Wednesday, August 15, 2007

“APOSTASY” – Bringing Mormonism into the equation.

The vast majority of conservative Protestant apologists have retained the Reformers view that the historic Christian Church of the 16th was so corrupt that it could no longer be called “Christian”—in other words, the Christian Church had become apostate. The Reformers relied on this argument to justify their schism from the Catholic Church; which schism, as all know, led to the formation of numerous, competing visible sects (now in the thousands).

Though the importance of the visible Church has all but vanished from the minds of so many post-modern “evangelical” Christians, it was not so with the magisterial Reformers. One recent Protestant author remarked:

Unlike modern Evangelicalism, the classical Protestant Reformers held to a high view of the Church. When the Reformers confessed extra ecclesiam nulla salus, which means “there is no salvation outside the Church,” they were not referring to the invisible Church of all the elect. Such a statement would be tantamount to saying that outside of salvation there is no salvation. It would be a truism. The Reformers were referring to the visible Church…The Church is the pillar and ground, the interpreter, teacher, and proclaimer of God’s Word…The Church has authority because Christ gave the Church authority. The Christian who rejects the authority of the Church rejects the authority of the One who sent her (Luke 10:16). (Keith A. Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, pp. 268, 269.)

Now, keep the above mind while reading the following quotes:

Since the gospel stands at the heart of Christian faith, Luther and other Reformers regarded the debate concerning justification as one involving an essential truth of Christianity, a doctrine no less essential than the Trinity or the dual natures of Christ. Without the gospel the church falls. Without the gospel the church is no longer a church.

The logic followed by the Reformers is this:

1. Justification by faith alone is essential to the gospel.
2. The gospel is essential to Christianity and to salvation.
3. The gospel is essential to a church’s being a true church.
4. To reject justification by faith alone is to reject the gospel.

The Reformers concluded that when Rome rejected and condemned sola fide, it condemned itself, in effect, and ceased to be a true church. This precipitated the creation of new communions or denominations seeking to continue biblical Christianity and to be true churches with a true gospel. (R.C. Sproul, Faith Alone, p. 19.)

Rome did not teach that justification was without Christ or apart from him (Rome affirmed the necessity of Christ’s atonement and of his infused grace for a person to be justified). Nor did Rome consider the merit of Christ to be unnecessary. The issue was how the objective, redemptive work of Christ is subjectively appropriated by the sinner. Also to the controversy was the objective grounds of justification. (Ibid. p. 36.)

Packer rightly observes that the issue of justification became an issue, not merely of error or even heresy, but of apostasy. Rome considered Luther to be apostate. The Reformers likewise considered Rome to be apostate. (Ibid. p. 69.)

The conflict over justification by faith alone boils down to this: Is the ground of our justification the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, or the righteousness of Christ working within us? For the Reformers the doctrine of justification by faith alone meant justification by Christ and his [imputed] righteousness alone. (Ibid. p. 73.)

Reformed theology insists that the biblical doctrine of justification is forensic in nature…Here the term forensic refers to the judicial system and judicial proceedings. (Ibid. p. 95)

The question of inherent versus imputed righteousness goes to the heart of the Reformation debate. (Ibid. p. 99.)

If the gospel is the announcement of sola fide, as the Reformers believed, and if sola fide with its stress on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is essential to the gospel, then any denial of it is certainly a threat to it. (Ibid. p. 113.)

Summation: the “gospel” = justification by faith alone, through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness alone.

Herein lies THE historic conundrum: not one extant Christian writer until Martin Luther interpreted the Biblical gospel as delineated above*. (This is confirmed by the highly respected Protestant scholar, Alister McGrath, in his definitive work, Iustitia Dei – now in its 3rd edition.) If indeed R.C. Sproul (and the Reformers) are correct concerning the content of the Biblical gospel, then one must conclude that the gospel was essentially lost to the world for nearly 1500 years until “the Reformers discovered” it.

I would like to submit to all that such a view of Church history suggests, nay, shouts to us, that a mere “reformation” in the 16th century did not occur, but rather, what we really have is a “replacement/substitution”; a “replacement/substitution” of one, historic, apostolic Church, with many competing churches.

I would further argue that the “replacements” stemming from the 16th century are totally devoid of any true authority from Jesus Christ, for their church officers were neither called directly by Jesus, nor by anyone who did in fact have real authority from Him.

Enter Joseph Smith Jr. and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apologists for the LDS Church very early on realized that the Protestant position had serious deficiencies in their historic paradigm, one of which included the contention that it is impossible to derive true authority from an apostate church; as such, what was needed was not a mere reformation, but rather, a restoration based on a divine, authoritative, calling by Jesus Christ (or one of His authorized authorities). I cannot help but agree that such an assessment is a valid one, and submit that an objective reflection on this issue of apostasy yields but two consistent options: either the Church founded by our Lord in the first century did not apostatize (and was protected from such via divine assistance); or if it did apostatize, a divine restoration was needed.

John Henry Newman so succinctly assessed the Protestant paradigm with his now famous words:

“And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this…To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”


Grace and peace,

David

*Note: Recent assertions by some Protestant apologists that justification by faith alone, through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness alone, can be found in the writings of Clement of Rome and some other early Christian writers are seriously flawed, being based on a selective (and anachronistic) reading of their writings, as ALL patristic scholars of repute (Protestant and Catholic alike) attest to.

25 comments:

Chris Smith said...

Dear David,

You are seriously mistaken in taking the Reformers as the sole progenitors of modern evangelicalism. The modern evangelical movement is a product of the convergence of several tributaries, including the Reformers, the Radical Reformers (or Anabaptists), and the Holiness movement. Its ecclesiology is nearest not to the Reformers, but to the Anabaptists.

The Protestant Reformation was a much more complicated phenomenon than either the Catholic version (which has Protestant "schismatics" apostasizing and revolting) or the Protestant version (which has "reformers" getting excommunicated and/or martyred by a trenchant, corrupt Catholic leadership) allow. Luther was likely a sincere man whose initial views were substantially different from his later views. His vision unfortunately got distorted (even in his own mind) and appropriated by a variety of political forces. The Anabaptists tried to follow Luther's sincere religious sentiment to its logical conclusion, and with the exception of Munster I think acted more heroically than any other group during the period. But even they had problems, as in the Munster case just mentioned.

The stage for the schism of the Catholic church was set not just by its leaders' corrupt practices but also by tremendous political foment. It is terrible that it was so bloody an affair. But I think the angst of the Peasants' War also gave people the courage (or perhaps just the impetus) to break with tradition, something that is very difficult for any person in any culture to do. That is the good that came from it all: a large number of people finally broke with the Great Tradition that had had such a stranglehold on Christianity as to practically eclipse the message of Jesus. I could care less about sola fide, etc. I think the doctrine of sola fide is absurd. But the Anabaptist ecclesiology, in my opinion, is much closer to what Jesus intended than the choking, top-down hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. And in the sense that it moved people to break with Christendom and return to Christianity, the Protestant Reformation was a success.

-Chris

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

I have copied and pasted my response to your post from MADB (http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php?showtopic=27004 ) since your post there was identical this one. I have also included my response to your second post at MADB for further clarification.

>>>>
Hi CK,

You posted:

>>Dear David,

You are seriously mistaken in taking the Reformers as the sole progenitors of modern evangelicalism.>>

Me: I have never (at least to my aging memory) affirmed the "Reformers as the sole progenitors of modern evangelicalism."

>>The modern evangelical movement is a product of the convergence of several tributaries, including the Reformers, the Radical Reformers (or Anabaptists), and the Holiness movement. Its ecclesiology is nearest not to the Reformers, but to the Anabaptists.>>

Me: One could also throw in a bit of Eastern Orthodoxy.

>>The Protestant Reformation was a much more complicated phenomenon than either the Catholic version of the story (which has Protestant "schismatics" apostasizing and revolting) or the Protestant version (which has "reformers" getting excommunicated and/or martyred by a trenchant, corrupt Catholic leadership) allow. Luther was likely a sincere man whose initial views were substantially different from his later views. His vision unfortunately got distorted (even in his own mind) and appropriated by a variety of political forces. The Anabaptists tried to follow Luther's sincere religious sentiment to its logical conclusion, and with the exception of Munster I think acted more heroically than any other group during the period. But even they had problems, as in the Munster case just mentioned.>>

Me: In my blog thread on apostasy, I am focusing on those who take the visible Church seriously; hence, in that thread you will not find information on the “trail of blood” types.

>>The stage for the schism of the Catholic church was set not just by its leaders' corrupt practices but also by tremendous political foment. It is terrible that it was so bloody an affair. But I think the angst of the Peasants' War also gave people the courage (or perhaps just the impetus) to break with tradition, something that is very difficult for any person in any culture to do. That is the good that came from it all: a large number of people finally broke with the Great Tradition that had had such a stranglehold on Christianity as to practically eclipse the message of Jesus. I could care less about sola fide, etc.>>

Me: I am trying to address the religious theory behind the Reformers justification for leaving the visible Church they were born into. All the other issues you bring up would take volumes to cover.

>>But the Anabaptist ecclesiology, in my opinion, is much closer to what Jesus intended than the choking, top-down hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. And in the sense that it moved people to break with Christendom and return to Christianity, the Protestant Reformation was a success.>>

Me: Hmmm…resurrecting Harnack’s dated theories…forgive me if I don’t buy into it.


Grace and peace,

David
>>>>

My second reply:

>>>>
Hello again Chris,

Finally have some “spare” time to sit down and respond your last post; you wrote:

>>My apologies; that is merely the impression I got from your OP and your apostasy blog. Your thesis in the blog appears to be that Newman is correct when he says,

"And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this…To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.">>

Me: Newman was speaking to ALL of Protestantism, not just Evangelicalism. And yes, I agree with his basic assertions. The extant Christian writings that have come down to us from the late 1st century forward support Newman’s main thesis, and I say this for the simple reason that the doctrines/teachings that are unique to the Protestant paradigm are non-existent in these records. Further, the notion of the “free” church system is also missing (unless one invokes some of the Gnostic works) in the early writings. The 3-fold hierarchical ministry (bishops/presbyters/deacons) is clearly in place by the middle of the 2nd century replacing the previous 3-fold apostolic ministry (apostles/presbyter/deacons) as the apostles faded from the scene. Attempts by post Reformation historians/theologians to find their particular brand of Protestantism in the early Christian writings are most certainly based (IMHO) on anachronistic readings and speculations. The “trail of blood” type “histories” made popular by J.M. Carroll are rejected by modern Baptist scholars, some of whom are quite conservative. (BTW, groups like the Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses adopt slightly modified forms of the “trail of blood” theory; the modifications being the supposed historical support for some of their unique doctrines.)

Now, to bring clarity to our dialogue, I think it is important that you describe for us what you believe constituted the original/pure apostolic Christian faith; cite the early documents that support your theory; and pinpoint when you believe the visible Christian Church became apostate.

>>In your OP you said that "such an assessment is based on certain historical facts" and promised to explore these facts in your blog. (This is a worthy undertaking, by the way. I am very tired of seeing this quote repeated time and again without any attempt at substatiation. The fact that a Catholic writer rejected Protestantism out of hand, after all, doesn't exactly prove the point.) Your blog, however, focused almost entirely on the magisterial Reformers, from whose views it intimated "'evangelical' Christians" have departed because of post-modernism…>>

Me: I have focused on the particular strain of Evangelicalism that traces its roots back to the magisterial Reformers for the simple reason the vast majority of anti-Catholic “ministries” are linked one way or another to these Reformers. Groups that trace their roots back to the Anabaptist Reformers and/or Radicals just do not have the same type of impact; no matter what form of media you turn to (e.g. books, radio, TV, internet).

>> I am suggesting that it is not post-modernism that has led us away from the notion of a visible church, but that this view dates to the time of the magisterial reformers themselves: it is a view, in fact, that they persecuted with a ferocity worthy of Foxe's Book of Martyrs.>>

Me: I just don’t see anywhere near the impact on American Christianity from the Anabaptist tradition/s when compared to the tradition/s of magisterial Reformers (and this includes even the vast majority of Baptists in America). For instance, the vast majority of theologians (and the seminaries that produced them), that have impacted American Christianity do not have their roots in the Anabaptist tradition/s.

>> Are we poisoning the well, David?>>

Me: Your well? No. Harnack’s well? Yes.


Looking forward to your comments and further dialogue on this topic.


Grace and peace,

David
>>>>

CrimsonCatholic said...

I couldn't agree more with your assessment on where Protestantism is heading. I commented over at Energetic Procession on how the anti-Catholic contingent is making such serious Christological errors that they are practically giving up the field to Mormon apologists. I'm working through Blake Ostler right now, and if I was inclined to that opinion before, I'm certain of it after Ostler. His arguments could be pulled practically verbatim from the confused notions of person, nature, and divinity that I see in a host of Reformed arguments. I'm not inclined to ignore Christological error under any circumstances, but I thought at least that the danger from the James Whites in the world was minimal, because the only people who were persuaded by him would be led by emotion rather than reason anyway. But now I worry whether they would be vulnerable to being led away by Mormon arguments, which would clearly be a step down from a theological perspective. A clever LDS apologist could certainly argue that he is simply the one being consistent with White's own premises, and one wonders what someone who has already been persuaded by emotion and the mere appearance of rational consistency would do. I think there's a decent chance that they might make the wrong decision.

The reason I mention this is that it never occurred to me before that White's defective Christology might actually drive people out of Christianity altogether. Granted, the similarities between Calvinism and Islam are clear enough from Turcocalvinism/Calvinoturcism. But those similarities tend to make them even more dogmatically opposed to one another (just as the intranecine spats within Islam demonstrate), so it seems that the poor theology is in any event unlikely to produce a defection. But if there is a really chance that he is setting people up for conversion out of the Christian faith altogether, I might have to rethink that assumption. If White is serving as the "useful idiot," effectively a foil that Mormon apologists can use to their advantage, then we should make efforts to nip his misrepresentations of Christian orthodoxy in the bud.

Ken Temple said...

I posted this at your response to James Swan at his website, where you ask about no one or very few people being regenerated from the 2nd Century until the 16th Century.

David,
I am pretty sure that none of those you cite (Sproul and White and others) believe that few people were regenerate from the 2nd century to the 16th. That is not the normal, informed Reformed view of history. Many catholics were truly saved during all that time. Protestant's enjoy reading and studying the good things in Ignatius, Clement, Athanasius, Tertullian, Augustine,Chrysostom, and even many thing of Aquinas. John Gerstner, the late Presbyterian professor of theology and mentor of R. C. Sproul, claimed that Aquinas was really Evangelical in his belief about justification.
(Justification by Faith Alone, Soli Deo Gloria, 1995, p. 111.)
And Anselm is a favorite also, for articulating the substitutionary death of Christ (satisfying God's wrath against sin) and his "Ontological arguments" for God. They were probably all real true Christians.

Protestantism only says that at Trent, the official condemnation of the gospel (from our understanding) is what made the Roman Catholic Church cease to be a true church. Before, it was corrupt and weak, but the message of the gospel can break through and regenerate people even they don't know how to articulate the doctrine.

No one that I know believes that everything 100% blinked off in the second century, and then Blinked back on in the 16 with Luther. Rather, it was a slow process of neglect and corruption, but people were being regenerated, but it was just at Trent that the RCC anathematized the gospel itself.

And individual RC persons -- some are still saved by their faith in Christ alone; those that do not trust in Mary and other things, their good works, but realize that it is Christ alone that saves.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

I want to apologize for not responding earlier, but in my defense, our local weather has finally given me the chance to do so serious home maintenance the last 3 days.

Anyway, back to the internet…

You posted:

>>I am pretty sure that none of those you cite (Sproul and White and others) believe that few people were regenerate from the 2nd century to the 16th. That is not the normal, informed Reformed view of history. Many catholics were truly saved during all that time. Protestant's enjoy reading and studying the good things in Ignatius, Clement, Athanasius, Tertullian, Augustine,Chrysostom, and even many thing of Aquinas.>>

Me: But Ken, none of the great men you mentioned above believed what Dr. Sproul, James White, and so many other EV’s maintain must be essential components of “the gospel”.

>>John Gerstner, the late Presbyterian professor of theology and mentor of R. C. Sproul, claimed that Aquinas was really Evangelical in his belief about justification.
(Justification by Faith Alone, Soli Deo Gloria, 1995, p. 111.)>>

Me: I have great respect for the late Dr. Gerstner, however, I must in good conscience totally disagree with his assessment of St. Thomas (as do ALL Thomistic scholars I have read).

>>And Anselm is a favorite also, for articulating the substitutionary death of Christ (satisfying God's wrath against sin) and his "Ontological arguments" for God. They were probably all real true Christians.>>

Me: St. Anselm’s teaching on the atonement of our Lord is a key ingredient of official Catholic dogma.

>>Protestantism only says that at Trent, the official condemnation of the gospel (from our understanding) is what made the Roman Catholic Church cease to be a true church. Before, it was corrupt and weak, but the message of the gospel can break through and regenerate people even they don't know how to articulate the doctrine.>>

Me: Once again, what you believe to be “the message of the gospel’, had no written adherents before Luther. If one must believe your “gospel”, then one must conclude that that few (any?) believed such before Luther.

>>No one that I know believes that everything 100% blinked off in the second century, and then Blinked back on in the 16 with Luther. Rather, it was a slow process of neglect and corruption, but people were being regenerated, but it was just at Trent that the RCC anathematized the gospel itself.>>

Me: Yet Sproul, White, Cunningham, and so many other polemicists claim that the “gospel” was discovered/rediscovered by the Reformers; certainly this implies that the “gospel” was lost well before Trent.

>>And individual RC persons -- some are still saved by their faith in Christ alone; those that do not trust in Mary and other things, their good works, but realize that it is Christ alone that saves.>>

Me: My faith in Christ justifies me, it makes me a “new creation” in Christ, yet this faith is not “alone”, and it is not by imputation “alone”—God does not justify one who is not truly just.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

I forgot to mention concerning your following comment on Dr. Gerstner…

>>John Gerstner, the late Presbyterian professor of theology and mentor of R. C. Sproul, claimed that Aquinas was really Evangelical in his belief about justification.
(Justification by Faith Alone, Soli Deo Gloria, 1995, p. 111.)>>

…that Dr. Reymond, a fellow Reformed scholar, took him to task in a scathing critique that appeared in the prestigious Westminster Theological Journal. He concludes his essay with:

No, Aquinas was not a medieval Protestant teaching the biblical and Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone. Rather, he taught that justification was the making of a sinner righteous by means of the sacraments of baptism and the Mass as well as by acts of penance. (Robert L. Reymond, "Dr. John H. Gerstner on Thomas Aquinas as a Protestant," Westminster Theological Journal 59.1 (1997), p. 120.)


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

Thanks David for responding. No need to apologize on time issues. We all have them in relation to jobs and weather and storms and other real life. I can understand that.

I wrote more over at James Swan's blog, where you posted some of this before.

the main point is that Protestants don't judge people as to their salvation, like Augustine, etc. as "not truly saved", before Trent, because only at Trent did the RCC officially condemn what Luther and Calvin were saying was part of the heart of the gospel.

One can be saved without being about to articulate the doctrine clearly, because it is by faith in Christ alone.

Baptism and sacraments and the church are additions, that is not trusting in Christ alone. Those are things you have to do in addition to faith.

Those things, from a Protestant viewpoint, are evidences and fruits of true faith, but they are not additional conditions added on to faith in order for someone to be saved in the end. They are results that prove one was already justified in the first place.

The RCC making them "conditions" of merit is the problem.

Ken Temple said...

Also,
Thanks for the reference to the article on Gerstner's understanding of Aquinas by Robert Reymond. I did not know about that; and I also wondered how Gerstner could make that statement when I read it.

You seemed to have really studied this more than most.

Is this kind of info (Reymond's article) on the web?

Are there other Protestant treatments of history like Reymond's that do into that kind of depth that you know of?

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I am truly enjoying our ongoing dialogue. IMHO, one of the most important ingredients for productive dialogue is a willingness to try and understand each other’s position; I sincerely believe that we are both trying to implement this key ingredient.

I think your take on the historical issues that come into play when discussing “the gospel” is tenable, but as soon as one adopts this position, one is forced to radically change so many other doctrines that had considerable consensus among theologians prior to the 16th century, and not just the doctrine of justification.

Providentially it seems, I just yesterday “discovered” a very interesting, and cogent post, that discusses the issue of the development of doctrine (including sola fide). I think you will appreciate the author’s comments, as well as the spirit in which they are given; here is the link:


http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/08/30/can-doctrine-develop-an-important-issue-that-divides-protestants-orthodox-and-catholics/#more-339


As for your following question…

>>Are there other Protestant treatments of history like Reymond's that do into that kind of depth that you know of?>>

…could you be a bit more definitive as to exactly what kind of treatments you are interested in? (For instance, do you have specific doctrines in mind, and/or are you looking for broader treatments on the development of doctrine, or perhaps something else in mind.)

Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

Thank you David,
I am enjoying this also.

Yes, I am interested in a historical overview (written by an honest Evangelical like Reymond in the way he critiques Gerstner) of the development of doctrine that covers faith, justification, and sanctification, (asceticism, virginity, etc.) the whole system of sacraments, priests, treasury of merit, purgatory, mortal vs. venial sins, indulgences, the loss of territory from Islam and holy sites and relics, and the way the Crusaders where motivated to go and fight the infidels -- by forgiveness and indulgences through heroic feats of battle and defeating these infidels and winning back the holy places and relics, etc.

Since you were so familiar with Gerstner and Reymond and articles at that depth; it seems obvious that you have studied this issue in depth; as your original post on R. C. Sproul's book, Faith Alone demonstrates.

Yes, I am interested in the concept of development of doctrine, history, and especially faith, justification, sanctification and how ex opera operato started.

I have always heard that Optatus was the first one to coin the phrase against the Donatists, and Augustine develops it also against the Donatists. Is there a work that shows the references and contexts which this idea grew up into? (with references from Augustine and Optatus?) I could not find anything in for example, Peter Brown's bio of Augustine and books on Augustine.

And also, the exaltation of virginity, the desert fathers, and how it seems that once there was a Catholic culture, pervasive throughout the former Roman Empire and Mediterranean world; Constantine, Theodosius (380 -- making Christianity the state religion); and persecution stopped, the heroic feats of asceticsm and virginity and sanctification and process became the dominant themes in the writtings; then followed by development of penance, indulgences, the treasury of merit, and Mary, icons, statues, the rise of Islam, motivating people to go on Crusade by indulgences and paying their debts off by fighting; etc. until Hus, Wycliff, and Luther noticed something wrong with the emphasis of the Roman Catholic Church.

If there is not an Evangelical book or article on that; (that you know of) a Roman Catholic one would be fine also.

Ken Temple said...

The reclaiming the mind article that you point me to--

yes, was very interesting. The comments also are helpful. I am thirsty for more reading and studying on this issue.

the big difference is that Chad kept wondering why Sola Fide is legitimate development, whereas the Assumption of Mary is not legitimate development. The reason is easy from a Protestant viewpoint. Sola Fide, like the Trinity, has the canonical texts, the materials in order to build its doctrine, combining many scripture passages.

The bodily Assumption of Mary does not have any Scripture texts at all. Karl Keating and Boniface Ramsey, the Patristics scholar, just to name two, freely admit that there are no Biblical texts for this dogma at all.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly; you posted:

>>Yes, I am interested in a historical overview (written by an honest Evangelical like Reymond in the way he critiques Gerstner) of the development of doctrine that covers faith, justification, and sanctification, (asceticism, virginity, etc.) the whole system of sacraments, priests, treasury of merit, purgatory, mortal vs. venial sins, indulgences, the loss of territory from Islam and holy sites and relics, and the way the Crusaders where motivated to go and fight the infidels -- by forgiveness and indulgences through heroic feats of battle and defeating these infidels and winning back the holy places and relics, etc.>>

Me: Big list! I am going to begin my list of recommendations with the topic of the doctrinal development as related to the doctrines of “faith, justification, and sanctification”. Here goes:


Iustitia Dei : A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, by Alister McGrath
ISBN – 0521533899

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0521533899

Justification by Faith in Catholic-Protestant Dialogue : An Evangelical Assessment, by Anthony N.S. Lane
ISBN - 0567088227

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0567088227

Justification by Faith – Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII, edited by Anderson, Murphy, and Burgess
ISBN - 0806621036

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0806621036


For broader treatments on doctrinal develop (there are so many good choices), I shall recommend a few that I believe are the most balanced and scholarly:

The Catholic Tradition – A History of the Development of Doctrine (5 volumes), by Jaroslav Pelikan

Volume 1

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0226653714

Volume 2

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0226653730
Volume 3

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0226653757

Volume 4

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0226653773

Volume 5

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/0226653803

Historical Theology – An Introduction..., by Alister McGrath
ISBN – 0631208445

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0631208445


Text-Book of the History of Doctrines, by Reinhold Seeberg

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0801081068

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&qi=rtwL1sp,m0OMgGAqZp8Dw1pObaM_6339688129_1:7:55

History of Dogmas (3 Volumes), by Joseph Tixerant
ISBN - 0870610937

Now, I am also going to list one more work, though with certain reservations; the work is an older one, and highly polemical, but given your current religious tradition (Reformed), I think you would like to know about it:

Historical Theology (2 volumes), by William Cunningham

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/0851513603

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&qi=KaZKELvOLsXpXob9CAae0.Dst4o_2532939787_1:1:2

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&qi=KaZKELvOLsXpXob9CAae0.Dst4o_2532939787_1:1:14

FREE PDF downloads of both volumes are available here:

http://www.archive.org/details/historicaltheolo00cunnuoft


http://www.archive.org/details/historicaltheolo02cunnuoft


>>Yes, I am interested in the concept of development of doctrine, history, and especially faith, justification, sanctification and how ex opera operato started.

I have always heard that Optatus was the first one to coin the phrase against the Donatists, and Augustine develops it also against the Donatists. Is there a work that shows the references and contexts which this idea grew up into? (with references from Augustine and Optatus?) I could not find anything in for example, Peter Brown's bio of Augustine and books on Augustine.>>

Me: I do not know if Optatus was the first to coin the exact phrase, but he certainly was the first to develop the idea with clarity. With that said, I do know that the issue was NOT over the efficacy of the sacraments (for both the Catholics and Donatists agreed that the Sacraments were efficacious), but rather concerned the validity of the sacraments—in other words it was ex opere operanits vs. ex opere operato.

Perhaps the single, most important volume on Augustine is Allan Fitzgerald’s, Augustine Through the Ages : An Encyclopedia (ISBN - 080283843X):

http://www.allbookstores.com/book/080283843X


Sincerely hope that my above recommendations prove useful for your ongoing studies. Please feel free to forward any further questions, and/or comments.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

You wrote:

>>The reclaiming the mind article that you point me to--

yes, was very interesting. The comments also are helpful. I am thirsty for more reading and studying on this issue.>>

Me: A great thread, IMHO. Not only is the content good, but the tone and spirit of the thread is so charitable (a rare trait its seems for most dialogue on the internet).

>>the big difference is that Chad kept wondering why Sola Fide is legitimate development, whereas the Assumption of Mary is not legitimate development. The reason is easy from a Protestant viewpoint. Sola Fide, like the Trinity, has the canonical texts, the materials in order to build its doctrine, combining many scripture passages.

The bodily Assumption of Mary does not have any Scripture texts at all. Karl Keating and Boniface Ramsey, the Patristics scholar, just to name two, freely admit that there are no Biblical texts for this dogma at all.>>

Me: There is no question that the Scriptural “materials” for the development of the doctrine the Trinity (and sola fide) are quite extensive; however, the potential for considerable diversity (and heresy) concerning the interpretation/s of the said material must not be forgotten.

Now, as for the AM dogma, the actual issue itself is a simple one: was Mary bodily assumed into heaven? (That Mary is in heaven is not an issue for the vast majority of “Christians”—7th Day Adventists, and JW’s being notable exceptions.) When Christians actually started to ask this question is somewhat disputed among scholars, but once the question was on the minds of Christians, some began to discover hints (admittedly very meager and implicit) of the doctrine in Scripture.

Raymond Brown had some interesting insights on these issues in chapter 2 (“Critical Biblical Exegesis And The Development of Doctrine”) of his book, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine (ISBN – 0809127504).

He wrote:

>>In the “olden” days (before Vatican II) it was apparent, even against the background of a sometimes unsophisticated biblical exegesis, that certain doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church were not easily detectable in the NT. In a widely held thesis of two sources of revelation, Scripture and Tradition, it could be maintained that such doctrines were passed on orally as part of the living tradition of the church, and were simply not mentioned until a much later era because no one questioned them. A more nuanced thesis was that such doctrines could be logically derived in an almost syllogistic manner from ideas of affirmations that were in the Bible. Vatican II changed the focus of the discussion significantly. The draft of the schema on the sources {plural) of revelation to the Council in November 1962 was rejected…doctrines for which there is no sufficient witness in the Bible are dealt with in another manner. A more sophisticated theory of hermeneutics argues that the written books of the Bible, as literary artifacts, had a life of their own and so their “meaning” involves the ongoing interpretation of them the Christian community. (Raymond E. Brown, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine, 1985, p. 30.)>>

Brown then goes on to discuss to 3 distinct categories concerning the “relationships between scripture and doctrine”: first, “Doctrines for which There is Abundant but Incipient Basis in Scripture”; second, “Doctrines for which There is Slender Basis in Scripture”; and third, “Doctrines about which the Scriptures are Virtually Silent” (in which he places the Marian dogmas, included the Assumption!). But by “virtually silent”, he does not mean nonexistent.


A recent treatment on the AM can be found here:

http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/AssumptionMaryJuniperCarolMariology.htm


And another here:

http://www.catholicconvert.com/Portals/0/AssumptionAndQueen2.pdf



Grace and peace,

David

TOmNossor said...

Crimson Catholic and David,
I thought I would offer a couple of things here. It looks like such things will be buried, but that is fine.
First, I am excited to hear that you, Crimson Catholic, are reading Ostler. I would be very interested in your thoughts on his philosophy. I commented to you that I find commonality between the two of you in some ways (and that I was quite sure my reproduction of his thought to you was lacking). I hope you are reading or considering these two books:
http://www.koffordbooks.com/mormon_thought.shtml
http://www.koffordbooks.com/mormon_thought2.shtml

Second, I wanted to bring up a counter point to your discussion of Protestant Christology and its ability to turn people to Mormonism.
You have in the past recommended to me Garvilyuk’s book (which I read). You also seemed to think well of Weinandy. Garvilyuk and Weinandy are very traditional in their understanding God. They have thoroughly assessed the statements from early councils and the underlying ideas from which these statements were born. But, such things are not uniquely Catholic nor ubiquitous within Catholic circles. The “errors” you decry are present within Catholicism and certainly absent in some Protestant circles. (You should see a small similarity between what I just said and Garvilyuk’s defense against the “Hellenizing of Christianity” charge).
Also, quite interesting, is the ability of the CoJCoLDS and LDS apologetics to illustrate the errors within Evangelical Christianity such that evangelicals who really listen often move (and generally towards Catholicism). The clearest example would be Paul Owen who specifically cited his engagement of LDS apologetics as part of the reason he could no longer be an Evangelical Christian. Francis Beckwith was also among the few evangelical critics of the CoJCoLDS who actually engaged LDS scholars. Unlike Owen, he has not mentioned his interaction with Mormonism in his conversion to Catholicism, but he is now Catholic (I was totally unable to listen to CA today or call in. Mostly due to computer issues, and partially to work. Arghhhhhhh!)
I am also reminded of an 1860 document written originally in Italian by Cardinal Reisach, entitled “Il Mormonismo nelle sue attinenze col moderno Protestantesimo” [”Mormonism in Connection with Modern Protestantism”], which first appeared in La Civilta Cattolica. It was published in BYU studies recently. Reisach views Mormonism as quite a ridiculous theology, but in many ways that logical result of American Protestantism’s unmooring from Catholicism.

Anyway, it is my opinion that Mormonism is a far more reasoned and formidable challenge to Catholicism than Protestantism. Ostler’s engagement of theological ideas included reading Aquinas in Latin (and surely may other things), so I do not think it correct to suggest he has neglected Catholic thought or erred due to the already flawed philosophical positions prevalent in Protestant thought. In any case, I hope to learn more from David, Crimson Catholic, and Ostler.

Charity, TOm

David Waltz said...

Hi Jonathan,

Want to apologize for not commenting on your post earlier, but now that Tom has entered into the discussion, I would like to take care of that neglect and delve a bit deeper into some your very interesting comments. You wrote:

>>I'm working through Blake Ostler right now, and if I was inclined to that opinion before, I'm certain of it after Ostler. His arguments could be pulled practically verbatim from the confused notions of person, nature, and divinity that I see in a host of Reformed arguments.>>

Me: I would greatly appreciate it if you would identify the exact problems you believe to exist in the Reformed (and Ostler’s) assessment of “person, nature, and divinity”, contrasting the problems with both the Catholic and EO conceptions.

I would like to here your comments on the above before proceeding any further.


Grace and peace,

David

CrimsonCatholic said...

Tom:
Glad to hear from you again! Those are indeed the ones I was reading, and I'm glad that you recommended them to me. The only major problem I have with Ostler is that he comes from an analytic philosophy perspective, and as a Thomist, I have trouble with a great deal of his possible worlds analysis. I have similar difficulties with a number of writers, even Catholics, who come from the analytical tradition. I agree that Ostler seems far more philosophically aware of the Catholic tradition (although, as I said, with an analytic gloss that I consider inaccurate), and it does seem that in terms of actually engaging theological commitments, Mormons do better against both Catholics and Evangelicals than most Evangelicals whose work I have read. I find Ostler far more responsive than Bahnsen, for example, even though they were contemporaries.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would identify the exact problems you believe to exist in the Reformed (and Ostler’s) assessment of “person, nature, and divinity”, contrasting the problems with both the Catholic and EO conceptions.

I was going to go into this in great detail with point cites in the book, but I think that it is essentially the inability to acknowledge the inherent philosophical limitations in not merely "God-talk" but "God-concepts" that I find troubling. Essentially, there's a gratuitous rejection of traditional formulations of divine omnipotence (essentially, ontological independence from created reality) to more anthropomorphic notions like "possible worlds." I found Ostler often begged the question by basically saying "How could God know something unless He was in some sense dependent on it?" Given that the Thomist considers the very idea of God's knowledge analogical, not subject to conceptual analysis, such conclusions are unwarranted. We know God only from what we know about things, and we can't extrapolate beyond that.

But if you look at Reformed theology, then to me, it appears equally anthropomorphic. The notion of covenant is anthropomorphic, reading "promises" into God's head, as it were (contrast this with Scott Hahn's far more concrete concept, which is grounded in real things, the actual reality given to us). Calvin's notion of divine accomodation is anthropomorphic, reading concepts into God's head that He communicates just like anyone might speak. The notion of person that I cam critiquing appears to partake of the same difficulties ("person" is understood as separate will and intellect, separate "centers of consciousness," that are united only in their common operation). All of these break the metaphysical barriers that St. Thomas wisely erected (following Pseudo-Dionysius in some respects) against translating our statements about things to God. It seems to me that once you breach those barriers, there is nothing to arrest the conclusions that Ostler draws. One might deny the special revelation of the CoJCoLDS, but one has already granted most of the underlying theology.

TOmNossor said...

CrimsonCatholic,
As is often the case, I needed to digest your post a little. I am probably not fully digested yet. I am glad you are enjoying Ostler. I really did. I also enjoyed Garvilyuk and Weinandy.

I have loaned my copy of Blake’s first book, but I recall quite clearly that Blake specifically claims that the Analytic Philosophy Tradition is not optimal for discussing God when one is a believer. However, he suggests that when discussing God with those who do not believe or who believe differently, the Analytic Philosophy Tradition seems to have the best tools. I am far from well versed enough to comment on the merits of this position intelligibly (which may not stop me ultimately, but I will refrain for now).
Ostler’s fourth book (originally his third, but his second became two books) will depart from the Analytic Philosophy Tradition, but I am not sure if you will like where he goes. While I am not sure he will speak of God responding to us, I am quite convinced he will speak of profound interaction of God with man. I suspect he will continue his anthropomorphizing too and discussion God in relationship with individuals (being responsive).

I remember before being corrected by you, my view of “aseity” was too anthropomorphic. Since all relations with God include a human, since all descriptions of relations (and of God) include the human describer, since all interpretations of said relations and descriptions include a human; it would seem that anthropomorphizing would be quite natural even if it was wholly inappropriate. What tools could be used to determine if the God described in the Bible is anthropomorphic in ways XYZ or the XYZ is simply the product of the human in the equation and God is not like that at all? I think Blake would answer that such comes when one enters into relationship with God and just knows. I would, in my wildly speculative way, suggest that Aquinas discovered just how “responsive” God is when he encountered God late in his life. Aquinas then claimed all he had previously written was as straw, but never clarified what he meant by that or what he learned through his experience with God.
I believe God does enter into Covenants with men. I believe that God is responsive and relational. I am unconvinced that I should believe otherwise. Why should I? How would I know?

Charity, TOm

simmmo said...

Just a comment and a question on your position concerning Mormonism.

When I was a fervent protestant, I used to eat up all those anti-Mormon diatribes from fundies. I am now looking very hard at Orthodoxy. I have found my position regarding Mormons to be more placid and circumspect. However, I still that Mormonism is very very inadequate. This is essentially because they are children of the Reformation at heart. They could not have come into being in a world in which the Reformation did not take place. Study of Church history and traditional doctrines clearly show why.

What are your thoughts on Mormonism? Some of their scholars may have interesting things to say. Most of them are smarter than evangelical pseudo intellectuals like Sproul and James White. But still, if you take a step back, the tenets of the religion are still massively erroneous. What the LDS defenders are good at doing is showing the flaws within Protestant reasoning. What isn't clear at all is what they have to say against Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox or even against Anglo Catholics. I don't think they have anything convincing to say against the traditional Communions. In fact, once we look at Mormonism from the lens of traditional Christianity, we can quickly and easily dismiss it. It just isn't and cannot be the Church. That's the top and the bottom of it. What are your thoughts?

David Waltz said...

Hi simmo,

Was out of town until last night, so forgive my somewhat tardy response. On the 21st, you wrote:

==When I was a fervent protestant, I used to eat up all those anti-Mormon diatribes from fundies. I am now looking very hard at Orthodoxy. I have found my position regarding Mormons to be more placid and circumspect. However, I still that Mormonism is very very inadequate. This is essentially because they are children of the Reformation at heart. They could not have come into being in a world in which the Reformation did not take place. Study of Church history and traditional doctrines clearly show why.==

Me: Agreed, and Mormon authorities/scholars are quite aware of this too, claiming that the Reformation itself was part of God's plan for the future restoration of the Church by Joseph Smith Jr.

==What are your thoughts on Mormonism? Some of their scholars may have interesting things to say.==

Me: Indeed. Hugh Nibley and B.H. Roberts are must reads for anyone studying Mormonism (IMHO).

==Most of them are smarter than evangelical pseudo intellectuals like Sproul and James White.==

Me: Agreed !!!

==But still, if you take a step back, the tenets of the religion are still massively erroneous. What the LDS defenders are good at doing is showing the flaws within Protestant reasoning. What isn't clear at all is what they have to say against Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox or even against Anglo Catholics. I don't think they have anything convincing to say against the traditional Communions.==

Me: I have had numerous discussions with Mormons (including some of their scholars) concerning the issue of "total" apostasy. The onus is on them to PROVE that a "total" apostasy did in fact occur. They must also PROVE that the office of apostleship (not apostolic succession) is a permanent office, and not merely foundational. Though they have offered some solid arguments, in the end, I have found them all to be deficient.

==In fact, once we look at Mormonism from the lens of traditional Christianity, we can quickly and easily dismiss it. It just isn't and cannot be the Church. That's the top and the bottom of it. What are your thoughts?==

Me: Before I continue any further reflections, I would greatly appreciate how you would, "quickly and easily dismiss it."


Grace and peace,

David

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

Thanks for your response David.

I guess what I meant with the "quickly dismiss" comment is that, actually, the history and Tradition of the Church is far richer than anything that is offered in uniquely American religions like Mormonism. You can point to things like the narrative of the BoM appears to be made up, that the true doctrine of theosis was never lost etc etc. Of course we can argue ad nauseam with Mormons about these things. But what's the point? I think being part of a Traditional Communion is knowing that you belong to the Christian faith as it was intended (for the most part at least). We can argue with sects till the cows come home but, as you say, the onus is on them to prove that the Church is not what it claims to be - i.e. the Body of Christ, the continuation of the Incarnation on earth. These weighty and insightful positions are far richer than explanations of the "true church" status offered by religions such as Mormonism. Not to the spirituality of Traditional Communions is also much deeper than one can experience in Mormonism or similar low Church Protestant services. Compare the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom with your average Bible Belt / Mormon worship service and it's easy to see. Furthermore, theology and spirituality are not overly intellectualized as I find with most children of the Radical Reformation, including Restoration movements like Mormonism. Once you glimpse this, Mormonism and other similar style religions pale into comparison.

simmmo said...

Having said that, I don't feel any need to bash Mormons with my positions. I'm sure the smarter and well read Mormons have good answers for whatever I can say against them. That's fine. It doesn't make me feel any less secure about my faith.

I think much of the American Protestant reaction against Mormonism is partly fear and partly prejudice. For people like James White, I'm convinced it's good little money earner for him (I'm sure he's sincere, but, seriously, making a career out of this kind of thing is very very disturbing!!!). Coming from the viewpoint of Orthodoxy, I just don't see the bother. They just simply aren't the Church and that's the top and the bottom of it. If Mormons find peace and a sense of belonging in their religion, then good luck to them. Why the need to argue and argue?? It doesn't do any good. I do see the need to put forth intelligent arguments against Mormons (emphasis on INTELLIGENT... This rules most evangelical critiques out!!!). But no need to engage in the kind of nonsense that guys like James White go on with.

simmmo said...

David,

Just reading through the comment section of this blog post. Do you not think that Anselm of Canterbury introduced a doctrinal innovation with his offended honour theory of the atonement. I can't square Anselm on the Incarnation with St Athanasius' work on the Incarnation. There is no hint of the infinitely offended honour of God in Athanasius. Rather, "God became man, so than man can become God" (note the similarity, but radical difference from the Mormon couplet).

I guess I'm more attracted to Orthodoxy because these abstract theories of atonement, soteriology are not really the way they do theology. Look at the 4 point reasoning you took from Sproul above. This is turning the Gospel into an abstraction - I believe the Protestants got this from medieval scholastics in the West (who in turn got it from Islamic philosophers like Averroes). The Gospel is not an abstraction. It is nothing more than the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Salvation and Truth for Christians reside in the person of Christ. Not in an abstract theory of atonement or justification. Anyways that's just my 2 cents...

David Waltz said...

Hello again simmmo,

Last night, you posted:

==Just reading through the comment section of this blog post. Do you not think that Anselm of Canterbury introduced a doctrinal innovation with his offended honour theory of the atonement. I can't square Anselm on the Incarnation with St Athanasius' work on the Incarnation. There is no hint of the infinitely offended honour of God in Athanasius. Rather, "God became man, so than man can become God" (note the similarity, but radical difference from the Mormon couplet).==

Me: Anselm's theory of the atonement was certainly a theological novem; Calvin and Luther introduced even more innovation/novelty by adding penal substitution to Anselm's theory.

==I guess I'm more attracted to Orthodoxy because these abstract theories of atonement, soteriology are not really the way they do theology. Look at the 4 point reasoning you took from Sproul above. This is turning the Gospel into an abstraction - I believe the Protestants got this from medieval scholastics in the West (who in turn got it from Islamic philosophers like Averroes).==

Me: I think you may be on to something here. One thing to keep in mind though is that a number of the Scriptural commentaries written by scholastic theologians contained much less abstraction than their philosophical/theological works—sometimes to the point that one could sense some contradictions between the two.

==The Gospel is not an abstraction. It is nothing more than the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Salvation and Truth for Christians reside in the person of Christ. Not in an abstract theory of atonement or justification.==

Me: I think the importance of the life of Jesus Christ is vastly undervalued in Protestant paradigms. His life needs to emphasized as the preeminent archetype for all his disciples to follow.

Thanks much for sharing your thoughts with me; I found them to be interesting and insightful. Hope to see more contributions from your pen here at AF in the future...


Grace and peace,

David

simmmo said...

David,

You are right when you say that Protestants need to look at Christ's life as well as his death. His whole life is part of God's salvific work. That's why the Gospel accounts are called just that. And also why St Paul's letters are not called Gospel!! Take note Protestants!!!