does Ephesians 4 Refute Sola Scriptura?

Here's how the argument goes. Protestants say 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches that the Scriptures are God breathed and able to "fully equip a man for every good work." The Scriptures do not say an infallible oral Tradition of extra-Biblical information passed down along side of the Scriptures likewise does the same. Nor do the scriptures teach God created an infallible church that is God-breathed that will fully equip a man for every good work... or does it? Consider Ephesians 4:11-16.
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Notice that Paul says that leaders of the church play the role of  "equipping of the saints" to eventual maturity. So... the Protestant interpretation of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 is at odds with Eph. 4, because here we see that the church also plays a role in bringing the church and the individual Christian to spiritual maturity. Is this a Refutation of sola scriptura?

No, hardly. Notice the leaders who are in charge of equipping the saints: apostles,  prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. What is the primary tool used by these offices in their respective ministries? That's right, you guessed it,  the Word of God. Notice that in Acts 2:42 the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching. What were they teaching? The Word of God.  During the writing of the New Testament, this Word of God certainly existed in both oral and written form, but it was still... the Word of God.

Every Sunday I sit in church and hear my Pastor preach the Word of God. It exhorts and prepares me for works of service, and it also unifies me with the rest of the church as we work together towards Christian maturity.  We learn about the Son of God, as revealed in the scriptures, and we're instructed in the Word of God so as to not be carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.

The doctrine of sola scriptura never denies the teaching office of the church. It denies that this office is an infallible office, and it denies the existence of God's special revelation of extra-biblical information apart from the Scriptures.  What's assumed in the argument that pits 2 Tim 3 against Eph. 4 is that the Church stands along side of the Scriptures as an infallible authority, thus the Scriptures are not the sole infallible authority. For the argument to have any merit, the belief that the Roman church is also the infallible voice of God must be read into the text. This is why sola scriptura is sola.  Scripture stands alone as the infallible Word of God.  David King has rightly pointed out,
Sola Scriptura functions as the authoritative norm for the people of God, and therefore stands as the only existing source of the deposit of faith that special revelation has disclosed. This is one reason why Paul wrote as he did in his closing remarks in Romans. He spoke of 'the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith' (Rom 16:25-26). According to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, Scripture has manifested this mystery, and this mystery is authoritatively interpreted by the epistles of the New Testament.

Scripture is therefore authoritatively specified (via apostolic sanction) as the God-ordained means for the manifestation of this mystery, the purpose being 'for obedience to the faith.' If unwritten tradition was to be regarded as a reliable means and/or source for the preservation of binding revelation beyond the time of the apostles, and intended to function perpetually as an authoritative norm alongside Scripture, why did Paul fail to mention such a concept when speaking of 'the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began?' Moreover, why would he omit extrabiblical tradition as a norm when addressing Timothy on the sufficiency of Scripture in his second epistle? In his masterful treatise, The Reason of Faith, Puritan divine, John Owen, draws this conclusion:

God hath gathered up into the Scripture all divine revelations given out by himself from the beginning of the world, and all that ever shall be to the end thereof, which are of general use unto the church, that it may be thoroughly instructed in the whole mind and will of God, and directed in all that worship of him and obedience unto him which is necessary [italics added] to give us acceptance with him here, and to bring us unto the eternal enjoyment of him hereafter...When God first committed the law to writing, with all those things which accompanied it, he obliged the church unto the use of it alone, without additions of any kind. Now, this he would not have done had he not expressed therein, - that is, in the books of Moses, - all that was any way needful unto the faith and obedience of the church: for he did not only command them to attend with all diligence unto his word as it was then written, for their instruction and direction in faith and obedience, annexing all sorts of promises unto their so doing, Deut. vi. 6, 7, but also expressly forbids them, as was said, to add any thing thereunto or to conjoin any thing therewith, Deut. iv. 2, xii. 32; which he would not have done had he omitted other divine revelations before given that were any way necessary unto the use of the church. [Notice now carefully what Owen proceeds to say] As he added many new ones, so he gathered in all the old from the unfaithful repository of tradition [italics here added], and fixed them in a writing given by divine inspiration.

In the end, the matter of authoritative revelation boils down to a question of preservation. Regardless of the assertions of Roman apologists, when the dust settles, there is one question they cannot answer. Can you name one oral, extrabiblical tradition, demonstratively traceable to the apostolic age, which is necessary for the faith and practice of the Church of Jesus Christ? No verifiable example has been or can be offered. We affirm with the Apostle Paul, 'that according to the Way which they call a sect (or heresy), so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets' (Acts 24:14).

David King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume I: A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura, pp. 44-45

On the Excommunication of the Reformers

IX. Now although the Reformers were excommunicated from the church of Rome, they cannot on that account be said to have been deprived of the call which they had received. It was unjust and could not deprive them of their right, as the apostles did not lose their call because they were excommunicated by the Jewish synod; nor the orthodox bishops who were excommunicated by the Arians, especially since (on the hypothesis of the Romanists) ordination impresses an indelible mark. This very thing is sanctioned according to Gratian. (Pope) Celestine says, "If anyone was either excommunicated or divested of office or clerical dignity by the Nestorian bishop or by the others who follow him, from whom they began to preach such things, it is manifest that this one both continued and continues in our communion; nor do we consider him removed because he could not by his sentence remove anyone, who had alredy shown that he himself ought to be removed" (`Decreti," Pt. II, Causa XXIV,Q. 1.35 Corpus Iuris Canonici [1959], 1:980). This is confirmed in chapter 36 (ibid: 1.36, pp. 980-81). [Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology Vol. 3, p. 238].

Luther on Women Preaching

Here's an odd little tidbit I came across from Luther:

"...[I]n the matter of preaching we must make selection that order may be preserved. But since all who are Christians have authority to preach, what will be the outcome? for women will also want to preach. Not so. St. Paul forbids women to put themselves forward as preachers in a congregation of men, and says: "They should be subject to their husbands." For when a woman will not submit to being led and governed, the result will be anything but good. These are, however, the words of Paul in 1 Tim 2, 11-12: "Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness." If it happened, however, that no man could be secured for the office, then a woman might step up and preach to others as best she could; but in no other instance." [source]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hey Reformers: Got Miracles? If Not, You Were Not Called By God

... So said Roman Catholic writer Francis de Sales (August 21, 1567 – December 28, 1622).

I  came across this de Sales argument while listening to a CTC podcast of, you guessed it, a conversion story. In this conversion story, a former Mid-America Reformed Seminary alumni recounted his journey across the Tiber. I happen to know a little bit about this seminary. I'm fairly sure this convert was provided with a good Reformed education, including solid material against Rome's claims. That's why I find it odd he was persuaded this particular argument from de Sales had merit.

During the interview both he and his wife mentioned de Sales book a number of times. This short mp3 clip highlights their basic point. The basic thrust of what they said was that de Sales asked who sent the Reformers?  Where did their authority come from? If God really raised up the Reformers, where are their miracles to prove they were sent from God? Here's what de Sales says:

First, I say then that no one should allege an extraordinary mission unless he prove it by miracles: for, I pray you, where should we be if this pretext of extraordinary mission was to be accepted without proof? Would it not be a cloak for all sorts of reveries? Arius, Marcion, Montanus, Messalius — could they not be received into this dignity of reformers, by swearing the same oath?

Never was any one extraordinarily sent unless he brought this letter of credit from the divine Majesty. Moses was sent immediately by God to govern the people of Israel. He wished to know his name who sent him; when he had learnt the admirable name of God, he asked for signs and patents of his commission: God so far found this request good that he gave him the grace of three sorts of prodigies and marvels, which were, so to speak, three attestations in three different languages, of the charge which he gave him, in order that any one who did not understand one might understand another. If then they allege extraordinary mission, let them show us some extraordinary works, otherwise we are not obliged to believe them. In truth Moses clearly shows the necessity of this proof for him who would speak extraordinarily: for having to beg from God the gift of eloquence, he only asks it after having the power of miracles; showing that it is more necessary to have authority to speak than to have readiness in speaking.

The mission of S. John Baptist, though it was not altogether extraordinary, — was it not authenticated by his conception, his nativity, and even by that miraculous life of his, to which our Lord gave such excellent testimony? But as to the Apostles, — who does not know the miracles they did and the great number of them? Their handkerchiefs, their shadow, served for the prompt healing of the sick and driving away of the devils: by the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done amongst the people (Acts xix. V.); and that this was in confirmation of their preaching S. Mark declares quite explicitly in the last words of his Gospel, and S. Paul to the Hebrews (ii. 4). How then shall those who in our age would allege an extraordinary mission excuse and relieve themselves of this proof of their mission? What privilege have they greater than an Apostolic, a Mosaic? What shall I say more. If our sovereign Master, consubstantial with the Father, having a mission so authentic that it comprises the communication of the same essence, if he himself, I say, who is the living source of all Ecclesiastical mission, has not chosen to dispense himself from this proof of miracles, what reason is there that these new ministers should be believed on their mere word? Our Lord very often alleges his mission to give credit to his words: — As my Father hath sent me I also send you (John xx. 21); My doctrine is not mine, hut of him that sent me (ibid. vii. 1 6); You doth know me, and you know thence I am; and I am not come of myself (ibid. 28). But also, to give authority to his mission, he brings forward his miracles, and attests that if he had not done among the Jews works which no other man had done, they would not have sinned in not believing him. And elsewhere he says to them: Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? Otherwise believe for the works themselves (ibid. xiv. 11, 12). He then who would be so rash as to boast of extraordinary mission without immediately producing miracles, deserves to be taken for an impostor. Now it is a fact that neither the first nor the last ministers have worked a single miracle: therefore they have no extraordinary mission.
1. I'm a bit surprised this particular argument had so much weight for these recent Roman Catholic converts. Based on the criteria of miracle = "sent by God", there are a fair amount of Pentecostal folks that are more than willing to claim they have the credentials required. I would be curious as to why these recent converts didn't join up with the people in this video. But the choice of who can substantiate their message with an alleged miracle doesn't begin and end with Pentecostals because even non-Christian religions claim miracles, so these recent converts could've picked a non-Christian faith to join. The speculative response I can hear in reply is such are not either real miracles or are miracles worked by Satan. Well, how would someone, based on de Sales criteria, determine that? Well, I guess an official guide would need to determine which are are (or not) real and God-sent messages accompanied by miracles.   Guess who claims to be able to pick which miracles are real miracles? Why that would be the Roman Catholic Church.  Even if the Reformers had miracles to accompany their message, the Roman church would have to officially say such was the case. In other words, one has to assume the truth of Rome previous to evaluating any sort of "miracle" offered.

2. Here's an ironic point. Here is the Bull of Canonization of St. Francis de Sales (Rerum Omnium Perturbationem) Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Promulgated on January 26, 1923. Guess who, according to the Roman Catholic Church, was sent by God? Why, it was none other than Francis de Sales:
The solemn commemoration last year of the third centenary of the canonization of five great saints--Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Philip Neri, Teresa of Jesus, and Isidore the Farmer-- helped greatly, Venerable Brothers, toward reawakening among the faithful a love for the Christian life. We are now happily called upon to celebrate the Third Centenary of the entrance into heaven of another great saint, one who was remarkable not only for the sublime holiness of life which he achieved but also for the wisdom with which he directed souls in the ways of sanctity. This saint was no less a person than Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Universal Church. Like those brilliant examples of Christian perfection and wisdom to whom We have just referred, he seemed to have been sent especially by God to contend against the heresies begotten by the Reformation. It is in these heresies that we discover the beginnings of that apostasy of mankind from the Church, the sad and disastrous effects of which are deplored, even to the present hour, by every fair mind. What is more, it appears that Francis de Sales was given to the Church by God for a very special mission.
Now if you're thinking what I'm thinking, you're wondering exactly what miracle accompanied de Sales to prove he was especially sent by God for his special mission.  Well, if you skim through the Bull of Canonization, you'll find all sorts of tidbits about his life and ministry, but nothing all that extraordinary like healing a leper or raising the dead. In other words, there weren't any extraordinary miracles that prove he was sent especially by God of a very special mission. He sort of did stuff like... the early Reformers (he wrote books, ministered, and talked to people, sometimes at great peril). The only thing that proves he was sent especially by God for a very special mission is... the Roman Catholic Church.

3. I certainly can appreciate that the above quoted excerpt from de Sales relied heavily on Scripture. Here's another writer speaking about miracles from the scripture based on an exposition of Matthew 7:22-23 (On that day many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers.”)
The chief interpretation here is that He is talking about false prophecies and miracles, as He speaks in Matthew 24:24: “False Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10 St. Paul says that the Antichrist will come “with all sorts of pretended powers and signs and wonders and with all wicked deception for unrighteousness, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” So it is certain that false signs will happen in Christendom and that the false Christians will look upon them as true and genuine signs. This has really been happening in the papacy, though in Turkey, too, there are many such priests and special saints. You can read about this in the books and legends, especially in what the monks have written. They are all crawling with miracles, though they were really nothing but lies and rascalities. How they have made fools of the people nowadays with all those pilgrimages to the Grym Valley, to the Oak, or to Trier! I myself have seen some monks who were abominable rascals and reckless men, but who expelled the devil and played with him as if he were a child.
Who could recount all the rascality and devilish sorcery they have been practicing under the holy name of Christ, Mary, the holy cross, or St. Cyprian? The monks have been practicing all this mightily, and the whole world has fallen for it, so that no one even dares to peep against it. No pope or bishop ever preached against it, but they all helped it along. If anyone opposed it, he was violently beaten down and crushed. A short time ago Bishop Ernest of Saxony tore down one of these devil’s chapels. But the evil outcome was that it made him ill, and he was only too happy to rebuild it. This sorcery has helped to introduce and confirm things like purgatory, Masses for the dead, the worship of all the saints, pilgrimages, monasteries, churches, and chapels. Many have even prophesied about the future, like Lichtenberg and others. All this has happened through the devil: to substantiate his abominations and his lies, to cast a spell over the people, and to hold them captive in error so that none of them could run away from him.
It is a minor matter for the devil to let himself be expelled even by an evil fellow, if he chooses, and yet to remain unexpelled. By this abominable deception he possesses and traps the people even more completely. Being a clever and experienced spirit, he can also guess at future events. Usually he makes fools of the people with his prophecies, by juggling them in such a way that they can be interpreted to mean various things; whichever way it comes out, he has hit it right. He used to do this long ago through his heathen priests. Then the people go crazy with excitement: “Surely God is dwelling here! You can see and touch the miracles and signs!” They cannot figure out that the devil is doing it to deceive and seduce the people. The fools do not remember that Christ clearly foretold all this and faithfully warned us against it, personally and through His apostles. But this had to be the outcome, and it serves us right for despising the Word of God and for not being concerned about losing Christ and accepting the signs of the devil. For the devil it was a lot of fun, by which he had the complete control over Christendom that he sought.
Once we have seen this and experienced all too often what great damage the devil has done through these lying spirits and false signs, it should bring us to our senses. We should not imitate our predecessors in neglecting Christ’s Word and letting it be spoken in vain, so that we do not end up the way they did. This sermon or prophecy was written as a warning. Unfortunately it comes too late for our predecessors, but early enough for us if we heed it. Then we will not let ourselves be diverted by their claims of the signs and wonders that Mary and other saints have done, nor by the skillful way they throw dust into our eyes to lead us away from the Word. Since we hear this warning that these false signs have to happen, we shall be smart enough not to believe in any mere sign.
When He discussed these miracles in Matthew 24, He warned them faithfully and seriously (Matt. 24:25): “Lo, I have told you beforehand”; as if He wanted to say: “Beware, and cling to My warning, for otherwise you will certainly be seduced. You have My Word, so that you know what the will of My Father is. Contrast these two. Here you have My teaching, which tells you how to live and act. There you see the signs that contradict this teaching.” He wants you to draw this conclusion: “Since I see such wonderful signs over there, while over here I have the teaching as well as the warning, I shall first examine the implication of the signs. I shall test them where they ought to be tested, as to whether they serve to strengthen my faith in the Word: that Christ died for me; that through Him I may obtain piety and salvation in the sight of God; and that I should carry out my station and pay faithful attention to it. I may discover the contrary, that by this they want to strengthen and confirm their own stuff and teach me to run to this or that saint who does so many signs and miracles every day, or to crawl into a hood because this is such a holy order. This would mean being led away from Christ, from my church, pulpit, Baptism, and the Sacrament, and from my station and the works demanded of me—all things with which I should remain. Therefore I refuse to listen or to know any of this though an angel were to come from heaven (Gal. 1:8) and raise the dead before my very eyes. Christ has taught and warned me: ‘Hold on to My Word, pulpit, and Sacrament. Where these are there you will find Me. Stay there, for you do not need to go running or looking any farther. I will never come any nearer to you than where My Gospel, Baptism, and ministry are; through them I come into your heart and talk to you.’ He also says: ‘Be a father or a mother, a prince or a subject, a master or a servant. Remain in your station, where you hear Me speak, where I Myself am present. You silly men, why go running to wood and stone, where no Word of God is preached? Why stare with your eyes wide open at the devil’s signs, as if Christ were somewhere where His Word is not?’ ”
You see, this is the way to beat back the papists, who come crowding around with their “customs, fathers, councils, and so many signs and miracles,” by which they try to substantiate their cause. Just to give them a short answer: “All right, let us contrast the two. Here I have Christ’s Word; of this I am certain, and it has been powerfully substantiated throughout the world. You are showing me, by contrast, your teaching and your signs, which point me to rosaries, pilgrimages, the worship of saints, Masses, monkery, and other special and self-chosen works. There is nothing here about Christ, or about faith, Baptism, and the Sacrament, or about obedience and the good works which Christ teaches me to practice within my station, in my relations with my neighbor. Instead, there is the exact opposite. Hence these cannot be genuine signs, but both the teaching and the signs are the devil’s deception.” This way we could easily recognize and judge all false signs and say: “Let the signs come and go, I do not care, even if you raised the dead before my very eyes. All of this can deceive me, but the Word of God does not deceive me.” The devil can make fools of people and cast a spell over them, so that he makes a man seem dead for a while and then brings him back to consciousness, as if he were raised from the dead. Or he can damage your eye or some other part of your body and then restore it to health, so that you imagine that it was done by a miracle. So God decrees that even genuine miracles happen as a punishment for those who do not pay attention to the truth, as St. Paul says (2 Thess. 2:9–12), and as a warning for the others. People are going to such extremes in their ingratitude and contempt for His Word that wrath is not a sufficient punishment. If the world stands much longer, this will happen to us, too, for sinning so gravely that it has to deteriorate into all sorts of errors and signs.
Because the world simply refuses to listen and wants to despise the Word, yearning for something different, He will send it enough to seduce it into the abyss of all error. This is what happened when nothing else was being preached and taught in all the churches, monasteries, and schools, and all the books were smeared up with these lying signs. The only reason for this was the fact that these signs had taken place—as though it had not been proclaimed often enough that this was going to happen and that the people would be seduced by it, so that even the elect would scarcely be rescued from the error (Matt. 24:24). It serves those people right for so wantonly letting themselves be seduced and refusing to heed this warning. He gave the Word on how people should believe and live, and in addition He confirmed it with plenty of signs. He intends this to be enough, to let it go at that, and to do nothing else. Yet they insist on setting up a different and new teaching and better stations, contrary to the Word of God and the genuine miracles.
Therefore Christ says now: “I will not heed them though they boast: ‘Lord, did we not do many mighty works in Your name?’ I will pronounce a sentence upon them which reads: ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers.’ ” “How so, dear Lord? After all, the signs and wonders are there, and no one can deny it!” He will say: “Yes, but why have you neglected My Word, which was confirmed by My miracles, setting up something else about which I know nothing, governing the world according to your own ideas, and following these? Since you have despised My Word and have not done My Father’s will, I refuse to know you or to have any grace for you.” They do not pay attention to this on earth nowadays, and they suppose that they will be right next to God. They will find out, and all too suddenly!
So the right interpretation of this text is that He is talking about the miracles which the false teachers perform to confirm their teaching. These He refuses to recognize, on the basis either of their signs or of their prophesying. In this connection, there is a more subtle argument—I do not know whether it belongs here—that God occasionally lets genuine signs take place through wicked people and that God is acting through them. So Caiaphas, the high priest, prophesied (John 11:50). And Balaam delivered a most beautiful sermon about Christ; Moses himself says that the Holy Spirit entered into him (Num. 24:2) and that he had to prophesy against his will, as Caiaphas did also. Nor can it be denied that as an apostle of Christ, Judas performed many signs, just as the other apostles and disciples did. What shall we say to this?
St. John himself gives the answer when he says about Caiaphas (John 11:51): “Being high priest that year, he prophesied.” It can happen that because such a person is in a public office or in the government, he prophesies or does miracles and accomplishes a great deal of good, bringing many people to God. Still he may not be a pious person himself but may be going to the devil. A preacher occupies a public station and is an official person; correctly considered, such a person performs the greatest works, signs, and wonders that take place on earth. Through his office, through the Word and the Sacrament that he administers to you, he brings you to faith, rescues you from the power of the devil and from eternal death, and leads you to eternal life in heaven. This far surpasses all outward signs and wonders. Nevertheless he himself may be an unbelieving and wicked man.
In this issue, therefore, you must always pay attention to the Word of God and guide yourself according to it, not according to the personality. You heard earlier about the signs that take place in order to substantiate something different from the Word of God; about these there is nothing in Scripture. But there are signs which apply to something that God has spoken and substantiated. So the prophecy of the high priest Caiaphas announced that with His death Christ would redeem the world. This was a genuine and precious prophecy, though his motive was venomous and wicked. Although the prophet Balaam was a villain, he prophesied truly as a prophet about the people of God and about Christ; God was speaking through him. Now, if a preacher correctly administers his office and performs signs by its power, he should be listened to. But if he would like to get off the track and go some different way, to establish something different and apart from his office, he would no longer be a genuine prophet but a false one. If the apostle Judas preached and did miracles—though he belonged to the devil, as Christ says (John 6:70)—he did so by the power of the apostolic office, to confirm Christ so that the people would believe in Him. On this basis you judge everyone who occupies an office in Christendom. Not all those who occupy an office and who preach are Christians, or pious people. God does not ask about that. The person may be anything he pleases; but the office is right and good nevertheless, since it does not belong to man but to God Himself. So Caiaphas prophesies, not as Caiaphas, a murderer and a scoundrel, but as a high priest. So the minister or preacher baptizes you and brings you to eternal life, not as Mr. John Pommer, but as a minister. God lets this happen in order to honor and establish the office. Since Judas is in the right public office, the one that Christ has ordained, it is the office that is being honored in him, not the person.
So it is in secular affairs, too, as Solomon says (Prov. 16:10): “Inspired decisions are on the lips of a king”; that is, everything that the government orders is right, and God confirms it. When it performs its office of judging criminals and punishing them, therefore, this is God’s judgment, which He speaks up in heaven and which He wants to be carried out—the same action that is forbidden otherwise, apart from the office. So Scripture makes everyone in the sacred office a prophet or a foreteller, though in his own person he may well be a villain or a tyrant. As Solomon says again (Prov. 8:15): “By Me kings reign”; that is: “Their law and judgment are My law and judgment, along with everything they do according to their office, if they rule properly.” Nevertheless the majority of them in the world are great villains underneath, who have no qualms about abusing the law and their own authority. But when they keep within the limits of their office and do what the law demands, this is all God’s business. Bringing this down to another level: It is as when a prince or a lord gives a command to a servant or sends out his representatives, you listen to them and honor them, though they may be rascals, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of their lord, whose office and command they bring along with them.
Now, since God does this in the secular sphere, He will lay even more emphasis upon it in the spiritual sphere, to make His office and ministry productive and powerful. As we have said, when a minister preaches or baptizes, this is nothing but a miracle, inasmuch as he lets the Gospel and Baptism remain valid regardless of whether he is pious or wicked. And if, as a non-Christian, he does not have the treasure himself, still the one who accepts the Word and believes receives the treasure. Now, if such signs and miracles take place through the office of the ministry, redeeming souls from sin, death, and the devil, how much more can tiny, outward miracles that do not help the soul take place in the physical sphere!
It is necessary here to distinguish between the two things, the office and the person. Because one man is pious and twenty are wicked, you must not reject the office on account of the person, as usually happens. You should investigate whether the tendency and purpose of the office and the miracle is to praise and confirm the doctrine of faith in Christ and whether they harmonize with what He has spoken, commanded, and instituted. If you see that this is so, then you may say: “This sermon is right, though the person may be a good-for-nothing. I will accept the sign, but I will ask no questions about the person.” If it is not so, then you must not accept it or believe it, regardless of how great the sign may be or how saintly and precious the person may be. There are also many bishops, preachers, and others in office who imagine that this entitles them to God’s special favor personally. As I have said above, this is a mistake. It will not help on the Last Day for them to boast and say: “Lord, we did many mighty works in Your name.” God did not give them the power to do this on account of their person but on account of their office; He did not do these things for their sakes personally but for the sake of validating their office.
This applies to people in public office, through whom signs and wonders take place. Some of them are pious and some wicked, but this neither detracts from the office nor adds to it. But what do you say about those who do miracles and foretell the future though they are not in office? In Luke 9:49, 50 we read about some who did miracles though they were not Christ’s disciples. The apostles informed Christ of this and said: “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow You.” But He answered: “Do not forbid him; for he who is not against us is for us.” He was an individual person, whom Christ had not installed into the office, and yet He says that they should not forbid him, adding the reason (Mark 9:39): “No one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to preach evil about Me.”
Answer: It is true, as I have said, that God does not let any signs take place through wicked men unless they are in public office, since God does not grant signs for the sake of their person but of their office. But where genuine signs take place through an individual person, such a person must certainly be pious, as are those who have a special revelation through dreams or visions. But such signs must be aimed at praising Christ and advancing the Gospel. So you have two kinds of signs that are good and legitimate: first, those that are performed by pious persons who are Christians; secondly, those that are performed by evil persons who occupy an office and teach correctly. We should always be guided by this certain standard, which should be applied to every kind of person, whether pious or impious, in office or out of office: Do the signs aim at praising Christ and advancing your faith? If you notice that they are directing you somewhere else, to pilgrimages or to prayers to saints or to the deliverance of souls from purgatory, in other words, to a dependence on your own works and the creation of a righteousness of your own, then you must say: “If you did every possible miracle for me, so that I could see it and touch it, I still would not believe you. For Christ has given me adequate warning about that.”
God Himself set up this rule through Moses (Deut. 13:1–3): “If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, and ‘Let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams.” He also indicated the final cause by which you can recognize them and proceed correctly: If they try to make you institute a different worship, that is, to forsake the single pure doctrine and to start something different alongside it, then you should not believe, though it were snowing miracles. He Himself interprets it further and says (Deut. 13:3): “For the Lord, your God, is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.” It is as if He wanted to say: “He wants to try you out, to see how firmly you hold to the teaching that has already been established and is in force.”
In other words, the rule is this: Regardless of their size and number, no wonders or signs are to be accepted contrary to established teaching. We have God’s commandment; He has commanded from heaven (Matt. 17:5): “Listen to Him, Christ is the only one to whom you should listen.” In addition we have this warning, that false prophets will come and do great signs, but that they are all on the wrong track, away from Christ and toward something different. The only preventive is to have a good grasp of the doctrine and to keep it before your eyes continually. You can evaluate everything on this basis: Is this what the Gospel and the Creed teaches, which you pray every day, saying: “I believe in Christ alone, who died for me,” or is it something different? We have had adequate warning, if anyone is willing to heed it. But it does not make much of an impression on the great masses any more than it did before. I am convinced that if someone were to arise here today and perform just one sign, whole crowds would fall for it. That is how the crazy mob behaves. If someone pulls out something new in front of them and makes them stare, they forsake everything, the Word and the doctrine, and go gaping after that. And you can shout yourself to death against it. So they used to let such coarse and obvious lies and brazen fraud make fools of them and lead them around by the nose, following any rascal who arose with a lie about a new relic, new pilgrimages, and the like. The source of this is the shameful curiosity and boredom of our flesh and blood, as well as the devil himself, so that signs and wonders, especially the false ones, always get more of a following than the genuine ones. No one sees or cares that Christ and His apostles and others did miracles. But so soon as someone expels a demon, that beats all. All right, anyone who refuses to take a warning and wants to be seduced, dare not blame us.
Luther, M. (1999, c1956). Vol. 21: Luther's works, vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (21:271-280). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

4. Oh by the way, for the convert that needs a miracle and looks for that sort of stuff: Here's Saint Luther's legacy of post-life miracles. See this article by Robert Scribner, Incombustible Luther: The Image of the Reformer in Early Modern Germany. Scribner documents the way that many turned Luther into a saint after his death. Stories circulated that paintings of Luther refused to burn (Luther's special saint miracle was his incombustibility. I'm more or less a functional cessationalist, so I tend to yawn at any alleged miracle.

There certainly are more arguments against the "must have a miracle to prove you've been called by God" notion. The ones above were tapped out quickly. One thing though that I need to add, it certainly is true that miracles accompanied many of those in the Scripture that were given revelation from God.  I have in mind here the argumentation that Richard Gaffin uses in his book, Perspectives on Pentecost (which is probably one of the best books on the gifts and miracles). The miracles certainly proved the divine message of the Biblical authors. Keep in mind though, the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.), were not receiving new revelation from God. They weren't adding books to the Bible. They were testifying to what was in the Bible. The bottom line is that de Sales argumentation assumes something the Reformers were not doing, and then says their work was not valid. This is a typical Roman Catholic type of argument that assumes their rules are the rules. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Calvin on Galatians 2: Paul Rebukes Peter, and Various Roman Catholic Interpretations

"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned."

Here's a comment from John Calvin in regard to Galatians 2:11-21, (Paul's rebuke of Peter):
At the same time, this is a reply to another calumny, that Paul was but an ordinary disciple, far below the rank of an apostle: for the reproof which he administered was art evidence that the parties were on an equal footing. The highest, I acknowledge, are sometimes properly reproved by the lowest, for this liberty on the part of inferiors towards their superiors is permitted by God; and so it does not follow, that he who reproves another must be his equal. But the nature of the reproof deserves notice. Paul did not simply reprove Peter, as a Christian might reprove a Christian, but he did it officially, as the phrase is; that is, in the exercise of the apostolic character which he sustained.

This is another thunderbolt which strikes the Papacy of Rome. It exposes the impudent pretensions of the Roman Antichrist, who boasts that he is not bound to assign a reason, and sets at defiance the judgment of the whole Church. Without rashness, without undue boldness, but in the exercise of the power granted him by God, this single individual chastises Peter, in the presence of the whole Church; and Peter submissively bows to the chastisement. Nay, the whole debate on those two points was nothing less than a manifest overthrow of that tyrannical primacy, which the Romanists foolishly enough allege to be founded on divine right. If they wish to have God appearing on their side, a new Bible must be manufactured; if they do not wish to have him for an open enemy, those two chapters of the Holy Scriptures must be expunged.
I was curious as to locating any sources (particularly contemporary sources of Calvin) that argued "Paul was but an ordinary disciple, far below the rank of an apostle." I did a short cursory search of a few sources in my personal library and Google, and didn't find anything. It would be interesting to know which source Calvin had in mind.

I have a copy of John Eck's  Enchiridion of Comonplaces, and here's how he argues:
"Paul reproved Peter, because he was holding onto the edification of faith, that is, to the office of the apostolate in which they were equals, yet Peter was still prior in rule and authority. For even today it happens that the Pope and other superiors are often reproved by inferiors (Enchiridion of Comonplaces, p. 39).
A most fascinating Roman Catholic commentary on this Galatians text comes from Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition. Now, if ever a text needed an infallible interpretation to settle the matter for Roman Catholics, this is it (note the interpretations of Jerome and Chrysostom!).
Ver. 11. But when Cephas, &;c.[1] In most Greek copies, we read Petrus, both here and ver. 13. Nor are there any sufficient, nor even probable grounds to judge, that Cephas here mentioned was different from Peter, the prince of the apostles, as one or two later authors would make us believe. Among those who fancied Cephas different from Peter, not one can be named in the first ages[centuries], except Clemens of Alexandria, whose works were rejected as apocryphal by Pope Gelasius. The next author is Dorotheus of Tyre, in his Catalogue of the seventy-two disciples, in the fourth or fifth age[century], and after him the like, or same catalogue, in the seventh age[century], in the Chronicle, called of Alexandria, neither of which are of any authority with the learned, so many evident faults and falsehoods being found in both. St. Jerome indeed on this place says, there were some (though he does not think fit to name them) who were of that opinion; but at the same time St. Jerome ridicules and rejects it as groundless. Now as to authors that make Cephas the same with St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, we have what may be called the unexceptionable and unanimous consent of the ancient fathers and doctors of the Catholic Church, as of Tertullian, who calls this management of St. Peter, a fault of conversation, not of preaching or doctrine. Of St. Cyprian, of Origen, of the great doctors, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Great, of St. Cyril of Alexandria, of Theodoret, Pope Gelasius, Pelagius the second, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas. In later ages, of Bellarmine, Baronius, Binius, Spondan, of Salmeron, Estius, Gagneius, Tirinus, Menochius, Alex Natalis, and a great many more: so that Cornelius a Lapide on this place says, that the Church neither knows, nor celebrates any other Cephas but St. Peter. Tertullian and most interpreters take notice, that St. Peter's fault was only a lesser or venial sin in his conduct and conversation. Did not St. Paul on several occasions do the like, as what is here laid to St. Peter's charge? that is, practise the Jewish ceremonies: did not he circumcise Timothy after this, an. 52[A.D. 52]? did he not shave his head in Cenchrea, an. 54? did he not by the advice of St. James (an. 58.) purify himself with the Jews in the temple, not to offend them? St. Jerome, and also St. Chrysostom,[2] give another exposition of this passage. They looked upon all this to have been done by a contrivance and a collusion betwixt these two apostles, who had agreed beforehand that St. Peter should let himself be reprehended by St. Paul, (for this they take to be signified by the Greek text) and not that St. Peter was reprehensible;[3] so that the Jews seeing St. Peter publicly blamed, and not justifying himself, might for the future eat with the Gentiles. But St. Augustine vigorously opposed this exposition of St. Jerome, as less consistent with a Christian and apostolical sincerity, and with the text in this chapter, where it is called a dissimulation, and that Cephas or Peter walked not uprightly to the truth of the gospel. After a long dispute betwixt these two doctors, St. Jerome seems to have retracted his opinion, and the opinion of St. Augustine is commonly followed, that St. Peter was guilty of a venial fault of imprudence. In the mean time, no Catholic denies but that the head of the Church may be guilty even of great sins. What we have to admire, is the humility of St. Peter on this occasion, as St. Cyprian observes,[4] who took the reprehension so mildly, without alleging the primacy, which our Lord had given him. Baronius held that St. Peter did not sin at all, which may be true, if we look upon his intention only, which was to give no offence to the Jewish converts; but if we examine the fact, he can scarce be excused from a venial indiscretion. (Witham) --- I withstood, &c. The fault that is here noted in the conduct of St. Peter, was only a certain imprudence, in withdrawing himself from the table of the Gentiles, for fear of giving offence to the Jewish converts: but this in such circumstances, when his so doing might be of ill consequence to the Gentiles, who might be induced thereby to think themselves obliged to conform to the Jewish way of living, to the prejudice of their Christian liberty. Neither was St. Paul's reprehending him any argument against his supremacy; for is such cases an inferior may, and sometimes ought, with respect, to admonish his superior. (Challoner)

[1] Ver. 11. That Peter and Cephas were the same, see Tertullian, lib. de præscrip. chap. 23, p. 210. Ed. Rig.; Origen in Joan. Ed. Græcè et Latinè, p. 381.; St. Cyprian, Epist. 71. ad Quintum, p. 120.; St. Jerome on this Ep. to the Galatians, as also St. Chrysostom; St. Augustine. See his epistles on this passage to St. Jerome.; St. Gregory, lib. 2. in Ezech. tom. 1, p. 1368.; Gelasius apud Labb. T. 4. Conc. p. 1217.; Pelagius, the 2d apud Labb. t. 5. p. 622.; St. Cyril of Alexandria, hom. ix. cont. Julianum, t. 6, p. 325.; Theodoret in 2. ad Gal. iv. 3. p. 268.; St. Anselm in 2 ad Gal. p. 236.; St. Thomas Aquinas, lib. 2. q. 103. a. 4. ad 2dum. --- St. Jerome's words: Sunt qui Cepham non putent Apostolum Petrum, sed alium de 70 Discipulis....quibus primum respondendum, alterius nescio cujus Cephæ nescire nos nomen, nisi ejus, qui et in Evangelio, et in aliis Pauli Epistolis, et in hac quoque ipsa, modo Cephas, modo Petrus scribitur....deinde totum argumentum Epistolæ....huic intelligentiæ repugnare, &;c.

[2] Ver. 11. St. Chrysostom by a contrivance, eikonomon. p. 730, &;c.

[3] Ver. 11. Kategnosmenos may signfiy reprehensus, as well as reprehensibilis; and he says it is to be referred to others, and not to St. Paul: all upo ton allon.

[4] Ver. 11. St. Cyprian, Ep. ad Quintum, p. 120. Petrus....non arroganter assumpsit, ut diceret se primatum tenere, &;c.

Addendum: Tidbits from Luther
Therefore Jerome and Erasmus do Paul an injustice when they take the words “to his face” to mean “only according to the outward appearance”; they maintain that Paul did not oppose Peter sincerely, but that he did so with complaisant pretense, since others would have been offended if he had remained completely silent. But “to his face” means “in his presence”; for he opposed Peter openly, not in a corner but in the very presence of Peter and with the entire church standing by. When he says “to his face,” this is aimed especially against those poisonous spirits who slander those who are absent but do not dare open their mouths in the presence of these people. That is what the false apostles did; he touches them obliquely here, because they did not dare slander him in his presence; they did so only in his absence. “I did not,” he says, “speak evil of Peter this way; but I opposed him candidly and openly, not because of any pretense, ambition, or other human affection or mental disease, but because he himself was deserving of attack.”
Luther, M. (1999, c1963). Vol. 26: Luther's works, vol. 26 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (26:108). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Luther Myth: The Theology of the Cross is the Gospel in Luther’s Theology?

This is an interesting link from Cyberbrethren: Lutheran Mythbusting: The Theology of the Cross is Gospel and Essential to Luther’s Theology. Rev. McCain has posted:
"Luther’s use of 'theology of the cross' at the time of these early writings was not quite Gospel. Dr. Norman Nagel is reported to have commented more than once that Luther’s theology of the cross in 1518 was still sublutheran because he hadn’t yet gotten salvation extra now [outside of us]. It was more along these lines: God saves us through putting us through suffering just as He put His Son through suffering; if you flee the suffering, you flee the saving work of God’s bulldozer plowing you down. So the cross is our only theology: God saves us by sending us suffering."
This is an interesting perspective. The comment though depends on how one dates Luther's evangelical breakthrough. There are three main perspectives on this:

View A: 1514 or earlier
View B: 1515 or 1516
View C: 1518 Which would obviously be after the 95 thesis.

There was a tower at Luther's Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg where Luther experienced his evangelical breakthrough. The date for this experience is unknown, and there is no primary source that explicitly documents it with a reliable fixed date. As the Cyberbrethren post implies, the development of Luther's theological insights were slow, so the notion that there was a theological "lightning bolt" is perhaps unwarranted.

Some years ago I listened to some lectures by  Dr. Kolb. He stated that Luther discovered something about the grace of God quite early (perhaps in his early lectures on Peter Lombard's Sentences in 1509). One finds a strong emphasis on the grace of God in these early lectures. Dr. Kolb said that Luther's theology finally came together in 1518 and 1519 with his solidifying his concepts of promise, faith, justification, and the proper distinction of the law. Dr. Kolb said the contemporary debate on this topic originated with Roman Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar, and was furthered by the scholarship of U. Saarnivaara, E Bizer, and L. Green.

While I find the Cyberbrethren post interesting, it requires a bit of work to substantiate.

"The dating of Luther’s discovery and its meaning for his theology have been the subject of wide discussion and debate. In his Road to Reformation (Philadelphia, 1946, pp. 87–117) Heinrich Boehmer says that Luther’s discovery took place in April or May, 1513. Uuras Saarnivaara argues that the great discovery took place as late as the autumn or winter of 1518–1519. He makes this assertion in his book, Luther Discovers the Gospel (St. Louis, 1951, especially pp. 92–120). In Luther’s Progress to the Diet of Worms (Greenwich, 1951, p. 39) Gordon Rupp says, “It is clear, in all essentials, his [Luther’s] theology was in existence before the opening of the church struggle in 1517.” Robert Herndon Fife, siding with Boehmer’s dating, provides documentation, bibliography, and discussion of Luther’s discovery in The Revolt of Martin Luther (New York, 1957, pp. 197–202). For introductory and interpretive material, cf. WA 54, 176–178, and Ernst Stracke’s Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte (Leipzig, 1926), Vol. 44, No. 140: “Luthers groszes Selbstzeugnis 1545 über seine Entwicklung zum Reformator historisch-kritisch untersucht.”" (LW 34:326)

Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes said:
Luther’s theology of the cross was discovered by researchers in the 20th century. Why? Because except for a few spots in his early writings, Luther didn’t speak of a “theology of the cross” . . . most notably we see it appearing in Luther’s early work, his discussions of the Heidelberg Disputation and in the still-not-translated Operationes in Psalmos, WA 5:176.32-33 . . Luther didn’t use crux sola est rostra theology [the cross alone is our theology] much, even though of course the cross (or rather, Christ’s work on the cross) is central to his theology. Luther’s use of “theology of the cross” at the time of these early writings was not quite Gospel. Dr. Norman Nagel is reported to have commented more than once that Luther’s theology of the cross in 1518 was still sublutheran because he hadn’t yet gotten salvation extra now [outside of us]. It was more along these lines: God saves us through putting us through suffering just as He put His Son through suffering; if you flee the suffering, you flee the saving work of God’s bulldozer plowing you down. So the cross is our only theology: God saves us by sending us suffering. At least that is how the discussion has been related to me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Roman Catholics and Private Judgment

22. How may it be shown that the Romanist theory, as well as the Protestant, necessarily throws upon the people the obligation of private judgment?

Is there a God? Has he revealed himself? Has he established a church? Is that church an infallible teacher? Is private judgment a blind leader? Which of all pretended churches is the true one? Every one of these questions evidently must be settled in the Private judgment of the inquirer, before he can, rationally or irrationally, give up his private judgment to the direction of the self–asserting church. Thus of necessity Romanists appeal to the Scriptures to prove that the Scriptures cannot be understood, and address arguments to the private judgment of men to prove that private judgment is incompetent; thus basing an argument upon that which it is the object of the argument to prove is baseless.

Hodge, A.A., Outlines of Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972 reprint), p. 91.

"Luther's Actions Disproved Sola Fide," So Says Tiber Swimmer

Here's a newsflash from the Crossed the Tiber blog: Luther's Actions Disproved Sola Fide!
"The Protestants claim that James 2 really doesn't mean that "we are not saved by faith alone." Instead, they claim that James was talking about a different kind of faith. A 'non saving' faith is one explanation they use."
The book of James describes a true faith in Christ: a real saving faith is a living faith. If no works are found in a person, that faith is a dead faith (c.f. James 2:17). James then describes a non-saving dead faith: the faith of a demon. Luther clearly taught the concept of living vs. dead faith throughout his writings.
"I believe Luther knew exactly what Saint James was talking about. I suspect Luther exegeted this verse exactly the same way the Church had for over a thousand years. Luther took this verse at its face value and concluded that these verses in chapter 2 would contradict his new theology of sola fide."
Luther appears to have exegeted the chapter differently throughout his career. At times he uses the traditional Protestant harmonization.  In Luther's Disputation Concerning Justification, Luther answered this spurious proposition: “Faith without works justifies, Faith without works is dead [Jas. 2:17, 26]. Therefore, dead faith justifies.” Luther responded:

“The argument is sophistical and the refutation is resolved grammatically. In the major premise, “faith” ought to be placed with the word “justifies” and the portion of the sentence “without works justifies” is placed in a predicate periphrase and must refer to the word “justifies,” not to “faith.” In the minor premise, “without works” is truly in the subject periphrase and refers to faith. We say that justification is effective without works, not that faith is without works. For that faith which lacks fruit is not an efficacious but a feigned faith. “Without works” is ambiguous, then. For that reason this argument settles nothing. It is one thing that faith justifies without works; it is another thing that faith exists without works.”

In The Sermons of Martin Luther 2:2:308, Luther offers the harmonizing solution quite clearly: “This is what St. James means when his says in his Epistle, 2:26: ‘Faith without works is dead.’ That is, as the works do not follow, it is a sure sign that there is no faith there; but only an empty thought and dream, which they falsely call faith.”
He didn't attempt to make it say the opposite of the "plain reading" of scripture as some of the reformers did. Instead, he took an easier route: "Let's throw Jimmy in the stove!" So he criticized the book of James and attempted to remove it from the canon of the NT.
Yes, Luther did say this. The quote comes from The Licentiate Examination Of Heinrich Schmedenstede, July 7 1542. In this treatise, forty-six theses are put forth. Theses eighteen through twenty-one read:

18. The papists and sophists believe in vain in God the Father and all the other articles of our faith, since they reject the work of Christ completed for us.

19. For they deny that we are justified by faith alone, or what is the same thing, solely by Christ’s completed work.

20. For solely by faith in Christ, once promised, now delivered, the whole church is justified, from the beginning of the world to the end.

21. Thus it is by faith alone, so that neither reason, nor law, nor the very fulfillment of the law, which is called love, accomplish anything toward justification.

Those involved in the discussion considered Catholic counter arguments as well. At one point, James 2 is raised as a potential counter argument: “James says that Abraham was justified by works. Therefore, justification is not by faith.” Protestant Heinrich Schmedenstede countered this by saying, “James is speaking of works as the effect of justification, not as the cause.” Luther then gave his opinion:

“That epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest. Up to this point I have been accustomed just to deal with and interpret it according to the sense of the rest of Scriptures. For you will judge that none of it must be set forth contrary to manifest Holy Scripture. Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretations, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove, as the priest in Kalenberg did.”

Luther does not deny the answer put forth by Schmedenstede. What Luther does point out is heavy Roman reliance on James 2. It troubled him that this passage weighed so strongly in Roman arguments against justification by faith alone. Interestingly, he says that he has previously interpreted it “according to the sense of the rest of Scriptures.”

But what of the comment “I feel like throwing Jimmy in the stove”? What is not explicit in the context above is the historical background of Luther’s comment. The editors of Luther’s Works explain, “The preacher of Kalenberg, when visited by the duchess, heated the room with the wooden statues of the apostles. The statue of James was the last and as the preacher shoved it into the stove he exclaimed, “Now bend over, Jimmy, you must go into the stove; no matter if you were the pope or all the bishops, the room must become warm.”
"Luther claimed James was an 'epistle of straw' and meant to be cast into the stove because it lacked 'the nature of the gospel.' By these actions and comments we can see that Luther knew sola fide wasn't scriptural and wouldn't fly with that pesky epistle of straw hanging around the back of the bible."
An interesting fact about the "epistle of straw" comment (hardly ever mentioned by Luther-detractors!) is that it only appears in the original 1522 Preface To The New Testament. Luther saw fit to retract the comment. Subsequent citations of this quote should bear this in mind (but in practice, most Roman Catholics would have a hard time giving up this quote). If Luther's Preface to James is read carefully, he praises James and considers it a “good book” “because it sets up no doctrine of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God.” Luther clearly values the law of God. Rarely have I seen Luther detractors inform its readers that Luther praises James, or point out Luther’s respect for God’s law. Luther then says he is going to state his own opinion, “without prejudice to anyone." Luther does admit to a contradiction between Paul and James in this preface, though he was aware of the harmonizing solution.

Luther also says he cannot include James among his “chief books though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him.” In a conversation I once had with a Roman Catholic, my opponent underlined the words, “cannot include him among the chief books,” while I, utilizing the same quote underlined “though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him.” The Roman Catholic emphasized Luther’s questioning of James, while I emphasized how Luther was not dogmatic: he allowed people the freedom to disagree with him.

In his Preface to James, one of the first thing Luther wants to tell his readers is his awareness that the book of James has an uncertainty in regards to its canonicity, and that he does not consider James an apostle. The editors of Luther’s Works include an interesting footnote after the word “ancients,” noting that both Eusebius and Jerome raised or confirmed similar doubts to the apostolicity and canonicity of James. Even though Luther new the harmonizing solution between James and Paul (and used it occasionally), it is probably the case that the question of James’ apostleship out-weighed it. In my opinion, Luther over-reacted to heavy Roman Catholic reliance on the book of James.

Here's something I've stated in the past about Roman Catholics using the "epistle of straw" comment. For the sake of argument, I'm going to grant hypothetically that the Roman Catholic Church infallibly decreed the contents of the Bible. That is, in 1546 at the Council of Trent, the question of canonicity was put forth before the Council, and they issued a dogmatic pronouncement of which books were "canon." Once the Council declares something, all discussion is over! No longer can anyone question the Apocrypha, or Revelation. The Church meeting in a Holy Spirit led Council put forth the absolute truth on the canon, binding the entire Church. The New Catholic Encyclopedia has stated,

“According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.”

Let us remember that throughout Church history, many Christians did not hold the apocrypha to be sacred Scripture. In the 16th Century Catholic men like Erasmus, Luther, and the great Catholic scholar Cajetan expressed doubts on some of the New Testament books as well. These men all share one thing in common. They formed their opinions on the canon previous to the council of Trent. The liberty these men had was simply the liberty as allowed by the Roman Catholic Church. If the New Catholic Encyclopedia is correct, Erasmus, Cajetan, and Luther, and a host of others previous to them had every right within the Catholic system to engage in Biblical criticism and debate over the extent of the Canon. In the case of Luther, Cajetan, and Erasmus, theirs was not a radical higher criticism. The books they questioned were books that had been questioned by previous generations. None were so extreme as to engage in Marcion-like canon-destruction. Both Erasmus and Luther translated the entirety of Bible, and published it. to read more about the views of Erasmus and Cajetan (contemporaries of Luther), see my paper, Luther’s View of the Canon of Scripture.

When one looks at the totality of Luther’s New Testament canon criticism, it is quite minute: four books. Of his opinion he allows for the possibility of his readers to disagree with his conclusions. I can show his overall opinion softened later in life by the exclusion of many negative comments in his revised prefaces. Of the four books, it is possible that Luther’s opinion fluctuated on two (Hebrews and Revelation). Even while criticizing James and Jude, he positively quoted from them throughout his career. In the case of Jude he did a complete series of lectures. In the case of James, he occasionally preached from the book. Add up the chapters Luther questioned in James and Jude, and the amount is quite small.

I suggest Roman Catholics follow the criterion put forth by the Roman Catholic Church: Roman Catholic theologians are granted the freedom to hold opinions on matters not settled dogmatically. If they do, well, I'll at least respect them for being a consistent Roman Catholics. If they still maintain criticism of Luther's statements on James, perhaps they can explain on what basis they do so, for it is certainly not being consistent with the criterion put forth by the Roman Catholic Church and her infallible pronouncements.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Basic Resources on Roman Catholicism

Here's my partial list of those sources I've found most useful in dealing with Roman Catholicism. Rather than post as many sources as possible, I've picked only those that have been the most helpful to me over the years, and those that are typically layman friendly. It's often not the number of sources one has, it's their clarity and usefulness.

I've included some audio debates and lectures as well. Picking audio choices is unfortunately like counting sand.

It should go without saying that I've been heavily influenced by the work of Dr. James White (as this list will show), particularly his many live debates and Dividing Line broadcasts. I've been listening to Dr. White's shows, sermons, lectures, and debates on Roman Catholicism since somewhere around 1998-1999.


R.C. Sproul, Roman Catholicism (audio series)

James White, The Roman Catholic Controversy

Eric Svendsen, Evangelical Answers, A Critique of Current Roman Catholic Apologists

Eric Svendsen, Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority

William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History

William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions

William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: It's Roots and Evolution (mp3 lectures)

James White, Are Roman Catholics Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ? (debate against Doug Wilson)

James White, From The Bible Answer Man: Discussion with Tim Staples

Various, The Conference On Rome

Sola Scriptura
David King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume I: A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura

William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume II: An Historical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura

David King and William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume III: The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible

William Whitaker, Disputations of Holy Scripture

James R. White, Scripture Alone, Exploring the Bible's Accuracy, Authority, and Authenticity

James White, Does the Bible Teach Sola Scriptura? (vs. Patrick Madrid)

R.C. Sproul, Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification

James White, The God Who Justifies, The Doctrine of Justification

Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei, A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification(Third Edition).

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (New Combined Edition). See Part Four: The Doctrine of the Application of the Work of Redemption, pp. 415-554.

James White, Is the Mass a Propitiatory Sacrifice?

James White, By Faith Alone (vs. Matatics)

Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory

James White, Purgatory: Biblical or Mythical? (White vs Stravinskas)

James White, 1 Corinthians 3 and Tim Staples

Mary and the Saints
Giovanni Miegge, The Virgin Mary

James White, Mary Another Redeemer

Eric Svendsen, Who Is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus

James White, Did Mary Have Other Children? 

James White, The Immaculate Conception Debate

James White, Veneration of Saints and Images (White vs Madrid)

Church History
Jean Daillé, A treatise concerning the right use of the Fathers, in the decision of the controversies that are this day in religion

J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines

James White, Is The Roman Catholic Priesthood Biblical and Ancient? (vs. Pacwa)

Greg Bahnsen, The Concept and Importance of Canonicity

Greg Bahnsen, Question of Canonicity (mp3 lecture)

Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church: And Its Background in Early Judaism

F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture

James White, Is The Apocrypha Scripture? (White vs Michuta)

J.N.D. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes

William Webster, The Matthew 16 Controversy: Peter and the Rock

James White, How Biblical and Ancient is the Papacy?

James White, Was Peter a Pope?