Saturday, January 16, 2010

Critical issues concerning infallibility and the development of doctrine – the historical roots

I think I have finally caught up with the considerable number of comments and threads that are related to my January 6th announcement (though I may have missed some threads that have not appeared via Google links). Before detailing MY current difficulties, I thought it best to give a brief history of the events that have led up to my 2010 decision.

As I noted in the previous thread (A solemn announcement), one of the most important forces behind my decision to enter the RCC back in 2002 was John Henry Newman’s theory of development—as outlined and formed in his An Essay On The Development of Christian Doctrine and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

I can still vividly remember my thoughts during the second reading of Apologia Pro Vita Sua, as I reflected on the following:

I have described in a former work, how the history affected me. My stronghold was Antiquity; now here, in the middle of the fifth century, I found, as it seemed to me, Christendom of the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries reflected. I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite. The Church of the Via Media was in the position of the Oriental communion, Rome was where she now is; and the Protestants were the Eutychians. (Sheed and Ward, Maisie Ward 1945 edition, 1978 reprint, page 77.)

And two paragraphs later:

It was difficult to make out how the Eutychians or Monophysites were heretics, unless Protestants and Anglicans were heretics also; difficult to find arguments against the Tridentine Fathers, which did not tell against the Fathers of Chalcedon; difficult to condemn the Popes of the sixteenth century, without condemning the Popes of the fifth. The drama of religion, and the combat of truth and error, were ever one and the same. The principles and proceedings of the Church now, were those of the Church then; the principles and proceedings of heretics then, were those of Protestants now. (Ibid.)

One important distinction between the historical period of controversy that gave rise to Newman’s questioning of the Anglican position, and the historical period of controversy which loomed in my own struggles with the ‘classic’ Protestant position should be noted: Newman’s was the Christological controversies of the 5th century, whilst mine concerned the Trinitarian controversies of the 4th century. Interestingly enough though, Newman would just a few years later apply the principles which flowed from his assessment of the Christological controversies of the 5th century, to the Trinitarian controversies of the 4th century, and this in turn lead to a reassessment of the Ante-Nicene Fathers “Trinitarianism”, with Newman rejecting the overwhelming consensus theory that the ANFs conformed to St. Vincent of LerinsRule” (i.e. quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus). This gave rise to what has been termed Newman’s “organic” theory of development—i.e. the analogy of a seed/acorn developing into a full grown tree (to which Newman ‘added’ an important supplement: “No doctrine is defined till it is violated”).

Now, back to what I penned in the previous thread:

“…I have reached the point wherein I can no longer reconcile certain historic data with a couple of non-negotiable elements in the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The first and foremost component which has led to my decision is that I can no longer affirm Papal infallibility, nor the inherit infallibility of the Ecumenical councils. Back in 2002 when I entered the RCC, I was able to acknowledge both via the assistance of Newman’s theory of doctrinal development…”

As long as Newman’s theory of DD remained intact, the difficulties, complexities and controversies concerning infallibility (as well as other doctrines that have little support in the early centuries of the Church) were tenable.

Once again, back to the earlier thread:

“…however, in the spring of 2008, certain cracks in Newman’s theory began to appear on my ‘radar’ while engaged in some historical research. This research brought to my attention numerous works that I had not been aware of, which I then began to acquire and read.”

Here is the list of the first group of books that led up to THIS POST:

John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion;

Analysis of Dr. Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua;

Infallibility by John Nelson Darby (this was Darby’s “Fourth Conversation on Romanism”, and is found in The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Volume 22, pp. 79-167 – Believers Bookshelf 1972 reprint; an online edition can be accessed HERE and HERE;

Voting About God

A mere 4 days after the June 5, 2008 thread linked to above, I posted the following:

Searching for a consistent theory of the Church, development and apostasy, which discussed Darby’s essay, “Christianity Not Christendom”.

Then came my provocative thread, Looking for substantive alternatives to Newman’s ‘Theory of Development; this thread elicited 158 combox posts, and sent me ‘back to the books’.

A bibliography of the books and essays I “imposed upon myself”, can be found in THIS NEXT THREAD ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE.

This brings us to THE POST that linked to Jason Engwer’s Triblogue thread, which has been robustly critiqued by Dave Armstrong in 4 installments over the last three days (FINAL INSTALLMENT HERE, also links to the first 3).

Whew…so much for a ‘brief’ history lesson (subsequent threads on DD are linked to under Development of Doctrine in the “LABELS” section on the right sidebar of AF).

Tomorrow afternoon, the Lord willing, I will outline my overall thoughts on the difficulties that I am unable to reconcile with official Catholic dogma.


Grace and peace,

David

129 comments:

Frank said...

David, I cannot agree more with your state that, "As long as Newman’s theory of DD remained intact, the difficulties, complexities and controversies concerning infallibility (as well as other doctrines that have little support in the early centuries of the Church) were tenable." In my discernment to leave Rome, it became my conviction that the development hypothesis, be it Newman's or some other Roman Catholic's, is the article upon which the Roman church stands or falls. Ironically, Rome's embracing of this theory is one of the greatest arguments, if not the greatest argument, against her.

Lvka said...

But Rome has yet to "embrace" this theory...

So, Frank, "where" are you right now?

Frank said...

Lvka,

The Reformed Episcopal church, which is a part of the Anglican Church of North America.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi David,

Just for point of reference, I was wondering about the following things (brief answers will suffice as long as they are unambiguous):

1) Do you accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as accepted by the three branches of Christianity: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism?

2) Do you adhere to the Nicene Creed?

3) What is your position regarding the filioque clause?

4) Do you adhere to the Athanasian Creed?

5) Do you classify Arianism as a species of Christianity?

6) Do you classify Mormonism as a species of Christianity?

7) Is Jesus God the Son: God incarnate: the second Person of the Holy Trinity?

8) Is the Holy Spirit God, and the third Person of the Holy Trinity?

9) How do you determine the meaning of "orthodox" (theological doctrine)?

Thanks.

Lvka said...

So you no longer believe that the sacerdotal priesthood and holy communion are sacraments. What happened?

Dave Armstrong said...

Almost all of these are issues, I should note, are ones where Catholics and Protestants agree. My own answers to all of these questions, save #9 alone, did not change when I moved from Protestantism to Catholicism.

Certain answers, therefore, would place you outside all three branches of Christianity, in which case there is no room in certain predictable anti-Catholic quarters (Bishop White et al) for gloating and chest-puffing because you have concluded that Catholicism is not the fullness of truth, since it would mean you are as far from their camp (in these respects; if you answer in certain ways) as you are from ours.

David Waltz said...

Hi Frank,

Appreciate your comments; I especially found the following intriguing:

>> In my discernment to leave Rome, it became my conviction that the development hypothesis, be it Newman's or some other Roman Catholic's, is the article upon which the Roman church stands or falls. Ironically, Rome's embracing of this theory is one of the greatest arguments, if not the greatest argument, against her.>>

Could you elaborate a bit further on why you believe DD to be “the greatest argument, against her.”

Thanks much,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello Dave,

Hope you do not think that I have been avoiding you, my wife has been keeping me very busy getting ready for our upcoming vacation, yet I have tried to keep up with the newer posts concerning Jason Engwer. (For the record, I too see a massive difference between Jason and the gents he rubs shoulders with, will be looking forward to your continued dialogue with him.)

As for your questions, response/s to all of them is just too complex for me to give definitive answers at the present; I say this because my theology has always flowed from the worldview/paradigm that I embrace, and as you know, I am currently in limbo (no pun intended) concerning my worldview/paradigm—sincerely hope you understand…

But, in lieu of a response from me, I would like you to ponder over the following from a Catholic author/apologist:

“Catholics view the body of Christ on earth as those communities which acknowledge the Pope as the successor of St. Peter whom Jesus appointed as head and leader of the apostles. Thus the visible body of Christ is that Church in communion with the Pope.

But what about the other Christian Churches? Are they part of the body of Christ in some way?…There are sects who, while they do not profess the traditional Creed, still seek to follow Jesus. These are groups like Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are part of the Church.” (Fr. Richard Chilson, Full Christianity, p. 85.)

Know you are very busy, but would be very interested in your thoughts…


God bless,

David

Frank said...

David, maybe in a private e-mail. I have no time for a conversation which might involve numerous people.

Dave Armstrong said...

You hesitate even in answering #1, #7, and #8?

The context would be super important to see exactly what Fr. Chilson meant. He may have meant something along the lines of what an August 2004 This Rock article expressed, in discussing a video where Fr. Chilson's positions were distorted by anti-Catholic James McCarthy's cohorts:

"Chilson, whose doctoral work has been in Mahayana Buddhism, with a specialty in Tibetan Buddhism, said he selected this area of study because Buddhism 'seemed to be as contrary to Christianity as it was possible to be.'

"The video quotes him as saying that, although Buddhists do not believe in God or the soul, behind their myths is a reality that corresponds to the reality addressed by Christianity. In this, Chilson, properly understood, is correct. Since all people face the same reality around them, even those without access to authentic revelation are able to g.asp certain elements of that reality accurately—while misconstruing others. Even Buddhists (not to mention Muslims, Mormons, and Protestants) get some things right, for, as Paul taught, creation itself teaches us about God (Rom. 1:20), and the laws of God are written on the hearts of men (Rom. 2:14–16).

"But the narrator’s comments before and after Chilson’s brief remarks on Buddhism lead the viewer to believe that Chilson in particular and the Catholic Church in general are working toward some kind of syncretistic amalgamation of Catholicism and Buddhism, something not even remotely implied in Chilson’s remarks."

http://www.catholic.com/library/Exposing_Catholicism.asp

IN his 1987 book, Catholic Christianity (p. 388), Fr. Chilson defines Unitarians, Mormons, JWs, Christian Science, and Unification Church (Moonies) as non-Christian:

http://books.google.com/books?id=xX_F9vgDnLUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=richard+chilson&source=bl&ots=_uwcpS11PM&sig=UrLeRUWw3YYz6_a-anmcbZJgy58&hl=en&ei=8ldVS4bDDZHWNpKzkIsJ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=jehovah%27s%20witnesses&f=false

john said...

DavidW

I have read some of the links you posted in your blog post and they prove that the claims of Rome are false. But even more Historical study has been done in the last 40 or so years that further confirms this. I suggest you read a book by Peter Lampe "From Paul to Valentinus:Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries" and "Origins of Papal Infallibility 1150-1350: A Study On The Concepts Of Infallibility, Sovereignty, And Tradition In The Middle Ages".Both books are well researched and detailed academic works, not "Pop Apologetics" like the Roman "e-pologists". Both confirm and further demolish any credibility of Roman claims.No serious Academic peer-Reviwed credible Historian takes Roman claims seriously anymore, they have shown tobe without merit time and time again

BTW Newman HAD to invent his "Theory of Development" because by his time Historians were showing beyond ashadow of a doubt that Roman claims were patently false and could not be based on Historical facts, the Bible or an honest study of Church History or the Early Church Fathers.


FYI I too am now a member of the Reformed Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Church in North America.

TOm said...

John said:
BTW Newman HAD to invent his "Theory of Development" because by his time Historians were showing beyond ashadow of a doubt that Roman claims were patently false and could not be based on Historical facts, the Bible or an honest study of Church History or the Early Church Fathers.

TOm:
Newman did feel a need to define and embrace a “Theory of Development,” but since you claim to be an Anglican you might be interested to note that Newman did this because as an Anglican he could not justify his theology AND his rejection of Rome with his knowledge of history. Something had to give and Newman was a committed Christian in the Anglican tradition with all the doctrinal certainty that involved. In order to maintain the doctrinal certainty in a historically consistent way, Newman discovered that he needed to embrace the authority that developed/defined the doctrines. In addition to this Newman had to recognize that the development of these doctrines perfectly occurred in parallel to the development of distinctly Catholic doctrines which previously he thought were total corruptions. How could the Fathers perfectly define the Trinity, the dual nature of Christ, and … while inventing things like the real presence whole cloth?

I just learned that Newman’s ideas were not “theological novum” to the extent I previously thought. This is interesting to me. I was a fan of Newman before while rejecting his ideas ultimately. I am more of a fan of Newman now (though in truth I feel no compulsion to cease to reject his ideas). It will be interesting to see what you think proves Newman wrong.
Charity, TOm

John Bugay said...

TOm: In order to maintain the doctrinal certainty in a historically consistent way, Newman discovered that he needed to embrace the authority that developed/defined the doctrines.

This is simply not true.

For example, Joseph Kelly notes, in "Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church," that "The second ecumenical council, Constantinople I, was called in 381, met, decided the issues, and adjourned without informing the pope, Damasus I (366-384), that a council was being held." (p. 5)

Constantinople made significant additions to the creed, all without the knowledge of the one truly infallible source that could have prevented them from making errors. It is silly to think that the papacy was an "authority that developed and defined" this doctrine.


How could the Fathers perfectly define the Trinity, the dual nature of Christ, and … while inventing things like the real presence whole cloth?

This doesn't follow. You're merely assuming that they got all these right.

In the first place, it's not given that they "perfectly" defined the Trinity. There are all kinds of fights over this, for centuries.

The two natures of Christ definition given at Chalcedon more appropriately could be said to merely have set outer boundaries, rather than "perfectly" defining this doctrine.

Yet "real presence" is a contradiction, in that it either (a) stomps on the genuine meaning of Chalcedon, or (b) philosophically evades the "real" question by creating some other kind of presence, a "sacramental" presence, which is then miraculously counted as "real."

All said, even closely defining one doctrine offers no guarantee at all that they won't get something else wrong.

john said...

TOm:

To be honest really I don't care what Newman thought, his reading of history was wrong because even more accurate historical study has been done since his time. We have more accurate detailed historical information than he had and all that refutes Rome's claims. I am a Historian by vocation so I read more History that the average person, trust me, if Rome's claims were true I would be Roman Catholic. But when I read History and compare it to what Roman apologists say all I see is attempts to twist the facts and all sorts of qualifying and micromanaging to avoid the obvious and force the facts to fit Rome's Dogmas. BTW I was a Roman Catholic so you can't say I don't understand Roman theology. Not only that, on a Theological level Rome's dogmas also contradicy the Bible and twist it the read their Dogmas into it. The use of sound Biblical Hermeneutics and Exegesis objectively done also refutes Roman Dogmas.

Dave Armstrong said...

Regarding Constantinople, 381:

"No bishops from the west were present, nor was the Pope represented. Therefore, this was not really an ecumenical council, though due to later historical confusion and the enthusiastic acceptance by the whole Church of its strongly orthodox creed, including an explicit confession of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, it came to be regarded and numbered as such."

(Warren Carroll, The Building of Christendom, Front Royal, VA: Christendom College Press, 1987, 62)

"With the First Council of Constantinople (381) we are dealing with another case in which there are not extant acts. This council also was convoked by an emperor, Theodosius I. [Ibid.] The language of his decree suggests he regarded the Roman see as a yardstick of Christian orthodoxy. He commands all his subjects to practice the religion which Peter the apostle transmitted to the Romans. In calling the Council, Theodosius did not envisage the assembled bishops debating Roman doctrine as thought it were an open question.

"The fact that Meletius of Antioch presided at Constantinople I, and the absence of any Roman legates, might appear to be evidence against the Roman primacy. It must be remembered that the Council was not originally intended to be ecumenical in the same sense as Nicaea.

"It included, after all, only 150 bishops from Thrace, Asia Minor, and Egypt and was convoked to deal with certain Eastern problems.[New Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Constantinople, First Council of."] In fact, it was not recognized as ecumenical by the Council of Ephesus half a century later, and it was left to Pope Gregory the Great to elevate it to that status."

("Papal Authority at the Earliest Councils," Brian W. Harrison, This Rock, Jan. 1991)

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1991/9101fea2.asp

John Bugay said...

As far as "proving Newman wrong," he gave his own criteria for this.

At the end of Chapter 3, Section 2, he suggests that “the one essential question is whether the recognized organ of teaching, the Church herself, acting through Pope or Council as the oracle of heaven, has ever contradicted her own enunciations. If so, the hypothesis which I am advocating is at once shattered.”

Well, Nestorius was condemned at knife-point by Cyril's council of Ephesus (431 ad) on a trumped up charge which became known as "Nestorianism". Nevertheless, it was widely viewed by many that the council of Chalcedon (451) vindicated Nestorius's theology. Nestorius himself thought so (see his Book of Heraclides). Later, the 2nd council of Constantinople (553) condemned him by name. It is this condemnation which is lasting and, according to Ludwig Ott, "an authentic expression of Catholic dogma".

Nevertheless, in 1994, Pope John Paul II signed a "common Christological declaration." At issue: the term "Christotokos."

Ultimately, the pope lifted an anathema on this word. But that was, in the councils, the very thing for which Nestorius was condemned.

This is just one such "contradiction" which Newman allowed would "shatter" his theory.

Of course, there are other such "contradictions" -- although these are not admitted as such. The understanding that "outside the church there is no salvation" was plainly undercut with Vatican II's reliance on "invincible ignorance" to admit people from being condemned.

That's just two such examples.

I am aware that Catholic apologists go through all kinds of contortions to say that these aren't really "contradictions." But to the common person, looking to find the simple truth of Matthew 11:28, well, you shouldn't need to bend that far so as not to shatter the "theory" upon which your entire religion now depends.

Dave Armstrong said...

BTW I was a Roman Catholic so you can't say I don't understand Roman theology.

Oh, I can certainly say that. You don't even understand rudimentary logic (judging by your scattershot posts), let alone Catholic theology or something as complex as development.

Everything you assert, is stated as Gospel Truth, as if no one with an IQ higher than a pencil eraser could possibly (honestly) disagree.

John Bugay said...

Dave Armstrong: Citing Warren Carroll as a reliable historian is pretty much a laughable thing.

Tanner gives the following:

In the year 380 the emperors Gratian and Theodosius I decided to convoke this council to counter the Arians, and also to judge the case of Maximus the Cynic, bishop of Constantinople. The council met in May of the following year. One hundred and fifty bishops took part, all of them eastern Orthodox, since the Pneumatomachi party had left at the start.

The Pneumatomachi were the semi-Arians.

Gratian and Theodosius both lived in Rome. What should be of more concern to you is not whether this was not thought of as an "ecumenical" council at the time; rather, the low esteem that Damasus was held in by these two emperors of the west.

Tanner continues, Already from 382 onwards, in the synodical letter of the synod which met at Constantinople, the council of Constantinople was given the title of "ecumenical". The word denotes a general and plenary council.

It was not "Pope Gregory" that "elevated" Constantinople to that status; Chalcedon attributed it equivalent status to Nicea.

(That the council of Ephesus did not recognize it is of no concern; it had its own problems and agendas, not least of which was the lynching of Nestorius that I mentioned above).

Dave Armstrong said...

Citing Warren Carroll as a reliable historian is pretty much a laughable thing.

Why is that? Because he is an orthodox Catholic?

Sounds like the same treatment pro-lifers and political conservatives and virtually all committed Christians get from the secular media.

John Bugay said...

I've had Carroll's work referred to me in the past. I'll just make a comment about his "scholarly apparatus." It's laughable. His sources are virtually all pre-1930. If I'm not mistaken, he counts the spurious Liberian Catalog as a reliable historical source of information.

TOm said...

John Bugay said:
This doesn't follow. You're merely assuming that they got all these right.

TOm:
Actually, I am asserting that Newman the Anglican believed that “they got all these right.” And from that firm conviction he felt compelled to embrace a consistent view of history that explained HOW such things were so remarkably error free.
To be honest, I am not even talking about infallibility of the Pope or councils. I am suggesting that the non-negotiables for conservative Protestants are born within a development of Christian doctrine that includes two things:
1. A reliance upon ordained authorities.
2. A development of the scope and limits of these ordained authorities (together with the development of non-Protestant doctrine).

I personally find it difficult to believe the non-negotiables for conservative Protestants were so faithfully, accurately, … defined by men who thought they had authority but were wrong.

John Bugay:
In the first place, it's not given that they "perfectly" defined the Trinity. There are all kinds of fights over this, for centuries.

TOm:
I agree that Nicea didn’t succeed in quelling all disagreements about the Trinity. I even believe that Newman suggested that the laity had a significant role in demanding Christ’s full divinity against a large majority of clergy who were quite willing to adopt a semi-Arian position.
But the doctrines embraced by the Catholic Church pre-reformation were in most cases identical to the doctrines embraced by the reformers. Newman sought a way to embrace the doctrines strongly held within his conservative Anglican community while rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church and the uniquely Catholic doctrines.
It seems to me that as Newman recognized just how much was undefined and disputed within the early church that he recognized that a theory of development with a God-sanctioned authority church was necessary to get to Anglican orthodoxy.
In addition to this, the pedigree for doctrines like the real presence was stronger than the pedigree for doctrines like original sin. Newman could not define a Maxim of St. Vincent de Lerins way to admit the Anglican doctrines and reject the uniquely Catholic doctrines.

My observation is that this dilemma exists today for conservative Protestants.

Now, if it is your point that the Trinity is not defined and you allow for Social Trinitarians (Plantinga), Modalist Trinitarians (Barth), and Augustinian Trinitarians (most conservative Protestants and Catholics); then perhaps you are a more liberal Protestant than Newman. Such allowances are necessary for a sola scriptura Christian IMO.

Charity, TOm

John Bugay said...

TOm: But you were not attributing this to Newman. It came across as if you were saying it yourself.

I'm aware that the Reformers largely carried through what Roman Catholics had adopted, and I'm aware that there are ongoing issues with that.

But that sort of speaks against either you or Newman suggesting that the Trinity was "defined perfectly". My point in saying that the Trinity is "not defined," was to suggest that it is really impossible to think that in such terms as that there is such a thing as an infallible definition.

john said...

DaveA wrote:
Oh, I can certainly say that. You don't even understand rudimentary logic (judging by your scattershot posts), let alone Catholic theology or something as complex as development.

Everything you assert, is stated as Gospel Truth, as if no one with an IQ higher than a pencil eraser could possibly (honestly) disagree.





Dave a combox on a blog is not the place for extended discussions and dialogue. I assure you that I do understand Roman theology. I am/was a "cradle Catholic", Baptised, raised, and confirmed. I had a good Catholic education and have a BA in History with some post-graduate work done, I also have read Catholic Theology and Church History extensively so your two-bit cheap ad hominum attacks are laughable
BTW I don't pretend to be an "Apologist" just a well educated Christian and ex-Catholic who is tired of seeing gullible people being deceived by twisting and distorting History to prove things that have no factual basis.

Dave Armstrong said...

Case in point. Thanks.

Dave Armstrong said...

Just fyi:

I posted some of my comments above, and made additional comments in a new post of mine (mostly regarding problems brought about by public discussion of these theological disputes):

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/01/clarifying-some-points-of-david-waltzs.html

David Waltz said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for responding, you posted:

>>You hesitate even in answering #1, #7, and #8?>>

Only because of the many differing views that can be (and are), classified as “Trinitarian”. For background see the threads under the LABELS Trinity and Subordinationism.


>>IN his 1987 book, Catholic Christianity (p. 388), Fr. Chilson defines Unitarians, Mormons, JWs, Christian Science, and Unification Church (Moonies) as non-Christian:

http://books.google.com/books?id=xX_F9vgDnLUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=richard+chilson&source=bl&ots=_uwcpS11PM&sig=UrLeRUWw3YYz6_a-anmcbZJgy58&hl=en&ei=8ldVS4bDDZHWNpKzkIsJ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=jehovah%27s%20witnesses&f=false>>

Dave, are we reading the same book? Fr. Chilson’s Catholic Christianity – A Guide to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is essential an expansion of what he said two years earlier in his Full Christianity—below is a fuller quote of the section I provided earlier:

==Catholics view the body of Christ on earth as those communities which acknowledge the Pope as the successor of St. Peter whom Jesus appointed as head and leader of the apostles. Thus the visible body of Christ is that Church in communion with the Pope.

But what about the other Christian Churches? Are they part of the body of Christ in some way? To answer this question the Church views herself as a series of concentric circles, one within another. In the inner circle stands the Pope—a sign of unity going back to Jesus. Around him is found the Roman Catholic Church and those Eastern Churches (called Uniate) in communion with Rome. Next comes the Orthodox Churches who hold the same faith but who are in schism. Next come the various Protestant Churches who cling to the traditional definition of faith in the Nicene Creed. Together these Churches form official Christendom.

But the Church does not stop here. There are sects who, while they do not profess the traditional Creed, still seek to follow Jesus. These are groups like Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are part of the Church. (Richard Chilson, Full Christianity, Paulist Press, 1985, p. 85.)==

In the link I provided above to his other book, the context (pp.386-388) surrounding the tiny snippet you linked to can be read—below I provide part of it:

==Christian Groups

Beyond lie groups which are similar to Christians in some ways, yet differ so significantly that they fall outside the traditional definitions of a Christian Church. They deny the Trinity, such as the Unitarian-Universalists. Or They they may hold non-traditional doctrines, such as the Mormon ideas of pre-existence of souls or baptism for the dead. Other communities in this category are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and the Unification Church of Reverend Moon. (Catholic Christianity – A Guide to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Paulist Press, 1987, p. 388.)==

Notice how he lists the above sects under “Christian Groups”; and though he states that they “they fall outside the traditional definitions of a Christian Church”, I nowhere found were he said that they are “non-Christian” as you wrote.

Hope this helps to clarify.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

You wrote:

>>I have read some of the links you posted in your blog post and they prove that the claims of Rome are false. But even more Historical study has been done in the last 40 or so years that further confirms this. I suggest you read a book by Peter Lampe "From Paul to Valentinus:Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries" and "Origins of Papal Infallibility 1150-1350: A Study On The Concepts Of Infallibility, Sovereignty, And Tradition In The Middle Ages".>>

Me: I own, and have read both books (but thanks for the recommendation). I plan to type up a fairly comprehensive bibliography concerning the topics of Papal and Council infallibility—but, I have decided to wait, and do so when I get back from my trip so I participate fully in any ongoing discussion.

BTW, are you the same “john” that was recently banned over at Triablogue (you know, the blog known for its Christian charity [grin])???


Grace and peace,

David

john said...

DavidW

No, not the same person, I've been there to read the postings but no, I've never posted anything there. As you know when posting on Internet Forums and Blogs many times Christian charity gets lost in the dialogue, sad but true. Hope you and your Wife enjoy your vacation. I am looking forward to discussions here on your Blog

Lisamck said...

Hey TOm,

I can't speak for anyone else. Maybe you and I and some other guy have rubbed off on each other a lot. But you make a lot of sense to me when you talk about Newman. How ironic that all three of us are against each other! (You know I mean.) For now...

My poor cell phone. Still not ringing. Won't hold a charge. I think your number is still in there.

I am very interested in Dave W's answers to Dave A. That is why I asked over in the other thread about whether the trouble for him starts in 1950, 1870, 1854, or 325. I couldn't be a dogmatical Nicene Protestant. Never. I'd have to allow for Arian, Mormon, and Jehovah's Witness Christianity.

In fact, being a rather liberal Catholic (in some respects), I consider those groups Christian as quickly as I do Protestants since Protestants don't make any sense unless they are liberal! Our friend has already convinced me long ago that the only thing separating me from Arianism, isn't sola scriptura, but the Council of
Nicea.

For the record, I didn't look at all the dogmas that the Church teaches and decide I agree with them. That isn't how infallibility works. I believe Christ is the Head of the one true Church. Certain things follow from this conviction, among which infallibility is not the greatest exercise of faith.

If as a Protestant I can believe that the Spirit of Christ inspired writers to give us inerrant words without any error, how much less faith does it take to believe that the Spirit of Christ helps His Church to give us inerrant concepts without any error? Arguments against papal infallibility will also destroy biblical inerrancy. Of the choices, conservative Catholicism, Restoration, or liberal Protestantism, liberal Protestantism is the last on my list.

Rory

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi David,

Fr. Chilson's language is a little ambiguous, but I think he stretched himself too thin (in his subtitle) in trying to be as ecumenical as he could.

The fact remains that logic requires that Mormons and the other groups are distinct from Christians (as he noted); therefore they are not Christian groups (also indicated by the word "beyond"). Fr. Chilson wrote:

"Beyond lie groups which are similar to Christians in some ways, yet differ so significantly that they fall outside the traditional definitions of a Christian Church."

Just substitute whatever religious group you like into this sentence and you can see that you can't possibly hold that he is saying (at least in this sentence) that they are Christian:

"Mormons are similar to Christians in some ways, yet differ so significantly that they fall outside the traditional definitions of a Christian Church."

If you say he holds that Mormons are Christians, then this involves a vicious self-contradiction:

"Subset Christian Group X is similar to the larger set of Christians in some ways, yet differs so significantly that it falls outside the traditional definitions of a Christian Church."

Huh?

Let's do another analogy. Michigan is a species of the set that we call states. So using Fr. Chilson's sentence, we get:

"Michigan is similar to states in some ways, yet differs so significantly that it falls outside the traditional definition of an American state."

It's logical nonsense. Let's do one more, if anyone misses the point:

"Beyond lies apples and oranges, which are similar to fruits in some ways, yet differ so significantly that they fall outside the traditional definitions of a fruit."

Conclusion: yes: he is classifying them as non-Christian, because they are "beyond," are contrasted with Christians (therefore are not in that classification), and cannot qualify by definition as a Christian church.

Mormons aren't Christians because (among many other things) they deny the Trinity, as all three branches of Christianity define it.

Mormon doctrine on theology proper contradicts the de fide dogmas of the Catholic Church on trinitarianism, which is why the Church clarified that Mormon baptisms were invalid, because of the radically different conception of the Godhead (many thanks to Dr. Ludwig Ott for the following info.):

1) Letter of Pope Dionysius (259-268) to Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, that rejected Sabellianism, Tritheism, and Subordinationism (Denzinger 48-51)

2) The Nicene Creed (D 54): stressed the divinity of the Son and consubstantiality with the Father.

3) Symbolum Nicaeno-Constantinopolitanum (381): against Arianism and Macedinianism, stresses divinity of the Holy Spirit and of the Son. (D 86)

4) Athanasian Creed (Symbolum Quicumque) (D 39 ff.)

5) Symbol of the 11th Synod of Toledo (675) (D 275-281)

6) Council of Florence: Decretum pro Jacobitis (1441): summary exposition of the Trinity (D 703 ff.)

The continued refusal to answer the questions is very telling and troubling. You can't even state without hesitation or doubt, that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit is God?

I could see discussion on something like the filioque (#3) and fine points of how orthodoxy is ultimately determined (#9), but c'mon: now you are unsure even about the basic truths of the Godhead? You've been reciting the Nicene Creed all those Sundays without even being sure that you accept it?

Dave Armstrong said...

Here is Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma online, if anyone wants to look up those trinitarian creeds and dogmatic statements:

http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma.php

CrimsonCatholic said...

I have read some of the links you posted in your blog post and they prove that the claims of Rome are false. But even more Historical study has been done in the last 40 or so years that further confirms this. I suggest you read a book by Peter Lampe "From Paul to Valentinus:Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries" and "Origins of Papal Infallibility 1150-1350: A Study On The Concepts Of Infallibility, Sovereignty, And Tradition In The Middle Ages".Both books are well researched and detailed academic works, not "Pop Apologetics" like the Roman "e-pologists". Both confirm and further demolish any credibility of Roman claims.No serious Academic peer-Reviwed credible Historian takes Roman claims seriously anymore, they have shown tobe without merit time and time again

What I would find far more troubling, were I a Protestant, is the new *patristics* scholarship of the last 40 years, which convincingly demonstrates that, while giving nominal adherence to the ecumencial creeds, Protestants have done so according to the same defective interpretation as the heretics. The modest claims of papal authority, which in any case are not refuted by what you cited (and I've read them), are trivial compared to the fact that the Protestant account of salvation and grace is fundamentally opposed to the Christian account of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. The physical presence (i.e., real presence according to nature) of God in the Church and its necessity for salvation is unanimously agreed by all Catholic and Orthodox Christians, echoing St. Cyril of Alexandria, the great "Seal of the Fathers." Yet Protestants deny it, making the spiritual resemblance to God merely moral (hence, imputed justification) and not physical.

That's a Nestorian account of salvation, plain and simple. And the historical evidence about the heterodoxy of Nestorianism has been piling up over the last couple of decades (see, e.g., J.A. McGuckin, Paul Clayton) after some scholarship suggesting that Nestorius might have been orthodox (mostly based on Nestorius's own erroneous claims; see, e.g., F. Loofs), and therefore, that Calvin's identical beliefs might have been as well. But that has been crushed even more convincingly than the admittedly excessive claims of some Catholics about papal infallibility, and it is a much more serious error in any case. This is why I stopped even bothering with these debates, at least until I saw David wavering, because Newman's prophetic words about being "deep in history" were absolutely vindicated by the neo-patristic scholarship. Protestants today have no hope of being orthodox in the historical sense; they have to redefine orthodoxy to be broad enough to include what they believe (see, e.g., D.H. Williams).

Spoils23m said...

Greetings,

I am beginning to feel as though Mr. Waltz's current spiritual/theological state is much more in flux than some of our Reformed brethren would be comfortable with (this is an understatement).

DAVID WALTZ:
I am, of course, sorry to hear that you are unable to reconcile the Catholic faith and the claims it makes with your research. You and I once had a small exchange concerning these types of difficulties in the area of historical theology. I vaguely remember suggesting to you that these types of difficulties could be (I would argue that they *should be*) looked at in much the same way Evangelical Protestants (the ones who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture) view what had come to be called "biblical difficulties." At that time, I remember you agreeing with my assertion... obviouly something has changed.

Is it fair to say that your view of the Holy Writ and it's inspiration and innerancy are in flux too? I am starting to get that impression.

I will be praying for you.

CRIMSON CATHOLIC:
I have been reading your blog with extreme interest for a couple of years now. You introduced me to Xubiri, for which I deeply thank you. You have also pointed me to some wonderful scholarly resources vis a vis the "new patristics" to which to referred above... I am studying these issues as time permits... This is certainly an exciting area of study.

I hope everyone is well.

IC XC
S

Edward Reiss said...

Crimson Catholic,

Don;t take this the wrong way, but there is no such thing as "Protestant" doctrine or "Protestant" theology, at least in a confessional sense. You claim that "Protestants" don't believe in the real presence of Christ in the Church. Well, Lutherans believe in the Real bodily presence of Christ in Holy Communion. That is just one example.

Basically, I don;t think it is honest for RC apologists to claim "Protestants" ar ehopelessly divided and then, when convenient, treat "Protestantism" as if it has some confessional meaning, it does not.

Regarding the papacy, given the extraordinary claims of papal authority by the RCC, contradictory patristic evidence is more fatal to RCism than it is to "Protestantism", since the former is a confession and the latter is not.

john said...

Just going by Patristics is not enough to to give either Catholics or Protestants a clear "win". If anyone studies them they will see that they are neither "Roman Catholic" or "Protestant" and at times affirm uniquely Catholic or Protestant beliefs. Also one must keep in mind that at times they "stretched the truth" and were politically motivated, IE they were men of their times and any attempt for either side to "backread" their current Theology into them is bad History and simply isn't valid, they must be read in their Historical context.Another thing to remember is that many of them were not fluent in the original Biblical languages and had "lost touch" with the original mindset of those who originally penned the Old and New Testaments nor did they have access to the same detailed information and lexical tools that w have today,there was no rapid communications, travel, or Internet back then. So the Early Church Fathers were also the "Early Church Babies" as well.

Detailed Historical study has also shown that many Early Fathers "fibbed" on some details especially when they were opposing various heresies of their day. So yes I go by what the majority of what Historians say today about things like there being no Monarchial Bishop in Rome until the late 2cnd Century and that even then it was primarily administartive and limited to the Church in Rome, also that the office of Bishop came about starting in the late 2cnd century and that it was for practical and administrative reasons rather than by "Divine Right". Up until the late 2cnd Century "local" Churches or "Congregations" were more or less independant and self-governing and were governed by a plurality of "Elders" and "Deacons".

Spoils23m said...

Edward,

I think that Crimson Catholic is more than capable of speaking for himself, but... I wanted to offer a couple of "cents" of my own too.

You wrote:
"Don't take this the wrong way, but there is no such thing as 'Protestant' doctrine or 'Protestant' theology, at least in a confessional sense."

I am sure that Crimson is well aware of this, but... perhaps he was just making a general observation about what (historically) Protestants have believed.

You wrote:
"You claim that 'Protestants' don't believe in the real presence of Christ in the Church. Well, Lutherans believe in the Real bodily presence of Christ in Holy Communion. That is just one example."

I am not sure that this is *exactly* what Crimson was getting at... we'll have to wait and see if he responds though. :)

You wrote:
"Basically, I don't think it is honest for RC apologists to claim 'Protestants' are hopelessly divided..."

Do you claim that Protestants are "hopelessly divided?"

What does 'Protestant' mean (confessionally speaking? theologically speaking? historically speaking? logically speaking? etc?) Anything? Or do you only use this term when it's convenient?

You wrote:
" ...and then, when convenient, treat 'Protestantism' as if it has some confessional meaning, it does not."

It does have some sort of meaning, right? I mean he can't very well call all non Catholics
'Protestants' can he? I can't see how he could even call all non-Catholic Christians
'Protestants.'

It seems as though, as opposed to being less than (what you seem to imply as the opposite opposite of) "honest" may have just been a time-saving way of speaking generally about a subject.

You wrote:
"Regarding the papacy, given the extraordinary claims of papal authority by the RCC, contradictory patristic evidence is more fatal to RCism than it is to 'Protestantism,' since the former is a confession and the latter is not."

That remains to be seen, I suppose.

I hope that you are well. :)

Spoils23m said...

Jon,

I hope this correspondence finds you well, mate.

You wrote:
"Just going by Patristics is not enough to to give either Catholics or Protestants a clear 'win.'"

Perhaps. I suppose it depends on the context of the discussion, what the presuppositons of the participants of the discussion were, and if their claims were consistent to the overall worldview that they espoused.

You wrote:
"If anyone studies them they will see that they are neither 'Roman Catholic' or 'Protestant' and at times affirm uniquely Catholic or Protestant beliefs..."

I don't know that I'd make the claim that *any* of the Fathers were "Roman" Catholic... at least not in the sense that you seem to understand it.

I do claim that none of the none of the Fathers of the Church were Protestants. :)

You wrote:
"Also one must keep in mind that at times they 'stretched the truth' and were politically motivated, IE they were men of their times..."

Were Jesus and the Apostles "men of their times?" Could the claim be made that they might have been "politically motivated?" Did the Apostles ever "stretch the truth?" If so, would this cast doubt (for you) on what they handed down (doctrinally) to us in Scripture? If not, why?

You wrote:
" ...and any attempt for either side to 'backread' their current Theology into them is bad History and simply isn't valid, they must be read in their Historical context."

If I understand you correctly, I would tend to agree. :)

You wrote:
"Another thing to remember is that many of them were not fluent in the original Biblical languages."

Oh my!! If only they had been given some kind of Bible software!! God only knows what they might have gotten wrong!!

Does being fluent in the biblical languages guarantee doctrinal purity? Is it even a requirement? Do you "poison the well" often? ;)

You wrote:
" ...and had 'lost touch' with the original mindset of those who originally penned the Old and New Testaments."

Says who?

" ...nor did they have access to the same detailed information and lexical tools that we have today."

And this matters how exactly?

"Oh gee!! Just think of how much we'll be able to improve upon the Ancient Faith as our Bible software and 'lexical tools' get better!! I wonder what archaic doctrines we'll be able to jettison... what new doctrines we'll be able to proclaim. Christianity's future seems ever-so-bright!"

Really? *sigh*

You wrote:
" ...there was no rapid communications, travel, or Internet back then. So the Early Church Fathers were also the 'Early Church Babies' as well."

The Apostles even moreso, correct? I wish that the Apostles and Jesus had just had use of the Internet, of modern communications, etc... Christianity would have turned out so much better. ;)

I am having just a bit of fun with your comments of course, but I mean no disrespect. We can't take discussions in a combox all that seriously... at least not all of the time.

I hope that you are well.

IC XC
S

David Waltz said...

Hi Dave,

First, I think you and I will have to agree to disagree on what Fr. Chilson wrote; for my part I am willing to let what he penned remain as originally stated—i.e. the sects in question are not “traditional” Christians, but they are listed under the section “Christian Groups”—I see no need to add any of my own personal interpretations…

Second, you posted:

>>The continued refusal to answer the questions is very telling and troubling. You can't even state without hesitation or doubt, that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit is God?

I could see discussion on something like the filioque (#3) and fine points of how orthodoxy is ultimately determined (#9), but c'mon: now you are unsure even about the basic truths of the Godhead? You've been reciting the Nicene Creed all those Sundays without even being sure that you accept it?>>

Me: You are reading way to much into my hesitancy to begin a complex dialogue into the questions you asked before my vacation; on my return, I will, if you are still interested, attempt to answer all of them in depth (will probably deal with one at a time given what I believe to be the necessary length that will be required).

As for the Nicene Creed, I have no problem reciting it as we speak; however, I do have reservations concerning subsequent interpretations of the NC, some of which may in fact negate the original intent of bishops who met in 325 and 381.

Anyway, the timing of my vacation has both positive and negative elements: positive in that it has been a pretty rough winter here and a few contiguous days of sunshine and warm weather will be much appreciated; negative in the sense that I am going to have to delay the areas of discussion that I wanted to closely follow my 01-06-10 post.


Hope that you are willing and able to be a continuing participant upon my safe return.


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello S,

Thanks much for responding; you wrote:

>>Is it fair to say that your view of the Holy Writ and it's inspiration and innerancy are in flux too? I am starting to get that impression.>>

Me: No, pretty much the same as the last 40 plus years of my life—the autographa are infallible and inerrant, and the copies are well preserved, such that the extant variants will not change ANYONES theological position based on which of the variants he/she chooses.

>>I will be praying for you.>>

I sincerely appreciate this S.


God bless,

David

Edward Reiss said...

Spoils23,

You wrote: "I am sure that Crimson is well aware of this, but... perhaps he was just making a general observation about what (historically) Protestants have believed."

The point is that "Protestantism" is not a confessional label, but is basically a Western Christian not in fellowship with the pope. Crimson's post more than implies there is such a confession.

"Do you claim that Protestants are "hopelessly divided?""

No more than EOs, RCs, Copts, Lutherans etc. are. I know that the divisions within "Protestantism" is an argument used a lot by apologists, but it is misleading to speak of what "Protestants" believe while maintaining that the divisions within this "confession" disprove the confession.

Using it in a confessional sense is a-hisorical. In a theological sense there is no such thing as "Protestant" theology, and yet apologists feel free to rail against "Protestantism" all the time. That does not seem at all consistent.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi David,

First, I think you and I will have to agree to disagree on what Fr. Chilson wrote; for my part I am willing to let what he penned remain as originally stated—i.e. the sects in question are not “traditional” Christians, but they are listed under the section “Christian Groups”—I see no need to add any of my own personal interpretations.

It's not a matter of personal interpretation, I don't think, but of simple logic. Words mean things. Ideas have relations. His words contain internal contradictions if they are interpreted as you have done, that I repeatedly demonstrated, using three analogies.

The use of "Christian groups", on the other hand, could easily be construed as a broad ecumenical, somewhat sloppy usage. There is a sense in which one can say "Christian heretics" insofar as certain groups came out of Christianity, and not another religion. It's the same for Islam (Black Muslims, the Islamicist terrorists) and other religions. For the Orthodox Jew Christianity is a Jewish heresy.

In any event, the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy (and most Protestants who still hold to classic theistic doctrine) have all determined that these groups are outside of Christianity. Even if Fr. Chilson believes as you do, so what? He would simply be wrong, in light of what historic orthodoxy has decreed. Why put so much stock into what he says?

You are reading way to much into my hesitancy to begin a complex dialogue into the questions you asked before my vacation; on my return, I will, if you are still interested, attempt to answer all of them in depth (will probably deal with one at a time given what I believe to be the necessary length that will be required).

What is so complex about a simple "yes" to the question of whether Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God? If you believe those things, there is no reason in the world to not unhesitatingly say "yes" or "I do (believe that)". They are either God or not. What is there to even discuss? What: are you gonna do a huge paper showing that Jesus is NOT God? If so, that would clearly mean that you are not a Christian.
Any orthodox Christian (in the Nicene, Athanasian sense) answers those questions immediately, it seems to me. I can't imagine what would cause a hesitation except for some level of doubt. And I sure hope I am wrong (I really do), and that you can explain, but you're on your way to Mexico . . .

Some of my questions involve complexities, sure, but those two do not (which is why I singled them out and asked again). Yet you included them in the list of things that you think are too nuanced and complex to answer quickly and briefly with a simple yes or no.

Thus I can only reasonably conclude that you are wavering even on something as basic as the trinitarian Godhead and the deity or divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (and of the Holy Spirit). If you are trying to define Christology in a way that would include Mormon conceptions within its parameters (as I suspect, the more I find out), this is part and parcel of the problem. It's an impossible task.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

As for the Nicene Creed, I have no problem reciting it as we speak;

Then why in the world couldn't you give a simple affirmative answer as to the divinity of the Holy Spirit and Jesus?

however, I do have reservations concerning subsequent interpretations of the NC, some of which may in fact negate the original intent of bishops who met in 325 and 381.

Okay.I assume you refer to the filioque; perhaps other matters.

Anyway, the timing of my vacation has both positive and negative elements: positive in that it has been a pretty rough winter here and a few contiguous days of sunshine and warm weather will be much appreciated; negative in the sense that I am going to have to delay the areas of discussion that I wanted to closely follow my 01-06-10 post.

Well, have a wonderful time (and don't drink local water!). We all need to get away. I look eagerly forward to my vacations every year: regarding them as a sort of Sabbath for the entire year.

Hope that you are willing and able to be a continuing participant upon my safe return.

Yes, but within certain time and topical limits. When I got involved, I thought development and infallibility were the main issues. Now all of a sudden trinitarianism needs to be discussed as an issue that is debatable?

What would need to be done to establish the Trinity as true? Is not scriptural testimony enough in and of itself (I believe in material sufficiency)? The dogmatic pronouncements I summarized last time are clear, are they not?

I find all this very troubling. But I think it all goes back to the need of supernatural faith, that I stressed when I first got involved in this. We can't go by reason alone. We have to yield to supernatural faith and acceptance of dogma at some point. No one person can even figure everything out anyway. That is the ultimate folly of sola Scriptura and private judgment.

But God can lead us to something far bigger than ourselves, that we can accept in faith, by His power, without having to throw away our minds or ceasing all historiographical analysis. The latter occurs within the framework of orthodoxy, and is not the be-all and end-all.

TOm said...

Rory,
Hello and sorry to hear about your phone, at least unlike me you know your damage is not due to jumping into a pool with you phone on in your pocket (more than once).

You said:
For the record, I didn't look at all the dogmas that the Church teaches and decide I agree with them. That isn't how infallibility works. I believe Christ is the Head of the one true Church. Certain things follow from this conviction, among which infallibility is not the greatest exercise of faith.
If as a Protestant I can believe that the Spirit of Christ inspired writers to give us inerrant words without any error, how much less faith does it take to believe that the Spirit of Christ helps His Church to give us inerrant concepts without any error? Arguments against papal infallibility will also destroy biblical inerrancy.

TOm:
I do not think infallibility is more remarkable than the resurrection of Jesus or many other things. I think the position of infallibilities deniers is that historical evidence makes belief in infallibility difficult. I think there is something to Dave A’s and your criticism that the type of skepticism that fuels the most infallibility deniers would dismantle belief in inerrant scripture and many other things if consistently applied.

You said:
Of the choices, conservative Catholicism, Restoration, or liberal Protestantism, liberal Protestantism is the last on my list.

TOm:
I feel the same way. There is alluring about Chris’s position, but I feel like there is such a thing as too much free floating (or something). Chris once said to me that if I have experienced God profoundly why do I need more structure to my beliefs than he has. I concede this is an interesting question. Perhaps it is something about my perception of order within God’s kingdom or perhaps it is something else.

Father Chilson lives in Portland, perhaps you should go visit him. I am about to throw a rock at Dave A.
Charity, TOm

Spoils23m said...

Edward,

Thanks for your response, mate.

The point is that
'Protestantism' is not a confessional label, but is basically a Western Christian not in fellowship with the pope. Crimson's post more than implies there is such a confession.


Ok...? Is any "Westerner" who is not in formal communion with the Bishop of Rome and calls themselves a "Christian" rightly called a "Protestant?"

No more than EOs, RCs, Copts, Lutherans etc. are. I know that the divisions within
'Protestantism' is an argument used a lot by apologists, but it is misleading to speak of what 'Protestants' believe while maintaining that the divisions within this 'confession' disprove the confession.


I see. That is an very interesting take.

Would it be fair to say that (since you seem to think that the "EOs, RCs, and Copts are just as divided as the 'Protestants' are), that their "cofessions" are really just useful fictions that 'Protestant' apologists can use to make a case against the "RCC," for instance?

Would it be fair to say that there are potentially as many equally valid "Protestantisms" as there are "Protestants?"

Do you believe that divisions within a confession disprove that confession?

Using it in a confessional sense is a-hisorical. In a theological sense there is no such thing as "Protestant" theology, and yet apologists feel free to rail against 'Protestantism' all the time. That does not seem at all consistent.

I see. From what I can gather, you seem to think that there is also "no such thing as 'RCC' theology (or Eastern Orthodox or Coptic, etc. for that matter), yet 'Protestant' apologists feel free to rail against 'Romanism' all the time.

Alas, your position doesn't seem at all consistent either. :)

I hope you are well, friend.

IC XC
S

Spoils23m said...

Tom,

I have been reading your comments here for quite a while now. I appreciate the kindness and respect that you give folks in your responses to the...

I am about to throw a rock at Dave A.

Perhaps I spoke too soon? ;)

...the type of skepticism that fuels the most infallibility deniers would dismantle belief in inerrant scripture and many other things if consistently applied.

Bingo!! That is what I am so ineptly trying to express here and over at Dave Armstrong's blog.

I hope that you are well.

IC XC
S

Spoils23m said...

David Waltz,


I live in Mexico... where will you be?

IC XC
S

TOm said...

Dave A,
I looked at the two passages cited by you and David W and agreeded with David W’s assessment. I then saw your argument and could allow that PERHAPS Father Chilson meant what you thought he meant. David W suggested that this would just be a thing you would have to agree to disagree on. Which seemed reasonable based on the data to me. You then responded as follows:

Dave A:
It's not a matter of personal interpretation, I don't think, but of simple logic. Words mean things. Ideas have relations. His words contain internal contradictions if they are interpreted as you have done, that I repeatedly demonstrated, using three analogies.

The use of "Christian groups", on the other hand, could easily be construed as a broad ecumenical, somewhat sloppy usage. There is a sense in which one can say "Christian heretics" insofar as certain groups came out of Christianity, and not another religion. It's the same for Islam (Black Muslims, the Islamicist terrorists) and other religions. For the Orthodox Jew Christianity is a Jewish heresy.

In any event, the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy (and most Protestants who still hold to classic theistic doctrine) have all determined that these groups are outside of Christianity. Even if Fr. Chilson believes as you do, so what? He would simply be wrong, in light of what historic orthodoxy has decreed. Why put so much stock into what he says?

TOm:
Perhaps your last sentence is a bow to your lack of infallibility in the interpretation of Fr. Chilson, but your first 2.5 paragraphs IMO demonstrate a problem I regularly see in apologetics.


The ECF are dead. I regularly hear Protestants claim Catholics read their doctrines back into the ECF. I regularly hear Catholics claim Protestants read their doctrines back into the ECF. And everyone agrees that Mormons are simply the worst at this!

I think the truth is that none of these three groups is free from reading with BIAS. None of them are as out to lunch as their opponents often suggest. And, the degree of certainty you and others exhibit when you espouse your reading and condemn the reading of other folks seems to me to be UNWARRENTED.


I think that if Father Chilson were asked “Are Mormons or JWs Christian?” he would respond with a qualified “Yes.” I am guessing you would expect a charitable “No.”
So my question to you is, “Do you really believe deciding this is, ‘not a matter of personal interpretation, I don't think, but of simple logic. Words mean things. Ideas have relations.’?” To me this sound like far more than is warranted from the words we have on the page. I would suggest you are either guilty of reading into Father Chilson’s words your own position OR of inserting in false surety for apologetic effect.

What do you think?

Charity, TOm

CrimsonCatholic said...

Don;t take this the wrong way, but there is no such thing as "Protestant" doctrine or "Protestant" theology, at least in a confessional sense. You claim that "Protestants" don't believe in the real presence of Christ in the Church. Well, Lutherans believe in the Real bodily presence of Christ in Holy Communion. That is just one example.


I don't agree that Lutherans believe in the real presence, except in the Monophysite sense of confusing the properties (e.g., Jesus Christ's human body receiving ubiquity), which is ironic, because they do it to overcome their own Nestorian account of salvation. In that respect, the difference between Calvinists and Lutherans looks very much like what happened with the Monophysites and Nestorians, where they can even manage to agree on an error but still disagree on the explanation for how to reach it.

That actually speaks to your larger point, though, which is that the label "Protestant" is much like the label "Arian." Many Arians despised each other; Eunomians and Homoiousians, for example, were vehemently opposed to one another. What united them was not any positive doctrine, but *denial* of a positive doctrine. In that respect, it's entirely correct to apply the label commonly, because all Protestants deny the orthodox account of salvation given by the ecumenical councils, even though they can vary wildly in their positive confessions.

But this speaks to the larger point, which is that "Protestant" is a term just like "Arian," in that the fact that there are various disagreeing sects is irrelevant, because the label applies to what they deny, not what they accept. Your complaint is therefore no more valid that the various Arian complaints that they weren't like the others. Find me a Protestant who believes in infused rather than imputed justification, who explains union with Christ in a physical sense through the hypostatic union, and who understands salvation in terms of an orthodox notion of deification, and ... well ... that person wouldn't be a Protestant. But I'm not aware of any Protestant creed that doesn't entail a denial of these things, so I maintain that they are rightly labeled Protestants by their common error. -- JP

CrimsonCatholic said...

Thanks for the kind words, Spoils. I wish I had more time to write, but I'm too busy being a dad these days!

Edward Reiss said...

Spoils,

"Would it be fair to say that (since you seem to think that the "EOs, RCs, and Copts are just as divided as the 'Protestants' are), that their "cofessions" are really just useful fictions that 'Protestant' apologists can use to make a case against the "RCC," for instance?"

"EO" is a confession, "Lutheran" is a confession, "Roman Catholic" is a confession, "Presbyterian" is a confession. "Protestantism" is not a confession.

Regarding divisions, by RC lights there is a division, as the Eos while having valid orders are in schism.

And no, divisions within a confession to not invalidate that confession.

Edward Reiss said...

Crimson,

"I don't agree that Lutherans believe in the real presence, except in the Monophysite sense of confusing the properties "

The Lutheran doctrine is almost identical to the EO doctrine. We believe the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. That is the doctrine, the explanations are not the doctrine, which may be why you are confused.

"That actually speaks to your larger point, though, which is that the label "Protestant" is much like the label "Arian.""

Which is like the label "Catholic", which the EO "Catholic" and RC "Catholic" churches having contradictory doctrines.

"Find me a Protestant who believes in infused rather than imputed justification, who explains union with Christ in a physical sense through the hypostatic union, and who understands salvation in terms of an orthodox notion of deification, and ... well ... that person wouldn't be a Protestant."

Find me a "Catholic" who denies infused justification and he would be Eastern Orthodox, because they believe grace is an uncreated energy of God.

Your arguments are rather semantic and hence reversible. All I want to point out is that you made a lot of claims about "Protestantism" are very misleading, as "Protestantism" is not a confession or even a belief system.

Lisamck said...

Hey TOm,

I am encouraged by your comments to think I am on the right track.

I won't try to quote from the comment box. But I'll offer a summary of my own points of view regarding some of the questions that have been raised in the order they occur to me.

1) Fr. Chilson would not probably change my mind on whether Mormons or others who deny the proclamations of an ecumenical Council should qualify as Christian. Certainly, everyone has a different definition in mind. I am inclined to accept under the broad umbrella of "Christian" anyone who can accept the historical facts of the Apostles' Creed. Of course, like most Protestants, Mormons do not give assent to belief in the holy Catholic Church or communion of saints.

2) Most Protestants and Catholics who would apply a standard that would exclude Mormons from being Christian are in my opinion, too optimistic about sola scriptura in the case of Protestants, or the material sufficiency of Scripture in the case of Catholics. As a Catholic I believe the Scriptures are materially sufficient to show plausibility of the true doctrine but not implausibility of the false doctrine. My view of material sufficiency allows that without the authority of the Catholic Church to resolve biblical controversy, heretics could never be silenced because the Scriptures are intended to have a complimnetary authority, not a sole authority.

Apart from the Catholic Church, I think it is very unlikely that I would arrive at Catholic doctrine, and especially not the Nicene Trinity by reading it in a vacuum. Those Catholics who think the Scriptures are materially sufficient to silence studious Arians seem to forget that they had the Scriptures in 325 and they weren't sufficient by themselves. Scripture alone has not been adequate historically to resolve the major biblical controversies.

I suppose I will find myself alone among the Protestants and Catholics both who will suggest that the Arians were just wicked, stubborn, or stupid. I don't believe it is necessarily so. I think some of them were smart, sincere, and even devout. The devout would of course, have yielded to Holy Mother Church after the Council. While I hold that the Scriptures must be materially sufficient to support the plausibility of Catholic doctrine, this is not enough to withhold the title of Christian from people who believe in the birth, death, and resurrection of God's Son while having doubts about later creeds of Christendom.

Gotta go...

I had another comment or two. But I am sure what I have said is enough to make most participants here hold me as a loon. It can't be helped. I can't be silent given how the discussion has been going.

I am grateful for your sharing how you drowned your cell phone!

Rory

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Tom,

I think the truth is that none of these three groups is free from reading with BIAS.

Of course they aren't. It's always been my position since time immemorial that we all have a bias. That's why I like dialogue. Let me express my biased view; you can do yours, and an onlooker can decide which is more worthy of belief.

We should all attempt to be objective; on the other hand, the nature of dogma restricts us, so that we can't go in unlimited, unrestrained directions.

I follow Chesterton's philosophy. He compared orthodoxy to a fence around a high hill, with steep cliffs on all sides. When it is there, the children feel more free to play because they don't have to worry about falling off. Without it, they are not really free, because they cold either fall off or else worry so much about doing so that they can't have any fun. Thus, orthodoxy and dogmatic restriction frees the mind to be truly free, and itself.

None of them are as out to lunch as their opponents often suggest. And, the degree of certainty you and others exhibit when you espouse your reading and condemn the reading of other folks seems to me to be UNWARRENTED.

The Chilson thing was a matter of simple logic. I made analogical arguments which are purely logical. The way to defeat that is not to condemn it verbally but to actually SHOW me where my logic went awry. Neither you nor David have done that, so why in the world would I change my mind on the matter? I don't change my mind by being told I am wrong (or supposedly arrogant or what not, or the typical apologist, etc.), but by being shown with rational argument HOW I was wrong (if indeed I was). I'm weird that way. I guess I am a throwback. It has nothing directly to do with the subject matter. It was strictly logical. Fr. Chilson could have been talking about the man in the moon or the moon made of green cheese, or pink panthers. The laws of logical remain the same nevertheless.

I think that if Father Chilson were asked “Are Mormons or JWs Christian?” he would respond with a qualified “Yes.”

Then I would immediately ask him by what criterion he defines "Christian." The fact remains that the citation in question is somewhat ambiguous, so it looks like we won't resolve the question by it alone.

I am guessing you would expect a charitable “No.”

I think it could go either way, because there was a possible contradiction in the words he used.

So my question to you is, “Do you really believe deciding this is, ‘not a matter of personal interpretation, I don't think, but of simple logic. Words mean things. Ideas have relations.’?”

Yes, as explained above. But by that, I mean not Fr. Chilson's overall opinion, which remains ambiguous and uncertain, but the logical problems that occur in this citation if we take your view and David's that he thinks Mormons, etc., can be classified as Christian.

To me this sound like far more than is warranted from the words we have on the page. I would suggest you are either guilty of reading into Father Chilson’s words your own position OR of inserting in false surety for apologetic effect.

What do you think?


I have explained. Whether I have done a good job of that is for others to judge.I never do things merely for effect. What I write I truly believe. I mean what I say and say what I mean.

I do argue vigorously and passionately. Of that I will plead guilty every time.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Lisamck,

As a Catholic I believe the Scriptures are materially sufficient to show plausibility of the true doctrine but not implausibility of the false doctrine.

This is a very interesting way of putting it, and I think you may be onto something; but on the other hand, if true doctrine can be shown in the Bible as plausible (as I certainly believe), are not the false doctrines shown to be implausible by virtue of being contrary to the manifestly plausible true scriptural doctrines?

In other words, to use an example, by demonstrating the Trinity (and particularly the deity of Christ), Arianism is thus shown to be false (therefore, also implausible, since false).

I'm not sure one thing can be separated from the other.

Dave Armstrong said...

Those Catholics who think the Scriptures are materially sufficient to silence studious Arians seem to forget that they had the Scriptures in 325 and they weren't sufficient by themselves.

I think they are quite sufficient to disprove Arianism. I even did so myself in the early 80s (as an evangelical), as one of my first major theological research projects was studying and refuting Jehovah's Witnesses.

It is clearly not sufficient to silence or prevent heretics from being heretics. That is the aspect of formal sufficiency, and where the need of a Church comes in. But even a true Church is not capable of preventing all heresy in practice (since they will merely separate) but only to show how and where they are in error.

The Church's value (with regard to authority and in relation to Scripture) lies in interpreting Scripture, forming dogmas, and showing how the dogmas are consistent with Scripture and Tradition.

Dave Armstrong said...

I suppose I will find myself alone among the Protestants and Catholics both who will suggest that the Arians were just wicked, stubborn, or stupid. I don't believe it is necessarily so.

I don't know enough of the particular history to make any solid claims, but in general I tend to think that people's errors are (at least quite often) brought about by false premises or illogical thinking. They have been sold a bill of goods: some false teaching, and sincerely believe in it, but the thing itself is wrong from the outset. Have we not all experienced this in our own lives?

I was perfectly sincere when I was into the occult, was pro-abortion, a sexual liberal, etc. (all that changed by the early 80s, just for the record!).

Great comment. You stimulated much thought in me; hence my three replies.

CrimsonCatholic said...

The Lutheran doctrine is almost identical to the EO doctrine. We believe the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. That is the doctrine, the explanations are not the doctrine, which may be why you are confused.

The question is whether you also deny that they are bread and wine. Otherwise, the "close" must be subjoined with "no cigar." If the doctrine doesn't exclude that possibility, then it is erroneous, no matter the explanation. I'll freely concede that the explanation of the miracle is incomplete, and even transubstantiation doesn't hope to be one. But consubstantiation, for example, is an explanation that comes to the wrong conclusion and denies the mystery outright.

Which is like the label "Catholic", which the EO "Catholic" and RC "Catholic" churches having contradictory doctrines.

I actually use the neologism "Cathodox" to indicate the commonality between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Where Eastern Orthodoxy contradicts Catholic doctrine, Eastern Orthodoxy errs; I have no qualms about saying that. I do, however, believe that the disagreements are almost entirely verbal, based on technical disagreements over metaphysical frameworks that are poorly understood. There may well be no substantive doctrinal dispute over anything other than papal authority.

Find me a "Catholic" who denies infused justification and he would be Eastern Orthodox, because they believe grace is an uncreated energy of God.

Case in point. Rightly interpreted, Trent says that we possess God's own righteousness, but that we are not made righteous by His possession of it, but our own. In other words, Trent means exactly by "created grace" what Eastern Orthodoxy means by "uncreated energies." In any case, both sides insist on a metaphysically real, physical union with the divine nature, and that is denied by Protestantism in the sense I gave above. If you're going to argue that a difference in explanation affirming the same doctrine is immaterial, then you've only pointed out a difference in explanation between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, which doesn't change the fact that Protestantism (as I've used the term) denies the doctrine.

You are exactly the sort of Protestant I mentioned above who is trying to blur the line of orthodoxy to make it broader than it was. If you want to fool yourself into believing that the Lutheran belief was patristic in the grand tradition of Chemnitz, even without apostolic succession to even have someone to be competent to serve as priest, be my guest. But I have no idea how one can accurately interpret St. Cyril's doctrine of the Eucharist, which was derived directly from his Christology, as being compatible with it. Ditto for Leo's Tome. At best, your argument is that one should be Orthodox rather than Catholic, but that doesn't have a thing to do with whether someone should be Lutheran or Anglican or Calvinist.

CrimsonCatholic said...

David W.:
Having looked at what you said in a more detail, because I didn't want to speak hastily, I think there is one question that would be helpful for me understanding your position.

You said:
No, pretty much the same as the last 40 plus years of my life—the autographa are infallible and inerrant


My question is simple: Why? It seems clear to me that your reasons for believing this must have changed.

Spoils23m said...

Crimson,

Thanks for sticking around.

You said (regarding David's position on Holy Scripture):
"My question is simple: Why? It seems clear to me that your reasons for believing this must have changed."

Exactly what I wanted to know!

I also wonder if he means something different by "Scripture" now than he did a couple of months ago...

IC XC
S

Strider said...

If I may, I'd like to engage Crimson Catholic on a couple of points and ask him for clarification.

Rightly interpreted, Trent says that we possess God's own righteousness, but that we are not made righteous by His possession of it, but our own. In other words, Trent means exactly by "created grace" what Eastern Orthodoxy means by "uncreated energies."

Hmmm, I wonder if this is quite accurate, though I think I get what you are saying. As I understand it (and I may not), the uncreated energies are that "dimension" of Deity that is communicable to human creatures, given that, by Eastern lights, the divine essence is incommunicable and imparticipable. I don't think that is what scholastic theologians mean by created grace, though they would certainly insist that the gift of created grace cannot be separated from the gift of uncreated grace: it is the former that makes possible human participation in the latter. Does that sound right?

In any case, both sides insist on a metaphysically real, physical union with the divine nature, and that is denied by Protestantism in the sense I gave above.

Would you mind elaborating precisely what you mean when you speak of a physical union with God. Thanks!

Great discussion, by the way, folks.

Lisamck said...

Hey TOm,

I have just a few minutes and was remembering the third observation. I know you are neither and inerrantist or infallibilist, but you can still check out my reasioning.

Before Dave raised this question about infallibility, I never thought about the link between biblical inerrancy and papal infallibility. I was a conservative Protestant before converting and believed in inerrancy already anyway. But now as a I look at both questions, it seems to me like neither doctrine depends much on what the Scriptures say about either. Rather, they depend on what the Scriptures say about the inspiration of the Holy Ghost
and Christ as Head of the Church.

If I am not mistaken, the best reason to believe that the Scriptures are inerrant is because error would be incompatible with the divine authorship of the Holy Ghost. Now why would God give inerrant Scriptures to faithful who could only interpret it fallibly? What would be the benefit? When we discover that Christ remains the Head of the Church showering graces upon His Mystical Body every moment of every day, we find that what seems a necessary compliment to inerrancy is revealed. Erroneous definitions and interpretations are incompatible with a divinely led institution, whose Head is intimately united with the Church. It is by a naturalization of the authorship of Scripture or the guidance of the Church that one loses faith in the revealed teachings about the Word of God or the Mystical Body of Christ.

I believe in inerrancy and infallibility apart from grappling with Honorius, the Johannine comma, or discrepant statistics in Kings and Chronicles. I trust God revealing. Supernatural revelation admits of no error and while it is uncommon to express it so, infallible definitions by popes and councils fall under the heading of revelation. Not an increase of the original apostolic deposit, but nevertheless maintaining the pristine teachings of Christ by His grace.

Chris spoke of the slippery slope and so have others. I see three short steps.

1) Naturalize the Church
2) Naturalize the Scriptures
3) Naturalize the Gospel

Supernatural faith is one/third gutted with the failure to ponder deeply upon what follows if He who is seated at the Right Hand of the Father is the Head of His own body, which is the Church.

I will close for now with some important thoughts from the Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis #14, where he argues against this naturalization of the Body of Christ:

"That the Church is a body is frequently asserted in the Sacred Scriptures. 'Christ,' says the Apostle, 'is the Head of the Body of the Church.' If the Church is a body, it must be an unbroken unity, according to those words of Paul: "Though many we are one body in Christ.' But it is not enough that the Body of the Church should be an unbroken unity; it must also be something definite and perceptible to the senses as Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Satis Cognitum asserts: 'the Church is visible because she is a body.[15] Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely 'pneumatological' as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are untied by an invisible bond."

Rory

Lisamck said...

"Untied" must needs be "united" (last sentence from Pius XII).

TOm said...

Rory,
My own view is that God communicates with us through various means including providing direct public revelation for the guidance of His church. That being said, there is always a human component to the reception of personal and public revelation. As I have been recently pointing out to Dave A, we do not see things exactly as they are, but only through who we are do we see them. I can understand why it might be desirable to believe God overwhelms our humanness in this (and many other instances), but I do not think this is how God works.
Scripture is produced by inspired men (and when it is accepted by common consent by the entire body of Christ theoretically relying upon God’s confirming voice it is even further sealed). Revelation is received, promulgated, and acted upon by inspired men with ordained authority and stewardship over a group of people (the Bishop would be for a local group, the President/Prophet for the world). And individuals receive revelation from God for their lives (and families). But none of these three involve the overwhelming of human ways of knowing.
When one stands in the presence of God seeing and hearing a glory never previously supposed, one is eternally changed; but a human in God’s presence still experiences God through their individual perception. (I believe it is foolish of the Atheist to suggest spiritual experiences are purely a product of an individual’s mind AND I think it is similarly unwise for the believer to demand that their understanding of a spiritual experience is absolutely the only way of understanding the facts of the experience). God could, but does not, reach past our individuality and against our will remake us into something we are not. Instead, He communes with us and we (hopefully) follow Him until we are remade into what He is.

I wrote the above because I think there is not only TRUTH in my perspective, but divine beauty as well. Saying that the Bible is not absolutely inerrant sounds ugly and harsh, but IMO this is true because God so loves and respects us that He would not take his beloved Prophets and Apostles out of the writing of scripture just to prevent largely unimportant things like numerical discrepancies.

Next to some agreement.
Though I too have not made this specific comparison, I think the types (“degrees” or “spirit”) of allowances necessary to read Kings/Chronicles or Mark 1:2 and still claim the Bible is inerrant would likely rescue the Papacy and councils from the criticism that they are not infallible. Thus the “slippery slope” argument becomes an internal consistency argument.

cont ...

TOm said...

And back to attempting to be troublesome:
You said:
Now why would God give inerrant Scriptures to faithful who could only interpret it fallibly?

TOm:
I think the above could be reframed as follows: “Why would God provide for Papal infallibility when at some point a fallible person would need to recognize when the Pope was using the charism of infallibility?”
I have in the past suggested that "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" LOOKED like an exercise of Papal Infallibility to me (David W and I spoke about it once - he disagreed). I recently found an argument posted on EWTN.com by Jeff Mirus.
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/ORDIN.TXT
My point in arguing that it “looks like Papal infallibility” is that it has been declared (now repeatedly declared) by the magisterium to not be an exercise of infallibility.

I would suggest that even if God overcame the fallibility of the authors of scriptures via His infallibility AND/OR if God overcame/overcomes the fallibility of the man who is Pope via His infallibility, there will always be fallible humans who must receive in the fallible ways we do. So while I think there is value in some of your linking of scriptural inerrancy and Papal infallibility, I do not think the above is really great.

Dave A claimed that if the Pope approves of a council, we can know it is an Ecumenical Council and not a robber council or a local council or …. I am not able to present data to refute such a suggesting, but prior to him making it (and now), I suggest that the only way to know for sure a council was an EC is to look at it with 20/20 hindsight from some future more informed vantage sight. It seems to me that this is also true for exercises of Papal Infallibility. Nobody would deny that the two Marian declarations were exercises of Papal Infallibility, but in the past there have been different views on different Papal statements.

Charity, TOm

Lisamck said...

TOm,

YOu got me at the most vulnerable point. That is a good alternative answer to the question I raised. YOu were very charitable I am sure with your, "I do not think the above is really great." God love you TOm. Heh heh.

However...I necessarily place a distinction between the defective reception of a piece of data, and a defect of the data. YOu seem to be suggesting that because we are fallible, there is no point in God bothering to give us infallible inerrant information.

Firstly, I grant that we can make all the same mistakes with perfect data as we can with imperfect data.

But secondly, your pragmatism is speaking. It isn't primarily for practical reasons, but for the dignity and glory of the God who tells us to be perfect as He is, that we necessarily expect perfection in Him. But let me sleep before I say more. I have a good long day of no-brain work tomorrow in which I can be pondering these things.

Hey. Your cell phone number didn't go into mine when you called me from Shari's. I think we must've hung up before it went to voice mail when it would show up on "missed calls".

Rory

CrimsonCatholic said...

As I understand it (and I may not), the uncreated energies are that "dimension" of Deity that is communicable to human creatures, given that, by Eastern lights, the divine essence is incommunicable and imparticipable. I don't think that is what scholastic theologians mean by created grace, though they would certainly insist that the gift of created grace cannot be separated from the gift of uncreated grace: it is the former that makes possible human participation in the latter. Does that sound right?

Yes, that is generally right, and the only question is whether "the gift of created grace" is a thing, which is to say, whether it is some separate metaphysical entity. The scholastics, however, called it a quality that inheres in the soul as an accident. Now it's not automatically apparent whether a quality is or is not an entity; it could be, but it might not be. But I would argue that there are solid reasons based on the Tridentine decrees on justification to think that dogmatically it must NOT be a different entity, particularly the breakdown on causes in Trent including the "alone formal cause." That is the same reason I think it can't be reconciled with Protestantism (and in turn, that Protestantism can't be reconciled with historical orthodoxy). Christopher Malloy's _Engrafted into Christ_ is helpful in explaining the concept.

Would you mind elaborating precisely what you mean when you speak of a physical union with God.

I mean this in the Cyrillian sense of partaking of the divine nature (physis). In particular, it refers to the physical means of participating in divine grace through the Sacraments. For example, this is how St. Cyril explains the Life-giving flesh of Christ in the Eucharist as against Nestorius.

Edward Reiss said...

Crimson,

"The question is whether you also deny that they are bread and wine. Otherwise, the "close" must be subjoined with "no cigar."

I am not too sure you explain "the" EO view correctly.

From Fr. Hopko:

"Thus, the bread of the eucharist is Christ's flesh, and Christ's flesh is the eucharistic bread. The two are brought together into one. The word "symbolical" in Orthodox terminology means exactly this: "to bring together into one."

It seems that Fr. Hopko and St. Paul both use the terms "bread and wine/body and blood" interchangeably--i.e. they are broiught to gether into one, but neither disappears. Why is that if there was a change such that there is no longer any bread and wine? Enter human logic and philosophy!

Now here is that the Lutherans say:

"For the reason why, in addition to the expressions of Christ and St. Paul (the bread in the Supper is the body of Christ or the communion of the body of Christ), also the forms: under the bread, with the bread, in the bread [the body of Christ is present and offered], are employed, is that by means of them the papistical transubstantiation may be rejected and the sacramental union of the unchanged essence of the bread and of the body of Christ indicated; just as the expression, Verbum caro factum est, The Word was made flesh [ John 1:14 ], ....Although this union of the body and blood of Christ with the bread and wine is not a personal union, as that of the two natures in Christ, but as Dr. Luther and our theologians, in the frequently mentioned Articles of Agreement in the year 1536 and in other places call it...a sacramental union, by which they wish to indicate that, although they also employ the formas:...in the bread, under the bread, with the bread, yet they have received the words of Christ properly and as they read, and have understood the proposition, that is, the words of Christ's testament: Hoc est corpus meum, This is My body, not as a figuratam propositionem, but inusitatam .... For thus Justin says: This we receive not as common bread and common drink; but as Jesus Christ, our Savior, through the Word of God became flesh, and on account of our salvation also had flesh and blood, so we believe that the food blessed by Him through the Word and prayer is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Solid Declaration VII

As I said, our teaching is that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ--"In with and under" are markers to guard against the Roman error of transubstantiation.

If there is no bread it is wrong to say there is bread. So there is no reason to say that the Lutheran doctrine is wrong just because it violates your philosophical precepts (yet our teaching agrees with the Apostle Paul's words!). IOW, just because yo uhave decided that if it is Jesus' body it can no longer be bread does not mean that everyone else is wrong. Basically, Fr. Hopko rejects your philosophical construct of how one "must" "explain" the RP--there is no one explanation.

Edward Reiss said...

Crimson, (cont.)

"I actually use the neologism "Cathodox" to indicate the commonality between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Where Eastern Orthodoxy contradicts Catholic doctrine, Eastern Orthodoxy errs; I have no qualms about saying that. I do, however, believe that the disagreements are almost entirely verbal, based on technical disagreements over metaphysical frameworks that are poorly understood. There may well be no substantive doctrinal dispute over anything other than papal authority."

Quite a few EOdox say there are very substantive disagreements, which means that if one can say "Cathodox" where the EOC and RCC happen to agree, one can also say "Lutherdox" where Lutherans and EOdox agree, e.g. on the Real Presence. IOW, it is just another word that doesn't really convey any meaning but gives the aroma of union where none exists, usually for polemical purposes.

"Case in point. Rightly interpreted, Trent says that we possess God's own righteousness, but that we are not made righteous by His possession of it, but our own. In other words, Trent means exactly by "created grace" what Eastern Orthodoxy means by "uncreated energies." "

No, they don't. That was what the Hesyscha dispute was about--the Western Church said that seeing the uncreated divine light was akin to seeing God because of divine simplicity, the Eastern Church said that one could see the increated light because that is an energy of God, or something he DOES, not something he possesses as a quality, as your outline states. This is a key difference between the EOC and the RCC, BTW.

"You are exactly the sort of Protestant I mentioned above who is trying to blur the line of orthodoxy to make it broader than it was. If you want to fool yourself into believing that the Lutheran belief was patristic in the grand tradition of Chemnitz, even without apostolic succession to even have someone to be competent to serve as priest, be my guest. But I have no idea how one can accurately interpret St. Cyril's doctrine of the Eucharist, which was derived directly from his Christology, as being compatible with it. Ditto for Leo's Tome. At best, your argument is that one should be Orthodox rather than Catholic, but that doesn't have a thing to do with whether someone should be Lutheran or Anglican or Calvinist."

You guys blur the line of orthodoxy with your "development" of doctrine from "seeds" in the past, and then make words even less clear whan you assert that doctrine is the same when practice says it isn't.

Re: Apostolic succession, you can take that as a given if you like, I will pass. I don;t count mere assertion as an argument--and I bet the whole thing is based on an assumption anyway, and likely a misreading of history.

Also, I see you have stopped treating "Protestantism" as a confession. Good. That is some proegress at least.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Also, I see you have stopped treating "Protestantism" as a confession. Good. That is some proegress at least.

I never was treating it as a confession; I was treating it as a common error. I say "Lutherans or Calvinists or Anglicans" in the same way I might say "Eunomians and Anomians and Homoiousians." At the end of the say, the former are all Protestants, and the latter are all Arians. Having studied both the matter of what Fr. Hopko means by "one" as against the Lutheran view of "sacramental union" and what the differences are on hesychia, I am unconvinced either that Catholicism and Orthodoxy are substantially different or that Orthodoxy and Lutheranism are univocal. In any case, it would at best show that the Lutheran view on imputed justification is inconsistent with their view of the Eucharist, which would not remove them from the scope of Protestantism in that they deny essential components of the means of salvation. The fact that you exclude apostolic succession, which both Catholics and Orthodox hold as against you, simply reinforces the point that you don't share the historical, conciliar Christian understanding of salvation. It is trying to redefine orthodoxy in exactly the way that I said, so you're just proving my point that you're all the same no matter how much you (if you'll pardon the pun) protest.

Other than ignorance, I'm not sure why anyone wastes even a second on Protestant religion. I never have understood that.

Lisamck said...

Crimson Catholic said:

"Other than ignorance, I'm not sure why anyone wastes even a second on Protestant religion. I never have understood that."

What I have never understood is why Catholics who feel that way seem inclined to disregard Restoration movements such as Mormonism, Jehoveah's Witnesses, Islam, or Bahai, as though they are even less tenable then Protestantism. If I weren't Catholic, I would consider the Restorationists as more viable candidates for my religious affiliation than any Protestant group that believes the Nicene Creed, but rejects the right reason for believing it.

Rory

Johannes said...

Re the EO view on the Eucharist, I don't think there is a more authoritative source than The Synod of Jerusalem of 1672.

http://catholicity.elcore.net/ConfessionOfDositheus.html

Partial quote of DECREE XVII

In the celebration whereof we believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be present, not typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, as in the other Mysteries, nor by a bare presence, as some of the Fathers have said concerning Baptism, or by impanation, so that the Divinity of the Word is united to the set forth bread of the Eucharist hypostatically, as the followers of Luther most ignorantly and wretchedly suppose, but truly and really, so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, <145> transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord, Which was born in Bethlehem of the ever-Virgin {Mary ELC}, was baptised in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sitteth at the right hand of the God and Father, and is to come again in the clouds of Heaven; and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord, Which as He hung upon the Cross, was poured out for the life of the world. {John 6:51}

Further [we believe] that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, there no longer remaineth the substance of the bread and of the wine, but the Body Itself and the Blood of the Lord, under the species and form of bread and wine; that is to say, under the accidents of the bread.

Lisamck said...

Hey TOm.

YOu are very good. I am sure you saw it. I have been shooting from the hip with YOu. I am the ONe that started with a pragmatic argument for infallibility. And then I accuse YOu of letting your pragmatism speak.

Even though there is a certain pragmatic propriety, I concede that YOu were right even though YOu didn't press the point. My answer was a retrenching. Okay. Bayonets are now at ready if YOu care to charge! I cannot deny the supernaturalization of the Church except as an infidel.

I understand that the same argument for supernaturalization could be used to insist that the faithful, since Christ is Head of the Body, would be sinless as He was. But there is a positive precept that acknowledges wheat and tares, warring between flesh and spirit, and imperfections even among the holiest (always needing to press forward/never arriving). Otherwise, we might indeed expect sinlessness in Christ's members.

From my own view of Scripture, which asserts only plausibility, I suggest that as Head of the Body, Christ supernaturalizes the actions of the Church when "it seems good to the Holy Ghost and to us", as in Ac. 15, and when St. Peter is certainly "confirming the brethren". These are two more positive precepts which seem well within reasonable prerogatives the Lord could claim to be able to accomplish.

-----

I need to say a further word against a spiritual disease I will call "theological minimalism". I am confident that the rejection of implied truth results in meditational failure. What need to ponder the Scriptures for implied truths if we are only bound to accept the explicit?

The same folks who fail to ponder the implications of being chosen to carry the Second Person of the Trinity in one's womb for nine months, are the same folks who fail to ponder the implications of the implications of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity as Head of the Body of Christ. No surprise. The disease is felt in every direction.

When Our Lord spoke to Mary and Joseph on the occasion of His being found after three days when His location was unknown, Mary didn't understand when He asked them why they didn't know He was about "His Father's business". St. Luke's Gospel says that she "kept all these words in her heart".

What does that mean other than that we cannot exhaust the meanings uttered by Our Lord anmd the Holy Ghost by their plain, explicit understandings? Some reputable theologians insist that our Lady understood more explicitly than I tend to think, the future Passion and death of Her Son, and the entire plan of redemption. I believe that it dawned on her more gradually.

In the instance of the arrival of the Shepherds at the Lord's Nativity, we find a similar sitauation as we did twelve years later at His Finding in the Temple. Once again, Mary seems to be led gradually, without explicit statements, to a knowledge that comes by grace through faith that is only available to those who deeply consider implications of explicit statements.

The Gospel says that all those present at the Nativity were in wonder (imperfect knowledge) at the report given by the Shepherds who had arrived at the Holy Cave in Bethlehem. Of our Lady we don't read that she simply had an infused insight that everyone else lacked. Rather, "Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart."

It is the duty of the Body of Christ to 1) "keep all these words". 2) "Pondering them in her heart." Those who can accept only explicit, unambiguous truth will be spiritually diseased minimalists who by definition reject the Catholic Church, who will never arrive at the fulness of the revelation that Christ delivered.

Rory

CrimsonCatholic said...

What I have never understood is why Catholics who feel that way seem inclined to disregard Restoration movements such as Mormonism, Jehoveah's Witnesses, Islam, or Bahai, as though they are even less tenable then Protestantism. If I weren't Catholic, I would consider the Restorationists as more viable candidates for my religious affiliation than any Protestant group that believes the Nicene Creed, but rejects the right reason for believing it.

Would it be better to be someone who could keep the car on the road but didn't understand the principle of internal combustion, or someone who has a slightly better theoretical understanding of internal combustion who was determined to drive the car into the ditch? Christianity is, in large part, a practical matter of will and manner of life. Protestants have their hearts in the right place to a great extent, and that is more important than correct understanding of the reasons.

Also, remember that even once one willingly accepts any contradiction, i.e., an error in principle, that error suffices to destroy every bit of the reasoning that follows. Compounding the errors is of very little difference to the outcome, so the fact that Protestants may adopt more or different errors makes little real difference: the answer still ends up being wrong. The question then becomes how significantly the errors affect their practice and life, and when that is considered, Protestants are clearly superior to the others you mentioned. They have far fewer goofy, wasteful, or wrong practices resulting from their errors.

Dave Armstrong said...

What I have never understood is why Catholics who feel that way seem inclined to disregard Restoration movements such as Mormonism, Jehoveah's Witnesses, Islam, or Bahai, as though they are even less tenable then Protestantism.

It's a trifling, minor matter called the Holy Trinity. In other words, the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian.

Acolyte4236 said...

A couple of points.

It is interesting to me that Protestants are jumping on the bash Newman’s DOD bandwagon when they too endorse a theory of doctrinal development to justify their theological distinctives. ISTM that they are cutting off the branch they are sitting on. Sola Fide is the product of doctrinal development just as much as the Papacy is. The claim is that it is in “seed form” in Paul and then over the centuries through a dialectical process the “implied” meaning is brought out. The difference between Protestants and Rome here is a difference of the content of the model of development rather than development as opposed to not. What is really interesting here is that this brings to light the commitment to Idealism for both parties.

Second, to be fair to Newman’ theory, there was something similar advanced by St. Vincent of Lerins, but of course Vincent’s model was aiming at showing that Augustine’s predestinarianism was contrary to the apostolic deposit.

As for the Orthodox view of the Eucharist, the Confession of Jerusalem isn’t the only document to be consulted and is read in a qualified way by the Orthodox. To use it to ground the claim that the Orthodox adhere to transubstantiation is specious since it depends on the word-concept fallacy. We don’t. More to the point, that document was framed during a time of significant Jesuit influence and interference in Orthodox jurisdictions. On the other hand we also reject the Lutheran view because we reject Lutheran (and Reformed) defective Christologies. We reject the Lutheran model because of its philosophical or Ockhamistic framing. If you don’t understand Ockham, you don’t understand Luther.

As for Rome and Orthodoxy, Jonathan’s gloss is one that some Catholics give, but it is rather recent. Not all Catholics agree and hence argue that the doctrine of the energies is incompatible with Catholic dogma. What in part would be required for jonathan to be right would be for God to be the formal cause of creatures, which Rome dogmatically denies. This is why Rahner goes so far as to speak of it as “quasi-formal” causality, but it is doubtful that that concept can be coherently cashed out. Other Catholic theologians do not interpret it in that way and interpret created grace just as found in the objections of Orthodox interlocutors, an inhering accident in the soul (and not the body) that brings about created effects. But this is an old argument between Jonathan and I.

I hope David finds some peace, wherever he goes. Best wishes.

Edward Reiss said...

Jonannes,

"I don't think there is a more authoritative source than The Synod of Jerusalem of 1672."

Are you claiming this synod is accepted as EO dogma? If so, then Fr. Hopko and quite a few other EOs I have interacted with--including clergy, simply missed the bus. If this synod was not accepted by the wider church, it is a local synof which does not have wider dogmatic authiroty.

Crimson,

"I never was treating it as a confession; I was treating it as a common error. I say "Lutherans or Calvinists or Anglicans" in the same way I might say "Eunomians and Anomians and Homoiousians."

No, you made claims about what "Protestants" believe which are factually wrong for a variety of reasons. When this was pointed out to you, you tried to change the subject to a christological heresy which has nothing to do with belief in the Real Presence,and which Lutherans dogmatically deny. And when your claims about the similarity of Lutheran beliefs top EO beleifs about the RP were shown to be false (indeed, they use pretty much the same language...), you just waived your hand and acted as if your first formulation was AOK.

Facts are facts, and your facts were wrong when you claimed Lutherans don't believe in the RP.

CrimsonCatholic said...

No, you made claims about what "Protestants" believe which are factually wrong for a variety of reasons. When this was pointed out to you, you tried to change the subject to a christological heresy which has nothing to do with belief in the Real Presence,and which Lutherans dogmatically deny. And when your claims about the similarity of Lutheran beliefs top EO beleifs about the RP were shown to be false (indeed, they use pretty much the same language...), you just waived your hand and acted as if your first formulation was AOK.

Facts are facts, and your facts were wrong when you claimed Lutherans don't believe in the RP.


First, let's leave the playground antics for children, shall we? You seem to be about trying to engage in some sort of personal struggle with me in which you are the "winner" and I am the "loser." Let's stick to what the facts are.

As to those facts, I do not concede that I have changed my position. My point was that Christology is absolutely connected to the Real Presence, and this is exactly why the Lutheran belief DIFFERS from historical orthodoxy. If you read St. Cyril's commentary on John 6, for example, this becomes apparent. Obviously, St. Cyril's view is representative of Chalcedonian theology. The fact that you say they are separate things is the very evidence that the Lutheran belief cannot possibly be the historical belief, even if they use the same terms (which simply results from the Lutheran reinterpretation of those terms), exactly as Perry (Acolyte) said.

Yes, facts are facts, and the verbal agreement between *some* Lutheran formulas and *some* Orthodox formulas does not change the fact that the underlying beliefs differ in kind. I wish Lutherans would cure themselves of the delusion that they believe in the Real Presence, because neither Catholics nor Orthodox, who are presumably in a perfectly good position to know their mind, accept this. Moreover, there is ample historical evidence that they should not accept this, as the most reasonable interpretation of Fathers like Cyril clearly excludes the Lutheran interpretation. There may be a kind of presence in the Lutheran understanding, but it does not qualify as a real, sacramental presence of Christ by the standard of historical orthodoxy.

Since I don't care to be chastised for not doing my homework by someone who evidently has not done his own, I suggest that you put this dialogue aside to give yourself some time to actually study the matter in detail. In the interest of helping you to do that, I will only comment further on your posts to reiterate this suggestion.

Edward Reiss said...

Crimson,

"First, let's leave the playground antics for children, shall we? You seem to be about trying to engage in some sort of personal struggle with me in which you are the "winner" and I am the "loser." Let's stick to what the facts are."

It is not a personal struggle. This started when yo umade erroneous claims about "Ptrotestants" which are flatly wrong. After I tried to clear things up, instead of saying perhaps you were a little broadly speaking you upped the ante and said Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, which we don't. You can disagree with what we teach, but calling it "playground antics" when you try and yteach us what we believe is, well, playground antics, and exactly the kind of posturing which I have seen so often from eapologists.

"As to those facts, I do not concede that I have changed my position. My point was that Christology is absolutely connected to the Real Presence, and this is exactly why the Lutheran belief DIFFERS from historical orthodoxy. If you read St. Cyril's commentary on John 6, for example, this becomes apparent. Obviously, St. Cyril's view is representative of Chalcedonian theology. The fact that you say they are separate things is the very evidence that the Lutheran belief cannot possibly be the historical belief, even if they use the same terms (which simply results from the Lutheran reinterpretation of those terms), exactly as Perry (Acolyte) said.
?"

The citation from the Book of Concord I supplied you would see that "In under and through" etc. and the whole matrix if explanations supplied by Lutherans are not the doctrine. The doctrine is that the bread and wine are the body and blood respectively. What we were trying to do is avoid the Roman error of Transubstantiation. This means that deriving a christological heresy or a doctrine of consubstantiation from those statements is not legitimate, because the explanations are not dogmas.

And Perry said the EOs disagree with RC doctrine on the RP. IOW, you say we don't believe in the RP because we don't use the approved vocabulary, and yet the EOs don't use the approved vocabulary either.

"Since I don't care to be chastised for not doing my homework by someone who evidently has not done his own, I suggest that you put this dialogue aside to give yourself some time to actually study the matter in detail. In the interest of helping you to do that, I will only comment further on your posts to reiterate this suggestion."

I suggest you learn more about your opponents' beliefs before making uninformed statements about what they believe. It would help if you were less imperious and uninformed. You simply missed the point Re: Lutherans and the RP. You didn't even bother to interact with our dogmatic statements about the RP and the explanations we used. Instead you changed the subject to John 6 and what St. Cyril said, which is beside the point because you attribute to Lutherans things we don't believe. If you are going to instruct someone about what he believes you need to do better than feign superiority, especially when it is readily apparent you don't know what the other guy believes.

Lisamck said...

Hi Dave A.,

My comment to Crimson Catholic which favored Islam, Mormonism, or Bahai claims were regarding the viability of Restoration vs. Reformation claims. My presumption was for the searcher who is for one reason or another, not considering the Catholic claim.

Crimson Catholic had opined that he could not understand why anyone could give a second to considering Protestant claims (paraphrasing). My reply intended no disrespect to the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. I am glad that most thoughtful Protestants accept it.

What I was saying is that if I was similarly seeking the true faith, I would have to dismiss Protestantism because of the way they claim to arrive at Nicene dogma. But...here, if I am not mistaken, I recall that you would be in agreement with them, that even apart from Catholic authority, you would arrive at Nicene dogma from Scripture alone.

It is becoming clearer to me why most faithful Catholics, including you, think Reformation movements are more viable options than the Restoration movements. It is because of a shared belief in a higher degree of confidence than I currently have regarding the clarity of Sacred Scripture, when Apostolic Tradition and the Catholic magesterium are set aside.

For my part, I have already expressed how I deny that we can prove the implausibility of heresy except with Scripture and Tradition (ratified by the authority of Christ's Church). It would be difficult I think to persuade me that it is infidelity to deny the Nicene Trinity, the Assumption and Immaculate Conception of our Lady, pedo-baptism, or Transubstantiation from the Scriptures alone. For me, your position draws too near to sola scriptura.

I think this apparent disagreement between us about the perspicuity of Scripture alone on the subject of the Blessed Trinity explains why, if we put the Catholic Church out of the equation, I could more easily be LDS, while you could more easily be Methodist (or whatever). It is probably also at the root of why I would consider Mormons Christian, and you wouldn't. I find their radical departure from Catholic teaching to be a more likely scenario if I am looking for the one true church, than the Trinitarian Protestant who rejects the reason I am Trinitarian.

Perhaps I have arrived at my position too subjectively. As a Protestant, I had always been able to be persuaded favorably of multiple theological systems reasoning from the Bible alone. I had been everywhere from ultra-dispensationalism to Wisconsin Synod Lutheran (and other stuff inbetween). I was tossed to and fro by every wind, and I can still in my opinion defend the plausibility of the beliefs I once held from Scripture alone. It was in great part, the frustration of trying to discern between the claims of Hodge and Calvin, over against Spurgeon and Chafer, over against Luther and Chemnitz. Sola scriptura decided nothing for me. It drove me into the arms of Holy Mother Church as it offered a way of discerning truth that did not depend on my own abilities to expose the errors of biblical exegetes whose work seemed and still seems plausible, cut off from Catholic Tradition.

I am willing to reevaluate my position. I will renounce my position if anyone can demonstrate that my negative view of the perspicuity of Scripture is incompatible with what the Catholic Church has proclaimed regarding the relationship between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

Thanks for your consideration.

Rory

Johannes said...

The comments by Acolyte and Edward motivated me to research the subject of EO catechisms and their doctrine on the Eucharist.

First, 3 more or less authoritative orthodox documents that support transubtantiation.

Reference: Schaff: "Creeds of Christendom, with a history and critical notes":
Volume 1.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds1.html
Volume 2:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds2.html

1. The 1672 Synod of Jerusalem & Confession of Dositheus

2. The Synods of Constantinople 1691. From Schaff Vol 1:
"Another Synod was held in Constantinople nineteen years afterwards, in 1691, under Patriarch Callinicus, for the purpose of giving renewed sanction to the orthodox doctrine of the Eucharist, in opposition to Logothet John Caryophylus, who had rejected the Romish theory of transubstantiation, and defended the Calvinistic view of Cyril Lucar. The Synod condemned him, and declared that the Eastern Church had always taught a change (μεταβολή) of the elements in the sense of a transubstantiation (μετουσίωσις), or an actual transformation of their essence into the body and blood of Christ."

3. The 1839 "Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church" also known as "Catechism of St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow". From Schaff Vol 2:
"The large Russian Catechism of Philaret, approved by the holy Synod, is now the most authoritative doctrinal standard of the orthodox Græco-Russian Church." (Notably, it disagrees with the 1672 Confession of Dositheus on the Apocrypha.)
http://www.pravoslavieto.com/docs/eng/Orthodox_Catechism_of_Philaret.htm
Quote:
338. What is the most essential act in this part of the Liturgy?
The utterance of the words which Jesus Christ spake in instituting the Sacrament: Take, eat; this is my body. Drink ye all of it; for this is my Blood of the New Testament. Matt. xxvi. 26, 27, 28. And after this the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing the gifts, that is, the bread and wine which have been offered.
339. Why is this so essential?
Because at the moment of this act the bread and wine are changed, or transubstantiated, into the very Body of Christ, and into the very Blood of Christ.
340. How are we to understand the word transubstantiation?
In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs, it is said that the word transubstantiation is not to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord; for this none can understand but God; but only thus much is signified, that the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord.

Johannes said...

Secondly, 3 non-authoritative orthodox catechisms that support transubstantiation.

1.“The Orthodox Catechism", by Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios (The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto, Canada)
http://biserica.org/Publicatii/Catechism/index.html
Quote:
From these words of Christ we see that the Holy Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ. It is not a symbol. It is truly the body and truly the blood of Christ. Christ did not say that "this symbolizes My body" and "this symbolizes My blood." He said, "this is My body" and "this is My blood." Of course, even after the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, all we see with our human eyes is bread and wine. Even the taste on our tongues is that of bread and wine. In reality and in essence, though, that which we see and that which we taste is truly the body and blood of Christ.
God created, out of nothing, the visible (physical) and invisible (spiritual) world. From physical things--bread and wine--He makes the body and blood of Christ.

2. "Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church" by Rev. Constas H. Demetry, D. D
http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/catechis.html
http://www.bible.ca/cr-Orthodox.htm
Quote:
Q. What is the name of the change which took place at the Mystic Supper, does it take place now, and by what power?
A. Transubstantiation, and it takes place now also by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Bishops and Priests.
Q. When does transubstantiation take place?
A. When the Choir sings, "We praise Thee, we bless Thee", then the Priest calls upon God saying: "And make this bread the precious body of Thy Christ: and the wine in this cup the precious blood of Thy Christ, changing (them) by Thy Holy Spirit." (See Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).
Q. What facts worthy of notice are to be pointed out in the Divine Eucharist?
A.
1. That after the change, while we see and taste bread and wine, these two elements are substantially the body and blood of Christ.
2. That while each Christian receives a part only of the body and blood he receives all of Christ.

3. "These truths we hold" by St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
http://www.stots.edu/these_truths_we_hold.html
Quote:
As Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow wrote in his Longer Catechism, concerning the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, this none can understand but God; but only this much is signified, that the bread truly, really and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord.

Johannes said...

Finally, 2 non-authoritative orthodox catechisms that will make Lutheran readers happy:

1. An Online Orthodox Catechism adopted from ‘The Mystery of Faith’ by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev
http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/5_1
http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/10/1.aspx
Quote:
As Christ suffuses the bread and wine with Himself, filling them with His divine presence, so He enters into the human person, filling his flesh and blood with His life-giving presence and divine energy.

2. The Orthodox Faith by Fr. Thomas Hopko
http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2
Specifically for the Eucharist:
http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=53
Thus, the eucharist in the Orthodox Church is understood to be the genuine Body and Blood of Christ precisely because bread and wine are the mysteries and symbols of God's true and genuine presence and manifestation to us in Christ. Thus, by eating and drinking the bread and wine which are mystically consecrated by the Holy Spirit, we have genuine communion with God through Christ who is himself "the bread of life"
Thus, the bread of the eucharist is Christ's flesh, and Christ's flesh is the eucharistic bread. The two are brought together into one. The word "symbolical" in Orthodox terminology means exactly this: "to bring together into one."

Edward Reiss said...

Rory,

Interesting post.

"I am willing to reevaluate my position. I will renounce my position if anyone can demonstrate that my negative view of the perspicuity of Scripture is incompatible with what the Catholic Church has proclaimed regarding the relationship between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."

I believe all the dogmas of Chalcedonian Christology. I am a LCMS Lutheran. I think you raise some interesting issues, though.

Do you think many of the Christological issues resolved by Chalcedon are due to Hellenistic philosophical categories as opposed to the Scriptures being unclear? If so, then the perspicuity of the Scriptures for full blown Chalcidonian Christology is beside the point. The point is how do we describe the deposit of faith in a way consistent with the culture in which it is preached. Perhaps Chalcidonian Christology is the only way to describe the whole council of Scripture within the framework of Hellenistic science/philosophy--even if the very descriptions overturn and modify the use of said Hellenistic science/philosophy.

Thus the definition of Chalcedon is objectively true, but in different cultural contexts the same thing would have been said/formulated in a different way. And since we are the cultural heirs of the Hellenistic culture, Chalcedonian Christology is dogma for us precisely because it is the best way to describe the deposit of faith given how we look at things in our culture.

Lisamck said...

Hi again Dave A.,

I would like to add that between you and me, what I discussed above is an academic exercise. I think faithful Catholics can disagree until the Church further clarifies Her understanding of how Scripture and Tradition properly interact. I do not know, but for David W., this question might have some importance as to how he was eventually led to where he finds himself now.

I am not privy to any great details regarding my friend's departure from the faith into which I sponsored him in 2002. He kept most of it to himself and we have had only a brief but very amiable phone conversation since he broke the news. I am still wildly curious about the way he began to doubt papal/ecclesiastical infallibility.

I think we could get sidetracked if we read too much into your questions he did not answer. I suggest that his reasoning for accepting Mormons as Christian might be similar to mine. Further, if he is not Catholic, I tend to think he would be as I am with regard to whether we can dismiss Arianism from the Scriptures alone. I know you disagree with it, but I am hoping you can follow the line of thinking that may lead him to be open to Arianism or inclusive with a word that can be defined in multiple ways and which to my knowledge has never been formally defined by the Church.

Rory

Johannes said...

David Waltz wrote in the previous thread:

"However, I am fully convinced at this time that DNA is not an accident, but rather pertains to the category of essence—whatever outward form a physical human body (and its blood) may take, for it to remain human the DNA must be human."

I will comment on that by this dialog between Jesus and David (impersonating first Calvinists, then Lutherans and like-minded Orthodox, and then DNA-minded folks) at the Last Supper.

Jesus (taking bread, breaking it, and giving it to his disciples): "Take and eat; this is my body."

David: "Wait a moment, Teacher. Just for the record, you are talking metaphorically, right? I mean, that's a symbol, isn't it?"

Jesus: "No, this is really my body."

David: "Ah, OK. You mean You suffuse the bread and wine with Yourself, filling them with your divine presence, so that your body is present under the bread, with the bread and in the bread. Now I see, You have performed a sacramental union of the unchanged essence of the bread and of your body."

Jesus: "No, David. This is no longer bread. Now this is my body."

David: "But Teacher, your or any other human body is a specific set of molecules configured in a specific manner. And even if You have just turned this piece of bread into a perfect replica at the molecular level of your body and are fooling my senses regarding its properties, it would still be a replica. A replica of a coin is another coin, not the first coin."

Jesus: "OK, let's get back to basics. Remember when I started preaching after the wedding of Cana, what did I say to the people?

David: "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mk 1:15 and Mt 4:17)

Jesus: "Well, repent is one possible translation. But the original word in Greek is "μετανοεiτε, metanoeite". Which comes from meta: change (literally after, denoting change or transformation) and nous, mind. Change your mind. That's what you need to do. You cannot apply your petty logic and schemes to these matters, you have to leave them behind and trust mine. (BTW, meta also means behind.) Remember Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts." Trust me, I am the Logos. If I say, this is my body, then this is my body."

Edward Reiss said...

Johannes,

Why do you see a necessity of explaining a revealed truth?

And if the bread is no longer bread, why does St. Paul refer to it as bread?

We stick with the biblical and patristic formulation--the bread IS the body of Christ and the wine IS the blood of Christ. How he accomplishes this is not revealed to us. Just like how he accomplished fitting the fullness of the deity into a little baby.

Darlene said...

Edward,

You said to Johannes, "Why do you see a necessity of explaining a revealed truth?"

Ok, I must confess I am perplexed by you at times. On one hand, you have more in common with EO and even RC's as regards the Sacraments (Holy Mysteries). Yet when commenting over at Beggars All, a Calvinist blog, you chime in with them and agree with them against EO and RC. IOW, you act as though you are one of them.

Now I do acknowledge the differences between Lutheran beliefs as opposed to EO beliefs as well as RC beliefs. However, the manner in which you support the Beggars All team would lead one (such as myself) to believer that you are in communion and united with them over there. Don't you consider Calvinists as heterordox? Certainly this was the opinion of the Lutheran Missouri Synod Church I had attended for a short time. The pastor there clearly objected to the non-sacramental nature of Calvinism, along with its teaching on double predestination.

So, where do you stand? Perhaps your explanation will help to clarify my understanding so that my thinking is no longer muddled. :)

Darlene

Lisamck said...

Hi Edward Reiss.

You asked a couple of questions that I could try to answer. I am skeptical of attempts to disrobe good theology of its complimentary philosophical garb. There is a true philosophy that makes for a good handmaid. There is a false philosophy that will never serve.

If one is an adherent of philosophies that are materialist or determinist, I do not think the Catholic faith can be expressed. There are those who think that the apple isn't really red and that red is just some bunch of sparks and whistles shooting around in their heads. It will be hard to make Catholic theology understandable to such a poisoned mind. St. Paul warns about philosophies that are incompatible with the Gospel.

There is a movement among Catholics to disrobe the faith of its scholastic explanations. They think it is hilarious that most people think an accident is what happens when your car gets dented. They always get guffaws. Hor hor hor. I am not amused. I disagree with their implication that theology needs to be rewritten for medern man. Huh uh. The substance is still car; the dent is accidental. How stupid is modern man that he can't get that?

The language and thought of people who haven't been educated out of the common sense of a farmer or truck driver (I grew up on a farm and drive a truck...no philosophy degrees for me!), is compatible with the philosophia perennis which has been a valuable tool for centuries in teaching Catholics to understand their faith.

Clearly, Chalcedon predates Aquinas and the Schoolmen. I think I have heard that neo-Platonism was influential. Whatever. I understand it. I'm modern right? I don't think Camus or Heidegger or any of those post-Reformation philosophies are going to help us explain the faith. I think they will make the faith impossible as irreconcilable with their reasoning.

I don't know if I answered your question. I suppose I dismissed it. I don't believe in Chalcedon true for me because I am an heir of Greek thought. If a culture doesn't know what an essence, person, will, intellect, or soul is, they are backwards and need to be brought up to date. The Church has always been a civilizing influence on society anyway, knowing how to educate barbarians who weren't exactly heirs of Plato and Aristotle either. That's the best way to go. Civilize the modern barbarians who know what a RAM or megabit is, but can't define their own life.

Rory

Edward Reiss said...

Darlene,

I do not recall arguing with Calvinists to the effect that e.g. the RP isn;t true. If my memory serves, I have stated this doctrine on more than one occasion on Beggars All. The fact no one took up the discussion could be because on the Calvinist side they didn't want to derail the thread, and on the EO/RC side there was not too much to disagree with. At Beggars all my main argument is against the specious claims of authority and what I take to be over broad readings of certain Fathers which just happen to agree with the EO or RC in question.

Also, let me be clear that I am not in communion with Calvinists, Baptists etc. I believe they are heterodox--but they are still church. In fact, I think I have mentioned more than once that speaking of "Protestantism" is misleading if one has confessionsl stances in mind. There is no "Protestant" theology, and such commonality as there is can also be seen between Lutherans and RCs against Baptists regarding infant baptism, Lutherans and EOs against Rome regarding papal authority, Lutherans and RCs against EOs regarding juridical justification etc. So, while I acknowledge that Lutherans are Protestants, I deny that being Protestant is a confessional label in the strict sense--and that lumping "Protestants" with e.g. Mormons or Arians is grossly a-historical. In the great scheme of things, I feel closer to RCs and EOs on a host of issues, but their apologists approach to things causes me to re-evaluate things some times (E.g. claims that we teach "Consubstantiation"). ISTM that quite a few e-apologists from the RCC side simply assert their POV based on authority and are loath to interact with what Fathers or Apostles actually write--unless it pretty clearly agrees with them.

I hope that clears things up.

Edward Reiss said...

Rory,

"I don't believe in Chalcedon true for me because I am an heir of Greek thought. If a culture doesn't know what an essence, person, will, intellect, or soul is, they are backwards and need to be brought up to date."

I am not sure we need to bring things up to date. What I am getting at is that outside a Hellenistic environment, certain questions may not even be asked. "Homoousios" depends on a history of thought, and it was used to exclude Arianism, which depended to a large degree on the Logos theology where the "Logos endiatheos" is not really distinct within God until God speaks and the Logos becomes "Logos Spermatikos". These are Hellenistic constructs with specific histories within Greek thought--even if other cultures use the same basic idea it will have different nuances.

Within Greek thought there is no "prosopon" without being distinct, hence the Logos Christology of e.g. Justin Martyr is an antecedent for Arianism in a Greek context. Even your statement above depends on Hellenistic categories. That does not make them wrong, I just wonder if it is too much to ask the Scriptures to account for differing, but not contradictory, accounts of reality.

IOW, given the Hellenistic environment of the early Church, Chalcidon is the best description of the Incarnation and the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost we can expect.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Rory,

My comment to Crimson Catholic which favored Islam, Mormonism, or Bahai claims were regarding the viability of Restoration vs. Reformation claims. My presumption was for the searcher who is for one reason or another, not considering the Catholic claim.

I find it an extraordinary position, especially having studied Jehovah's Witnesses in great depth (without ever dreaming of joining them), and having familiarity with evangelicalism and Catholicism both, from firsthand allegiance.

Crimson Catholic had opined that he could not understand why anyone could give a second to considering Protestant claims (paraphrasing).

Well, I think he goes too far, too.

My reply intended no disrespect to the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. I am glad that most thoughtful Protestants accept it.

That's good to know. Yet by taking this position,. you appear to lower the relative importance of the Trinity. That is what baffles me about it.

What I was saying is that if I was similarly seeking the true faith, I would have to dismiss Protestantism because of the way they claim to arrive at Nicene dogma.

Since when is the way we arrive at a truth more important than attaining to the truth itself? It's more important to accept and understand trinitarianism than it is to possess some semblance of tradition in one's view. One has to do with the very nature of God Himself; the other with a rule of faith and authority. To me, it is no contest between the two.

But...here, if I am not mistaken, I recall that you would be in agreement with them, that even apart from Catholic authority, you would arrive at Nicene dogma from Scripture alone.

I didn't say exactly that. This is a complex issue. I've written more about it than anything else, including a book recently, critiquing sola Scriptura.

My position, briefly stated, is the following:

1) Scripture, is, by and large, clear, in its treatment of theological doctrines. The truth can be obtained by proper study. I've done this myself, many times, in Scripture study on various topics, and my experience has always been the same, for thirty years now.

2) Scripture is materially sufficient: it contains all Christian doctrines, either explicitly, implicitly, or by direct deduction from doctrines in the above two categories.

3) But Scripture is not formally sufficient (i.e., it is not alone the rule of faith). Formal sufficiency is the position of sola Scriptura; material sufficiency is distinct from that.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

4) Massive use of Scripture in apologetics or systematic theology is not identical to sola Scriptura (making it the only formal and infallible authority). I specialize in biblical evidences for Catholic doctrine. But it is a serious mistake to assume that by dong this, somehow I am adopting anything remotely like the principle of sola Scriptura. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm doing what the fathers did: they usually argued from scripture first, in fighting heresy, but ultimately they appealed to tradition and the Church and apostolic succession as their ace in the hole. I don't appeal only to Scripture in my apologetics, because I also specialize in development of doctrine, history of doctrine, and have written books about the fathers, Luther, and Calvin also.

5) Though I think Scripture is clear on doctrine, for the most part, and definitely I think Arianism and other errors of that sort can be amply refuted from it, alone, nevertheless on the practical level of folks having different interpretations of Scripture, the Church is also necessary to authoritatively interpret. And this is done in the framework of tradition and apostolic succession.

6) With regard to, e.g., Arianism, clearly, many people through history have misinterpreted Scripture and have come to that conclusion. They can be refuted from Scripture (I have done so, and would be happy to do so again here, if someone wishes to defend Arianism), but because Scripture Alone has proven to be a failure through history, the Church also has to proclaim orthodoxy.

7) I also acknowledge that we all come to Scripture via a preexisting grid or bias, and that we benefit from hindsight. We have 2000 years of apostolic succession and Catholic pronouncements. Someone in the third or fourth century was much less equipped to know all that we know now. Trinitarianism was far less developed, so when they approached Scripture, it was that much more likely that they would come to an erroneous conclusion. And so they did. Arianism was refuted by Nicaea and the few councils afterwards.

I could go on and on about this, but that will suffice for now, as a summary of my position. I vehemently reject sola Scriptura, and perspicuity in the exact form that Protestants conceive it. But I think Scripture is pretty clear overall. If it were not, systematic theology would be very difficult for anyone to do.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Rory,

Continuing on with your comment:

It is becoming clearer to me why most faithful Catholics, including you, think Reformation movements are more viable options than the Restoration movements. It is because of a shared belief in a higher degree of confidence than I currently have regarding the clarity of Sacred Scripture, when Apostolic Tradition and the Catholic magesterium are set aside.

You may lack confidence in Scripture. Perhaps you have studied it relatively less (I don't know), but in any event, you have not properly understood my own position (and so perhaps you may possibly be misunderstanding other Catholics on this score). I haven't lowered tradition and the magisterium at all. I simply specialize in use of Scripture in my apologetics. I'm a student of the Bible. I love it. Nothing gives me more joy than studying it, in greater and greater depth. I was collecting this very day, passages about the general resurrection. It's wonderful. I wouldn't trade my life as a writer and apologist for anything. I have the luxury of the time to study the Bible a lot as part of my vocation.

For my part, I have already expressed how I deny that we can prove the implausibility of heresy except with Scripture and Tradition (ratified by the authority of Christ's Church).

I believe in ratifying through Church authority, as I stated last time. But people can reject the Church, just as they reject Scripture. They are both authorities, and people want to often go their own way. David W. has now rejected the Church as infallible because it doesn't interpret theology and history (or ecclesiology or whatever) in the way that he thinks it should. Having adopted the position that the Church had true authority, and was higher than individuals in determining the truth, and protected by God so as to be able to be infallible, now for some odd reason he has put himself higher than the Church. He has adopted private judgment. So what will be his standard of truth amd orthodoxy now? Scripture? Arians believe in sola Scriptura. But I digress . . .

I thought I spotted an internal inconsistency in your own position (that you have not addressed). You stated:

"I believe the Scriptures are materially sufficient to show plausibility of the true doctrine but not implausibility of the false doctrine."

And I replied:

"if true doctrine can be shown in the Bible as plausible (as I certainly believe), are not the false doctrines shown to be implausible by virtue of being contrary to the manifestly plausible true scriptural doctrines? In other words, to use an example, by demonstrating the Trinity (and particularly the deity of Christ), Arianism is thus shown to be false (therefore, also implausible, since false)."

If this is true (as I think it is), then the doctrine of Arianism can indeed be proven by Scripture. But like I said, heretics will reject a correct reading of Scripture, and they will reject a Church if the Church tells them otherwise. So you and I can agree that the Church is necessary as the safeguard, but it can't stop heretics, either, if they are intent to leave the Church and no longer be under her infallible guidance.

I any event, I don't see how you can hold that Scripture can teach truth, but not by the same token condemn error, when that error is directly contrary to the truth that is able to be proved therein. You can't have one thing and not the other, if these conditions hold.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

It would be difficult I think to persuade me that it is infidelity to deny the Nicene Trinity, the Assumption and Immaculate Conception of our Lady, pedo-baptism, or Transubstantiation from the Scriptures alone.

I disagree in the case of the Trinity. It is too obvious, from literally hundreds of Scriptures. The divinity of the Holy Spirit is relatively more difficult to establish, but it still is able to be demonstrated, with enough cross-referencing. I did it myself, as I said, way back in 1982:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2005/09/holy-trinity-biblical-proofs.html

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/01/jesus-is-god-biblical-proofs.html

I agree that the Assumption and Immaculate Conception are very difficult to see in Scripture Alone, but I have constructed wholly biblical arguments for both. It takes some doing, but it is not impossible.

Infant baptism is not that hard to show (from the baptism of entire families and the analogy to circumcision).Transubstantiation is a much higher development of Real presence, which is itself easy to demonstrate in Scripture.

For me, your position draws too near to sola scriptura.

Then you have not understood it properly. Perhaps (hopefully) you better understand it now, after I have clarified. Protestants don't "own" Scripture, and I will refuse to my dying breath, to adopt the notion that anyone who concentrates on Scripture study must necessarily adopt sola Scriptura or even elements of it. Even thinking in these terms plays into Protestant errors.

I think this apparent disagreement between us about the perspicuity of Scripture alone on the subject of the Blessed Trinity

It would be interesting to me to see exactly what you think Scripture does teach about the Blessed Trinity, if you think it is so unclear on the matter. Do you think it is difficult to find explicit proofs even of Jesus' divinity, wit passages like, e.g., John 1:1 and Colossian 2:9, along with many others, and every attribute of God the Father also attributed to Jesus (excepting,. of course, the possession of a body)?

explains why, if we put the Catholic Church out of the equation, I could more easily be LDS, while you could more easily be Methodist (or whatever). It is probably also at the root of why I would consider Mormons Christian, and you wouldn't. I find their radical departure from Catholic teaching to be a more likely scenario if I am looking for the one true church, than the Trinitarian Protestant who rejects the reason I am Trinitarian.

Okay. But again I see an inconsistency in your position. You're telling me we need the Catholic Church to proclaim dogmas, that we supposedly couldn't find ourselves in the Bible without her aid. So in that sense you grant to Holy Mother Church a profound authority. Yet you don't want to follow hr guidance when it comes to the definition of what Christian is. It is clear that trinitarianism is indispensable in that regard. It is not Mormons who were referred to as separated brethren: that was Protestantism. There is an essential difference. Protestants remain Christians because they have the correct theology of God, and they have true sacraments (baptism and marriage). Mormons have an incorrect doctrine of God, and their baptisms are invalid, because (as the Church has now made more clear) they have an erroneous understanding of trinitarianism.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

So what makes you think that you can arbitrarily reject how the Church defines "Christian" and "separated brethren" on the one hand, yet claim to follow her tradition and authority all down the line, over against a fellow like me who is supposedly too close to the Protestant position, in how I approach Scripture? You're still picking and choosing what you will believe from the Church and what you will not.

Even the WCC and NCC, as I understand it, didn't allow Mormons for many years, to be members, precisely because they were not trinitarian (I think they do now; I briefly looked some of that up). It's not as if only we Catholics have been saying this through the years.

Perhaps I have arrived at my position too subjectively.

objectivity does have its place!

As a Protestant, I had always been able to be persuaded favorably of multiple theological systems reasoning from the Bible alone.

I think each false system can be decisively shown to be so, from the Bible. The fact that you were persuaded of many things, proves neither that 1) Scripture is in fact unclear, or 2) that the reasoning employed in each case was not shot through with self-contradiction, or 3) that the ones arguing in each case were doing so fairly; taking all relevant Scripture into account.

I had been everywhere from ultra-dispensationalism to Wisconsin Synod Lutheran (and other stuff inbetween). I was tossed to and fro by every wind, and I can still in my opinion defend the plausibility of the beliefs I once held from Scripture alone.

I think if we as individuals find ourselves being in five, ten, twenty different camps, then we have to start looking at ourselves: we may qualify as those whom Paul described as being tossed to and fro. Scripture is not to be blamed because a thousand different competing claims are supposedly derived from it.

It was in great part, the frustration of trying to discern between the claims of Hodge and Calvin, over against Spurgeon and Chafer, over against Luther and Chemnitz. Sola scriptura decided nothing for me. It drove me into the arms of Holy Mother Church as it offered a way of discerning truth that did not depend on my own abilities to expose the errors of biblical exegetes whose work seemed and still seems plausible, cut off from Catholic Tradition.

There is a lot of truth in that; I agree, but it still doesn't follow that Scripture is not clear. People simply need to become more familiar with it, and learn how to properly interpret it, within the framework of Holy Mother Church and supernatural faith.

I am willing to reevaluate my position. I will renounce my position if anyone can demonstrate that my negative view of the perspicuity of Scripture is incompatible with what the Catholic Church has proclaimed regarding the relationship between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

The Church relates those two to each other. What it doesn't do is even require a given interpretation for every passage in Scripture. There are only about seven such passages, I think.

On the question of perspicuity in particular and what the Church teaches, I'd have to look up things to determine that. I don't know offhand. But I would contend that even citing a lot of Scripture (CCC, VII, any theology book or catechism or encyclical) presupposes that each verse is sufficiently clear to be cited as a more or less evident proof, without further comment.

Thanks for your consideration.

It is enjoyable discussion, though we disagree a bit. I firmly believe that dialogue can lead both participants closer to the fullness of truth.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

I would like to add that between you and me, what I discussed above is an academic exercise. I think faithful Catholics can disagree until the Church further clarifies Her understanding of how Scripture and Tradition properly interact.

I think the Church has stated plenty about that. The Church will never disconnect herself from being a guide in Scriptural theology. There is no debate on that. But how relatively clear Scripture is regarded to be is probably an area where Catholics can disagree.

I do not know, but for David W., this question might have some importance as to how he was eventually led to where he finds himself now.

Perhaps. I've been waiting now for two weeks or so to see his reasons for his decision. Obviously, as Catholic apologist, in my opinion, there is no sufficiently good reason to leave the Catholic Church. And I can back up my statement with argument; I don't merely assert it as if I consider it an unarguable maxim.

I am not privy to any great details regarding my friend's departure from the faith into which I sponsored him in 2002. He kept most of it to himself and we have had only a brief but very amiable phone conversation since he broke the news. I am still wildly curious about the way he began to doubt papal/ecclesiastical infallibility.

Me, too. But I think I have a clue, with all these allusion to Arianism and Mormonism floating around, and having discovered that David has had very serious interaction with both Mormons and "anti-Mormons."

I think we could get sidetracked if we read too much into your questions he did not answer. I suggest that his reasoning for accepting Mormons as Christian might be similar to mine.

I don't see how it can stand proper scrutiny.

Further, if he is not Catholic, I tend to think he would be as I am with regard to whether we can dismiss Arianism from the Scriptures alone. I know you disagree with it, but I am hoping you can follow the line of thinking that may lead him to be open to Arianism or inclusive with a word that can be defined in multiple ways and which to my knowledge has never been formally defined by the Church.

The word "Christian"? If that is what you mean, it has been defined by direct implication of which groups are considered "brethren in Christ." Obviously Muslims are not in that category; nor are Jews. Nor are Mormons and Arians and Unitarians, etc. They are outside the parameters of Christianity.

According to CCC #818 (citing the Decree on Ecumenism, 3, 1: which itself cites the Council of Florence in 1439) from Vatican II), those who are baptized "have a right to be called Christians." Since Mormon baptism has been rejected as valid, because of the rejection of orthodox trinitarianism, and trinitarian formula is essential to baptism; therefore, the Trinity is a necessary element in the definition of the word "Christian."

Isn't that clear enough? Baptism is required, and legitimate baptism requires belief in trinitarianism, in the way that the Church teaches it; therefore, belief in the Trinity is essential to the definition of "Christian."

The Decree on Ecumenism in section 1 is even more explicit. It refers to "the restoration of unity among all Christians. Taking part in this movement, which is called ecumenical, are those who invoke the Triune God and confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour. They do this not only as individuals but also as members of the corporate groups in which they have heard the Gospel . . . "

Thus, again, trinitarianism is central in the definition of a Christian, and this is in a document from an ecumenical council: even within the portion that was specifically ecumenical. Being ecumenical doesn't require watering down doctrines or pretending to believe things that we don't believe.

In what sense is this insufficient to immediately resolve the question for a Catholic who is giving assent to all that the Church requires?

Irene said...

Hi Dave A.

Thank you for your comprehensive examination of my post of a few days ago. I promise to give it a lot of thought.

Rory

Irene said...

Hey again Dave...

I don't know how these Google accounts work. I am not Irene (my daughter) nor am I LisaMcK (my wife). I got into a little debate with Irene's boyfriend Sunday night and this question of definition of Christian came up (he taking your position). I had already seen that The Catechism of Pope Pius X insists upon valid baptism. I will probably concede that this is the official Catholic definition. But then I will add some things that you still won't like. Heh. Anyway...like I said...I'll be thinking about your whole reply and will try to respond before Dave returns (around Saturday).

I bet we'll get something by next week at this time from him.

Thanks again.

Rory

Dave Armstrong said...

Well, thanks for taking the whole thing in good spirits. Sometimes folks are offended by my vigorous style of discussion. It's just love of dialogue and debate, not intended to be "personal."

So, God bless and goodnight Irene (couldn't resist). LOL

Acolyte4236 said...

Johannes,

On the subject of transubstantiation, the Orthodox do not accept the Catholic understanding of it. At times, the term was used by the Orthodox for a variety of reasons. Some of it was due to Latin influence. The Greeks used the term to express what they meant by metamorphasis, but of course that is also used of the transfiguration too and I think one would be hard pressed to say that the Catholics or Orthodox think that Jesus was “transubstantiated” on Mt. Tabor in the Catholic sense of that term.

Consequently references to the Synod of Jerusalem and the Synod of Constantinople at a height of Latin influence do not prove that the Orthodox view is isomorphic with the Catholic view. The only prove that the Orthodox expressed themselves using Catholic terms at a given point. But using the same words does not amount to a demonstration of meaning the same thing.

One can be clergy or laity in good standing in any Orthodox jurisdiction and openly deny the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which would be odd if we meant the same thing.

Dave Armstrong said...

Just fyi:

I have made a post on my blog of my dialogue with Rory:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/01/dialogue-with-catholic-on-perspicuity.html

All comments are always welcome on my blog, within the usual parameters of civility and cordiality.

This is a very important issue, and quite relevant, I suspect, with regard to David Waltz's present positions(s).

Stephen Weltz said...

I have a question about the Eastern Orthodox and Lutheran views of the Eucharist.

I understand that you differ from Roman Catholicism, but how do you guys feel about worship of the host?

Do Eastern Orthodox adore the Eucharist? Do Lutherans?

Edward Reiss said...

Stephen,

Lutherans do not worship the host, adore it etc. I have some ideas about what the EOs do, but I will let them speak for themselves.

Acolyte4236 said...

Stephen,

In answer to your question, Eucharistic adoration was mor eor less a post-Schism practice that came about for different reasons in the west, some theological and some cultural. The Orthodox do not have a practice of eucharistic adoration. There is a short period of reservation of the "left overs" for those who might fall ill during the week, but that's pretty much it.

Johannes said...

Hi Acolyte,

I acknowdedge that the two most "current" EO catechisms I found in my search have a view on the Eucharist very close to the Lutheran.

However, I definitely wouldn't say that the 1839 "Catechism of St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow" was composed "at a height of Latin influence", particularly on Russia!

And I quote it again here, for convenience:

"339. Why is this so essential?
Because at the moment of this act the bread and wine are changed, or transubstantiated, into the very Body of Christ, and into the very Blood of Christ.

340. How are we to understand the word transubstantiation?
In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs, it is said that the word transubstantiation is not to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord; for this none can understand but God; but only thus much is signified, that the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord."

Acolyte4236 said...

Johannes,

If they are close to the Lutheran view, we’d need to know a few things. First what is the official Lutheran view and what is the official Orthodox view. I have yet to see here or elsewhere a non-Orthodox elucidate the Orthodox view in anything more than a superficial manner which then permits the claim of conceptual isomorphism by papering over conceptual differences. This is usually due to the fact that the person making the claim has no significant familiarity with Orthodox theology beyond the popular level.

Do you mean to claim that during the 19th century there was no significant Latin influence, either Catholic or Protestant in Russia? It would be very interesting to see how that claim could be demonstrated or defended. Good luck with that.

As for the citation, first much depends on how the Russians at the time understood the key terms used. It has been said that it is impossible to understand the theology of the west without Plato and Aristotle, while such figures are unnecessary to understand the theology of Russia. I’d suggest to you that you ponder this for a bit.

If the Russians didn’t take the terms to mean what they mean for say Aquinas but rather in the sense of transfiguration as found in a good number of Greek sources, then this citation like others really doesn’t prove the point you wish it to. And there is reason to think that this is so given the fact that the citation indicates that the term is not meant to define the change. Why is this language used? It is used because the section indicates that its authors are relying on John of Damascus. John’s discussion is in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, bk 4, chap. 13. There John glosses the Eucharistic change in the categories of deification and the doctrine of the divine energies. If Catholicism and Lutheranism adhered to the doctrine of the energies, there would be good reason for thinking that the authors of the Catechism were picking out the same concept of Eucharistic transformation. But they don’t. Neither of them do.

In fact, the entire discussion there is explicitly predicated on the notion of the divine energies which is apparent to anyone who reads the text. Furthermore, John remarks glossing the words of Jesus,

“And I say unto thee, “The Holy Spirit is present and does those things which surpass reason and thought.”

Acolyte4236 said...

Johannes (Cont.)

Now that is odd if he and the Confession are advocating a metaphysical explication of the transformation as would be entailed by the doctrine of transubstantiation. Next John indicates that Jesus “connected His divinity with these [the elements] and made them his Body and Blood…” How is this connection done since for John, there is no creaturely participation in the divine essence? This is via again the divine energies.

“And we know nothing further save that the Word of God is true and energizes and is omnipotent but the manner of this cannot be searched out.”

Then John goes on to speak of the supernatural change that takes place at the epiclesis. Then there is this curious section.

“…and that we may be inflamed and deified by the participation in the divine fire. Isaiah saw the coal. But coal is not plain wood but wood united with fire: in like manner also he bread of the communion is not plain bread, but bread united with divinity. But a body which is united with divinity is not one nature, but has one nature belonging to the body and another belonging to the divinity that is united to it, so that the compound is not one nature but two.”

Here and later on in the same section it is quite clear that John thinks that not only do we partake of the divinity of Christ via the divine energies, but that the bread is still by essence bread, though it is not only bread. This seems to exclude the doctrine of transubstantiation. John models this on the doctrine of the energies and the deification of the body of Christ. If Catholics and Lutherans held the same doctrine of the deification of the body via the energies and denied the notion of the beatific vision, you would be in a good position to use these citations to support your claim, but this is not true of either the Lutherans or the Catholics, which is why the language in the citation you provided does not support the claim that the Orthodox adhere to the doctrine of transubstantiation. Energies are not accidents or substances either in terms of form or individuality.

I’d recommend then staying away from popular Catholic (or Protestant) apologetic sites that copy paste material removed from its context and so gives the wrong impression. If you wish to make claims about Orthodox theology, I’d strongly recommend reading primary source material and by that I don’t mean using the good Bp. Ware as if his book were a papal enclyclical. Now if you had read the actual section in the Catechism you would have seen that John was listed as the authority and you then should have gone to see what John says. (Always check the footnotes.) It would have been apparent that what John says doesn’t fit neatly into Catholic theology.

Stephen Weltz said...

Acolyte,

I apologize in advance, this question may just reveal my deep ignorance of the essence/energies distinction.

Would the Orthodox then see Catholic Eucharistic adoration as idolatry? Or would be seen as worship of Christ our Lord? However you describe it, the most vital aspect to me ever since I became Catholic was that I could point to the Eucharist and say, "That's Jesus". After all, we worship it! But it doesn't sound like one could do that in Orthodox theology.

Acolyte4236 said...

Stephen,

No need to apologize for asking a question. To be honest, I don't know. In none of the polemical material about the Eucharist between East and West have I seen or recall that being a charge or an issue one way or another.

I will say that we view it differently for some important reasons, not the least of which is that we affirm and Rome denies that God is the formal cause of creatures. If this is true then the kind of relationship that Rome posits between Christ and the Eucharist is motivated in part by their view that God is not the formal cause of creatures. The relation of and what constitutes nature and grace differs here between the two parties, which is the same issue, though with different content between Rome and the Lutherans.

Darlene said...

Acolyte,

What do you mean by "God is the formal cause of creatures?" Try to give an answer as if you were teaching Orthodoxy 101. :)

Also, if RC's don't believe this, what do they believe and is it the same as Protestants?

I look forward to your answer as time permits.

Acolyte4236 said...

Darelene,

Well this has gone way off topic,but if the blog owner permits, I will proffer an answer.

To say that God is the formal cause of creatures is to say that the form or essence of God is the divine being. For Catholics and Classical Protestants, God is pure actuality or purely active. There is no unrealized or unactualized potentiality in God. God is related to creatures not in terms of their form, but in terms of the power it takes to create and sustain them,that is by efficient causality. the form of creatures has perfections that are in God, but since these perfections exist in God simply or as one and the same thing and exist in creatures who are composite, as many different separate things,they exist imperectly or by analogy. So there is an analogy of being between God and creatures. For Latins, Protestants or Catholics, God could not be the formal cause of creatures since God is simple in a specific way. If God were the formal cause of creatures, then the essence which is simple and one, would be the essence of creatures and so creatures would not only be eternally existing but God by essence. this is because for creatures, their act of existing or actuality is added to their form, essence or definition, but for God, his definition is the same thing as his act of existing.

For the Orthodox, God's essence is not being, where being is a verb and so in that sense God is no form or essenceless or he is beyond be-ing in and of himself. But the energies are actualities or activities of God and are also deity or fully divine. They are hypostatic or the personal actions of the Trinity. Human nature is one of these actions, human nature is therefore a logos or an eternal plan or activity of God and so the form of human nature is the form of a divine activity and so God is the formal cause of creatures. Consequently the Orthodox do not think of divine simplicity in the same way. Simplicity itself is an energy, activity of God uniting all the other energies. They are all united without being really the same.

In application to the question here, because God is the formal cause of creatures for the Orthodox, for Christ to be present in the elements of bread and wine does not require a replacement of the essences of those elements since the essences of those elements are divine plans, logoi energies, etc. God doesn't access creation "from the outside" as it were and so the relation between God and creatures is more direct and tighter for the East since it is formal and efficient, whereas for the Latins it is via efficient causation. So there is no need to replace the essences of the elements for Christ, the one logos in whom exist all of the many logoi (plural of logos) to be present in them. This is why while Catholics and Orthodox both agree on the Real Presence in the elements, we do not agree on the Eucharist in terms of transubstantiation. As St. John says, there are TWO natures, not one in the Eucharist.

Irene said...

For anyone interested, I didn't post it here, but I continued the discussion with Dave Armstrong over at his blog that we began here on perspicuity of Scripture from a Catholic perspective.

I would post it here but I am thinking Dave W. will be making an appearance fairly soon and anything in this combox will be of little interest. Also, it is really hard to divide up writings into blocks of whatever the small number of characters a combox permits. Once was enough.

A blessed Sunday to all.

Rory

Here is where the thread is continued: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/01/dialogue-with-catholic-on-perspicuity.html

Dave Armstrong said...

I posted the latest round with Rory, with my new responses:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/02/dialogue-with-catholic-on-perspicuity.html

I think it is a very fruitful exchange. Hopefully it can have some relevance to David W. when he returns. I look forward to discussing things with him, too, time-permitting.

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

I am currently reading through the comments of this thread’s combox (in chronological order), and shall respond to some of the content as I read—as such, all should keep in mind that I might comment on certain issues which may have already been addressed by others in later posts.

In your 01-19-10, 7:56 PM post you wrote:

>> I am very interested in Dave W's answers to Dave A. That is why I asked over in the other thread about whether the trouble for him starts in 1950, 1870, 1854, or 325.>>

In terms of the issue of infallibility pertaining to Ecumenical Councils (and/or Papal), it starts with Nicene Council of 325. I will try to get to reasons why I adopt this position ASAP (the timing of which will depend on the content of the rest of the posts in this combox, and/or any pertinent links that may be provided).


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Rory,

Got called away from the computer for awhile…a bit later in the same post you said:

>> For the record, I didn't look at all the dogmas that the Church teaches and decide I agree with them. That isn't how infallibility works. I believe Christ is the Head of the one true Church. Certain things follow from this conviction, among which infallibility is not the greatest exercise of faith.>>

Me: But, you do need to determine which/what ‘categories’ function infallibly—in other words, how do you determine when a Pope has spoken infallibly; what content in the Ecumenical Councils actually pertains to “faith and morals”? The answers to such questions have gone through many changes down through the centuries, and I suspect there will be more to come.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Dave,

As you can ‘see’ I am finally back; I am reading through all of the comments in this thread (some of the early ones are a re-read), and as I said to Rory earlier, shall be responding to some of the material here (and others in a new thread). In your 01-20-10, 12:43PM post you wrote:

>>The use of "Christian groups", on the other hand, could easily be construed as a broad ecumenical, somewhat sloppy usage. There is a sense in which one can say "Christian heretics" insofar as certain groups came out of Christianity, and not another religion. It's the same for Islam (Black Muslims, the Islamicist terrorists) and other religions. For the Orthodox Jew Christianity is a Jewish heresy.

In any event, the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy (and most Protestants who still hold to classic theistic doctrine) have all determined that these groups are outside of Christianity. Even if Fr. Chilson believes as you do, so what? He would simply be wrong, in light of what historic orthodoxy has decreed. Why put so much stock into what he says?>>

Me: I merely cited Fr. Chilson as an example of a Catholic scholar who disagrees with your position. The current understanding of extra ecclesiam nullus omnino salvatur among Catholic scholars exhibits differing interpretations, and the only ‘recent’ interpretation that has been ‘offically’ condemned (at least to my knowledge) is Fenneyism.

Be that as it may, I currently neither endorse, nor condemn, Fr. Chilson’s understanding.


Grace and peace,

David

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi David,

Welcome back. I hope you had an enjoyable, pleasant vacation.

I merely cited Fr. Chilson as an example of a Catholic scholar who disagrees with your position.

But he may not. I'm not sure that he does, because his language was a bit ambiguous. You may be right. I don't know for sure. But he seems to have sent mixed signals in that passage: probably due to the desire to be as charitable as he could.

My position is that of the Church on this matter, since in Vatican II, it was presupposed that "Christian" is one who is validly baptized and accepts the orthodox formulation of trinitarianism. I showed that to Rory and he has already conceded the point.

The current understanding of extra ecclesiam nullus omnino salvatur among Catholic scholars exhibits differing interpretations, and the only ‘recent’ interpretation that has been ‘offically’ condemned (at least to my knowledge) is Fenneyism.

Who can possibly be saved and who is properly classifiable as a Christian are two completely different issues. I take a very broad view of who might be saved, according to Romans 2, even before we get to what the Church says about it. I have gotten into several debates with Calvinists over this very issue.

At the same time, we can't get sloppy about the definition of "Christian" and "Christianity" because those are fundamental issues and supremely important. We must be very clear about that.

Be that as it may, I currently neither endorse, nor condemn, Fr. Chilson’s understanding.

Okay. As you presented his citation, however, it was clearly in favor of a broader interpretation of the word "Christian" -- which I don't think is sustainable in light of clear Church pronouncements about both the Trinity and baptism.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Dave,

I continue to be assigned chores that are taking me away from the computer, so forgive the time-gaps in my responses. In the same post referenced above you penned:

>> When I got involved, I thought development and infallibility were the main issues. Now all of a sudden trinitarianism needs to be discussed as an issue that is debatable?

What would need to be done to establish the Trinity as true? Is not scriptural testimony enough in and of itself (I believe in material sufficiency)? The dogmatic pronouncements I summarized last time are clear, are they not?>>

Me: IMO, the development of the doctrine of the Trinity is THE classic (historic and doctrinal), ‘model’ which all theories of DD must come to grips with. To not discuss the development of Trinitariansim is to begin the discussion/dialogue from a significantly flawed position. Further, I submit that your question, “What would need to be done to establish the Trinity as true”, is not THE question that needs to addressed, but rather, what should be asked is: Which FORM of the Trinity is the “true” one?

For instance do you maintain the Son was begotten from the Father’s substance (ousia), or from the Father’s person (hypostasis); do you subscribe to Boethius’ classic definition of “person”, or some other; is the Son autotheos; do you believe that the Father is the fons totius divinitatis—these are but a few of the many questions that should be addressed.

So, perhaps you can now better understand why I was a bit hesitant in addressing your questions before I left on my vacation—as I said earlier, your questions are, IMO, too complex for simple yes/no answers.

Arrrgh…got to go, more chores have been assigned—hopefully tomorrow will be much less hectic for this beachbum.


Grace and peace,

David

Dave Armstrong said...

IMO, the development of the doctrine of the Trinity is THE classic (historic and doctrinal), ‘model’ which all theories of DD must come to grips with. To not discuss the development of Trinitariansim is to begin the discussion/dialogue from a significantly flawed position.

Of course it is part of development, being the doctrine of God. Cardinal Newman dealt with these issues in Chapter Four, sections 1 and 2 of his Essay on Development, and wrote an entire book on the Arians. He has not overlooked the issue at all.

Further, I submit that your question, “What would need to be done to establish the Trinity as true”, is not THE question that needs to addressed, but rather, what should be asked is: Which FORM of the Trinity is the “true” one?

What are the options? Arians don't believe in the Trinity at all, having reduced Jesus to a creature. Is the Mormon conception of God in play, too? What do you think the choices are? What does the Bible teach about God (in its admittedly less developed level)?

For instance do you maintain the Son was begotten from the Father’s substance (ousia), or from the Father’s person (hypostasis); do you subscribe to Boethius’ classic definition of “person”, or some other; is the Son autotheos; do you believe that the Father is the fons totius divinitatis—these are but a few of the many questions that should be addressed.

I accept all that the Catholic Church dogmatically teaches, including the doctrine of God. I accept the notion that I as one person cannot figure all these things out on my own: that there were many thousands of great Christian minds all through the centuries -- fathers, saints, doctors, popes, great theologians, philosophers -- that worked out these issues with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a Church specially protected by God.

So, perhaps you can now better understand why I was a bit hesitant in addressing your questions before I left on my vacation—as I said earlier, your questions are, IMO, too complex for simple yes/no answers.

And I continue to assert that at least some of the questions are simple enough to allow an easy answer yay or nay; namely, "is Jesus God?" and "is the Holy Spirit God?"

You imply above (I think) that you accept at least some form of the Trinity. Do not any variations of the Trinity, as you see them, presuppose that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God? There may be all these fine details, as you allude to, but it is still a God in three Persons, no? The word means "Tri-unity" after all.

Until you answer these basic questions or further explain what exactly your difficulties are, I for one have no idea how to go about trying to persuade you of the truth of Catholicism or any kind of Christianity if you are now outside what I would call orthodox trinitarianism: agreed upon by all three branches of Christianity (for the most part).

Edward Reiss said...

Dave Armstrong,

Regarding Arians and their teaching Christ is a creature, that needs to be qualified. If you read the Arian Creeds they sound quite orthodox except for a couple of concepts snuck in. For instance, they believed that while Christ was begotten, he was begotten before all times to in effect he is eternal, because time began after the Father begot him. They also had no problem calling him God of God etc. IOW, the heresy is a lot more subtle than "They said Jesus was a creature..."

For some Arian creeds see here:

http://tinyurl.com/ydmskp4

The source is rather interesting too, given what you do for a living....

Dave Armstrong said...

Your take is not what patristics experts hold. For example, J. N. D. Kelly. Describing the beliefs of Arians about Jesus, he wrote:

"the Son must be a creature . . . Whom the Father formed out of nothing by His mere fiat. . . . He is a perfect creature, and not to be compared to the rest of creation; but that He is a creature, owing His being wholly to the father's will, follows from the primary fact that He is not self-existent . . . He must belong to the contingent order.

"Secondly, as a creature the Son must have had a beginning. 'We are persecuted', Arius protests, 'because we say the Son has a beginning whereas God is without beginning.' 'He came into existence', he writes in the same letter . . . Nevertheless, although 'born outside time . . . prior to His generation He did not exist'. Hence the familiar, monotonously repeated Arian slogan, 'There was when He was not . . .. The orthodox suggestion that He was in the strict sense eternal, i.e., co-eternal with the Father, seemed to Arius to entail presupposing 'two self-existent principles' . . . which spelt the destruction of monotheism."

(Early Christian Doctrines, 1978 ed., 227-228; Kelly goes on to provide much more evidence, including more citations from Arius)

Dave Armstrong said...

Jaroslav Pelikan argues precisely the same in The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), p. 196):

"The Logos . . . was ranged among the things originated and created, all of which were fundamentally different from God in essence. In the ontological distinction between Creator and creature, the Logos definitely belonged on the side of the creature -- yet with an important qualification.

"Other creatures of God had their beginning within time, but the Logos began 'before times.' . . . Although the Logos was a creature, he was 'not as one of the creatures,' for they were created through him while he was created directly by God. He was 'made out of nothing.'"

This is precisely what Jehovah's Witnesses (today's Arians) teach. I have been aware of that for almost 30 years (and for nine years before I became a Catholic). You tell me nothing new.

My casual mention that Arians believed Jesus was a creature, was, then, exactly right. There is nothing wrong about it. He is "God's greatest creation," etc. (as JWs say) but He is still therefore a creation and a creature. And that is blasphemy and rank heresy and extraordinarily in conflict with Holy Scripture and traditional orthodox christology.

Dave Armstrong said...

The source is rather interesting too, given what you do for a living....

Not sure what you mean. Could you please clarify? Thanks.

David Waltz said...

Hi Dave,

I have responded to your last post to me in THIS NEW THREAD.

I am looking forward to your thoughts...

God bless,

David

Edward Reiss said...

Dave Armstrong,

"Not sure what you mean. Could you please clarify? Thanks."

As a professional apologist, I thought you would like to read and try to understand a church which explicitly tries to follow Arianism.

David Waltz said...

Hello Dave and Edward,

I think it is important to note that what has termed “Arianism”, needs to be qualified, because the so-called “followers” of Arius split into at least 3 different camps (and there is also the teachings of Eusebius of Nicomedia and his disciples which have been labeled by some as “Arian”, but should be termed “Eusebian”). Of the three major theological schools which came out of the initial Arian controversy (Anhomoian/”Neo-Arian”, Homoian, and Homoiousian/“Semi-Arian”), only the Anhomoians retained the teaching the Logos/Son was a “creature”.


Grace and peace,

David

Edward Reiss said...

David,

Precisely, the issue is more than Arians teaching Christ is a creature. The heresy was very subtle. I would also point out that not all the orthodox started out as "homoousians".

Dave Armstrong said...

As a professional apologist, I thought you would like to read and try to understand a church which explicitly tries to follow Arianism.

That's fine. I'm just a lay apologist who happens to do what I do full-time. Given my lack of advanced degrees in history or theology, and very limited time to go off in all directions studying all this different stuff (I'd love to be outside of time and to be financially secure enough to do whatever I wish at any time), I am happy to defer to the opinions of renowned Church historians. My opinions on such matters carries no weight; theirs carries much.

Dave Armstrong said...

Precisely, the issue is more than Arians teaching Christ is a creature.

Of course it is, but you are now removing my passing statement out of its context. All I said was that Arians couldn't be considered trinitarians, because they "reduced Christ to a creature." If He is a creature, He is not God; therefore, trinitarianism goes out the window. I was referring to Arians, not Semi-Arians, in the first place.

Of the three major theological schools which came out of the initial Arian controversy (Anhomoian/”Neo-Arian”, Homoian, and Homoiousian/“Semi-Arian”), only the Anhomoians retained the teaching the Logos/Son was a “creature”.

One could argue (no?) whether the latter two groups are properly classifiable under Arianism, since they are almost orthodox and rejected an essential element of Arianism, as you say. Going from Jesus being a creature, to being uncreated is a huge essential change.