Thursday, January 30, 2014

Origin of the term "Protestant"

I had always thought that the the etymology of the term "Protestant" was primarily religious. The term referred to those original 16th Century people that stood against Roman theology. I recently came across the following little tidbit from Alister McGrath about the origin of the term. It came about when six German princes and fourteen representatives of imperial cities.... "protested."  McGrath notes the term came about due to the Second Diet of Speyer of the Holy Roman Empire (1529) which met to primarily discuss impending Islamic armies.

 McGrath states:

The second Diet of Speyer was hurriedly convened in March 1529. Its primary objective was to secure, as quickly as possible, a united front against the new threat from the east. Hard-liners, however, saw this as a convenient opportunity to deal with another, lesser threat in their own backyards. It was easy to argue that the reforming movements that were gaining influence throughout the region threatened to bring about destabilization and religious anarchy. The presence of a larger number of Catholic representatives than in 1526 presented conservatives with an opportunity they simply could not ignore. They forced through a resolution that demanded the rigorous enforcement of the Edict of Worms throughout the empire. It was a shrewd tactical move, with immense strategic ramifications. Both enemies of the Catholic church—Islam and the Reformation—would be stopped dead in their tracks. Outraged, yet ultimately powerless to change anything, six German princes and fourteen representatives of imperial cities entered a formal protest against this unexpected radical curtailment of religious liberty. The Latin term protestantes (“protesters”) was immediately applied to them and the movement they represented.

 McGrath, Alister (2009-10-13). Christianity's Dangerous Idea (Kindle Locations 182-183). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 174-183).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My initial Review of Rod Bennett's book, Four Witnesses (Part 1)

My initial review of Rod Bennett's book, Four Witnesses at Amazon.    Please read the review at Amazon first.  (April 17, 2017:  I noticed my review is no longer there at Amazon.  I wonder what happened?) Fortunately, I saved a copy on my computer. 

Addendum:  My review is still there; but see explanation below at Apologetics and Agape"

Reprinted here at "Apologetics and Agape".

 I will be improving upon this, Lord willing, as time allows.

This book and my friend's conversion to Rome in 1996 was one of the main reasons I sought to understanding early church history and the early church fathers better, and apologetic answers to the issues that Rod was bringing to me.  A few months after I returned from the mission field in Turkey, he called me (I think, it was sometime early in 1996 ? I cannot remember exactly) and invited me and my brother to his house.   I had just been reading R. C. Sproul's book, Faith Alone.   It was a real shock when he announced he was converting to Roman Catholicism.  We then had 8 years (1996-2004) of informal debates by sometimes 5 hour discussions, lunches, emails, phone calls, etc.  Then, sometime in 2004, Rod told me he did not want to "debate" or discuss theology anymore.  I was motivated to find answers, even though I basically knew that Roman Catholicism was wrong; I was seminary trained afterall (smile), and thought I had a fairly good grasp of church history.  However, 3 courses in church history does not adequately prepare one for these arguments that most Evangelicals had never heard before.  Rod was using a lot of Cardinal John Henry Newman and his "development of doctrine hypothesis" and other former Evangelical Protestants like Scott Hahn and similar arguments that other Roman Catholics, both former Evangelicals and cradle Catholics make, like Jerry Matatics, Jimmy Akin, Patrick Madrid, Mitch Pacwa, Robert Sungenis, Tim Staples, Peter Kreeft, Kenneth Howell, the Surprised by Truth book series, Karl Keating, Catholic Answers, etc. were making.  That is what motivated me to find Dr. White's materials, web-site, and debates (around 1996), and James Swan's work here, and other good answers by William Webster, David King, Eric Svensen, R. C. Sproul, John Bugay, and Jason Engwer, Steve Hays, and others at Triablogue, Keith Matthison, Turretinfan's blog, and Michael Kruger's material on the canon.  Since that time, there has emerged other Evangelicals converting to Rome, such as the Called to Communion web-site and other folks like Jason Stellman and Frank Beckwith, also making the same basic arguments.

A lot of the issues of church history, also came up when I was witnessing to Muslims.  Muslims have questions about the canon, the early church, and the doctrine of the Trinity.  The convergence of these issues and connections to Roman Catholic claims made the subject very interesting to me and strengthening in dealing with Muslims in evangelism and apologetics.

I have waited a long time to publish this, because I never wanted to hurt Rod personally, and, the biggest reason, is that I also felt I really needed to study the issues deeper.   I hope anyone and everyone who comments will keep the discussion to the issues and not go ad hominem or bombast on either side.

I will delete any comment I think is mocking or bombast or ad hominem or off topic.  Another reason I have not done this before is that I personally think some on my side are too hot-headed and mocking; and that is not a good witness for Christ. 

As an additional note, I really appreciate what Dr. White has been saying recently on recent Dividing Line programs;  to some other Reformed folks who go overboard against Arminians and Charismatics and those that are not balanced when dealing with Muslims and Islam.  We need to both stand for the truth and be godly in our behavior.  Let that be a warning. 

 Please pray for Rod Bennett.  If and when Rod sees this, I hope he will see my efforts are focused on doctrines and principles and issues, historical facts, and not ad hominem attacks.

The book is basically 7 parts:
1.  Introduction
2.  Clement of Rome
3.  Ignatius of Antioch 
4.  Justin Martyr
5.  Irenaeus
6.  Afterward
7.  Appendix:  Catholic Teaching in the Early Church and Catholic Teaching Today

 This book has been promoted by Roman Catholics in these years since it came out as a basic introduction to the early church fathers and early church history and is widely acclaimed by most everyone who has read it.  There were not many negative reviews of the book before mine, at Amazon.  I am unaware of any other reviews of the book.   

You will see in my initial review, I focus on the material in his sections in Clement and Irenaeus that Rod left out, that if he had included that other material (just let the quotes go a little bit farther), the argument would favor a more Protestant way of understanding early church history.  

I believe that there are good answers to the claims theses Roman Catholics make for the early church.   The early church was not Roman Catholic, nor Eastern Orthodox, nor Protestant, but "catholic" (universal).  As Dr. White has said many times, "we can let the early church be the early church".  Except for baptismal regeneration, none of the dogmas or doctrines that Rome claims were there, were actually there, in the same way that Rome promotes them today.  (Baptismal regeneration is the one belief in the early church that seems to be there; but without the ex opere operato RC take on it; but, even then, I sincerely believe that the early comments and interpretions on John 3:5 and Titus 3:5, and related passages, etc. were wrong on that issue.  It was a wrong interpretation of the Biblical texts.)  We discussed that issue before at length.  And let's not beat that horse again here, please.  Just becasue the early church used the words "catholic" or "eucharist" or "tradition" or "bishop", etc. does not mean what Rome claims they mean.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Did Luther Deny Faith Alone in Favor of Faith and Works for Justification?

I came across these links written by a "California litigation attorney in practice for thirty years" who studied "Classical Greek and Latin and achieved designation as a Classical Language Scholar":

Did Luther in 1537 Condemn Paul As A False Prophet?


Did Paul Negate The Law's Further Applicability?

The author of these links claims "Luther radically but quietly changed his salvation-doctrine by 1541. At that point, he too rejected faith alone as sufficient for believers." What appears to be meant is that early on Luther held that faith alone saves but then went on to hold salvation is attained by a combination of faith and works. Sometimes this author refers to this as "double justification" (and also he calls it the view of Erasmus). The author best explains what he's talking about by documenting Tyndale's supposed abandoning of faith alone for faith alone initiating salvation and then subsequently works must join faith to complete the process. If works do not accompany faith, salvation is lost. The works are keeping the law obediently. Of Luther, the author states:
"Faith alone was all that was required to receive God’s forgiveness at all times, according to the young Luther."
"Did Tyndale turn Luther around to accept double justification, and abandon faith alone as justification of a believer? Yes, he did."
The author argues that Luther had great respect for Tyndale, and it was Tyndale's influence on Luther that provoked him to change his doctrine of faith alone for that of faith and works:
Could that tremendous respect have moved Luther to himself change his own doctrine on faith alone? It most certainly appears to be the best explanation for what happened to Luther in mid-1531 to the end of his life. The evidence can be found in four primary places: (1) the Catechisms of 1531; (2) Luther’s revolution on his view of the Mosaic Law in 1537; (3) the Lutheran agreement proposed at the Regensburg Diet of 1541; and (4) the actions of Luther’s close aid, Melancthon, in 1548 after Luther’s death, where he led the Lutheran Church to accept double justification as official doctrine from 1556 to 1580. (It was overturned in 1580.)
A thorough response to the information presented by this author would take quite some time, and in essence, it has already been achieved by Edward Engelbrecht's recent book, Friends of the Law. Englebrecht works historically through Luther's career and analyzes his comments on the use of the law. One particular writing from Luther singled out by Engelbrecht is a sermon originally appearing in Luther's popular 1522 Winter Postil, Epistle For New Year's Day (Galatians 3:23-29). There Luther says,
Thus faith redeems us from the Law not in a bodily way, so that we go here and the Law goes there, and thus we part ways from each other so that we are never under it. Rather [faith redeems us in such a way] that we have done enough [to satisfy] its demands. We now know and have what [the Law] wants us to know and have, namely, the Holy Spirit, who causes us to love it. The Law does not want to be worked, and it is not content with works; it wants to be loved and is satisfied with love. without love it would not set us free nor be paid off. Thus we had to remain uder it with all our loveless works; we had no peace in our conscience toward it; it always punished us as sinners and transgressors, and threatened us with death and hell- until Christ came and gave us His Spirit and love through faith which is preached in the Gospel. Then we were set free from the Law, so that it never demands, never punishes, but lets the conscience rest, never terrifies with death and hell, and has become our friend and companion. (LW 76: 12-15)
In other words, a person who is saved by faith alone is given the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit changes the heart from a Law hater to a Law lover.  Luther says a bit later that whoever believes by faith in Christ "puts Him on":
Therefore, faith is such a great thing that it saves and justifies a person, for it brings him all the blessings in Christ, in which the conscience takes comfort and trusts. Because of that it must become happy in Christ, eager to do all good and avoid all evil. It never fears death or hell or any evil, since it is very richly clothed in Christ. That is what "satisfying the Law" and "never being under it" means, for the Holy Spirit is there with clothes for the soul, which results in a completely different person. (LW 76:20-21).
Many more examples could be provided, and as I've read Luther, this has been the position I've found consistently throughout his writings. Certainly Luther believed that faith alone saves, but he never taught that faith and the Holy Spirit leave a person enslaved to their sins and haters of God and His Law. Of the early Luther Engelbrecht states,
[Luther] emphasized that justification changed the believer's attitude toward and use of Moses so that the believer no longer keeps the Law from compulsion. The Law, kept by Christ, could now be kept by those who were righteous through Christ... The believer has a new status by grace through faith so that he may now look upon the natural, moral law as a friend. He becomes a living tables of Moses and keeps the Law both inwardly and outwardly without constraint. (Friends of the Law, p.89).
I found the author of the links in question because he had cited one of my blog entries. I suggest that if he feels the need to respond to this entry, he throw this tadpole back and focus on Engelbrecht's study.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Luther Placing Values on Biblical Books

Further musings from the Catholic Answers Forum:

Today, 7:15 am

Default Re: Protestant Canon

Originally Posted by Topper17 View Post
Hi Jon,

Jon, the fact of the matter is that Luther judged Scripture and put a “different value” on some books of the NT in relation to other books. In addition, what Luther really did wasmake distinctions on the basis of what he thought was the ‘relative authority’ of various books of the NT. These things cannot be denied. 
God Bless You Jon, Tim

You're right. Luther had distinct personal view of books, based on his very Christocentric view. Nothing wrong with that. I have a remarkable strong liking for the Prayer of Manasseh. I disagree with some of the things Luther said about James. I am more inclined and find more personal value in Isaiah and the other prophetic books of the OT than I find in books such as 1 and 2 Kings. I've made these distinctions in my personal piety. Nothing wrong with these, either.
But, Tim, if you have different preferences, by all means, you are welcome to them.

Today, 10:28 am
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Default Re: Protestant Canon

Originally Posted by JonNC View Post
You're right. Luther had distinct personal view of books, based on his very Christocentric view. Nothing wrong with that.
What's interesting about placing different values on books of the Bible is that in theory, it isn't all that radical, and is typically done to some degree, either intentionally or unintentionally by most people committed to the Bible. For instance, I can recall conversations about justification in which a protestant will gravitate around Romans and a Catholic will gravitate around one of the four gospels. Each thinks the Biblical book they're utilizing is more important on the subject at hand and is clearer on the issue at hand. This is simply placing value on individual Biblical books.

This is what Luther did. All the books of the Bible testified to Christ, some more clearly than others. Here there should be no disagreement (that the entirety of the Scriptures testify to one unifying theme: Jesus Christ). Shouldn't anyone claiming to be "Christian" have a "Christocentric view" of the Scriptures?

Here there should be no disagreement either that certain books will present Christ and the way of salvation clearer than in other books. That's really the heart of what Luther was getting at. One can argue that he didn't work it out correctly (i.e., his opinions on James, etc.), but in theory, I think he was spot on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Luther: The Biblical Text Never Mattered?

Further musings from the Catholic Answers Forum:

Today, 10:56 am
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Default Re: Protestant Canon

Originally Posted by Topper17 View Post
“But the text never mattered much to him (Luther). If he did not have (when preaching), the Pauline words, “The just shall live by faith,” he could readily extract the same point from the example of the paralytic in the Gospels, whose sins were forgiven before his disease was cured.” Bainton, pg. 361

This is a startling admission from an unusually pro-Luther biographer. Luther was so intent on ‘discovering’ SBFA in as many places as he could ‘find’ it that he had to ‘find’ it where it didn’t exist. The comment “the text never mattered much to him” should be troubling to Protestants, especially with respect to Luther as a translator of Sacred Scripture, or as a judge of books of the Bible.
I'm not troubled by Bainton's quote.

Bainton's Here I Stand is arguably the most popular of all Luther biographies in English (perhaps though not the best), and is available free on-line if you snoop around for it. In context, Bainton was saying that Luther could find Paul's explicit theology that "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 3:28) implicitly in the Gospels. That's why Bainton gave the example of the paralytic. Both Protestants and Catholics have a systematic theology. It shouldn't be surprising when a preacher of either persuasion finds unifying themes implicitly where they're presented elsewhere explicitly. That's all Bainton was getting at.

Bainton goes on to point out immediately that Luther also exegeted Scripture in his sermons beyond finding the heart of the gospel:

Luther's sermons followed the course prescribed by the Christian year and the lessons assigned by long usage to each Sunday. In this area he did not innovate. Because he commonly spoke at the nine o'clock service, his sermons are mostly on the Gospels rather than upon his favorite Pauline epistles. But the text never mattered much to him. If he did not have before him the Pauline words, "The just shall live by faith," he could readily extract the same point from the example of the paralytic in the Gospels, whose sins were forgiven before his disease was cured. Year after year Luther preached on the same passages and on the same great events: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost. If one now reads through his sermons of thirty years on a single theme, one is amazed at the freshness with which each year he illumined some new aspect. When one has the feeling that there is nothing startling this time, then comes a flash. He is narrating the betrayal of Jesus. Judas returns the thirty pieces of silver with the words, "I have betrayed innocent blood," and the priest answers, "What is that to us?" Luther comments that there is no loneliness like the loneliness of a traitor since even his confederates give him no sympathy. The sermons cover every theme from the sublimity of God to the greed of a sow.
Having read Luther's sermons for quite a few years now, I can testify to the truth of what Bainton is saying. Certainly Luther located the theme that "The just shall live by faith" often in his sermons, but he did far more.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Discussion about Sola Scriptura at a Muslim Blog

Discussion about Sola Scriptura at a Muslim blog.  

Muslims are using Roman Catholic arguments to cast doubt on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and the basis for the canon.   They then use the arguments against Sola Scriptura and the Canon to cast doubt on reliability of the NT books themselves.  I noticed this a long time ago in evangelism with Muslims. And then when I started listening to Dr. White's debates and reading his books, and visiting regularly his web-site sometime in 1996- 2004,  (when it had these articles on Roman Catholicism), I noticed it even more in the details of Roman Catholic agruments and how Muslims would bring up the same objections as regards the canon and Sola Scriptura and church history details.  

I remember when Dr. White started sharing why he was going into debating Muslims - because a lot of the apologetic issues are the same on the history of the text of the Bible, textual variants, inerrancy, the canon, Sola Scriptura, church history, etc.   His experience with Roman Catholics, King James Only advocates, Mormons, atheists, and others had prepared him for defending the faith against Muslims. Dealing with Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostals prepared him for dealing with Muslim objections to the Trinity. 

Jonathan Doyle is a Roman Catholic.  If I recall correctly, he is a traditionalist Roman Catholic, one who holds to the Tridentide Latin Mass as binding, sees the "no salvation outside of the church" as binding and Vatican 2 was wrong to soften that tradition, and probably disagrees with a lot of Vatican 2 and the modern Popes since that time.  But he has not shared the exact details of his views on those issues.

There are other comments since I grabbed this much of the discussion.  Most people know this, but in case this is the first time you are reading here, Paul Bilal Williams is an English convert to Islam. (see his story at his blog, linked above.)
  1. Jonathan Doyle
  2. For once I fully agree. From the Catholic point of view, the Christian religion existed before the Gospels even started to be written, so it is absurd to claim one is based on the other.
    • the Catholic position is certainly more historically accurate and plausible than the evangelical.
    • Sola Scriptura never says that the Christian religion did not exist from 30 AD to 48 AD or did not exist until 96 AD, the common date for believing all the NT books were written by that date. Most were written before 70 AD.
      Protestants who hold to Sola Scriptura agree that the church existed in that period of 30-96 AD, while the Scriptures were being written; and oral preaching and teaching (God-breathed tradition) of the gospel was authoritative – 2 Thess. 2:15.
      • Ken who decided which books were to go into the Bible? And by what authority to do reject the Bible commonly accepted by the early church? Who elected you a Protestant Pope or are you self-appointed?
  3. The anti-thesis principle against the thesis principle of Sola Scriptura is the claim of the Roman Catholic Church is that the Pope is infallible, and that was not proclaimed as dogma until 1870. This is very late in history, and totally absent from the early centuries of church history. The RC claim is also that only it as a church is infallible and infectible – before the dogma was proclaimed in 1870, the church and bishops and councils, etc. were infallible in doctrinal decisions and interpretations.
    Sola Scriptura is only saying that only the Bible is infallible; the Pope and the church are not infallible; and there are many different definitions of what “tradition” is. Some traditions are derived from Scripture and good; others are not.
    Protestants believe in church and church authority to teach and interpet the Scriptures properly. (Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:14-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-7; 2 Tim. 2:2) It is the Roman Church that claims only it has the right and authority to interpret the Scriptures and that it is always infallible in her interpretations and decisions.
    When that Roman Church started adding other doctrines to “the faith” and claimed that they were from the apostles, like penance instead of repentance, purgatory, indulgences, NT priests, ex opere operato priestly powers, Transubstantiation, the treasury of merit, good works as meriting salvation, prayers to dead saints, relics, icons, statues and people praying to those inanimate objects, exalting Mary too much in prayer and praise – those things eclipsed the teaching of justification by faith alone, especially in Romans and Galatians and the gospel of John and is totally consistent with James 2; – when the RC Church was more exposed for making mistakes and adding doctrines not found in the Scriptures(Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Calvin, etc), the fall-back position was Sola Scriptura, that Luther relied on, in order to back up authority for protesting against the false doctrines that the RCC had been slowly adding through the centuries.
    • In fact there was no such thing as a Papal office in the early church. Even Gregory in 601 AD, the bishop of Rome, rebuked John of Constantinople for claiming he was “Universal Bishop”. Cyprian (lived 200-258 AD), bishop of Carthage, in 258 AD, along with 86 other bishops from around the Christian world, rebuked Stephen, bishop of Rome, for claiming that he was “bishop over all the other bishops”.
      See here for the 7th Council of Carthage, where Cyprian, Firmillian, and 85 other bishops condemn Stephen, the bishop of Rome, for his arrogant claims.
  4. ‘Sola Scriptura is only saying that only the Bible is infallible’
    What is the scriptural evidence for this claim?
    • The principle of Sola Scriptura is not explicit in one verse, but the principle is derived theologically from bringing many texts together in a harmonized and consistent way.
      2 Timothy 3:16 – since all Scripture is God-breathed, then it is infallible.
      Jesus said to test traditions by the word of God, the Scriptures – Matthew 15:1-20, Mark 7:1-23.
      The “only” is implied from these passages, because the only other atlernatiive is man and his interpretations, and additions to Scripture; therefore only the Scriptures are infallible, not man. Therefore the Pope and councils and other traditions are not infallible, since they are man made. The early E. creeds (Nicea, Constantinople, Apostles, Athanasian) and 4 ecumenical councils were right because the doctrinal decisions were based on Scripture, not tradition. They are secondary sources of authority, along with local church elders/teachers/pastors/overseers, but they are not infallible.
      John 17:17 – Jesus said to the Father – “Thy Word if truth”. John 17:8 – the words from the Father to Jesus, then to the apostles and later the Spirit would bring all things to their remembrance and lead them into all the truth – John chapters 14, 16. Psalm 119 – 176 verses on the truthfulness of God’s Word.
      Only God is infallible. (not man)
      God spoke through prophets and apostles.
      the Prophets and apostles wrote the Word of God down in Scriptures.
      God cannot lie.
      So, the Scripture are also infallible.
      When traditions are tested and questioned, the Scriptures overrule them; therefore only the Scriptures are infallible, since man is not infallible and his interpretations and traditions therefore are not infallible.
      Traditions (oral teaching and preaching during the process of the time of en-Scripturation – 30-96 AD) of the apostles (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6; I Cor. 11:2, 1 Cor. 15:1-9; Jude 3; Galatians 1:6-9) are infallible because the Scriptures say that they are. (in those contexts – also 1 Thessalonians 2:13 – the preaching of the gospel / word of God was accepted not as the word of men, but as the word of God.
      The unbiblical traditions of the Roman Catholic Church were man-made traditions not in Scripture at all, not even implicitly.
      The doctrines like the Trinity are Scriptural because they correctly derive from Scripture, in a consistent and harmonized way.
      • I don’t agree that “only” is implied at all anywhere in the Bible – its a very weak argument Ken. And it was not believed by Christians till the likes of Luther came along. The bizarre thing is that the Bible does not even claim to be the Word of God so why should it be the only authority!
        Ken who decided which books were to go into the Bible? And by what authority to do reject the Bible commonly accepted by the early church? Who elected you a Protestant Pope or are you self-appointed?
  5. Does the Bible ever say that the elders/teachers/pastors that the apostles appointed to lead the churches would ever be infallible?
    Therefore since we know God and His Word are infallible and man is not infallible, then by logic, only God’s Word is infallible as oppossed to man’s interpretations of the Scriptures.
    Therefore, the “only” in “Scripture Alone is the final and infallible rule of faith and practice for the church” is implied.
  6. They did not “decide” but they discerned and testified which ones were God-breathed and already existed, being written between 48-96 AD.
    Irenaeus (200 AD)
    Tertullian (200 AD)
    Origen (250 AD)
    Athanasius (died in 373 AD)
    rightly discerned which Scriptures were already in existence and God-breathed. (Though Irenaeus and Tertullian did not mention a few of the lesser known books. They are silent on Philemon, James, 2 Peter, and 2-3 John, and Irenaeus is silent on Jude, but Tertullian approves of Jude)
    • so if they “discerned and testified which ones were God-breathed” why do you reject their Bible? You are not very consistent!
      • I am talking about the 27 New Testament books – Origen’s list (I mentioned that in a previous post in another one of your articles here) around 250 AD is the same as Athanasius’ list in 367 AD as to the canon.
        Athanasius did not approve of most of the Apocrypha Jewish books written between 300-100 BC – his list does include Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah as part of Jeremiah as “one book”; but he did not approve of Maccabees and the others that the RC claims is infallible), and neither did Jerome. Jerome was one of the few who actually investigated the Jewish canon by going to Israel and living among the Jews there and learning Hebrew. His investigations confirm the list of the OT canon that was meant in Luke 24:44; Luke 11:51 (“from the blood of Abel” = Genesis, “to the blood of Zechariah” = the Zechariah killed in 2 Chronicles 24 – the last book written in the OT and Jews to this day still have that one as the last book in their canon, written around 430 BC); and Romans 3:2. (“the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God”). Josephus in Against Apion 1:8 also confirms the correct OT canon as the same as the Protestant OT canon. So we have Jesus, Josephus, the Jews, and Jerome on our side of that argument.
        Even Gregory “the Great”, bishop of Rome, around 601-604, wrote against the Apocrypal books, as did Cardinal Cajetan, who oppossed Luther in 1518-1521 – they said, “the judgment of Jerome on those books is the correct doctrine.”
  7. “Who elected you Protestant Pope?”
    There is no such thing as a “Papal office” in Scripture, nor in early church history – the concept started gaining traction only after the split between the Eastern Orthodox Church vs. The Roman Catholic Church (1054 AD) and it grew from there. It is completely absent from the first 600 years of early church history.
    So, there is no such thing as a “Protestant Pope” either. The concept is a false concept.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Luther Throwing James in the Fire, the Canon, and Heresy

Further musing from the Catholic Answers Forum:

Today, 11:14 am
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Default Re: Protestant Canon

Originally Posted by Topper17 View Post
The throwing in the fire comment was not disrespectful? If not then what could be?
There are at least two sources I'm aware of in which Luther is said to have wanted "to throw James in the fire." The first statement is a Tabletalk reference, which means Luther didn't write it, but is something he is reported to have said. The second statement comes from a 1542 writing in which it isn't clear at all that the actual book of James is in question, but rather a statue of Saint James. Regardless, the statements reflect Luther's frustration with his catholic critics who relied on James 2. Where I would fault Luther here is not for his fire / stove comment (which is nothing more than polemics), but rather the ease in which he gave up on the consistent harmonizing of James with Paul as a response to the critics. In the same context of the second statement, Luther admits to having interpreted James 2 previously according to the sense of the rest of scripture. In fact, one can actually find Luther presenting the typical protestant harmonization of James and Paul.

Originally Posted by Topper17 View Post
There was relatively little disagreement on the canon until the Reformation, when Luther chose to question literally everything, showing very little deference to all those who had come before him.
I've seen this particular topic debated endlessly over the years. As far as I can tell in terms of the Intertestamental books. there were two traditions running concurrently through the church, one accepting them, one rejecting them (I've seen both traditions argued as the prevalent one). This is why there were a group of excellent scholars at Trent arguing to exclude them. In regard to the New Testament books, I would agree that there probably was 'relatively little disagreement." What I think provoked 16th Century theologians like Cajetan, Luther, Erasmus, etc. was the recovery of Greek and Hebrew. Cajetan for instance, came under heavy attack from the Paris theologians for relegating the Latin Vulgate as inferior to the Hebrew and Greek. Cajetan questioned the authenticity of a number of New Testament Bible passages, and in his criticism he invoked Jerome's authority as support. To sum it up, the reason for questioning the New Testament canon during the 16th Century had a lot to do with the recovery of the original Biblical languages. Certainly Luther went a step further and attached a theological criteria, but once again there were no dogmatic parameters in place to prevent this.

Originally Posted by Topper17 View Post
In addition, the Church grants those rights to the Doctors which it sanctions. Luther WAS sanctioned by the Church as a Doctor of Sacred Scripture. But then, beginning with his being released from his vows as a monk by Staupitz in 1518 (I think), and culminating with his excommunication from the Church, Luther no longer was a Catholic sanctioned Theologian. He was judged to be an unrepentant heretic and as such, from the time of his excommunication, he no longer had any rights a Catholic, not even as a lay Catholic.
First, Trent never condemned Luther by name. That is, there is no infallible dogmatic pronouncement against Luther. In other words, a Catholic has no official judgment on Luther to which he is bound. This is why there is such a thing as Catholic Luther scholarship. Second, Jimmy Akin has an interesting article called "Identifying Infallible Statements." In that article he points out that Exsurge Dominae was not infallible, nor was Luther condemned for violating infallibly defined dogmas. Third, the Edict of Worms was decreed by Charles V deeming Luther a heretic, but to my knowledge, the statements of Charles V are not considered infallible by the Catholic church.

Pope John Paul II exhorted his hearers one time to "meditate, in truth and Christian charity" on the Reformation period. This suggests to me that the same sort of allowances made for the theological errors of Erasmus and Cajetan could be extended to Luther on the extent of the canon. John Paul went on to say that the event of the Reformation can be "understood and represented better" when those of us in later centuries can look back and reflect on what happened What JonNC has been demonstrating is that if one takes the time to look at the actual historical situation of Luther's canon, he was certainly not alone. To allow Cajetan and Erasmus a free pass while condemning Luther on this issue could, in the minds of some people, demonstrate double standards or an underlying unjustified bias.

"Where polemics have clouded the view, the direction of this view must be corrected and independently by one side or the other."- John Paul II on Luther and the Reformation

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Martin Luther, Reformer of Bowling

I've not heard this one before:
Bowling as we know it began in Germany sometime during the fifth century. People pretended that the pins were devils and they used a round rock or heavy ball as a weapon to knock them down. If successful, it indicated they were overcoming the temptations of the devil in their lives. If not, their lives still had too many sins. The number of pins used varied from three to seventeen. Martin Luther is credited with deciding on nine pins. In the 1800s, because bowling (or platzbahnkegln as it was then called Germany) was used for gambling, it was outlawed. But the law specified nine-pin bowling. Players added a 10th pin to avoid being illegal. A life-size diorama at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis portrays Martin Luther bowling on the single lane at the side of his home. A brochure from the museum states that Luther, an avid bowler, “once preached a sermon that proclaimed Christians ‘strive for perfection in life. But when we roll a gutterball, all is not lost.’”
I have no idea if all this is true or not, but it certainly appears to be true that the Bowling Museum had the picture of Luther at one time. The museum is no longer in St. Louis, it's in Texas. Brecht notes that "Luther had a bowling alley built for the amusement of  his students in their spare time, and he occasionally participated in the game himself."

Addendum (ht: Carl Vehse): From a comment below, the quote in the pamphlet reads,"He [Luther] once preached a sermon which, if put into bowling vernacular, proclaimed we all strive for perfection in life. But if we roll a gutterball, all is not lost." So, the "quote" appears to be a loose paraphrase of something Luther is alleged to have said.

Addendum #2 (1/30/14)
This blog post was linked to by Gene Veith with his entry, Luther and Bowling? See the subsequent discussion. Carl Vehse noted my citation of Brecht (Martin Luther: Shaping and Defining the Reformation, 1521-1532 [Fortress Press, 1994, p. 432]), and also included Brecht's accompanying footnote:
Weimarer Ausgabe (Weimar Edition): D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesammtausgabe (Dr. Martin Luther's Works: Critical Collected Edition), Briefwechsel (Correspondence), Volume 6: 199-200. Tischreden (Table Talk), Vol. 1, No. 261; Vol. 2, No. 1494.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Roland Bainton on Luther and the Canon

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Default Re: Bainton

Originally Posted by Topper17 View Post
We have been discussing Luther’s disrespect for Scripture and especially the way that he viewed the Canon. “Luther treated Scripture with amazing freedom, with so much freedom indeed that one wonders why he did not disrupt the canon. Tradition at this point was presumably too strong for him”, Roland Bainton, Studies on the Reformation, pg. 5 Bainton, who normally gives Luther every break possible, makes a startling admission, admitting that he believes that Luther might have changed the canon if he thought he could get away with it.
Originally Posted by JonNC View Post
Perhaps you have had a monologue on this, be we certainly haven't been having a discussion on it. How about that! Tradition was strong for him. That's not what the quote says. He doesn't say "change" the canon. He says "disrupt". the only way I might disagree with Bainton is I don't believe Luther had the power to change the canon. And Luther's response to Tradition is precisely what I've been saying: Luther had the Catholic liberty to challenge and even dispute the canon prior to Trent, just like any other Catholic, and this he did while frequently stating it was his opinion, and in the end, he responds and defers to the Tradition of the western Church by seeing to it that all 73 books are translated and included, except for the arrangement of the books, and the addition of the Prayer of Manasseh.
Interesting discussion, thanks guys.

I happen to have the book in question by Roland Bainton. There is nothing in Bainton's essay "The Bible and the Reformation" [Studies on the Reformation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963)] that suggests "he believes that Luther might have changed the canon if he thought he could get away with it," and for that matter, "Bainton, who normally gives Luther every break possible," actually Bainton presents a short essay that includes critical reflection.

The actual comment on Luther and the canon is more of a passing comment that was part of Bainton's broad overview on who had the authority to interpret the Bible during the Reformation period. Bainton points out that "Luther epitomized two centuries of antipapal critique" (p.4); that is, Luther wasn't doing anything new when he questioned whether or not the pope had the infallible ability to interpret the Bible, this debate had been going on for quite some time. Bainton presents the argument given back to the Reformers that the church created the canon, therefore she had such infallible authority. Bainton says the Reformers countered that the Gospel or "Word" made the church, so the Gospel or "Word" is above the church, and therefore the church must be submit to the authority of the Gospel or "Word." Bainton cites "a canon lawyer at the Council of Basel" who had earlier reflected Luther's view "in matters touching the faith, the word of a single person is to be preferred to that of a pope, if that person is moved by sounder arguments from the Old Testament and the New Testament" (p.4). The point is that this issue of Biblical interpretative authority was nothing new when Luther showed up on the radar.

As JonNC has explained the canon was also a related issue during this time period. Luther's solution was (in part) to evaluate the canon by the "Word." When Luther did so, certain books accepted by broad Tradition appeared to lack a pedigree of containing the "Word," but as Bainton points out, "Tradition at this point was presumably too strong for him." In essence, one sees that Luther was being cautious (for instance, simply compare Luther's early preface to Revelation with the later revision).

The heart of the issue is that Luther questioned the infallibility of the church, and this questioning included whether or not the church infallibly determined the canon, linked with this was the confusion present during the Reformation period. M. Reu notes,

How was it that [Luther] came to consider the question of the canon at all? There were a number of factors that almost compelled him to do so. Towards the end of the middle ages uncertainty had arisen in the Church not only concerning the canonicity of the Old Testament Apocrypha but also concerning the extent of the New Testament Canon; an uncertainty that existed in actual usage rather than in the attitude of the official Church. Many medieval Bible manuscripts included a fifth Gospel, the Gospel of Nicodemus; many manuscripts and all the printed German Bibles included an additional epistle of St. Paul, the so-called Epistle to the Laodiceans, which is even to be found as late as 1544 in Dietenberger's Roman Catholic translation of the Bible [M. Reu, Luther’s German Bible: An Historical Presentation Together with a collection of Sources (Ohio: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1934), 175].
One of the big questions as I see it is not, "Why did Luther question the contents of the canon?" but rather, "Given the historical situation in the 16th Century, why wouldn't Luther question the contents of the Bible?" The entire credibility and infallibility of the papacy was a major issue, and had been so for quite some time before Luther came on the scene. He inherited the issues of his day, like we inherit the issues of ours.