Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Voting About God


Back on June 16th, over at the Beggars All blog, John Bugay launched an eleven part series of posts that provided copious selections from Paul Johnson's, A History of Christianty (GO HERE for John's 11th installment, and links to the ten previous posts). In the 11th installment, John summerizes the thrust and motive(s) for the series of threads:

As I noted at the outset of this series, I thought it was important to show that the roots of the Inquisition go back to Augustine -- his world and theology. Many Reformed and Evangelical Protestants know that the Inquisition occurred, but are less familiar with why it occurred or how it came about. What we have in this series is the gestation and the birth of that institution. I know that this series has been tedious for some; perhaps it has been interesting for others. I found it interesting and edifying.

Of course, the ultimate purpose, on this blog, is to talk about the Reformation in an apologetic sense. And that, too, is what I hoped to do – to put “out there” just one more reason for the Reformation.

I read Johnson’s book years ago (mid 80s), and though it is a very readable tome, the lack of any footnotes is surely a weakness. Personally, I consider the book a ‘popular’ treatment, not a scholarly one—yet with that said, I do not want to give anyone the impression that the work itself is seriously flawed, but rather that it has certain limitations.

With that said, I find it a bit interesting what John has culled from the work, and what he has left out—i.e. concerning the issue of heresy and the suppression of it. John’s anti-Roman Catholic position undoubtedly is foundational to what has chosen to emphasize; with this in mind, I would like to introduce another tome to the mix which sheds some additional ‘light’ on the issue of heresy and its suppression: Ramsey MacMullen’s, Voting About God in Early Church Councils.

My read of MacMullen has uncovered other probable and older “roots of the Inquisition” than Augustine—“roots” that most likely influenced Augustine and other powerful Christian bishops. Much of the book is available via the Google “preview” link that I provided above, so rather than impress my own gleanings upon the reader, I shall let the following selection serve as an introduction of sorts, and a prompting, to read more:

Our sources for the two and a quarter centuries following Nicaea allow a very rough count of the victims of creedal differences: not less than twenty-five thousand deaths. A great many, but still only a small minority, were clergy; the rest, participants in crowds. The total cannot be less if the sources are to be read in the usual way, discounting round numbers a bit and treating adjectives rather conservatively. Some evidence gives us only “many” or mere plurals, “deaths” and “slaughters” without specifics. (Page 56.)Looking forward to some robust discussion after you have had a chance to read MacMullen’s engaging tome.

Grace and peace,

David

42 comments:

Lisamck said...

It would be with great difficulty that I could remain Christian, much less Catholic, if I accepted the Johnsonian record, A History of Christianity. Recognizing that his presuppositional approach to the roots of Christianity was flawed with a naturalistic and even Darwinian view of the Apostolic Age, I was uninclined to finish his book. The bookmark still remains on p. 88. I suppose if I ever decide to nurture any latent Masonic tendencies that might some day rear up in me with a desire to be faithless, I'll pick it up again.

He begins on the first page by casting doubt on the inspired version of the events at the Jerusalem Council as provided in the Book of Acts. It continues in the same unedifying vein up to a chapter he titles "From Martyrs to Inquisitors", where after a few more pages, I concluded that it was the work of one who would make his readers into infidels.

From pages 43 and 44 in his interpretation of the conflict between the theology of St. Paul and the rest of the Church that would make Thomas Jefferson proud:

"Christianity began in confusion, controversy and schism and so it continued. A dominant orthodox Church, with a recognizable ecclesiastical structure, emerged only very gradually and represented a process of natural selection--a spiritual survival of the fittest. And as with such struggles, it was not partiocularly edifying...The Darwinian image is appropriate...The Jerusalem Council was a failure. It outlined a consensus but could not make it work in practice. Paul could not be controlled."

It could have been twenty years ago that I knew that Paul Johnson's views were incompatible with any form of Christianity. I am wondering how those Reformed Christians who find his work on the "Catholic Church" to be authentic, are able to explain why he is right with how he evaluates the third and fourth centuries, but wrong with how he evaluates the first and second?

Dave, I am pretty sure I am uninterested in the MacMullen book. The title is repulsive to me. With regards to the era of Christian ascendancy and triumph, I have continuing faith in God's justice and providence, no different from when I observe how the Promised Land was won for God in the days of Moses and Joshua. If an alleged 25,000 innocent deaths in 225 years is proof that the Catholic Church is false, it seems probable to me that Christianity itself rests on a foundation that cannot stand.

Rory

John Bugay said...

Rory -- I know where Johnson's conclusion on page 44 came from, and it does seem to me true that there were some rivalries in the early church. And maybe some were more bitter than we would like to think about.

But the foundation that Christianity rests on is Christ and his life, death, and resurrection, not on fictional stories of an early papacy. Over the last 150 years or so, the life of Christ and the Scriptures have undergone incredible scrutiny from "critical scholarship" -- here is just one example of the confluence that scholars are achieving:

http://blog.bible.org/primetimejesus/content/resurrection-probably-reported-same-year-it-happened

In 100 years the doubters have gone from Bertrand Russell doubting that Christ even lived, to having an atheist scholar agree that "the Resurrection was probably reported in the year that it happened." Christians don't need to fear for the "foundation" of Christianity; nor do they have to huddle around unbelievable stories that can't be supported by history.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of God, Peace be unto you all.

I was just looking at this book on Amazon and through reviews and I must say it does look very interesting.

God-willing I'm going to have to get this book from the library one day.

Lisamck said...

Hi John Bugay,

Thank you for your reply to my post. It seems that I need to clarify a point or two. But first I want to say how delighted I am with your report that modern scholarship is catching up with what Christians have always known by faith anyway. I have never disdained good scholarship and critical analysis. Nor have I been in fear of false scholarship.

No Catholic can deny that Jesus Christ is Head of His Church and the Author of the Christian faith. In this I am in full agreement. I am not sure who bases their faith on "fictional stories of an early papacy". I don't care if the papacy was fully and correctly understood by Sts. Peter and St. Clement of Rome, or Pope Pius IX and Bendict XVI.

My remarks about a shaky foundation are raised by misgivings I have with Christians in every age who inevitably fail to appreciate the durability of God's ordinances even when and if his ministers are guilty of gross sin. Perhaps I did not anticipate accurately our host's reason for mentioning that MacMullen alleges 25,000 deaths associated with ecumenical councils of the third and fourth centuries.

Presumably, it is understood to imply that if the charges were true, any Christian ministrations dependent upon Apostolic succession could be considered null and void. If there is another reason for mentioning the charges, I am all ears. But if it is as I supect, I have reasons for taking issue with such an ill-considered position. For purposes of argument, I am willing to concede that the charges are true. But it is late, and time fails to explain why it is important for Catholics to know that, even though most historical allegations made against the Catholic Church are gross hyperbole, it wouldn't matter if they happened to be true.

Rory

Ken said...

325 AD + 225 years = 550 AD -
Are they referring to Theodosius and Justinian, making laws against Paganism, Greek and Roman gods and temples; and the harsh treatment of the Byzantine Chalcedonians against the Monophysites in Syria, Armenia and Egypt?

Cyril seems to have called in the state and politics and force against Nestorius. It seems to me that Nestorius was wrongly accussed of something he did not beleive, and that later history has born this out (The Bazaaar of Hereclidus) and that his fear of calling Mary, "Theodokos" (God-bearer) would be be misunderstood to exalt Mary too much, and that is exactly what it did, and the Muslims still today have a wrong view of the Trinity (Qur'an 5:116) and the Son of God issue (Qur'an 6:101)because of the over-exaltation of Mary in both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism and this is sealed in their minds because of the bowing down in front of icons, statues, prayers to Mary, etc.

Cyril and Theodosius and Justinian seem to leave bad stains on Christian history; along with the other good things from their lives.

The early church until Theodosius was prestine under persecution. (as far as this issue goes) Constantine did not make Christianity the state religion (a common mistake that even history books make), but he made it legal and no longer persecuted. Theodosius is the one who make it the official religion of the Roman Empire at that time in 380 AD.

Are the authors (both Johnson and McMillian) saying that Orthodox Chalcedonian/Trinitarian Christianity is in question because of the power of the state to enforce Christianity, especially after 451 AD (Chalcedonian Creed) ??

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

You posted:

>>325 AD + 225 years = 550 AD -
Are they referring to Theodosius and Justinian, making laws against Paganism, Greek and Roman gods and temples; and the harsh treatment of the Byzantine Chalcedonians against the Monophysites in Syria, Armenia and Egypt?>>

Me: No. Note the following from MacMullen:

“All those who died met their end irregularly as targets of fury, not of legal action.” (Page 56)

And:

“They [the violent outbreaks among Christians] were contested in many scores of recorded incidents and touch a great many centers: a half-dozen Italian cities, a half-dozen in Egypt beyond its capital, a dozen in Syria including Palestine, and so forth.” (Page 57)

>> The early church until Theodosius was prestine under persecution. (as far as this issue goes) Constantine did not make Christianity the state religion (a common mistake that even history books make), but he made it legal and no longer persecuted.>>

Me: Don’t know what you mean by “pristine”. Violence between Catholics and Donatists occurred prior to Theodosius; persecutions against Arian Christians by Catholics are well known (including the burning of their books). In the late 4th century forward, many powerful bishops on all sides had their own personal ‘armies’ which were used protect their interests. As for Constantine, though he did not make Christianity the state religion, he had no problem with using state power to further his own views.

>> Are the authors (both Johnson and McMillian) saying that Orthodox Chalcedonian/Trinitarian Christianity is in question because of the power of the state to enforce Christianity, especially after 451 AD (Chalcedonian Creed) ??>>

Me: I don’t think either author specifically questions “Chalcedonian/Trinitarian Christianity”, “because of the power of the state to enforce Christianity”; what they do is provide the reader with historical information that is usually excluded from most histories written by ‘conservative’ Christian authors.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Pristine, meaning it was under persecution and did good works and reached out to slaves and women and saved babies from infanticide and abortions; and helped the poor; meaning up until 312-313 (Edict of Milan, Toleration, by Constantine)

the Arians seem to be the ones who persecuted the Christians, like Athanasius in Egypt up until around his death in 373 AD (not taking the time to find out the last exile, etc.)- he was exiled 5 times by the powers that be.

Lvka said...

Hi there!

LINK.

Bye there!

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

Thanks much for responding to my query; you wrote:

>>Pristine, meaning it was under persecution and did good works and reached out to slaves and women and saved babies from infanticide and abortions; and helped the poor; meaning up until 312-313 (Edict of Milan, Toleration, by Constantine)>>

Me: I do not believe that the general practice amongst ALL who embraced Christ as Lord (Arians, Homoousians, Homoians, Homoiousians, Nestorians, Monophistes, et al.) ceased do “did good works and reached out to slaves and women and saved babies from infanticide and abortions; and helped the poor” after the Edict of Milan.

>>the Arians seem to be the ones who persecuted the Christians, like Athanasius in Egypt up until around his death in 373 AD (not taking the time to find out the last exile, etc.)- he was exiled 5 times by the powers that be.>>

Me: The banishments of bishops such as Athanasius during the ‘Arian controversy’ pale when weighed against the wholesale ‘orthodox’ atrocities committed against those who refused to embrace the full creed of Nicea.

But, in the much ‘bigger picture’, one should not discount theology of the theonomists when weighing the historical data (not advocating a yeah or nay position here; but rather, just bringing a fuller view of the ‘big picture’ into the mix).


Grace and peace,

David

John Bugay said...

David -- Not trying to speak for Ken here, but it definitely does seem to be a "flipping of the switch," from the time before Constantine, to after.

Not that this was a definite hard break. There was, as I understand, continuing and ongoing violence in the name of Christ. The Edict of Claudius in 49 AD threw the "Jews" out of Rome for agitations in the name of "Chrestus." I've documented a bit of those ongoing contentions in Rome, here:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/05/spirit-of-roman-church.html

I haven't studied this period in great detail, but I get the impression that Constantine called a council to try and quell some of the on-going bickering. "Sit down at a table and work out your differences," so to speak. But we know that Nicea did not solve the issue in everybody's mind, and you are hinting here that many of the followers of Christ who were on the "losing" side of these discussions (a) continued to exhibit Christ-like qualities, and (b) really were the subject of atrocities.

Well, I've noted this phenomenon, too, in the instance of Nestorius. I don't doubt that the "Nestorian" churches continued to be Christians; it would seem as if the Monophysites (Copts) to our day have continued to retain a form that is very much like the Eastern Orthodox form (at least in terms of dress code, liturgy, etc.)

I'm one who has always been willing to say, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." I believe in a God who says, of those who "see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts," all that's needed is to "turn, and I would heal them."

But key in there is seeing, hearing, and understanding. The human heart is hard-wired as a receptor for what Paul called "my Gospel."

Of Athanasius, Schaff said, "he suffered persecution, but did not practise it; he followed the maxim: Orthodoxy should persuade faith, not force it. Towards the unessential errors of good men, like those of Marcellus of Ancyra, he was indulgent. Of Origen, he spoke with esteem, and with gratitude for his services, while Epiphanieus, and even Jerome, delighted to blacken his memory and burn his bones. To the suspicions of the orthodoxy of Basil, whom, by the way, he never personally knew, he gave no ear, but pronounced his liberality a justifiable condescension to the weak. When he found himself compelled to write against Apollinaris, whom he esteemed and loved, he confined himself to the refutation of his error, without the mention of his name. He was far more concerned for theological ideas than for words and formulas; even upon the shibboleth he would not obstinately insist, provided only the great truth of the essential and eternal Godhead of Christ were not sacrificed." (Schaff "History, Vol 3, Section 163, pgs 890-1.)

I think this is the attitude that Ken was describing in his earlier post up above.

John Bugay said...
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John Bugay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Bugay said...

Sorry about the double comments there. I kept getting a Google error when I tried to post, but evidently it was going through.

Ken said...

Thanks John - I appreciate your comments;

You are right; that is what I was trying to communicate.

I need all the help I can get here as David has read thousands of more books than I have.

David,
I didn't mean that everyone stopped doing good works; the persecution issue I am talking about. The church was "pristine" until 312-313 or maybe even 325 - if the historical record shows that they turned from persecuted to persecutors, then that is when it ceased to be "pristine", even if all those who claimed Christ continued to do good works.

You know many more details than I do.

You wrote: The banishments of bishops such as Athanasius during the ‘Arian controversy’ pale when weighed against the wholesale ‘orthodox’ atrocities committed against those who refused to embrace the full creed of Nicea.

When? before and during Athanasius' time (up until 373 AD) or after that period? 380 - 550s ? (Theodosius to Justinian)?

Is this (the violence done by the pro-Nicean side from after 325 on. I never heard of this violence; not that well read as you; ?) - Is this what the modern liberal scholars and DaVinci Code types are talking about, when they say, "the winners get to write history", and they claim that the political and military power was what helped or even was the main factor (?) in establishing Trinitarian Christianity as the dominant cultural religion and that they "suppressed the other views, like Gnostics, etc." ??

How can the theology of theonomy be defended; when is no good example of its application here in real history?

I appreciate their idealism and I also want a more righteous and holy and moral society (homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt children, and they should not be allowed to marry; and abortion is wrong and sin; pornography is wrong; schools should allow more questioning and investigation of the claims of Evolution, it should not be proclaimed as fact or dogma in school, but allow both sides of the debate for education); but I don't see how Christians can embrace and enforce things like capital punishment for adultery and anti-blasphemy laws and Sabbath laws and persecution of other religions.

Isn't that why the USA Constitution was set up the way it was; because of all the errors of European Christianity on these issues (church state religion and harshness against those who disagree)??

Ken said...

Yes, John - good quote from Schaff - that helps. I need to read his book all the way through. It is great that it is on the web in full.

What do you and David think of these quotes from Kenneth Scott Latourette (1884-1968), missionary and historian, and later Alexander Strauch,

Latourette: "the Church was being interprenetrated by ideals which were quite contrary to the gospel, especially the conception and the use of power which were in start contrast to the kind exhibited in the life and teaching of Jesus and in the cross and resurrection." (History of Christianity, 2 Volumes, 2nd edition. (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 1:269; quoted in Strauch, p. 86, see below)

Alexander Strauch, in his book, Biblical Eldership, p. 86, states: "This, Latourette goes on to say, proved to be "the menace which was most nearly disastrous" to Christianity.

Strauch then goes on to say:

"I believe it is more accurate to say that the conceptual and structural changes that occurred during the early centuries of Christianity proved disastrous. Christianity, the humblest of all faith, degenerated into the most power-hungry and hierarchical religion on the face of the earth. After the emperor Constantine elevated Christianity to the status of a state religion in A.D. 312, . . .

[Strauch makes a mistake here, it seems to me, because it was Theodosius who made Christianity the official state religion in 380 AD, Constantine only made Christianity legal and protected and no longer persecuted. But by “a state religion”, he may mean “one of many legal state religions”]

. . . the once persecuted faith became a fierce persecutor of all its opposition. An unscriptural clerical and priestly caste that was consumed by the quest for power, position, and authority arose. Even Roman Emperors had a guiding hand in the development of Christian churches. The pristine character of the New Testament church community was lost.” ( Ibid, Biblical Eldership, p. 86)

This is what seems to be especially true in the rise of the Papacy and power and claims of jurisdictional control over all churches; and one of the great indictments against the Roman Catholic Church.

Ken said...

It seems to me that if the Early Church had not introduced

1. baptismal regeneration; instead of living faith (BR produces nominalism and led the way for later infant baptism)

2. infant baptism - much later; producing more and more nominalism throughout the culture.

3. priesthood clergy in the churches. There is no such thing in the NT. All Christians are priests to God. I Peter 2:4-10; Rev. 5:9-10; Rev. 1:6; Ephesians 2:11-ff.

4. abandonment of plurality of elders for each church. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5

5. change from NT repentance to the false concept of "penance" (doing a work that the priest tells you to do like climbing steps on your knees or saying prayers to Mary, or pilgrimmages to graves and "holy sites". Luther's first point in the 95 theses was great and right on.

6. ex operato operato doctrines and practices

and
7. the political power and force that Strauch and Latourette are talking about

8. the slow develpement of the Papal claims and doctrines

the church would have stayed much more Biblical!

Ken said...

Also

9. the lack of living faith

produced

10. lack of reality and lack of evangelism to the Arabs and others in the east

11. combined with the abominable practices of exalting Mary and praying to her and bowing down before icons and statues

produced the bad testimony and caused the "enemies of God to blaspheme" (Romans 2:24) and produced a spiritual and political and social vacuum in the east that Islam filled. (along with the exhausting wars of the Persians with the Romans/Byzantines for centuries - the Arab Muslims aggressively took advantage of the exhaustion of the 2 super-powers of that day.)

God brought judgment on the early church for leaving their first love. Revelation 2:4-5

Ken said...

This looks like a very good book; John and David W. - have you seen it?

I have already ordered it and can't wait to read it.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/07/01/the-heresy-of-orthodoxy/

Ken said...

I probably should have included more on this one --

1. baptismal regeneration; instead of living faith (BR produces nominalism and led the way for later infant baptism)

[instead of living faith and discipleship and understanding baptism as an external picture and testimony of an internal reality of faith and commitment to Christ. Colossians 2:11-12; Romans 6:1-7]

John Bugay said...

Hi Ken -- wow, you've been busy today here!

It seems to me that if the Early Church had not introduced … the church would have stayed much more Biblical!

There is a mixed story behind a lot of the items you listed here. On the topic of Baptism, you may want to take a look at Everett Ferguson's "Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries." I have this work, and started to read it -- It's about a thousand page book, and it's on my list of things to get to. But I'm a member of a Presbyterian church with very good Baptist friends, and so I haven't "argued" baptism from one side or another. I have very good friends on both sides of the issue, and I understand the arguments on both sides. I don't think it's a game-changer one way or another.

On the topic of "penance," I believe this developed out of a lack of a faulty understanding of God's forgiveness: By the second century, there was a catechumenate process for getting into the church (it was no longer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.") There was an educational process before Baptism. And the mistaken understanding was, "you are forgiven to this point, but Christ's forgiveness isn't for *all* your sins past and future. It's just for past sins." And so, especially in the case of individuals who somehow caved under persecution -- it was an opportunity to *do something* to get back into the church.

I have Bauer's (1971) work "Orthodoxy and Heresy." I believe his premise is faulty, and he began his analysis not with Christ and the apostles and their message, but with the assumption that what we'd call Gnostic and Docetic tendencies had an equivalent claim to "orthodoxy." He has done some good research but it was flawed in its presuppositions.

I've linked many times to Blomberg's article, "The Resurrection was Probably Reported in the Same Year it Happened":

http://blog.bible.org/primetimejesus/content/resurrection-probably-reported-same-year-it-happened

Paul Barnett also has done some good work in really establishing that the Apostles (and especially Paul) went out into the world with a definite message that nevertheless ended up facing and dealing with some of those other tendencies. But it wasn't a case of "the winner tells the history." There was an "orthodox" message from the beginning.

On the Strauch/Latourette quotes, I think it's fair to say that some "developments' which were intended to defend the church (the development of the monarchical bishop and Irenaeus's notion of "apostolic succession") later did leave the church open to the charges that Strauch made.

I believe, though, that the "quest for power" was evident in Rome almost from the earliest days -- it might be similar to the quest for power for its own sake that we see in Washington DC today. I think that such a "quest for power," while it existed in other places (I'm thinking of Cyril of Alexandria and the folks around him), was probably less evident in the day-to-day Christianity around the empire. (Maybe the MacMullen work shows it to be more prevalent throughout Christianity.)

Regarding your point 5, by the way, the Latin Vulgate mistranslates the word "repent" with "do penance." That seems to have contributed to all kinds of mischief.

I should say that I'm only talking in general terms here. There are all kinds of details that probably should be discussed in the context of all of this.

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

So good to ‘see’ you back in the combox; thanks much for taking the time to respond. You posted:

>>Of Athanasius, Schaff said, "he suffered persecution, but did not practise it; he followed the maxim: Orthodoxy should persuade faith, not force it. Towards the unessential errors of good men, like those of Marcellus of Ancyra, he was indulgent. Of Origen, he spoke with esteem, and with gratitude for his services, while Epiphanieus, and even Jerome, delighted to blacken his memory and burn his bones. To the suspicions of the orthodoxy of Basil, whom, by the way, he never personally knew, he gave no ear, but pronounced his liberality a justifiable condescension to the weak. When he found himself compelled to write against Apollinaris, whom he esteemed and loved, he confined himself to the refutation of his error, without the mention of his name. He was far more concerned for theological ideas than for words and formulas; even upon the shibboleth he would not obstinately insist, provided only the great truth of the essential and eternal Godhead of Christ were not sacrificed." (Schaff "History, Vol 3, Section 163, pgs 890-1.)

I think this is the attitude that Ken was describing in his earlier post up above.>>

Me: Though I am a huge fan of Dr. Schaff, he has not accurately portrayed Athanasius. R.P.C. Hanson, in his massive tome, The Seach for the Christian Doctrine of God provides a much more complete, and accurate, assessment of Athanasius. Chapter 9, “The Behaviour of Athanasius”, sheds considerable ‘light’ on the darker side of Athanasius. It looks as though pretty much the entire chapter is available online via Google Books (LINK - go to pages 239-273). After providing a list of charges levied against Athanasius from various ancient sources, Hanson writes:

“It is remarkable how closely this evidence agrees with the list of Melitian charges against Athanasius given us by Sozomenus: causing divisions and disturbances in his diocese, preventing people entering churches, murders and imprisonments and undeserved beatings and woundings. Instead of ‘the tenderness which could not be loved’, the gentleness which made him…so patient and equitable as a peace-maker’, the majestic moral unity’ of his conduct and the freedom from anything ignoble in it, we find Athanasius behaving like an employer of thugs hired to intimidate his enemies. The evidence of papyrus 1914, Bell remarks, makes it certain that the charges of violent and unscrupulous behaviour in his se made Athanasius at Caesarea in 334, at Tyre in 335, at Serdica in 343 and many times thereafter were not baseless.” (Pages 254)

And:

“We can now see why, for at least twenty years after 335, no Eastern bishops would communicate with Athanasius. He had been justly convicted of disgraceful behaviour in his see. His conviction had nothing to do with doctrinal issues. No church could be expected to tolerate behaviour like this on the part of one of its bishops.” (Pages 254, 255.)


Anyway, like I said, it looks as though most (all?) of the chapter is available online. (I own the book if there are some missing pages that need to be filled in.)

I have much more to add, but this extended weekend is a very busy one for me. Will try to get back here this evening, but no promises…it may be Tuesday before I can devote any significant time to my blog, so don’t think I am ignoring you guys if I am absent until then. (Please feel free to continue contribute in my absence.)


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I am pressed for time, so I must be very brief for now. I concur with John: “wow, you've been busy today here!”

Unfortunately, as I related to John above, I don’t have much time for internet interests this extended weekend. I do want to discuss your posts, but it will probably be Tuesday before I have the time to do so. Hope you get a chance to read the Hanson chapter that I linked to above; and please feel free to comment in my absence. See you Tuesday! (The Lord willing.)


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Hope you, John, and any other readers have a great 4th!!!

Ken said...

On the topic of Baptism,

Hi John, thanks for the interaction with my points!

I should have made a distinction between Roman Catholic baptismal regeneration of infants and the covenant infant baptism of Calvin and Presbyterians and other Protestants. As long as the church teaches it properly, that is does not justify or "save" the child, and the parents are to keep teaching the child so that one day there will genuine repentance and faith; but rather it sets them apart as part of the covenant community, I have no problem with that either. If it was not for that issue, I would become a Presbyterian in a heartbeat. Still, I think Dr. White beat Bill Shisko in debate and John McArthur beat R. C. Sproul in debate on the subject of baptism.

Your point on penance is right - the problem was relying on Latin rather than Greek. I think the same problem is with justification; the Latin carries more "make righteous" whereas Greek is more "declared righteous".

David,
It is honestly depressing and discouraging to find out those things about Athanasius.

The Reformed view of human nature seems right, though.

But it also speaks to why maybe God did not intend the church to be political and that the USA separation of church and state is the best solution. (But not separation of "God from government" as the modern liberals and leftists and many atheists think.

I hope you guys have a great Fourth of July celebration also!

Were the founding fathers of American more Christian or more Deist or more "Freemason" in their thinking?

Ken said...

But it wasn't a case of "the winner tells the history." There was an "orthodox" message from the beginning.

of course I don't agree with the Bauer-Ehrman and Elaine Pagels and Dan Brown thesis - Orthodoxy was indeed always there from the NT Scriptures and the beginning - the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, atonement on the cross, resurrection, etc.

But, the bad behavior of some Christians and of the state after Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian has given occasion for non-Orthodox and heretics and other religions to question Trinitarian and Chalcedonian Christianity (saying it is man-made, rather than a right interpretation of the Biblical text.

I also want to make sure you saw the book I linked to is Andreas Kostenberger's The Heresy of Orthodoxy, who is criticizing what he calls the "Bauer-Ehrman" thesis; it is not Bauer's book itself. It sounds like you think I was referring to Bauer's book, rather than Kostenberg's; but I may be wrong.

Ken said...

David,
Your link to Hansen's book on Athanasius gives an "Error 404" result.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

It is raining here right now, so outdoor plans have been put on hold for a bit, allowing me the ‘spare’ time to check my email and blog.

Sorry about the link…for Hanson’s The Seach for the Christian Doctrine of God, try the following corrected LINK.

If the link fails yet once again to work, cut and paste the following:

http://books.google.com/books?id=tclFM-nRh2IC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+search+for+the+christian+doctrine+of+god&hl=en&ei=nfQwTKGLG4-CsQPQhJjgBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

While waiting for a break in the weather, I will try and read all the thoughtful comments that you and John posted yesterday, but comments on my part will probably have to wait until Tuesday.


Grace and peace,

David

Lvka said...

After providing a list of charges levied against Athanasius from various ancient sources, Hanson writes:

“It is remarkable how closely this evidence agrees with the list of Melitian charges against Athanasius



So we have two similar or identical lists of charges... since when is a list of charges the same as "evidence" ?

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Well, the long 4th weekend is finally over—back to the internet!

You posted on the 3rd:

>>It seems to me that if the Early Church had not introduced

1. baptismal regeneration; instead of living faith (BR produces nominalism and led the way for later infant baptism)

2. infant baptism - much later; producing more and more nominalism throughout the culture.

3. priesthood clergy in the churches. There is no such thing in the NT. All Christians are priests to God. I Peter 2:4-10; Rev. 5:9-10; Rev. 1:6; Ephesians 2:11-ff.

4. abandonment of plurality of elders for each church. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5

5. change from NT repentance to the false concept of "penance" (doing a work that the priest tells you to do like climbing steps on your knees or saying prayers to Mary, or pilgrimmages to graves and "holy sites". Luther's first point in the 95 theses was great and right on.

6. ex operato operato doctrines and practices

and
7. the political power and force that Strauch and Latourette are talking about

8. the slow develpement of the Papal claims and doctrines

the church would have stayed much more Biblical!>>

Me: Don’t want to get into a big debate, but I am sure that you are aware that 1, 2, 4 and 6 are held by numerous Christians who are children of the Reformation, and subscribe to sola scriptura.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Ken wrote:

>> This looks like a very good book; John and David W. - have you seen it?

I have already ordered it and can't wait to read it.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/07/01/the-heresy-of-orthodoxy/>>

Me: Looks like a very interesting book Ken—thanks for the heads-up—will order the book later today.

I am looking forward to see if Andreas Köstenberger and Michael Kruger’s new book is as good as H.E.W. Turner’s, The Pattern of Christian Truth:
A Study in the Relations Between Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church
. (See HERE for the 2004 reprint – I own the original 1954 edition.)


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Lvka,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>After providing a list of charges levied against Athanasius from various ancient sources, Hanson writes:

“It is remarkable how closely this evidence agrees with the list of Melitian charges against Athanasius



So we have two similar or identical lists of charges... since when is a list of charges the same as "evidence" ?>>

Me: “Charges” are made by Athanasius against his opponents (Arians, Eusebians, Meletians, et al.), I would be interested to know if you believe that such “charges” from the pen of Athanasius is “evidence”.

As for the list of Melitian charges in the letter sent to Constantine, it is more than interesting that a good number of them are not denied by Athanasius in his response to Constantine.

BTW, enjoyed the videos you linked to above; have added your website to my list of links.


Grace and peace,

David

Lvka said...

Ad hominem charges (by Athanasius against his opponents) ? -- Even if they were true, I wouldn't be interested in them.


a good number of them are not denied by Athanasius in his response to Constantine.

What does "not denied" mean more exactly?

David Waltz said...

Hello again Lvka,

You wrote:

>>Ad hominem charges (by Athanasius against his opponents) ? -- Even if they were true, I wouldn't be interested in them.>>

Me: Fair enough…

>>a good number of them are not denied by Athanasius in his response to Constantine.

What does "not denied" mean more exactly?>>

Me: The Meletians in Alexandria were asking for assistance from Constantine and listed numerous abuses via Athanasius. In Athanasius’ apologia to Constantine he denied only a couple of the charges. (Hanson provides the sources of all the pertinent letters, and I think all but one can be accessed online.)


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Me: Don’t want to get into a big debate, but I am sure that you are aware that 1, 2, 4 and 6 are held by numerous Christians who are children of the Reformation, and subscribe to sola scriptura.

Yes, on 1, 2, 4 - but even all of them are very different from the Roman Catholic (and EO) ideas of these things, right?

The Lutheran view of baptismal regeneration is, to me, illogical and not understandable, in light of sola fide.

on no. 6, no, I did not know that other Protestants hold to ex opera operato in the way RCs do = saying words over bread and wine and baptism or pronouncing "you are forgiven" ("te obsolvo"( and believing that the act of doing it makes it happen.

Also, most of those denominations that hold to those views, especially in the USA are dying out. (Except for PCA and Missouri Synod Lutherans. Methodists and Episcopal church are dying out and in deep trouble. There are those good evangelical churches that are diligent, and have versions of those things that you refer to; and if they teach diligently, then guard against nominalism and decay. Revelation 2 and 3.

Lisamck said...

Hi Ken,

Your comments about your #6 prompt me to remark that your understanding of the Catholic sacraments being communicated "Ex opere operato" (my spelling not yours), seems faulty.

You affirmed that it is an example of the formula "From the work done" that:
"""saying words over bread and wine and baptism or pronouncing "you are forgiven" ("te obsolvo"( and believing that the act of doing it makes it happen."" The words or form are important of course. Do Protestants think that one can have a valid Lord's Supper or baptism with any random form of words? Does not valid baptism require an invocation of the Trinity at least?

"Ex opere operato" means that no matter the subjective condition of the minister, an ordinance/sacrament is valid if the work is done properly. If you believe that a valid baptism can be done by a minsiter with bad interior disposition, you accept "Ex opere operato". If you think that your baptism depends on some good form of interior disposition in the minister, you reject "Ex opere operato".

That is all that "Ex opere operato" means. In regards to the benefits of his ordinances/sacraments God honors their value performed correctly even if the minister is unworthy. There is another expression that reflects an important principle called "Ex opere operantis" which refers to the interior disposition of the recipient. Because of the difference in meaning associated to different spellings (if we are inclined to use Latin) we must make the proper spelling. We should also make sure we understand the definition that we are affirming or rejecting. From your post, even though you seem to want to reject "Ex opere operato", it seems doubtful that you actually do.

Obviously, the seven Catholic Sacraments are more extensive and confer more grace than the usual two Protestant ordinances. Nevertheless, I think there is probably much agreement between Catholics and most Protestants over the principle "Ex opere operato" as it applies to whatever sacraments or ordinances we believe in.

Rory

John Bugay said...

Rory: The words or form are important of course.

In what sense is this true? Is it true for the hearers? For centuries, while the Mass was said in Latin, it was certainly not true for the congregation. But to whom is God's promise made in the sacraments? Should not the people who receive the sacraments understand what it is they are receiving?

As Calvin defined the sacraments, the sacrament itself "is never without a preceding promise, but is joined to it as a sort of appendix, with the purpose of confirming and sealing the promise itself, and of making it more evident to us and in a sense ratifying it. … Properly speaking, it is not so much needed to confirm his Sacred Word (his promise), but to establish us in faith in [his promise]." (Institutes 4.14.3).

In reality, it is faith alone in the divine promise that is sufficient to obtain the grace, the favor of God, in the sacraments.

"Ex opere operato" means that no matter the subjective condition of the minister, an ordinance/sacrament is valid if the work is done properly.

The CCC holds that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: "by the very fact of the action's being performed"), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God." From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s1c1a2.htm#1128

Calvin said rather that "we ought to understand the word not as one whispered without meaning and without faith, [as it was in his time until 1964], like a magic incantation, which has the force to consecrate the element. Rather, it should, when preached, make us understand what the visible sign means. [That is, the promise of God.] "For in promising a righteousness apart from faith, it hurls souls headlong to destruction. [4.19.14].

"Ex opere operantis" which refers to the interior disposition of the recipient.

Actually, this refers to the "the power and devotion of the worker," that is, of the minister.

Calvin addressed this as well. "A sacrament must not be judged by the hand of the one by whom it is ministered, but as if it were come from the very hand of God, from whom it doubtless has come. From this we may then infer that nothing is added to it or taken from it by the worth of him whose hand it is administered. Among men, if a letter is sent, provided the handwriting and seal are sufficiently recognized, it makes no difference who or of what sort the carrier is. In like manner, it ought to be enough for us to recognize the hand and seal of our Lord in his sacraments, whatever carrier may bring them." [4.15.16].

Obviously, the seven Catholic Sacraments are more extensive and confer more grace than the usual two Protestant ordinances.

This is not obvious at all. What's missing from Rome's seven is "the pearl of great price," which Protestants possess, in the form of the Gospel of Grace. Hence our two, with the free gift of God freely in view, offer far more benefit than the "alleged" sacraments, "not authorized by God's Word or used in the early church."

Lisamck said...

Hi again John. I am pretty disappointed with your reply to my post for Ken. I was hoping for the admission of a little more common ground. But for what it is worth to you, or other observers, my response, your words in bold, my old words italicized:

Rory: The words or form are important of course.

John Bugay: In what sense is this true? Is it true for the hearers? For centuries, while the Mass was said in Latin, it was certainly not true for the congregation. But to whom is God's promise made in the sacraments? Should not the people who receive the sacraments understand what it is they are receiving?
As Calvin defined the sacraments, the sacrament itself "is never without a preceding promise, but is joined to it as a sort of appendix, with the purpose of confirming and sealing the promise itself, and of making it more evident to us and in a sense ratifying it. … Properly speaking, it is not so much needed to confirm his Sacred Word (his promise), but to establish us in faith in [his promise]." (Institutes 4.14.3).

In reality, it is faith alone in the divine promise that is sufficient to obtain the grace, the favor of God, in the sacraments.


Rory: Do we agree that the words or form are important or not? Why are you taking issue with this comment? I thought we would have common ground in believing that for instance, we need to baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Whether or not the deaf and those unfamiliar with the tongue of the minister can receive valid ordinances in your Protestant church is a different question that you will have to answer. I have been in many Bible-believing Protestant churches. I have never heard it intimated that the Spanish lady has to be baptized in Spanish else she will need to be rebaptized in her own language.

---to be continued

Lisamck said...

Part 2

Rory: "Ex opere operato" means that no matter the subjective condition of the minister, an ordinance/sacrament is valid if the work is done properly.

John Bugay: The CCC holds that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: "by the very fact of the action's being performed"), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God." From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.

Calvin said rather that "we ought to understand the word not as one whispered without meaning and without faith, [as it was in his time until 1964], like a magic incantation, which has the force to consecrate the element. Rather, it should, when preached, make us understand what the visible sign means. [That is, the promise of God.] "For in promising a righteousness apart from faith, it hurls souls headlong to destruction. [4.19.14].


Rory: I hate to say this but it seems like you have a determination of avoiding agreement with me merely because you know I am Catholic. How does what I claim "Ex opere operato" means differ from what you quoted in the Catechism? I am even more satisfied with the extensive explanation of the Catechism.
You continue after that to supposedly oppose what I said to what Calvin says. What does Calvin and his discourteous caricatures of the Traditional Latin Mass have to do with what we are discussing? If there is a similarity with regards to sacraments/ordinances with a magic spell, it is assuredly with regard to the importance of a proper form of words, the right kind of matter, and the proper intention of the minister. So far, we are similar to magicians I guess. So? Maybe being mimics of God, the devil's ministers are similar to us? Unlike Calvin and you, I don't know much about "magic incantations". I had thought nobody is wrong about everything. Do I have to disagree with every magician about everything? Just because they place an emphasis on words we may not?

My faith is not formed in opposition to magicians or Calvinists. We give no regard whatever to magicians and Calvinists. If Calvinistic doctrine is arrived at by opposition to magicians and Catholics, that might be your problem. But it isn't anything I am concerned about, nor is it the concern of all Protestants. Some Protestants would agree with the Catholic that even if the minister was unworthy, even should he (gasp!) whisper the words in a foreign tongue, or even if the sound system should fail, God will not fail to produce the beneficial results for the faithful desirous of receiving baptism and the Lord's Supper. "Ex opere operato" is a doctrine that is benign, good, and necessary. It is opposed to scrupulous and legalistic souls who would have to inquire into the interior disposition of every minister that gave them an ordinance/sacrament before they could be comforted that they had received God's desired blessing.

For both Catholic and Protestant it is not the force of the words spoken by the minister, as Calvin and you tried vainly to attribute to the Catholic alone, but the promises of God upon which the faithful may rely (as Calvin so weirdly said). It is not the human word but the power and promise of God which validates the ordinance/sacrament for the Catholics and Protestants who wisely accept "Ex opere operato".

----to be continued.

Lisamck said...

Part 3

Rory: "Ex opere operantis" which refers to the interior disposition of the recipient.

John Bugay: Actually, this refers to the "the power and devotion of the worker," that is, of the minister.

Calvin addressed this as well. "A sacrament must not be judged by the hand of the one by whom it is ministered, but as if it were come from the very hand of God, from whom it doubtless has come. From this we may then infer that nothing is added to it or taken from it by the worth of him whose hand it is administered. Among men, if a letter is sent, provided the handwriting and seal are sufficiently recognized, it makes no difference who or of what sort the carrier is. In like manner, it ought to be enough for us to recognize the hand and seal of our Lord in his sacraments, whatever carrier may bring them." [4.15.16].


Rory: My mistake, however you seem incorrect as well. This refers, according to my source, to acts of piety by the faithful outside of the sacraments/ordinances. It basically teaches that going through the motions of devotion without the proper interior dispositions are of little value. The worker in this case would not be a minister but any of the faithful performing a private act of devotion.

My relatively minor point which I tried to make with Ken was that his misspellings of the Latin phrases can lead to great confusion. He spelled it differently at least twice or three times. That is why I suggested that they be avoided. Catholics and most Protestants will agree I hope, that we need to take care with our spelling when we use Latin expressions that have counterparts that look very similar but mean different things.

---to be continued

Lisamck said...

Part 4

Rory: Obviously, the seven Catholic Sacraments are more extensive and confer more grace than the usual two Protestant ordinances.

John Bugay: This is not obvious at all. What's missing from Rome's seven is "the pearl of great price," which Protestants possess, in the form of the Gospel of Grace. Hence our two, with the free gift of God freely in view, offer far more benefit than the "alleged" sacraments, "not authorized by God's Word or used in the early church."

Rory: Sigh...
Maybe you should step back from the obsessions of Calvin where he mistakenly defines his faith merely in misunderstood opposition to the Catholics. Just forget about us while you are analyzing what "Ex opere operato" means. I was not going for one-ups-manship and I certainly wasn't trying to be controversial in saying what I did about the Catholic Sacraments. I was trying to be "obviously" agreeable again. I "obviously" failed with you. My entire post was focused exclusively on this question raised by Ken with different spellings of "Ex opere operato" and what it means. It seems almost like rather than finding points of agreement, you are looking for some sinister symbols behind what I say. No wonder your fathers broke from the true Church. Suspicion and paranoia lead to misunderstandings and ultimately alienation.

In regards to my observation about the difference between the Sacraments of the Catholics and Ordinances (as most Protestants refer to them), it seems to me that most Protestants would be happy to agree that Catholics place much more emphasis (to our detriment!) on the grace received in the Sacraments than most Protestants do with their Ordinances. If you insist otherwise, fine. It is immaterial to the point I made which followed your quote: "Nevertheless, I think there is probably much agreement between Catholics and most Protestants over the principle "Ex opere operato" as it applies to whatever sacraments or ordinances we believe in."

I am relatively confident that you have imbibed more purely the contentious spirit of the Reformation fathers than have most Protestants. You insist that "Ex opere operato" in a Catholic context means magical incantations, whereas I am completely certain that you would understand us better if you would understand that we believe what most of you believe. Applied in a Protestant context, it means that where the minister is unworthy, or unschooled in the tongue of the recipient of an ordinance, it still conveys the benefit. Whether it is the Latin that makes it appear sinister to you, that Catholics believe it, or both, I have no idea. It just doesn't mean what you and Ken have said or implied.

Rory

Lisamck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken said...

Rory,
You are right on the point that I mis-spelled ex opere operato at least twice. Wow. I did not notice that until you pointed it out.

Now to read all your material again and interaction with John to see if I understand.

Sincerely,
Ken

David Waltz said...

Hello John, Ken and Rory,

IMHO, when one puts aside polemics, and objectively looks at what is actually said by all the varied denominations that embrace baptismal regeneration, the NATURE and AFFECTS of the sacrament are pretty much the same. I have discussed this issue in THESE TWO PREVIOUS THREADS.


Grace and peace,

David