Thursday, June 12, 2008

Calvin on the visible Church—or, Don’t Do As I Do, Do As I Say!

I have often wondered why it is so many Reformed apologists resort to the use of double standards in their polemical writings. I think I may have gained some insight into this phenomenon during today’s studies—I suspect that it stems from the polemics of the earliest Reformers attempts to justify their break from the Catholic Church, while at the same time attacking the Anabaptists (and other dissenters) as schismatics.

John Calvin had the following to say concerning the visible Church [bold emphasis mine]:

But because it is now our intention to discuss the visible church, let us learn even from the simple title “mother” how useful, indeed how necessary, it is that we should know her. For there is no other way to enter into life unless this mother conceive us in her womb, give us birth, nourish us at her breast, and lastly, unless she keep us under her care and guidance until, putting off mortal flesh, we become like the angels [Matthew 22:30]. Our weakness does not allow us to be dismissed from her school until we have been pupils all our lives. Furthermore, away from her bosom one cannot hope for any forgiveness of sins or any salvation, as Isaiah [Isaiah 37:32] and Joel [ Joel 2:32] testify. Ezekiel agrees with them when he declares that those whom God rejects from heavenly life will not be enrolled among God’s people [Ezekiel 13:9]. On the other hand, those who turn to the cultivation of true godliness are said to inscribe their names among the citizens of Jerusalem [cf. Isaiah 56:5; Psalm 87:6]. For this reason, it is said in another psalm: “Remember me, O Jehovah, with favor toward thy people; visit me with salvation: that I may see the well-doing of thy chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the joy of thy nation, that I may be glad with thine inheritance” [Psalm 106:4-5 p.; cf. Psalm 105:4,Vg., etc.]. By these words God’s fatherly favor and the especial witness of spiritual life are limited to his flock, so that it is always disastrous to leave the church. (Institutes, 4.1.4 – The Westminster Press edition: edited by McNeil, trans. by Battles, p. 1016.)

Christ himself, the apostles, and almost all the prophets have furnished us examples of this. Fearful are those descriptions with which Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Habakkuk, and others bewail the afflictions of the Jerusalem church. In people, in magistracy, and in priesthood all things had been so far corrupted that Isaiah does not hesitate to liken Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah [Isaiah 1:10]. Religion was in part despised, in part besmirched. In morals one frequently notes theft, robbery, treachery, slaughter, and like evil deeds. Still the prophets did not because of this establish new churches for themselves, or erect new altars on which to perform separate sacrifices. But whatever men were like, because the prophets considered that the Lord had set his word among them and had instituted rites wherewith he was worshiped there, they stretched out clean hands to him in the midst of the assembly of the wicked. Surely, if they had thought they would become contaminated from these rites, they would have died a hundred times rather than allow themselves to be dragged thither. Nothing, consequently, kept them from creating a schism save their zeal to maintain unity. But if the holy prophets had scruples against separating themselves from the church because of many great misdeeds, not of one man or another but of almost all the people, we claim too much for ourselves if we dare withdraw at once from the communion of the church just because the morals of all do not meet our standard or even square with the profession of Christian faith.

Now what was the world like in the time of Christ and the apostles? Even then the desperate impiety of the Pharisees and the dissolute life which commonly prevailed could not prevent them from practicing the same rites along with the people, and from assembling in one temple with the rest for public exercises of religion. How did this happen, except that those who participated in these same rites with a clean conscience knew that they were not at all contaminated by association with the wicked?

If anyone is not convinced by prophets and apostles, let him at least yield to Christ’s authority. Cyprian, then, has put it well: “Even though there seem to be tares or unclean vessels in the church, there is no reason why we ourselves should withdraw from the church; rather, we must toil to become wheat; we must strive as much as we can to be vessels of gold and silver. But the breaking of earthen vessels belongs solely to the Lord, to whom has also been entrusted an iron rod [Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27]. And let no one so claim for himself what is the Son’s alone, that it is enough to winnow the chaff and thresh the straw [cf. Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17] and by human judgment to separate out all the tares [cf. Matthew 13:38-41]. Proud, indeed, is this stubbornness and impious presumption, which wicked madness takes upon itself,” etc. [Ibid. 4.18.19a, pp. 1032, 1033.]

Amazing, simply amazing. And yes, I have read Calvin’s defense of his schism; his reply to Cardinal Sadolet’s letter, and his “The Necessity of Reforming the Church.” They are certainly eloquent attempts, but ultimately do not irradiate what is clearly the use of a double standard on his part. It seems the apple has not fallen far from the tree…



Grace and peace,

David

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Years ago I used to participate on what was then called internet relay chat, or irc. I had that quote about Mother Church from the Institutes loaded and ready to go always. So...when will Calvin's children identify this visible Holy Mother Church so that we may consider Her claims? I believe Calvin is right but am Catholic by default because I don't think there is a 21st Century Protestant willing to identify the visible church with the visible officers who "have the rule over me" to whom I must "submit myself" since "they watch for my soul". (Heb. 10:7, 17)

Of course Calvin was deluded into believing that the visible "holy mother church" to which he was attached in Switzerland would last as an identifiable unity. He couldn't have foreseen the fiasco that would ensue. I don't despise any of Calvin's doctrine like a lot of Catholics claim to do. His ecclesiology is mine.

Where does the one who admires Calvin's doctrine on the visible church go? In my pilgrimage to Rome, I tried first the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyerian Church and Christian Reformed churches in my search for Calvin's Holy Mother Church. I have been to Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod Lutheran churches in my search for Calvin's Holy Mother Church. The Wisconsin Synod came the closest to seeming like Holy Mother Church...no holy communion except to visible members.

But no one today ever ever talks and believes like John Calvin did about the visible church, unless they are Catholic or Orthodox. Because I believe John Calvin's ecclesiology, I am not Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, or Anabaptist. Calvin's ecclesiology (and Hebrews 10) must be rejected by anyone who is unwilling to point to any visible holy mother church. Since I believe Calvin was right, as opposed to the so-called Calvinists, I am a Roman Catholic.

Rory

Anonymous said...

Yeah Dave,

I took a nap so I could stay up late. But it quickly seemed like I might enjoy making a post more than the game. I still say Celtics in 7. Celtics win all the home games. What a bunch of no fun garbage. I hate sports.

Hey, on a bright note, I saw blue sky today for the first time in maybe a month. I mowed the grass which was about a foot high. Freezing level is above pass level! Maybe we can stop chaining up sometime before July just to get to Bend. You have family in Redmond right? So stinking cold over there this week.

Rory

David Waltz said...

Hi Roars,

You posted:


>>So...when will Calvin's children identify this visible Holy Mother Church so that we may consider Her claims? I believe Calvin is right but am Catholic by default because I don't think there is a 21st Century Protestant willing to identify the visible church with the visible officers who "have the rule over me" to whom I must "submit myself" since "they watch for my soul". (Heb. 10:7, 17)>>

Me: I fear any Protestant group which that attempt to make such a claim would immediately be labeled a “cult”.

>>Of course Calvin was deluded into believing that the visible "holy mother church" to which he was attached in Switzerland would last as an identifiable unity. He couldn't have foreseen the fiasco that would ensue. I don't despise any of Calvin's doctrine like a lot of Catholics claim to do. His ecclesiology is mine.>>

Me: Amen.

>>But no one today ever ever talks and believes like John Calvin did about the visible church, unless they are Catholic or Orthodox. Because I believe John Calvin's ecclesiology, I am not Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, or Anabaptist. Calvin's ecclesiology (and Hebrews 10) must be rejected by anyone who is unwilling to point to any visible holy mother church. Since I believe Calvin was right, as opposed to the so-called Calvinists, I am a Roman Catholic.>>

Me: Actually there is a small movement within the Reformed camp called “Reformed Catholicism” that takes Calvin’s view of the visible Church much more seriously than most Prots; note the following:


--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.)--



>>I took a nap so I could stay up late. But it quickly seemed like I might enjoy making a post more than the game. I still say Celtics in 7. Celtics win all the home games. What a bunch of no fun garbage. I hate sports.>>

Me: Celtics in 4 or 5 [grin].

>>Hey, on a bright note, I saw blue sky today for the first time in maybe a month. I mowed the grass which was about a foot high. Freezing level is above pass level! Maybe we can stop chaining up sometime before July just to get to Bend. You have family in Redmond right? So stinking cold over there this week.>>

Me: Terrible “spring” this year; very cold; snow in April; massive hail storm in June; very few days past the 50’s—global warming???


Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,

Who was that guy who said he hates sports?

I was listening to the radio while I was posting and I was determined not to get suckered into watching. I hate investing a couple of hours in something that leaves me angry. Finally, I couldn't take it. I went upstairs in time to see Eddie House give them the lead and watched highlights and interviews for the next hour and a half. I enjoyed it just like I was a diehard. It was great! Then I got up at 2 AM, (listened to sports talk in the truck. I never listen after losses.) got home at 3:30 PM, and was compelled to acknowledge my fair weather fandom before I go close brown eyes again.

That is interesting, and I would say, encouraging, about the Reformed Catholics. It points to a grave need in Evangelical Christianity. Do they see themselves as the legitimate heirs of the Roman church gone bad? Do they have a continuity theory, (reformed). Or do they start at a certain point around the time of Calvin or later (better termed restoration)? If I had heard of them in the early 90's, I am sure I could have been very susceptible.

G'nite,

Rory

Anonymous said...

John Calvin is powerfully eloquent with convicting brevity. Except for Cyprian's, to whom I have not appealed for obvious reasons, these are arguments I have never seen answered when speaking with Mormons who like Darby, appeal to popes with mistresses, or some other awful deed performed by a bad Catholic over the last two thousand years for proof of an apostasy. I don't think I need to write another word on the subject again. I can just quote Calvin. It is ALL there to anyone familiar with the Old Testament. Do apostasy people think there is no lesson in that for us?

He is so concise, appealing to the prophets, apostles, Scripture, and Christ with the reminder that reminder about the wheat and tares growing side by side all along. I would repeat again what I emphasized in another thread. Our Lord didn't tell the sheep to discern whose rhetoric sounds best. Jesus said we would know the true teachers and prophets by their fruit.

The almost universal blunder of Apostasy theorists, whether Mormons to justify a restoration, or Darby and the Protestants to justify a reformation, is that they only examine fruit produced by those who are obviously non practicing Catholics, tares. They look at a handful of the worst tares out of 2,000 years and 264 popes, in a church that plainly has the ability to reform itself from within. One can see the hand of God, if one wishes, in observing how St. Gregory freed the Church from the state almost a thousand years ago. Since the times of Luther, what pope do they accuse of abusing indulgences or having a mistress?

Contrary to all reason, biblical precedent, and our Lord's plain statement that there would be a mixture of wheat and tares, for all practical purposes, they only consider the fruit of the tares! That is why they mock when we talk about the second note of the Church, its holiness. They don't seem to know or appreciate what goodness and virtue follows when souls surrender to Catholic faith and morals. I suppose that taking a similar approach, we can know the fruit of Baptists by the life of a U.S. president.

Rory

Anonymous said...

Tom,

I know you're watching. I should more carefully qualify something I said above. I said: "The almost universal blunder of Apostasy theorists..." There are LDS like yourself, whose theories do not depend on moral failings. However, even among these who don't mention the moral failings, there seems to me to be an underlying certainty that there is NO WAY that the Catholic Church could be simultaneously true and have problems like we did in the papacy of the tenth century.

Allow me to say, to the chagrin of any Protestant observers, that I think Mormons take the Protestant view of the apostasy to its logical conclusion. If the Church has become SO corrupt that it finally breaches limits of moral depravity or ritual corruption beyond those under which the Old Testament church retained unity and authority, more is needed than a Martin Luther or Ulrich Zwingli. I am not sure I think Joseph Smith would qualify, but at least he claims God personally told him to start a new church!

Without any claim of vision or impression from God, neither Luther, Calvin, nor Zwingli restarted the one true visible church on earth. I don't know what you call it, but they all three disagreed so much that they couldn't go to church together, and worse than that, their children and their children continue to not go to church together. It is a hopeless pattern of conservatives splitting off and starting something, with liberals coming along and taking over.

When I was at Hyles-Anderson College, Brother Hyles was very forthright in explaining why he used cheap materials in the buildings for the college and the church. He said it was so that when the liberals take over, at least the buildings will be falling apart. That is the Protestant "one true church" against which the gates of hell will not prevail.

Speaking of that passage, Mormons do a great job of teaching that even though hell seemed to win, with the apostasy, as with Christ in the Resurrection, so Joseph Smith as it were, brings the Church back from death. I never use that passage with Mormons to prove the perpetuity of the Church.

It was a Baptist I am sure, Bill Pennell, who pastored a big church in Georgia somewhere, who came to chapel and spoke mightily about that passage in the way in which I still understand it, more so than ever as a Catholic who believes in building cathedrals to last a thousand years since the liberals will never win. Anyway, he pointed out that the "gates of hell" are not an advancing, but a retreating defeated army. Hell is under siege. The Church is not on the verge of losing! Victory is ours if we will take it! The devil is cast down, his demons tremble, and the soldiers of Christ can "march into hell with a heavenly cause." Mt. 16:18-20 doesn't mean that the Church will barely survive. It means that the saints will breach the walls and storm the city of evil until it it is only a memeory and "God's will is done on earth, as it is in heaven".

This is not the kind of work for defeatists who are building cheap so the liberals won't have anything when they take over. Neither is it the kind of work for here today, gone tomorrow community churches and denominations. It is not for these that the devils quake. The one true visible Church will be the instrument of their ultimate destruction, and may it be soon.

Hey Chris...I bet you're watching too. Heh. Still a fundamentalist as you see. Sure, it led me to Rome.

Catholics have a much less emotional, diginifed preaching style. I think it is much more becoming, much less desperate. I used to pound my fist and shake it too. Kind of like that uncomplimentary picture of Lenin. I was a little too fierce. Even had I stayed Protestant and continued preaching, I think I would have mellowed a lot by now. After seeing D. James Kennedy on TV, I was became self-conscious about being too bombastic. I really admire speakers who can be dramatic by softening and changing pace rather than raising the volume.

Regards to all,

Roars

Chris said...

>>I don't know what you call it, but they all three disagreed so much that they couldn't go to church together, and worse than that, their children and their children continue to not go to church together.

This maybe overstates the case somewhat. Luther unfortunately was not an ecumenically-minded fellow, and absolutely refused to compromise with the other Reformation groups. In a word, he was an ass. This is especially true of his later years, when he was increasingly afflicted with a number of degenerative physical ailments. I'm sure you know the story of his dispute with Zwingli over the Eucharist (which was by far the most divisive issue with which the Reformers had to grapple). Bucer and Calvin entered the dispute as mediating figures who were interested in unifying the Reformers. Once Luther and Zwingli were out of the picture, Bucer and Calvin found an audience in Luther and Zwingli's much more irenic successors, Melanchthon and Bullinger. At this point I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that the hostility between the disparate streams of the Reformation dissolved, though the Lutheran and Reformed streams (the latter of which encompassed both Calvin's and Zwingli's followers) continued to be theologically and institutionally separate due to geographical and political factors. (It should be noted that the Catholic Church itself contained considerable institutional and theological variety until it standardized in the aftermath of the Reformation. It had fiery, hellfire and damnation preachers, too.)

Anonymous said...

So Dave,

I guess you see how to get evangelical activity, and not get activity on your blog. Darby great. Calvin irrelevant.

Rory

Ken Temple said...

Rory made a pretty good point there.

As for Calvin, in 4:19, he continues: (from the version on the web -

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.vi.ii.html

"Let both points, therefore, be regarded as fixed; first, that there is no excuse for him who spontaneously abandons the external communion of a church in which the word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered; secondly, that notwithstanding of the faults of a few or of many, there is nothing to prevent us from there duly professing our faith in the ordinances instituted by God, because a pious conscience is not injured by the unworthiness of another, whether he be a pastor or a private individual; and sacred rites are not less pure and salutary to a man who is holy and upright, from being at the same time handled by the impure."

So, it seems it is not a double standard based on the reasons for leaving the Roman Catholic Church vs. the reasons for leaving a Biblical local, visible church. He is saying they should not leave the visible church based on the lax morals or sins of the leaders; but the implication is that they should leave based on the church teaching false teaching and corrupting the gospel and false teaching and practice regarding the sacraments.

Ken Temple said...

I bring this up from your post on William Cunningham's theory of development.

Though not quite as bleak as Darby’s position, (I suspect Cunningham wishes to stave off his “grand apostasy” until after the Council of Chalcedon to protect the development of the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology),

Yes, it seems the early church was concentrated on those issues (Deity of Christ and Trinity) against Gnosticism, Arianism, Modalism, Monarchianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism so much that it did not even talk much about the doctrine of justification by faith in Galatians and Romans. Penace, public confession evolved into private confession to a priest, the priesthood, the mono-episcopacy, then later indulgences and the treasury of merit, Mary and the saints and relics over-shadowed the purity of the gospel teaching in Galatians, Romans, and Ephesians, etc. until the Reformation, for the most part. But some like Huss and Wycliff and others, had their senses trained enough in the word of God to sense that something was wrong.

Cunningham’s theory still presents quite a dark picture for the Church that our Lord instituted. Viewed from a Calvinistic position, one would have to say that God “regenerated” very few individuals for well over 1,000 years;

This is not what the position says; a theory of the visible external church and development of doctrine is a different issue than those who are truly regenerated. There can still be simple souls in bad churches who are truly saved and regenerated and cling to Christ by faith alone. ". . . cleansing their hearts by faith" Acts 15:9


and the Holy Spirit’s promise to lead the Church into all truth had to wait until the 16th for its fruition.

No, not exactly, that promise is to the disciples, the apostles right there, (without Judas Ischariot) who will write the rest of the Scripture of the NT. John 16:13, the promise that the Holy Spirit will lead you into all the truth is preceded by John 16:12, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now."

Since the apostles like Matthew, John in his Gospel and letters, Peter through Mark, and Peter in his letters, and Paul's letters (yes, and Hebrews (Barnabas ?) and Jude and James); and Luke because he was a traveling companion of Paul; all of these supply us with all the rest of the things that Jesus had to say to them, then the promise was fulfilled in the disciples in the NT Scriptures.

Ken Temple said...

I guess you see how to get evangelical activity, and not get activity on your blog. Darby great. Calvin irrelevant.

Rory

Rory made a pretty good point here; except that; as I recall, I was the main and probably only Evangelical that commented on the Darby issue, because David has admitted that Darby's book gave him "misgivings" about his conversion to Rome. That was what really interested me in this. He seemed to back off of that later and I have never really understood what you, David, meant.

Then it got really complicated with all the liberal views of Chris and the Mormon issues with Tomnossor.

Without being so complicated, David, can you tell us what gave you "misgivings" ? (maybe I missed it in all this massive among of writings.)

The others were a Mormon (Tomnossor), and a liberal "Christian" (Chris) and I think the rest were Orthodox or Roman Catholic.

Since I do not have Calvin's Institutes, and I don't have much time anymore to do this kind of thing; ( It takes massive amount of time and thinking); I had to find time to slow down and go back and read Calvin on line.

Once I understood his full point in context, I felt only then could I make the comments above.

Anonymous said...

David,

First I would like to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I apologize in advance for anything I might state as my position that is not that well thought out!! :)

Ken

I really have a hard time following you...

You wrote:
"So, it seems it is not a double standard based on the reasons for leaving the Roman Catholic Church vs. the reasons for leaving a Biblical local, visible church. He is saying they should not leave the visible church based on the lax morals or sins of the leaders; but the implication is that they should leave based on the church teaching false teaching and corrupting the gospel and false teaching and practice regarding the sacraments."

I didn't see this in what you quoted Calvin saying at all... ISTM he was saying that one should leave a parish where the Word of God is being preached and the sacraments are being administered. So far as I know the Catholic Church still does these things. If by Word of God being preached you mean expository sermons that parse Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek that show the exegetical superiority of a Reformed minister and the Biblical superiority of Reformed doctrine... well... I guess I disagree. :)

I tend to be of the mind that where the Word of God is being spoken it will not come back void (I always liked Isaiah). ;)

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I wanted to continue to address some of your latest comments...

You wrote:
"Yes, it seems the early church was concentrated on those issues (Deity of Christ and Trinity) against Gnosticism, Arianism, Modalism, Monarchianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism so much that it did not even talk much about the doctrine of justification by faith in Galatians and Romans..."

Yes, perhaps... or just maybe they didn't understand justification the way you do? Of course I have heard Reformed apologists claim (a couple of different times) that the Fathers were very poor exegetes.

You wrote:
"Penace, public confession evolved into private confession to a priest, the priesthood, the mono-episcopacy, then later indulgences and the treasury of merit, Mary and the saints and relics over-shadowed the purity of the gospel teaching in Galatians, Romans, and Ephesians, etc. until the Reformation, for the most part. But some like Huss and Wycliff and others, had their senses trained enough in the word of God to sense that something was wrong."

Sigh...

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I would like to say more... ;)

You wrote:
"Since the apostles like Matthew, John in his Gospel and letters, Peter through Mark, and Peter in his letters, and Paul's letters (yes, and Hebrews (Barnabas ?) and Jude and James); and Luke because he was a traveling companion of Paul; all of these supply us with all the rest of the things that Jesus had to say to them, then the promise was fulfilled in the disciples in the NT Scriptures."

You argument assumes Sola Scriptura... it doesn't prove it.

You and I have been through this before...

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

While we are on the subject of before...

Can you answer me a couple of simple questions?

Yes or no...

Would I be wrong to deny that the *concept* that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for doctrine in the Christian Church is *asserted* in the Bible? If I am wrong... could you show me exegetical proof of said wrongness?

I appreciate your help in advance... It's a question that I have been asking for years... perhaps now you can clarify some things for me... :)

Blessings,
BC

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks much for taking time off of your busy schedule to post your relections on this thread.

The following that you wrote, relates directly to me:

>>Without being so complicated, David, can you tell us what gave you "misgivings" ? (maybe I missed it in all this massive among of writings.)>>

Me: I shall try…it was not Darby’s theory of the apostasy that got me to reconsider Newman’s theory of development, but rather, it was his concise summary of the proceedings and outcomes of the councils. I had reconciled the ‘standard’ difficulties that historians and polemicists usually raise (e.g. Liberius, Honorius, iconoclastic controversy), but Darby presented some evidence that indicates subsequent councils reversed previous councils seemingly clear dogmatic decisions. Shortly after reading Darby’s book, while researching some of the information that Darby presented, I came across some snippets from Ramsay MacMullen’s Voting About God, which I immediately ordered and read. To make a long story short, I have had to seriously rethink how the councils fit into the larger picture of development and infallibility. Unlike so many other individuals, I have never been comfortable with taking substantial difficulties that I come across and twisting them to fit a previously embraced paradigm/worldview. I am still carefully, prayerfully, and studiously reflecting on the difficulties that have been brought into the equation, while at the same time examining competing worldviews.

Sincerely hope this addresses your question.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi BC,

Thank you so much for your oh so kind comments. In response to one of Ken’s posts, you wrote:

>>Yes, perhaps... or just maybe they didn't understand justification the way you do? Of course I have heard Reformed apologists claim (a couple of different times) that the Fathers were very poor exegetes.>>

Me: Precisely. I just recently read a book by Thomas P. Scheck, Origen and the History of Justification – The Legacy of Origen’s Commentary on Romans, which shatters many of the myths about the perceived neglect of the Pauline epistles in the early Church. And further, scholars of what has been termed the “New Perspective on Paul” movement raise some substantial issues concerning a few of the Reformers presuppositions. Then there is Chris VanLandingham’s, Judgment & Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul, which takes to task many of the cherished exegetical ‘ivory-towers’ of Evangelical soteriology. (For another important example see this THREAD.)

One of the major driving forces behind these last few threads at AF has been the sincere hope that as one examines the difficulties of another person’s paradigm, he/she takes an equally objective look at the difficulties which are present in their own worldview.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

So far as I know the Catholic Church still does these things.

It was Luther and Calvin and Reformed folks today that contend that the Roman Catholic Church does not do these things properly at all. Luther said something like, "Erasmus attacks the life, we are attacking the doctrine of the RCC."

The false doctrines gut the preaching; the statues and prayers to Mary and the saints ruin and corrupt worship; as does the mass, genuflecting before the host, and believing that it literally turns into Christ's body and blood.

see also:
When God's word is ignored and the Mary statue that falls in the procession.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2723

Ken Temple said...

Can you answer me a couple of simple questions?

Yes or no...

Would I be wrong to deny that the *concept* that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for doctrine in the Christian Church is *asserted* in the Bible?

BC,

Yes, you are wrong to deny the concept is there. The concept is there; when a person understands all of the Scriptures together.


If I am wrong... could you show me exegetical proof of said wrongness?

Read the following books:
Scripture Alone by James White
Scripture Alone by R. C. Sproul
Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of our Faith, volume I by David King.
Sola Scriptura: The Protestant belief on the Bible, Edited by Don Kistler
The Roman Catholic Controversy by James White
The Shape of Sola Scriptura, by Keith Mattison

Ken Temple said...

about Honorius

Dave,
Thanks for your answer. How did you reconcile Honorius, when for some 300 + years, the subsequent popes pronounced anathema on Honorius, pope of old Rome, etc. as part of their ordination ceremony to the Papacy ?


but Darby presented some evidence that indicates subsequent councils reversed previous councils seemingly clear dogmatic decisions.

what pages is that info on? which councils?

. . . To make a long story short, I have had to seriously rethink how the councils fit into the larger picture of development and infallibility.

Which counils? I appreciate you acknowledging this. Von Dollinger was the RC historian at the time of Vatican I, and disagreed with the infallibility dogma as totally un-historical.

Ken Temple said...

The Legacy of Origen’s Commentary on Romans, which shatters many of the myths about the perceived neglect of the Pauline epistles in the early Church.

One big problem is that Origen's commentary on Romans is not even in the standard Early Church fathers set; so it is difficult to get to. Another problem is that he was so "goofy" in so many other areas - that the Devil would eventually be saved, universal salvation; castrating himself; that he does not seem credible as an exegete.

But Ambrosiaster's comments on Romans and other NT books, writing "faith alone" several times, shows that there was some proper understanding of the doctrine.


And further, scholars of what has been termed the “New Perspective on Paul” movement raise some substantial issues concerning a few of the Reformers presuppositions.

The new perspective is better termed "new perspectives" and is quite varied and complicated and has lots of different positions and some mixed. John Piper, D. A. Carson, and others have answered them well.

Counted Righteous in Christ, John Piper (answers Robert Gundry)

The Future of Justification (an answer to Tom Wright)

Justification and Variated Nomism, by D. A. Carson and Siefrid (sp?)

Ken Temple said...

Justification and Variegated Nominsm. D. A. Carson, Mark Seifrid and Peter T. O'Brien


http://www.amazon.com/Justification-Variegated-Nomism-Vol-set/dp/0801027926

Ken Temple said...

http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bfj/books_bfj.pdf

The Future of Justification by John Piper ( An response to N. T. Wright) is on line at Desiring God.

Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Thanks for getting back to me...

Would it surprise you to know that I have read many of these books and know quite a bit about the content of the books I haven't yet been able to read?

I am fairly familiar with all of the authors of these works... I have utterly failed to see exegetical proof that I am wrong to deny that the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith is taught in the Holy Writ.

When I ask this question I always seem to get a list of books, but, rarely, any Scripture... that's interesting...

When I actually do get Scripture it's usually quotes of, for instance, II Tim. 3:16,17 - but this verse doesn't seem to teach the concept I deny the Scripture asserts... well... unless someone assumes SS first...

Arguments like "II Tim. 3:16,17 call the Scriptures 'theopneustos' - they call nothing else 'theopneustos', therefore, SS..."

That argument assumes SS in order to prove it so far as I can tell... since it doesn't follow at all - logically...

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I'll see your Piper and raise you Garlington: http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/6378_6860.pdf

Enjoy!

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Garlington also responded to the D. A. Carson, Mark Seifrid and Peter T. O'Brien book...


http://www.thepaulpage.com/Variegated_Nomism.pdf
http://www.thepaulpage.com/Variegated2.pdf

Enjoy again!!

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken Temple:
Rory made a pretty good point here; except that; as I recall, I was the main and probably only Evangelical that commented on the Darby issue, because David has admitted that Darby's book gave him "misgivings" about his conversion to Rome. That was what really interested me in this. He seemed to back off of that later and I have never really understood what you, David, meant.

Rory:
I apologize if you were the only evangelical. Maybe it seemed like there were others because for different reasons, there was a seeming clamor of approval for Darby. I did not think of singling you out at all. I was a little disappointed in the comparative silence after Dave quoted what seemed like a remarkably passage from Calvin's Institutes. But you have remedied that.

I appreciate your present willingness to explore the context of Calvin's position. It does seem probable that he himself would not imagine that in the Catholic Church "the Word was preached and the sacraments administered" (small "s" because I speak for Calvin). If that be the case, the "Mother Church" of which he speaks seems difficult to identify today, and that raises other questions. But I have to agree that he can probably be excused of an apparent double standard.

I don't acknowledge his first principle anyway. He is just guessing. There is no precedent in either Testament for the people to break off from the visible congregation. Jesus told his disciples shortly before His crucifixion to obey the Pharisees, because they sit in Moses' seat (Mt.23:2 and 3). He was then critical of the Pharisees, but he acknowledged their authority because it had continuity back to Moses. Who would have been a faithful child of Moses, a Jew, at the time of Christ if Calvin's theory had been applied throughout the Old Testament?

It is difficult to think that in the New and more perfect covenant, God's people are now told to forget about any kind of apostolic continuity. To what do we point in the New Testament to show that we are permitted to leave an apostolic church because, for an undisclosed length of time, which could mean two weeks or two millenia, even if in the opinion of the person in the pew, the sacraments are improperly administered and the Word is not preached?

I can see where the Scriptures admonish us simply to obey them that have the rule over us. Why? They watch for our souls. Woe unto them if they fail, as Christ pronounced woe upon the Pharisees, without undermining their God-given authority.

I don't acknowledge that in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, Calvin's principle is violated anyway. But if I did, there is no Scriptural sanction, short of Christ Himself coming down to earth to proclaim it, as Joseph Smith claimed, to ignore the question of apostolic continuity and start afresh. Precedent abounds to show that the faithful are required to maintain communion with Moses, or the Apostles, in spite of the most egregious examples of immorality, false teaching, and corruption of worship.

On what basis do we think that Moses' seat was perpetually occupied, but the Apostolic seat, the chair of Peter, if you will, is vacated if there truly ever was a problem with teaching the Word or Sacraments in the Catholic Church? Is each soul, without regard to gifts and abilities, perhaps appointed by God to make regular evaluations? God forbid. Under such conditions, the visible Church would have undergone the plight Calvin's Geneva, without enjoying any of the providential reforms which have continually renewed and revitalized the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Rory

Ken Temple said...

Ok, here is plenty of Scripture and argumentation, and a couple of quotes from Irenaeus also.

Enjoy.

We arrive at Sola Scriptura, by studying and believing the Scriptures themselves. Living at the time in which we live, we have to study history also. We accept Luther and Calvin’s understanding based on going back to the canonical Scriptures themselves and seeing if these things are so. (Acts 17:11) – not just because they said it.

If 2 Timothy 3:15-17 is true, then it teaches Sola Scriptura. For if the OT is referred to in verse 15, then Paul expands it to the NT in verse 16 by “all Scripture is God breathed”, because he himself says in I Timothy 5:18 that both Luke and Matthew and Deuteronomy are Scripture, therefore he extends the principle from the OT to the NT; and Peter around the same time, before he is martyred called “all of Paul’s writings Scripture (2 Peter 3:16), then this is enough and sufficient to show that all of the NT is Scripture and God-breathed, therefore “canon” or “standard” and “rule” and “criterion” when it was written.

That the extant human and church history does not have all of them under one book cover until Athanasius in 367 AD does not matter; because if Peter wrote 2 Peter, and he was martyred around 64-67 AD and Paul also around the same time, then we can safely assume that Peter himself wrote 2 Peter. To go against this leads to liberalism or at best, what “Pontificator” said at his web site a while back, (Al Kimel); but he wrote something to the effect of “the church by its inherent authority, proclaims 2 Peter to be canonical, even though someone else other than Peter probably wrote it in 150 or 200 AD.” (? – not an exact quote mind you). And he implied the same principle for proclaiming that Matthew and Mark and Luke and John are canonical because the “kata” (according to) “matthaion” (Matthew), or “Markon”(Mark) or “Lukan” or “Iwannan” (John) titles of the books were not there originally. He and others, say the church authoritatively decides this. This kind of thinking brings the charge against the RCC that is seems to sometime teach that the church “creates” canon by its own authority. “Whatever we say is true because we have proclaimed it”. The Protestant says that no, only God is infallible, and His word, and the Church is not infallible, and must always “devote themselves to the apostles teaching and doctrine” (Acts 2:42), the once for all delivered to the saints faith (Jude 3). The church is to teach and uphold and defend, and proclaim the truth, but it itself is not the truth. (I Timothy 3:15) So we believe in visible, local churches, that are supposed to have qualified elders who are able to teach the word of God and refute false doctrine. ( I Timothy 3, Titus 1, Acts 20:17ff, I Peter 5:1-4, Acts 13:1-4; 14:21-23)

Our assumption or first principles are that God and His word are perfect and infallible. Since God’s spoken word was written down, through prophets and apostles, there is no more “God –breathed” word or unwritten oral tradition that was not written down and also meant for us to have or need in order to have all of God’s truth. We assume the canonical written Scriptures are sufficient for learning and salvation and practice.

There is no evidence that there were other secret teachings that Jesus spoke, and yet authoritative, that were not written down for us and later comes out centuries later in the life and worship and piety of the church. Irenaeus was very clear that this method was wrong, (Against Heresies, 1:8:1; and 3:2:1). The modern Roman Catholic Church is more like the Gnostics in this sense, because they claim things like Mary’s perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, and bodily assumption and being a co-mediator and papal doctrines were spoken secretly by Jesus, as part of the apostolic deposit, but only manifest themselves later, centuries later, in history.

“They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures”; ( Against Heresies, Book 1:8:1)

“When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: ( Against Heresies, 3:2:1)

My presupposition is that God is infallible, (and sinless and impeccable) therefore His word is infallible. (and sinless and impeccable) (John 17:17, 2 Timothy 3:16) You agree with that, but add more. You say that some humans, the leadership of the RCC can give infallible interpretations, even though they be sinners. But Humans are not infallible. Yours is that there is a human structure on this earth that can give infallible interpretations; we assume that there is not a human infallibility, because only God is perfect, without error. His infallibility is based on His impeccability – that is, He does not make mistakes because He cannot sin. (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18)

You cannot have a human infallible interpreter, because that would also inherently have to be based on sinless ness and impeccability, and you and your RCC admits that the Popes and human interpreters were not perfect and sinful. You admit some Popes were very wicked and sinful (and may be in hell), but that God protected His church in history even through them in matters of doctrine only, not in their personal lives. You say this is OK, because Solomon and David and Moses and Paul and Peter were all sinners and therefore sinful (not impeccable) and yet God used them to write Scripture, therefore God can use others in subsequent history to give infallible interpretations. That analogy does not work because writing God-breathed Scripture is a different category than giving the human un-inspired but allegedly infallible interpretations in history. You cannot have infallibility without inspiration. The infallibility quality of the Scriptures is based on the inspiration from God quality; that it is God-breathed. ( 2 Timothy 3:16)

The written Scriptures are God speaking to us today. Matthew 22:31; “have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying . . . ?

The written Scriptures are the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us: Hebrews 3:7, 9:8; 10:15. The writer of Hebrews includes the OT as the voice of the Holy Spirit and expands it to the New Testament, and his interpretation of the work of Christ there in the book of Hebrews.

All traditions must be tested by the word of God. Matthew 15, Mark 7

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, the scribes, the teachers of the law and the Sadducees not only for their hypocrisy, but also for their false teachings. Matthew 5:21-48; Matthew 15:3-14; Matthew 16:12; 22:31-46; 23:16-36.

Matthew 16:11-12 is significant – “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Saducees . . . then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Since Jesus rebuked them so often on their teachings and oral traditions that they were the teachings of men rather than the word of God; when he mentions that they have “taken Moses seat” (Matthew 23:1) as interpreters of the law; Jesus cannot mean blanket authority to interpret the law anyway they want, but He assumes that his audience would understand that they are to obey them only in so far in reading the law and obeying God’s word, the law of Moses, and that the Pharisees and scribes and teachers were responsible to interpret the law properly. He had just finished rebuking them in 22:31ff and then later Jesus says that they “say” wrong teachings – by their teachings on oaths. (Matthew 23:16-22)

Anonymous said...

Hi again Ken,

I certainly appreciate your diligent explanation of your position. I agree with some important parts of it. But I should also like to amplify on some difficulties with my position that you have raised.

Now, briefly, I would point out that our Lord's declarations against the teachings of the Pharisees makes His admonition to obey them, since they sit in Moses' chair, the more remarkable. I will ask myself if the teachings of a pope or a Pharisee are compatible with Scripture, per Acts 17 and the Bereans. But what do you do with obeying the Pharisees, even though they fail to preach the Word, teaching false doctrines. I don't for one moment admit that the Catholic Church does that. But the lesson would make me pause before bolting even if I did. Protestants are too cavalier about separating from the continuous apostolic community.

Thanks, more later,

Rory

Ken Temple said...

but rather, it was his concise summary of the proceedings and outcomes of the councils. . . . but Darby presented some evidence that indicates subsequent councils reversed previous councils seemingly clear dogmatic decisions.

David, thanks for this; I really appreciate your honesty and sincere explanations. Do you have an outline of the which Councils are involved in this? Dates, and showing how a latter council contradicts an earlier one? What do you think of Von Dollinger and his objection to the Vatican I and calling it totally lacking in historical precedent or evidence?

Don't you think that Vatican 2 and the new Catechism -- that says Muslims adore the same God as Christians and atheists can be saved, even if they don't beleive in Jesus is a contradiction to the Council of Florence and Trent and Vatican I; yea, even the whole history of the church?


. . .
To make a long story short, I have had to seriously rethink how the councils fit into the larger picture of development and infallibility.


Unlike so many other individuals, I have never been comfortable with taking substantial difficulties that I come across and twisting them to fit a previously embraced paradigm/worldview.


I really appeciate that. Beautifully said.

Is not that what Newman did? Is that not what the whole Roman System is forced to do after the 1870 Infallibility Dogma? They basically twist and tweek everything to fit into that dogma/doctrine/principle, especially prior history, which is anachronistic.


I am still carefully, prayerfully, and studiously reflecting on the difficulties that have been brought into the equation, while at the same time examining competing worldviews.

really cool. Once I have time to read with comprehension, your site is very interesting. The big problem is time and not having all the books that you have access to. Seems you have read almost everything relevant to the issues. Thanks again.

Ken Temple said...

BC,
See my previous 2-3 entries on Sola Scriptura, and lots of other verses, and a couple of quotes from Irenaeus.

But, since you say you have already read those books; then there is probably not much new there in my piece. I guess I am not too surprised, but you asked for exegesis and Scripture and now I have given some.

The bottom line then, is that each person must be convinced in his mind.

Romans 14:5b

"Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."

Ken Temple said...

I certainly appreciate your diligent explanation of your position. I agree with some important parts of it.

Rory, Thanks for your encouragement and friendliness.

But I should also like to amplify on some difficulties with my position that you have raised.

Now, briefly, I would point out that our Lord's declarations against the teachings of the Pharisees makes His admonition to obey them, since they sit in Moses' chair, the more remarkable.

It seems to me that Jesus is only referring to the Law of Moses, when they read it, that the people should obey God’s law. It seems understood that Jesus meant, “obey the law of Moses”. They developed the “seat of Moses” later in the synagogues during the Intertestamental period. The concept is not there in the OT. Jesus just mentions it in passing, He does not give any explanation or claim that it means they have any infallible authority as living voices and teachers.

I will ask myself if the teachings of a pope or a Pharisee are compatible with Scripture, per Acts 17 and the Bereans. But what do you do with obeying the Pharisees, even though they fail to preach the Word, teaching false doctrines.

Jesus would say that they do not have obey them in that, in those false teachings – as Matthew 16:12, Matthew 15, and later in 23 (on oaths) says. He does not mean, “do whatever they say, even if they say something wrong”. It seems to be understood that Jesus does not mean that.

I don't for one moment admit that the Catholic Church does that.

I do. I think the RCC teaches lots of false doctrines.

But the lesson would make me pause before bolting even if I did. Protestants are too cavalier about separating from the continuous apostolic community.

The early church appointed elders to lead the churches. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5, Timothy) But every generation is responsible to keep on devoting themselves to the apostles teaching (Acts 2:42), the once for all faith delivered to the saints (Jude 3); the tradition (2 Thess 2:15; I Cor. 15:1-9; I Cor. 11:1-2); the apostolic deposit.

Paul marvels that the Galatians so quickly strayed from the truth of the gospel. Preaching and teaching the truth an giving it to them is no guarantee that later generations will not get some things wrong and mess things up and mix good things with bad new novel and heretical teachings. That is what the early church started doing with baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, penance, priests, relics, exalting virginity over marriage, Mary and prayer to the saints, etc. This along with neglecting Galatians and Romans and John resulted in corruption, but it did not totally sink the church out of existence and there were still lots of saints who were saved by their faith in Christ all through history. Matthew 16:13-18 does not mean that church will always be perfect; it only means that the gates of hades (death) will not overcome her completely. (even contra Dave’s claim about Origen – I wish I could read Origen’s commentary on Romans on line.) It is our contention that Luther and Calvin recovered the truth of the gospel for local churches; and since there are lots of these local churches all over the world, but none perfect; then the promise of Matthew 16 still stands.

Ken Temple said...

BC wrote:
You argument assumes Sola Scriptura... it doesn't prove it.

BC,
I don't think I was assuming Sola Scriptura, rather I am assuming that Matthew wrote Matthew, etc. for all the books, John, Paul wrote all 13 of his letters, and Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter, and Hebrews has apostolic authority on it; as does Jude and James, etc.

I assume they are all "theopneustos" (God -breathed), yes. But based on, and according to both internal and external evidence. Based on 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Peter 3:16; I Tim. 5:18, John 17:8; 17:17; 16:12-13, yes.

If they are "God-breathed", then they are all infallible. They are the only record we have of the apostolic deposit. Therefore Sola Scriptura derives out of good evidence of the Scriptures themselves and that God is perfect and cannot lie ( Titus 1:2); therefore God's word is perfect and infallible and truth ( John 17:17) and Jesus promised to give the apostles "all the truth" ( John 16:12-13) and the written Scriptures are the only things extant and /or historical evidence we have of the apostolic deposit; therefore Sola Scriptura is Scriptural and true.

Anonymous said...

I still want to address your more substantive post with quotes from Irenaeus, but wanted to explore your comments regarding the Pharisees first.

Ken Temple
It seems to me that Jesus is only referring to the Law of Moses, when they read it, that the people should obey God’s law. It seems understood that Jesus meant, “obey the law of Moses”. They developed the “seat of Moses” later in the synagogues during the Intertestamental period. The concept is not there in the OT. Jesus just mentions it in passing, He does not give any explanation or claim that it means they have any infallible authority as living voices and teachers.

Rory
I don't know Ken. And for the record, I don't have an opinion as to any charism of infallibility in the Old Testament. But it is interesting that you would say about "the chair of Moses" as an intertestamental concept, that it is "not there" in the Old Testament. I would suggest it IS there, implicitly, just as the developed dogmas of the New Testament are there implicitly.

That our Lord would mention it as a reason to "observe and do", in passing (as you say), appears to mean that He believed in a teaching not explicitly found in Scripture, supporting the theory of doctrinal development and weakening the teaching of sola scriptura.

Ken Temple
Jesus would say that they do not have obey them in that, in those false teachings – as Matthew 16:12, Matthew 15, and later in 23 (on oaths) says. He does not mean, “do whatever they say, even if they say something wrong”. It seems to be understood that Jesus does not mean that.

Rory
The Catholic Church teaches that we have the obligation to disobey false teachings. But it is one thing to disobey a false teaching. It is quite another to imagine God is calling you to separate yourself from the people whose priests and ministers were continuously maintained back to Aaron in the Old Testament or the Apostles in the New Testament.

I point to Moses seat to show that up until after the shadows of the New Covenant found in the Old were fulfilled, the faithful child of God would not ever have had the blessing of God for separating himself on account of varied false teachings, paganism, immorality, or justly deserved captivities.

When Jeroboam caused the split between Israel and Judah, by making an altar at Bethel for his own reasons, he earned the epithet, "he who made Israel to sin", which was his legacy. God had visited Jeroboam and blessed his separation from the kingdom of Solomon's son who had foolishly forsaken the wisdom of the elders. But God never gave him the authority to attempt to replace the faith established through Moses, justified though it seemed to him at the time.

It is not without much soul searching, that one should imagine to overthrow kings and princes. How much more wary an overthrow of the successors of Moses or of the Apostles. God visited Jeroboam for something far less serious, the secession of the ten tribes. Without such a visitation, who can't find abuses in the Old Testament far more damaging than believing that Mary was always a virgin or that we should pray for the dead? How easy it is for the modern schismatic, like Jeroboam, to think that the succession is for some reason disestablished or discontinued.

The schismatic mentality leads inevitably to what exists among Protestants today, where the slightest variance in doctrine or practice results in another church.

Rory

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

I must be brief this morning, for in but a few minutes I will be heading out to attend a wedding later today (my further musings will have to wait until my return Monday afternoon).

You posted:

>>David, thanks for this; I really appreciate your honesty and sincere explanations. Do you have an outline of the which Councils are involved in this? Dates, and showing how a latter council contradicts an earlier one?>>

Me: Check pages 142-151 in Darby’s Analysis of Dr. Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua. The controversy known as the “Three Chapters” is quite troubling to me (though I am still doing historical work on it). Darby briefly mentions it on page 149 (and p. 106).

And as a mentioned a bit earlier, while researching Darby’s claims, I ended up ordering Ramsay MacMullen’’s Voting About God which confirmed much of what Darby related.

Wish I had more time, but must get going. Will be very interested in seeing what has transpired in my absence, and will attempt address some of the other issues you have raised on my return, Lord willing.


Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I hope to be able to respond to the more important points of your (rather lengthly response posts) as quickly as possible... Let's give it a shot now, shall we?

As far as your "noble Bereans" (Acts 17) line of reasoning... I don't think it at all clear that St. Paul was merely quoting the OT to them and they were checking to see if the wording was correct... so... I am not sure about your reasoning here.

If 2 Timothy 3:15-17 is true, then it teaches Sola Scriptura.

I am sorry to disappoint you, but you have just not shown this to be the case. You are assuming SS (in some way) in your reasoning and then with the assumption of SS in your reasoning you are proving said Protestant principle.

I agree with every "jot and tittle" of that passage yet I deny that the concept that "the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith" is being asserted there. Can you show me more exegesis that shows that concept? Maybe it's hidden in the Greek beyond the "God-breathed" bit, no?

Hint: I believe that all Scripture is God breathed... so... show me why (maybe using a syllogism?) that this necessitates the concept you say I am wrong for denying. Fair enough?

Your reasoning is baffling to me, Ken... I am not poking fun at all... I actually don't get it.

You are claiming that..

A. God's word is infallible because God is infallible.
B. The Bible teaches that it is God's word.
C. Therefore the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church.

Apart from how you know (verify) that B is true (apart from fallible human traditions or that nasty and Gnostic secret knowledge you so despise)... I don't see C follows logically from A and B nor do I see that C is a concept that is asserted ANYWHERE in the Holy Writ?

Where did I miss these things? Can you shed some light here?

You also seem to argue that the Church can't be infallible (I am not sure how or in what context you are using this word) because only God is infallible... yet you believe that the apostles penned infallible gospels and epistles... they aren't God... so from your reasoning... I don't see how this is possible nor do I understand why you believe it...

More later,
BC

Ken Temple said...

Ok BC,
I will try again.

A. God's word is infallible because God is infallible. (Yes, John 17:17; Psalm 119)
B. The prophets and apostles spoke the word of God; and later wrote them down or someone else wrote their words, prophesies, sermons, letters, gospels for them. (ie, Mark wrote for Peter (Gospel of Mark); Silvanus wrote for Peter ( I Peter 5:12). Matthew, John were eyewitnesses and wrote down Jesus’ words and works. Luke, as a physician and part of the apostle Paul’s missionary team, wrote his gospel and the book of Acts with Paul’s apostolic authority. James and Jude are half-brothers of Jesus, and James being called an apostle in Galatians 1:19. Jude seems to be in close contact with both James and Peter’s content of 2nd Peter.

C. The Bible teaches that the church is built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles. (Ephesians 2:19-20) The Father gave Jesus His words, and Jesus gave His words to the apostles. (John 17:8; 16:12-13) We have no record of extra-biblical authoritative traditions or teachings from the apostles. And we know the Gnostics are wrong, because their concept of God and matter is wrong; and Irenaeus, as good as he was in most things, was wrong in his claim of an apostolic tradition that Jesus lived to be 50 years old.
D. Therefore the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church.



Ken,

I hope to be able to respond to the more important points of your (rather lengthly response posts) as quickly as possible... Let's give it a shot now, shall we?

As far as your "noble Bereans" (Acts 17) line of reasoning... I don't think it at all clear that St. Paul was merely quoting the OT to them and they were checking to see if the wording was correct... so... I am not sure about your reasoning here.

If 2 Timothy 3:15-17 is true, then it teaches Sola Scriptura.

I am sorry to disappoint you, but you have just not shown this to be the case. You are assuming SS (in some way) in your reasoning and then with the assumption of SS in your reasoning you are proving said Protestant principle.

What I mean is that it is theologically derived from the truth of 2 Timothy 3:15-17, that all Scripture is God-breathed; and from the fact that no other apostolic writings exist outside of the 27 books of the NT.

I agree with every "jot and tittle" of that passage yet I deny that the concept that "the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith" is being asserted there.

Can you show me more exegesis that shows that concept?
Why do we need more exegesis? I already gave you some “rather lengthy response posts”.

Maybe it's hidden in the Greek beyond the "God-breathed" bit, no?

If all of Scripture is God-breathed, then it is infallible. If all of Scripture is infallible; and God cannot lie, and if we have no extant written documentation of any other infallible or authoritative teachings or traditions from the apostles, then Scripture alone is the final and infallible rule of faith for the church.

1. All Scripture is God-breathed, therefore infallible. 2 Timothy 3:15-17. Verse 15 includes all the OT, verse 16 expands to the NT books, includes all of Paul’s letters, as 2 Timothy is the last one written, and Paul puts the gospels on the same level as the OT law in I Timothy 5:18. Peter, an apostle affirms all of Paul’s letters ( 2 Peter 3:16). By the principle of whatever is “God-breathed” is Scripture, then the principle includes Hebrews and Jude and James, and Luke.
2. God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2) God is impeccable, without sin (2 Cor. 5:21, Hebrews 5:14; Psalm 18:30, I John 1:5); therefore God’s word is infallible, without error. (John 17, Psalm 119) Infallibility comes from impeccability; therefore no human authority after the NT was written can be infallible, because all human leaders are not impeccable. They are sinful and make mistakes. (like David’s Waltz acknowledgement of the Three Chapters incident, and also Honorius, Vigilius, and others, etc.)
3. No other record of authoritative teachings from the apostles exist -except for the 27 books of the NT.
4. Therefore the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith for the church.


Hint: I believe that all Scripture is God breathed... so... show me why (maybe using a syllogism?) that this necessitates the concept you say I am wrong for denying. Fair enough?

Your reasoning is baffling to me, Ken... I am not poking fun at all... I actually don't get it.

You are claiming that..

A. God's word is infallible because God is infallible.
B. The Bible teaches that it is God's word.
C. Therefore the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church.

Apart from how you know (verify) that B is true (apart from fallible human traditions or that nasty and Gnostic secret knowledge you so despise)

There is no credible reason to doubt the apostolic and God-breathed quality of the 27 books of the NT that we have extant. The early church got that right and we accept that. Athanasius was right; we agree with him. Jerome was right on the Apocrypha. So we have historical testimony also. We don’t really need any more proof ; nor do we need to doubt it by the typical RCC apologetic, “how do you know?” kind of skepticism.

... I don't see C follows logically from A and B nor do I see that C is a concept that is asserted ANYWHERE in the Holy Writ?

C is a theologically derived truth implicitly derived from A and B, but it is better expressed in my four points, rather than three.

Where did I miss these things? Can you shed some light here?

You also seem to argue that the Church can't be infallible (I am not sure how or in what context you are using this word) because only God is infallible... yet you believe that the apostles penned infallible gospels and epistles
yes, the concept of writing Scripture and God inspiring the Scriptures, not the men themselves; is a different concept that the infallible claim of Popes, who are also sinners, but you claim that God infallibly protects them form ever teaching a doctrine that is wrong ex cathedra.

... they aren't God... so from your reasoning... I don't see how this is possible nor do I understand why you believe it...
I understand your point and the way you are paralleling it. But it is simple. The exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16 is that the Scripture is God-breathed, not the person. Once the Scriptures were finished, there is no more revelation and no more function of infallibility as a ongoing gift to popes, or bishops, etc.; especially since the concept started appearing in the middle ages and was proclaimed as dogma in 1870.

More later,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I appreciate the time you are putting into this.

First to your four points.

A. I would say that God's word is inerrant because God is infallible, but we don't need to quibble here.

B. Apart from your slight of the Catholic teaching on the perpetual virginity... I, for my part, only "know" these things because of the historic testimony of the Catholic Church.

C. I am not sure about your reasoning behind what we don't have and what we know and don't know is here, but, ISTM, that the canon is a rather authoritative tradition that isn't taught in the Holy Writ.

Before you make the argument you made before about who said what was Scripture in which passages and about whom... you have to know what Scripture is comprised of, IMHO. I don't see how you are doing that apart from the historic testimony of the Church (which you regard as trustworthy here, but not trustworthy in many other matters) or the secret gnostic gnowledge. Can you fill me in?

ISTM that you are presupposing these things.

D. I don't see how this point is necessitated by the first three. *sigh*

It seems you have deducted SS as a theological conclusion of some premises that are biblical and some that are not.

What I mean is that it is theologically derived from the truth of 2 Timothy 3:15-17, that all Scripture is God-breathed; and from the fact that no other apostolic writings exist outside of the 27 books of the NT.

It's a deduction based on certain premises (some which are biblical some which I can't yet see as being biblical), but not a concept *asserted* in the Holy Writ? That's what I have been asking about... about the concept being one that is asserted in the Holy Writ. Are you now saying that I am correct for denying said assertion?

Why do we need more exegesis? I already gave you some “rather lengthy response posts”.

Maybe because you have yet to show any exegesis where the concept that I am denying is asserted in the Holy Writ.

If all of Scripture is God-breathed, then it is infallible. If all of Scripture is infallible; and God cannot lie, and if we have no extant written documentation of any other infallible or authoritative teachings or traditions from the apostles, then Scripture alone is the final and infallible rule of faith for the church.

Even if this were true... "then Scripture alone is the final and infallible rule of faith for the church" is not a concept that you have shown to have been asserted in the Bible.

There is no credible reason to doubt the apostolic and God-breathed quality of the 27 books of the NT that we have extant.

I agree with you, but I am sure that we have different reasons for believing this, so I am not sure the agreement here means that I have to accept the rest of your argument.

The early church got that right and we accept that. Athanasius was right; we agree with him.

Same as above...

Jerome was right on the Apocrypha.

*sigh*

We don’t really need any more proof ; nor do we need to doubt it by the typical RCC apologetic, “how do you know?” kind of skepticism.

You seem to be presupposing things about the world, but don't afford others the luxury of presupposing anything from their worldview(s) that you don't like... strange....

I think my "how do you know" approach was absolutely warranted in light of your Gnostic "secret knowledge" comment...

yes, the concept of writing Scripture and God inspiring the Scriptures, not the men themselves; is a different concept that the infallible claim of Popes, who are also sinners, but you claim that God infallibly protects them form ever teaching a doctrine that is wrong ex cathedra.

I don't see how it is different in any single way that detracts from the point I was trying to make...

The exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16 is that the Scripture is God-breathed, not the person.

Yes... I wonder what other concepts I could relate this line of thinking to...? ;)

Once the Scriptures were finished, there is no more revelation and no more function of infallibility as a ongoing gift to popes, or bishops, etc.

I see no reason to believe this in the ways you seem to mean it... biblically, logically, or otherwise...

Does anyone else at all see why I am missing Ken's argument?

I am glad that you are continuing the discussion Ken... even if I don't always get your reasoning or your fascination with mentioning/mocking Catholic distinctives that you obviously "hate" (love less?) which have nothing whatsoever to do with my original queries...

I hope you are well...

Blessings,
BC

Ken Temple said...

It's a deduction based on certain premises (some which are biblical some which I can't yet see as being biblical), but not a concept *asserted* in the Holy Writ? That's what I have been asking about... about the concept being one that is asserted in the Holy Writ. Are you now saying that I am correct for denying said assertion?

Yes, I guess "assertion" is too strong. Rather the concept is taught there (in Scripture) by theological deduction derived from all the other points I made. Thank you also for a good discussion.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I appreciate your candor. You have answered that question more honestly than the numerous others with whom I have had this very same conversation. Gracias.

In the end, I cannot accept Sola Scriptura because I don't believe it to be a concept that is, indeed, asserted in the sole rule of faith for the Church. That makes it self-referentially incoherent, so far as I can tell, and, thus, I don't think it would be prudent for me to accept that position over and against the one to which I already hold... even if there are 'difficulties'.

Biblical difficulties don't make me doubt the inspiration of Scripture any more than certain Catholic difficulties makes me doubt my faith. I think you can sort of see where I am going with this... even if we don't have the same reasons for accepting the Scriptures as God's written word.

I presuppose that the Catholic Church is, indeed, what She claims to be. I can make sense of the world this way... I have yet to encounter any other worldview which I think would help me to make as much sense of reality.

I am Catholic.

I appreciate your time, Ken.

IC XC
BC

Ken Temple said...

What does IC XC mean?

But still, the teaching of SS is there when one looks at all the Scriptures. I should probably say that "explicitly asserted in the exact words is too strong", but that it is logically and reasonable derived from what we know about God and the Scriptures; and that SS is reasonable with what we know about the world and the sins of history, even in the church and by the leaders.

The RCC has much greater problems of the Marian Dogmas (1854, 1950), Sacramentalism (which guts justification by faith in Galatians and Romans and eveywhere else of all meaning), Papal Infallibility (1870), the Transubstantiation (1215); not to mention the problems and contradictions of how some of the councils were carried out, as Darby reports on them, at Ephesus and Chalcedon and the three chapters, then later, Honorius.

God's soveriegnty and allowing these problems makes more sense. The Reformed understanding of God's sovereignty and allowing the problems of history makes the world make more sense than the demand for perfection in infallible certainty that the RCC apologetic calls for in Newman's theory. (how do you know that you know? ,etc.)

Anyway, let each one be convinced in his own mind. Romans 14

Anonymous said...

Ken,

IC XC is an abbreviated way to express "Jesus Christ" (Ihcoyc Xpictoc) - I am basically signing off in Jesus Christ... it's a common Christogram.

As far as what you said about SS being a biblical doctrine... I am afraid that I see no evidence that it is taught in the Scriptures.

The RCC has much greater problems of the Marian Dogmas (1854, 1950), Sacramentalism (which guts justification by faith in Galatians and Romans and eveywhere else of all meaning), Papal Infallibility (1870), the Transubstantiation (1215); not to mention the problems and contradictions of how some of the councils were carried out, as Darby reports on them, at Ephesus and Chalcedon and the three chapters, then later, Honorius.

I don't have any problems with the Marian Dogmas... nor Sacramentalism, nor Papal infallibility...

The councils "contradictions" are not as much of a problem for me as I see them in much the way I see biblical difficulties... which I have already explained to you.

Honorius isn't really a problem for me either...

I don't find Darby's ecclesiology convincing enough to choose it over and against my current belief... frankly... IMHO... it's not even close to being convincing enough.

God's soveriegnty and allowing these problems makes more sense. The Reformed understanding of God's sovereignty and allowing the problems of history makes the world make more sense than the demand for perfection in infallible certainty that the RCC apologetic calls for in Newman's theory. (how do you know that you know? ,etc.)

I am not sure how what you are saying can be deemed as superior to what I actually believe... at least epistemologically... I just can't.

Anyway... I hope you are well.

IC XC
BC

David Waltz said...

Hi BC and Ken,

Good discussion. BC in his last post introduced into the overall equation an important point that I had not yet considered an integral aspect: “The councils ‘contradictions’ are not as much of a problem for me as I see them in much the way I see biblical difficulties... which I have already explained to you.”

Certainly ‘food-for-thought’! In my library I have numerous books devoted to strictly “Bible difficulties”. They include:

Bible Difficulties, Gleason L. Archer (476 pages)

When Critics Ask, Geisler and Howe (604 pages)

Answers To Questions, F.F. Bruce (264 pages)

Bible Answers for 1000 Difficult Questions, George Sandison

Bible Difficulties Solved, Larry Richards (390 pages)

Today’s Handbook For Solving Bible Difficulties, David E. O’Brien (495 pages)

Difficult Passages in the New Testament, Robert H. Stein (392 pages)

I cannot help but wonder if we all spent as much time and effort on Council and Papal “difficulties” as we do with Bible “difficulties” that are overall view would change…


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

David and BC,
Thanks for the discussion.

Personally, the history of the Roman Catholic Church and the claims of addition to the apostolic deposit, (with all the views that Protestants disagree with RCC on - Mary, Papal dogmas, Transubstantiation, baptismal regeneration, ex opere operato sacramentalism -- all of these are greater problems than those Bible Difficulties.

"Epistemologically" seems to be code for "how do you know for sure?"
- that your interpretation is right?
- that you are really saved with infallible knowledge?
- that there is not a purgatory?
- that Sola Fide is what Paul taught?
- that Sola Scriptura is right?
-that you are in the right church?

That is what it seems to me.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

You are welcome for the discussion! Thank you as well!

Personally, the history of the Roman Catholic Church and the claims of addition to the apostolic deposit, (with all the views that Protestants disagree with RCC on - Mary, Papal dogmas, Transubstantiation, baptismal regeneration, ex opere operato sacramentalism -- all of these are greater problems than those Bible Difficulties.

Greater is most surely in the eye of the beholder here, no?? ;)

I am not sure what claims of addition to the apostolic deposit that "Rome" (as if the Catholic Communion boils down to "Rome" - *sigh*) makes, but... Perhaps you mean authoritative interpretation after 2,000 years (and counting) of the Body of Christ's Spirit led reflection upon said apostolic deposit?

I think that's what this thread is really about.

'Epistemologically' seems to be code for 'how do you know for sure?'
- that your interpretation is right?
- that you are really saved with infallible knowledge?
- that there is not a purgatory?
- that Sola Fide is what Paul taught?
- that Sola Scriptura is right?
-that you are in the right church?

That is what it seems to me.


It's not code for anything but what it is, friend. :)

Look... I am simply asking you to show your line of thinking and how it's superior (as you seem to claim it is) for arriving at your conclusions without being subject to the same kinds of 'difficulties' as you seem to suggest are obviously plaguing what you presume to be my position. That's all...

I don't see your method of 'knowing' the things you claim to know about these things of God as being superior in any way to my method... in fact... as I understand your position - you're worse off. ;) (I am sure you aren't surprised) Yet you seem sure that your method is OBVIOUSLY superior... and think that any thinking person (who is not a dishonest, God hating reprobate) should arrive at the same conclusion and choose your position over-and-against the one they already hold to... I just don't see it. Sorry.

I hope you are well.

IC XC
BC

Anonymous said...

David,

I would love to know what you find to be so convincing about Darby's view of Church history, ecclesiology, historical theology, dogma, etc...

As you picked up on... I see some of the issues that you brought up to be 'difficulties' as opposed to unsolvable problems, outright contradictions, etc...

From what I can tell... Darby's position has the same kinds of problems that many other Protestant pictures of things have...

For me Newman is difficult... but Darby? Not nearly convincing enough for me to even consider him...

I admit that I may be missing something so... Please let me know what you see in his argument.

IC XC
BC

p.s.
I honestly enjoy your blog!

TOm said...

I have been out of town for a while and probably owe responses to other folks rather than here. I am not sure to whom I should pay this debt and would rather jump into the conversation where it stands. If someone (probably Rory) needs a response from me, just ask and I will devote some time to it).

I have read everything, though mostly in longish infrequent early morning sessions rather than as the discussion progressed. I have really enjoyed the discussion. I want to key on the text that David quoted from BC. Here it is:
*****************************************
The councils ‘contradictions’ are not as much of a problem for me as I see them in much the way I see biblical difficulties... which I have already explained to you.
*****************************************


I really need to read those pages of Darby. I think I got to about 100 and found him to be a little more critical and polemic than I would like (I think I was warned about this). I think Newman’s theory goes a long way to explaining how mainstream Christian (Catholic and most Protestant) doctrine could be what it is in light of what it had been.

I have read Ken’s comments and I acknowledge that some form of Trinity is demanded by the Bible (and some form of sola fide and some form of …). That being said, one of the important aspects of Chris’s liberal Christianity IMO was that he did not demand that his version of the Trinity was the one necessary for salvation. I would suggest that folks who demand that some type of orthodox Trinity (like Augustine’s -or even Athanasius who called the Semi-Arians his brothers in Christ) are pushing the Bible not significantly harder than the Catholic do when they speak of some Marian dogma’s. The big difference is that the Catholics have an extra-Biblical reason as to why they feel it is appropriate to push to such dogmatic conclusions.


Now, are the contradictions and problems within the Bible greater / lesser / or similar to those in the councils. I cannot say well until I read Darby’s pages, but since nobody is paying me for my thoughts I will offer them as I go.

1. A Bible View that is less defendable than Catholic Tradition IMO:
I would suggest that if one views the Bible as absolutely inerrant and somehow the sole rule of faith with which salvific beliefs must be derived and then held, the problems in the Bible are huge. I do not think the Bible is a systematic theology and based on the diversity within Protestantism, I do not believe it lends itself to the creation of a single systematic theology. Perhaps there is recourse to “unity in the essentials and freedom in everything else,” but I would lean away from believing any such solution can exist.

The consistent Calvinist IMO is willing to claim that the considered Arian is so far a field of a salvific understanding of Justification that they are (outside some future regeneration) going to hell. The Arian just believes that they have too much control over their own salvation to have truly accepted Christ’s sovereign will for their lives.



2. A Bible View that is more defendable (perhaps) than Catholic Tradition:
Now, if the Bible is viewed as a pre-systematic record of folks who record their inspired experiences with God (and perhaps who may not speak univocally); its “god-breathed inerrant” status is far more defendable. These people did communicate with God. They did write inspired texts. There texts ALL contain truths about God and His interaction with man. They are inspired and inerrant (even complete). They are just not a systematic theology, but perhaps they off some strong ideas.


3. I personally do not dogmatically assert the infallibility of the Bible so I am free to key upon the unusual and most concerning problems for Biblical inerrancy and say “Ah ha!” That being said, I consider the Bible to be “functionally inerrant” in that I would choose to reject no passage (not even the Comma Johanneum). I believe much of #2 also.



Now, comparing the second (#2) view of Biblical inerrancy to Catholic Tradition, I would say this. If Newman’s theory of development does not meet the 7 characteristics of a true development outlined in the theory, then this is a big problem (early anticipation for example). If infallible councils in a theologically sophisticated (systematic rather than pre-systematic) way contradict each other, then this is a big problem.

I am already quite convinced that any attempt to save the Pope’s infallibility without a very important clause (from the Chair of Peter) is doomed to failure. The Pope while Pope concerning Faith and Morals has taught error IMO. One can assert such was not “from the Chair of Peter.” (I would bet Cardinal Newman would agree with this). I also think that the infallibility of councils seems to be a backward looking thing in some ways. Some councils that involved a greater majority of the church and were more in line with the norm of councils are “robber councils” while others with less universal attendance are among the 21 ECs (I remember hints of this in Newman or at least that was an impression I got).

As of present, I have reconciled Vatican II’s use of “no salvation outside the Catholic Church” with a tradition that most frequently viewed this in a way that seems different than Vatican II did. Since there has long been “baptism of desire” and “invincible ignorance” there must be something like Vatican II even though a Pope Pius V (I think) might have denied such a thing where he to express his opinion or be able to utter an infallible decree concerning it. Still in the absence of an infallible decree AND in the absence of a solid anti-Vatican II understanding of “no salvation outside the Catholic Church” AND “invincible ignorance” & “baptism of desire,” I see no reason to demand this Vatican II position is a move from tradition.

That being said, the 21 councils are documented. In generally they are very thorough in outlining what they are saying (if Trent took up “no salvation outside the Catholic Church AND “invincible ignorance” and there is not an infallible charisma in Catholicism, I would bet they would have come to a different conclusion than Vatican II, but I do not think they did). I will need to look through Darby’s pages.


Ultimately, I will say that there is no such thing as a tradition without problems sufficient to reject it. But God lives. Hopefully, he has powerfully entered into all of our lives. This demands that we do something with our relationship with Him. We must believe something.

Sometimes I fear that I am more comfortable with the problems within my tradition than I am with the problems in other traditions. So when I scream “My tradition has issues, but on the whole it makes so much more sense than yours,” I am really saying, “I am comfortable as a LDS.”

I think there is often myopia when folks of different religions discuss things. David IMO is less myopic than me or anyone I know (I doubt anyone on this thread is a slouch in this respect). These last few threads have demonstrated what charitable folks can accomplish even with myopia. This is wonderful.

I will say that in the second place for me is still Catholicism. I find it unlikely that such will change. In some ways this may be a truer witness than our first choices (and I say this knowing nobody here will choose my tradition for their second choice).

Charity, TOm


P.S. I would say the Bible is sufficient, but not inerrant or absolutely complete. Chris would say that the Bible is not inerrant (and I think he would say it contains books of little value teaching things like polytheism). The Catholic would say the Bible is inerrant and complete, but it was compiled by the Catholic authority.
Having read some of Lost Christianities and some of the Gnostic Gospels and some of the early “canonical lists” it seems to me that the Conservative Protestants must believe that the Holy Spirit inspired a group of Catholic men when they finally decided the NT Canon.
There was debate and disagreement. There were less complete early lists. There were text read at “mass” regularly that are not in the canon. The 27 NT books just were not absolutely universal for about two centuries (and debatably longer). I think this is another problem that I would guess is larger than Darby’s EC issues.

Anonymous said...

Ken Temple
There is no evidence that there were other secret teachings that Jesus spoke, and yet authoritative, that were not written down for us and later comes out centuries later in the life and worship and piety of the church.

Rory
There weren't any secrets. Sacred Tradition is a part of public revelation.

Here's the thing Ken. If you don't admire the Church of the first two centuries, by all means, forget about taking the practices and teachings which emerged from the era of the martyrs as normative. Tradition is no secret. Tradition merely means that you believe that the teachings of the Apostles were carefully handed down intact by their successors. While the Scriptures alone do not explicitly tell us whether or not babies can qualify to be baptized, Tradition tells us the fact that the Church of the Martyrs practised pedobaptism and it was universal by the time of the first council.

You cite St. Irenaeus as your authority for why you should be separate from Rome. For my part, I am more concerned to be associated with the same church as the martyrs than I am to defend any particular doctrine of that Church. I frankly don't care what that Church teaches. I just have to make sure that I believe whatever it happens to be. I admire above every object of grace and beauty that I have ever seen or known, the holy fruit of those who faithfully accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. Because I want to follow the saints, I accept what they accepted. I believe what they believed.

Ken Temple
Irenaeus was very clear that this method was wrong, (Against Heresies, 1:8:1; and 3:2:1). The modern Roman Catholic Church is more like the Gnostics in this sense, because they claim things like Mary’s perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, and bodily assumption and being a co-mediator and papal doctrines were spoken secretly by Jesus, as part of the apostolic deposit, but only manifest themselves later, centuries later, in history.

Rory
I agree that St. Irenaeus was very clear that the gnostics were wrong. In the same treatise he also clearly shows how wrong is your view that fails to recognize the normative value of apostolic tradition to interpret and settle scriptural controversy among Catholics.

In the sentence you cited, he certainly accuses the Gnostics of gathering their views from other sources than the Scriptures. But in the sentence previous to that, he accuses them of of boasting of a perfect knowledge that is beholden to neither what the Lord taught, the apostles delivered, or the prophets announced. In other words, they appeal neither to Scripture nor Tradition: "Such then is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge." (1:8:1)

But while you cite Irenaeus as your source for sola scriptura, I will cite him as our strongest earliest support for the authority of apostolic tradition. He exposes the errors of the Gnostics by showing that their source of knowledge has no root in either form of public revelation. You cite one place which takes notice that “They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures”; ( Against Heresies, Book 1:8:1)

But in other places, he no less decries their failure to accept Sacred Tradition: "But again, when we refer them to that Tradition which originates from the apostles, and which is preserved by means of the successions of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition...It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to Tradition." (3:2:1)

In the next chapter, he tells us of the necessity of agreement with one local church, the one at Rome: "For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority." (3:3:2)

He then explains how this Tradition, which resides preeminently at Rome, is a normative and reliable standard by which the faithful may confidently resolve doctrinal dispute: "For how stands the case? Suppose there arose a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?" (3:4:1)

Ken Temple
“When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: ( Against Heresies, 3:2:1)

Rory
viva voce? Living voice? I don't know about viva voce, but it is an irony that you would quote St Irenaeus against the Catholic view of the normative authority of Tradition and Scripture. Indeed, I don't know of a Church Father who more forcefully supports both. I suggest that your passages do demonstrate his high view of the authority of Scripture. I can reconcile all of Irenaeus by accepting the authority of both Scripture and Tradition. You just can't.

Paul's Galatians notwithstanding, I close with St Irenaeus preaching with confidence the truth of the authority of the Apostolic sucession, and the dangers of separating oneself from it: "Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church--those who, as I have shown possess the succession from the apostles; those who together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession...But those who cleave asunder, and separate from the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did." (4:26:2)

"He shall also judge those who give rise to schisms...and who look to their own special advantage rather than to the unity of the Church; and who for trifling reasons, or any kind of reason which occurs to them, cut in pieces and divide the great and gloorious body of Christ...For no reformation of so great importance can be effected by them, as will the mischief arising from their schism." (4:33:7)

"True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come to us, being guarded and preserved, without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine..." (4:33:8)

"Where therefore, the gifts of the Lord have been placed, there it behoves us to learn the truth, [namely], from those who possess that succession of the Church which is from the apostles..." (4:26:5)

St Irenaeus does not tell us to to decide our doctrines and then pick a church like the sola scripturians who are so split and divided as to offer no plausible candidate for one true visible church. He tells us to identify the true Church with the apostolic succession: "'For in the Church,' it is said, 'God hath set apostles, prophets, teachers,' and all the other means through which the Spirit works; of which all those are not partakers who do not join themselves to the Church...For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God, there is the Church, and every kind of grace, but the Spirit is truth. Those therefore, who do not partake of Him, are neither nourished into life from the mother's breasts, nor do they enjoy that most limpid fountain which issues from the body of Christ..." (3:24:1)

It seems to me like Irenaeus could have found a better way to explain his ecclesiology if he thinks, as you suggest, that it is alright to start many new churches while denying that any visible church on earth preserves the apostolic Tradition which together with Sacred Scripture are the guarantors of the visible Church, which is bows to the authority of the local Roman church, which has endured through trials and difficulties to this very day, teaching what she taught when her children's blood was flowing red in the Colosseum.

There are Nadabs, Abihus, and Jeroboam's who frightening dire condemnation throughout Scripture to warn against associations against against the established order of the God's people. Where is the Old Testament foreshadowing of Luther, or Calvin, who brings blessing upon God's people while convincing them to separate from those who hold the Levitical priesthood? Irenaeus is great. But it is only because he knows the Scripture and what happens to those who proclaim the end of God's order prematurely. Where is that godly biblical figure, who takes such a step and is blessed for it?

Irenaeus is correct in characterizing the reasons people give for leaving the Church as "trifles". Independently of the Church, I would truly be open to the idea that maybe the Mother of God was conceived immaculately, that she was assumed into heaven, that she remained a virgin, that she in some sense, through the mystery of the incarnation has a privileged station with regard to our redemption, a co-mediatrix if you will. Good night I would believe that if I were still a Protestant. Did Eve's act have nothing to do with our Fall?

Ken, I don't know how, through sola scriptura anyone can decide against these teachings of the Catholic Church. How does a Protestant know that the body which bore God's Son rotted? Sigh. Eve was innocent when she said yes to the devil, so would Mary be innocent when she said yes to God. The Marian doctrines spring from pondering the beliefs about the Child born of her, and who lived with her for thirty years. Pondering takes time, and God rewards pondering over time, and that is why the fulness of God's once for ever revelation continues to unfold for us in increments. Revelation is far too much for any one generation to master. I suspect we will not master it in eternity, but continue to see new and deeper truths.

Could one have such intimate proximity with God as did the Blessed Mother, could one have God inside their body, and not have had some special preparation, had special privileges, and received special grace? There is no secret tradition at work. What is at work is generations of God's children advancing on the Spirit inspired insights of their fathers. To diminish the doctrines of Mary are to diminish the doctrines of Christ and to adopt an unnecessarily minimalist, static view of revelation which is unscriptural, untraditional, and discouraging of study, prayer, and meditation.

Our Lord had been lost, His parents thought so anyway, for three days. When they found Him, He explained to them how He had to be about His Father's business. The words of God were spoken directly to Mary and Joseph. "And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them." (Luke 2:50, KJV) It takes time for God's words to be made manifest in our own lives, and in the life of the living body of Christ. What better example than our Blessed Mother, who not understanding the words "kept all these sayings in her heart." If Jesus own Mother didn't know what He meant when He spoke directly to her, how pompous of us to think that there is no placde for doctrinal development in the life of God's people individually and corporately.

The point I would make is that the act of separation from the apostolic succession seems far more more serious, and far from prudent, if taken because there is a teaching in it which you do not understand. Of course there are teachings we don't understand fully. Especially at first. The Church can help with this. A lot. But to separate from the Apostolic succession out of some conviction that God's truths are only plain, explicit, and unable to be developed by the Apostolic Church seems like a horrible mistake based on faulty assumptions.

Rory

David Waltz said...

Hi BC,

It is my birthday today, so I shall be a bit brief with my comments concerning the following to posted:

BC:>> I would love to know what you find to be so convincing about Darby's view of Church history, ecclesiology, historical theology, dogma, etc...>>

Me: I actually find Darby’s personal paradigm inconsistent, it was some of the historical ‘difficulties’ concerning the Ecumenical Councils he presented in the latter portion of his critique that has me ‘hitting-the-books’, so to speak.

In my June 22 response to Ken I wrote:

DW:>> Me: Check pages 142-151 in Darby’s Analysis of Dr. Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua. The controversy known as the “Three Chapters” is quite troubling to me (though I am still doing historical work on it). Darby briefly mentions it on page 149 (and p. 106).

And as a mentioned a bit earlier, while researching Darby’s claims, I ended up ordering Ramsay MacMullen’’s Voting About God which confirmed much of what Darby related.>>

Me: The “Three Chapters” controversy is a complex one. I recently read one author who stated that “thousands of pages have been written on it with no clear consensus”; but, your recent comment concerning Biblical “difficulties” certainly has aided my current understanding of what I would term “unresolved Council difficulties”. I have left some Biblical “difficulties” on the back-burner, not willing to jettison the historic view of the Bible for a few ‘chestnuts’; and for now, I am willing to do the same for the Council ‘chestnuts’.

I found these words from Tom’s last post to reflect my own thoughts:

Tom:>>Ultimately, I will say that there is no such thing as a tradition without problems sufficient to reject it.>>

Me: Amen, every worldview/paradigm presents ‘difficulties’ for our finite minds to come to grips with. However, when I apply what I have termed my “four-fold test” (theological consistency, historical consistency, philosophical consistency, and spiritual ‘fruit’) to my top four worlviews/paradigms (RCC, CoJCoLDS, Calvinism, Bahai) the RCC comes out on top.

But I know better than anyone else that I may be in error, so I remain ‘open’ to continuing intellectual and spiritual promptings and growth.

Looking forward to your continued participation here at AF!!!

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. My 7 year old grandson has been visiting since Monday, and will be with us until next Thursday; so, my participation will be somewhat limited while he is here.

Ken Temple said...

Here's the thing Ken. If you don't admire the Church of the first two centuries, by all means, forget about taking the practices and teachings which emerged from the era of the martyrs as normative.

But, I do admire the church of the first two centuries, even the first 3-4 centuries. But I do think they began to believe and do a few things wrong, such as moving the local church leadership from a plurality of elders to the mono-espicopate and the apparent belief in baptismal regeneration.

That does not mean they were totally corrupt or lost or that the church disappeared. But I definitely admire the believers of the first 4 Centuries and the martyrs such as Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, and Cyprian. I greatly admire Athanasius, Jerome for his work on the Apocrypha, Augustine, Chrysostom, Irenaeus, and Tertullian.


Tradition is no secret. Tradition merely means that you believe that the teachings of the Apostles were carefully handed down intact by their successors. While the Scriptures alone do not explicitly tell us whether or not babies can qualify to be baptized, Tradition tells us the fact that the Church of the Martyrs practised pedobaptism and it was universal by the time of the first council.

What tradition tells us this and when is this dated? Infant baptism clearly came later. Tertullian questioned it around 200 AD. Cyprian affirms it around 250 AD; Origen assumes it was apostolic around 250 AD and Augustine also just assumed it was apostolic, without any proof or evidence or quotes; nothing. (around 390-430 AD ?)

You cite St. Irenaeus as your authority for why you should be separate from Rome. For my part, I am more concerned to be associated with the same church as the martyrs than I am to defend any particular doctrine of that Church. I frankly don't care what that Church teaches. I just have to make sure that I believe whatever it happens to be. I admire above every object of grace and beauty that I have ever seen or known, the holy fruit of those who faithfully accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. Because I want to follow the saints, I accept what they accepted. I believe what they believed.

Ken Temple
Irenaeus was very clear that this method was wrong, (Against Heresies, 1:8:1; and 3:2:1). The modern Roman Catholic Church is more like the Gnostics in this sense, because they claim things like Mary’s perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, and bodily assumption and being a co-mediator and papal doctrines were spoken secretly by Jesus, as part of the apostolic deposit, but only manifest themselves later, centuries later, in history.

Rory
I agree that St. Irenaeus was very clear that the gnostics were wrong. In the same treatise he also clearly shows how wrong is your view that fails to recognize the normative value of apostolic tradition to interpret and settle scriptural controversy among Catholics.

In the sentence you cited, he certainly accuses the Gnostics of gathering their views from other sources than the Scriptures. But in the sentence previous to that, he accuses them of of boasting of a perfect knowledge that is beholden to neither what the Lord taught, the apostles delivered, or the prophets announced. In other words, they appeal neither to Scripture nor Tradition: "Such then is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge." (1:8:1)

This is in perfect harmony with Sola Scriptura, as what “the prophets announced” were written down in Scripture (Isaiah – Malachi), what “the Lord taught” was written down in the 4 Gospels, and what the apostles delivered were written down in the epistles of Paul, John, Peter, Jude, James, and Hebrews, and in the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

But while you cite Irenaeus as your source for sola scriptura, I will cite him as our strongest earliest support for the authority of apostolic tradition. He exposes the errors of the Gnostics by showing that their source of knowledge has no root in either form of public revelation. You cite one place which takes notice that “They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures”; ( Against Heresies, Book 1:8:1)

But in other places, he no less decries their failure to accept Sacred Tradition: "But again, when we refer them to that Tradition which originates from the apostles, and which is preserved by means of the successions of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition...It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to Tradition." (3:2:1)

The reference is 3:2:2. Roman Catholic apologists love to use this passage in Irenaeus. But in context, in 3:1:1, Irenaeus names the Gnostic teachers he is refuting, Valentinus, Marcion, Cerinthus, and Basilides. The tradition that the Presbyters preserved is the interpretation of the Scriptures that is contrary to their Gnostic views of Elohim, God as creator, dualism, that matter is evil; denying that Christ had a body and denying that Christ died on the cross. Since Protestant interpretation agrees with that traditional interpretation against Gnosticism, then this is not a point for later Roman Catholic traditions that came about centuries later, like transubstantiation in 1215, the Immaculate conception of Mary in 1854, nor the infallibility of the Pope in 1970; nor the Bodily Assumption of Mary in 1950. The context is the Gnostic teachings about the Demiurge and the Pleroma; that they thought Elohim of the OT was an evil god, a Demiurge who created matter and that he was not the Father of the Lord Jesus. This interpretation of the OT and Monotheism of the Gnostics is not the true monotheism that the apostles taught and passed down to the churches, for example, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, creator of heaven and earth”, etc. Here is the full passage; and it is not contradictory to what I have been saying.

Chapter II.—The heretics follow neither Scripture nor tradition.
1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.” 1 Cor. ii. 6. And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent,who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.




In the next chapter, he tells us of the necessity of agreement with one local church, the one at Rome: "For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority." (3:3:2)

First, the context in 3:3:1 speaks of the content of what the apostles and presbyters taught and that they are not what these heretics are teaching. (Valentinus, Marcion, Cerinthus, Basiledes)

“. . . by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to “the perfect” apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. “ 3:3:1

The successors to the apostles “neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about.” So this is not about some future secret tradition about purgatory or Mary’s perpetual virginity or indulgences or the treasury of merit or the power of relics or prayer to Mary or the Pope in Rome, no; not at all. The agreement is that all the churches teach the traditional monotheism, God as Father and creator and soverign, and that His creation was good when He created all things. Matter and marriage and sex is good. Jesus really suffered physically to death on the cross. Basiledes denied this. Marcion cut the bible up and rejected the OT and much of the NT; only retained some of Luke and some of Paul’s letters.

Then, in 3:3:3, Irenaeus writes,
“. . . the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things.”

All of this is still refutation of Gnosticism, not a refutation of Protestantism or Sola Scriptura. So, far, the tradition he is talking about is the interpretation and understanding of God as Father and creator and what all the early church believed about Monotheism and creation. That was the “tradition” of that Irenaeus is talking about, affirmed by Clement. The church of Rome also had a powerful epistle written to it, by Paul, which is Scripture, and older than 1st Clement. Irenaeus mentions the ministry and martyrdom of Paul and Peter there in Rome, which also gives it credibility and apostolic pedigree; so its authority is based on Scriptural truths, not any secret tradition of papal doctrines, authority, or dogmas. What Irenaeus means by “tradition” and the “pre-imminent authority of the Roman Church is only non-Gnostic traditional teaching about God and creation; in full agreement with Sola Scriptura and Protestantism.


He then explains how this Tradition, which resides preeminently at Rome, is a normative and reliable standard by which the faithful may confidently resolve doctrinal dispute: "For how stands the case? Suppose there arose a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?" (3:4:1)

Again, nothing here against Sola Scriptura; rather it affirms it. The recourse is to the apostolic deposit left in the Scriptures of the epistle of Paul to the Romans, and the traditional teaching that God is one and Father and creator and that matter and creation is good and that Jesus was the incarnation of God and suffered physically and really died and really rose from the dead. The phrase at the end shows us the context and meaning of what he meant by the traditional understanding that Rome kept and passed down from the apostles; and emphasizes to “learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question”. What was the present question? The issue of Gnosticism, Valentinus, Marcion, Cerinthus, and Basiledes and their false teachings. The issue was not other secret teachings that the RCC will claim centuries from this time that it laid dormant and only appeared centuries later in the life and liturgy and piety and thinking of the church.

More later. It is late and I need to go to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Ken Temple
More later. It is late and I need to go to sleep.

Rory
I hear ya. It is now early, and I need to go to work. Thanks for your latest.

I like to have something to think about while I am at work.

Sleep well,

R

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

I suspect you feel it is incumbent upon you to make some further comments. I don't think so myself. You have done well. I will retire from this thread if you will refrain from speaking further about what I have said so far. I concede. I hope you will understand that I cannot in good conscience concede that I think you are right, but I will concede that you have won the argument. I am willing to let this concession be my last word, if you agree to make no further reference to any of my comments.

In Christ,

Rory

Chris said...

David,

Happy birthday!

-Chris

Anonymous said...

Yeah Dave,

Happy birthday old guy. I like thinking you are two years older than me...for a month. Heh. A few aches and pains, and trouble remembering names doesn't mean we aren't just about ready to enter our primes. Eh?

I knew it was in late June but I didn't remember it was on our Anniversary. Twenty-six years on the 26th already.

With respect to my elder,

Rory

PS: My aunt in Ocean Park says she needs somebody to do some lawn and yard work. I know you're busy right now so I didn't want to call...but I am thinking we know somebody who does that stuff. If you'd shoot me an e-mail with his number I'd pass it along.

David Waltz said...

Good morning Chris and Rory,

Thanks much for the birthday wishes!

Rory posted:

>>Happy birthday old guy. I like thinking you are two years older than me...for a month. Heh. A few aches and pains, and trouble remembering names doesn't mean we aren't just about ready to enter our primes. Eh?>>

Me: Well, I certainly feel the effects of “the Fall” more days in the year than a decade ago, but the Beachbum is fighting “Adam’s curse.” I have changed the way I workout and was able to celebrate my birthday with a personal record in the bench press—9 reps with 240 lbs. (not bad for a 190 lb. “old guy” [grin]).

>>I knew it was in late June but I didn't remember it was on our Anniversary. Twenty-six years on the 26th already.>>

Me: Congrats Rory!!! I am sure you two will add at least another 26 more.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

Rory wrote:
. . . You have done well. I will retire from this thread if you will refrain from speaking further about what I have said so far. I concede. . . . but I will concede that you have won the argument. I am willing to let this concession be my last word, if you agree to make no further reference to any of my comments."

Thanks Rory for your honest acknowledgment of the argument I was making. I was busy working and out of town since my last post and just saw this today, Monday, June 30; yet you posted it on June 27.

This is a real breakthough; for I have noticed this about the way Roman Catholic apologists use the Early church fathers in order to support "the tradition of the church", the interpretation of something centuries earlier for a later dogma that did not appear until centuries later; but the context and content of the earlier issue was Gnosticism or Arianism or something else.

I will continue to work on the rest of your arguments for myself; but I won't post them for now; but it will be interesting to study the rest of them.

Thanks again for what you wrote; you are a gentleman.
Sincerely in Christ,
Ken Temple