Let’s Play Fair

Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Catholicism, Church History, Darryl Hart, Ecclesiology, Featured, History, Presbyterianism, Reformed Theology | 276 comments

Over at Called to Communion, Darryl Hart has once again criticized me and my pals for our conspiratorial plan to dupe humanity by waging a massive cover-up of all the Catholic Church’s misdeeds over the past 2,000 years. He wrote in a comment in this thread:

What I believe to be dishonest about Jason and the Callers is the partial evidence they give for the truth of Roman Catholicism, and the neglect of those historical realities that could (and do) give even reasonable Roman Catholics pause about the claims of the papacy or those of high papalists.

Now, I have lost count of how many times I and “the Callers” have freely acknowledged Rome’s serious warts and problems, and that Vatican 2 brought about a huge change in the posture of the Church toward the modern world, but why let the facts get in the way of a good tune, even if the guy playing it only has one string on his gee-tar?

You see according to Darryl, unless every single misstep of the Church is included in each article we write, we are being “dishonest.” Setting aside whether such a criterion for honesty is even legitimate (it’s not), do Protestants play by those rules when they defend their positions? Now I can already hear the objection: “But we don’t have to meet your standards since our claims about our churches are not as high-falutin’ as yours are!” In other words, since the Reformed claims about the church are so measured, modest, and reasonable, those who make those claims don’t need to “come clean” about their denominations’ sordid histories. They acknowledge their own fallibility from the get-go. But the Catholic, with all his delusions of ecclesial grandeur, is lying when he speaks favorably about his Church unless he also includes caveats and disclaimers about priestly abuse and the Avignon papacy. Darryl continues:

Whether they (or you) read Roman Catholic historians (like John O’Malley, John McGreevy, Mark Massa, or Francis Oakley), I don’t know.  But I do think these Roman Catholics (some lay, some priests) would guffaw at the allegedly air-tight arguments that Jason and the Callers make for Rome.  It would be like my reaction to the arguments of young-earth creationists.  Even if I can see the use of reason, logic, and evidence,  I find creationists to be simplistic.

I would be curious to hear from Darryl what exactly he thinks these historians deny about Catholicism that I and “the Callers” affirm. Do these men deny that Francis is the episcopal successor of Peter, or that the bishops of the Magisterium are the successors of the apostles? Or is there some other Catholic dogma that they reject?

My guess is that Darryl’s answer is no, these men don’t reject the Church’s dogmas, but they would laugh at the approach CTC takes in defending those dogmas. But is this really all that surprising or earth-shattering? These men are historians, while CTC is comprised of philosophers and theologians. I mean, Darryl largely agrees with the views of his fellow OPC cohort David VanDrunen, but the latter promotes those beliefs by employing exegetical and systematic theology, while Darryl does it by writing books about Machen and the history of American Presbyterianism. So what? All Darryl is showing by his constant diatribes is that history and philosophy are different. Mind. Blown? Not so much. . . .

In other words, I think it is better for me to be modest about the truth claims of Reformed Protestantism.  I see no such modesty on Jason and the Callers part.  And this comes at a time when the RC hierarchy itself has abandoned its former immodest claims.  But then again, no one here ever acknowledges the detour that Rome took with Vatican 2.  (It’s as if Jason and the Callers believe post Vatican 2 is really no different from the church for which SSPXer’s pine.)

While we’re speaking of Darryl’s incredible modesty and my incredible lack of it, I would like to encourage an experiment: Go to his site and do a couple hours’ worth of poking around to discover how often he, when speaking of something he does  consider infallible (like, I don’t know, the Bible), includes any reference to or acknowledgement of the scholarly, historical, or theological views of all the Department of Religion heads in all our American universities who would not only chortle or guffaw at Darryl’s naïvely simplistic theological conservatism, but who would lump him in with the Catholics he despises and the young-earthers he dismisses.

I mean, if Darryl is going to hold our feet to the fire and insist that honesty demands we acknowledge every objection to the Church’s claims by those who claim to be Catholic, would not what is good for the goose be also good for the gander? Would not consistency dictate that Darryl do the same, and would it not be sheer hypocrisy to expect such a thing from us, while he himself has the chutzpah to let his QIRC-y and utopian views of the Bible’s infallibility slip by without acknowledgement of how quaint they sound to the real experts who teach religion at our nation’s greatest academic institutions?

For my part, I think such an expectation is retarded. If every claim has to be qualified by a host of footnotes to so-called experts who insist on the contrary, no one will ever be able to say anything, but we will all be paralyzed with fear over not giving both sides of the story. Plus, not every social medium can be that, ahem, fair and balanced. I mean, we’re not Fox News up in here. . . .

 

276 Comments

  1. Jason, you should have paid closer attention in church history. History is not done to promote an agenda. You really think I have tried to promote Presbyterianism or Calvinism in what I’ve written for editors who expect a historical treatment.

    You should also recognize — as hard as it may be — that the claim, “this is the church Christ founded,” is not a philosophical but a historical claim. That’s where the debates begin.

    Why not try “I believe this is the church Christ founded”? But then that would be just your opinion, sort of like those low-class Protestants.

  2. History is not done to promote an agenda.

    Perhaps you’d like to rephrase that?

    Fred

  3. Sheesh, Darryl, you’ve got quite the sensitive underbelly! I mean, for a member of the Only Perfect Church, you sure hold grudges against those who think more highly of their church than you do of yours. . . .

    But hurt feelings aside, feel free to explain to us why you don’t give equal space to all the academic arguments against Scripture’s infallibility. You know, in the interest of honesty and full disclose and all.

  4. Jason, I’m not sure who is more sensitive than thou. I thought I was simply trying to point out what historians do, which is different from a blog btw.

    In case you didn’t notice Oldlife is not set up like CTC and CCC of late to show the superiority of anything. So I don’t need to give time to critics of Protestantism — though I sure have given Jason and the Callers plenty of attention of late. That’s not fair play. I’d say you’re ungrateful.

    But you, sir, have been in the business of touting Rome’s glory and never mentioning the underbelly or private parts. “I have lost count of how many times I and “the Callers” have freely acknowledged Rome’s serious warts and problems.” You can’t count to one? And just how serious are they since it’s always sunny in Rome.

  5. So Darryl, you’re saying it’s just a coincidence that the history you do happens to focus on Machen and Reformed theology? But those are two subjects you love! Weird how things just randomly worked out that way.

    And I call bollocks on your disclaimer about Old Life: Your obsession with Tim Keller is just one exhibit of evidence that your project is all about promoting Old School Presbyterianism. Not that there’s any problem with that (a lot of my friends are old School Presbyterians), but it is bizarre to hear you disavow that objective when it’s so obvious.

    As for it always being sunny in Rome, I don’t agree with that at all. I actually really miss being on your team (it suited me much better, honestly). But then, I could just turn this around on you (which is the case with everything you say): If you’re still a Christian despite all that has been said and done in the Name of Christ over the centuries, then it must always be sunny in Jerusalem.

  6. Jason,

    I don’t want to butt in on this convo between you too, but you’ve yet to lay out your position on Jesus establishing the Roman Catholic Church. Daryl raises important historical questions which (at least to us Prots) seems to undercut claims of infallibility, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what made you believe that Jesus founded the RCC. You say this in your post,

    My guess is that Darryl’s answer is no, these men don’t reject the Church’s dogmas, but they would laugh at the approach CTC takes in defending those dogmas. But is this really all that surprising or earth-shattering? These men are historians, while CTC is comprised of philosophers and theologians.

    But Jason, don’t you see why this is such a huge problem? There are some things that are disconnected at CtC from AS, but the major premise behind all of the philosophical arguments against Protestantism are built on (IMO, critically weak) historical claims. The Philosophical and theological arguments don’t get off the ground without the historical claims. When historians, both inside and outside of Rome, are demonstrating that there is scant evidence for the claims promulgated at CtC, then you have a serious problem. When your own RC historians are “laughing” at your historical arguments which undergird the philosophy of your apologetic you are on a sinking ship–or at least one that is not rooted in history.

    So, at the risk of being a pest, I’d like to know, just anecdotally, what historical evidence you consulted and what made you believe that a perpetual Petrine office existed in Rome from Peter all the way to Francis.

  7. Jason,

    This is an excellent post, thanks!

    What you said:

    ” In other words, since the Reformed claims about the church are so measured, modest, and reasonable, those who make those claims don’t need to “come clean” about their denominations’ sordid histories. They acknowledge their own fallibility from the get-go”

    I experienced this owning-up of the Reformed ecclesial situation, again, this past Saturday night at a party.

    I had conversation with a friend( elder in an URC even), who I just learned believes that what happened at Auschwitz is an exaggeration. Many died he admits, just not the large number that is purported by a “certain” media and part of the proof is that the crematorium won’t hold 2000 people at once! He is convinced Jewish Bolshivism is the real reason for why Hitler did what he did, and I can’t see any way of talking him out of it.

    When a little bit later , I was talking with this man, and another man( a philosopher and lay apologist), about how I become Catholic largely because I found sola scriptura untenable, they both let me know that as much as I’d like to think that the Magisterium solves my epistemological situation, it doesn’t. They said the way that we all make our decisions is by studying, learning, and using our God endowed reason, and in the end we all go with what is most convincing to us. I guess believing that the Holocast is a myth proves his point like nothing else.

    But when I claim that I used my fallible brain to come to the conclusion that an Christian authority must be an infallible sort, they take issue with my conclusion. Per their experimental theology, if this is the case, why not believe that I made my choice the same as they did and leave me alone?
    As soon as I say ‘but I want unity with you guys”, they want to know why I want unity, and ask me if I even believe the gospel.
    In my very feeble way I tried to explain a Hermeneutic of Continuity, and they thought that I was appealing to unity(alone) as a Motive of Credibility.

    Susan

  8. Brandon,

    Historical critical analysis of texts, sacred or profane, does not occur in a philosophical or theological vacuum. In addressing specific historical claims, it necessary to address the assumptions, and the methodologies built upon those assumptions, of the historians themselves. And that requires both philosophical analysis and, for the person of faith, theological reflection; e.g., to discover whether and the what extent the claims of historians are compatible with what has been divinely revealed.

    Such considerations should not be unfamiliar or uncongenial to anyone who believes that the Bible is the word of God, infallible and inerrant. As Jason pointed out in his post, many modern and contemporary historians and exegetes who study the Bible professionally maintain, on the basis of their own scholarly inquiries, that “there is scant evidence” for the Bible being anything more than a human product, and that there is in fact positive internal and external evidence that directly contradicts the thesis that the Bible is infallible. These scholars maintain that many of the historical claims found in the Bible are “critically weak” as judged by the evidence (i.e., as judged by their own assessment of the evidence in keeping with their own philosophical assumptions and attendant methodologies).

    I think that what Jason is asking from Darryl, and what I would like to see from you, is some explanation of why you place so much confidence in those contemporary historians who challenge doctrines like AS and the primacy of the Pope, and so little confidence (or do I have that right?) in those contemporary historians who challenge doctrines such as the historical reliability of Sacred Scripture? I have read numerous books by persons making both sorts of claims, and I can assure you that the latter are no less confidant than the former, and just as academically decorated.

  9. And to piggyback on this, it is often the very same historians that mock both Catholic claims of ecclesial infallibility and Christian claims of biblical infallibility, in the very same books. Is it fair to cite them with agreement on the former, while remaining silent on the latter?

  10. Darryl, you write: “You should also recognize — as hard as it may be — that the claim, “this is the church Christ founded,” is not a philosophical but a historical claim.”

    What is so hard about recognizing that historical claim? Any church claiming to be “the true church” – the church personally founded by Jesus Christ – must have, as a minimum, a two-thousand year old history in order to even plausibly be considered to be the church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

    History shows that all Protestant churches have been started up by mere men and women in who are in schism with a church that has has a two-thousand year old history. Protestants are members of churches founded by the likes of Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, Aimee Semple Mcpherson, Martin Luther, Chuck Smith, John and Charles Wesley, Menno Simmons, John Calvin, the Campbell brothers, Joseph Smith, etc. etc. etc. There are thousands, upon thousands of these man founded Protestant churches, and the oldest of these Protestants churches have histories of less than five hundred years, beyond which they simply did not exist in history.

    Does the fact that the Catholic Church has a two-thousand year old history prove that she is the church personally founded by Jesus Christ? No, that historical fact alone is not sufficient because there are other groups of Christians that can make historically plausible claims that their churches have two-thousand year old histories – e.g. the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Oriental Orthodox churches. So I readily accede that a church having a two-thousand year history is not sufficient to establish that such a church is “the church” that Christ commands his disciples to listen to upon pain of excommunication. But while that is true, the facts of history are sufficient to show that no Protestant Church can plausibly lay claim to being the church personally founded by Jesus Christ, since every single Protestant church was founded by some man or woman less that five-hundred years ago.

    Darryl, it seems odd to me that you would even bring up this “historical” objection. One reason that I could never be a Protestant is based on the historical fact that every single Protestant church lacks any plausible claim to be the church personally founded by Jesus Christ.

  11. Andrew,

    I can’t answer for Brandon, but for me personally it has largely to do with a couple of things:

    1. The biblical evidence we have is different than the historical evidence we have regarding church history. We just have so much more documentary evidence from the first century on than we do extrabiblical evidence from the times during which Scripture was written. A lot of the claims that biblical critics make are based on the interpretation of pot shards and tel strata, things that are hardly perspicuous. On the other hand, we have actually writings expressing the opinions of the Fathers. Yes that evidence needs interpretation, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to see what Cyprian or Irenaeus actually thought about the church than it is to date the conquest of Canaan based on scant evidence. It’s really hard to make a credible claim to someone not already convinced of Rome’s claims that the era of three popes should not call into question whether Rome actually knows what it is doing when it recounts its own history.

    2. Over time, Rome’s claims for itself have become more modest in a way. Reading older documents, you get the sense that God placed the Petrine office in Peter’s hands in a manner that is very much unchanged from current realities. Over the past two centuries, Rome has become a bit more circumspect and relies more on the “development of doctrine” view of Newman et al. Some would say that is because the historical evidence has contradicted so many of Rome’s more traditional claims.

    3. Rome’s claims for itself historically have been largely made based on documents now known to be forgeries such as the Donation of Constantine.

    4. The Bible is quite honest about the faults of its heroes. Dr. Hart is on to something when he notes that there is not an honest enough attempt on CtC to present Rome with all its warts. To be fair to Roman Catholics, that is the tendency of all groups. Protestants could do a better job of admitting our faults.

    5. Other groups such as the EO have at least as good a claim to apostolic succession as Rome does, maybe better.

  12. Mateo,

    First, Charles Taze Russell and Joseph Smith are not even Christians, let alone Protestants. Even the Roman Catholic Church would acknowledge that. Making such claims is not good if you want anyone to take you seriously as a student of history and not one with a blind trust in Rome.

    Second, this claim that “Rome is the Church Christ founded” is something that has to be proven historically, which is one of Dr. Hart’s points. If the Roman Church is in serious error, as Protestants believe, then in the sixteenth century, the modern Roman Catholic Church ceased to be the church Christ founded and the Protestants carried on in that role. I’m a Protestant, and I have as equally good a claim to be a part of the church Christ founded as any Roman Catholic if, in fact, the Roman Catholic Church went largely apostate at the time of the Reformation. No Protestant believes that his church is only 500 years old. We believe that the particular visible manifestation of Lutheranism or the Reformed, for example, may be only 500 years old but that those traditions are legitimate developments of the broader Western catholic (not Roman Catholic) tradition. The Roman Catholic Church of today is most definitely not the same church that Augustine was a part of. Proving that it is is the burden of the Roman Catholic. That is what is at issue.

  13. Brandon you write: “Jason …you’ve yet to lay out your position on Jesus establishing the Roman Catholic Church.”

    Brandon, I would like to ask you this: are are you willing to accede that no Protestant can plausibly claim that they listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded?

    I am not asking you whether or not you believe that the church personally founded by Jesus Christ still teaches what is true two-thousand years after Christ founded his church. I am simply asking you if you believe that any Protestant listens to the historical church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

    It seems obvious to me that Protestants will listen any church except the church personally founded by Jesus Christ. Which is what puts the “protest” into Protestantism, and which is exactly why Protestant churches are distinguishable from the churches that have a two thousand year old history.

  14. Mateo,

    Add Mary Baker Eddy to the list of non-Christians and non-Protestants.

    And again, the point that needs to be proved is that Rome is the church that Christ founded and not the Eastern Orthodox, the Antiochian Orthodox, the Church of England, and so on.

  15. I’ve put this question to dgh a few times at CTC and he has yet to answer.
    If “incoherence” and “apparent inconsistency” (as DGH finds them) rule out the CTC apologetic for RC,
    would he hold his own dogma to the same standard? Does he thereby allege that there are no apparent inconsistencies or incoherence in RP?

    -David

  16. Jason–

    I do believe your argument concerning Evangelicalism’s acceptance of the inerrancy of Scripture in contradiction to the majority of modern scholarship deserves an answer. Catholicism answered by capitulating to higher criticism. Its view of biblical authority is now rooted merely in Tradition (which holds it to conclusions garnered when it did hold the Scriptures in high regard). But I digress.

    It seems that conservative scholarship is given short shrift here in the States because it is. I got my master’s at a state institution where most of the professors did not see conservative theologians as serious academics. Their works were termed “devotional” in nature. (This is not the case in Great Britain, for example, where conservatives are given a fair hearing and are employed right alongside liberal colleagues.)

    I did my thesis under an Evangelical, but he was one of a dying breed and is now at a private university. I am unaware of a single Evangelical teaching Bible, Church History, or any other aspect of the study of Christianity in any department of Religion at any state university anywhere in the U.S. There is a incredible bias in place against Evangelicals. No matter how resplendent their resumes, they cannot even get interviews.

    Ironically, the reverse is generally true in the study of Islam, where candidates for positions must be sincere adherents rather than strict “academics.”

  17. Jason, well, at least I read one of your books. You only appear to know about only one of mine. Lots of people in Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, and Escondido are snickering at the idea that I write on Reformed theology.

    Have you heard, a book is not a blog?

  18. David, I’m still not sure what your asking after other attempts at an answer. Incoherence and inconsistency aren’t ruling anyone out. It’s a question of how full the picture of Rome is.

    As I’ve said many times, I have not established a website devoted to showing the superiority of Reformed Protestantism over against Roman Catholicism. Jason and the Callers set the bar this high, not me. http://oldlife.org/2013/08/we-told-you-so-jason-and-the-callers-newest-single/

  19. Andrew,

    We’ve been over this quite a bit and I respect you and thank you for the interaction we’ve engaged in. I’m just not sure there is much more ground to tread, but I’ll attempt to lay it out again. The historical evidence for the papacy is exceedingly weak. As a matter of fact (IMO), the strength of evidence presented is prima facie evidence against it. The reason that I accept criticism of the Papacy and not necessarily criticism of Scripture is that the evidence is not really comparable.

    You argue,

    As Jason pointed out in his post, many modern and contemporary historians and exegetes who study the Bible professionally maintain, on the basis of their own scholarly inquiries, that “there is scant evidence” for the Bible being anything more than a human product, and that there is in fact positive internal and external evidence that directly contradicts the thesis that the Bible is infallible.

    The errancy or inerrancy of the Bible depends, chiefly, on the Bible teaching contradictory or false things. If you prove that it teaches something contradictory or false, then you’ve defeated the claim of inerrancy. But neither you nor I believe that such arguments are successful.
    At the same time, just because there are not contradictions does not mean that the Bible is the Word of God, that is a value judgment. “Scant” evidence in that regard is more of a value judgment and not strictly speaking an historical one. So I’d need to know specifically what you’re referring to in order to make a more accurate assessment of the correlation between the RCC’s claims and a claim for infallibility. I would just say at the outset though that you would need to provide an example to show similarities. Mike L has raised the resurrection as an historical event to compare to Petrine Succession. I’m not sure you really want to go down that route, but some sort of example would be important to see the parallels. Making a determination on the errancy or inerrancy of the Bible often come to value judgments OR rest on the Bible containing errors. As to the first, that is wholly dissimilar and as to the second I think that a reasoned defense of Scripture provides a reasonable defense. Of course, I’d need to know in more detail what you have in mind to see how well it compared.

    The claims of Rome promulgated by CtC are strongly historical (there are of course value judgments being made as well, but if you falsify the historicity of the event, you make the value of the system null). We can evaluate a large amount of evidence and determine whether or not the historical claim is credible. The evidence for the inerrancy of Scripture is significantly stronger than any arguments made for Papal succession.

    And for the record, I don’t put my trust in liberal/critical academics. I make use of their work, but my incredulity arises from the evidence itself. It’s not because I take the word of the liberals, it’s because the historical evidence is so weak. I try to evaluate claims on a case by case basis, so perhaps you and Jason could explain something that is as weakly historically attested as Papal Succession in Scripture and then we could have a discussion about the consistency of the position taken by other Protestants.

    Jason,

    For whatever reason (I’m sure many justifiable reasons) you have chosen to remain silent on what piece of historical evidence tipped you into the Tiber. I’d still ask you though Jason, what was it that made you think that Peter was made a bishop by Rome?

    Was it Eusebius’s claim (fourth century) that Peter visited Rome on multiple occasions? Is it that he probably died in Rome? Is it that Irenaeus’s list (c.180 AD) that convinced you this actually happened? Do you really think the infallibility of the Bible possesses the same sort of evidence offered for the Papacy?

    You’ve yet to talk about this and given the change I would think that this would have been an important part of the conversion process. Maybe you’re waiting to write on it, but I think this would be very beneficial for us Protestants to see how you came to believe Jesus actually founded the RCC.

  20. Mateo,

    In short, No. Protestantism, even per Vatican 2, is part of the Church that Christ Founded.

    There is no compelling historical evidence that the church in Rome is the Church that the historical Jesus founded. Not meant to be snarky, just a concise summary of what I’ve argued elsewhere.

  21. Just a general comment. Protestantism is an integral part of Western Christendom, and as such, it shoots itself in the foot by arguing too strenuously against the legitimacy of Rome’s roots. The more crucial question concerns who is the legitimate continuation of Nicene Christianity. I believe that the “church which Jesus founded” is routed through Rome. This is what the Reformers believed, as well. What I don’t believe is that either Tridentine Catholicism or Vatican II Catholicism are legitimate continuations of Nicene tradition.

  22. Eric,

    Bingo. However, I don’t think we’re arguing about the legitimacy of Rome’s roots in one sense. The question is, what happened to the church Christ founded at the time of the Reformation. Was it in need of a thoroughgoing doctrinal Reformation that forced the Protestants out when Rome refused to go that route or was it in need of a superficial Reformation of practice that rendered Protestants as schismatics? I know I’m preaching to the choir here.

  23. This gives me a headache. The Catholics need to prove history, yet the Protestants keep a moving target at the fore. Some Prots say Jesus founded the church in the upper room and the Holy Spirit guides each one. Some say Jesus founded the Church as was originally Catholic, but that it immediately went astray. Some say Jesus founded the Church as was originally Catholic, and it went astray with Constantine. Some say Jesus founded the Church as was originally Catholic and it remained thus through the first 4 church councils. Some say Jesus founded the Church as was originally Catholic and it remained thus until the sale of indulgences in Luther’s time. And on and on and on. Once the Protestant folks agree on the history here, then post, and then we Cath’s can respond to one claim, not a hodge podge.

  24. I want to echo Robert’s echo of Eric. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Dxo0Yjno3I] @ 37 seconds

    I don’t want to say that Rome is not part of the church that Jesus founded, but it is not “the” church. It is part of it, but it is a subset of the Church Jesus founded.

  25. Brandon,

    There are a few problems with your response. I will briefly point out what they are.

    You wrote:

    The historical evidence for the papacy is exceedingly weak. As a matter of fact (IMO), the strength of evidence presented is prima facie evidence against it. The reason that I accept criticism of the Papacy and not necessarily criticism of Scripture is that the evidence is not really comparable.

    These are mere assertions. In the past, particularly recently at CTC (in the comment thread following this post, when you have tried to defend these assertions, you have been directed to positive evidence and rules of historiography that substantially mitigate the first two claims. To your credit, you attempted to engage those comment, but now you pop up after an interval and carry on in another place as though those exchanges never occurred. Unlike you, I am sure that there is much more ground to tread, but I am also sure that we will never get there via treadmill.

    The third claim in the above quote also requires something more from you than an a bare assertion, because it is by no means self-evident or universally accepted by those who study both biblical history and post-biblical Church history that the evidence for the papal claims and apostolic succession is not comparable to the evidence for the historicity of Scripture.

    You wrote:

    “Scant” evidence in that regard is more of a value judgment and not strictly speaking an historical one. So I’d need to know specifically what you’re referring to in order to make a more accurate assessment of the correlation between the RCC’s claims and a claim for infallibility.

    “Scant evidence” is your phrase, which you used in describing what historians are demonstrating about claims of papal primacy and apostolic succession. Thus, you wrote:

    When historians, both inside and outside of Rome, are demonstrating that there is scant evidence for the claims promulgated at CtC, then you have a serious problem.

    So which is it–a value judgment or a demonstration?

    In pointing out that the critical historians and exegetes widely object to the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, I have in mind principally those historical claims found in the biblical text that are essential to the integrity of the Christian tradition and a theologically robust doctrine of inerrancy. I am not referring to things like literary license or forms acceptable in ancient times though not in the modern genre of historical or scientific reporting. I mean that there are events that are depicted in Bible as really occurring which many if not most modern and contemporary historians argue did not occur, there being no evidence in support of the putative event and / or evidence supposedly to the contrary. The Resurrection of Christ is chief among these, but it is by no means the only event that is depicted in the Bible as historical. From the Pentateuch to the Gospels and Acts, the Bible is full of historical claims that are widely dismissed by academic historians and biblical scholars.

    You wrote:

    The evidence for the inerrancy of Scripture is significantly stronger than any arguments made for Papal succession.

    And for the record, I don’t put my trust in liberal/critical academics. I make use of their work, but my incredulity arises from the evidence itself. It’s not because I take the word of the liberals, it’s because the historical evidence is so weak. I try to evaluate claims on a case by case basis, so perhaps you and Jason could explain something that is as weakly historically attested as Papal Succession in Scripture and then we could have a discussion about the consistency of the position taken by other Protestants.

    Again, the problem with the first sentence is that it is a mere assertion, which is all the more puzzling because it is so sweeping (covering everything from Genesis to Revelation). The problem with the following comments is that your opinion that the historical evidence for the papacy and AS is weak seems to depend mainly upon the historical critical speculations of liberal historians. It seems that you do in fact depend upon them, but only when you are predisposed to agree with their conclusions. And that is what I wanted to point out in my initial comment in this thread.

  26. Gentlemen–

    Exactly where are we to find neutral scholars for these matters? None of us trust liberal/secular scholars. Protestants don’t trust Catholic scholars, and Catholics don’t trust Protestant scholars. Who else is there?

  27. Andrew,

    Your argument boils down to a list from 180 AD that is disputed when we have voluminous evidence that knows nothing of such a list. I’ve enumerated it numerous times. I’ve given your pieces of evidence to Jason above. None of that comes from liberal historians, it comes from you. Your pieces of evidence are critically weak for establishing a historical theory when we possess so much in terms of extant writings from the first and second centuries in Rome.

    We have Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Shepherd of Hermas, Marcion, Romans, & Clement of Rome among others whose writing to or from Rome with no indication of an episcopate let alone a successor from Rome who functions as the successor of Peter. We have no record of such an office in Scripture, particularly one existing in Rome. The silence and counter-evidence is early and overwhelming. This does not even address the archaeological, topographical, geographical, and social analysis done by Peter Lampe which shows that Roman Christianity was fractionated (some may disagree in degree of fractionation, but not that it existed) in ways that make an episcopate very unlikely. The evidence is staggering in comparison for what you have offered.

    When it comes to something like the history of Israel, we do not possess the level of historical specificity that we do with the claims of the Papacy. In terms of extant sources that time period is exceedingly different. That’s not to say that there may not be historical problems, but the historiography of the OT is different and so dates and times are things that have more elasticity. Again, I’d need to see a more concrete example to compare it adequately to Rome’s claims.

    Rome’s claims hinge on their historicity in the same way that Christianities claims hinge on the historicity of the resurrection. If it didn’t happen, the claim, and all the edifices built upon that claim, crumble. But again, you’d need to provide a concrete example where I could perhaps evaluate the claim and see the parallels between what you are arguing.

    Regardless, the insinuation that my conclusions are the result of capitulating to liberalism are simply wrong. My conclusions are derived from the evidence presented. Even if all we possessed was the evidence you argued for, it would be speculative–which is what I was trying to argue in the thread at CtC. In its own merits your evidence does not point to Peter being a bishop in Rome. But when you take all the other relevant data into account, the case becomes even more discredited. It’s not because of the methodology employed, it is because the argument itself is deficient.

    You have two issues: Showing how the evidence you’ve put forward shows there was a list of bishops in continuity from Rome from 33 AD-180 AD without any record of it before that time & connected, though separately, you need to address the voluminous amount of counter-evidence.

  28. Exactly where are we to find neutral scholars for these matters? None of us trust liberal/secular scholars. Protestants don’t trust Catholic scholars, and Catholics don’t trust Protestant scholars. Who else is there?

    I highly recommend Joseph Shulam and his 3,000 page plus work on Acts, Romans and Galatians. He indirectly points out the errors of both catholics and protestants.

    Oh but wait, you don’t care too much for Messianic Jewish believers and theologians. Yeah, that whole thing about the gifts and calling of Israel being irrevocable… who needs that when we’ve got sprawling academic campuses here in the good ole USA. Shooooo Weeeeee.

  29. Exactly where are we to find neutral scholars for these matters? None of us trust liberal/secular scholars. Protestants don’t trust Catholic scholars, and Catholics don’t trust Protestant scholars. Who else is there?

    “Scholars. The pillar and bulwark of truth.”

    “Thou art scholar and upon this scholar I will build my library.”

    Been cool if Christ would of found a Church and given it authority to teach…

  30. Been cool if Christ would of found a Church and given it authority to teach…

    You have made a idol out of authority, divorcing it from the faithfulness it was always meant to embody:

    “3 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife , temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior , hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money , but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

    Unfaithfulness to the commands of God disqualifies you from authority. Do your bishops and popes fit the above? I didn’t think so. Humor me then.

  31. I’m a former Mormon turned Catholic. Mormons would agree that there is a gap between the first century church and the emergent “catholic” church of the second and third centuries, and hence there is no historical foundations for claims of apostolic succession, etc. In fact, they would take this line of thought to its logical conclusion and argue that everything in the historic Christian tradition is suspect including the doctrine of the Trinity, the canon of scripture, the nature of God and man, to name just a few. So if I believe that the early church got it wrong on apostolic succession (or the Eucharist or salvation) then why shouldn’t I just fall back into the Mormon camp? Or go atheist as most former Mormons seem to do?

  32. SS,

    Your response really didn’t address the simple point I was attempting to make. I made no claims about the requirements to be a leader/bishop in the Church. I was merely implying that Christ founded a Church and gave it the authority to teach so that we can avoid the need to ask questions like the one I quoted.

    But in response to your comment. The Bible also is provides various lists of requirements to be a disciple of Christ. Being faithful to God’s commands is one of those as well. Are you always faithful? Do you ever sin? If so, does that disqualify you from being a Christian?

  33. Phillip,

    Because Mormon belief cannot be substantiated from Scripture unless you add a whole bunch of other books to it and then believe a con man was a prophet and not a unlucky treasure hunter.

  34. DGH,

    Regarding your comment: “David, I’m still not sure what your asking after other attempts at an answer. Incoherence and inconsistency aren’t ruling anyone out. ”

    Actually, you wrote over at CTC: “All I’m asking is for a little coherence from your pontiffs. And the point is that Vatican II changed that but no one on your side seems to know what to do about that.”

    As I understand your critique, you think that the CTC, systematic apology for Roman Catholicism is illegitimate or dishonest, because it does not cohere with the actual doctrinal history of the tradition and we do not adequately address that “alleged” incoherence. Am I getting you right?

    Now, my question is this – if this supposed incoherence is a reason to reject Catholicism – or to reject any systematic apology for Catholicism, would I be correct in thinking that you believe your own tradition to be free of such apparent incoherence?

    This is the question I’m not getting an answer to.

    Thanks,

    David

  35. Jason,

    I’ve always wanted to ask even though I realize it may not be relevant to this thread. But, why do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?

    Peace,
    John D.

  36. John,

    Dei Verbum says:

    “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

    “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”

    Works for me.

  37. Darryl,

    Jason, well, at least I read one of your books. You only appear to know about only one of mine. Lots of people in Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, and Escondido are snickering at the idea that I write on Reformed theology.

    That’s great. So anyway, why, if your blog exists in some sense to promote Old School Presbyterianism, does it not meet the demands for “honesty” that you require of me?

  38. Brian O.–

    Yes. Scholars. We’re looking at resources to mediate between us, so you all’s version of the church or you all’s version of the Apostle Peter do not strike me as viable alternatives.

  39. Eric: I think you’re right in that we need a non question-begging way to discuss these things. For me to adduce the CCC is as circular as you doing the same with the 3FU. This is what Catholics mean by the motives of credibility (i.e., the evidence available to all of us).

    That said, bare evidence and scholarship can only take us so far. This is why the Catholic says that the evidence makes the CC plausible (as it does with EO), but at the end of the day, faith must be exercised in order to say “I believe” in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

    Further, the Protestant seems unable to get past fallible academic authority, since there is no infallible Body to which he must give the assent of faith. At best you’ve got the assent of reason to the most erudite scholarship currently available. This is largely Mike Liccione’s point, and the only real response to it I see is that siding with the best current scholarship and its fallible opinions about what the Bible is and what it says, is the best we can hope for in this age.

    Is that how you see it?

  40. Brian (the other one)–

    If we can determine that by the Renaissance the Roman church was more less apostate, it doesn’t particularly matter EXACTLY when that occurred. We often cannot pin down a particular point along the way when any particular person becomes a heretic, but we know when he arrives there.

  41. Eric,
    And which branches of Protestantism would you consider apostate? The ones you don’t agree with perhaps?

  42. Eric,

    I understand and take your point. I was commenting more broadly to the continued dialogue here and elsewhere. Jason expresses something similar to what I was trying to imply in his last comment:

    That said, bare evidence and scholarship can only take us so far. This is why the Catholic says that the evidence makes the CC plausible (as it does with EO), but at the end of the day, faith must be exercised in order to say “I believe” in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

    I also don’t really see the ability for Protestants to appeal in any consistent way to “the Church” when they disagree on scriptural interpretation or doctrinal issues.

  43. Brandon,

    Interesting stuff going between Andrew and yourself.

    You say: “We have Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Shepherd of Hermas, Marcion, Romans, & Clement of Rome among others whose writing to or from Rome with no indication of an episcopate let alone a successor from Rome who functions as the successor of Peter. We have no record of such an office in Scripture, particularly one existing in Rome.”

    So, evidence is being given, but it’s not convincing?

    You then say: “The silence and counter-evidence is early and overwhelming. This does not even address the archaeological, topographical, geographical, and social analysis done by Peter Lampe which shows that Roman Christianity was fractionated (some may disagree in degree of fractionation, but not that it existed) in ways that make an episcopate very unlikely.”

    Can you do more to show counter-evidence via primary sources as opposed to name-dropping? At this point, it sounds like a case is being crafted for you (though you remain unconvinced). Rather than offering primary sources saying otherwise, you fall back on the assertion of silence the analysis of another. What primary sources can you offer up showing the contrary?

  44. Jason–

    Yeah, you’re completely right that in the final analysis we bridge the gap between scholarship and ultimate truth with faith. We Protestants do that. You Catholics do that. It’s been our point from the beginning: we are all in the same epistemic boat. There are no Motives of Credibility which demand our loyalty through their abundance and clarity. You Catholics act as if there were.

    I believe in “one holy catholic and apostolic church,” but the “evidence available” to me truly does NOT point to the Roman church as being that one church. Cross my heart of hearts. I don’t see it.

    When I look for truth, I dive in with my whole heart and my whole mind. The Catholic church simply doesn’t smack of Jesus to me. By faith, I know my Savior. I hear his voice. I go into a Catholic church and almost always I hear deafening silence. I realize a Moonie or a Mormon could say the same thing, but they have no historical integrity. I believe confessional Protestantism does. It is the valid continuation of the Nicene faith.

    I believe the only way to break this stalemate is by delving into the fathers. And I don’t mean the trappings. I couldn’t care less how many “bells and smells” they had. I can remain a Protestant–at least technically–and go to an Anglo-Catholic church if I want my fill of vestments and candles and incense. What was the early church in its essence? Was its timbre, its mood, its personality, its ambience Protestant or Catholic or Orthodox or Messianic? What was its spiritual core? How did Jesus speak through it?

    Jesus speaks to me most clearly through the Reformed churches. They are far from perfect. Most of them are far from good. But their hymns and their preaching SCREAM OUT LOUD to me of the distinguishing feature of Christ and his church: grace so amazing, so divine demands my heart, my soul, my all. Grace is most purely grace within the Reformed church. Grace is most purely grace within certain movements within the church. I look first to the Puritans and the Dutch Second Reformation to be in awe of someone else’s walk in the Lord. The Catholics have the Brethren of the Common Life and the like, but truly nothing to compare in my mind. I look for models to emulate, and I do not find them, for the most part, in the Catholic faith (although I must admit I have a soft spot for Joan of Arc, Therese of Lisieux, and Catherine of Sienna for some reason).

    I actually like what Evangelicals and Catholics Together do. There is a camaraderie, a unity in how they search for truth and common ground. There is give and take. These Catholics admit that there is great truth to be found in sola fide rightly observed. The Protestants, for their part, admire and praise much within Catholic sacramental spirituality. They do not neglect to point out where they are still a long way apart. I think both Michael Horton and Bryan Cross would be well served to follow their example of irenic ecumenism. I personally yearn to push toward unity. But, as far as I can see, infallibility stands in the way.

    But then again, perhaps not. The Development of Doctrine may eventually prove a providential end around to infallibility. Rome got around EENS that way. Benedict XVI spoke glowingly of sola fide without much blowback. JDDJ was agreed to in spite of the anathemas of Trent. Both Francis Beckwith and Peter Kreeft speak of how Protestants have misunderstood Trent and of how Trent misunderstood Protestantism.

    We have reason to hope.

  45. That said, bare evidence and scholarship can only take us so far. This is why the Catholic says that the evidence makes the CC plausible (as it does with EO),

    Jason, have you considered the evidence I have presented on the ‘stuff i don’t like’ thread for the view that the earliest church was nowhere ‘catholic’ in praxis and identity? That’s beaucoup motives of credibility to embrace the view that Jesus did not come to found a new ‘religion’ but rather, to fulfill the promises made to Abraham, Moses, David and the Prophets.

  46. Brandon,

    we possess so much in terms of extant writings from the first and second centuries in Rome.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “so much.” Certainly there is very little in relation to the amount we have from the 3rd century on. How many works do we have from these 150 years that directly dispute AS or there being an episcopal office founded by Peter and located in Rome? To my knowledge there are none. Can you name one?

    The silence and counter-evidence is early and overwhelming.

    Would you please share at least 1 patristic piece of direct counter evidence from the 1st or 2nd century?
    Considering the political situation, I don’t find the supposed silence overwhelming at this time? It certainly wasn’t safe to be bishop of Rome.
    Why isn’t the silence of later years more overwhelming, when so many church fathers attest overwhelmingly to AS and there being a bishop of Rome going back to Peter (forget about their doctrine of the papacy for a minute)? Our early fathers in the faith were willing to die over theological issues defined with such precision that most Christians could not and never have been able to understand the distinctions. But, to my knowledge, not one of them ever contended that Peter did not pass on an office of bishop that had always been occupied. When one rose up and claimed succession back to Peter, where was the outrage! Were they all duped by a list?

    analysis done by Peter Lampe which shows that Roman Christianity was fractionated (some may disagree in degree of fractionation

    Here’s why I struggle with this claim: It requires me to believe that the fracturing was so great, there could not have been a monoepiscopate in Rome, even though no father ever mentions such fracturing. Corinthian fracturing was concerning enough that Clement addressed it. But on this supposed fracturing in Rome – no one steps up to the plate. Yes, Ignatius could have mentioned the bishop of Rome by name, but didn’t. He also could have mentioned the terrible fracturing there, but didn’t. Strage thing for him not to do when his other letters are so focused on unity and clinging to the bishop. Instead, he highly praises Rome.

    Christianities claims hinge on the historicity of the resurrection.

    I agree. Because I believe Jesus is Lord and rose from the dead, I can’t accept sola scriptura. Forget liberal scholars. Even among the best conservative scholars who adhere to sola, we get contradiction on too many basics of the faith. To name just 2 of the most important: We all agree baptism is related to our initiation into the Christian life. Heck, the Great Commission tells us to go baptize!! But, who is it for and what does it do? Even from conservative sola scripturists we get contradiction. We all know the Lord’s Supper is the central Christian ritual. But again, who is it for, what does it do? Again contradiction.
    OK. Enough from me.
    Mark

  47. Eric, We are in the same boat with regards to the need for faith, yes. But when it comes to what exactly we place our faith in, our epistemic situation could not be more different. The Catholic puts his faith in a living Church whose authority he must submit to. He relinquishes the option of leaving that Body for some other denomination that more closely confirms to his understanding of Scripture. In a word, the kind of authority claimed by the CC has no equivalent in any Protestant denomination.

    These are uncontroversial claims, I trust. But this is why the tu quoque doesn’t work.

  48. Brandon,

    You really should watch out with those adjectives. Your last comment has every appearance of someone trying to convince himself of his own thesis. Its certainly not likely to convince anyone else.

    For example:

    … we have voluminous evidence that knows nothing of such a list.

    The silence and counter-evidence is early and overwhelming.

    The evidence is staggering in comparison for what you have offered.

    … you need to address the voluminous amount of counter-evidence.

    What makes matters even worse is that you are not only overstating your case, you are in one crucial way stating just the opposite of a widely acknowledged fact. The data set from the period between the latest NT document and St. Irenaeus, i.e., most of the second century, is remarkably sparse. What does exist by no means contradicts either papal primacy or AS. In fact, we find a clear concept of episcopal succession in Clement, and a clear portrayal of the monarchical episcopacy in Ignatius.

    Regarding the episcopacy in Rome, the writings of both men just referenced indirectly confirm that such existed when they wrote, as both clearly regarded the office of bishop to have been established by Jesus Christ himself and passed down from the Apostles. It would have been strange for these men, who clearly regarded the Church in Rome as a true Church, to have written what they did concerning the episcopate if there had been no episcopal ministry in the Church of Rome at that time.

    Your vague allusion to Lampe further underscores the inappropriate nature of your adjectives. Is that the “staggering evidence” to which you refer? There is an “I’ll leave it your imagination” air to your remarks, whenever they are not merely over the top. But no amount of bombastic assertion can give ballast to an argument by innuendo, and the rhetorical effect is counter-productive to your cause, unless that cause is merely to bolster your own confidence in your conclusions.

  49. I believe confessional Protestantism does. It is the valid continuation of the Nicene faith.

    This is the part I can’t get my head around. I get that people have problems with the papacy, but that’s a reason to be Eastern Orthodox, not Protestant. The problems with reconciling Protestantism to the Nicene faith are far more difficult for me than anything that I’ve encountered with respect to the papacy, and I am not one who thinks that dealing with papal history is easy. At the very worst, I would think that people who reject papal authority would join one of the apostolic sister churches, like Eastern Orthodoxy, rather than Protestantism. Dr. Hart even suggested once that he would have been OK with Jason considering Eastern Orthodoxy rather than Protestantism, as long as it wasn’t Catholicism, which just makes no sense to me at all if sola scriptura actually matters.

    I can understand Protestants who said that historical pedigree is completely irrelevant and that the entire history of Christianity has been one long march away from correct belief until the Reformation uncovered it. But if historical pedigree matters, then why are Protestants so terrible at establishing any kind of historical continuity with patristic theology?

  50. Robert, you have objected to me saying that Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy are founders of Protestant churches. But I think the problem here is merely one of definition. That is, you and I must be defining the word “Protestant” differently. The Catholic Church has never formally defined who is a Protestant, and who is not a Protestant, so I will give you my my personal definition of “Protestant”: a Protestant is someone who has no real objection to being called a Protestant.

    I realize this is a pretty broad definition, and that this definition has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever a self-identified Protestant may, or may not, believe. If a man or a woman does not object to being called a Protestant, then that is good enough for me, and that is also good enough for the Catholic Church.

    If you call yourself a Christian, and you are member of a church, and you are neither Catholic, Eastern Orthodox nor Oriental Orthodox, then, for most people that I know, by convention, you would typically be identified as being a member of a Protestant church. If you have a different definition of Protestant, then I need to know what it is, since I have no idea why you would claim that I must not be a serious student of history because I think that a Jehovah Witnesses is a Protestant. Am I unaware that Jehovah Witnesses do not confess the doctrine of the Trinity? No, I am not. But neither do members of the United Pentecostal Churches or members of Unitarian Churches, and no one that I know would object to saying that Oneness Pentecostals and Unitarians belong to Protestant churches.

    Robert, you write, “Second, this claim that “Rome is the Church Christ founded” is something that has to be proven historically, which is one of Dr. Hart’s points.

    I disagree. That claim does not have to be proven historically because that claim has already been acceded to by the Protestants that have given the title “Reformer” to men who were once members of the Catholic Church, e.g. Martin Luther (dissenting Catholic priest-monk), Menno Simmons (dissenting Catholic priest) and John Calvin (dissenting Catholic layman). What church, exactly, were these dissenters trying to “reform” when they were Catholics, if it was not the church personally founded by Jesus Christ?

    Next you make this assertion: “If the Roman Church is in serious error, as Protestants believe, then in the sixteenth century, the modern Roman Catholic Church ceased to be the church Christ founded and the Protestants carried on in that role.”

    The Catholic Church that Luther, Simmons and Calvin were trying to reform would not cease to be the church that was personally founded by Jesus Christ – it would the church founded by Jesus Christ that began to teach heresy sometime before Luther, Simmons, and Calvin tried to reform her.

    Note that you have not given me a historical argument as to why the “bible churches” founded by Luther, Simmons and Calvin are really the church that Christ personally founded. What you have made is a theological claim that asserts that men and women that disagree with the official doctrine of the church that Christ founded can go out and found their own personal “bible churches” whenever they disagree with what Christ’s church is officially teaching. And I contend that you can’t possibly make this theological argument and then back it up with scriptures, because there are no scriptures that say that men and women are free to found their own “bible churches” whenever they decide that they will no longer listen to the church founded by Jesus Christ.

    Robert, you write, “I’m a Protestant, and I have as equally good a claim to be a part of the church Christ founded as any Roman Catholic if, in fact, the Roman Catholic Church went largely apostate at the time of the Reformation.”

    Again, this is a theological argument, and not a historical argument. Before I even unpack what you are saying, I need to know who is defining what constitutes orthodoxy? If any man or woman can define orthodoxy as being whatever private interpretation of scriptures that they personally believe to be true, then who are you to say that Charles Taze Russell and Mary Baker Eddy are not orthodox Christians?

    What constitutes orthodoxy? Luther, Calvin and Simmons thought they taught orthodox doctrine, but these men also taught conflicting and irreconcilable doctrine. The Protestant “bible churches” that are traceable back to these “Reformers” still have different definitions about what constitutes orthodoxy. But all the members of these Protestant churches also call themselves Christians, which just goes to show me that calling yourself a Christian does not prove that what you believe is orthodox doctrine. With thousands upon thousands of divided Protestant churches teaching conflicting doctrine, some one has to be teaching heresy! If there is even one Protestant sect that does not teach heresy, how am I, or anyone else, supposed to identify it? That is the real question.

    Robert you write: “No Protestant believes that his church is only 500 years old. We believe that the particular visible manifestation of Lutheranism or the Reformed, for example, may be only 500 years old but that those traditions are legitimate developments of the broader Western catholic (not Roman Catholic) tradition.”

    Please explain to me how a Lutheran church and a Calvinist church have managed to put forth “legitimate” developments of catholic doctrine when Lutheran churches and Calvinist churches teach conflicting doctrine! On those articles of the faith where these churches disagree with each other, one thing that anyone can know with certainty is that both these churches cannot have not put forth legitimate developments of catholic doctrine. Either the Lutherans or the Calvinists are wrong, and it is possible that they are both wrong. What is not possible is that they have both teaching the truth about the articles of faith that they disagree about.

    Robert, you write, “And again, the point that needs to be proved is that Rome is the church that Christ founded and not the Eastern Orthodox, the Antiochian Orthodox, the Church of England, and so on.”

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the Church of England became a Protestant church when the CoE lost apostolic succession, which was not at the moment that Henry the VII became a heretic by promulgating a false doctrine that earthly kings are the temporal heads of the Catholic church in the geographical regions that earthly kings control.

    Concerning the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Antiochian Orthodox Churches – the Catholic Church recognizes that these churches have maintained Apostolic Succession, and because of that, she does not dispute that these churches were founded by Jesus Christ. Of course I recognize that maintenance of Apostolic Succession is the standard that the Catholic Church uses when she judges whether or not a church can claimed to be founded by Jesus Christ, and perhaps this is not the standard by which a Protestant church judges. And that brings up my point. Whatever your Protestant standard is, if you are a sola scriptura confessing Protestant, then you have placed a restriction upon yourself that requires that you present to me a scriptural argument that shows your church was personally founded by Jesus Christ. I would like to see that scriptural argument – the scriptural argument that asserts that men and women are free to found their own personal “bible churches” whenever they disagree with “the church” of Matthew 18:17. Personally, I think that it is impossible to present a coherent argument that asserts that that listening to any old church is the same thing as listening to “the church” of Matthew 18:17. It is because I have never seen a Protestant make a coherent argument for that point, that I believe that I have one more good reason not to be a Protestant.

  51. Jason–

    I am sorry, but repeating the same old mantra isn’t going to make it make any more sense. Your explanation has all the appearance of a non sequitur to me.

    I have put my faith in a living church (one that actually heaves when it breathes rather than glistening in stony silence). I must submit to this one, holy, catholic, apostolic, life-bearing church. My understanding of Scripture is shaped by this church. I will never leave it for another even if my understandings change.

    It just doesn’t happen to be the Church of Rome.

  52. Jonathan–

    Obviously, I don’t think we are so terrible at it.

  53. SS–

    Meant to get back to you sooner.

    You must be confusing me with somebody else. I believe we ignore the Aramaic/Jewish roots of the NT at our peril. I also believe that fairly early on the church became Gentile-ized and anti-Semitic to its shame. (Of course, sometimes it’s difficult to determine the dividing line between an appropriate anti-Judaism and an unethical anti-Semitism.) Very early on there appears to have been at least some collaboration. The fifth pope (St. Evaristus) was an ethnic Jew haling from Palestine (Bethlehem specifically, if I’m not mistaken).

    I take your suggestion as a good one. Both the Messianic and the Eastern Orthodox historical viewpoints would be helpful to pursue.

  54. Mateo–

    I’ll let Robert answer for himself, but we have been down this road so many times before.

    Witnesses, Mormons, Oneness Pentacostals, Liberal Protestants, and Unitarians are not orthodox Christians, so it would be difficult to include them in any particular category of orthodox Christianity. It would be like considering Bogomils to be Eastern Orthodox or Donatists to be Roman Catholic.

    I call myself a confessional Protestant. (I believe Robert does, as well.) I like to be labeled for what I am rather than what I am not. “Protestant” should not just be a grab-bag word for non-Catholic. Buddhists are non-Catholic, but that hardly makes them Protestant.

    There is not enough difference between different stripes of confessionalism to haggle over. When I move to a new town, I seek out the best Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Reformed Baptist church that I can find. I have absolutely no loyalty to a particular denomination. Confessional Protestantism is the legitimate continuation of the Western church, period.

  55. David, I do believe that the Reformed Confessions are coherent. Protestants don’t need a manual on how to rank church teachings (which gets a little hard to follow). http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfadtu.htm

    But the point is that we don’t need to be coherent in the same way that you do. RC’s believe the church doesn’t err. Protestants believe the church does and we revise teachings accordingly. When you guys change you say its “development.” That’s liberal. You know, a living, breathing, Constitution, that we can make say whatever we want it to say.

  56. Jason, you wrote: “The Catholic puts his faith in a living Church whose authority he must submit to. He relinquishes the option of leaving that Body for some other denomination that more closely confirms to his understanding of Scripture.”

    You are the new Edgardo Mortara.

    But what happens if a Roman Catholic does leave to become a Protestant? Is he anathema (see Trent)? Or is he merely a separated brother?

    Come on, Jason, be brotherly. We don’t have the Inquisition anymore.

  57. Jason, when have I ever taken on the mission of saying that inerrancy is the hands down solution to all epistemic problems?

    But the real difference between OL and CCC is that I opine, you only tell the truth. You set the bar.

  58. +JMJ+

    Brian wrote:

    The Catholics need to prove history, yet the Protestants keep a moving target at the fore.

    It seems that, no matter the subject, the target’s ever in motion. It’s Lesbian Pagans and Mortara and Separated Bros all the way down.

  59. Brandon.

    I invite you to weigh in on this thread as it is related to the statements you are making about the early church:

    See here.

    I think you aren’t realizing that the ‘silence’ is precisely an argument from silence made by Peter Lampe et al. Peter Lampe, by the way, also rejects Pauline authorship of some of the espistles that bare his name which of course brings us full circle to Jason’s original post here.

  60. Darryl,

    You asked Jason:

    But what happens if a Roman Catholic does leave to become a Protestant? Is he anathema (see Trent)? Or is he merely a separated brother?

    Depends on his reasons and level of ignorance. If one leaves as a child or teenager because he is poorly catechized, has never had a genuine personal experience of Christ, but then leaves when wooed by someone who offers him a deeper faith experience and a genuine encounter with Jesus then the church can be appropriately nuanced when addressing this persons situation.

    If, on the other hand, he is fully catechized, understands the faith and rejects it and joins another body that suits his own sense of truth (which he is elevating above all other authority) then then he may be anathema.

    You see the bride of Christ, like her spouse employs reason to such situations. She sometimes needs to skillfully use a scalpel and not a wrecking ball. Not all situations are the same.

  61. Andrew,

    Can you susbtantiate the following assertions:

    In fact, we find a clear concept of episcopal succession in Clement, and a clear portrayal of the monarchical episcopacy in Ignatius.

    Ignatius omits any mention of a Roman bishop while Clement talks about church leadership in Rome being among a plurality of men. I’m not sure how this helps your case, but this is at least a move in the direction to engage the counter evidence.

    The data set from the period between the latest NT document and St. Irenaeus, i.e., most of the second century, is remarkably sparse.

    I’ve listed five extra-biblical writers that predate Irenaeus who give no hint of an episcopate in Rome. In terms of extant literature we possess a rather significant amount of data from Rome in the second century. It’s not as complete as we would like it, but it is pretty expansive.

    Notice in this comment how you are backing off the stronger claims that you’ve made regarding Peter being in the office with this statement:

    Regarding the episcopacy in Rome, the writings of both men just referenced indirectly confirm that such existed when they wrote, as both clearly regarded the office of bishop to have been established by Jesus Christ himself and passed down from the Apostles. It would have been strange for these men, who clearly regarded the Church in Rome as a true Church, to have written what they did concerning the episcopate if there had been no episcopal ministry in the Church of Rome at that time.

    No one has denied that the Church in Rome had a connection to the Apostles. What has been denied (and what is not affirmed by anyone above) is that there was some sort of particular Apostolic office connected with Peter.

    Finally,

    Your vague allusion to Lampe further underscores the inappropriate nature of your adjectives. Is that the “staggering evidence” to which you refer? There is an “I’ll leave it your imagination” air to your remarks, whenever they are not merely over the top. But no amount of bombastic assertion can give ballast to an argument by innuendo, and the rhetorical effect is counter-productive to your cause, unless that cause is merely to bolster your own confidence in your conclusions.

    My allusions to Lampe are because his account of the social setting of Rome is also a piece of counter evidence that takes into account additional details outside of extant writing. That is an important piece of evidence that also stacks up against your case. My utilization of Lampe is to show one more piece of evidence which predates Ireneaus which offers a different account of Roman Chrisitanity. The preponderance of the evidence doesn’t make my statements rhetorical at all.

    I’m not trying to be rhetorical, but the claims being made are grandiose & specific (Christ historically founded the Roman episcopate) while the evidence being presented rests on the list of Irenaeus (c.180 AD) which is then read back into the earlier history. I’m not sure what others words I could use to describe the case that you have argued for. If I am missing a premise, piece of evidence, etc, I would certainly reconsider. I don’t think I’ve misunderstood or misconstrued your case, which makes the utilization of such strong adjectives appropriate when evaluating the evidence you have set forth.

  62. Sean,

    Three things:

    1. Your argument misunderstands the burden of proof, as others have pointed out to you in that thread. You are making an historical argument. If I’ve understood correctly (and I’m willing to stand corrected if I’ve misunderstood) then your argument rests on Irenaeus c.180 AD. So your first claim shifts the burden of proof. The second things you’ve asked people to affirm is if we have evidence stronger than Irenaeus and I believe that answer to that question is yes, the writers I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere at CtC. But this get’s to the second thing I want to say…

    2. The argument from silence is not that we don’t hear anything. The argument from silence is that there is no mention from the documents that we do have about a Petrine office in Rome from people we’d expect to hear about it from. If we had no evidence that’s one thing. But we have multiple writings from this time period. None of it matches up with Peter being the unifying principle of the church or being a Roman bishop. In the documents we do have, we hear nothing about a Petrine office and we have evidence that points in a completely different direction. The evidence from silence is that we have none of the multiple extant sources mentioning anything about what you say existed.

    3. I’m not sure what Lampe’s opinions about Pauline authorship have to do with anything. As I’ve asked Andrew, can you perhaps identify the parallels between Lampe’s rejection of Pauline authorship and his rejection of a Roman episcopate? I’m not trying to be difficult, but unless I see the connections, that’s like arguing that Lampe’s conclusions about Peter are wrong because he happens to like the Yankees.

  63. Personally, I think that it is impossible to present a coherent argument that asserts that that listening to any old church is the same thing as listening to “the church” of Matthew 18:17.

    Highly suggest you read the latter part of the “Stuff I don’t like” thread. You simply presuppose that the church of Matt 18:17 is the catholic church, when there is zero evidence for the latter view.

  64. Brandon,

    You keep referring to “counter evidence” to papal primacy or AS, but you have yet to produce any that is in fact contrary to papal claims or apostolic succession. You have referred to the fact that some writings from the second century fathers do not mention the papacy or AS, and you have referred to some archaeological evidence regarding some aspect (which you call “fractionation”) of the early Church in Rome, but that is all you have done before going on to assure everyone that your conclusions, no papacy, no bishop, no AS, are rock solid, despite the fact that there is direct, positive evidence from the period between the NT and Irenaeus for Apostolic Succession and the monarchical episcopate. We also have evidence from the NT and Second century before Irenaeus placing Peter in Rome. These are crucial building blocks in the case for papal primacy. Here is that evidence, in summary form, on all three counts:

    1. Apostolic Succession

    Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. (Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 44)

    2. Monarchical Episcopacy

    “It is therefore befitting that you should in every way glorify Jesus Christ who has glorified you, that by a unanimous obedience you may be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment, and may all speak the same thing concerning the same thing,” [1 Corinthians 1:10] and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, you may in all respects be sanctified.” (Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter 2)

    “For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the [manifested] will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds [of the earth], are so by the will of Jesus Christ.” (Ibid., Chapter 3)

    Of course, one could quote St. Ignatius much more extensively throughout his letters on the place of the episcopacy in the life of the churches. Likewise, Clement has much more to say about the episcopacy and presbyterate, though he still uses the terms interchangeably, after the manner of the NT, whereas Ignatius is making a distinction between the offices, which is anticipated in the NT, particularly in the Pastorals, with St. Paul’s commission of Titus and Timothy to appoint other elders and oversee a plurality of local churches within a given area.

    3. St. Peter in Rome

    Here, I’ll just lift some quotes from Eamon Duffy (Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes). I am using a kindle edition, so there are no page numbers:

    The First Epistle of Peter claims to have been written by the Apostle, in a time of persecution, from ‘Babylon’, an early Christian code-name for Rome… Whether he wrote it or not, however, Peter is presented in the letter not merely as an apostle and witness of the saving work of Christ, but as a source for the authority and responsibilities of the elders or governing official of the Church.

    After alluding to the silence in the NT on either the whereabouts of Peter before and after the Jerusalem Council or the place of his death, Duffy writes:

    Nevertheless these is no reason to doubt the ancient tradition that both Peter and Paul were put to death in Rome during the Neronian persecution of the mid 60s AD. The universal acceptance of this belief among early Christian writers, and the failure of any other Church to lodge competing claims to the possession of the Apostles’ witness or their relics, is strong evidence here, especially when taken together with the existence of a second century cult of both saints in Rome at their ‘trophies’ — shrines at their graves or cenotaphs over the sites of their martyrdoms.

    Duffy goes on the cite recent archaeological work in the crypt of St Peters which confirms the second century provenance (c. 165 AD) of the shrine of St Peter.

    Both Clement and Ignatius make comments that seem to indicate the presence of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Church in Rome. The former, writing from the Roman Church, “speaks of Peter and Paul as ‘our Apostles’, suffering witness of the truth who, ‘having born testimony before rulers’, went to glory.” The latter, writing to the Church in Rome, says “‘I do not command you, at Peter and Paul did’.”

    Now, these three strands of evidence, for AS, monepiscopacy, and Peter’s apostolic ministry and martyrdom in Rome, do not in themselves add up to an argument in support of papal primacy, but they supply crucial evidential building blocks for such an argument. I cannot see how my pointing out the evidence from Clement and Ignatius constitutes a backing off of my claims about the papacy, as you claimed in your previous comment. That claim is another instance of your method of dialogue consisting of allusions and innuendo. What you should do instead is present the claims that I have made about the papacy, then make the argument that citing the epistles of Clement and Ignatius constitute a backing off from those claims. I’ll help you get started, or, try to help prevent another false start: Please consider that there is a difference between making a doctrinal claim (the papacy was founded by Christ) and building an evidential case for that claim, moving bit by bit.

    In that vein, I want to briefly take a look at some of the putative counter evidence:

    Claims that there were no bishops succeeding the Apostles originally, and no bishop of Rome until the late second century, such as are made by Duffy in the first chapter of his book on the papacy, and other Catholics like Brown and Sullivan in their works on the early Church, depend upon several factors, including: (1) assuming that residency in one city is a part of the definition of the office of bishop, (2) the notion that the fluidity in terminology (re ‘episcopos’ and ‘presbyter’) that we find in the NT, Clement, and other sources in itself indicates that the ecclesial hierarchy was a post-apostolic development, (3) there being a plurality of bishops and /or presbyters (or bishop-presbyters) in one church or city as indicative that no one elder-bishop had final ruling authority in that church, and (4) there being no greetings to a single leader of the Church in Rome in the epistles of Paul and Ignatius to that city.

    These strands of evidence, either singly or collectively, are supposed to outweigh the testimony of Irenaeus of Lyons, who had visited Rome and had many known contacts with the Church of Rome, including Pope Eleuterus and most notably Pope Victor.

    Duffy notes that Irenaeus’s bishop list “is certainly a good deal tidier than the actual transition to rule by a single bishop can have been.” Of course actual events are always messier than accounts of those events, and we know that the Church in Rome, for all of its sterling repute among the early Churches, saw its fair share of divisions, due either to ambitious or seditious persons (of the sort Clement took to task in his epistle) or outright heretics who came to Rome to establish their message (e.g., Marcion, Valentinus). Neither AS, monepiscopacy, nor papal primacy is predicated upon the Church having always been tidy where these ministries have been in effect. Even apart from schismatics and heretics, the presence of so many Christians, on the whole of such sterling reputation, would explain the profusion of house churches with corresponding diffuse leadership. A bishop, even a pope, surrounded by strong bishops-presbyters need not take a prominent role / active hand in day to day administration of church affairs in order for the right to exercise wide, even plenary, authority to reside in his office.

    As for the four points, above, (1) has been shown to trade upon an anachronistic definition of “bishop” and not upon anything intrinsic to the office (cf. Oswald Sobrino, “Was Peter the First Bishop of Rome?” [abtract] [A google search will pull up a link to the full article as Word document]); (2) as an argument against the ecclesial hierarchy, this trades upon the word / concept fallacy; (3) a plurality of bishops in one church or city does not in itself imply that there was no ruling bishop, either itinerant (after the manner of the Apostles and Titus and Timothy) or resident; (4) this is the strongest bit of evidence re their being no bishop of Rome prior to the mid-second century, but it is only an argument from silence, and is furthermore mitigated by the following considerations: In Romans 15:20-22, Paul indicates that another man had laid the foundation in Rome, which is why he had waited so long to visit that Church. We know that Peter was at some time or times in Rome (see above); we that at other times he was in other places (Antioch, Jerusalem); we do not know where he was at all times after his escape from prison and before the Jerusalem Council. It could very well be that during this time Peter visited Rome and established the Church in that city. As for Ignatius, the tone of his letter (praise rather than correction or instruction) itself explains why he did not exhort them to be subject to the bishop–it would have been gratuitous to do so. In other epistles, he mentions other bishops by name, whom he personally knew, but he mentions no bishop of Rome. Perhaps his deference to the Church of Rome as a whole together with the possibility that Ignatius was personally unacquainted with the head bishop of Rome sufficiently explains the lack of reference to the bishop in that letter.

  65. Jason–

    To clarify a bit:

    I have striven mightily to comprehend the “motives of credibility” without any success.

    How exactly are they “motives of credibility” when there is virtually no access for the public at large?

    In other words, if one must be a convinced Catholic for the “motives of credibility” to be actually credible, then how is everything you’re saying not begging the question?

    I’m a confirmed Anglican. Protestants have AS. The primacy of Rome, when applied to the very early church, is pure fiction. The permanence of any such primacy, could the primacy itself be shown to be apostolic, cannot be established as Scriptural.

    Are you really going to go off of one or two verses concerning the gates of hell not prevailing against the (Western) church or “Peter” (obviously Rome, what else could he represent?) being granted the keys?

    I have tried to see it your way, and I just cannot get there from here.

    That Rome has some special charism or imprimatur is PURELY a leap of faith. We ARE in the selfsame epistemic boat.

  66. Andrew–

    Sounds like a long-winded concession on your part that the notion of primacy for Rome was not transmitted from the Apostles, or at the very least, that it cannot be established as such from historical data.

  67. Brandon.

    So, what you are saying is that in the first years there was no apostolic succession. You base this on absence of evidence, which of course is no the same thing as evidence of absence. But then one Sunday afternoon…to quote Francis Beckwith from this conversation.

    Both East and West apparently fell into precisely the same error, assimilating into its ecclessial DNA an understanding of itself that came into being out of whole cloth one afternoon in the 3rd century. And to make matters worse, no one really noticed, not Nicea, not Chalcedon, not Orange, though these councils presupposed the authority you claim is a forgery. The hoodwinking was so clever, so sublime, so sophisticated, and so diabolical that it developed in such a way as to fit seamlessly with the Church, its doctrinal development, its liturgy, its councils, and its declarations on the canonicity of Scripture. The deception was so well done–by the Enemy, of course–that it displays an elegance that makes it seem to be, in retrospect, just how one would expect the Church to have developed.

    Perhaps it was the green men after all.

    You said, ” In the documents we do have, we hear nothing about a Petrine office and we have evidence that points in a completely different direction.”

    So, you have silence – in some but not all documents. And then you say that the evidence ‘points in a completely different direction.’ Earlier you said that the ‘evidence’ points to the church being led by a group of men, the exclusion of a bishop. What evidence is that? I’d like to see it.

  68. Eric,

    It’s very easy to make assertions. Please address Andrew’s post directly to support your claim.

  69. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    Andrew–
    Sounds like a long-winded concession on your part that the notion of primacy for Rome was not transmitted from the Apostles, or at the very least, that it cannot be established as such from historical data.

    *sigh*

    In Don’t Pity the Fool, Jason Stellman wrote:
    .
    For the Catholic, belief in apostolic succession is neither a-historical and irrational, nor is it mere assent to empirical facts. Rather, it is a matter of faith in the authoritative claims of the Church that Christ founded. Is there evidence that the Catholic Church is that church? Yes. Is there evidence for the historical succession of bishops from the apostles to the Catholic bishops of today? Again, yes. But the evidence for both of those things is not absolutely conclusive or as airtight as the evidence that JFK was shot and that 9/11 happened. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be (any more than the evidence for the resurrection has to be). Instead, we have a case that is philosophically compelling and historically plausible.

  70. But the evidence for both of those things is not absolutely conclusive or as airtight as the evidence that JFK was shot and that 9/11 happened

    Thanks for the laugh. That was a good one. I can watch footage this very moment of planes crashing into the towers and of JFK’s head being blown away. Where is the evidence that Peter ever ruled in Rome as Pope? A reference to him as an apostle proves that he was the Pope there how exactly?. In Acts 15, James gives the final deliberation and he says “therefore I judge”. As in I, James, not I, Peter. Peter was a Jew and apostle, not a gentile pope.

  71. JJS, maybe. But it strikes me that CtCers talk about paradigms the way neo-Cals talk about worldviews, categories both of which are less biblical than that of faith. And the parallel seems to be that where worldview aligns with cultural dominionism, paradigms correspond with ecclesial chutzpah. Then there’s the category of faith, which tends to go with the notions of pilgrimage and humility, as in Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief. Frankly, I don’t see how superior paradigms make any room for that sort of prayer since it’s all a matter of pushing the puzzles pieces around just right and coming to invincible conclusions.

  72. Andrew,

    The reason you don’t see it as counter evidence is because you’re assuming that a list 180 years after the fact is to be taken as the most reliable information. You are then reinterpreting the earlier evidence in light of Irenaeus’s claim that there was a succession list stretching back to Peter. My “referring” to other evidence is my assumption that you’ve conceded it since I’ve not seen it in your presentations. Perhaps you actually believe that Clement or Irenaeus support a Petrine episcopate in Rome (you may have hinted as such below). In that case, then we would need to get into the nitty gritty of analyzing the texts. That’s fine and if I’ve misjudged then mea culpa.

    You say,

    You have referred to the fact that some writings from the second century fathers do not mention the papacy

    For clarity, my argument is that all writings before 180 AD do not mention the Papacy and I stand by that claim. I’m unaware of any evidence to the contrary.

    You also seem to be misunderstanding me because you are conflating AS and some sort of Petrine office. I’ve indicated here and elsewhere that we would expect people to want to remain connected to the Apostles and that people succeeded the Apostles in their ministry. I’ve not denied that AS existed. I’ve actually argued that this would be expected especially immediately after the death of the Apostles.

    Additionally, fractionation is not my word, it is Peter Lampe’s (and an accepted word to describe Roman Christianity in the academy). I think you recognize that, but I just wanted that to be clear. And furthermore, fractionation is not solely about archaeological evidence. It is an assessment of the social conditions of Rome generally (and the way that politics and geography shape those social realities) and thus requires evidence from Roman historians, excavations of early house churches, church records, etc.

    You also, like many others at CtC, seem to think that I somehow have the burden of proof to show that a
    claim made 150 years after fact is questionable. You claim,

    there is direct, positive evidence from the period between the NT and Irenaeus for Apostolic Succession and the monarchical episcopate

    I’ve yet to see you appeal to anything outside of Irenaeus for such a thing. And I’ve not encountered anything in my study of this matter that corroborates this claim either. You can push it back on me making grandiose claims, but I’m simply challenging yours and pointing out that you don’t have the evidence you say you do. You are also putting words in my mouth (referring to AS).

    Your quote from Clement seems to fit with Congregationalism, Presbyterianism, and Episcopal forms of government –and importantly, no mention of the Roman episcopate in which the whole church is united.

    Your quote from Ignatius appears to be powerful if you ignore the fact that Ignatius doesn’t mention a bishop in Rome. You attempt to deflect the severity that this has for your position because the Romans were well-behaved, according to Ignatius. But if the Petrine office is as you says it is, and Ignatius presupposes this, then why in the world does he not say it? And why would he insult the Petrine bishop by writing to a plurality of leaders when he is the head of the Roman Church—even the whole church! The fact that someone you would expect to make the argument does not cannot just be dismissed. His silence speaks, if not volumes, in subtle whispers of the organization of the Roman church.

    I can see how you can make Ignatius not contradict your claims for the papacy, but he also does not speak in your favor.

    WRT to Peter in Rome, I’m fine to concede that Peter died in Rome. I think that much is clear. Whether he visited there twice or more is purely speculative.

    Finally, you say,

    cannot see how my pointing out the evidence from Clement and Ignatius constitutes a backing off of my claims about the papacy, as you claimed in your previous comment.

    I admit that I overextended what you meant here. My point (though too strongly worded) was that we are not asking about an episcopal government existing but about a Petrine episcopate. But I should have read more charitably and assumed that your preceding sentence about the episcopate being established by Jesus and assumed you were referring to a Petrine episcopate.

  73. SS, I’m pretty sure you heard in that statement of mine the exact opposite of what it in fact says.

  74. Duffy goes on the cite recent archaeological work in the crypt of St Peters which confirms the second century provenance (c. 165 AD) of the shrine of St Peter.

    Myths can take as little as a few decades years to develop, and you want us to believe data from the 2nd century? The creed in 1 Cor 15 dates to within 15 years of the Resurrection, so there is no reason to doubt its historical validity since many who witnessed the Resurrection were still alive then to testify, as many as 500 witnesses plus. Where are the witnesses to Peter’s rule as Pope?

    Let’s take Didache for example, dated to A.D. 80 to 100, which is a book self described as

    “The teaching of the Lord to the gentiles by the twelve apostles”

    Not a single mention of Peter throughout, but evidence of an early movement which had a very high regard for holiness and purity from its apostles and prophets:

    “…And when the apostle leaves, he is to take nothing but bread until he finds his next night’s lodging. But if he asks for money, he is a false prophet.”

    “However not everyone who speaks in the spirit is a prophet, but only if he exhibits the Lord’s ways. By his conduct therefore, will the false prophet and prophet be recognized. If any prophet teaches the truth but does practice what he teaches, he is a false prophet “.

    Someone asked me above whether I had ever sinned in response to my posting 1 Tim 3’s guidelines for appointing bishops and elders. It shows the complete break of catholic thinking with the earliest data available to us about the praxis of the earliest church. For them, holiness in the leadership of the church was a deal breaker, from the beginning. They had been accustomed to their leaders being men of the utmost integrity, as were Paul, James and Peter. And then correctly held a very high standard and kept that standard.

    Today the high standard is no longer faithfulness to the Lord, it is ‘a principled means of distinguishing truth from opinion’, i.e, the false idol of a philosophical constraint disguised as wisdom. The early church has a principled means indeed, and it was called this “Kick them out when they show themselves to be false prophets”. But it didn’t take long for corruption and power/wealth to change that M.O. to ‘rationalize at all costs to preserve our kingdom’.

    All this is more motives of credibility to disbelieve the claim that the CC is the church Christ founded.

  75. SS, I’m pretty sure you heard in that statement of mine the exact opposite of what it in fact says.

    Jason, I misread the quote to be Wosbald’s. I’ll repost it here:

    For the Catholic, belief in apostolic succession is neither a-historical and irrational, nor is it mere assent to empirical facts. Rather, it is a matter of faith in the authoritative claims of the Church that Christ founded. Is there evidence that the Catholic Church is that church? Yes. Is there evidence for the historical succession of bishops from the apostles to the Catholic bishops of today? Again, yes.

    I agree that there is evidence of historical succession in the early church (not necessarily to the catholic bishops today), undoubtedly, as the Didache itself teaches, “appoint bishops and deacons” for yourselves. But there is no evidence for the rule of Peter as pope in rome.

    But the evidence for both of those things is not absolutely conclusive or as airtight as the evidence that JFK was shot and that 9/11 happened.

    I think that the evidence that there was succession is very strong. It’s simply the view that it was succession unto the catholic church that doesn’t pass muster.

    But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be (any more than the evidence for the resurrection has to be). Instead, we have a case that is philosophically compelling and historically plausible.

    It does have to be. The resurrection is an extraordinary event with extraordinary historical evidence supporting it (anyone can read Bill Craig for the best exposition). The claim that the CC is the church founded by Jesus is also an extraordinary claim, precisely because it so contentious and disputed, not just by Protestants but by EO and Messianic Jews as well. So the evidence presented for it has to be very very strong for me to take the claim seriously.
    The best you can do, as evidenced by Preslar’s writing above, is point to data that has it’s origin about 1.5 to 2 centuries after the event. We have evidence for the Resurrection dating to 15 years after the event, by contrast (see post above).

    My view is not that the early church was protestant. It is that there was a clear break in praxis and jew/gentile fellowship very early on, a break that was a tragic mistake and led to apostasy on a grand scale (see Didache posta above) I take Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell would not prevail as having application despite the latter, and not because of a reworking of the latter into the ‘historical triumph of the church’.

  76. corrected typo:

    SS, I’m pretty sure you heard in that statement of mine the exact opposite of what it in fact says.

    Jason, I misread the quote to be Wosbald’s. I’ll repost it here:

    For the Catholic, belief in apostolic succession is neither a-historical and irrational, nor is it mere assent to empirical facts. Rather, it is a matter of faith in the authoritative claims of the Church that Christ founded. Is there evidence that the Catholic Church is that church? Yes. Is there evidence for the historical succession of bishops from the apostles to the Catholic bishops of today? Again, yes.

    I agree that there is evidence of historical succession in the early church (not necessarily to the catholic bishops today), undoubtedly, as the Didache itself teaches, “appoint bishops and deacons” for yourselves. But there is no evidence for the rule of Peter as pope in rome.

    But the evidence for both of those things is not absolutely conclusive or as airtight as the evidence that JFK was shot and that 9/11 happened.

    I think that the evidence that there was succession is very strong. It’s simply the view that it was succession unto the catholic church that doesn’t pass muster.

    But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be (any more than the evidence for the resurrection has to be). Instead, we have a case that is philosophically compelling and historically plausible.

    It does have to be. The resurrection is an extraordinary event with extraordinary historical evidence supporting it (anyone can read Bill Craig for the best exposition). The claim that the CC is the church founded by Jesus is also an extraordinary claim (not quite as the Resurrection, but right up there), precisely because it so contentious and disputed, not just by Protestants but by EO and Messianic Jews as well. So the evidence presented for it has to be very very strong for me to take the claim seriously.

    The best you can do, as evidenced by Preslar’s writing above, is point to data that has it’s origin about 150 to 200 years after the event. We have evidence for the Resurrection dating to 15 years after the event, by contrast (see post above).

    My view is not that the early church was protestant. It is that there was a clear break in praxis and jew/gentile fellowship very early on, a break that was a tragic mistake and led to apostasy on a grand scale (see Didache post above) I take Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell would not prevail as having application despite the latter, and not because of a reworking of the latter into the ‘historical triumph of the church’.

  77. Sean,

    As I indicated to Andrew, you are conflating AS with Petrine succession (and episcopal succession for that matter). So, no, I’m not saying there was not apostolic succession in the first centuries.

    And again, I don’t base this on the absence of evidence. I base this on the evidence that we possess which does not say that Peter was founded as a bishop in Rome. Instead, the earliest evidence indicates that there was a plurality of leaders in Rome. The interpretation of the evidence that I’ve seen from the Andrew and others is that this can be consistent with a Petrine office in Rome. But I hope you see that the argument is not from silence. The fact is that when church government is mentioned (and it is) it does not mention the Roman bishop as the head of the church—it doesn’t even mention a Roman bishop.

    Regarding Dr. Beckwith’s comment, it may work against a particular argument against Rome, but certainly not ones that I’ve come across. There was nothing sinister about the development of episcopacy. It developed pretty early around the world (I would argue many places earlier than Rome) as an outworking of certain sociological & political realities as well as theological understandings of the church. None of them were sinister or even evil, though I may not agree with all of them. There have been and are Reformed Episcopalians and Anglicans.

    Finally, you say,

    And then you say that the evidence ‘points in a completely different direction.’ Earlier you said that the ‘evidence’ points to the church being led by a group of men, the e xclusion of a bishop. What evidence is that? I’d like to see it.

    None of the evidence predating Irenaeus says anything about Peter being a bishop in Rome. Every extant piece of literature that I can think of fits into this group. I know you are aware of the evidence and I’ve listed it above. If you can find evidence from sources then I’d certainly consider it. But I’ve yet to come across any

  78. http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/christia/library/irenaeus.html

    “Irenaeus here says nothing whatever about a special teaching authority or a special grace of infallibility given to the local congregation at Rome or to its bishop. But why does he not, if in fact he believes that the Bishop of Rome, or the congregation at Rome, has some unique and divinely bestowed status? He has been quoting the Scriptures to prove other points. Why not quote “Thou art Peter,” if he thinks it shows that the Bishop of Rome is the deputy of Christ? One possible reply is that he confines himself to arguing from premises that his Gnostic opponents accepted. However– (a) Elsewhere in his book, Irenaeus freely relies on proof-texts from the Four Gospels. He argues for the authority of the Twelve Apostles by quoting the words of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. It is strange that he would not quote Christ’s words to Peter in Matthew 16:18 (“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church…”) if he understood them as a modern Roman Catholic understands them. (b) Irenaeus was writing not only to convert Gnostics, but also to strengthen the faith of Catholic Christians who were under attack from the Gnostics, and needed to be reminded why they should trust the teaching of their bishops. Surely a modern Roman Catholic theologian, writing a book to help Roman Catholic laity answer the question, “Why should I trust the teaching authority of the Roman Catholi Church?” would be very quick to quote Matthew 16:18 and to claim that here Christ plainly promises that Peter’s successors , the Bishops of Rome, can never depart from the faith, and that therefore any bishop in communion with Rome is automatically a trustworthy bishop. But Irenaeus never uses this argument or any other argument for a divinely given special status for the Church of Rome. And the most straightforward explanation is that he never heard of such a doctrine.”

    Is it true that Irenaeus never uses the usual catholic ‘Matt 16:18’ argument?

  79. SS,

    When I said you misread me, I had in mind my statement: “But the evidence for [AS and the papacy] is not absolutely conclusive or as airtight as the evidence that JFK was shot and that 9/11 happened,” to which you responded:

    Thanks for the laugh. That was a good one. I can watch footage this very moment of planes crashing into the towers and of JFK’s head being blown away.

    Umm, see what I mean?

  80. Jason,

    Yes, got it. I think what really matters here is the question of what strength should the evidence have, given the nature of the claim.

    Your thoughts on the following: ?

    But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be (any more than the evidence for the resurrection has to be). Instead, we have a case that is philosophically compelling and historically plausible.

    It does have to be. The resurrection is an extraordinary event with extraordinary historical evidence supporting it (anyone can read Bill Craig for the best exposition). The claim that the CC is the church founded by Jesus is also an extraordinary claim (not quite as the Resurrection, but right up there), precisely because it so contentious and disputed, not just by Protestants but by EO and Messianic Jews as well. So the evidence presented for it has to be very very strong for me to take the claim seriously.

    The best a catholic can do, as evidenced by Preslar’s writing above, is point to data that has its origin about 150 to 200 years after the event. We have evidence for the Resurrection dating to 15 years after the event, by contrast (see post above).

    My view is not that the early church was protestant. It is that there was a clear break in praxis and jew/gentile fellowship very early on, a break that was a tragic mistake and led to apostasy on a grand scale (see Didache post above) I take Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell would not prevail as having application despite the latter, and not because of a reworking of the latter into the ‘historical triumph of the church’.

  81. Eric, you write:

    Witnesses, Mormons, Oneness Pentacostals, Liberal Protestants, and Unitarians are not orthodox Christians, so it would be difficult to include them in any particular category of orthodox Christianity.

    What is your point? You say that Liberal Protestants are not orthodox, but you don’t deny that they are Protestants. I gave my definition of Protestant – “a Protestant is someone who has no real objection to being called a Protestant. I realize this is a pretty broad definition, and that this definition has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever a self-identified Protestant may, or may not, believe.”

    So how, exactly, is your definition of Protestant different than mine? My definition of Protestant does not depend on whether or not a Protestant is orthodox in his beliefs, and apparently, neither does yours.

    I call myself a confessional Protestant. (I believe Robert does, as well.) I like to be labeled for what I am rather than what I am not.

    You put an adjective before the word Protestant and have labeled yourself as a “confessional Protestant.” All that tells me is that you belong to a subset of Protestants, and that there are other Protestants that are not “confessional”.

    “Protestant” should not just be a grab-bag word for non-Catholic. Buddhists are non-Catholic, but that hardly makes them Protestant.

    In no way is my definition of Protestant a “grab-bag for non-Catholic”. A Buddhist would object to being called a Protestant, therefore I would not consider a Buddhist to be a Protestant. A member of the Eastern Orthodox Church would object to being called a Protestant and so would a Muslim. Therefore, Muslims and EO are not Protestants according to my definition. On the other hand, a Southern Baptist would not object to being called a Protestant, and Southern Baptists are not “confessional” Protestants.

    If you would give me your definition of Protestant, perhaps I can understand the point that you are trying to make.

    There is not enough difference between different stripes of confessionalism to haggle over. When I move to a new town, I seek out the best Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Reformed Baptist church that I can find.

    The Protestant sects that you have listed have major differences in what they teach to be orthodox doctrine. Since they all can be right, some of these “confessional” Protestant sects must be teaching unorthodox doctrine. You have established that there are some sects of unorthodox Protestants that you like, and some sects of Protestants that you don’t like because, to you, they are unorthodox. What am I supposed to make of this?

    Confessional Protestantism is the legitimate continuation of the Western church, period.

    How can a sect of confessional Protestantism that teaches heretical doctrine be legitimate? The Lutheran Church and the Presbyterian Church can’t both be teaching orthodox doctrine, since they have serious doctrinal differences.

  82. You said, “For clarity, my argument is that all writings before 180 AD do not mention the Papacy and I stand by that claim.”

    Why stop there Brandon? In all the writings before 180 AD a lot of things are not mentioned. Sola scriptura isn’t mentioned. The canon of scripture isn’t mentioned. Sola Fide isn’t mentioned. The Trinity and hypostatic union isn’t mentioned etc etc.

    It seems to me that you are starting with an assumption that if it’s not mentioned sufficiently clearly in the handful of documents from AD 50 to AD 180 than it must not have been the mind of the Church. Why are you operating under that assumption and how do you justify believing all sorts of doctrines that were not expressed in those documents?

    And, I can understand how you might think that we’re conflating the Petrine office with apostolic succession. Nobody claims from the moment Linus succeeded Peter that the fully understood and developed Petrine office was being exercised. All that matters for the claims of the Petrine office is that a singular man (bishop) DID succeed Peter and that the succession of bishops is a mark of the Church and that though the Church’s understanding and excersize of that office has developed as the needs of the Church changed throughout the centuries, Pope Francis is truly in succession from St Peter and holds the same office. And that is exactly what we find from the moment the fathers start talking about the office of bishop and the marks of the church.

    “I’m not saying there was not apostolic succession in the first centuries.”

    Great. Then at this point your complaint is really about the Petrine office and the succession of Peter to Francis? Or do you just reject papal primacy?

    And if you believe that the succession of the apostles was the mind of the church from the start and through the centuries, how do you reconcile that your elders at your Reformed church are not in the succession of the apostles? Maybe, like other Protestants, you think that the Church at some point became corrupted and the true successors are the Reformers even though they were not in succession and denied succession altogether? If that is your stance, than I might ask you to find THAT understanding anywhere in Church history from AD 50 to AD 1500.

  83. Dave H., there you go again denying RC history. Tell Edgardo Mortara’s parents about how subtle the holy father could be in following church law (regarding the Inquisition and Jews). I’m glad the church is now not so Christendom-centric. But that isn’t the way it always was. You should know better.

  84. Darryl,

    What in the world does that have to do with my response? Please tell me, specifically, how I denied Cahtolic history.

    Your Mortara’s argument is getting silly. It is analogous to me telling you why the Constitution is an amazing document and you responding with “You don’t know history! America sucks because of the trail of tears”.

    Dave

  85. *Catholic history… not Cahtolic history. Sorry about that.

  86. Sean,

    I think I understand where you’re coming from, but I hope you see that my argument is *not,* there is no mention of it so therefore it must not be true. I made the following statement,

    And again, I don’t base this on the absence of evidence. I base this on the evidence that we possess which does not say that Peter was founded as a bishop in Rome. Instead, the earliest evidence indicates that there was a plurality of leaders in Rome. The interpretation of the evidence that I’ve seen from the Andrew and others is that this can be consistent with a Petrine office in Rome. But I hope you see that the argument is not from silence. The fact is that when church government is mentioned (and it is) it does not mention the Roman bishop as the head of the church—it doesn’t even mention a Roman bishop.

    Again, as I understand your argument, you want me to provide evidence to the effect of someone saying, “There is no Papacy in Rome.” But of course, such a requirement is anachronistic. And I believe that it is important to differentiate between a doctrinal position (i.e. Sola Scriptura) and a historical claim with doctrinal implications (i.e. Petrine Papacy). I have no problem acknowledging that doctrines like the Trinity were not robustly articulated in the post-Apostolic age but I believe that the underlying theology of that age teaches it. We don’t need documents from 30-180 to substantiate that something is Apostolic–that would be the far reaches of historical criticism–but when we here discussion of the church government in Rome and it always speaks of plurality that is not insignificant. Again, you are reading Irenaeus back into those earlier writings. My question is, is that warranted?

    Finally, I’ve argued over at CtC about my understanding of AS theologically and historically. Basically, my position at the moment is that every form of church government believes that the Apostles ordained other men to fulfill their role as leaders, though there was a distinction between someone ordained by an Apostle and the Apostle himself. In normative situations, this is the way that things ought to function. I’m open to leaving the possibility, however, that at times such normative standards can be lifted. But it is important to recognize, as well, that I do not believe that AS must come from a bishop.

  87. Sean Patrick,

    If you all would quite whitewashing Roman Catholic history, then perhaps we could get somewhere. You said:

    Nobody claims from the moment Linus succeeded Peter that the fully understood and developed Petrine office was being exercised.

    Vatican I says in session 4:

    Therefore, if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole Church militant; or that it was a primacy of honor only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema. (1.6)

    For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our lord Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood.

    Therefore whoever succeeds to the chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. So what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and does not abandon that guidance of the Church which he once received [47].

    For this reason it has always been necessary for every Church–that is to say the faithful throughout the world–to be in agreement with the Roman Church because of its more effective leadership. In consequence of being joined, as members to head, with that see, from which the rights of sacred communion flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single body.

    Therefore, if anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the lord himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema. (2.2–5)

    Either the church has known in every age that the pope has primacy of jurisdiction or it didn’t. Your claim goes against the infallible pronouncements of an ecumenical council, and thus is to be rejected. According to Rome, at least the Rome of Vatican I because everyone except for a handful of Roman apologists knows that the Roman Church is very different today, the whole church—including Linus and his successors—knew they had universal jurisdiction.

    Except that we can’t find that in the earliest documents attesting to this period. So Vatican I got it wrong and out the window goes the “in principle” infallible means for distinguishing truth from opinion.

  88. Obviously, the last two paragraphs are my comments, not Vatican I’s.

  89. Brandon,

    You say: And I believe that it is important to differentiate between a doctrinal position (i.e. Sola Scriptura) and a historical claim with doctrinal implications (i.e. Petrine Papacy). I have no problem acknowledging that doctrines like the Trinity were not robustly articulated in the post-Apostolic age but I believe that the underlying theology of that age teaches it. We don’t need documents from 30-180 to substantiate that something is Apostolic–that would be the far reaches of historical criticism

    Please explain this point further. I think you still come off as being very ‘picky and choosey’. “The trinity? Sola Scriptura? Sure – I have no problems acknowledging that these are ‘Apostolic’. But the Petrine Papacy? Pshaw! We need documents, documents, documents!” How is a Petrine Papacy not a part of the pre-Apostolic theology just as much as the others that you claim? Why do you give gratis to one, and not the other? You still have not shown any Patristic documents, or otherwise, that shows anything in direct conflict to a Petrine Papacy. You have showed no documents of that period, or within the later decades, with the later century, showing an outcry that a Petrine ministry is being established. You’re argument is becoming, “Since they only talked about Geography, there cannot be a thing called Physics.”

    You say that to produce documents contrary to Petrine Papacy would be anachronistic. How is that any more anachronistic than to claim that Sola Scriptura could be in the underlying theology of the day when the compilation of scriptures were not completed?

  90. Brandon.

    I hope to have time to respond fully later today.

    Robert.

    I don’t have much time but I’ve seen that claim before. Trouble is, Vatican I does not deny development of doctrine. Nowhere does any of that say, “There was no development and the way Linus thought of the office and excersized the Petrine ministry is unchanged from the way we do it today.”

    So, we affirm everything said in the passage you cited but believe there was growth in theology and understanding. The constant faith of the Church and development of doctrine are not mutually exclusive. The Church does not view them so. Neither do I.

    Not only does the passage cited not deny any development but the council actually quotes St Vincent Lerins in precisely the passage where he articulated an early defense of the development of doctrine.

  91. Brandon,

    Again, there are several problems with your response. I want to point out these problems in the course of further explaining how the evidence that I cite, concerning AS, the monepiscopacy, and Peter’s ministry in Rome are related, with respect to the papacy.

    You wrote:

    The reason you don’t see it as counter evidence is because you’re assuming that a list 180 years after the fact is to be taken as the most reliable information.

    There are two problems here. The most obvious is that you claim that Irenaeus’s bishop list was produced “180 years after that fact”. But surely you know that that list was produced in 180 AD, and that the final pope on the list Eleutherius, was a contemporary of Irenaeus, whom the latter knew personally, who was bishop of Rome at the time that the list was produced. Peter and Paul, whom Irenaeus cites as having founded and organized the Church of Rome, were martyred there in the mid to late 60s. The Church of Rome could not have been founded long before that, probably sometimes in the 40s. So Irenaeus is contemporary with the list at the end, and within 115 years of the beginning, with the deaths of the two Apostles and the succession of Linus. The grandchildren and even the most elderly children of the faithful Roman Christian who witnessed the events in the 60s would still be alive during the time of Irenaeus.

    The second problem with this claim is that it indicates that you have overlooked the reasons that I actually gave in my comment. Of course, for the reasons just given, I do think that Irenaeus’s list is an important piece of direct evidence for the episcopal ministry in Rome, but in my previous comment I was concerned with the evidence from earlier authors. The claim that I am reinterpreting the latter in light of the former is a useless assertion. I could just as well claim that you are reinterpreting the earlier fathers, instead of rightly interpreting them / weighing the evidence because you reject (and mischaracterize) the evidence from Irenaeus.

    You wrote:

    For clarity, my argument is that all writings before 180 AD do not mention the Papacy and I stand by that claim. I’m unaware of any evidence to the contrary.

    Well, for that matter neither does Irenaeus mention “the papacy”. He gives a list of bishops to whom the Church of Rome was entrusted. This does not rule out there being other bishop-presbyters in Rome. I don’t think that you will want to deny that there were bishop-presbyters in Rome before 180 AD. Whether they were referred to as “bishops” or “presbyters” or both is not particularly important at that stage. St. Peter, writing from Rome, refers to himself as a “fellow presbyter”. To this day, the bishop of Rome is a fellow presbyter with Catholic priests all around the world. We know that the fully developed terminology of the hierarchical ministry (bishop, priest, deacon) is in place by the time of Ignatius (early second century). The same terminology is still developing elsewhere (such as in Rome, judging by Clement), but this does not mean that the hierarchy itself is not present elsewhere. In fact, Igantius writes that the episcopacy is established to the limits of the world.

    You wrote:

    You also seem to be misunderstanding me because you are conflating AS and some sort of Petrine office. I’ve indicated here and elsewhere that we would expect people to want to remain connected to the Apostles and that people succeeded the Apostles in their ministry. I’ve not denied that AS existed. I’ve actually argued that this would be expected especially immediately after the death of the Apostles.

    If you do indeed accept Apostolic Succession as involving people who succeeded the Apostles in their ministry, then I have misunderstood you. If you think that people (ordained men) indeed succeeded the Apostles in their ministry, then we are well on the way to further agreement, re the episcopacy and the papacy. But I am not conflating AS and the papacy; I am arguing for AS and the episcopal ministry in general because these are essential aspects of the historical papacy. Take away either, and the papacy falls with it. The papacy does not exist in a vacuum. It is tempting to isolate this ministry from its context in the local church in Rome and the communion of Apostolic churches throughout the world, but that is a mistake, a kind of tunnel vision that must be avoided if we are going to understand things in the context of the Church as a whole. If the Apostles did have successors, and if these successors, being the continuation of the Apostolic college, inherited the Apostles’ authority in the Church and local churches, and if Peter indeed ministered in Rome as his first epistle indicates and the entirety of the early Church believed, then what remains is to verify that the papacy existed by the will and institution of Christ. And this will involve rightly interpreting the Petrine texts in the NT, and discerning whether and why it is Rome in particular (rather than Jerusalem or Antioch) in which there are successors to the specifically Petrine ministry.

    You wrote:

    Additionally, fractionation is not my word, it is Peter Lampe’s (and an accepted word to describe Roman Christianity in the academy). I think you recognize that, but I just wanted that to be clear. And furthermore, fractionation is not solely about archaeological evidence. It is an assessment of the social conditions of Rome generally (and the way that politics and geography shape those social realities) and thus requires evidence from Roman historians, excavations of early house churches, church records, etc.

    Okay. But it still remains to be seen what follows from any of this, regarding the Christian ministry in Rome. In particular it remains to be seen how any of this is incompatible with their being a bishop in Rome who, among his fellow bishop-presbyters, was in some way the head of the Church in Rome.

    Here I want to make a related point, clarifying my own understanding of the early development of the Christian ministry, the failure to do so before being perhaps a source of confusion: There are two facets, as I understand it, to the principle of AS: (1) There is the sacramental ordination itself, in which one having the power to ordain (originally Christ, then the Apostles) ordains another man. When such an ordination is intended to confer the power to ordain, then the power of holy orders has been conferred in its fullness. Originally, it seems that the terms “episcopos” and “presbyter” were used as non-technical descriptions of someone thus ordained (whether by Christ himself or one of the Apostles). Thus, bishop-presbyters were distinguished from deacons, but not bishops from presbyters (at least not consistently). (2) The second facet of the principle of AS involves authority in the Church. The Apostles themselves had authority among their fellow bishop-presbyters, in that they could and did have the obligation to establish orthodoxy and otherwise set things in order in the churches. This authority could be and was passed down to other men (most notably, Titus and Timothy) who then, in addition to being one among other bishop-presbyters, exercised authority among the bishop-presbyters. Eventually, the term “episcopos” was used exclusively of this type of ministry, and “presbyteros” was used to refer to those ministers who did not exercise this kind of oversight. At some point, and it is uncertain whether this goes back to the NT or is a latter development, bishops began to ordain men to preach and administer the sacraments of baptism, eucharist, confession, and unction, but not to ordain others. In this way, the presbyterate as a distinct grade of holy orders grew out of the episcopate. (The diaconate, as we know from Acts, was established very early by the Apostles.) As we had the Apostles and their bishop-presbyters, we now have the bishops and their presbyters.

    Thus, we see that the episcopacy does not *sacramentally* depend on the monepiscopacy. Rather, sacramental validity in ordination (also for the eucharist, confirmation, confession, and unction) depends upon the episcopacy in the first sense, described above. Monepiscopacy depends on episcopacy in the sense that you can’t get ruling bishops without bishops, but it also depends upon the notion that the Apostles had successors not only in the sacramental ministry, but also in their unifying function among the churches. The transition from Apostles to monepiscopacy preserves the nature of the Church that Christ founded: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

    You also, like many others at CtC, seem to think that I somehow have the burden of proof to show that a claim made 150 years after fact is questionable. You claim, there is direct, positive evidence from the period between the NT and Irenaeus for Apostolic Succession and the monarchical episcopate
    I’ve yet to see you appeal to anything outside of Irenaeus for such a thing. And I’ve not encountered anything in my study of this matter that corroborates this claim either. You can push it back on me making grandiose claims, but I’m simply challenging yours and pointing out that you don’t have the evidence you say you do. You are also putting words in my mouth (referring to AS).

    There are many problems here. First, which is it, 180 or 150 years after the fact? But we have seen that Irenaeus’s list is not any time at all after the fact, if the fact is there being a bishop of Rome. And the entirety of my last comment was an appeal to Clement, Ignatius, and various data concerning Peter in Rome. Its not a matter my not having evidence for AS and monepiscopacy and Peter’s ministry in Rome. I have presented that evidence, which as a matter of fact you go on to acknowledge:

    Your quote from Clement seems to fit with Congregationalism, Presbyterianism, and Episcopal forms of government –and importantly, no mention of the Roman episcopate in which the whole church is united.

    The quote from Clement was intended to give evidence for AS. Since you accept AS, you should not have any problem with that. In any event, it is useless to point out that the evidence I cite does not mention things other than that which I intended to evince by the quote; namely, AS.

    Your quote from Ignatius appears to be powerful if you ignore the fact that Ignatius doesn’t mention a bishop in Rome. You attempt to deflect the severity that this has for your position because the Romans were well-behaved, according to Ignatius. But if the Petrine office is as you says it is, and Ignatius presupposes this, then why in the world does he not say it? And why would he insult the Petrine bishop by writing to a plurality of leaders when he is the head of the Roman Church—even the whole church! The fact that someone you would expect to make the argument does not cannot just be dismissed. His silence speaks, if not volumes, in subtle whispers of the organization of the Roman church. I can see how you can make Ignatius not contradict your claims for the papacy, but he also does not speak in your favor.

    Well, the letters of Ignatius are powerful evidence for my position, but in order to appreciate this one has to pay attention to what they say as well as what they do not say. I have done both. And what they say is that the monepiscopacy existed in the early first century. They do not name or refer to the head bishop of Rome. I have given reasons why the latter might be the case. So far as I can tell, you have not addressed what Ignatius actually says. It is in that respect that Ignatius speaks in my favor, since I maintain that the monepiscopacy is Apostolic.

    You wrote:

    WRT to Peter in Rome, I’m fine to concede that Peter died in Rome. I think that much is clear. Whether he visited there twice or more is purely speculative.

    Peter did not just step ashore in Italy and immediately keel over. As indicated in his first epistle, he ministered in that city, and as unanimously testified by tradition, he was martyred there for his testimony to Christ Jesus. It is of course speculative to say where Peter was after his escape from prison and before and after the Jerusalem Council. But it seems safe to say that he was somewhere on earth, and that he was carrying out the great commission.

    You wrote:

    Finally, you say, cannot see how my pointing out the evidence from Clement and Ignatius constitutes a backing off of my claims about the papacy, as you claimed in your previous comment.
    I admit that I overextended what you meant here. My point (though too strongly worded) was that we are not asking about an episcopal government existing but about a Petrine episcopate. But I should have read more charitably and assumed that your preceding sentence about the episcopate being established by Jesus and assumed you were referring to a Petrine episcopate.

    No problem. For my part, I should not have assumed that you were rejecting AS along with the monepiscopacy (do you reject that?) and the papacy. But one of my points all along is that the latter has to be understood in the context of the former–the pope being a part of the church, not apart from the church.

  92. WTU,

    The issue is that Petrine primacy is absent while the Trinity and sola Scriptura are not. When you have a bunch of Fathers treating Scripture as the surest source of revelation and speaking of Christ in a manner they can only apply to God, you’ve got evidence. When all you’ve got is the importance of the episcopate, you don’t have the pope. The papacy depends on the former, of course, but it is not necessitated by it. Which is, of course, why it wasn’t there in the early church at all.

  93. Andrew,

    Thank you very much for your response. I’ve been delinquent attending to other concerns so I’ll have to step away for a few days, but I did want to make that I reject that there was any sort of monepiscopate in Rome established by Christ. I can accept that ordination occurred in the church by Apostles ordaining other men who succedded them in their preaching of the Gospel. I should be clear though as well that by AS I’m not saying that someone ordained by the Apostles was given the exact ecclesial authority as one of the Apostles.

    Hopefully in the next few days I can respond and clarify anything that is unclear. Thanks, Andrew.

  94. SS,

    I wrote, “But the thing is, [the evidence for AS and the papacy] doesn’t have to be [airtight] (any more than the evidence for the resurrection has to be). Instead, we have a case that is philosophically compelling and historically plausible.” You responded:

    It does have to be. The resurrection is an extraordinary event with extraordinary historical evidence supporting it (anyone can read Bill Craig for the best exposition). The claim that the CC is the church founded by Jesus is also an extraordinary claim (not quite as the Resurrection, but right up there), precisely because it so contentious and disputed, not just by Protestants but by EO and Messianic Jews as well. So the evidence presented for it has to be very very strong for me to take the claim seriously.

    There’s a difference between airtight evidence (like the kind for 9/11 having occurred), and the evidence for a 2000 year-old miracle. For my part, I do not think either the resurrection or the CC’s claims can be proven by mere appeal to evidence. Both must be accepted with a measure of supernatural faith, even after the evidence has been examined and determined to be more or less credible.

    If you (or Eric) have looked at that evidence and have not found it worth taking seriously, then so much the worse for you. I don’t know what to tell you, other than to keep reminding you not to erect a higher standard for this than you do for other articles of faith. So I can try to keep you honest (and you can do the same for me), but I can’t do the believing for you. If you’re sincere in your disbelief, fine with me. God will sort it out.

    The best a catholic can do, as evidenced by Preslar’s writing above, is point to data that has its origin about 150 to 200 years after the event. We have evidence for the Resurrection dating to 15 years after the event, by contrast (see post above).

    That is not a fair account of what has been argued here and elsewhere by Andrew and others. Not even close. But I’m not going to rehash the entire case for you.

    My view is not that the early church was protestant. It is that there was a clear break in praxis and jew/gentile fellowship very early on, a break that was a tragic mistake and led to apostasy on a grand scale (see Didache post above) I take Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell would not prevail as having application despite the latter, and not because of a reworking of the latter into the ‘historical triumph of the church’.

    You see, I hear your assertion of a “grand apostasy” and “tragic mistake” that has thrown things off the rails for 2000 years and find THAT hard to take seriously. Indeed, I have argued here in detail that the historical events that would have needed to occur for AS to be false are less likely than those that must have occurred for AS to be true (regardless of whether it has any theological significance).

    So from where I sit, you lose all credibility when you posit this insidious misstep that only you and nine other guys have been able to uncover. This accounts, I think, for why you walk around here like the dude from Lethal Weapon 2, with all that “diplomatic immunity.” You can take shots at everyone, since your church disappeared immediately after the canonical historical record ceased, and it’s our fault.

    Plausible deniability must be bitchin!

  95. From Wosbald, who is having trouble commenting for some reason:

    +JMJ+

    Dave H wrote:

    Darryl,
    What in the world does that have to do with my response? Please tell me, specifically, how I denied Cahtolic history.
    Your Mortara’s argument is getting silly.

    Don’t sweat it, Dave. If you think that Pius IX made a prudent decision regarding Mortara, you’ll be a “Fundamentalist”. If you think he made an imprudent decision, you’ll be a “Modernist”. I was, variously, called both by Dr. Hart, all over the span of less than a week.

    Either way, the only thing that you won’t be is “Catholic”. (I s’pose that you may be allowed the moniker of “Catholic” just as long as you shut yer mouth, shrug your shoulders and defer to yer betters, and then go back to pickin’ yer nose and plantin’ yer taters.)=

  96. Dave H. (and Wosbald), you claimed that the papacy was reasonable and pastorally sensitive in its dealings with those outside the church (in that case Protestants). I don’t think you would make that statement in the same way if you were thinking about Edgardo Mortara. Why is that so hard to fathom unless the only history you contemplate is the early church (where the papacy wasn’t much of a factor in doing anything).

  97. Daryl.

    I wonder if you know how silly it looks to harp on and on about an obscure case from the 1850s as if it invalidates the Catholic Church. Makes me think that you really don’t understand the nature of the Church that the Catholic Church claims about itself.

    And, like sombody said earlier, its a bit like telling us that the Constitution sucks because of the Trail of Tears.

    And, we could counter a million good examples from the papacy. Maybe start with the leadership that JP2 showed against Communism? Or maybe the Church’s work on the prolife movement?

    Etc etc etc.

  98. Darryl,

    I will bite. As a half-Jew myself and a parent I am not unsympathetic to Mortara’s situation. My dad suffered at the hands of “Catholics” early in life and others for the crime of being a Jew. The Mortara incident was terrible but it was also a little more complicated that you make it. That is not a justification, just an acknowledgment of the legal quandry at the time. It sucked and I think those in opposition were right.

    But I will let adult Fr. Mortara speak the final word on this: “I greatly desire the beatification and canonization of the Servant of God (Pius IX).”

    Why is that so hard to fathom unless the only history you contemplate is the early church (where the papacy wasn’t much of a factor in doing anything).

    It wasn’t much of a factor? You must have missed Acts 2. Also no ecumenical council took place without some form of papal ratification.

  99. There’s a difference between airtight evidence (like the kind for 9/11 having occurred), and the evidence for a 2000 year-old miracle. For my part, I do not think either the resurrection or the CC’s claims can be proven by mere appeal to evidence. Both must be accepted with a measure of supernatural faith, even after the evidence has been examined and determined to be more or less credible.

    Neither do I think that the resurrection can be proven by mere appeal to evidence. But I do think it is far from unreasonable to expect the weight of the probability to much higher in the case of a claim like the CC’s. Again, largely precisely because it so contested, not only by protestants but also by EO and Messianic Jews.. In the case of the Resurrection, there are eyewitness accounts. But we see no eyewitness accounts of Peter’s rule at Rome, only conjecture, no written evidence.

    If you (or Eric) have looked at that evidence and have not found it worth taking seriously, then so much the worse for you. I don’t know what to tell you, other than to keep reminding you not to erect a higher standard for this than you do for other articles of faith. So I can try to keep you honest (and you can do the same for me), but I can’t do the believing for you. If you’re sincere in your disbelief, fine with me. God will sort it out.

    Let’s take an aspect of the faith such as an episcopal structure, it is strongly supported by the evidence, with direct references to the bishops and presbyters. How much more ought there to have been therefore references, or A reference to Peter as Pope. But there is none, not even ONE. That would be like having a belief in the resurrection with no eyewitnesses to the Risen Christ. Sure, you can believe that on faith, but is it reasonable evidence? No. I believe there is a reason why Christ appeared to Thomas and hundreds of others. Christ did not belittle Didymus’ request for evidence, He fulfilled it. The CC unfortunately cannot fulfill and honest request for evidence about Peter’s rule in Rome. “Place your hand in my side” said Jesus. You say “You’re too dishonest to believe”, it seems like…

    The best a catholic can do, as evidenced by Preslar’s writing above, is point to data that has its origin about 150 to 200 years after the event. We have evidence for the Resurrection dating to 15 years after the event, by contrast (see post above).

    That is not a fair account of what has been argued here and elsewhere by Andrew and others. Not even close. But I’m not going to rehash the entire case for you.

    References to apostolic succession do not constitute evidence for Peter’s papacy in Rome any more than references to wins by the Steelers at the superbowl constitute evidence that Tebow was their quarterback. Further, the evidence for the papacy from Irenaeus’ writing is greatly disputed by the EO, who have otherwise no good reason to dispute it. Like I said earlier, the rightful position to settle claims such as these is NOT to relax the bar, it is to raise the bar.

    My view is not that the early church was protestant. It is that there was a clear break in praxis and jew/gentile fellowship very early on, a break that was a tragic mistake and led to apostasy on a grand scale (see Didache post above) I take Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell would not prevail as having application despite the latter, and not because of a reworking of the latter into the ‘historical triumph of the church’.

    You see, I hear your assertion of a “grand apostasy” and “tragic mistake” that has thrown things off the rails for 2000 years and find THAT hard to take seriously. Indeed, I have argued here in detail that the historical events that would have needed to occur for AS to be false are less likely than those that must have occurred for AS to be true (regardless of whether it has any theological significance).

    I respect your feelings. But why is it so hard to take seriously? Look at the closest analog, the nation of Israel. They were exiled from their land as a punishment for their sins for almost 2,000 years. Only recently, in 1948, were they allowed by God to return to their land. Their refusal of the Messiah was indeed a tragic mistake, and it cost them dearly. Likewise, unfaithfulness on the part of gentile believers (you have not responded at all to my post on the Didache and what it reveals about the praxis of the early church in regards to leadership…) has had great consequences. The kingdom is indeed a mustard bush, 3 feet off the ground, messy and with birds nesting in its shade. It ain’t a grand cedar of Lebanon, more like the king of herbs.

    So from where I sit, you lose all credibility when you posit this insidious misstep that only you and nine other guys have been able to uncover. This accounts, I think, for why you walk around here like the dude from Lethal Weapon 2, with all that “diplomatic immunity.” You can take shots at everyone, since your church disappeared immediately after the canonical historical record ceased, and it’s our fault.

    They said the same thing to John the Baptist no doubt. “Who are you, desert dweller and locust eater, to come and tell us children of Moses what to do? You think you and friends have discovered something worth proclaiming?”

    John the Baptist didn’t have immunity, in fact, they were probably delighted when his head was chopped off. I hopefully will not pay such a price, but let’s be clear: my conscience cannot and will never allow me to join a church with blood and corruption on her hands. As Cardinal Newman said, the conscience comes first. It’s also not that the church disappeared, but that the church’s leadership was unfaithful to God from the very beginning. Unfaithful in pushing aside Jewish believers and discrediting them with supersessionist theology (just read Chrysostom on the Jews and try to remain impassible doing so), unfaithful in aligning herself with the state, unfaithful in serving Mammon and not God, unfaithful in permitting immorality in its ranks and in parishes and the list goes on.

    And you want to talk about motives of credibility?

  100. Mateo–

    Methinks you are trying to be dense on purpose!

    The dialogue on this blog tends to be between confessional Protestants and traditional Catholics. Flannery O’Connor once addressed a group of Southern Baptists, telling them that they had more in common with her than with Northern liberal Baptists and that she had more in common with them than with liberal Catholics.

    Likewise, I am far closer to these guys than I am to fellow “Protestants” from the mainlines. So, it makes no sense to refer to such apostates as “Protestant” here. We only bring up liberal Catholics because they remain members in good standing in most Catholic parishes. Mainline Protestants cannot become members at confessional churches without disavowing their former liberal allegiances and declaring their active faith in Christ. (Most of the mainlines have a strong remnant of conservatives trying to bring about reform from within. I do not refer to them.)

  101. It wasn’t much of a factor? You must have missed Acts 2. Also no ecumenical council took place without some form of papal ratification.

    Dave H,

    I send you this link because you mentioned your heritage:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M10Qw-mc98E

    The man you see at the pulpit has written some 2,000 pages on the book of Acts, you should read his commentaries if you can get them. Acts 15 shows the opposite of papal rule, it shows James making the final call, “I judge” said Ya’akov, not “Kephas has judged”.

  102. To All Catholics:

    Is it true that Irenaeus never uses the usual catholic ‘Matt 16:18? argument? Does he quote Matt 16:18 anywhere?

    http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/christia/library/irenaeus.html

    “Irenaeus here says nothing whatever about a special teaching authority or a special grace of infallibility given to the local congregation at Rome or to its bishop. But why does he not, if in fact he believes that the Bishop of Rome, or the congregation at Rome, has some unique and divinely bestowed status? He has been quoting the Scriptures to prove other points. Why not quote “Thou art Peter,” if he thinks it shows that the Bishop of Rome is the deputy of Christ? One possible reply is that he confines himself to arguing from premises that his Gnostic opponents accepted. However– (a) Elsewhere in his book, Irenaeus freely relies on proof-texts from the Four Gospels. He argues for the authority of the Twelve Apostles by quoting the words of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. It is strange that he would not quote Christ’s words to Peter in Matthew 16:18 (“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church…”) if he understood them as a modern Roman Catholic understands them. (b) Irenaeus was writing not only to convert Gnostics, but also to strengthen the faith of Catholic Christians who were under attack from the Gnostics, and needed to be reminded why they should trust the teaching of their bishops. Surely a modern Roman Catholic theologian, writing a book to help Roman Catholic laity answer the question, “Why should I trust the teaching authority of the Roman Catholi Church?” would be very quick to quote Matthew 16:18 and to claim that here Christ plainly promises that Peter’s successors , the Bishops of Rome, can never depart from the faith, and that therefore any bishop in communion with Rome is automatically a trustworthy bishop. But Irenaeus never uses this argument or any other argument for a divinely given special status for the Church of Rome. And the most straightforward explanation is that he never heard of such a doctrine.”

  103. Jason–

    Since you invoked my name….

    I am indeed quite sincere in my disbelief. I believe in Apostolic Succession after a fashion. However, I truly do believe it is irrelevant to our proceedings here.

    I want to see early evidence of a charism granted to the Bishop of Rome. The issue is not unity or leadership or even temporal power. I could welcome back to the seat of Peter a faithful pontiff. The issue is infallibility and irreformability. I cannot even in my wildest dreams imagine such a thing being true. It strikes me as so very human and so very unlike what Christ taught the Apostles.

    Thus far, I have seen absolutely no evidence of this special imprimatur given out to the head guy in Rome. I have seen wishful thinking and speculation, but not the first iota of evidence.

  104. @Eric:

    The issue is infallibility and irreformability. I cannot even in my wildest dreams imagine such a thing being true. It strikes me as so very human and so very unlike what Christ taught the Apostles.

    Ironically, if you don’t believe those things, then you don’t believe in true doctrine even in principle. That leaves theology as purely a matter of opinion in which the truth can never be known, which is about the most human (and the least divine) concept of theology there is. It is why the cult of self-worship always has many adherents. I don’t think that is true of you in the least, but unfortunately, you’ve imbibed a lot of the same modern skepticism on which the hedonists and narcissists are drunk.

  105. Eric,

    Given what you say, it seems to me that you have also precluded the possibility of an infallible Bible (at least if there were human and sinful authors involved). But if you’ve not done so, then you must also be open, at least in theory, to the idea that a pope can be protected from error under certain conditions.

  106. Sean,

    Read what Dave H. wrote. What the papacy did in the Mortara case “sucked.” In which case, it looks silly on your part not to acknowledge the sucky bits of papal history and authority.

  107. Dave H., if you think that what the papacy did sucks, you have now imagined what it’s like to be a Protestant.

  108. Dave H., by the way, I never said the Mortara case wasn’t complicated. http://oldlife.org/2013/05/roman-inquisitions-success/

  109. Daryl,

    You said, “Read what Dave H. wrote. What the papacy did in the Mortara case “sucked.” In which case, it looks silly on your part not to acknowledge the sucky bits of papal history and authority.”

    So, now what? Is the standard that whenever we write a Catholic apologetic we have to add a footnote acknowledging the warts of Catholic history? When you write about Calvin do you finish with a grave acknowledgment of Servetus and the Consistory? When you write about Luther or Lutheran justification do you remind your readers about Luther’s racism and anti-sementism?

    Again, I don’t think you understand the Catholic claims and infallibility. The ‘warts’ of Catholic history started as early as Peter’s denial. Nobody has ever argued that the popes act perfectly or never make mistakes or misjudgments or never commit sin.

  110. Jason,

    I don’t think the issue is that we deny in theory that the church could be infallible under certain conditions if God had so designed it. The question is whether God has so designed it that way. Where is the biblical evidence for this. A narrative from Acts 15 where Apostles participate is not good enough because, as you should well know, a big part of the Protestant position is that the church is in a much different situation today with no Apostles present. Even Rome will say there are no Apostles today.

    The problem is also that if the Magisterium is the one who tells us when the Magisterium is infallible, then the church is irreformable. Now, you can believe that the church never needs true doctrinal reformation, but that is a position based finally not on evidence but on your view of what the church should be and must be. The problem with the CTC argument is that it starts “we must have a principled way to distinguish truth from opinion and this principled way must be a visible infallible body, and that the only time we need an infallible body is when we are talking about ‘spiritual’ truth.” Protestants affirm a principled way: the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture, we just deny that this requires the people listening to get it right 100% of the time. That this principled way can only be an infallible body is something assumed by philosophy students who have enough confidence to trust their own fallible arguments that an infallible body is needed but not enough to trust a fallible church. It is not made by those who have deeply imbibed divine revelation. That such a body is needed only in spiritual matters, is also something assumed and not proven. You have no infallible body to tell you that the grass is green or that your wife and children love you, but somehow you get along just fine.

    The true alternative to the thoroughgoing skepticism toward religious truth claims presented by the CTC guys is not Roman Catholicism. It is atheism.

    And I’m still waiting for someone to tell me why we must need an infallible arbiter to distinguish between divine revelation and our opinion but not an infallible arbiter to single out the identity of that infallible body that can make such a distinction.

  111. Jason said to Eric
    >>>>>>>at least in theory, to the idea that a pope can be protected from error under certain conditions.<<<<<

    Yes, to quote the line from the "Godfather'…..Just like Lukobroski…..when he sleeps with the fish

  112. Darryl,

    Dave H., if you think that what the papacy did sucks, you have now imagined what it’s like to be a Protestant.

    I do not need to imagine – I was a Protestant for 30 years – most here were protestants, remember our host is a former Presbyterian minister? Now we are all Catholic.

    I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against Christ’s Church is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

  113. +JMJ+

    Dr Hart is simply appealing to fear. His only Social Justice doctrine is Americanism; His only banner of Christ the King is invisible and spiritual.

    It’s a purely negative apologetic, an anti-apologetic. Though, as I’ve said before, Reformism is schematically incapable of mounting a positive apologetic to the Natural Man, it is very capable of aborting the Catholic apologetic, of instilling fear in the Natural Man. Simply because the Catholic Gospel has necessary consequences for the Natural Order (as Supernature borders upon Nature with an infinitesimal point of contact), there’s no better tool than good old fear of these consequences for driving Natural Man away from the RCC. Without Sacramentalism (without an operative point of contact), Reformism is powerless to touch the Natural Order, and so its only hope is to negatively flourish by suppressing the RCC.

    Hart’s blog is not purely about disinterested and detached History. It is a subtle foil for a powerful negative apologetic designed to continuously beat back the Catholic shadow from the Natural Order. By clearing the board of Catholicism, it can at least allow the “Elect” to live in this world unmolested. If the Natural Man is going to Hell anyway, better him do so quietly instead of him joining the RCC and mucking up everybody’s life in the process.

  114. So, now what? Is the standard that whenever we write a Catholic apologetic we have to add a footnote acknowledging the warts of Catholic history? When you write about Calvin do you finish with a grave acknowledgment of Servetus and the Consistory? When you write about Luther or Lutheran justification do you remind your readers about Luther’s racism and anti-sementism?

    Again, I don’t think you understand the Catholic claims and infallibility. The ‘warts’ of Catholic history started as early as Peter’s denial. Nobody has ever argued that the popes act perfectly or never make mistakes or misjudgments or never commit sin.

    I have consistently pointed out the inauthentic origins of Protestantism, so the above does not suddenly magically absolve the CC. Contrast the type of thinking above with the writing of the 12 apostles in the Didache to the gentiles:

    ““…And when the apostle leaves, he is to take nothing but bread until he finds his next night’s lodging. But if he asks for money, he is a false prophet.”

    “However not everyone who speaks in the spirit is a prophet, but only if he exhibits the Lord’s ways. By his conduct therefore, will the false prophet and prophet be recognized. If any prophet teaches the truth but does not practice what he teaches, he is a false prophet “.

    At what point in history did the above bolded flip to “Well, we should cut our Popes lots and lots of slack, for no one is perfect you know (euphemism for we can bathe in gross sin and call it being ‘imperfect’).”

    At what point? I want to know.

    Someone asked me above whether I had ever sinned in response to my posting 1 Tim 3?s guidelines for appointing bishops and elders. It shows the complete break of catholic thinking with the earliest data available to us about the praxis of the earliest church. For them, holiness in the leadership of the church was a deal breaker , from the beginning. They had been accustomed to their leaders being men of the utmost integrity, as were Paul, James and Peter. And then correctly held a very high standard and kept that standard. (And yes this disqualifies Luther and Calvin entirely)

    Today the high standard is no longer faithfulness to the Lord, it is ‘a principled means of distinguishing truth from opinion’, i.e, the false idol of a philosophical constraint disguised as wisdom. The early church has a principled means indeed, and it was called this “Kick them out when they show themselves to be false prophets”. But it didn’t take long for corruption and power/wealth to change that M.O. to ‘rationalize at all costs to preserve our kingdom’.

    Peter repented of his denial after being reinstated by Christ, he did NOT repeat or reinforce it, or worse, do worse things than deny the Lord. He would be appalled today at the things that are justified by pointing to him.

  115. SS,

    This is just a question out of curiosity for you. If Luther had visibly repented of his comments about the Jews and other problems such as his involvement in the peasants revolt, would that qualify him as a teacher worthy to be followed in your eyes?

  116. That’s the whole point Robert, Luther’s entire life exhibited a pattern of denial of the commands of Christ. I don’t wheel and deal in hypotheticals.

  117. And Robert, would you care to address the data from the Didache? Is the instruction there something to simply ignore or pretend that it comes from know nothing nobodies? Or do you thing it represents something quite important about how the earliest church conducted itself?

  118. To All Catholics:

    Is it true that Irenaeus never uses the usual catholic ‘Matt 16:18? argument? Does he quote Matt 16:18 anywhere?

  119. SS,

    Not to be rude, but the fact that you won’t deal in hypotheticals about Luther and Calvin proves my point that the real reason you don’t like these men is that in your opinion they did not teach the truth. You’ve mentioned other Protestants who in your view have relatively exemplary lives: Andrew Murray, Doug Moo, and others. But I don’t see you becoming Protestant.

    In any case, I think the Didache is fine as it goes, but I don’t think it is Scripture, so I am not bound by its authority. I also do not think that the earliest post-apostolic literature should necessarily be a guide to how we should do things today. I’m not saying it should not be considered. What I’m saying is that since even the New Testament recognizes that so much of the church was in trouble even while the Apostles themselves were still alive, that we should be cautious in our use of extrabiblical sources. That’s a point that Rome misses entirely.

    Much of the portion you quoted from it is entirely consistent with the New Testament, so it’s fine. The question is, how do you judge who is following the standards of Scripture and to what degree is conformity to be measured. Looking at the leaders in Scripture, we have to say that it is a pattern of life that in general conforms to God’s teaching of what is right. If Luther were living today, I would not likely want him as my pastor. But that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize the truth of what he says.

    Luther was a crude man, brilliant though he was. But as I’ve said before, we have to be careful about holding past leaders accountable to modern standards of behavior. Not everything Luther said or did was necessarily objectionable simply because it offends our modern sensibilities. We also have the luxury of debating these things in comfort. No one is trying to kill me. No one is amassing armies to slaughter those who I am leading. No one is trying to manipulate the state to crush the printing of Bibles in the common language and literature that I have worked so hard to produce. These things tend to affect the way you approach the world, rightly or wrongly.

    We don’t know whether Luther or Calvin repented on their death bed for their sins. We don’t know what they would have done had they lived longer. We don’t know if maybe their intent to repent was never realized because they died right when it was coming about. All we have is their writings, and we should be able to evaluate whether what they said was true or not irrespective of what they did. If what they said was true it was true. It didn’t become more true when the saintliest Presbyterian or Lutheran started teaching it.

    Don’t misunderstand me. Calvin and Luther have a lot they will have to answer for. So do I. So do you. All I’m asking is for an attempt to read historical figures somewhat sympathetically. Even though I believe Roman Catholicism is the most dangerous false religion on the planet today, even I can read so much of its bad history sympathetically. These men believed heresy has real consequences. That helps to explain a lot of what they did.

    Bad behavior can and should make us wary of anyone, but it should not make us set them aside entirely. If so, we’d have to set aside most of the biblical authors. Rome errs in thinking that the bad behavior of its Magisterium should not call into question its doctrine of ecclesiastical infallibility. Protestants have their problems, but we don’t claim to be infallible, nor have we ever. Most of us also don’t claim to be perfectionists, and even the perfectionists among us (Wesley), qualify their understanding of perfectionism greatly.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that you seem to be a perfectionist in your reading of church history. When those whom you respect fail you, you are going to be absolutely crushed.

  120. Not to be rude, but the fact that you won’t deal in hypotheticals about Luther and Calvin proves my point that the real reason you don’t like these men is that in your opinion they did not teach the truth.

    Attributing beliefs to another is indeed rude and uncalled for.

  121. In any case, I think the Didache is fine as it goes, but I don’t think it is Scripture, so I am not bound by its authority. I also do not think that the earliest post-apostolic literature should necessarily be a guide to how we should do things today. I’m not saying it should not be considered. What I’m saying is that since even the New Testament recognizes that so much of the church was in trouble even while the Apostles themselves were still alive, that we should be cautious in our use of extrabiblical sources. That’s a point that Rome misses entirely.

    In others words, “I’m completely on the fence”. Sorry that’s not going to work. As you said yourself, the portions of the Didache I quoted are entirely consistent with Scripture and there is NO reason to set them aside. The Didache shows you that the early church had very high standards for its leaders. Neither Protestantism nor Catholicism has an answer for that.

  122. Sean – “So, now what? Is the standard that whenever we write a Catholic apologetic we have to add a footnote acknowledging the warts of Catholic history? When you write about Calvin do you finish with a grave acknowledgment of Servetus and the Consistory? When you write about Luther or Lutheran justification do you remind your readers about Luther’s racism and anti-sementism?
    Again, I don’t think you understand the Catholic claims and infallibility.”

    DGH — I’m not sure you understand your claims either. As a Reformed Protestant I am not obligated to trust and obey Calvin or Luther. But as a Roman Catholic you have a lot of investment in the office at the top. Plus, the papacy is supposed to be the cure for what ails modern life. So you chose the stakes — which are high.

    I can understand not thinking any human being could measure up to those standards. But then that’s the point of bringing up the past. You have a theory of papal sufficiency that does not fit with the reality of human existence (or papal performance). If Calvin and Luther screwed up its no big deal for me. For you, if a pope screws up your case for how wonderful Roman Catholicism is needs to find a reset button.

  123. Dave H. — I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against Christ’s Church is neither right nor safe.

    Dave H. — what the church did in the Mortara case “sucks.”

    DGH — which is it?

  124. Wosbald, no one ever said that Oldlife was objective history. It does, in contrast to Jason and the Callers, give a more accurate indication of Reformed Protestantism with all its warts. We don’t post there all the time, “my isn’t it grand.”

    But it is good that you brought up what you think is an appeal to the invisible and spiritual nature of Christ’s church (“His only Social Justice doctrine is Americanism; His only banner of Christ the King is invisible and spiritual.” Though you are sounding a little like a theonomist.)

    It seems to me that Sean also winds up making the church invisible and spiritual whenever the unfortunate aspects of papal supremacy rear their head — Edgardo Mortara, the Inquisition, the Index of Books, Unam Sanctam. At this point you see RC’s distinguishing between the spiritual nature of the papacy (good) versus the temporal or political (“sucks”).

    So once again, RC’s need to do a kind of Protestant theology to reconcile either Roman CAtholicism with modern society, or the Old Rome with the Post Vatican 2 Rome.

    We’re all in the business of interpretation and opinion. Welcome to the club.

  125. Eric, I am not a mind reader. I asked you for your definition of Protestant and you did not give a definiton. I can’t know who you find worthy of the term “Protestant” unless you tell me what you think. You speak of “Liberal Protestants” and then label these Protestants as apostates. That tells me that you believe some Protestants are not even Christians. Which is something that I agree with. I don’t consider Moonies to be Christians, but they call themselves Christians, and they are neither Catholic, EO nor OO. To me, Moonies belong to a set of Protestants that you recognize, the set of non-Christian Protestants.

    Eric, you write:

    So, it makes no sense to refer to such apostates as “Protestant” here. We only bring up liberal Catholics because they remain members in good standing in most Catholic parishes.

    I am not sure what you mean by “Liberal Catholics”, but I can take a guess. By that term you mean Catholics that are, in fact, heretics because they deny at least one de fide definita dogma of the Church, or they deny at least one doctrine of the Church that has been infallibly taught through the ordinary and universal magisterium. For example, a Liberal Catholic might be a dissenting Catholic that is publicly agitating for woman’s ordination, or a politician that votes to legalize abortion on demand. In short, the Liberal Catholics are dissenters that belong to the set of Catholics that publicly dissent with the doctrines of the Church, a set that includes conservative Catholic dissenters like Martin Luther, Menno Simmons and John Calvin.

    If this is what you mean by Liberal Catholic, then you are mistaken that these Liberal “Catholics” are Catholics in good standing with the Catholic Church. If these Liberal Catholics are truly not ignorant what the Catholic Church teaches as infallible doctrine, and they dissent anyway, then they are not Catholics at all. A Catholic that becomes a heretic has brought upon themselves the penalty of automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication from the Catholic Church. (See Code of Canon Law 1364). There are four ways one can lose membership in the Catholic Church – apostasy, schism, heresy and excommunication.

    Eric you write:

    Mainline Protestants cannot become members at confessional churches without disavowing their former liberal allegiances and declaring their active faith in Christ. (Most of the mainlines have a strong remnant of conservatives trying to bring about reform from within. I do not refer to them.)

    Eric, you haven’t defined what you mean by “conservative” Protestants, so I am not sure who belongs to this subset of Protestants either. Are you a member of any Protestant sect, and do you believe that your conservative Protestant sect is “the church” of Matthew 18:17, the church that Christ has commanded his disciples to listen to upon pain of excommunication?

  126. +JMJ+

    DGHart wrote:

    But it is good that you brought up what you think is an appeal to the invisible and spiritual nature of Christ’s church (“His only Social Justice doctrine is Americanism; His only banner of Christ the King is invisible and spiritual.” Though you are sounding a little like a theonomist.)

    Lemme guess… a Theonomist Modernist Fundamentalist Fosdickian, mayhap?

    More saliently, you glossed over my point on Sacramentalism, The Incarnational Heart of the Catholic Gospel.

    Here’s a question for you… Do you think it consonant that an Incarnate God would have a Disincarnate Economy?

  127. WOSBALD and David H,

    You both have made good points and I would like to hear Dr. Hart’s response as to why he harps on Mortara? This isn’t a positive apologetic and it doesn’t disprove AS or Petrine Primacy.
    As David said:

    “Your Mortara’s argument is getting silly. It is analogous to me telling you why the Constitution is an amazing document and you responding with “You don’t know history! America sucks because of the trail of tears”.

    Here is his unfortunate predicament because of his unreasonable MO:

    They do not, as a rule want authority in matters of belief for the right reason–i.e., that the whole notion of a revealed religion becomes logically impossible without it. They do not understand that the whole edifice of non-Catholic theology has always been doomed to wreck, because it never had any foundation in reason. But they do see that, here and now, there is no tradition so long established that it cannot be questioned, no doctrine so venerable that it cannot be controverted, they do see that the leaders of Protestant thought are desperately guessing at the truth, and covering up their uncertainties with equivocal phrases and sentimental whitewash. Really, the sight of it would almost make you want to be a Roman Catholic, if the Roman Catholics did not believe such impossible things. ”

    WOSBALD said:

    “Hart’s blog is not purely about disinterested and detached History. It is a subtle foil for a powerful negative apologetic designed to continuously beat back the Catholic shadow from the Natural Order”

    And you are right again! I fear that there is something of a Lieutenant Hooper in Dr. Hart. He knows his history but….

    Hooper was no romantic. He had not as a child ridden with Rupert’s horse or sat among the camp fires at Xanthus-side; at the age when my eyes were dry to all save poetry–that stoic, red-skin interlude which our schools introduce between the fast flowing tears of the child and the man–Hoooper had wept often, but never for Henry’s speech on St. Crispin’s Day, nor for the epitaph at Thermopylae. The history they taught him had had few battles in it but, instead, a profusion of detail about humane legislation and recent industrial change. Gallipoli, Balaclava, Quebec, Lepanto, Bannockburn, Roncevales, and Marathon–these, and the Battle in the West where Arthur fell, and a hundred such names whose trumpet-notes, even now in my sere and lawless state, called to me irresistably across the intervening years with all the clarity and strength of boyhood, sounded in vain to Hooper.

    “The instinct for beauty, the instinct for mystery, the instinct for naturalness, the instinct for history, the instinct for world-wide citizenship, the instinct for moral guidance, the instinct for intellectual definiteness–all these, or any of these, may make a man, do make many men, look towards the Catholic Church, if not with less reprobation, at least with more interest, if not with less ignorance, at least with more curiosity. Some wish they could become Catholics; some wish they had been born Catholics; some content themselves with saying that it must be very nice to be a Catholic. If only they could tell the first lie (as someone has put it), how easily all the rest would follow.”

    Following these discussions are interesting and telling:)

    Susan

  128. Jason et al, this might be an example of playing fair on your side: http://www.harvestingthefruit.com/institutional_collapse/

  129. Darryl,

    I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against Christ’s Church is neither right nor safe.

    what the church did in the Mortara case “sucks.”

    DGH — which is it?

    So if I disagree with a papal state era decision based on a policy I disagree with that means I must reject the the bride of Christ herself?

    That is the problem with Luther-think. The Protestant mind sees in either/or never both/and.

    Here is a hypothetical situation to demonstrate how flawed your thinking on this:

    A man’s wife of twenty years drinks too much one night and leaves her three young children home alone for two hours without a babysitter. The man goes and asks his good friend Darryl for advice. Darryl instructs him to divorce his wife, abandon the children and immediately and start dating various and random younger ladies.

  130. …it is important to note that these various and random young ladies fictional Darryl instructs his friend to start dating should all agree that getting drunk and leaving your young children home alone is bad.

  131. Darryl,

    Does it not give you any pause whatsoever that not a single orthodox Catholic with whom you have interacted for the past year thinks you understand what you are critiquing? The answer is obviously no, which is why you behave like a batter who swings and misses, and after having failed to make contact, runs the bases like Kirk Gibson in the World Series.

    In my view, it all comes down to statements like this:

    Plus, the papacy is supposed to be the cure for what ails modern life. So you chose the stakes — which are high.

    This is your most common tactic, one that not a single Catholic recognizes as a fair or informed criticism: You overstate what the papacy is for, and then mock it for not living up to the standards you pulled out of thin air.

    Please try your hardest to hear me: No one thinks the papacy is a panacea or cure-all for all life’s problems, or all our epistemological problems, or all the church’s problems. We just don’t think that. Your repeated and misguided attempts to dismiss the papacy for failing to accomplish things that no Catholic claims it’s supposed to accomplish are getting old and embarrassing. The way you comport yourself at OL is your business, but when you take your act on the road and carry on the way you do at CTC or here, you aren’t doing your cause any favors. You have become known as a blustering bigot who can’t string together a cogent argument if his life depended on it.

    Since you like to publicly opine about whether Bryan Cross is as robotic with his wife as you think he is with people on the Internet, I’ll echo Brent’s redirect: Do you talk to your wife with the smug and scornful tone that you exclusively use at every website you frequent?

    I have been the butt of your jokes for a year now, and as you can see, I am getting a bit sick of it. But at least I can take solace in the fact that you haven’t once made a point that came close to hitting the target (at least not if that target is what we Catholics actually believe). And it’s both comforting and maddening to know that you have no plans to try harder to actually land any punches.

    That much, at least, you have made perfectly clear.

  132. Wosbald, Here’s some who agrees with you (funny, it’s not from Jason and the Callers): http://www.harvestingthefruit.com/institutional_collapse/ (let me guess, a Protestant rationalist?)

    “’Of course, it would not be accurate to leave the impression that the ‘secular culture’ is to blame for [the sacramental crisis.] Years of silence about those aspects of the gospel which the contemporary culture is hostile to—the truths about sin, about heaven and hell, about the need for repentance, about the real meaning of discipleship, about the supreme value of knowing Christ—have contributed to the metamorphosis of Catholicism in the minds of many into a comforting religious ritual of indeterminate meaning,’ Martin rightly observed, and for this he should be applauded.

    “He failed to address, however, precisely what gave rise to these decades of virtual silence.

    “The unvarnished truth is that fewer people are coming to the sacraments simply because the overwhelming majority of our sacred hierarchs, from the 1960’s on forward, have ingested every limp-wristed, weak-kneed, kumbaya-style ambiguity the conciliar text has to offer, only to regurgitate them back to the souls in their care at every opportunity like pelicans feeding their young.

    “Along the way, an entire generation or more has come of age having been nurtured on little more than the fast food of modernism by pastors who have utterly ceased to proclaim the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church as the solitary means of salvation, and therefore the paramount importance of the sacraments that the Lord has entrusted to her.

    “All of this being the case, is it any wonder that the Catholic Church in our day is in the throes of a full-scale institutional collapse?”

  133. Dave H., who said you have to reject the whole thing? Such binary-rationalist thinking. Why not work for reform in the church (but be careful, it didn’t work out so well in the past).

  134. Jason, as I’ve said, you asked for this. You could have renounced the PCA and gone off to pray the Rosary. But somehow you rejected that memo. Since you have made this public, it is public.

    Maybe you should be careful about saying the other side doesn’t understand. I keep reading lots of RC history that doesn’t square with much of what you or the Callers say. So maybe there are two Roman Catholicism’s. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Or maybe you don’t understand what other Roman Catholics are up to or what you have actually claimed for the magisterium. It is what fixes the mass of opinions that afflict Protestantism. That is clear from any of the conversion narratives at CTC and from the constant carping about 40k denominations. Okay, so has the papacy really resolved this issue? And what happens when the parts of the papal claims are no longer valid even though those political claims were believed to be an extension of the spiritual claims.

    So all I am asking for — if you’re not going to be an evangelical about your conversion and blather on about it — is that you make modest claims for your side — ones that reflect maybe the way 99 % of Roman Catholics operate.

  135. Jason, let me be specific. What do you think should be done to prevent the papacy from issuing again the Index of Books? Or do you think the Index was a legitimate expression of pastoral care? If the latter, why not write about the value of such authority?

    As it is, you only write about the theory of authority but never ponder how that authority played out in the past or whether that authority is very authoritative today.

  136. Darryl,

    It doesn’t matter what we “claim,” since you will only respond to what you think our claims should be. That’s my whole point. You don’t listen to us, you just mock the papacy for not fixing the hole in the ozone layer.

  137. Dave H., you left out the part about always making sure sex is safe.

  138. Jason,

    It doesn’t matter what we “claim,” since you will only respond to what you think our claims should be. That’s my whole point. You don’t listen to us, you just mock Protestantism for creating the hole in the ozone layer.

  139. Mateo–

    As a general rule of thumb within Christian circles, “conservative” indicates a belief in the authority of Scripture and “liberal” indicates a lack of belief therein. So, technically, since the Catholic Magisterium has embraced higher criticism, all Catholics belong to a “liberal” denomination. There are exceptions. I believe some of the Charismatics and former Evangelicals hang onto a version of inerrancy, folks like Scott Hahn and Francis Beckwith and some of the “First Things” gang. I tend to think Jason still does, hence his focus on Scriptural arguments. And then, probably, groups like the SSPX and Opus Dei.

    I try to give Catholics here the benefit of the doubt.

    I don’t care one whit for this invisible pronouncement of “automatic” excommunications. If Hitler was never officially excommunicated, exactly what does one have to do to get disciplined in the Catholic church? We Protestants throw them out on their ear. This whole notion of “keeping them all and letting God sort them out in the end” doesn’t impress me. They are still in good standing as far as anyone knows until you exclude them from the Table.

    As I said before, I am a confessional Protestant, period. I have been a member of Anglican, Lutheran, Prebyterian, and Reformed Baptist churches…in fact, I don’t know that I’ve been dropped from the rolls of any of them. I have been confirmed in both Anglicanism and Lutheranism. I was “under care” (approved to seek ordination) in the PCA. I did not need to get rebaptized to join the Baptist church. There is simply not enough difference to spit at between these groups, and it’s getting less all the time as confessionalists take seriously the call to work as one.

  140. Jason, what am I misunderstanding about this? http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/08/the-audacity-of-pope/

    We start with Protestant problems:

    “Ultimately, in this instance, the Protestant approach leaves us with a collection of writings and fallible humans who are supposed to decide which of them count as God’s words. To be sure, the Spirit is thought to be involved in some way; but it’s never entirely clear exactly what the way is. What is clear, however, is that whatever form His involvement takes, the Spirit does not infallibly guide the Church when it comes to such matters as these – since that would be to take the Catholic (and therefore man-exalting) approach; presumably, so as to ensure His own exaltation as opposed to man’s, the Spirit must leave room for human error. So what follows inevitably is this: to the extent we have full trust and confidence that the decisions about the canon were correctly reached, to that extent we exalt the human’s ability to figure things out for himself, and with no guarantee that the Spirit protects him from error. Thus the Protestant is assigning a much higher place to the role of human judge than he ought, at least from the Catholic point of view. For what’s really happened here is that the Protestant does not eliminate the human element, but rather retains the human element and specifically denies that the Spirit infallibly saw to it that the human element did not go astray. Nevertheless, we are still meant to place our faith in this Biblical canon – and therefore at least partly in the wisdom and acumen of these men. And that makes Catholics uncomfortable.”

    We end, voila, with the papacy:

    “At the end of the day, then, it is because Catholics believe in God that we believe in the authority of the pope. It isn’t a question of his having more spiritual insight or wisdom than anybody else, or possessing some natural power other people lack. It is a matter of God’s continuing providential and fatherly concern for His family, the pilgrim Church on earth, which He exercises through human beings who are utterly unequal to the task in themselves. No one, I think, has expressed this more powerfully than the present pontiff, Benedict XVI. And it seems only fitting that the final words of this reflection should go to him.”

    Not hard to find several other examples like this at CTC.

  141. Darryl,

    Whats your point? What keeps the PCA or any other protestant group from removing additional books from the bible? All you have to claim is that Rome was wrong since there is no written evidence/agreement before 180 AD on all the NT books we consider inspired. You’d be able to use the same argumentative tactics you use in this thread and make just as much sense.

  142. Robert, you have objected to me saying that Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy are founders of Protestant churches. But I think the problem here is merely one of definition. That is, you and I must be defining the word “Protestant” differently. The Catholic Church has never formally defined who is a Protestant, and who is not a Protestant, so I will give you my my personal definition of “Protestant”: a Protestant is someone who has no real objection to being called a Protestant.

    I realize this is a pretty broad definition, and that this definition has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever a self-identified Protestant may, or may not, believe. If a man or a woman does not object to being called a Protestant, then that is good enough for me, and that is also good enough for the Catholic Church.
    If you call yourself a Christian, and you are member of a church, and you are neither Catholic, Eastern Orthodox nor Oriental Orthodox, then, for most people that I know, by convention, you would typically be identified as being a member of a Protestant church. If you have a different definition of Protestant, then I need to know what it is, since I have no idea why you would claim that I must not be a serious student of history because I think that a Jehovah Witnesses is a Protestant. Am I unaware that Jehovah Witnesses do not confess the doctrine of the Trinity? No, I am not. But neither do members of the United Pentecostal Churches or members of Unitarian Churches, and no one that I know would object to saying that Oneness Pentecostals and Unitarians belong to Protestant churches.

    The issue with the word Protestant is that it is a catch-all term sociologically when theologically it has always had a specific referent to Christians descended from the Reformers. Socinius rejected the Roman Church as well, but nobody calls him a Protestant.

    I don’t know if you are doing it intentionally or not, but you are engaging in obfuscation when you say something like “If a man or a woman does not object to being called a Protestant, then that is good enough for me, and that is also good enough for the Catholic Church.” Really? The Roman Catholic Church is going to accept the baptism of those who were not baptized in the name of the Trinity such as the JWs or the UPCs or the Unitarians? The Roman Church will not re-baptize converts from those traditions? If she will, then she is in a far worse place theologically than I thought. Does the Roman Catholic Church really regard JWs, Unitarians, and Mormons as Protestants, let alone Christians? If they do, that calls into further question their doctrine of infallibility.

    Apply your same standard consistently. If the Old Catholic Church claims to be the true continuation of the Roman Catholic Church, then it must be the true Roman Catholic Church, right? That should be good enough for me to choose it as the true representative of Rome, right?

    These churches must be Roman Catholic, right, since that is how they identify themselves:

    http://oldroman.weebly.com

    http://ecumenical-catholic-communion.eu/distinctives/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_Holy_Family_Monastery

    I could list many, many more. If you are an honest debater, you will allow me to proclaim all these groups as Roman Catholics.

    Robert, you write, “Second, this claim that “Rome is the Church Christ founded” is something that has to be proven historically, which is one of Dr. Hart’s points.

    I disagree. That claim does not have to be proven historically because that claim has already been acceded to by the Protestants that have given the title “Reformer” to men who were once members of the Catholic Church, e.g. Martin Luther (dissenting Catholic priest-monk), Menno Simmons (dissenting Catholic priest) and John Calvin (dissenting Catholic layman). What church, exactly, were these dissenters trying to “reform” when they were Catholics, if it was not the church personally founded by Jesus Christ?

    Next you make this assertion: “If the Roman Church is in serious error, as Protestants believe, then in the sixteenth century, the modern Roman Catholic Church ceased to be the church Christ founded and the Protestants carried on in that role.”

    The Catholic Church that Luther, Simmons and Calvin were trying to reform would not cease to be the church that was personally founded by Jesus Christ – it would the church founded by Jesus Christ that began to teach heresy sometime before Luther, Simmons, and Calvin tried to reform her.

    Luther, Simmons, and Calvin were not Tridentine Roman Catholics. There were not Tridentine Roman Catholics until the Reformers forced the Western Church that remained in submission to the Roman bishop to reform itself at Trent, and all you got there was a reformation of life and not of doctrine. Large swaths of the Roman Church fell into heresy before the Reformers, but not the entire church.

    The Reformers tried to get the pope to call a council, which was the right way to do things, but the pope refused. Once the Magisterium saw that it was losing its political and religious grip on Europe, it called Trent, where Rome—as it has done throughout history—showed its utter unwillingness to listen to others and doubled down on the errors that provoked the Reformation. From that point on, you have Tridentine Roman Catholicism, at least until Vatican II.

    Trent cut itself off from the Western catholic tradition. If you want to say that in some way you can historically see developments from the early Fathers until today and call that the church Christ founded, fine. I can say the same thing about Protestantism. I’m part of the church Christ founded, but I’m not Roman Catholic.

    Note that you have not given me a historical argument as to why the “bible churches” founded by Luther, Simmons and Calvin are really the church that Christ personally founded. What you have made is a theological claim that asserts that men and women that disagree with the official doctrine of the church that Christ founded can go out and found their own personal “bible churches” whenever they disagree with what Christ’s church is officially teaching. And I contend that you can’t possibly make this theological argument and then back it up with scriptures, because there are no scriptures that say that men and women are free to found their own “bible churches” whenever they decide that they will no longer listen to the church founded by Jesus Christ.

    Luther and Calvin most certainly did not found “Bible Churches.” They took the existing Western tradition and attempted to reform it according to Scripture. Neither man wanted to or thought he was “reinventing the wheel.”

    My theological claim is that when men and women think that an official doctrine of the church contradicts Scripture, they have a right to have the elders of the church address it. And it is the elders’ job to evaluate that concern and address it unless those with the concern are motivated by pride and not a love for the church. My theological claim is also that the elders are not guaranteed to address it correctly every single time they gather together and that those who disagree with the church are free to leave politically/sociologically without any fear of being hunted down and killed. Thankfully, Rome which once wanted to kill the Protestant leaders has become more genteel in recent centuries.

    All of that doesn’t mean that those who leave the church are free to do so theologically. I actually believe in apostasy, and my denomination disciplines or at least attempts to discipline those who teach or promote what violates our confessional standards.

    Rome, on the other hand, tolerates lesbian pagans teaching religion at Roman Catholic universities until a political equal-access protest is lodged and not because they actually care about the theological integrity of their schools. Rome says nothing when high-ranking Roman Catholics promote mortal sin and say the Magisterium is wrong in its reading of tradition on abortion. Roman unity is meaningless. If you won’t discipline your heretics—and you don’t, by and large—I have no way of knowing what is truly orthodox and what isn’t. I have your statements and doctrines, but if your church doesn’t have the conviction to take it seriously, why should I believe these declarations? Evidently, they can be interpreted in contradictory ways, since you all tend to keep your priests, bishops, nuns, and theologians who clearly deny what the documents actually mean. No discipline means such aberrations are tolerated within the realm of non-heresy.

    If I remain in good standing even though I violate magisterial teaching, then I have no reason to believe my soul is in any real danger. Across the Roman Communion, outright heretics remain in good standing. As Eric said, no one’s keeping them from the Eucharist. At best you have a severe pastoral failure and are allowing people on their way to hell to have false assurance of their faith. At worst, you have a church that is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Robert, you write, “I’m a Protestant, and I have as equally good a claim to be a part of the church Christ founded as any Roman Catholic if, in fact, the Roman Catholic Church went largely apostate at the time of the Reformation.”

    Again, this is a theological argument, and not a historical argument. Before I even unpack what you are saying, I need to know who is defining what constitutes orthodoxy? If any man or woman can define orthodoxy as being whatever private interpretation of scriptures that they personally believe to be true, then who are you to say that Charles Taze Russell and Mary Baker Eddy are not orthodox Christians?

    What constitutes orthodoxy? Luther, Calvin and Simmons thought they taught orthodox doctrine, but these men also taught conflicting and irreconcilable doctrine. The Protestant “bible churches” that are traceable back to these
    “Reformers” still have different definitions about what constitutes orthodoxy. But all the members of these Protestant churches also call themselves Christians, which just goes to show me that calling yourself a Christian does not prove that what you believe is orthodox doctrine. With thousands upon thousands of divided Protestant churches teaching conflicting doctrine, some one has to be teaching heresy! If there is even one Protestant sect that does not teach heresy, how am I, or anyone else, supposed to identify it? That is the real question.

    Orthodoxy is defined by what conforms to Scripture as read according to the rule of faith. This means a whole lot of things, but what it doesn’t mean is that one is free to take his or her own private interpretation of Scripture and run roughshod with it. The fact that a bunch of men in Rome claim to be the infallible authority does not make it so when they run roughshod over the Bible. The fact that we allow people to leave doesn’t mean we endorse their opinion, view of the church, or theology. Confessional Protestants will actually excommunicate heretics. If the heretics don’t listen, that is their problem with God. The fact that we don’t claim infallibility doesn’t mean the excommunication lacks divine authority. If it is done according to the teaching of Scripture, the decision has God’s backing.

    What Roman Catholics can’t seem to wrap their head around is that there are actually Protestants who can submit to the church without having to call it infallible.

    The fact that there are “thousands” of Protestant churches teaching some different things from one another does not mean we can’t identify heresy. I do not agree with my Baptist brothers on the proper subjects of baptism, but I would by no means consider them heretics. (I’m a confessional Presbyterian, BTW) A heretic is one who affirms a falsehood that threatens one’s salvation or denies a truth essential to salvation. To know what those truths are, see the previous paragraph.

    The thing is that even according to Rome’s standards, confessional Protestants are doing an okay job of distinguishing what is heresy and what isn’t. Remember, since Vatican II, we’re separated brethren. Furthermore, with all the different professing Christians out there, how am I supposed to know that Rome is the answer or the truest continuation of the church. The wild-eyed skepticism that you and other Roman Catholic apologists offer is not answered by Rome. If I, using my faculties and resting on the Holy Spirit, cannot find the right church in Protestantism, I can’t do it when I’m looking at Rome in comparison to Protestantism or even in comparison to other religions. The logical end of this skepticism is not Roman Catholicism but agnosticism or atheism. The consistent person who gets disgusted by the differences among Protestants and searches for an answer will not find it in Rome wherein a huge variety of conflicting theological positions are tolerated. The kind of assurance such a person seeks, if he is honest about it, will lead him out of Christianity altogether. Former Protestants are not truly seeking unity but rather a bunch of men to give them assurance that what they believe is true. The fact that they think Protestantism cannot provide that proves that they never knew Protestantism in the first place. Furthermore, this idea that we cannot trust our own judgment undercuts any apologetic for Rome because at the end of the day, every Roman Catholic who has thought about their faith is Roman Catholic because according to their personal and private judgment, Rome was the best answer.

    The fact that you choose a body that claims infallibility for itself does not solve the tu quoque issue, no matter how much electronic ink is spilled to say otherwise.

    Finally, it is a mark of redemptive-historical immaturity to suggest that people cannot find the true church by trusting in the Spirit as they evaluate things according to Scripture and history. In the age of the Spirit, we have even more reason to be confident than the OT saints, and they had no infallible adjudicators of doctrine. Your particular version of Roman Catholicism would have us not only become children but infantile, thinking that we can by no means know anything without the declaration of the Magisterium, which still needs to be interpreted and which in many cases is interpreted differently by different Romanists.

    Once again you are being horribly inconsistent. Rome is separated from the Eastern Orthodox and many other groups visibly. Rome does not regard the EO as heretics. Protestants do the same thing. I am a Presbyterian and not in visible unity with Baptists or Lutherans, but I do not regard the confessional standards as heretical. One can be wrong without being a heretic. Again, even Rome gets this nowadays.

    Robert you write: “No Protestant believes that his church is only 500 years old. We believe that the particular visible manifestation of Lutheranism or the Reformed, for example, may be only 500 years old but that those traditions are legitimate developments of the broader Western catholic (not Roman Catholic) tradition.”

    Please explain to me how a Lutheran church and a Calvinist church have managed to put forth “legitimate” developments of catholic doctrine when Lutheran churches and Calvinist churches teach conflicting doctrine! On those articles of the faith where these churches disagree with each other, one thing that anyone can know with certainty is that both these churches cannot have not put forth legitimate developments of catholic doctrine. Either the Lutherans or the Calvinists are wrong, and it is possible that they are both wrong. What is not possible is that they have both teaching the truth about the articles of faith that they disagree about.

    Well, where Lutherans and Calvinists disagree they can’t both be right. But the conclusion does not follow that Rome is right. This is the problem with just about every Roman Catholic conversion narrative. The thinking is always “Protestantism is divided, therefore Rome is right.”

    Where the Reformed disagree with other Protestant bodies, I would say that they are generally truer to Scripture. But that doesn’t mean I reject Lutherans and Methodists as illegitimate churches. Again, even Rome doesn’t reject Protestants as illegitimate churches any longer. We’re separated brethren. You accept our baptisms. You don’t accept Mormon baptisms, however, at least not yet. The fact that the Baptists might be wrong in not including infants in baptism does not make them heretics any more than I would be a heretic if I am wrong about the propriety of including them.

    The variety between confessional Lutherans and Calvinists is really not all that different from the difference within Roman Catholicism. The issues are just different. Lutherans and Calvinists may not agree on what happens in baptism, but both agree it is not a sacrament of justification. Both agree that however one describes the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, transubstantiation is definitely wrong. If Lutherans actually held to Luther’s views on predestination, they’d be just as predestinarian as any good Calvinist, probably more so. Ecclesiologically there are differences. But we agree on justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, the Trinity and a host of other issues.

    Romanists can’t agree as to whether or not Mary actually died, the right view of predestination, what has been infallibly declared and what hasn’t been, and so much more. On the issues where there has been Magisterial teaching, lay Roman Catholics often ignore it and even respected theologians disagree. And you know what—Rome does nothing about it. Roman unity is an absolute sham. Start kicking out your Nancy Pelosis and your Rosemary Radford Ruethers and then we can talk about the unity of Roman Catholicism.

    Robert, you write, “And again, the point that needs to be proved is that Rome is the church that Christ founded and not the Eastern Orthodox, the Antiochian Orthodox, the Church of England, and so on.”

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the Church of England became a Protestant church when the CoE lost apostolic succession, which was not at the moment that Henry the VII became a heretic by promulgating a false doctrine that earthly kings are the temporal heads of the Catholic church in the geographical regions that earthly kings control.

    Well, since so many emperors appointed popes, I guess this arbitrary rule invalidates Roman Catholicism’s claims as well.

    Concerning the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Antiochian Orthodox Churches – the Catholic Church recognizes that these churches have maintained Apostolic Succession, and because of that, she does not dispute that these churches were founded by Jesus Christ. Of course I recognize that maintenance of Apostolic Succession is the standard that the Catholic Church uses when she judges whether or not a church can claimed to be founded by Jesus Christ, and perhaps this is not the standard by which a Protestant church judges. And that brings up my point. Whatever your Protestant standard is, if you are a sola scriptura confessing Protestant, then you have placed a restriction upon yourself that requires that you present to me a scriptural argument that shows your church was personally founded by Jesus Christ. I would like to see that scriptural argument – the scriptural argument that asserts that men and women are free to found their own personal “bible churches” whenever they disagree with “the church” of Matthew 18:17. Personally, I think that it is impossible to present a coherent argument that asserts that that listening to any old church is the same thing as listening to “the church” of Matthew 18:17. It is because I have never seen a Protestant make a coherent argument for that point, that I believe that I have one more good reason not to be a Protestant.

    People are not free to found their own “Bible churches” whenever they disagree with “the church” of Matthew 18:17. The issue is how do you determine the church of Matthew 18:17. Rome’s historical claims are so implausible that even so many of your own Roman Catholic historians have to essentially admit that to believe Rome is the church Christ founded is bare fideism (JP Meier, for one).

    The Scriptural argument is actually quite simple. The true church is the one that teaches what the apostles taught. But there is no way to escape the private weighing of evidence to determine which church is actually doing that, just as there is no way to escape the private weighing of evidence to determine that Rome is right and Protestantism is wrong. You are in exactly the same place as any Protestant in having to make such an evaluation. Believing Rome is infallible because Rome says she is infallible does not solve the problem.

    The Bible very clearly says that when a church abandons Christ, Christ will take away its lampstand. If a body professes to be a church and teaches that which is contrary to the apostolic gospel—the only sure source of which is Scripture—that church has no lampstand and is to be rejected as a true church of Christ. If you think you need an infallible body to make that determination, then you are in loads of trouble because there is no infallible body to tell you that Rome is right and Calvin or Luther is wrong. You go with Rome based on your own opinion and reading of the facts. That decision was not infallible, so the whole argument for the “superiority” of Rome epistemologically is an absolute sham.

  143. CK,

    The answer involves

    1. the Holy Spirit
    2. An understanding that just because the church is fallible that doesn’t mean we have to jettison what it has said or are free to do so
    3. the coherence of the biblical books with one another

  144. CK, it is probably something like those norms that prevent the pope from making up whatever he thinks.

  145. Jason, btw, kudos on this line: “You have become known as a blustering bigot who can’t string together a cogent argument if his life depended on it.”

    Then there was this: “No one thinks the papacy is a panacea or cure-all for all life’s problems, or all our epistemological problems, or all the church’s problems.”

    Well, actually, the nineteenth-century popes did. That’s why you have the Syllabus of Errors. I recommend to you Owen Chadwick’s A History of the Popes, 1830-1914. Rome represented the old, medieval order, with Christ and his vicar on top. Liberalism, democracy, equality, free markets, were all a threat to that old order — Christendom.

    Of course, the papacy has changed since then. It had to. But I don’t sense that you have the slightest notion about why or when the papacy changed. It certainly hasn’t qualified your views of Protestantism.

  146. DG,

    With respect to the change of papal power, I believe you are in the middle of a discussion with Liccione about that at CTC (where he is attempting in vain to explain it to you).

  147. “CK,

    The answer involves

    1. the Holy Spirit
    2. An understanding that just because the church is fallible that doesn’t mean we have to jettison what it has said or are free to do so
    3. the coherence of the biblical books with one another”

    1.Holy Spirit moved the church to keep the deuterocanonical books in the bible, Luther to remove it and Joseph Smith to add additional books to the bible. Got it.
    2. We don’t have to jettison what the church has said unless we disagree with it. Got it.
    3. Luther didn’t like how coherent the books were with one another on purgatory, faith alone etc..no problem just remove 2 Maccabees and the rest of thedeuterocanonical books and try to do the same with James. What the heck just add the word “alone” to Romans. Start a war of misinformation. Got it.

    CK

  148. Robert,

    I don’t think the issue is that we deny in theory that the church could be infallible under certain conditions if God had so designed it. The question is whether God has so designed it that way. Where is the biblical evidence for this. A narrative from Acts 15 where Apostles participate is not good enough because, as you should well know, a big part of the Protestant position is that the church is in a much different situation today with no Apostles present. Even Rome will say there are no Apostles today.

    OK, then I think you all should stop objecting to papal/ecclesial infallibility on the basis of it being impossible and inconsistent with human sinfulness (which apparently only Calvinists properly recognize). Most of the objections I hear take that approach, which you seem here to be admitting is incorrect.

    I have pointed out here before how far out of his way Luke goes to make it clear that it was the “apostles and elders” who were the players in Acts 15, and not just the apostles. And if SS is true, where does it teach that the nature of the elders’ authority would be either different after the apostles were gone, or was different all along? If you read the pastorals, you get the impression that the very authority of the apostles was given in full to their successors.

    And if your response is that the apostles wrote Scripture while their successors did not, I will retort that this is false. Most of the apostles wrote nothing canonical, and most of the NT was written by non-apostles.

    The problem is also that if the Magisterium is the one who tells us when the Magisterium is infallible, then the church is irreformable.

    That’s only a “problem” if you presuppose the Protestant notion that the church can err on matters of faith and morals. Further, if the church must be normed by Scripture (which Catholics agree with, in a sense), then how can you trust that the church got the canon right? Is rightly recognizing the canon the one irreformable thing the church has done? How do you arrive at that random notion?

    The problem with the CTC argument is that it starts “we must have a principled way to distinguish truth from opinion and this principled way must be a visible infallible body, and that the only time we need an infallible body is when we are talking about ‘spiritual’ truth.”

    Yes, a basic starting point for Catholics (and we would argue, this should be the case for all Christians) is that if God has revealed himself, we need to know where that revelation is found, and what it means. Hardly a controversial position.

    Protestants affirm a principled way: the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture, we just deny that this requires the people listening to get it right 100% of the time.

    That’s not a principled way at all. First, who gets to determine that the Spirit has done so in the first place? Because the Bible says so? Who gets to decide what books count as Scripture? And even if by some miraculous-yet-non-Catholic turns of events you do arrive at a proper canon, who has the authority to say, in a principled way, what the canon says about essential issues?

    Your way is completely ad hoc and arbitrary.

    [Your principled means] is not made by those who have deeply imbibed divine revelation.

    Ad hominem insult that is completely ignorant or dismissive of facts. Moving right along. . . .

    You have no infallible body to tell you that the grass is green or that your wife and children love you, but somehow you get along just fine.

    This demonstrates that you either don’t know the difference between general revelation that can be known and is available to all, and special revelation that must be received by faith because it can’t be known through sensory observation, or you know the difference but choose to collapse the two anyway.

    And I’m still waiting for someone to tell me why we must need an infallible arbiter to distinguish between divine revelation and our opinion but not an infallible arbiter to single out the identity of that infallible body that can make such a distinction.

    I don’t know what this means. The Magisterium both provides the means by which divine revelation and human opinion can be distinguished, as well as claims to be the Body with the authority to do so.

  149. To: Daryl
    Re: Your August 22, 2013 at 9:12 am comment

    My suspicion is confirmed. You really don’t know what the Catholic Church teaches about the papacy.

    I suggest you try really hard to listen to what Jason has been saying.

    Signed,

    Everybody

    PS. Comment of the day, “A man’s wife of twenty years drinks too much one night and leaves her three young children home alone for two hours without a babysitter. The man goes and asks his good friend Darryl for advice. Darryl instructs him to divorce his wife, abandon the children and immediately and start dating various and random younger ladies.”

    So true and so well put!

  150. Jason,

    Regarding a principled distinction you say,

    Your way is completely ad hoc and arbitrary.

    Right back at ya.

    I’m still interested to see what made you believe that Jesus actually gave Peter such authority. I understand that you are arguing that it is a necessary precondition of Divine revelation, but I’m not see such assumptions in Scripture or in the early history of the church. That is why your position is just as ad hoc, arbitrary, and audacious.

  151. Brandon,

    If you understand what a principled means, umm, means, then you should be able to grant that the CC, the EOs, and the Mormons provide one while Protestantism does not, even if you disagree with all three of those bodies. IOW, your best approach is to deny the need for such a means rather than saying we don’t provide one. That just demonstrates that you don’t know what we’re in fact talking about.

  152. Jason,

    I understand just fine but I’m talking about the criteria which undergirds your principled means. They are ad hoc and arbitrary. I agree that the Tu Quoque is does not land full force on any of the three bodies that you mentioned (RCC, EO, or Mormons) because they claim an infallible interpreter while Protestants don’t. I get that you’re saying that Protestantism is inherently chaotic because it doesn’t offer a principled means to distinguish between competing interpretations.

    My comment is to challenge any notion, however, that your “principled means” is not itself arbitrary and ad hoc. Yes, you argue that you are better because you offer an infallible means to arbitrate, but you’re appealing to arbitrary criteria.

  153. If a body traces its visible history back to the apostles and first-gen bishops, and says that this body, in communion with the successor of Peter, speaks with divine authority under conditions x, y, and z, that is every bit as principled as Obama’s claim to be the president of the United States. I may not agree with him, and you may not agree with Francis, but the claims themselves are not arbitrary (and saying they are doesn’t make them so).

    What is arbitrary and non-principled is saying that among the many claimants to be the president, the one who is correct is the one who has properly interpreted the Constitution. Also, Protestantism.

  154. Jason,

    Revelation is revelation, whether it is general or special. You didn’t answer the question. General and special revelation have different purposes, sure. But what is inherently different about general revelation that means you don’t need an infallible interpretative body to have confidence in it? General revelation, no less than special revelation, is the voice of God. Why can you trust your eyes’ ability to discern colors but not your mind’s ability, by the Spirit, to distinguish truth from falsehood? Why can you trust your mind, presumably by the Spirit, to figure out Rome is right and Protestants are wrong? I guess you could say that Rome is right because Rome says it is right, but I don’t think you want to go there.

    And my point is, the objection is not that God could not have instituted an infallible church. The question is whether or not he did so. The fact is that the best you have in the Bible is Acts 15, and I could just as well say to you that Luke goes out of his way to emphasize that the APOSTLES were there alongside the elders. You also have a lot of passages wherein readers are warned that teachers and elders will arise that teach heresy. That creates an even stronger case against an infallible church.

    Finally, I assume you would grant that there was no infallible body under the old covenant. Well, the elect got along just fine then, and they did not have as great a ministry of the Spirit as is found under the new covenant. Now, we have a greater ministry of the Spirit, but we need something—an infallible ecclesiastical authority—old covenant members didn’t need. That’s going backwards, my friend.

  155. Jason,

    The Constitution doesn’t tell us that we recognize Obama as the president because we can trace him in a line of presidents back to Washington. It tells us we recognize Obama as president because the majority of electors voted for him as president. Bush could have laid his hands on Cheney, but that wouldn’t have made him president. Actually, that sounds rather like what Protestants do when they look for the church. We go by what the written document actually tells us.

    It’s arbitrary to say we recognize the church by apostolic succession when the written apostolic revelation that we do have does not tell us to recognize the church by finding the bishop who was appointed by a bishop and so on down the line. Would Paul or Peter really want us to follow a bishop that openly denied what they wrote (a la Spong or his equivalent in Rome)? I guess you could say that it is not arbitrary because it was the consensus view of the early church, but then you would be obligated to accept the consensus of everything in the early church, which you don’t because there was no pope in the early church. It also means that when you told Bryan Cross that you side with Peter against the other apostles if it comes to it is either inaccurate or that you really don’t care about consensus. Which is it?

  156. Jason,

    Jason,

    I’ve yet to see you make the historical case, so I’d love to see you lay that out to flesh that out more.

    I’m not really sure that I get how the criteria you assign (you don’t see how arbitrary it seems, to any of the other two “principled paradigms”?) to your position is analogous to the Presidency. Obama’s claim to the Presidency comes from his Constitutional election to the office by the people of the United States. Maybe you’re trying to argue that the criteria laid out in the Constitution are similar to the criteria you’ve outlined for infallibility? I’m still not sure that I see the connection if that is what you’re saying though.

    Obama’s election as President of the United States has objective criteria. Even if I don’t agree with his interpretation of the Constitution, the Constitution makes provision for the Presidents election and his election is therefore an objective reality. In order to be President you need to meet very specific criteria, which Obama has. No interpreter can claim that they are President because they interpret it well because the Constitution itself specifically stipulates that the country is to have a President who meets certain conditions of age, citizenship, and electoral votes.

    With regard to Catholicism though, I can’t see anything other than a claim to power. Obama’s claim to power comes from the Constitution. The Catholic churches claim for itself comes from herself. And there are competing claims. You have put forward criteria to distinguish yourself but why should we believe you? Why not E.O? Or Mormons? Or the mentally ill person in the mental facility?

    The fact is that if we are to continue to use your analogy we would need to see Constitutional warrant for the organization of your ecclesial body–but I’m not aware of a passage that identifies the church as being all churches in communion with the bishop of Rome. This is of course only an analogy and masks some of the fundamental disagreements that we have, but I believe my point still stands. Your criteria claim to a principled distinction is itself arbitrary (and as I’ll continue to argue, historically tendentious).

  157. Brandon,

    As you surely know, CTC has put together a relatively detailed historical case. Feel free to either comment there about where you think it is deficient, or offer those comments here.

    Or better yet, why not make a positive historical case for your position?

  158. And you’re wrong about the Obama/Francis differences. The US is a body with laws about its leaders and their succession one to another. So is the CC. In both respective cases, Obama and Francis are duly elected leaders of those bodies. Just because you don’t accept the CC doesn’t mean Francis’s claims are arbitrary, any more than an anti-American Saudi’s hatred of America discredits Obama’s succession from Washington.

    So I still don’t think you’re clear on what it is you’re arguing against.

  159. (Catholics: I will be out for the remainder of the day, so feel free to jump in and tackle any comments addressed to me, if you feel so inclined.)

  160. Jason,

    Sure, I know about CtC and I’ve made historical arguments in this thread and at CtC. Again, when you say this,

    Or better yet, why not make a positive historical case for your position?

    Right back at ya. I’d love to see what you have to say and I’ve been trying to see if you’d indulge me for months. And btw, I’m in the process of laying out a positive case for leadership in Rome being led by multiple leaders. Of course, whether or not there were multiple leaders still doesn’t mean that their was a Petrine office invested with infallibility in Rome.

    You and others are the ones making the case that this is an historical phenomenon and if you are basing your “principled distinction” on this, I’d expect a bit more interaction on that very important evidence. My positive arguments, even if false, don’t validate yours. That’s why I’ve interacted with your “minimalistic” claims about AS and Andrew’s more fully orbed argument at CtC. The burden of proof falls squarely on your shoulders in this regard. Just to restate whats been rehashed over and over, you have a list from Irenaeus in 180 AD which refers to Peter being a bishop in Rome and ordaining others….while earlier writers talk about a plurality of leaders.

    WRT to the Obama/Francis difference, I am not sure that we are connecting with each other. Let me try to restate. I agree that the CC has succession, but whether or not that succession constitutes the authority of Christ is a different question entirely. Just because I was voted student council president doesn’t make me President of the United States. I can make (empty) promises about pizza every day in the cafeteria but if I think I’m going to have an office in the White House I’m going to be sorely pretty disappointed.

    I’m just wondering what criteria you appeal to when you are claiming that authority. What qualifications does Francis possess that give him the authority you are claiming? If I understand you properly, you are saying that he follows in a line of continuity from the Petrine office and so that gives him the “constitutional” authority. If so, I’d love to see you unpack that more directly.

    If your local HS student council president claimed to be THE President because he was duly elected, everyone would be concerned about his mental stability. Why does your election as the bishop of Rome make you believe you are the Vicar of Christ as opposed to the E.O., Mormons, JW’s, etc.? My argument is that what you are appealing to is arbitrary as it is not the same thing that the other groups appeal to.

  161. Sean, so is Unam Sanctam not something that your church teaches? You’re suggesting I read Stellman rather than a papal encyclical?

  162. Jason — “Brandon, As you surely know, CTC has put together a relatively detailed historical case.”

    Historical case? Have you or Bryan shown any awareness of Francis Oakley, John McGreevy, Jay Dolan, John O’Malley, or Owen Chadwick (for starters)?

    This is rich (or lame) depending on your paradigm.

  163. Jason, but who do you say the modern pope is? Don’t take the easy way out and depend on Michael. But of course you’re silent about the post Vatican 2 papacy as well as the CTC claims for the audacity of the papacy (as the solution to Protestantism). It’s just easier to say that I don’t understand anything rather than try to be understood. Sort of like the pre-Vatican 2 popes.

  164. Brandon,

    Addressing Jason you said:

    “I get that you’re saying that Protestantism is inherently chaotic because it doesn’t offer a principled means to distinguish between competing interpretations.”

    It is good that you recognize this, but you don’t seem to grasp what this means for the doctrine of sola scriptura, and then what it means for the question of “church”. Why do you hold so tenaciously to a doctrine that doesn’t work in practice? Do the differences of doctrine in Reformed churches concern you, or are you satisfied with never know whether or not the Calvinist’s view of the Lord’s Supper is right or not when up against the Lutheran “biblical” view?
    I would like to know what you cognitively “do” with the differences you reconginize just within Reformed doctrine let alone Protestantism at large.
    If there is not a Protestant congregation that says, “Here, here, look no further, this is THE truth regarding the Lord’s Supper, AND every other doctrianal disagreement that you’ve very wondered about”, it cannot be the Church that is guided by the Holy Spirit and Jesus has not made IT to be His locus of truth. If your local congregation doesn’t know “for sure” that its celebration IS the RIGHT understanding(infallible) then you are definately in the wrong congregation.
    Not every congregation that CLAIMS that it is the locus of truth IS the locus of truth but someone must be(which weeds out all protestant congregations) OR there is no way EVER to know theological truth from theological opinion. Do you understand? I’m just a gerland I understand. 🙂

    Susan

  165. Jason–

    Like Robert, I can acknowledge that God could have established the church as an infallible interpreter of Scripture. And I hopefully won’t have to “sleep with the fishes” to do so.

    He could have done so. It might have been kind of nice even. But I get no indication he ever intended to. Besides, who could we possibly nominate as this infallible church? The Protestants are split into a gazillion pieces.

    “Let’s play fair” is a good beginning, but could we also move toward an attitude of “let’s be honest”? The Roman Catholic church has done a good job of abiding by precedent. As a result, they’re actually fairly consistent, which is commendable. But infallible? Good grief, do any of you really, really, really believe such drivel?

    EENS is either Catholic dogma, or it isn’t. The Septuagint is either inspired or it isn’t (and that goes for the Vulgate, as well). And Catholic dogma has to include ethics. I can get around the whole Mortara affair. I can get around the incredible deviance of Alexander VI. These are the foibles of individual popes. What I cannot get around is a period of hundreds of years where the papacy embraced chattel slavery. A few popes even owning their own slaves. The condoning of slavery became part and parcel of what it meant robe the Roman church. You simply cannot excuse it away. The early church on up until about the fifteenth century clearly opposed slavery. Then, all of a sudden, when it became politically pragmatic to do so, it changed its mind.

    Other ethical lapses have become entrenched in the Catholic church for long periods of time: anti-Semitism, simony, the sale of indulgences, Italian ethnocentrism, the involvement of the mob in church affairs. Come on, Jason, get with the program! It just isn’t right. Is it even sane to proclaim such a thing? I don’t even begin to “get it.”

    The Protestant churches’ sins are legion. But we don’t maintain anything like infallibility. We have seen the record of every single human institution, including all of those “established by God,” and have fairly easily determined their fallibility. No shame in that. We are human. Even we who are regenerate are flawed. The groups we lead are flawed. The Apostles themselves were flawed. Only their canonical writings are infallible. The whole church got together and decided on that.

    Augustine suggests that we should determine the canon for ourselves, observing the usage of a majority of the individual churches as a measure. Alternatively, we can employ the usage of the great sees as a guideline. Either one. They are equal to him. Evidently, there are churches, many churches even, using a slightly different canon. That seems to be ok with him. There is no appeal to the primacy of Rome whatsoever. Perhaps there is no need to be completely unanimous on everything, including the canon. (I wonder myself if much of the deuterocanonical books ought not be generally accepted. I think their use in corroborating innovative Roman doctrines such as purgatory are overrated.)

    Personally, I am embarrassed by the tendency of the antebellum Southern Presbyterians to endorse slavery. No doubt, some of them, like Stonewall Jackson, treated their own slaves admirably. There is still no excuse.

    In the final analysis, I do not believe in the infallibility of any particular church because demonstrably there has never been such a church.

  166. Brandon,

    I hang my head in shame. Forgive my rudeness. I should stay out if I can’t play nice.
    Brandon, I’m very sorry for speaking to you the way I did. You see, I am the only one in my family who became Catholic and it has been incrediably difficult in my home. I became Catholic because I saw that there was no other way to be still be a Christian, and though it’s great to have found the truth, the cost was high.
    I am watching Jason treated rudely by Dr. Hart and in the back of my mind I imagine him waving good-bye to his wife and children as they head off to attend the church that he is the founder. This has got to be agonizing for him. Another time I read on Old Life that people are referring to Dr. Cross as the stoic Dr. Spock and it really upsets me because he is legitmately loving his separated brothers to do what he does.
    Even with all this that pains me,t I don’t win anything( except the snarky award) by being a jerk to you.
    Right after I commented here I found Dr. Cross saying this( below) and now I am , once again, eating crow. I am sorry Brandon, and I will work hard to play nice.

    Brian, (re: #15)

    He who lives by the sword dies by the sword, and the same is true of rudeness and incivility. If I wish to be treated with civility and respect, I must do the same. If I don’t, I invite the descent into the trading of insults and invective, and the possibility of reaching agreement is lost. So I agree with you that if we “take up those tactics” we “give license” for others to do the same. Not all exchange of communication is dialogue. The sort of exchange that takes place between Feser and Dawkins, etc. is not dialogue. It is not for the sake of reaching agreement with each other, but for defending or attacking particular claims or beliefs, so as to convince or persuade onlookers. That’s polemics. Christ’s public rebuke of the Pharisees was not a case of failing to be kind or charitable, nor was it polemics or dialogue; it was a pastoral rebuke, by the Good Shepherd. That’s a different genre, and there is a time and place for that. In this post I am speaking about dialogue, and there are virtues necessary for entering into dialogue, as I explained above. The resolution of disagreement between persons requires dialogue, as Pope Francis explained just yesterday:

    “If we go out to encounter other people, other cultures, other religions, we grow and we begin that beautiful adventure called dialogue,” he told the students.

    “Dialogue is what brings peace,” the pope told the group, which included Christians and Buddhists. “Peace is impossible without dialogue.

    “All wars, conflicts and troubles we encounter with each other are because of a lack of dialogue,” he said.

    Pope Francis said there is always a danger that two people with firm identities and an inability to be open to the other will fight instead of dialogue.

    “We dialogue to meet each other, not to fight,” he said.

    Dialogue involves asking the other, “Why do you think this?” or “Why is that culture this way?” then listening to the response, he said. “First listen, then talk — that’s meekness.”

    “If you don’t think like I do … and you can’t convince me to think like you do, that’s OK. We can still be friends,” he said

    I still would like answers to my questions if you might. I thank you in advance!

    Susan

  167. @Robert:

    Trent cut itself off from the Western catholic tradition. If you want to say that in some way you can historically see developments from the early Fathers until today and call that the church Christ founded, fine. I can say the same thing about Protestantism. I’m part of the church Christ founded, but I’m not Roman Catholic.

    Yep, and Bush was responsible for 9/11. It’s awfully funny to watch you criticize the papacy while you endorse an ahistorical conspiracy theory. If you knew anything about the Western Catholic tradition or the early Fathers, then you would know how laughable that claim is.

  168. Susan–

    I’m sure you’ve heard the Latin phrase, “In necessariis unitas; in dubiis libertas; in omnibus caritas” (Unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things.) It is often misattributed to Augustine, but evidently has a 17th-century provenance.

    You might do well to explore its wisdom. That there are various explanations of the mysterious workings of the Real Presence in the Eucharist is not significant spiritually (part of the reason Anglicans take no stance on consubstantiation vs. virtual presence). The differences between paedobaptism–confirmation as opposed to dedication–credobaptism are likewise minimal. Scripture takes no clear stance on baptism. It does not favor iconodules or iconoclasts. It gives no more ammunition to the “Regulative Principle” as it does the “Normative Principle.”

    As someone has said, “We need to major on the major things and minor on the minors.” As I have told you before, there are no significant differences between the major Reformed confessions, and only rather minor differences with the Lutherans (especially those who closely follow Luther) and the Anglicans.

  169. Eric – I sort of agree with your last point and would encourage some of the people here to emphasize that last part: in all things charity. As a Catholic, I recognize that there are some things that require more unity than others. But… how do we determine what are essentials and which are not essentials? Is Sola Scriptura essential? Is Sola Fide? Is the Trinity? We can’t determine essentials without an authoritative teacher of the Bible.

    As I have told you before, there are no significant differences between the major Reformed confessions, and only rather minor differences with the Lutherans (especially those who closely follow Luther) and the Anglicans.

    It sounds here, correct me if I’m wrong, that you are saying that we can tell what essentials are because of the unity of different denominations on certain issues. For example, you might say, “Sola Fide is an essential doctrine of the faith because it’s something that Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Anglicans hold in common. In practice they might differ a bit, but that’s ok because they all agree on what Sola Fide means.” Similarly, you might say, “Baptism is not an essential doctrine because Lutherans and Baptists disagree on what baptism means.”

    Well, if that is what you are saying, then who the heck are you to arbitrarily determine which denominations get counted and which don’t? Catholics and Orthodox don’t believe in Sola Fide as Luther understood it. Why are they arbitrarily kicked out of the table here? Why doesn’t our disagreement with the reformers on Sola Fide render Sola Fide as non essential? The thing is you include Lutherans and Anglicans in your group of unified Christians because they agree with you on what you think are essential doctrines of Christianity! If I’m hearing you correctly, I want to know why Catholics and Orthodox are excluded and why we don’t have a say in what is essential to the Christian Faith.

  170. @Dr. Hart:

    Have you or Bryan shown any awareness of Francis Oakley, John McGreevy, Jay Dolan, John O’Malley, or Owen Chadwick (for starters)?

    I’ve read four of them (not Dolan), although none particularly recently, and I can’t believe you left out Brian Tierney. I’ve also read Brad Gregory and John Deely; both do a very good job of tracing the intellectual roots of the Reformation and modernism.

    Here’s the problem with your position: papal infallibility is one tiny piece of an entire mountain of doctrine that Protestantism dynamited. That’s not killing a fly with an elephant gun; it’s killing a fly with a nuclear bomb. So if I’m going to read those liberal historians (and I generally have), then I have to balance that with Lewis Ayres, Michel Rene Barnes, John McGuckin, John Meyendorff, and all of those other guys who have essentially made a compelling case about what orthodoxy was before Protestantism got ahold of it. And while I’ve also read Protestants like D.H. Williams and Everett Ferguson and Peter Lampe, my problem is that they have to take such a reductionist view of doctrine that they’re not taking the theological commitments of the Fathers seriously. They’re basically nuking Christian history not just prior to the Refromation, but all the way back to St. Irenaeus, exactly like liberals do in treating their theological commitments as just another opinion.

    You’re a historian. You have to realize that the historical case for continuity between Protestantism and the conciliar era of Christianity is non-existent, or if you don’t, it’s because you’ve been placing your head in the sand far deeper than anybody at CtC ever could. If you would just own that, just admit that one has a choice between the shiny new modernist church purged of all of those silly conciliar-era beliefs (Protestantism) and what people actually believed in the first millennium (Catholicism, or Orthodoxy, if you hate the papacy that much), then we’d be good. It’s just this lukewarm “we really want to be all historical and creedal even though we know we’re not” sort of Protestantism that creates conflict. If you want to be a liberal, be a liberal. If you want to be a conservative, be a conservative. But don’t be a chimera, a liberal about Catholicism and patristic history and a True Believer(TM) on Reformation hagiography.

    Escaping that trap seems to have been the driving force for most of the “Callers,” and it certainly was for me coming from de facto secularism. At some point, you look at yourself and say “if I really believe this, then I have to follow it all the way, not just hold it inconsistently.” The common theme of the stories is that they couldn’t live by half-measures like Protestantism. You mock their logic and philosophy, but what really motivated them was that they are honest and brave. It is respect for their honesty and courage that has brought me out to defend them, not because they need my help but because they don’t deserve to be abused.

  171. Robert, you ask me: Does the Roman Catholic Church really regard JWs, Unitarians, and Mormons as Protestants, let alone Christians?

    As I said, the Catholic Church has no official definition of the word “Protestant”. If a person self-identifies himself as a Protestant, then no one in the Catholic Church should object if, say, a Unitarian calls himself a Protestant. Trying to define “Protestant” by what Protestants believe is an impossible task.

    You agree that Menno Simmons, John Calvin and Martin Luther are all Protestants, yet none of these men agreed with each other as to what constitutes orthodoxy. From day one, Protestants have been disagreeing with each other about what constitutes orthodoxy, and because of that, the Catholic Church does not get hung-up in trying to define who is, or is not, a Protestant by what a Protestant may, or may not, believe.

    Are all Protestants Christians? No. I agreed earlier with Eric when he divided Protestants into two sets, the set of Protestants that are non-Christians, and the set of Protestants that are Christians. The criteria that the Catholic Church uses to make that distinction is different than Eric’s criteria (for example, Eric asserts that “Liberal Protestants” are apostates).

    So what criteria does the Catholic Church have for determining who is a non-Christian Protestant and who is a Christian Protestant? As an RCIA catechist, I can assure you that it is not unusual for an inquirer to identify himself as Protestant when he seeks to become a member of the Catholic Church. For the catechist, the question that arises is not whether he is really a Protestant, because that question is irrelevant and unanswerable. If he calls himself a Protestant, that is fine with me. The question that the catechist needs to answer is whether or not the inquirer has ever received a valid Sacrament of Baptism. If the he has received a valid Sacrament of Baptism, then the inquirer would enter the church as a candidate, and as such, he would receive only two of the Sacraments of Initiation – Confirmation and Eucharist. If it is determined that he has not received a valid Sacrament of Baptism, he would come in to the Church as a catechumen, and catechumens receive all three Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. To your point, does the Catholic Church accept Mormon baptism as being valid? No. Mormon baptism is correct in form and matter, but defective in intent. If the only baptism an inquirer received was a Mormon baptism, then he would become a catechumen in RCIA and receive all three Sacraments of Initiation.

    Apply your same standard consistently. If the Old Catholic Church claims to be the true continuation of the Roman Catholic Church, then it must be the true Roman Catholic Church, right?

    I hope you realize that the Catholic Church’s standards are not your standards. The Catholic Church does not believe that members of the Old Catholic Church are Protestants. That can be seen by the fact that if a member of the Old Catholic Church has received the three Sacraments of Initiation within the Old Catholic Church, and he desires to become a member of the Catholic Church, then he would be received into the Catholic Church as neither a candidate, nor as a catechumen. As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the member of the Old Catholic Church is already a member of the Catholic Church because of his reception of valid Sacraments of Initiation. The member of the Old Catholic church need only make a Profession of Faith, and he is reconciled with the Catholic Church. The same is true of members of the Eastern Orthodox Churches and members of the Oriental Orthodox Churches – members of these churches that have received the Sacraments of Initiation within their respective churches, are not admitted into RCIA as either candidates or catechumens.

    Luther, Simmons, and Calvin were not Tridentine Roman Catholics.

    What, exactly, is a “Tridentine Roman Catholic”? A Catholic is a Catholic. A Catholic is a member of the Catholic Church because of his reception of valid Sacraments of Initiation. The same is true in 50 A.D or 2013 A.D. Menno Simmons, Martin Luther and John Calvin received valid Sacraments of Initiation which made them members of the Catholic Church. The lost their membership in the Catholic Church by becoming heretics.

    Trent cut itself off from the Western catholic tradition.

    I disagree, of course. Protestors began teaching novel doctrines that no one had ever heard of, and Trent was the Ecumenical Council that responded to the doctrinal novelties being spread by the protestors.

    If you want to say that in some way you can historically see developments from the early Fathers until today and call that the church Christ founded, fine.

    I don’t identify any old church as being “the church” that Jesus Christ personally founded. That is my point. It is Protestants that teach the novelty that listening to a church founded by some man or a woman is not at odds with listening to the church personally founded by Jesus Christ.

    Luther and Calvin most certainly did not found “Bible Churches.”

    Who founded the Lutheran Church? Martin Luther, and that is why the Lutheran Church is named after its founder. Calvin founded his own church when he went to the magistrates in Geneva and sought their permission to excommunicate Catholics from the Catholic church in Geneva. The authority to excommunicate those who “refuse to listen to even the church” belongs to the church personally founded by Jesus Christ, as Christ himself taught. Dissenting Catholic laymen such as John Calvin have no authority to excommunicate anyone.

    When Calvin sought the authority to excommunicate Catholics from the magistrates of Geneva, Calvin was implicitly identifying himself as the church founded by Jesus Christ, since it is that church that has the authority to excommunicate Catholics. But Calvin isn’t the church founded by Jesus Christ, and the magistrates of Geneva had no more authority to make Calvin the church founded by Jesus Christ, than the political hacks on the City Council of my own hometown can turn me into the church founded by Jesus Christ.

    So what was the “church” in Geneva that was under the thumb of John Calvin? It was John Calvin’s personal bible church, a church with no more authority than Aimee Semple Mcpherson’s personal bible church.

    My theological claim is that when men and women think that an official doctrine of the church contradicts Scripture, they have a right to have the elders of the church address it.

    Who gets to decides who is an elder? Suppose I found my own personal bible church, and then appoint “elders” in my new bible church. How does mateo founding his own bible church give mateo’s handpicked elders any authority?

    My theological claim is also that the elders are not guaranteed to address it correctly every single time they gather together and that those who disagree with the church are free to leave politically/sociologically without any fear of being hunted down and killed.

    I agree that you should have the freedom to belong to any Protestant sect whatsoever without fear of being hunted down and killed. And you have this right if you are a citizen of the USA. That said, you also have the right to found your own personal bible church and appoint all the elders you want within your own personal bible church. But founding your own bible church, or joining a bible church founded by some mere man or woman does not give your Protestant church’s elders any authority. Not any authority that I would recognize, and not any authority that Protestants that aren’t members of your Protestant sect would recognize either. I quite agree with you that the elders of Protestant churches speak with no authority when they try to tell me what constitutes the orthodox doctrines of the church personally founded by Jesus Christ. The best that sola scriptura confessing Protestant elders can offer me are their sincere opinions, which may, or may not be true – and even they will admit that fact if they are pressed hard enough.

    All of that doesn’t mean that those who leave the church are free to do so theologically.

    Please clarify this for me! Martin Luther, Menno Simmons, and John Calvin were all members of the same church. Were they, or were they not, “theologically free” to leave the church that they were members of? I say no. What say you?

    Rome says nothing when high-ranking Roman Catholics promote mortal sin and say the Magisterium is wrong in its reading of tradition on abortion.

    You are scandalized by Catholic dissenters that are pro-abortion, which you should be. But this tells me that you also know that these dissenters are heterodox Catholics. Surely if you can recognize a heterodox Catholic dissenter and be scandalized, and you aren’t even a Catholic, then a faithful Catholic should be able to recognize a heterodox Catholic too.

    On the issues where there has been Magisterial teaching, lay Roman Catholics often ignore it and even respected theologians disagree. And you know what—Rome does nothing about it.

    I don’t agree that the Vatican Curia does nothing. The Curia stepped in and removed the bishop of my parish and replaced him with Bishop William Levada. To your more fundamental point, that of bishops allowing Catholics publicly spout heretical trash without sanction – I agree with you, and you are preaching to the choir. I think you are spot on – publicly dissenting Catholics should be formally excommunicated, and the fact that they aren’t formally excommunicated creates a scandal that undermines the preaching of the Gospel. I quite agree with what Cardinal Ratzinger said about a “smaller, purer, church”. That is, if one has to choose between a large church that is full of dissenting Catholics, and a smaller, purer, church, the Gospel demands the choice of a smaller, purer, church.

    Orthodoxy is defined by what conforms to Scripture as read according to the rule of faith.

    All this is saying to me is that people who interpret scriptures correctly are orthodox, and people that interpret scriptures incorrectly are unorthodox. If that is indeed all you are saying, then I agree.

    Confessional Protestants will actually excommunicate heretics.

    Again, who decides who is interpreting the bible correctly? The magistrates of Geneva allowed John Calvin to excommunicate any that dared to disagree with John Calvin’s novel personal interpretation of the scriptures. Calvin even had men put to death that dared to disagree with John Calvin. Years later, Calvinist sects that listen to John Calvin’s private interpretation of the scriptures excommunicate men who disagree with John Calvin’s private interpretation of scriptures. So what? My point about “listening to the church” is this: in the first place, there are no scriptures that give John Calvin the authority to privately interpret the scriptures for himself, or for anyone else; in the second place, there are no scriptures that give a Catholic layman like John Calvin the authority to excommunicate another Catholic; in the third place there are no scriptures that give city politicians the power to authorize Catholic laymen to run amok excommunicating other Catholics. What occurred in Geneva was a Protestant version of caesaropapism run wild.

    The only thing that was authorized by scriptures for a layman like John Calvin was for him to follow the procedure taught by Christ in Matthew 18:15-20. And that is why I wrote earlier that Protestants will listen to any church except the church personally founded by Jesus Christ. If there are Calvinist sects in our era that follow the practices of John Calvin, then they are also not authorized by the scriptures to accept the private interpretations of John Calvin. They are also not authorized by the scriptures to turn John Calvin’s eccentric private interpretations of the scriptures into a rule of faith that establishes what constitutes orthodoxy. Nor are the sects that follow the deviant path blazed by John Calvin authorized by the scriptures to excommunicate anyone.

    I do not agree with my Baptist brothers on the proper subjects of baptism, but I would by no means consider them heretics.

    You consider the Baptists to be heterodox in matters of the faith concerning the Sacrament of Baptism, but their heterodoxy does not make them heretics? This doesn’t make any sense to me.

    There is a difference between being an apostate and being a heretic. An apostate rejects everything that the true church teaches to be supernaturally revealed. A man can become a heretic by rejecting only one article of the faith. Yes, Baptists are heretics, at least materially, but that doesn’t mean that everything that a Baptist teaches is heresy. The Baptists have only corrupted some of the doctrines of the faith – there is much doctrine that is taught within Baptist churches that is orthodox. The Catholic Church understands that this is true.

    Rome is separated from the Eastern Orthodox and many other groups visibly. Rome does not regard the EO as heretics.

    That is true, but that is because there is a difference between heresy and schism. The Protestants of the Traditional Anglican Communion that are seeking reconciliation with the Catholic Church are trying to heal schism, not overcome their heresy. The Protestants of the TAC are not heretics, but neither are they in the same boat as the Eastern Orthodox. The Eastern Orthodox administer valid Sacraments of Initiation, while the TAC administers only a valid Sacrament of Baptism. If the members of the TAC are reconciled with the Catholic Church, the members of the TAC will need to be given the other two Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and Eucharist), and the priests of the TAC will need to receive a valid Sacrament of Ordination.

    One can be wrong without being a heretic. Again, even Rome gets this nowadays.

    No, one cannot be wrong about an article of the faith without being a material heretic. As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, if a Protestant is teaching what is contrary to the infallibly taught doctrines of the Catholic Church, the Protestant is, as a minimum, a material heretic. But since many Protestants don’t even know what the Catholic Church actually teaches, they can’t be accused of being formal heretics.

    … where Lutherans and Calvinists disagree they can’t both be right. But the conclusion does not follow that Rome is right.

    I agree! But since Lutherans and Calvinists disagree over doctrines of faith, then it must be true that either the Calvinist is heterodox, or the Lutheran is heterodox, at least in those particular articles of the faith that Calvinists and Lutherans disagree about. As you say, they can’t both be right. It also doesn’t follow that since either the Lutheran or the Calvinist must be a heretic, that they both can’t be heretics.

  172. Fr. Bryan–

    I think we all know deep down what the essentials are: a correct formulation of the Trinity, an orthodox christology, and a soteriology that actually saves.

    Other matters–ecclesiology, sacramentology, hermeneutics–are incredibly important but not essential.

    I would love to include Catholics within “in all things charity” and do include those who hold to an actual conversion, a genuine in-the-present union with Christ. But official Catholic soteriological formulations are defective. I have to make a choice, and I choose for the Christ I know. Without the understanding of grace which sola fide affords, I would not be a Christian. I would not know who Christ was. Nothing would make sense. It would all be gibberish….

    I would be like Mateo right above, blindly worshiping the sacrament rather than the risen, indwelling Christ.

  173. Jason,

    If there were ever a true controversy as to whether or not Obama was president, what would happen? There would be court cases, studies, etc., eventually going all the way up to the Supreme Court, which would then arbitrate the decision.

    Two (basic) decisions would be possible, at least in theory:

    1. The Court would look to the constitution, see what it says about how the presidency is identified, and then look to the facts of the case. Seeing that Obama was elected by the majority of presidential electors, they would identify him as president. They’re not appealing to their own infallible authority to do so but to the tradition of the founding fathers as they have it in written form.

    2. They ignore the Constitution and just declare him president or not based on how they feel about it or some arcane way in which elections were conducted in New York and California even if those ways were not Constitutionally supported.

    I hope you get the basic point. Obama’s role in office is not determined by the fact that he is in some kind of succession because, in fact, no succession exists. The president is identified by how the Constitution says he is to be identified. Your example actually supports sola Scriptura, not sola ecclesia. You need to come up with a better illustration.

  174. Jonathan,

    Since you have shown no capacity to mount a consistent argument and are perhaps the most arbitrary arguer I’ve ever seen online, the fact that YOU think Protestants are not heirs of the councils is actually a point in our favor.

  175. Mateo,

    So, I could join the Old Catholic Church and everything would be hunky dory, right? That means I can be Roman Catholic and not accept papal infallibility. Great!

    Unless you want to tell me that an Old Roman Catholic who rejects papal infallibility is a true Roman Catholic, my point against you stands.

    And again, I am a part of the church Christ founded. That church is not the church of Trent. There was no church of Trent before Trent. You may be a Tridentine Roman Catholic, but Aquinas, Augustine, et al were not Tridentine Roman Catholics. They were Western Christians.

  176. SS,

    So, the reason you don’t agree with Calvin or Luther is because of their behavior. I guess that means you must be Protestant since you have some affection for Andrew Murray. Great! Welcome to the fold.

  177. Eric, you wrote:

    I think we all know deep down what the essentials are: a correct formulation of the Trinity, an orthodox christology, and a soteriology that actually saves.

    Other matters–ecclesiology, sacramentology, hermeneutics–are incredibly important but not essential.

    At least some Baptists disagree with your exclusion of Baptism from “what the essentials are,” and I think that not a few Protestants would object to the idea that the sacraments are non-essentials, since (not to put too fine a point upon it) they were instituted by God. I’m cool with saying for the sake of argument at least that they may be less important, maybe, than the Trinity, but to suggest that they are mere adiophora is in no way credible.

    Furthermore it isn’t clear to me at all how your proposed credal requirements can possibly coexist with sola fide since they are quite obviously something that a man must do. Indeed on this score those Protestants who literally think nothing that literally nothing matters for salvation except trust in Christ – to such an extent that they deny the relevance of a sanctified life at all – paradoxically seem to be closer to the spirit of sola fide than do those who insist upon MacArthur’s lordship salvation paradigm. My point being that your “essentials” of right doctrines of God and the Incarnation are certainly not among the five solas and are by no means agreed upon among Protestants.

    I have more than once asked Protestants to provide a list of those things which are necessary for one to believe in order to be saved. Setting aside the obvious tension of any scheme which has essentials like that while at the same time affirming sola fide it was interesting to me that one fellow simply refused to provide such a list (**why**, if the Bible is perspicuous for that very thing??) and another simply couldn’t stop adding to that list (which differs from yours, by the way).

    Peace,

    Fred

  178. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:

    As I said, the Catholic Church has no official definition of the word “Protestant”. If a person self-identifies himself as a Protestant, then no one in the Catholic Church should object if, say, a Unitarian calls himself a Protestant. Trying to define “Protestant” by what Protestants believe is an impossible task.

    Maybe going by what they don’t believe would be easier. My working definition is “one who claims historio-christian lineage but rejects Sacramentalism.”

  179. Fred:

    Indeed on this score those Protestants who literally think nothing that literally nothing matters for salvation except trust in Christ – to such an extent that they deny the relevance of a sanctified life at all – paradoxically seem to be closer to the spirit of sola fide than do those who insist upon MacArthur’s lordship salvation paradigm

    You can only say that if you ignore what the Magisterial Reformers meant by sola fide. The Reformers applied sola fide only to justification. Trent misunderstands this completely, which calls into question its infallibility. But I digress.

    Salvation includes more than justification. It is a comprehensive term for the whole of God’s redemptive work — regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification. You never have just one of these without the other.

  180. Robert, you wrote:

    You can only say that if you ignore what the Magisterial Reformers meant by sola fide.

    I can say that because many (most?) Reformed and basically all non-Reformed Protestants ignore or are ignorant of what the Reformers said, and I wasn’t talking about the Reformers. And I was replying to the claim by Eric that “we all” know the essentials, which is obviously false.

    The Reformers applied sola fide only to justification.

    Except for when they don’t, since neither they (nor presumably you) would affirm that an Arian (or a Catholic holding to all the Church proposes for belief) could be saved at all, even by sola fide. I really do not think that you can have it both ways: you insist upon justification by faith alone, and that it is by this alone that a man gains entrance to heaven, and yet you presumably (Eric does, certainly) make right belief (with respect to some body of dogma) a condition of salvation. These two are mutually exclusive.

    Peace,

    Fred

  181. +JMJ+

    Susan wrote:

    I hang my head in shame. Forgive my rudeness. I should stay out if I can’t play nice.

    Rude? Wut??! Srsly?

    (Lemme guess… You think Hello Kitty is rude, right?)

  182. @Robert:
    Young earth creationists think contrary interpretation of Genesis is arbitrary too. You fundamentalists are all alike, responding to facts with fideism.

  183. So, the reason you don’t agree with Calvin or Luther is because of their behavior. I guess that means you must be Protestant since you have some affection for Andrew Murray. Great! Welcome to the fold

    I appreciate Thomas A Kempis greatly. I guess that means I must be a catholic. Or wait, since I see good in some of Andrew Murray’s writing (which has nothing to do with the reformed understanding of salvation by the way), I guess I must be half protestant and half catholic. Some logic you got there.

  184. WOSBALD,

    I have zee scruples; Calvinistic God ya know:)

    Ok, “shame” is an overstatement. I don’t have Brandon sitting across from me at a table where he can read my body language. He can’t see me smile or my trying to make myself clear. This online dialoging is tough. So I don’t think I was seriously rude, but I am naturally very sarcastic, and I need to work on it.

    Susan

  185. Robert,

    I hope you get the basic point. Obama’s role in office is not determined by the fact that he is in some kind of succession because, in fact, no succession exists. The president is identified by how the Constitution says he is to be identified. Your example actually supports sola Scriptura, not sola ecclesia. You need to come up with a better illustration.

    Umm, Francis had no succession before he was pope, either. Once he is chosen for office, he becomes Peter’s successor. My illustration works perfectly. In both cases (Obama and Francis) there is a body to be governed and rules in place for selecting its ruler. And in both cases the criteria for identifying that ruler are objective, regardless of whether one agrees with him or not.

    In Protestantism, leadership is only as legitimate as the would-be leader’s theology is orthodox (by which you mean “comports with my personal interpretation of Scripture”). This is why any talk of “a visible church” in Protestantism is ridiculous. You’ve got an invisible church with visible congregations within it, but you don’t have a visible church.

  186. Jason,

    Sorry, again you’re wrong. The rules for identifying Obama are objective, and they’re found in a written document. Granted, the Supreme Court and the Congress apply that document, but their authority does not derive from them being those entities but from the document they are interpreting. And, there are processes in place within the document itself to identify when those authorities are not acting properly and even to boot them out of office. The document has an authority that cannot be superseded by the ruling class, and whenever it attempts to do so, people get upset about it. Things just haven’t yet gotten so bad so as to spark another revolution. Maybe it never will. Or maybe people are just so inoculated into thinking that whatever the Supreme Court says must be intrinsically correct. Which is odd, since just about everyone will admit to points where the court got things wrong, and where it was obvious that they did so.

    Overall, the process works pretty good without being infallible.

    I’m sure you can find a better example than Obama, but for now, all you are doing is supporting the case for sola Scriptura with this illustration. A written document establishes the authority of the interpretative body and provides rules for recognizing when that interpretative body has transgressed its authority. Welcome to sola Scriptura!!!

  187. SS,

    My point again is this: The fact that you are not Protestant or Roman Catholic really does not have much to do with the behavior of its leaders/founders. It is because you reject much of what both communions teach because it is not in accord with your reading of Scripture and/or tradition. If it were solely or even mainly about the behavior of said leaders, you would become Roman Catholic or Protestant. Said behavior may make you disinclined to hear others, but it is not the real reason you are neither Roman Catholic or Protestant. Its okay, just admit it.

  188. Robert,

    Overall, the process works pretty good without being infallible.

    Please tell me you believe the church is supposed to do more than “work pretty good.” I mean, yesterday you conflated general and special revelation, so I just thought I’d check.

    I’m sure you can find a better example than Obama, but for now, all you are doing is supporting the case for sola Scriptura with this illustration. A written document establishes the authority of the interpretative body and provides rules for recognizing when that interpretative body has transgressed its authority. Welcome to sola Scriptura!!!

    Yeah, you have a point in that with the Church, the authority rests not in a document, but in persons whom Christ has sent (since the Church was exercising her full authority for decades before a NT canon was begun, completed, and recognized as such).

    So I will concede this illustration to you, but with this caveat: Protestantism’s similarity to the US is its greatest weakness. In the same way that this country is almost perfectly divided, with no way to ascertain the Founding Fathers’ ideals other than by non-binding legal or scholarly opinion, so Protestantism has no way to identify the right documents or interpret them in a way that carries a whiff of divine authority.

    In a word, it’s like a club, or nation, or voluntary society. It’s nothing like a divinely-instituted Church. Which is why the early fathers wouldn’t have recognized your ecclesiology as in any sense similar to their own.

    So, yes, you’re right. Both Protestantism and America claim to be cities on hills, but neither of them is.

  189. Said behavior may make you disinclined to hear others, but it is not the real reason you are neither Roman Catholic or Protestant.

    Spoken as a true westerner for whom theology is divorced from praxis, a byproduct of scholasticism. So, propositional truth is all that matters, regardless of how it is arrived at. The Hebraic model by contrast says that truth comes from those whose praxis is righteous. They do not divorce the two, but instead insist on their inseparability. The Didache makes it clear that those who do not keep the Lord’s commands are false prophets. The earliest Christians never tolerated or celebrated false prophets because they agreed with the propositional truths they spoke. Yet this is standard fare for the protestant and catholic alike, who has departed from the Jewish roots of the faith and has adopted scholasticism instead as the driving force behind the faith.

    The EO say ‘the one who prays is the true theologian and the true theologian is the one who prays’.

    I say “the one who murders and kills in the name of truth is no theologian at all’.

  190. Fred–

    I was not relegating the sacraments to adiaphora. I was speaking of the essentials as it concerns intercommunion. Some Missouri Synod Lutheran churches practice what they call “close communion” which means that it is closed to all who are not members of the LCMS or another denomination in full communion with them (I think the Wisconsin Synod may be and perhaps the Evangelical Synod Lutherans). Other LCMS churches will commune genuine Christians from other denominations. Most confessional Protestants will commune all members in good standing of a Bible-believing church, as it is often stated. Some are a bit more restrictive than that. But in general, sacraments are not an impediment. Anyone baptized in any confessional church will be accepted in any other confessional church, at least those churches of the paedobaptist persuasion. It is fast becoming the case, however, that Reformed Baptists will accept into membership those who have not been credobaptized (I myself am a case in point).

    The issues I listed are the church-dividing issues of the ecumenical councils (and the ecumenical council that should have been but which the schismatic Trent replaced).

    All that is essential for salvation is union with the true Christ. If Christ accepts you, I imagine even your Trinitarianism may be confused and your christology less than fully adequate. But it must be Christ himself and no imposter. I leave that for God to decide. He knows whom he has called. He is fully aware of those who genuinely know him.

    More things are required to be believed for members of a particular church, and even more for the leadership of that church. No church remains faithful for long without its leadership being firmly bonded to “sola scriptura,” for example.

    The one great “sola,” as far as I am concerned, is “soli deo gloria.” The other four display and illumine the greatness of his glory…or protect and maintain the dissemination of his glory.

  191. Jason,

    You really need to stop with the whole “the church was exercising its authority before the NT canon was set bit.” The church had apostolic revelation from the moment it was founded. What you have to prove is that the apostolic revelation that it had included things that never got written down in Scripture. So far you have made no attempt to do that.

    Since there is not really anything resembling the more traditional view of apostolic succession prior to Irenaeus, I’m quite confident that the earliest fathers would not recognize your ecclesiology either. In fact, given some of the earliest post-apostolic documents such as 1 Clement, the whole plurality of elders model that you find in Presbyterianism and many Baptist churches is actually far closer to what the EARLIEST fathers tell us than the single-bishopric model.

    As others have said, you need to make a case biblically and historically that the modern Roman Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded and that Christ intended for the gathering of church leaders to have the same authority after the Apostles died as it did when they were still leading the church. A narrative text from Acts 15 is insufficient, as there were apostles present at that council. The pastorals are insufficient because authority was invested in leaders under the old covenant, and I don’t think you want to call those leaders infallible.

    Basically your argument and CTC is:

    1. God would want his people to have a principled way to distinguish opinion from revelation (I can basically agree with this)
    2. The only principled way is a church body with infallible authority (why?)

    Protestants are visibly divided, it is true. But the only real difference I have with my Reformed Baptist brothers is whether or not infants are proper subjects of baptism.

    Rome is visibly united, but:

    1. No one agrees on whether or not Mary actually died
    2. No one agrees or can produce a list of all the doctrines that have infallibly settled
    3. Tolerates a wide latitude of beliefs within its ranks, even allowing many outright heretics to think they are in good standing with the church because they are admitted to the Eucharist.
    4. Problems still exist as to whether authority should be viewed in more of a conciliar model or more of a papal model

    And so much more.

    Basically, the criticism of Protestants boils down to, “well, you all don’t have the same home office so you can’t be united.” I look at Rome and see one home office but within that structure groups existing that you could not even legitimately call Christian (Ruether and other feminists, Knitter and other universalists, and others) but who are not prohibited from teaching and who are admitted to the Mass every Sunday. The “unity” that Rome exhibits, ironically, is much more like modern America where you have some formal structures but the values and beliefs of its citizens are vastly different. Confessional Protestants have different boundaries geographically, but they have far more in common with one another culturally and in belief.

    I can appreciate wanting something more visibly concrete, but wishing things were a certain way does not make them so. Your view of Rome is pure wishful thinking. I hope that you eventually see that. My thought is that deep down, you do already see it. You often say things like, “Well, at least Rome has a way in principle to settle matters.” A principle that no one uses consistently or can agree upon when it is used is pointless. It’s wishful thinking.

  192. SS,

    So, you’re a Donatist then. Your baptism and Christian experience was no good because in some way it is tied to those who were imperfect and who may have even sinned grievely. Until you found Shallum et al, you did not really know Christ because whatever tradition you were a part of had blood on its hands. Give the sword to your favorite thinkers, and it won’t be long before the same thing happens to them as well. And if you think that’s not possible, you don’t know your Bible or your history very well.

    Truth is truth no matter who says it. The Bible sometimes quotes outright heretics as teaching truth. Balaam, the prophets Paul quotes on Mars Hill. I guess they were wrong to recognize truth where they saw it.

    It’s easy to judge people from the comfort of 21st century America where none of us has to fear, really, that we might die of the plague tomorrow. It’s easy to judge when the authorities are not on our tails for our beliefs but we have freedom to practice them.

    Those freedoms you have, by the way, are largely due to the work of Protestants, Protestants who treasure the work of men such as Calvin. Thank a Presbyterian or, especially, a Baptist for your freedom to read the works of Shullam in peace.

  193. SS–

    I tend to agree with you to some extent over Robert here. Maturity of theology generally coincides with maturity of praxis (and vice versa). So, over all, a theologian who consistently lives out his theology is the better theologian in my book.

    Concerning specifics, however, this may not be so. Augustine encouraged us to find truth even from profane sources. Truth is truth. Muslims proclaim repeatedly that “God is great.” They’ve got that last part right. Now if we could just convince them whose God is God.

    Maturity of theology, as well as of praxis, gives us the broad overview we need to fit scraps of truth from other sources correctly into place.

  194. Jonathan,

    I don’t hate the papacy. I don’t hate Jason and the Callers. What tightens my jaws is a partial rendering of Rome which go hand in hand with dismissals of Protestantism because of its opinions, diversity, and schismatic nature. Jason and the Callers only compare Roman Catholic theory to Protestant history. If they compared theory to theory, then it would — in the sentiment of this post — be fair. And what I am trying to point out is that comparing Roman Catholic history to Protestant history does not render a clear victory for your side unless you already have the unction of the right interpretive paradigm. How convenient.

    As for your claim about Protestantism and orthodoxy, I know lots of conservative Protestants who still believe in hell and the need for a savior who died on the cross. When I read John Paul II, I am not sure he is exactly orthodox about hell or about predestination (as taught by Augustine and Aquinas — and JPII was “conservative”):

    “3. The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather* than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy. This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the truths of faith on this subject: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell'” (n. 1033).

    “‘Eternal damnation’, therefore, is not attributed to God’s initiative because in his merciful love he can only desire the salvation of the beings he created. In reality, it is the creature who closes himself to his love. Damnation consists precisely in definitive separation from God, freely chosen by the human person and confirmed with death that seals his choice for ever. God’s judgement ratifies this state.

    “We are saved from going to hell by Jesus who conquered Satan

    “4. Christian faith teaches that in taking the risk of saying “yes” or “no”, which marks the human creature’s freedom, some have already said no. They are the spiritual creatures that rebelled against God’s love and are called demons (cf. Fourth Lateran Council, DS 800-801). What happened to them is a warning to us: it is a continuous call to avoid the tragedy which leads to sin and to conform our life to that of Jesus who lived his life with a “yes” to God.

    “Eternal damnation remains a real possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it. The thought of hell — and even less the improper use of biblical images — must not create anxiety or despair, but is a necessary and healthy reminder of freedom within the proclamation that the risen Jesus has conquered Satan, giving us the, Spirit of God who makes us cry “Abba, Father!” (Rm. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).” http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2heavn.htm

  195. Jason, still no come back on the post-Vatican 2 papacy? We’re waiting.

  196. Call me whatever you want, it matters little to me. The early church speaks to a high standard to be held for leaders and elders and rightfully so, since this is what we see in the NT. Like I said before, neither Protestantism nor Catholicism has an answer for that. You can ad hominem me to death, you can declare me a heretic nine ways to Sunday, and none of it will change that fact.

    Your view “put a sword in the hands and watch” has been disproved already. Take a cue from some in your own camp of Protestantism, the Mennonites, who were given swords and yet put them down, voluntarily. History itself rebukes your attempt at equivalency.

    I give thanks to God for allowing the founding fathers of America to settle in a republic that would uphold every man’s right to freedom from tyranny of people such as Calvin and Luther. And yes, it was from their followers that most Americans’ forebears were fleeing. Fleeing from persecution in England, in Germany, in Switzerland and so on. So I’ll thank God for being able to read whomever I want to read in peace, because he can use Deists and Unitarians even among others to bring about the greater good for his people.

  197. Darryl,

    I have a day job. You’ll have to wait a little longer before dismissing what I have to say.

    Jason and the Callers only compare Roman Catholic theory to Protestant history. If they compared theory to theory, then it would — in the sentiment of this post — be fair.

    Seriously? When have I ever spoken in any depth or detail about Protestant history? My project (for the most part) is to compare Reformed and Catholic interpretations of Scripture, while Liccione (and to a lesser extent I) primarily compares Reformed and Catholic theories. The fact that you can’t recognize this just further demonstrates that you don’t understand what he is saying.

  198. SS,

    Where were the Anabaptists or Mennonites invested with political authority such as Calvin had in Geneva or Luther had under Frederick? Where were they the state church? Seems to me a large number of Anabaptists were involved in violent revolts. When sinners get the sword, they tend to misuse it. History proves that again and again and again. This is one reason why I am against state churches.

    I’m going to say it again. Where Calvin, Luther, or anyone else misused their office or power, they were wrong. What does not follow from that is that they should be granted no hearing at all. And the fact of the matter is, your rejection of these men has very little to do with their actions and everything to do what they taught. Calvin could have been the saintliest figure to ever walk the earth besides Jesus and you would still reject him because you don’t like what he taught. Just be honest about it and stop coming off as “I reject Reformed theology because they celebrate the influence of Calvin and not primarily because of what he taught.” You benefit from that influence every single day of your life. Many of those who fled to this country viewed themselves as no less Calvin’s successors than many of those whom they were fleeing.

    I’m glad you see that Rome cannot possibly substantiate itself. But Jason is right to criticize you for attempting to stand above the fray. You are just as part of it as anyone else.

  199. Eric and SS,

    Please don’t misunderstand me. Life and doctrine are equally important. What I am objecting to is SS’ naive reading of history that judges the past by modern, refined secular standards and an unwillingness to admit that the real reasons he does not like Protestantism is that he does not agree with its doctrinal conclusions. I would not have wanted Calvin or Luther as my pastor. But like the rest of us, they were men of their time. They were no more able to escape their own context than we are able to escape ours. And if we think we are doing a better job than they did at escaping our own context, we become most apt to commit the same errors they did and conflate their own circumstances with the way things ought to be. I’m sure you would agree with that Eric, and I hope SS would as well.

    My problem is that SS’ reading of church history is just as naive as traditional Roman Catholic readings, just in a different respect. It’s real easy to think you’ve found the gold standard when you locate a movement that may appear morally exemplary but that hardly anyone knows about, has only been around for a few decades, and possesses no political power. Given any sinner enough power, and you’ll really see how morally exemplary they are.

    Which is again why there should never be a state church.

  200. Where were the Anabaptists or Mennonites invested with political authority such as Calvin had in Geneva or Luther had under Frederick? Where were they the state church? </i?

    The true church knows never to commit adultery with the state. That is one more proof of the inauthenticity of the reformers.

    I’m glad you see that Rome cannot possibly substantiate itself. But Jason is right to criticize you for attempting to stand above the fray. You are just as part of it as anyone else.

    I don’t stand above the fray, I stand outside of it. If you and him want to associate yourselves with some of most corrupt history in the name of truth, go ahead. But you cannot force me to join a movement which my conscience cannot contemplate. Your forebears may have put me to death for my dissent, but you cannot, at least I hope not.

    What I am objecting to is SS’ naive reading of history that judges the past by modern, refined secular standards

    The standards espoused by the believers we read of in the NT and in the earliest documentation available to us, such as the Didache, are the standard I uphold and they are not modern/secular standards. Once again, neither Protestantism nor Catholicism has an answer for that.

    Keep the ad hominems coming, it only shows the baselessness of your argument.

  201. Where were the Anabaptists or Mennonites invested with political authority such as Calvin had in Geneva or Luther had under Frederick? Where were they the state church?

    The true church knows never to commit adultery with the state. That is one more proof of the inauthenticity of the reformers.

    I’m glad you see that Rome cannot possibly substantiate itself. But Jason is right to criticize you for attempting to stand above the fray. You are just as part of it as anyone else.

    I don’t stand above the fray, I stand outside of it. If you and him want to associate yourselves with some of most corrupt history in the name of truth, go ahead. But you cannot force me to join a movement which my conscience cannot contemplate and which does not bear the stamp of the Holy Spirit. Your forebears may have put me to death for my dissent, but you cannot, at least I hope not.

    What I am objecting to is SS’ naive reading of history that judges the past by modern, refined secular standards

    The standards espoused by the believers we read of in the NT and in the earliest documentation available to us, such as the Didache, are the standard I uphold and they are not modern/secular standards. Once again, neither Protestantism nor Catholicism has an answer for that.

    Keep the ad hominems coming, it only shows the baselessness of your argument.

  202. Darryl,

    Jason, but who do you say the modern pope is? Don’t take the easy way out and depend on Michael.

    I am clearly missing something, as I don’t understand your question. There’s obviously some subtext I’m not cluing in on.

    But of course you’re silent about the post Vatican 2 papacy as well as the CTC claims for the audacity of the papacy (as the solution to Protestantism). It’s just easier to say that I don’t understand anything rather than try to be understood. Sort of like the pre-Vatican 2 popes.

    There you go again, demonstrating the exact tactic for which this post accuses you of dishonesty.

    I am no more “silent” about the post-V2 papacy than you are about liberal Protestant attacks on the historicity of the synoptics. What’s that you say? The purpose of Old Life is not to address the fact that the expert Protestant academics think you a simpleton and your conservative views quaint because you’re ignoring all the relevant scholarship? Well likewise, the purpose of this site is not to solve all the historical questions surrounding the contemporary papacy and how it relates to the papacy in times past. Stop berating me for not doing what you don’t do either, it’s hypocritical.

    That said, I will repeat what I have stated several times: The posture toward modernity of the pre- and post-V2 CC is markedly different. The Church’s stance changed. It was one thing before, and it became something different later. Let’s see, what other ways can I attempt to say the same thing? Oh yeah: V1-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be avoided, V2-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be co-existed with.

    The posture toward modernity of the pre- and post-V2 CC is markedly different. The Church’s stance changed. It was one thing before, and it became something different later. V1-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be avoided, V2-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be co-existed with.

    (I cut and re-pasted that paragraph for you in case you missed it and planned to accuse me again of denying that the CC ever changes.)

    The way I see it, you have a couple options at this point: You can finally figure out that the CC’s claims about the Magisterium have nothing to do with various postures the Church takes toward shifting political climates and cultural movements (which would require you to adjust your critiques to things that Catholics actually advocate), or, you can continue to repeat your well-worn refrain by attributing to Catholics positions they do not hold and then mocking them for failing to live up to them. Your move.

    And the reason I remarked above that you don’t understand what Liccione is trying to explain to you is that you insisted earlier that CTC is dishonest for comparing Catholic theory with Protestant history, and that if they would just compare theory with theory, you’d accept that as fair. But this is exactly what Liccione is doing by comparing and contrasting the Protestant and Catholic interpretive paradigms. I find it flabbergasting that you can read what he says, and then turn around and wish CTC would just compare theory with theory.

    And when it comes to the history, again you miss the point by continually claiming that we’re saying that the papacy “makes all our problems go away.” It’s almost as if you don’t even want to understand us. What is being claimed is not that an infallible Magisterium “solves all our problems” (although your couching things this way does make us easier to belittle), but rather, what is being claimed is that when the Church’s teachings are being violated (as they will), there is a way in principle to identify those violations and seek to correct them. Does this mean everything will work out perfectly? Of course not, no one ever said it would.

    Now, you have demonstrated a complete unwillingness slash inability to actually modify your critiques in the face of our countless corrections of your strawman arguments, and I am under no delusion that you’re going to start now. I just wanted to say all these things for the sake of those reading this. So I’ll say it again: None of the things for which you fault the papacy for failing to do are things we claim the papacy is supposed to do.

  203. Robert and SS–

    It’s a complicated interrelationship between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Some simple folk have a deep spiritual maturity and their lives are permeated with profound hands-on ministry experience, yet their theological soundings, while faithful and functional, lack sophistication. Some great minds of the faith, on the other hand, are rich in theological complexity yet never get past basic attitudinal flaws: ambition, temper, bigotry.

    So, while I may prefer Bullinger to Luther overall, as a man of God, and even as a theologian. I cannot discount the intellectual insights of bullheaded Brother Martin.

    There are indeed some extraordinarily exemplary Messianic scholars, but the movement has more than its fair share of kooks, as well. It is, unfortunately, quite known for rather idiosyncratic, off-the-wall rabbi/theologians. Good friends of mine love their little Messianic fellowship but are never quite sure when the “other shoe is going to drop” and their rabbi’s eccentricities go over the top to a point they cannot follow.

    SS may not care for Calvin, but surely there are Reformed names he would feel comfortable emulating. Listen to Alistair Begg rather than Mark Driscoll. Read Joel Beeke rather than R. C. Sproul.

    I don’t give long dead theologians a pass for being “men of their age.” I mentioned Bullinger, who was far more irenic than Calvin though he was a contemporary. I don’t excuse Martin Luther or the equally foul-mouthed SAINT Thomas More. There is no excuse for horrendous behavior.

    I have to agree with Robert on the one point, however. SS wouldn’t like Calvinism even if Calvin had been a perfect angel of a human being. If he wants nice, he should become Quaker or Mormon or Socinian. Messianic Jews can be rather forthright and opinionated in my experience. Just saying. 🙂

  204. What is being claimed is not that an infallible Magisterium “solves all our problems” (although your couching things this way does make us easier to belittle), but rather, what is being claimed is that when the Church’s teachings are being violated (as they will), there is a way in principle to identify those violations and seek to correct them. Does this mean everything will work out perfectly? Of course not, no one ever said it would.

    That sounds like the church can only be expected to work pretty well. So then why would you ask of Robert, “Please tell me you believe the church is supposed to do more than ‘work pretty good'”? It’s not a gotch’ya. It’s to wonder why, if it’s about fairness, it is that you get to imply that Protestants have too low an expectation of the church, but when there are cracks in the infallible Roman walls you get to fall back on claims of imperfection? Seems sort of convenient.

    And Protestantism also has a way in principle to identify violations and seek to correct them. Why when it doesn’t work out triumphantly and troubles still beset the church is it more evidence of simply hunkering around fallible human opinions, but when your church continues to be beset more falling back on imperfection is in order? But the difference is in the prior claims of fallibility or infallibility. Sure seems like those who claim fallibility have the right to also claim imperfection when the principle for solving problems (scriptura) meets up with human realities, while those who make more audacious claims of infallibility should be prepared not to be so quick to play the fallible card when the principle for solving problems (ecclesia) meets those same realities.

  205. @Dr. Hart:

    I don’t hate the papacy. I don’t hate Jason and the Callers. What tightens my jaws is a partial rendering of Rome which go hand in hand with dismissals of Protestantism because of its opinions, diversity, and schismatic nature.

    I don’t think that you hate them, but that alone doesn’t preclude being abusive, treating people with an undue lack of charity. And this misinterpretation isn’t fair at all. The point of bringing up different Protestant beliefs isn’t a historical point in itself. We are all well aware that Catholics have as much or more diversity in belief than Protestants, so diversity of belief, and even open heresy within the communion, isn’t being used to prove anything.

    What it is being used to prove is that, given diversity of belief, Protestantism is dysfunctional; it cannot operate to define itself against orthodoxy by its own principles, because all of the definitions are fallible and mutable in principle. Now if there were not diversity of views, such a function would be unnecessary. But the historical data shows otherwise. That leaves primarily a discussion of theory versus theory, with history only being used to demonstrate the mundane conclusion that people disagree and even disagree about the importance of their disagreements. It has nothing to do with an interpretive paradigm to history and everything to do with the implications of the historical fact on which everyone agrees (namely, diversity of Christian belief) on theories of religion.

    As for your claim about Protestantism and orthodoxy, I know lots of conservative Protestants who still believe in hell and the need for a savior who died on the cross. When I read John Paul II, I am not sure he is exactly orthodox about hell or about predestination (as taught by Augustine and Aquinas — and JPII was “conservative”)

    We’ve moved to a theological critique here, but if the Protestants’ understanding of soteriology is defective (and I think it is hard to dispute that imputed justification is defective by patristic standards), then what is that conclusion worth? If one doesn’t even understand why we need Christ or what it is from which we are being saved (hint: it isn’t all, or even mainly, from the Father’s wrath against sin), then how can one understand what is and isn’t orthodox belief? And I think that any Catholic would say that we are concerned about the souls of anyone who doesn’t get that, even if there is a small possibility that they might be saved despite ignorance on the subject. The Gospel is important, and getting soteriology (and therefore the Gospel) wrong is not a minor misstep. This is why the issue of being able to separate heterodoxy and orthodoxy in principle is an important one.

    When read in the full context of what salvation is (and what sin is), Pope John Paul II’s statements are relatively easily understandable. Just as with any form of evil, the good that we have comes from God, including salvation, but the evil is our fault. We do not know how that can be, any more than we can explain evil generally, but we know it both metaphysically and Scripturally, so we affirm it without being able to fully comprehend it. And this has been the Western solution since the sixth century, so saying that it breaks from Augustine and Aquinas does not strike me as a historically responsible claim. See the Second Synod of Orange:
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/orange.txt

    Matthew Levering’s book on predestination traces that simultaneous affirmation throughout Catholic history, including the Reformation, so the assertion that this is some great break with Tradition rings hollow. But even here, you’re flipping between the historical space (support in prior Catholic authors) and the theological space when it is convenient, when your real critique is theological. If you’re going to do that without being completely arbitrary, then we need to really do the historical work over the whole dataset, and as I pointed out, that doesn’t go well for Protestants in the conciliar era.

    In short, this whole assault on Jason and CtC seems to be entirely unfair. Their historical claims are modest; the critique is primarily philosophical/theological, so the accusation of ignoring history is unfounded. And your own historical critiques are not relevant to the Catholic theory, nor are they complete enough to support any kind of critique based on the competing paradigms. Just because they are thinking about things differently than they did before doesn’t mean that they are dishonestly ignoring what they knew previously. It may simply mean that they have found a better way to explain the same things that they always knew.

  206. Eric,

    My point is not really to give anyone a pass. My point is only that we judge people fairly. I would not want Luther as my pastor or Calvin. They made a lot of errors in practice. I’m just trying to make sure that people are honest about why they reject certain things. Calvin should not have been involved in the state’s business. But when you come out of centuries of state churches and you are among the first to see the errors of the system, no one should be surprised that the men I mention did not see more than they did. It’s real easy to judge people from the comfort of 20th century America, and it is also real easy for us to think we would not have made the same errors. I’m pretty sure you realize that. I just want people to be forthright. SS and his rejection of Reformation theology has almost nothing to do with what these men did.

  207. @Zrim:

    Sure seems like those who claim fallibility have the right to also claim imperfection when the principle for solving problems (scriptura) meets up with human realities, while those who make more audacious claims of infallibility should be prepared not to be so quick to play the fallible card when the principle for solving problems (ecclesia) meets those same realities.

    Scripture is not a principle for solving problems. The relevant question is whether people reading Scripture can solve the problems, because they are the ones applying the principle to solve problems. If everyone reading the Scripture is fallible in principle, then unless everyone just happens to agree, the answer is that it can’t, nor does the inerrancy of Scripture actually matter if people can err in interpretation of Scripture. It’s not a question of Catholics making “more audacious” claims of infallibility; rather, you aren’t making an infallibility claim at all, which is why you aren’t advancing the type of claim that could even possibly resolve divine revelation authoritatively.

    In short, once you accept the modernist position of radical skepticism, i.e., that there is an irreducible gap of fallibility between human minds and reality, the entire idea of divine revelation falls apart. You can speak of Scripture being “infallible,” but it’s just a word without the underlying metaphysical reality. That word doesn’t actually have any real referent other than an idea in your head, a way of thinking about Scripture in the same way you might think of any other imaginary being that doesn’t exist. You can think about imaginary things as if they are real, but that doesn’t make them real.

  208. Jason, first I divide, then I dismiss. It is my day job.

  209. Jason,

    What Zrim said.

    I don’t write about inerrancy. If I did I would have to acknowledge the liberal critiques and the difficulties attending the critical study of Scripture. In that case you’d have a point. But since I don’t write about inerrancy, you’re the one not being fair. You say I need to acknowledge the problems. Fine. Do you? Not really. It’ s not part of your Scott Hahn phase.

    As for Mike’s comparison of theories, he has not actually stated the Protestant paradigm because there is not one — remember the sufficiency of Scripture (it doesn’t reveal paradigms)? But Mike is also asserting a theory that is not part of the magisterium’s teaching. He has made himself a pope. Sure, he can assert that what he says follows from the mag’s teaching. But given the reality of the diversity of paradigms among Roman Catholics, and given the silence of Rome about such a paradigm, his argument is once again just pure theory (and opinion — much in the way a Protestant opines).

  210. When I asked about treatment of the priest sex abuse scandal at CTC I was pointed to one — one — post by Jeremy Tate that barely mentioned the scandal at the end. This is certainly one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the Roman Catholic Church. I think this scant treatment supports Darryl’s point.

  211. @Dr. Hart:

    As for Mike’s comparison of theories, he has not actually stated the Protestant paradigm because there is not one — remember the sufficiency of Scripture (it doesn’t reveal paradigms)?

    The “sufficiency of Scripture” is actually a paradigm about the sufficiency of Scripture, one that doesn’t work.

    But Mike is also asserting a theory that is not part of the magisterium’s teaching. He has made himself a pope. Sure, he can assert that what he says follows from the mag’s teaching. But given the reality of the diversity of paradigms among Roman Catholics, and given the silence of Rome about such a paradigm, his argument is once again just pure theory (and opinion — much in the way a Protestant opines).

    I can see why you wouldn’t want Jason to have become Catholic if you honestly think that Catholics are this stupid. Does diversity of opinion change the fundamental requirements of coherency and soundness? Does it mean we should shut off our brains and not have a coherent reason for treating Catholic tenets as dogmatic? All your observation proves is that there the vast majority of Catholics can’t give an adequate account of what they believe, which is hardly a remarkable observation. The Magisterium itself routinely appeals to the CIP both explicitly and implicitly, and to say that they are somehow unaware of it is to accuse them of not even knowing what they are saying when they write something, which isn’t even reasonable by mundane standards.

    There certainly isn’t any diversity of correct paradigms; there’s only one that adequately explains the data consistently with the Magisterial pronouncements on the subject. The diversity of error, by contrast, is unlimited. There are no reasons for this diversity of opinion; it results from people expressing their desires about a subject rather than dealing with reality. In that respect, it results from the same fallibility that produces sin: people want something that isn’t good for them, and they talk and act as if it were.

  212. Jonathan,

    The only ones promoting radical skepticism around these parts is you, Jason, and the other Roman Catholic folk who are so skeptical that you need an infallible arbitrer to tell you whether you’ve read Scripture correctly or not.

  213. Not to let accuracy get in the way of a catchy blog post title, but I feel I should point out that I did not accuse Darryl of being “a bigot, etc.,” but rather, I pointed out the observable fact that this is the reputation he is garnering in the various forums he frequents.

    Don’t shoot the messenger. . . .

  214. Jason – but rather, I pointed out the observable fact that this is the reputation he is garnering in the various forums he frequents.

    Don’t shoot the messenger. . . .

    Erik – And the objective evidence for this “observable fact” is?

    And the qualifications of those making that assessment are?

    When some people make an assessment I generally assume the opposite to be true because, well, they’re morons.

    I need more information.

  215. Dave H – Here is a hypothetical situation to demonstrate how flawed your thinking on this:

    A man’s wife of twenty years drinks too much one night and leaves her three young children home alone for two hours without a babysitter. The man goes and asks his good friend Darryl for advice. Darryl instructs him to divorce his wife, abandon the children and immediately and start dating various and random younger ladies.

    Erik – What if she drank too much for 1,500 years?

  216. Scripture is not a principle for solving problems. The relevant question is whether people reading Scripture can solve the problems, because they are the ones applying the principle to solve problems. If everyone reading the Scripture is fallible in principle, then unless everyone just happens to agree, the answer is that it can’t, nor does the inerrancy of Scripture actually matter if people can err in interpretation of Scripture. It’s not a question of Catholics making “more audacious” claims of infallibility; rather, you aren’t making an infallibility claim at all, which is why you aren’t advancing the type of claim that could even possibly resolve divine revelation authoritatively.

    Jonathan,

    I agree fully with you that Scripture is not a principle for solving problems. Eric, Robert and other protestants continue to argue otherwise, but the idea has no epistemological basis whatsoever. In the beginning, the church resorted to the authority of the disciples appointed by God to deliberate on doctrinal matters. Acts 15 provides us with an important and unique view into the inner workings of this doctrinal deliberation. While Scripture was involved in that James imbued Amos’ prophecy regarding the gentiles with relevant meaning for the discussion at hand, it is clear that it is the authority of James’ that carried the day in the final balance. James did not say “The Bible judges”, he said “Therefore I judge”.

    Now, my challenge to the catholic church is this: the group of apostles and elders who deliberated on the matter of the salvation of gentiles included for the most part, Jewish believers. There is very strong evidence indicating that these were not catholics or even pro-catholics because they held on to distinctively Jewish praxis and no one had any issue with that, certainly not Paul himself who went the extra mile in proving so (cf. Acts 21).

    If the paradigm is that we need the authority of elders to lead us into doctrinal truth, shouldn’t we find evidence in the church that Christ founded that supports the diversity of the body of Christ? Meaning, shouldn’t we find both Jewish believers/elders and gentile believers/elders at the helm? I ask the reader, is that what you see in Protestantism? Is that what you see in Catholicism? No, it isn’t. And yet, that is how the church was run in the beginning, by a plurality of elders which upheld the God ordained distinctions between Jew and Gentile, as opposed to a conflation of the two.

    The idea that protestants or catholics will tell Jewish believers what to believe, without their input, is patently absurd. It is as reasonable as americans going to China, hiking up to the Shaolin temples there and telling the monks: “We are going to teach you kung fu now, so y’all sit down”. I ask the reader, does that make any sense? And yet that is exactly what the gentile church has done for ages now. Should not the authority that leads the church be derived from a conciliar process that involves deliberation from both Jew and Gentile?

    In Jesus’ day, God used John the Baptist to call His people to repentance. JTB wasn’t above the fray, he was outside of it, and loved His people. He wasn’t part of the establishment himself but it is with the people who are the closest to us that we can get the most upset with. Someone could have said to him “You float above history and now claim to tell us what Moses meant?”. But he told them nonetheless, didn’t he. Something to think about.

  217. Robert,

    If we start with the idea that scripture is clear as a proposition that is self-evident then interpretation would not be needed. For instance, you and I can agree that “If A is smaller than B, then B is taller than A” once we both understand the proposition. Everyone who understands that proposition will agree and we will get along fine. However, the proposition, ” Scripture does not require interpretation” is a conditional statement that comes from the another group of words of which it is dependent and that is: “Scripture is perspicuous”. But that scripture is clear, is not something self-evident.
    In concrete reality not everyone agrees that, “Scripture is clear”. If every person who reads scripture also knows Hebrew and Greek they still could not agree to that proposition. This means that it is an assertion that is demonstratably false. There are no real grounds for me to infer that this proposition demands that I give assent.

    But what it your justified support that scripture is clear to everyone once everyone understands the proposition, “Scripture is clear to all”?

    Susan

  218. Jason, now you’re sounding more like Vatican II. Good for you.

  219. Jonathan, I understand you think sola scriptura is no way to solve doctrinal problems. That wasn’t my point. My point was to wonder how those who begin with an infallible human interpreter can ever fall back on human fallibility when things don’t work out, as in the pope has spoken but there remain fractures and disagreements within. I mean, isn’t that what human infallibility is supposed to avoid? So with all the claims of panacea infallibility is supposed to provide in theory, in practice it sure looks like it’s not really taking. Then the response comes: Well, nobody’s perfect and nobody ever claimed to be. Um, yeah you did, that’s what infallible means.

    At least over here the only thing claimed as infallible and perfect is the Bible. Imperfection lies within all human beings reading it. And when we get it wrong we can fall back on that imperfection, which leads to revisions. I understand getting it wrong gives you the willies, but you can’t come back and claim human imperfection. You have to by-pass that and go directly to doctrinal development.

  220. JJS, come on. It’s pretty clear you were doing more than playing messenger. You meant for that to be the accusation (and yeow, by the way). You claim your temperament aligns better with Reformed confessionalism, but that shot was more from the Calvinist gadfly holster. There’s a difference.

  221. Dear Eric,

    You mentioned St. Thomas More in an earlier post, and you called him “foul-mouthed.” That comment piqued my interest. Are you thinking of something that he wrote? How did you come away with that impression of More? My own impression, from reading several of More’s works, is that he was a man of impeccable character who exercised supernatural prudence in his choice of words. But perhaps you know something that I don’t.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  222. Erik – What if she drank too much for 1,500 years?

    A.H. – “for better, for worse, ………., until death do us part.”

  223. @Zrim:

    I mean, isn’t that what human infallibility is supposed to avoid?

    No. Getting past that mistake would help the discussion.
    .

    At least over here the only thing claimed as infallible and perfect is the Bible. Imperfection lies within all human beings reading it. And when we get it wrong we can fall back on that imperfection, which leads to revisions.

    If you can get it wrong, then reading Scripture isn’t infallible or perfect for the purpose of distinguishing what it and is not divinely revealed. So whatever you mean by “infallible,” it’s not relevant to the purpose of infallibility as Catholics articulate it.

  224. @Robert:

    The only ones promoting radical skepticism around these parts is you, Jason, and the other Roman Catholic folk who are so skeptical that you need an infallible arbitrer to tell you whether you’ve read Scripture correctly or not.

    It’s not a question of reading Scripture. It’s a question of recognizing what Scripture is, what inspiration is, and what the divinely revealed meaning is. Anybody can read Scripture, but not everybody who reads Scripture understands its nature as divine revelation, knows what inspiration is, and understands the divine revealed meaning. Hence, reading Scripture is not an infallible means of discerning divine revelation, nor was it ever intended to be. The only thing I am skeptical about is a fideistic appeal to the authority of Scripture that has been repeatedly falsified.

  225. ZRIM ( Hi my friend)

    But that there are fractures within( people dissenting against the truth) doesn’t mean that the truth doesn’t exist. It seems to me that you’re saying truth cannot really ever be known because people give a false witness.

    If I produced a machine that made change for $100 bills my combinations will be

    2 – $50
    5-$ 20
    10-$10
    20- $5
    100-$1

    But if each one of those combinations added $0.01 extra or subtracted $0.01, it failed to write the truth properly. The $100 bill that was inserted demanded a true rendering of what is $100. Maybe this analogy is stupid and doesn’t show anything. It came to me earlier when I was drying me hair! 🙂

    Anyways…….what I see is that if the interpretation that you or I get when we read the scriptures isn’t infallible, then we did not hit upon the truth. Truth has no margin for error.

    You said: “And when we get it wrong we can fall back on that imperfection, which leads to revisions.”

    I ask. How do you know you got it wrong in the first place? Who informs one that something is wrong except the truth? This way of thinking obliterates the notion of truth. If Truth is forever illusive then how will I know things that are essential doctrine?

    Susan

  226. Dear Jonathan Prejean,

    I wish only to make an observation, as a lifelong Protestant who wrestled with “infallibility” f.or several years

    I propose if you want to talk about infallibility with a Protestant, you need to find a common meaning of the term (pretty obvious from me, I know). For example, let’s say it means only “trustworthy.”

    Now as Christians, you and I both find Scripture trustworthy. In fact, we find it ultimately trustworthy, in terms of the data we find depostied there. If I’m assuming too much about your position, feel free to correct me. And you can start down the canon question with me, all you like, or you can allow me some grace, as I know the canon question is important for the Protestant in a way that it is not for the Catholic.

    Where we differ, is that I do not find ultimate trustworthiness in my particular communion. I do trust my communion, because I believe that’s where God has placed me. But I also believe there could come a day when I find my communion untrustworthy. That’s what believing in the fallibility of the church, to me at least, means.

    It seems to me the Catholic positions means unequivocally that the Catholic must find their communion trustworthy both now, and indeed until “death do they part.” There can be no other way for the Catholic.

    If I have any of this wrong, feel free to point it out. Also, feel free to completely disregard me. These are simple observations, and you are having a conversation with someone else, and my only reason for being here is the fact that I follow blogger DG Hart, and there’s a bit of a conversation between him and the blogger Jason here.

    Now, who is right, the Catholic or the Protestant? Is the Church ultimately trustworthy? The Protestant will argue that in history, when there was no Protestantism, the Church proved herself unworthy of the label “trustworthy,” and thus, the reformation was required and is a continuing required existence, since she is fallible. The Catholic will say the church was merely in a state of under-development. And is constantly in a state of development, but nevertheless, trustworthy.

    As a final observation, the infallibility question is massive. Or, maybe in your terms, “discerning divine revelation.” The arguments that are spawned from this starting point are extremely developed and not, in my opinion, properly suited for the back and forth nature that we find on the internet. The Catholic position leads into explaining the development, hermeneutics of discontinuity vs. hermeneutics of continuity, and so forth. The Protestant will, having brushed off ecclessial infallibilty, chart down the path of Scriptural perspicuity, and explaining a coherent Biblical theology, and so forth. But really, I don’t know enough of the standard Catholic path, because I’ve never gone down that path, but only can read the responses here at CCC or CTC, of the Protestant interlocutors.

    I will add, in conclusion, you’re not going to prove the church is infallible to me, the same way I’m not going to prove the Scriptures are infallible to a Protestant who is more liberal than me on this position that I hold, with regard to Scripture. So maybe, if I have a point to all this, is you need to find a way to talk about it, acknowledging the respective differences, in order to find a way forward. If this is tedious or pedantic, I apologize. But I don’t see how much of what’s going on in these comboxes isn’t precisely those qualities, as it seems to me this is a way people like to spend their time, convincing themselves they are promoting Christian unity when, by and large, they are simply arguing for their own position because it’s in the self interest. Or maybe that’s just me being honest about why I comment every once in a while…

    Take care,
    AB

  227. Erik,

    And the objective evidence for this “observable fact” is?

    What loads of people are saying about him. He is becoming known as someone whose main interest is to belittle others and score rhetorical points rather than engage in sincere dialogue. I have heard some version of that charge from over a dozen people, whether Protestant or Catholic, public or private.

  228. Jason has been a Roman Catholic for one year? I’m amazed at the level of attention he and other brand-new believers receive here and other blogs, particularly from men like Dr. Hart. Wouldn’t time be better spent with those a little more mature in their faith?

  229. Tell me about it. He even threw acid on my car and boiled my daughter’s bunny on the stove.

  230. Paul–

    I was thinking of this:

    “Come, do not rage so violently, good father; but if you have raved wildly enough, listen now, you pimp. You that you falsely complained above that the king has shown no passage in your whole book, even as an example, in which he said that you contradict yourself. You told this lie shortly before, although the king has demonstrated to you many examples of your inconsistency ….

    “But meanwhile, for as long as your reverend paternity will be determined to tell these shameless lies, others will be permitted, on behalf of his English majesty, to throw back into your paternity’s sh**ty mouth, truly the sh**-pool of all sh**, all the muck and sh** which your damnable rottenness has vomited up, and to empty out all the sewers and privies onto your crown divested of the dignity of the priestly crown, against which no less than against the kingly crown you have determined to play the buffoon.

    “In your sense of fairness, honest reader, you will forgive me that the utterly filthy words of this scoundrel have forced me to answer such things, for which I should have begged your leave. Now I consider truer than truth that saying: ‘He who touches pitch will be wholly defiled by it’ (Sirach 13:1). For I am ashamed even of this necessity, that while I clean out the fellow’s sh**-filled mouth I see my own fingers covered with sh**.”

    –Sir Thomas More, Responsio ad Lutherum

  231. Jason–

    You said:

    ” V1-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be avoided, V2-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be co-existed with.”

    No, V1-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be rejected, V2-era Catholicism treated modernity as something to be embraced.

    The development of doctrine does not allow for innovation or contradiction. How is this change not a contradiction?

  232. Eric,

    A stance or posture towards a particular shifting political climate doesn’t fall under the category of irreversible de fide dogma (especially if the body taking that stance never claimed that it was irreformable). It’s just a matter of pastoral wisdom, much like virtually all of our institutions have adjusted certain elements of their postures toward the modern world.

  233. Comment

  234. Hi Susan,

    The issue of clarity applies more directly when it comes to Rome. You have a church that still cannot figure out hoe Vatican 2 is to be interpreted. The church might tell you the correct interpretation of Scripture, but who is going to tell you the correct interpretation of ecclesiastical documents. Ecclesiastical infallibility does not do what you think it does; it just moves the interpretative task back one steo.

  235. SS,

    Unless you want to admit those Messianic Jews in Jerusalem are infallible, then you are assuming a basic Protestant epistemology. Actually, you are embracing the strict individualism in a way no Protestant with historical sensibilities ever would since you reject much of the Western tradition. Ironically, you are more guilty of being your own pope than any one commenting on these threads.

  236. Roman Catholics,

    Here is an interesting question. I like SS, but he thinks he is standing apart from both of us and embracing a methodology that is supposedly different from both of us. Out of curiosity, do any of you think he is doing anything different than what you would accuse Protestants of, namely, finding a church that fit his own reading of Scripture? Jason, if you have the time or inclination to answer, I’d especially be interested in your opinion.

  237. Jason–

    I was talking about modernism in terms of hermeneutics. That has nothing to do with a changed political climate. Pious X fought such modernism tooth and nail, deeming the concept of the development of dogma nothing short of heretical. The anti-modernist oath was required of the episcopate and of clergy until 1967.

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10moath.htm

  238. Unless you want to admit those Messianic Jews in Jerusalem are infallible, then you are assuming a basic Protestant epistemology.

    This statement in and of itself shows that you have not been listening, or are pretending not to, since it’s probably a lot more enjoyable for you to attack a straw man. What I have pointed to from day one, is the fact that no body of believers today can claim to be in full harmony with the pattern of the church we see in Scripture. That includes everyone, catholics, protestants, messianic jews. The fact remains that the early church involved both jews and gentiles in the leadership of the church. Even secular historians tell you as much. And as far as epistemology goes, it wasn’t “The Bible Says” but rather “James says this is what the Bible says” and that was the final answer.

    Since the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 and with the emergence of the state sponsored church, the early unity of the church was destroyed. Supersessionism was very early on the scene and only in the last few decades has it been unmasked. And my call on this widely read blog has been for all parties to humbly consider that they may be in complete breach of praxis with the early church, as far as leadership and conciliar authority goes. It behooves both jewish and gentile believers, in my view, to seek the unity that we see displayed in the New Testament. Paul, a Jew, appointed Titus, a gentile. That is more than symbolic, this is the glory of God’s justification in view. I have consistently argued for two main truths:

    1. The earliest church was not catholic, nor was it protestant in its epistemology.
    2. The fullness of the gentiles has come, and Messianics are a reality to contend with (cf. Romans 11).

    You decide what you want to do with the above.

  239. And again…

    If the paradigm is that we need the authority of elders to lead us into doctrinal truth, shouldn’t we find evidence in the church that Christ founded that supports the diversity of the body of Christ? Meaning, shouldn’t we find both Jewish believers/elders and gentile believers/elders at the helm? I ask the reader, is that what you see in Protestantism? Is that what you see in Catholicism? No, it isn’t. And yet, that is how the church was run in the beginning, by a plurality of elders which upheld the God ordained distinctions between Jew and Gentile, as opposed to a conflation of the two.

    The idea that protestants or catholics will tell Jewish believers what to believe, without their input, is patently absurd. It is as reasonable as americans going to China, hiking up to the Shaolin temples there and telling the monks: “We are going to teach you kung fu now, so y’all sit down”.

    I ask the reader, does that make any sense?

    And yet that is exactly what the gentile church has done for ages now. Should not the authority that leads the church be derived from a conciliar process that involves deliberation from both Jew and Gentile?

    In Jesus’ day, God used John the Baptist to call His people to repentance. JTB wasn’t above the fray, he was outside of it, and loved His people. He wasn’t part of the establishment himself but it is with the people who are the closest to us that we can get the most upset with. Someone could have said to him “You float above history and now claim to tell us what Moses meant?”. But he told them nonetheless, didn’t he. Something to think about.

  240. AB – “I do trust my communion, because I believe that’s where God has placed me. But I also believe there could come a day when I find my communion untrustworthy.”

    That is the fate of Protestantism, its adherents have to be prepared – day in, day out, to PROTEST in their own church about the most holy things they keep. That`s no life for a Christian, who will keep the faith (trust) forever!

  241. Susan, you suggest that the Reformed approach, which disallows for human infallibility and only allows for biblical infallibility, obliterates the notion of truth and is a set up for disillusion. But if you’re admitting that there are fractures within the Roman walls then the Roman approach hasn’t circumvented anything any better. The point isn’t that because of this truth cannot be known, it’s that while you may have a theory, you don’t have a corresponding reality.

  242. Eric, you wrote (8/24/2014, 9:48pm):

    Pious X fought such modernism tooth and nail, deeming the concept of the development of dogma nothing short of heretical.

    This is far too general. St. Pius X wrote the following:

    Be assured that we strongly approve of your pamphlet proving that the works of Cardinal Newman – far from being at variance with our encyclical – are actually in close agreement with it … For even though in the works written before his conversion to the Catholic faith one might find statements which bear a certain likeness to some Modernist formulae, you rightly deny that they in any way support them … But, as for the many and important books he composed as a Catholic, it is hardly necessary to repel the charges of affinity with the Modernist heresy … Indeed though things might be found which appear different from the usual theological mode of expression, nothing can be found which would arouse any suspicion of his faith … an excellent and most learned man … You have done what you could among your own people and especially the English, to prevent those who have been abusing his name from deceiving the unlearned.

    [source: Christopher Hollis, Newman and the Modern World, London: The Catholic Book Club, 1967, p.200; HT: Dave Armstrong]

    So Pius was no adversary of Cardinal Newman at all.

    Furthermore, your apparent assertion that literally any sort of doctrinal development is heretical in Pius X’s view is excessive, given that a) Pope St. Gregory the Great and b) St. Thomas Aquinas himself both affirmed a growth in the Church’s understanding of dogma that is entirely consistent with Newman’s theory. You would effectively put Pius at odds with Gregory and Thomas, which is absurd.

    Fred

  243. Fred N., right, that was the same Newman who opposed papal infalliblity as dogma. http://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/

    “Privately, [Newman] confided to Ambrose St John that he would not know what to say to anxious enquirers if the Pope did in fact take advantage of what was ‘a precedent and a suggestion to use his power without necessity, when ever he will, when not called on to do so.’ He was so concerned, [Newman] admitted, at the danger of an attempt to extend the definition, that ‘we must hope, for one is obliged to hope it,that the Pope will be driven from Rome, and will not continue the Council, or that there will be another Pope.’” (656)

    So once again, let’s play fair.

  244. @Dr. Hart:

    And exactly how was I unfair, sir? Please do tell, since it is never my intention to do so.

    Fred

  245. AH, thanks for the comment, but I think it’s precisely because they are those “most holy” things that I indeed must maintain my posture. I’m in the fortunate position of being in a church that takes polity very seriously (and, I’m actually ordained in it, so theoretically, I could be the one having charges brought against me, for something I do wrong), which means I have various avenues for appeal should I feel there has been some wrong. Yes, I may someday need to file a complaint or appeal, or protest and leave. Leaving my church would indeed be a big deal. But it’s an option open to me, and it’s an option I would like to leave open to others in the church as well (again, because I’m ordained, and know I could screw up, I wouldn’t want someone feeling they have to stay under penalty that their salvation could be at risk if they do leave, because, after all, I’m fallible…). I’m very thankful to be a Protestant, the way you paint the situation really isn’t as bad as it sounds. But that’s enough from me, a Protestant, writing in the combox of a Catholic blogger.

    Thanks again,
    AB

  246. Fred–

    My intent was not to disparage Newman, who, were he alive today, might very well be SSPX.

    Others took the ball he started rolling and ran with it. Modernists took advantage of its acceptance to literally change Catholic dogma.

    Here is part of the anti-modernist oath to which I linked:

    “I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously.”

    So I was talking about the misuse of the concept of the development of doctrine by all Catholic modernists, including the last three popes. Though they are often termed “conservative,” they are not conservative in the same way Pius X (and Newman) were.

  247. Eric,

    You wrote:

    My intent was not to disparage Newman, who, were he alive today, might very well be SSPX.

    That sounds like a fun game. If Luther and Calvin and Knox were alive today, they might very well be atheists.

    Others took the ball he started rolling and ran with it.

    But Newman didn’t start any ball rolling, Eric. Like I said, St. Gregory the Great and Aquinas had that ball rolling centuries before.

    So I was talking about the misuse of the concept of the development of doctrine by all Catholic modernists, including the last three popes.

    You had me until “including”. On the one hand the rad trads (and, evidently/inexplicably, a lot of Protestant conservatives) think JPII, BXVI, & F are a bunch of commie libs, but the actual commie libs think the same three men are/were reactionaries. What is a faithful-to-the-historic-Magisterium pope supposed to do?

    Well, the same thing that they’ve always done: stick to the historic magisterium, and stick to the CIP.

    Peace,

    Fred

  248. Jason, rotten timing here: “What loads of people are saying about him. He is becoming known as someone whose main interest is to belittle others and score rhetorical points rather than engage in sincere dialogue. I have heard some version of that charge from over a dozen people, whether Protestant or Catholic, public or private.”

    I know lots of people comment at CCC, but I do believe I am better known this week at least for something else: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324747104579023233063952314.html

    Sorry for the self-promotion, but apparently my lip hanger http://oldlife.org/2013/08/how-to-detect-high-papalism/comment-page-1/#comment-96009
    fell down on the job.

  249. Fred, you’ve only given one side of Newman — you have cherry picked. Newman was a critic of papal infallibility. Is that okay with you?

  250. Thanks, Eric, for sending that passage from Responsio ad Lutherum. I have not read that text before, but
    I can certainly agree with you (and with More) that the language he uses in those passages is foul. Of course, the fact that More acknowledges the foulness of his language in this one instance, begs his audience to forgive him for it, and says that he’s using such language in an effort to cleanse the foul mouth of another person complicates, to my mind at least, the idea that More was in any straightforward manner “foul-mouthed.” What I see in the passage that you quoted is the rhetorical use of foul language to produce a calculated effect. I saw that Peter Ackroyd, for instance, thinks that More is making a scatalogical allusion to Luther’s own theological beliefs in this passage. I still do not think, then, that it’s safe to infer from this passage that More was “foul-mouthed,” which is an accusation about his general character.

    That being said, the title of Jason’s original post leads me to admit, in the interest of fair-play, that I could hardly be surprised at anybody taking offense at crude language.

    Thanks for answering my question so clearly and directly, Eric. May God bless you richly.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  251. The first link you posted doesn’t work, Darryl.

  252. @Dr. Hart, you wrote:

    Fred, you’ve only given one side of Newman — you have cherry picked. Newman was a critic of papal infallibility. Is that okay with you?

    Well, Dr. Hart, to paraphrase a favorite movie line: you’re the historian, not me. However, 60 seconds with a search engine turned up this from Cardinal Newman’s letters.

    I have for these 25 years spoken in behalf of the Pope's infallibility. The other day a review (I forget what) observed with surprise that even in my article on la Mennais in 1838 I had tacitly accepted the Pope's infallibility. I think I have spoken for it in my Essay on Development of Doctrine in 1845. In 1850 I have introduced the Pope's Infallibility several times into my lectures at the Birmingham Corn Exchange. In 1852 I introduced it most emphatically and dogmatically into my lectures delivered at the Rotundo at Dublin. In 1856 I spoke of it in a new Preface I prefixed to the new Edition of my Church of the Fathers—and in 1868 I reprinted the passage from my Dublin Lectures in a collection of passages made by a Roman Jesuit Father on the dogma, in an Italian translation.

    source

    That quotation is from a letter written by the Cardinal in 1872—two years after Pastor Æternus. So there he is, affirming his belief in the dogma long before it was promulgated (as undoubtedly many or most Catholics of the time also did). What Newman opposed was the formal definition at that time, which he considered “inopportune.” That is a long way from opposing the idea itself, and consequently it is overstating things quite a bit, in my opinion, to try and cast him as a “critic” of papal infallibility.

    Peace,

    Fred

  253. Fred–

    I wasn’t playing a game. I was agreeing with you that Newman was staunchly conservative. Remind me not to take your side again. Were Calvin or Luther alive today, they most likely would not find the OPC or the LCMS to their liking, but they would revile the PCUSA and the ELCA in very strong language indeed.

    Theologically, conservative and liberal refer to the amount of authority given to Scripture (at least in Protestant parlance). Nouvelle Theologie, therefore, is a liberal movement, a “modernist” movement. Pius X stood squarely against the view of Scripture espoused by the last three popes.

    They are certainly conservative in being pro-democratic and anti-communistic. They are, however, generally in favor of European-style socialism. They are conservative on sexual issues like abortion and homosexuality, but liberal on other social issues like gun control and capital punishment. Jason is a self-styled socialist himself and probably thinks of the Magisterium as in his corner politically. Sure, the out-and-out liberation theologians have been somewhat out of favor with the Vatican, as has the sexually decadent American left. A lot of these types of liberals do indeed see the last three popes as inflexible and reactionary. It’s all a matter of perspective.

  254. Eric,

    Aha. Well, considering that the SSPX is borderline schismatic, associating Newman with them is not something that I would see as being on “my side.” There were rad trads in his day too, but he wasn’t associated with them, and he was no schismatic.

    Peace,

    Fred

  255. Jason, the link from DG is just the WSJ saying he’s all that. Nothing you don’t already know, after all, you bowled and drank white russians with your smoke buddy. As an aside, my OPC pastor had me over on my 21st b-day for tanqueray-10 gin martinis. How does Zrim say it, uh, boomsky? Later.

  256. SS,

    So, if we could get the pope, the patriarch of Constantinople, the stated clerk of each Presbyterian denomination, the president of each Baptist convention, the head bishops of the Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists, and any other Protestant leader together along with Shallum and other representatives of Messianic Judaism together and all could come to an agreement, would that agreement be infallible?

  257. So, if we could get the pope, the patriarch of Constantinople, the stated clerk of each Presbyterian denomination, the president of each Baptist convention, the head bishops of the Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists, and any other Protestant leader together along with Shallum and other representatives of Messianic Judaism together and all could come to an agreement, would that agreement be infallible?

    I have said from the beginning that infallibility is not the right focus for the church of God. She should concern herself first and foremost with being faithful to the Lord’s commands and the witness of the apostles and only then will she have the authority to bind and loose and hold accountable.

    ‘In-faithfulness’ , not infallibility.

    When leadership is faithful, it has the anointing of God and His authority that no one can/should question. Once James spoke finally about the salvation of gentiles, it was not up for debate. It’s not like someone coming out with the umpteenth book on justification could challenge His call, it was final. There was no such thing as semper reformanda back then. What was spoken was spoken! James had authority , an authority that was grounded and undergirded by a holy and rigorous life as were the lives of the other apostles and elders. They led such holy lives that even those who lied to them dropped dead of fear (Ananias for example).

    James, Peter, Paul etc were faithful to God. They were not lovers of money, did not have people fall prostrate before them, led simple lives, worked with their own hands (! how bout that for a concept huh), led blameless moral lives, and hence were full of the Holy Spirit. They ought to have been the ultimate examples for us, but sadly through the death of a thousand rationalizations, there is such a chasm between their praxis and ours such that the one bears absolutely no resemblance to the other.

    We have lost the fear of God.

  258. SS,

    No Protestant (that I know of anyway) would say that leaders should not be faithful. The question is this: is it possible for a church leadership that is endeavoring to live in holiness and serve the Lord to make errors in its judgments? If you say yes, welcome to Protestantism. If you say no, welcome to Roman Catholicism.

    No one is suggesting that everything the church has ever said or done is up for debate or revision except for some radical restorationist movements such as the Church of Christ. And even that group, for all its “no creed but Christ,” hasn’t tried to change the doctrine of the Trinity or other such ideas. The question is, what do you do when you find yourself in a situation when the church has gone off the rails? How do you correct it? You may not agree with Protestants, but I don’t think you could disagree that the medieval Western Church had gone off the rails in many respects. The Reformers had to work with what they had, not with an ideal that has never existed. The church has always had a lot of problems. They started in Eden and continue right on through to this day.

    Ordinarily, a church that is being faithful to the standards of Scripture in regards to life and doctrine should be submitted to. But when this is not occurring, what is the answer? You can say we should all get together for a council, and I do not disagree. But how does that council decide the best way forward? What is the answer in the post apostolic age? Not even Roman Catholics believe that modern-day apostles exist.

    What is the answer besides church authorities gathering together, looking at Scripture, and making decisions on how to go forward? That is exactly what all confessional Protestants attempt to do and endeavor, albeit imperfectly. The Westminster Confession of Faith, for example, invests authority in church councils to settle matters of religion. Any duly ordained elder in the PCA, for example, can vote on matters of religion at its annual general assembly. There are Messianic Jews who are ordained elders in the PCA. The PCA has opened ecumenical dialogues with representatives of other communions and even merged with one other denomination (back in the 1980s).

    I’m not necessarily saying that the PCA is the ideal example. Choose another body if you like. RCs and EOs are not invited to participate because the PCA views them as compromising the gospel, and the elders in the PCA do so after years of studying Scripture and looking at the exegesis of all these bodies. No one, at least at the highest levels of authority, is ignoring what these other communions are saying.

    Assume the members of a council including all the leaders of all the professing Christians get together. After years of dialogue, the pope, the patriarch of Constantinople, the archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the PCA, the head of the Southern Baptists, Joseph Shallum cannot come to an agreement on justification. What is the way forward? How should the disagreement be settled?

  259. Fred, I’m glad you have rounded out your understanding of Newman. And the letter you quote sounds defensive, like he knows he needs to explain how he is on board with something that actually troubles him. I recommend you look at Ker’s biography.

  260. Jason, the link works fine but the review is behind a pay wall. Enough self-promotion for now.

  261. +JMJ+

    Abp. Landriot wrote:

    “Charity will also induce you to avoid discussion with those obstinate,* argumentative minds whose opinions are all fixedly determined on beforehand, and habitually present themselves to your notice with the sharpest points and angles. Argument with such characters is utterly useless for the purpose of influencing them, and is also very hurtful, since it can only degenerate into angry disputes. La Bruyere says of them that ‘they butt on every side like rams. Can you expect to find rams without horns?… The best thing to be done when you see them in the distance is to fly from them with all speed, and never look behind you. There are some people of such a peculiar character and disposition, that it is safest never to commit one’s self with them, and to complain as little as possible of what they do, for they will never allow that you can be in the right.’ To butt against these rams is to expose one’s self to evident collisions, for such minds listen to nothing, because they cannot see nor understand anything but their own ideas. They are like cannon-balls, always rushing onwards in a straight line; the best thing to be done is to slip aside, or if that cannot easily be accomplished to oppose to them the inertia of patience and the calm wisdom of charity.”

    *”Nevertheless, a gentle contradiction sometimes lends animation to discourse. The repartee of one of the ancients to his ever constant, monotonous applauder is well known: “Contradict me, pray, that we may differ about something.'” – Seneca, on Anger, bk. iii. ch. xxxvii.

  262. No Protestant (that I know of anyway) would say that leaders should not be faithful. The question is this: is it possible for a church leadership that is endeavoring to live in holiness and serve the Lord to make errors in its judgments? If you say yes, welcome to Protestantism. If you say no, welcome to Roman Catholicism.

    It’s not about what protestant leaders say. It’s about what they do and have done. Secondly, your conclusion does not follow. James the Just (real name Ya’akov’ lived a holy life (cf. Matt 7:15-20) and you can be sure that he wasn’t a catholic and not even a proto-catholic. And he most certainly wasn’t a ‘protestant’ either (anachronistic but I am referring to praxis).

    No one is suggesting that everything the church has ever said or done is up for debate or revision except for some radical restorationist movements such as the Church of Christ. And even that group, for all its “no creed but Christ,” hasn’t tried to change the doctrine of the Trinity or other such ideas. The question is, what do you do when you find yourself in a situation when the church has gone off the rails? How do you correct it? You may not agree with Protestants, but I don’t think you could disagree that the medieval Western Church had gone off the rails in many respects. The Reformers had to work with what they had, not with an ideal that has never existed. The church has always had a lot of problems. They started in Eden and continue right on through to this day.

    You have no authority to declare the Church of Christ heretical. They call you Presbyterians heretical too and their theologians have just as many phds and thds as yours do. So who will arbitrate? That’s right, it’s a ‘the Bible says’ battle that cannot be won, unless you consider unilateral fist pumps to be worth anything. Jason and catholics here are correct in that protestant epistemology is inherently flawed, you have no way out of that. Of course I have argued that the catholic answer is far from the answer, but one must give credit where credit is due. On that big question, they have it right.

    Ordinarily, a church that is being faithful to the standards of Scripture in regards to life and doctrine should be submitted to. But when this is not occurring, what is the answer? You can say we should all get together for a council, and I do not disagree. But how does that council decide the best way forward? What is the answer in the post apostolic age? Not even Roman Catholics believe that modern-day apostles exist.

    Acts 15 gives you an example of what the conciliar process looks like. Your insistence on the necessity of apostolic leadership I find quite remarkably strange, what an incredibly low view of the power of God to do what He has promised. When Paul ordained Timothy or John ordained Polycarp, there was no doubt as to whether the latter would be qualified and faithful to do their jobs, and they were indeed faithful to their calling. What is the source then of your radical skepticism? I say it is grounded in a lack of faith in the power of God to bless His people and guide His people (cf. 2 Chron 7:14) and in an a priori bias against any idea that shakes your theological grid’s core.

    What is the answer besides church authorities gathering together, looking at Scripture, and making decisions on how to go forward? That is exactly what all confessional Protestants attempt to do and endeavor, albeit imperfectly. The Westminster Confession of Faith, for example, invests authority in church councils to settle matters of religion. Any duly ordained elder in the PCA, for example, can vote on matters of religion at its annual general assembly. There are Messianic Jews who are ordained elders in the PCA. The PCA has opened ecumenical dialogues with representatives of other communions and even merged with one other denomination (back in the 1980s).

    The first step is not gathering, but rather introspection which hopefully will lead to repentance. This takes leadership and can never happen without that leading of respective authorities. There must be an open acknowledgement of failure. I know that’s asking too much, right. If the matter is approached in the manner of C2C or your manner, might as well forget it. There’s a reason why Joseph Shulam seems resigned to avoiding gentile association, but instead adopting a live and let live approach, as opposed to a call to repentance. He is much wiser than me.

    Look, you can tout the PCA all you want, but like I said earlier, your claims to authority make as much sense as a bunch of americans going to shaolin temples in china and telling the monks “We’re here to teach you kung fu the way it’s supposed to be done, so y’all sit down now and listen up”. You have no way out of that Robert. Your PCA is in flagrant breach of the Scriptural model of governance, which is a model upholding the equal significance and importance of Messianic Jews as believers in their own right (not as converts! Ya’akov wasn’t a convert to Presbyterianism!) and Gentile believers.

    I’m not necessarily saying that the PCA is the ideal example. Choose another body if you like. RCs and EOs are not invited to participate because the PCA views them as compromising the gospel, and the elders in the PCA do so after years of studying Scripture and looking at the exegesis of all these bodies. No one, at least at the highest levels of authority, is ignoring what these other communions are saying.

    Yes, no one is ignoring what the other communions are saying, but the attitude of the heart that fosters repentance isn’t there. All these bodies boast of being the one true church and yet are in obvious violation of the praxis of the early church. This should not be a surprise, given the heavy supersessionistic flavor of these bodies’ theology.

    Assume the members of a council including all the leaders of all the professing Christians get together. After years of dialogue, the pope, the patriarch of Constantinople, the archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the PCA, the head of the Southern Baptists, Joseph Shallum cannot come to an agreement on justification. What is the way forward? How should the disagreement be settled?

    It should be settled in the same manner that the apostles settled it, by conciliar process. Those same apostles, if they could speak among us today, would remind us that everything they did, they did because God empowered them to. There was nothing unique in their own makeup that would thereafter prevent God from acting again. God does not need super heroes of the faith, He only asks for super-humbles of the faith and can be trusted to act mightily in their favor.

  263. SS,

    I know of a local Baptist church where the leadership are extremely “holy” and “faithful” people, but they condemn you if you believe in “baptismal regeneration”, or the real presence of Christ in the Holy Supper, and other doctrines.

    So if your principle is correct. I should submit myself to the leadership of this Church anyway?

  264. Erick,

    Really? You can do better than that, read my post above again please. If you still want to ask the question after that let me know.

  265. SS,

    You still haven’t answered the question. To say things should be settled by conciliar process is fine. I actually agree. My question is, what do you do when the attendees at the council do not agree. Do you just table the matter? Do you defer to Joseph Shallum? What is the answer? If you don’t know, that is fine, but then you can’t get all high and mighty when the church isn’t living up to your view of ecclesiology.

    The PCA, the OPC, or any other confessional Protestant body that I know of is rejecting believers from a Jewish background. This idea that there is a big conspiracy keeping Messianic Jews out of leadership is just that an idea. This isn’t the medieval church. What you fail to take into account is the possibility that Messianic Jews could come to the conclusion that Presbyterianism is actually the way forward. I’m not even necessarily arguing that it is. I think it is a legitimate development of the actual biblical and historical evidence that we do have, but I’m also not going to argue that it is a airtight ecclesiology. What is definitely not airtight is this idea that only Messianic Jews that fit your definition of Jewishness are the true heirs of James and the other Apostles. A Messianic Jew who gets ordained as PCA or Baptist minister is no less Jewish than the group you happen to think is the gold standard for Judaism.

    What is laughable to me, SS, is that you continually charge that nobody today is getting it right and then you accuse me, essentially, of doubting the power of the Spirit. My friend, I’m not the one who believes that the gates of hell have presently conquered the church and that I am the modern-day incarnation of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness.

  266. You still haven’t answered the question. To say things should be settled by conciliar process is fine. I actually agree. My question is, what do you do when the attendees at the council do not agree. Do you just table the matter? Do you defer to Joseph Shallum? What is the answer? If you don’t know, that is fine, but then you can’t get all high and mighty when the church isn’t living up to your view of ecclesiology.

    I have answered you, you just cannot countenance the answer and then resort to ad hominems. If you agree with me that true conciliarism is the way established in Scripture for us to emulate, then why do you then turn around and question the conciliar process? Isn’t that what the process is there for? Here’s something to refresh your memory with:

    “6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute , Peter rose up and said to them…

    13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me :

    19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God”

    Now, are you going to tell me that everyone agreed with James’ final call?

    Yes or No? I need a straight answer please, no waffling.

    If you say no, and recognize that James’ view prevailed despite disagreement from some, what then is your point? That Scripture is not to be trusted and not a pattern for you because you don’t like its implications?

    The PCA, the OPC, or any other confessional Protestant body that I know of is rejecting believers from a Jewish background. This idea that there is a big conspiracy keeping Messianic Jews out of leadership is just that an idea. This isn’t the medieval church. What you fail to take into account is the possibility that Messianic Jews could come to the conclusion that Presbyterianism is actually the way forward.

    Nowhere did I mention a conspiracy. It is an open and very proud I should say rejection of any Messianic Jews who are Jews in their own right, and Torah observant. No conspiracy there, this is being proclaimed as loudly and clearly as they come. Given the Biblical witness, which again, points to the existence of both Jew and Gentile believer where the Jewish believer isn’t assimilated into some gentile body, there is absolutely no way to support your view that your way is the ‘way forward’.

    I’m not even necessarily arguing that it is.

    Well you’ve got some chutzpah to even suggest that it is.

    I think it is a legitimate development of the actual biblical and historical evidence that we do have, but I’m also not going to argue that it is a airtight ecclesiology.

    It isn’t so save yourself the typing, and don’t even bother.

    What is definitely not airtight is this idea that only Messianic Jews that fit your definition of Jewishness are the true heirs of James and the other Apostles. A Messianic Jew who gets ordained as PCA or Baptist minister is no less Jewish than the group you happen to think is the gold standard for Judaism.

    I have my definition, but I do not make it binding upon you, because unlike you and your kin, I do not make grandiose claims to being the church of Christ on earth. God will be my judge. What I do claim however, is that no church body today is honoring the ecclesiology of the earliest church. And I would recommend that you let the Messianic Jews sort themselves out between themselves and not try to interject, because you are as qualified to make the distinction above as Richard Simmons is to go and teach kung fu to Shaolin monks in China.

    What is laughable to me, SS, is that you continually charge that nobody today is getting it right and then you accuse me, essentially, of doubting the power of the Spirit. My friend, I’m not the one who believes that the gates of hell have presently conquered the church and that I am the modern-day incarnation of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness.

    Why do you laugh? It is a serious matter. You doubt the conciliar process exhibited in Scripture. You don’t believe in it. If you did, you would be joining me in calls for repentance. I don’t believe that the gates of hell have prevailed either, but what does the expression mean? Does it mean that every Messianic Jew has to convert to one of the 15 different flavors of Presbyterianism for the expression to be true?

    I am not even fit to tie one of JTB’s sandals. But I can learn from him and be encouraged by his life witness to stand, and if need be, to stand alone against the establishment, and let the chips fall where they may.

  267. @AB:
    I appreciate the sincere effort, but as you suggested, we are starting even farther apart than you think. You said:

    I propose if you want to talk about infallibility with a Protestant, you need to find a common meaning of the term (pretty obvious from me, I know). For example, let’s say it means only “trustworthy.”

    Now as Christians, you and I both find Scripture trustworthy. In fact, we find it ultimately trustworthy, in terms of the data we find depostied there. If I’m assuming too much about your position, feel free to correct me.

    That gets pretty much to the heart of the disagreement. For the Catholic, “trustworthy” is a category error when it comes to infallibility. Being infallible certainly makes for trustworthiness, but something isn’t infallible because it is trustworthy, but because it is true. The question is what principle corresponds to reality so that all determinations according to the principle are true. “Infallibility” is a one word summary of that state of affairs. If reading Scripture is not infallible, then it cannot be such a principle.

    Short of infallibility, I am not sure what “trustworthy” means, particularly in the divine context where we have no direct experience. How would I judge whether someone’s opinion (or my own) is trustworthy? It would only be rational to give provisional assent (i.e., opinion) reserving the possibility that the contrary could be true. I believe in one God, but there is a chance there might be more. I believe Christ rose from the dead, but there is a chance that He didn’t. In other words, even with respect to my own belief, I have built in a series of caveats. That is incompatible with the level of certitude necessary for faith.

  268. SS–

    I would be curious as to what an ideal scenario would look like for you if you finally got your way.

    1. How anti-supersessionistic are you? Are ethnic Jews exempt from the call of the Gospel?

    2. Who nowadays counts as a Jew in the biblical sense? There are no Second Temple Jews extant. Rabbinic Judaism is pretty much an entirely different religion. Ethnic Jewish blood is quite diluted. Ashkenazic Jews are light-skinned Europeans for the most part, quite a few are blond and blue-eyed. Sephardic Jews have maintained more purity, I suppose, but exactly how Jewish are they? I guess I believe that the chosen people are still the chosen people, but it’s frankly difficult to know exactly what that means. For in another way, there is no longer Jew nor Greek, in any sense. There is but one way to be in Christ. Do natural branches have any different role than those grafted in? Aren’t they both there to produce fruit? There is a biblical mandate to evangelize the Jews first, but no mandate for them to be in power. They are to share fully in the ministry of the Gospel, but not to be especially singled out as far as I can see. Do you have verses that say otherwise?

    3. I adore my Messianic friends. One of the bridesmaids in my wedding was Messianic. I love the culture. I love the language (and have taught it). I just think you’re reading too much into the original Apostles all being ethnically Hebrew.

  269. Eric,

    Read the latter half of the “Stuff I don’t like thread”. Your questions are answered there. For now suffice it to say that given your understanding of “there is now neither jew nor greek, nor male or female, nor master or bondservant”, your wife must no longer be female then, and Paul’s admonition to his bondservants to obey their masters was really an oversight? What say you? Does the verse teach that all distinctions are erased?

  270. SS,

    No, the grandiose claim you are making is that there is no true church on earth; ergo, the gates of hell are winning, at least at the current time.

    No one is denying a conciliar process. What we are denying is that there are living, breathing apostles today. If there were, we need to start writing down what they say. Polycarp didn’t view himself as having the same kind of apostolic authority as James or John. In fact, the only ones that have claimed such have been heretics for the most part.

    The fact that some do not accept a council’s decree does not mean the council lacks authority. The question is, what is the basis for that authority. Even in Acts 15, a council with actual apostles, the decision is grounded in Scripture. How much more must we judge things by Scripture now that there are no apostles.

    I’m still waiting for a coherent argument as to why your ecclesiology is different than a restorationist Protestant sect that says we need to throw everything out and start over. I’m happy to let Messianic Jews sort out their disagreements for themselves. What I am not happy to do is let you—a Gentile—put a Messianic Jew who is convinced that the PCA, OPC, Southern Baptist, or any other denomination is the truest biblical expression of the church today out of the running for this ideal church you are looking for. The chutzpah is in you demanding that we listen to Jews and then having you define who the true Jews are.

  271. No, the grandiose claim you are making is that there is no true church on earth; ergo, the gates of hell are winning, at least at the current time.

    Then all the prophets of Israel and John the Baptist made grandiose claims too and all suffered delusions of grandeur. Amazing isn’t it?

    No one is denying a conciliar process. What we are denying is that there are living, breathing apostles today. If there were, we need to start writing down what they say. Polycarp didn’t view himself as having the same kind of apostolic authority as James or John. In fact, the only ones that have claimed such have been heretics for the most part.

    You are indeed denying the conciliar process. Where is your answer to the question I asked you above? I asked you above, did everyone agree at the council in Acts 15? Yes or no? You avoid the question, because you don’t like its implications. And to escape its implications you argue that council was only valid because it was headed by the apostles. But this is mere assertion, with absolutely no support. Where is your apologetic for such a view?

    1. Acts 15 states that it was both apostles and elders present at the council. There is nothing in Scripture that states that a council can only be held if apostles are present and that a council cannot be called by elders. Matter of fact as 1 Tim 3 shows, the apostles appointed elders and expected those elders in turn to appoint men who had authority to contend for the faith once and for all delivered.

    2. Paul in 1 Tim 3 says this : “15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

    It is the church that is the pillar and foundation of the truth in Paul’s teaching, not the Scriptures, as important as these are (and these are in fact defined by the church). The church is meant to give meaning to the Scriptures (as we see James doing in Acts 15 when he quotes Amos and says therefore I judge), this is epistemologically sound. And this presupposes the ordination of elders and deacons with the authority to be that pillar and foundation of the truth. By definition therefore, your ‘apostles only’ view is utterly illogical and irrational.

    3. Polycarp paid his respect to Paul and Peter, certainly. But nowhere in so doing did he downplay the authority he himself had received from John. That authority included the ability to appoint elders who would guard the deposit of the faith.

    The fact that some do not accept a council’s decree does not mean the council lacks authority. The question is, what is the basis for that authority. Even in Acts 15, a council with actual apostles, the decision is grounded in Scripture. How much more must we judge things by Scripture now that there are no apostles.

    Baseless thinking. James does not say “the Scripture says”. He says “Therefore I judge”. Your own reasoning is inherently self defeating because you say “how much more must WE judge”. So now you admit that there are agents involved in the study of Scripture and its implications for how we are to live. Jason is absolutely correct in saying that the view of Scripture as authority is completely meaningless. The Bible does not read itself, someone has to read it and intepret it. Mathison himself admits that every appeal to Scripture is an appeal to an interpretation of Scripture. So it begs the question, if ‘WE must judge’, how do ‘WE’/the agents compare to those you see in Scripture? Are these agents both Jewish and Gentile believers as we see in the NT? Absolutely not. Where today can you find the unity of both the natural and wild branches in leadership, and this without conflation of the two as was the case in the earliest church? Nowhere, the gentile church is in open rebellion and flaunting it on top of that. She brags in her resources, in her wealth, in her theologians. Let me tell you, I’ve read your gentile theologians and they are weak, and this not because they lack intelligence, but because they lack wisdom, cutting themselves off from the fatness of the tree that were supposed to share in.

    I’m still waiting for a coherent argument as to why your ecclesiology is different than a restorationist Protestant sect that says we need to throw everything out and start over. I’m happy to let Messianic Jews sort out their disagreements for themselves. What I am not happy to do is let you—a Gentile—put a Messianic Jew who is convinced that the PCA, OPC, Southern Baptist, or any other denomination is the truest biblical expression of the church today out of the running for this ideal church you are looking for. The chutzpah is in you demanding that we listen to Jews and then having you define who the true Jews are.

    I don’t put your convert to one of the 15 different favors of your faith out of any running. My only comment to him is this “talk to your brothers in the flesh, and make sure you hear what they are telling you before you make your decision”. And you are hypocritical in offering such criticism above, because when you judge Joseph Shulam (it’s Shulam, not Shallum, are you dyslexic?) as a heretic because he is not a convert to one of the dozens of versions of your faith, you do the very thing you are accusing me of.

    The chutzpah that the gentile church displays is that of the guts to directly contravene the Apostle’s words when he says:

    “13 For I speak to you Gentiles ; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

    16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree , 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root , but the root supports you.

    19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,[f] if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

    A natural branch is not a wild branch. A natural branch is not a ‘convert’ to a wild branch. Nonsense! The distinction is there for a reason (it upholds the glory of God’s justification of all by faith) and it remains a distinction that the gentile church has been boasting over for centuries now.

  272. SS–

    No, natural branches are not converts to a wild branch, but they are grafted in (converted) to the cultivated olive tree. As such, they procure a full, equal share in the ministrations of the kingdom, and they have left behind their former claims to salvation. From now on, they are saved by faith alone on account of Christ alone just like their Gentile (wild olive) brethren. They are granted no special charism or authority. They are given some sort of priority of place or of honor. But nothing else is spelled out.

  273. SS–

    Regarding your Jerusalem Council II idea, what would convey Jewish participation? Would every given representative from the Jewish side need to be a Messianic Jew…or could he or she just as validly be an assimilated Hebrew Christian? Are you assigning some charismatic value to the phenomenon of Messianic Judaism itself?

    Why or why not?

  274. Jonathan,

    Thank you for your reply. As one who wrestled with infallibility, as it pertains to the tradition I find myself in, I see nothing to be gained by ascribing infallibility to the Bishop of Rome. I understand I am necessarily at odds with Catholics because I won’t ascribe infallibility to your leader. I appreciate you agreeing with me that relatively at the heart of the matter here.

    Regards,
    AB

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