On Bodies Visible and Invisible

Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Baptism, Catholicism, Ecclesiology, Exegesis, Featured, Incarnation, Protestantism, Reformed Theology | 367 comments

It has become apparent after the post addressing the Reformed dilemma regarding Infant Baptism and the New Covenant that another closely-linked Protestant issue needs to be addressed. That issue is the widespread (even universal) belief among Protestants that there is a “Visible Church” and an “Invisible Church.”

According to the Westminster Confession, the Invisible Church “consists of the whole number of the elect,” while the Visible Church “consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion” (Chapter 25.1-2). In making this distinction, Protestants don’t intend to say there are two Churches, but rather two ‘expressions’ of one Church. A popular way of understanding this distinction is to look at how modern Evangelicalism distinguishes between all those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior (members of the Invisible Church), regardless of what particular denomination each of these believers happens to attend (members of the Visible Church). This distinction was “devised” by men such as John Calvin as a way of explaining how there could be sin and error in the Church, while still recognizing the numerous Biblical references to Church members being “elect,” “holy,” etc. This is particularly how the Reformed are able to hold to the doctrine of Eternal Security and also explain why so many once-professing Christians can “fall away.” The Reformed say that it’s possible to be a member of a professing Christian community (i.e. in the Visible Church) but if that member “falls away” then they were never saved in the first place (i.e. never in the Invisible Church).

The most extreme version of this Visible/Invisible distinction is seen today among those who say, “I don’t need the Church, I just need Jesus.” While historical Protestantism would have cringed to hear such talk, that “extreme” is unfortunately the logical outworking of the distinction. In fact, even among the Reformed there are many prominent individuals who will classify most doctrines other than “essentials” like Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura as “non-essential” doctrines (which itself is an unbiblical distinction). Such “non-essential” doctrines today can include everything from sacraments to morals to church governance. But that’s another issue for another time.

The primary source of evidence Protestants will consult is obviously the Bible, so the question is: What are the Biblical proof texts that Protestants use? The Westminster Confession’s proof texts for the Invisible Church are Eph 1:10, 22-23; 5:23,27,32, and Col 1:18. But the problem is that these texts simply speak of Christ as head of the Church, His body, without any modifying terms to suggest a visible/invisible distinction. As noted above, the Protestant claim is almost purely an inference, stemming mostly from their assumption that no one denomination is completely pure in its teachings and lived examples.

If you look at the 112 verses which use the Greek term “Church,” it is plain in nearly every case that a visible group of people is understood. When Paul writes a letter to a specific group, e.g. “to the Church at Corinth,” he is obviously talking about visible congregations. And even when Paul isn’t addressing a specific congregation, he is still clearly talking about the visible institution. For example, when Paul laments that in his former life that he “persecuted the Church of God” (Gal 1:13), even though he is speaking of the Church as a whole, he clearly refers to persecuting visible assembly of Christians. (See also Mat 18:17; 1 Tim 3:5) In key texts like 1 Corinthians 12, Paul even describes the Church as Christ’s Body, which drives home the visibility of the Church, because a Body is typically realized as the visible part of a being, as opposed to their naturally invisible soul (cf 1 Cor 5:3). In other words, this forces Protestants to speak not just of an “invisible church,” but now they must speak of an “invisible body,” which is not only a major assumption to make, it would force one to embrace a problematic Christology (e.g. Christ’s flesh was a visible reality). The point of this Body-Church connection is plain: the visible body of Christians on earth is carrying out Christ’s work on earth each day.

One final key text to consider is Ephesians 5:23-32, briefly:

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. . . . Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word . . . For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

Taking this text at face value, the default assumption should be “Visible Church,” especially since no good case for Invisible Church can be found in any other texts. Also consider the language and examples Paul uses: “wife” is paralleled to “church,” and we know a wife is a visible being; the “saving” that Christ did pertained to our whole humanity, not just our soul; the “cleansing by water with the word” sounds strikingly like baptism and not invisible features; the term “flesh” is used in parallel to “body”; and finally, the “becoming one flesh” refers sacramentally to “Christ and the Church,” namely the Incarnation.

The most common text I’ve seen Protestants use to prove a visible/invisible distinction is 1 John 2:19, which says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” Protestants read this as saying “some left our visible fellowship, but they were not really of our invisible fellowship, for if they had been of our invisible fellowship, they would have maintained visible fellowship.” In other words, those “Christians” who once were in the Visible Church by later leave proves that they were never truly Christian in the first place. But this reading assumes too much. For one, this reading does not suggest that it doesn’t matter what denomination you go to, but just the opposite: that there is one true visible body, and you must be in it to be saved. Next, contextually, the “they” refers to “antichrists,” who specifically deny the Incarnation, not simply sinful behavior in the Church (which is what Church discipline is all about: Mt 18:17; 1 Cor 5:5). This would suggest that these individuals never intended to be Christian but snuck in to subvert orthodoxy. In fact, the phrase “went out from us” most likely means the antichrists went out from the Apostles, acting as if the Apostles sent them, but their preaching of false doctrines shows they were never sent by the Apostles. This matches with Acts 15:24 at the Council of Jerusalem, when the Apostles said false teachers “went out from us” (identical language) in the sense of pretending to be sent by the Apostles. And 1 John 4:1 speaks of false prophets who “went out” (same term) into the world, clearly referring to pretending to be sent to preach (cf 2 Jn 1:7; 3 Jn 1:7). So John’s point is to warn the flock of deceivers, not to layout some abstract theological principle of invisible vs visible Church.

In conclusion, I would point out that for a distinction so crucial to Christian life and theology, Protestants should stop and ask why the concept of “Invisible Church” was never clearly spelled out in Scripture. The Catholic position doesn’t suffer from this dilemma, because both Scripture and Tradition show that the Magisterium is indefectible, as well as affirming the fact it is possible for a Christian to lose their salvation.

 

367 Comments

  1. Thank you, this is spelled out in clear, concise language.

    It is also a splash of cold water on my lukewarm self and all those within the Body of Christ. We really are to be one Holy Catholic Apostolic Church and everyone has to start on our knees, pick up our cross daily and follow our Lord to make it work.

  2. Nick–

    I don’t get your point. Augustine said there were wolves within and sheep without (i.e., inside and outside the visible church). Rome speaks of the church expectant and the church triumphant…and of the church militant…and not everyone in the present visible church (the church militant) will be part of the former two churches (i.e., Rome’s “invisible” church).

    And Rome’s invisible church includes a great many Protestants!

  3. Nick–

    Also, run an experiment sometime. Have 100 people who have never read Scripture peruse the NT. Then ask them which system makes more sense to them: sola scriptura or magisterial infallibility. And every time they will murmur under their breath, “What freaking magisterium is he talking about?”

  4. Eric,

    Catholics don’t separate Scripture from Tradition just as we don’t separate Visible from Invisible. The clearest image to think about is the human body. I’m not talking about just arms, eyes, toes and a couple organs thrown in. I’m talking about studying a body in motion for several years; every minuscule cell within all the different parts (i.e. just take the brain and all it’s functions) – it is a plethora of amazing chemistry and purpose!

    When you look at the Body of Christ in this way, as a true functioning body with chemistry and purpose, you begin to see how you can’t separate one part from another. The visible and invisible, heart soul, mind and strength of the Body of Christ is literally the Way the Truth and the Life.

    Separating the Magisterium out is like taking out the brain that remembers how the body is suppose to function.

  5. Debbie–

    You all give us grief that Sola Scriptura is even scriptural. Well, we believe it is at least as scriptural as the Trinity and much more so than Petrine succession or Mary as the Queen of Heaven. Furthermore, it is FAR more scriptural than the convoluted Catholic system.

    We also believe the church is the Body of Christ, not to mention the Bride of Christ. And we believe in the unity of the visible and invisible manifestations of it (insofar as that is appropriate). As I pointed out, you all do the exact same thing: you leave many members of the Church Militant out of the Church Expectant and Church Triumphant. In this sense, they are not united for you but distinct. The tares do not share glory with the wheat.

  6. Debbie–

    Sorry, that should read: …that Sola Scriptura is NOT even scriptural.

  7. Nick–

    No big deal but Eternal Security is a Dispensational Baptist tenet which is quite different from the Reformed concept of the Perseverance of the Saints (which does not carry with it the same sort of presumption).

  8. Nick–

    Some of the final distinctions you allude to are mostly semantic in character. Salvation, in terms of how it affects us, is primarily eschatological in nature, so one can lose one’s “ticket” to salvation, as it were…but not salvation itself (i.e., glorification) which one never obtained in the first place.

    We only call people true Christians if they are destined for glory. They are only elect if they are destined for glory. They are only regenerate if they are destined for glory. That is how we use those terms.

  9. Nick,

    Lots to be mined on this subject.

    You probably haven’t read this month’s “Awake” or “Watch Tower” magazines* yet?

    Besides a piece on the African Dung Beetle, they feature an article on Wolfgang Capito, Martin Cellularius, and Johanus Campanus as great men of the Reformation’snew appreciation of the Bible.
    These guys first attacked the Sacraments which was par for the course. They later, however, ran afoul of their fellow Bible believers by questioning the Trinity as being a scriptural doctrine. They came to bad ends for their application of of Sola Scriptura by their fellow Bible Only adherents.

    Also in the “Awake” is a short piece on Joseph Priestly the discoverer of oxygen. A Deist, he denied the Trinity and some parts of the Bible. Like the guys above, he was persecuted by the established church in England and fled to America for safety.

    According to Francis Cardinal George, it was in America where the skein of Protestantism completely unraveled from orthodoxy due to the rise of Congregationalism.

    In Europe, the effects of Sola Scriptura had been held in check by the state churches. Whatever errors the Lutherans, Presbyterians and Anglicans had on the sacramental nature of the episcopal and presbyterial offices, they did serve as forms of church government that assured some uniformity of doctrine.

    In America, the democratic ideals changed all that. Under the new Congregational system, no two churches necessarily held the same beliefs. A charismatic layman could override the minister and decide the “biblical” interpretation of any given text. Because of the breakdown of all order, the once Calvinist bastion of New England quickly devolved into a hotbed of Unitarian/Universalism.

    From this arose the myriad of non-denomination churches and what we have today, a complete reduction of the Church to a totally invisible body that says the visible and hierarchical Church to be meaningless for all practical intents and purposes.

    Further, as Eric reveals, this leads to a view of the Sacraments being altogether superfluous.
    Now we have folks who are Baptistish, but not Baptists. Or Anglicinish, but not Anglican. We have people who adhere to Creeds and Confessions but don’t submit to any of the historical denominations which promulgated them. We have “liturgical Baptists” and Anglicans ( Episcopalians ) who say the episcopacy is not in the Bible!!!

    The chickens of the Invisible Church have come home to rest in the non church of today.

    *No folks. I don’t read the Witness literature to learn religion. Where I live, those periodicals are written in easy to understand Brazilian Portuguese. Only to improve my shoddy language skills to I accept them.

  10. Nick,

    I have to concur with Eric. I have no idea what you are talking about here because Rome has the same doctrine of the invisible/visible church distinction. You guys tend to collapse the two far more than Protestants, but the only way we Protestants can be saved in RC—and, of course, since V2 we are—is to put us in the invisible church, since we reject the visible church that is Rome. And that’s not even to mention the 5+ billion anonymous Christians that are apparently working their way to heaven by following the light they have. See V2.

  11. Eric,

    Your views on the sacraments and Election remind of of what Augustine said;

    “Two men, one goes to heaven, one doesn’t. Why? Were they both not regenerated in baptism?…”

    The Bible tells us a person can be elected to grace but not to final salvation or final heavenly glory.
    Remember, most of the classic passages used to show election/calling/salvation/predestination refer to full membership in the Church and not to heaven.

    ( Of course there are such passages as, ” work out your salvation…” that clearly refer to heaven and not membership in the Church. I admit that. )

    As for “glory”, grace is the seed of heavenly glory or the Beatific Vision. “Glory” can mean coming to grace or the Church.

    We can agree that prior to any foreseen merits, men are elected/called/predestined to be IN Christ or come to glory, to be saved either meaning heaven or the Church.

    However, reprobation is never seen in the Bible to be due to any other cause than foreseen demerits. ( Never forget, God locked all me up in original Sin so He could have mercy on them all, not to condemn. Infrapsaarianism is as false as supralapsarianism ).

    Election is corporate in the Bible. If one gets into the visible Church and stays there, partaking of her sacraments and obeying her rules, one will be saved unto heaven.

    In Romans Paul speaks of the elect Jews who did not remain elect by not entering the Church. They became the “Law keepers” only.
    As for the gentiles who knew no better, they could be saved outside of the visible Israel/Church by grace. Paul said, ” For a man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he who confesses with his lips is saved”. Invincibly ignorant gentiles can be justified. A confession of faith however, “saves” or brings into full visible Church membership.

    Once in the Church, one can blow their election by demerits, by not availing themselves of the ongoing grace and growth in love that comes through the Sacraments.

  12. Eric,

    As I don’t want to, get off topic, not right out of the gate anyway, I should probably just wink at your,
    “You all give us grief that Sola Scriptura is even scriptural. Well, we believe it is at least as scriptural as the Trinity and much more so than Petrine succession or Mary as the Queen of Heaven. Furthermore, it is FAR more scriptural than the convoluted Catholic system.”

    Then again, let’s nip it in the bud.
    Their are almost 200 references to Peter in the N.T. The Marian doctrines are 100% logically deduced from the passages the Church bases her doctrines on.
    Please, don’t try running a doctrine with zero scriptural support on us over and over again. The topic is about the Church being visible. Without an invisible Church, arguing about the Bible is silly.

    As for the Trinity being perspicuous, you should subscribe to the Watchtower!

  13. Nick,
    1 Cor 1:10 St Paul said Christians are to agree on all points. The invisible church that includes professing members of all denominations, despite their squabbling on everything from Infant Baptism, OSAS, the Eucharist to the place of faith and regeneration in ordo salutis make a shipwreck of this statement.

    Protestant ecclesiology ends up saying it is every man for himself. Of course, not all Protestants are honest or logically consistent enough to leave their denominations and go their own way. Some are. If I am not mistaken, Robert is about to become a minister in the PCA. Eric follows his own lights.

    For us, they would say we Catholics “check our minds at the door” and get in lockstep with Rome.
    We do. For us, the Faith is something delivered to us. We don’t try to re-invent the wheel, trying to get back to the house churches of the book of Acts. For us, the Church is that same Church today only with 2,000 years of development by the Holy Spirit.

  14. Jim,

    1 Cor 1:10 St Paul said Christians are to agree on all points.

    That verse doesn’t mean what you think it means. If it did, then Rome is in big trouble since it tolerates all sorts of disagreements, not the least of which is the disagreement between Molinists and Thomists. Further, if this verse meant what you think it means, then Paul could not tell people, essentially, that it doesn’t matter whether there is agreement on whether meat is clean or unclean (Rom. 14) as long as one group doesn’t try to force its view on another.

  15. Robert,

    “You guys tend to collapse the two far more than Protestants, but the only way we Protestants can be saved in RC—and, of course, since V2 we are—is to put us in the invisible church, since we reject the visible church that is Rome. And that’s not even to mention the 5+ billion anonymous Christians that are apparently working their way to heaven by following the light they have. See V2.”

    Yeah, well that “light they have” includes INVINCIBLE ignorance. Are you in that category? Are you sure? You have been blogging here for some time.

    Robert and Eric,
    God’s salvific will includes all men. No one can merit to get their name put in the Book of Life.
    But their demerits can get them blotted out.

    Not using the Sacraments, necessary by both precept and means, can do just that.

  16. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    I have no idea what you are talking about here …

    Oh, of course you do. Remember the Reformist belief where the faithful receive Jesus but the unfaithful receive nothing (receive no one) but condemnation? Ya know, the “its Jesus for me but not for you” dynamic?

    That should help jog your memory.

  17. Wosbald,

    Oh, of course you do. Remember the Reformist belief where the faithful receive Jesus but the unfaithful receive nothing (receive no one) but condemnation? Ya know, the “its Jesus for me but not for you” dynamic?

    If you want to believe that those who hate Jesus still receive him to the benefit of their soul in the Eucharist, then you have problems that I can’t help you with.

  18. Jim,

    Yeah, well that “light they have” includes INVINCIBLE ignorance. Are you in that category? Are you sure? You have been blogging here for some time.

    As long as you guys insist on holding beliefs such as you need to be in submission to the pope to be saved except when you don’t need to be in submission to him, and that Protestants are teaching a false gospel except that they aren’t really because we’re all on that broad pat to heaven, I’d say the ignorance is invincible. No one can get a handle on it, which is why there is so much disagreement in Roman Catholicism.

    Robert and Eric,
    God’s salvific will includes all men. No one can merit to get their name put in the Book of Life.
    But their demerits can get them blotted out.
    Not using the Sacraments, necessary by both precept and means, can do just that.

    So if we are eternally elect before the foundation of the world, we can defy that decree and jump out of God’s election. Hmm, I think both Augustine and Aquinas would have problems with that.

  19. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    If you want to believe that those who hate Jesus still receive him to the benefit of their soul in the Eucharist, then you have problems that I can’t help you with.

    You sly devil, you.

    The real problem is that you reject the above statement, with or without the stricken text. Whereas, Catholics reject it with the stricken text and affirm it without it.

  20. Eric,
    “And we believe in the unity of the visible and invisible manifestations of it (insofar as that is appropriate). As I pointed out, you all do the exact same thing: you leave many members of the Church Militant out of the Church Expectant and Church Triumphant. In this sense, they are not united for you but distinct. The tares do not share glory with the wheat.”

    You are separating everything out again. The idea of a growing, living Church completely incorporates the stages of growth to our union with God for eternity. Is a person a person within the womb? Yes, but not able to partake of many things. Is a person a person as an infant? Yes, but not able to partake of many things. Is a person a person as youth? Yes, but not able to fully comprehend etc….. you get the point. And we all start out as a twinkle in God the Father’s eye.

    We are commanded to embrace all life at every stage within the Body because we really don’t have a clue about who we are embracing – “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Matt 25:45

  21. Wosbald,

    If an unbeliever partakes of the Eucharist, Christ is present. But all it does for him is condemnation if he has no faith. So if you want to call that partaking/receiving of Christ, then be my guest. If you want to say that the person receives Christ but not to the benefit of his soul if he hates Christ, then there is no substantial difference between us. The Eucharist does nothing good for those who reject Christ.

  22. Debbie,

    That’s nice, but here’s the simple question: Is the baptized and communing Roman Catholic who, unbeknownst to you, is just putting on a show but actually hates Christ and, moreover, will always hate Christ actually united to you and to Christ?

  23. What a silly question – who can answer that, but God Himself.

    I do know that, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.” Matt 12:20

    The Body of Christ is not meant to keep people out, but to invite men to return and be saved. We are not to judge men’s souls, but to preserve Truth with salt and light. (I highly doubt that there are but a handful a baptized AND communing Roman Catholics putting on a show, but hey, its a great show)

    I’d like you to stand before the Almighty and ask Him that question yourself. See how silly …. I imagine we will all be on our knees …….

  24. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    The Eucharist does nothing good for those who reject Christ.

    The Reformed Locus: “What the Eucharist does.” (Mechanical/Spatio-Temporal/Empirical/Psychological)

    The Catholic Locus: “Whom the Eucharist is.” (Personal/Relational/Ontological/Spiritual)

  25. Wosbald–

    What the Eucharist DOES is to bring us into the corporeal presence of the Resplendent One (who he IS).

  26. Debbie–

    Thomas Howard, an Evangelical convert to Catholicism, estimates that fully 9 out of 10 Catholic churches in the United States are completely secular in orientation and teaching. I’m guessing that most in these parishes are baptized and that quite a doggone few are communing, as well.

    Does it really make sense to you that the “straight and NARROW” way would lead one to the largest human institution that has ever existed?

  27. Wosbald–

    To insist that an unbelieving, unrepentent prostitute should become united with Christ in the Eucharist doesn’t set well with me. But Paul does, however, say that when a Christian has carnal relations with said prostitute, he joins Christ in some sense to the unholy.

    If the Reformed took on the concept of “ex opere operato” and accepted that the unbelieving are also brought into the real presence of the Holy One, it really wouldn’t change a thing (other than to make us aware how much more fiercely we should have been fencing the table all these years).

  28. Debbie–

    When I look at the Church of Rome, I see far more tares than wheat. Why would it take 2000+ years to get to this stage of “development”?

  29. Robert,

    In response to my,

    “God’s salvific will includes all men. No one can merit to get their name put in the Book of Life.
    But their demerits can get them blotted out.
    Not using the Sacraments, necessary by both precept and means, can do just that.”

    You fired back with,

    “So if we are eternally elect before the foundation of the world, we can defy that decree and jump out of God’s election. Hmm, I think both Augustine and Aquinas would have problems with that.”

    Robert, as a Bible Only believer, what difference does it make what Augustine said if he can’t be squared with scripture?

    Augustine correctly saw election prior to any unforeseen merits.

    Still, where does the Bible ( forget Augustine for a moment ) say reprobation is before anything but foreseen demerits? Who ever gets blotted out of the Book of Life before earning the wages of sin?

  30. Robert,

    You wrote to Wosbald the following,

    “If you want to say that the person receives Christ but not to the benefit of his soul if he hates Christ, then there is no substantial difference between us. The Eucharist does nothing good for those who reject Christ.”

    Yes, if one is in a state of mortal sin and receives Communion, he sin grievously.
    However, you miss something. Pro-choice politicians excepted, not many people do that. People who hate Christ usually don’t go to Mass.
    If a Baptized person, in Christ, receives Communion, regardless of his distractions, venial sin, tepidity or aridity, that person receives Christ and grace as the Sacraments work ex opere operato. Their daily venial sins are forgiven and they grow in holiness.

    Tell me if I am mistaken but, for you, the Sacrament works only to the degree that it stirs up Faith. That Faith is what justifies, right?
    Imagine a Protestant who hates Christ receiving Communion regardless of which view of the Real Presence he may or may not adhere to. Do they sin further? Is it a sacrilege? If they are reprobate from the foundation of the world, what harm is done? Especially if Christ is not really there?

    Another thing, how much hate are we talking about? How much love or faith is required to benefit from the sacrament for you?

  31. Robert,

    In response to my statement on Invincible Ignorance, you quipped,
    “No one can get a handle on it, which is why there is so much disagreement in Roman Catholicism.”

    There is? I am not aware of it. Since the time of Boniface VIII, Eugene IV and Innocent III, up until Vatican II, the Church has issued several documents to make quite clear her teaching. With the exception of Fr. Feeney, who was corrected, what could you possibly be alluding to?

    Over and over again over the past months you have asserted that the Catholic Church is as schizoid as Protestantism is on this point, election, discipline, etc.
    It’s a nice smoke screen but it doesn’t work. Any Catholic who has a question on any issue, who owns a computer or telephone, merely has to apply to any of the myriad of resources available out there. Ever listen to Catholic Answers? EWTN
    ? Ever google the Vatican website?

  32. Jim,

    It’s a nice smoke screen but it doesn’t work. Any Catholic who has a question on any issue, who owns a computer or telephone, merely has to apply to any of the myriad of resources available out there. Ever listen to Catholic Answers? EWTN
    ? Ever google the Vatican website?

    The problem is that these entities are going to disagree, and even where they agree you are still left to interpret them the best you can. Kinda like Protestants and the Bible.

  33. Debbie,

    The Body of Christ is not meant to keep people out, but to invite men to return and be saved. We are not to judge men’s souls, but to preserve Truth with salt and light.

    Indeed, but the thing that started this discussion was the complaint that the Protestants divide the visible church and the invisible church too sharply. The only reason why I ask the question is that Roman Catholics must ultimately do the same thing. There must be a category for people who make false professions of faith in Rome, otherwise you end up with full-on universalism. The RC who does not really believe in Christ but participates in the life of the church is visibly united to Christ in a way he is not invisibly united, right? If a person spends his whole life in the RC Church without ever believing her doctrine, how is one truly in Christ?

    (I highly doubt that there are but a handful a baptized AND communing Roman Catholics putting on a show, but hey, its a great show)

    That seems like wishful thinking. If it were so, how come surveys of RCs in the church routinely place the majority of them as holding opinions that violate what the church has said about abortion, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and a host of other issues. Why are American RCs a reliable voting block for the Democratic party that endorses such things unashamedly?

    Now to be fair, this isn’t a uniquely RC problem. All religious communities that don’t enforce strict discipline must deal with it, and even then, as you said, only God knows the heart perfectly. But all that goes to say is that there is a category for those who are part of Christ’s visible church but for one reason or another never get into the invisible church.

  34. “The RC who does not really believe in Christ but participates in the life of the church is visibly united to Christ in a way he is not invisibly united, right? If a person spends his whole life in the RC Church without ever believing her doctrine, how is one truly in Christ?”

    Again, who spends their whole life in a church without ever believing her doctrine, especially in this day and age? What a silly notion!
    HOWEVER, the only people I can fathom doing this are evil men, agents of Satan that want to bring down the Body of Christ, THEN I get it. These people don’t seem to go to other denominations. They go to the RCC – makes a person wonder why?

    Judas was chosen by Jesus. AND Jesus saved us with His body covered by so many wounds He was unrecognizable. So you figure it out ….. inconceivable the Love and Mercy of our Lord.

    Also Jim said “you have asserted that the Catholic Church is as schizoid as Protestantism is on this point, election, discipline, etc.”

    I don’t know how to keep saying this, but this assertion is so wrong – especially coming from someone who isn’t Catholic. I am around hundreds, sometimes thousands of Catholics who have no division, and when they do, they typically leave or ask for clarification. You need to find some authentic Catholics to hang out with, maybe next time there is a Catholic Conference you could stop by and be amazed. There is an army out there, but not the kind you are looking for. They are little old women gathered at 6:00 am to pray for the salvation of the world, they are hunted nuns in China who risk their lives to save babies, they are meek, gentle men who will stare down with love women that are desecrating the rosary, etc…
    They fly below the radar screen of this world, and they are gaining strength with the breeze of the Holy Spirit.

  35. Robert,

    “The problem is that these entities are going to disagree, and even where they agree you are still left to interpret them the best you can. Kinda like Protestants and the Bible.”

    What?!? These entities disagree? No way! Nothing like the Protestants and the Bible either because the Bible can’t talk. It’s a book Robert. A book. Divinely inspired. But still a book.

    Are you sure you are all that invincibly ignorant? I’m getting a feeling that you are frantically grasping at straws to keep from being led where you don’t want to go.

    One more thing, about those Catholics who dissent on contraception or vote liberal or whatever and yet attend Mass, I bet, if the priest were to give a homily on occasion on these issues, the pew warmers would leave for good and the lax would get in lockstep.
    Faith says one must believe ALL that has been revealed on the authority of the person revealing. I think the laity ( including politicians ) would snap out of it if they actually heard a priest tell them what the Church teaches.
    I know of a parish in Portland, Oregon where NOBODY votes liberal or contracepts. Nobody. Zero.
    The parish I attend here on Sundays, just the opposite. I would bet a good percentage of the laity contracept and most of them approve of Obama. But then, in 14 years, I have heard only one homily address contraception and that homily was given by the visiting Bishop of Winchester, England.
    When the encyclical Casti Conubii was promulgated, the Pope gave a stern warning to priests about failing to preach on the issue of artificial birth control.
    On Judgement Day priests will be held accountable if they failed their people.

    So, Robert, the laity would obey if they were taught. Unfortunetley, most are like you and never bother to google a website or listen to a radio Q&A show to find out what the Church CLEARLY teaches. If the parish priest doesn’t stress it, it is a non issue for them.

    It’s not that the priests preach from the pulpit that contraception is okay. Not at all. Their silence on the issue, in today’s culture, is all it takes. Its’ a pastoral problem, not a doctrinal one.

  36. Nick, you wrote:

    The Catholic position doesn’t suffer from this dilemma, because both Scripture and Tradition show that the Magisterium is indefectible, as well as affirming the fact it is possible for a Christian to lose their salvation.

    Response:

    The Protestant position doesn’t suffer from any dilemma because the gift of faith is an invisible grace; therefore, the believer belongs to the invisible church. Faith belongs to the visible church indirectly as a condition for TRUE profession. Profession is an act that may or may not include faith. According to your system, it is true that the RC magisterium and the ‘Christian’ escapes some dilemma because both subjects have faith by definition.

    Since the Prot. system says believers are, by definition, TRUE members of the invisible/visible church, then no dilemma really exists.

  37. Jim,

    So, Robert, the laity would obey if they were taught. Unfortunetley, most are like you and never bother to google a website or listen to a radio Q&A show to find out what the Church CLEARLY teaches. If the parish priest doesn’t stress it, it is a non issue for them.

    I can find Roman documents that from my reading of them seem to prohibit contraception, but if I can’t trust myself to understand the Bible, how can I trust myself to understand the Magisterium. It isn’t any clearer, and there’s a whole lot more to wade through.

    The issue I have is that you guys ALL want to tell us the Bible is horribly unclear and then purport the superior clarity of the Magisterium. Magisterial doctrine is not as clear as you think it is, especially when there is no discipline.

    So according to my attempts to read the Magisterial documents honestly according to their intent, I can conclude that the present Roman Magisterium is anti-contraception. But if we apply your principles consistently, I can’t be confident of my interpretation because I myself am not the infallible interpreter. All you’ve done is introduce another authority that people can misunderstand and for which they can have no certainty. You impute a clarity to the Magisterium you don’t impute to Scripture, which I’m sorry to say is not only borderline blasphemous but also completely misses the reality of how the Holy Spirit works on the personal level and does not actually deal with the ground level reality of the impossibility of the individual ever moving beyond the act of interpretation on his own.

  38. Debbie,

    Again, who spends their whole life in a church without ever believing her doctrine, especially in this day and age? What a silly notion!

    Though it is becoming increasingly less the case, there are communities in this country where if you are not a part of a church, you are going to have trouble running for office or even running a business. People will go to the nice churchgoing competitor. If you can’t see how that would inspire some people to join a church for the wrong reasons—to get ahead, not because they have faith—then I think you need to think a little bit harder.

    There are also plenty of people who think having some kind of religion, any religion, is a good thing. They’ll join the RC Church or the Lutheran Church or the Presbyterian Church or whatever not because they have any conviction that Christ is Savior but because it’s good for the family to be in a situation that promotes good morals, or something like that. I’d say the vast majority of churchgoers in the last century fell into that camp, which is why the influence of Christianity is dropping so rapidly. Those who claimed to believe never really believed to begin with.

    You need to find some authentic Catholics to hang out with, maybe next time there is a Catholic Conference you could stop by and be amazed.

    But the problem is that by this statement you are attributing to yourself the right to determine who is authentically Catholic and who isn’t, which is precisely the right you won’t grant to Protestants.

    How do I know the rank liberals aren’t authentically RC if Rome won’t kick them out? I don’t.

  39. Robert,
    “if I can’t trust myself to understand the Bible, how can I trust myself to understand the Magisterium. It isn’t any clearer, and there’s a whole lot more to wade through………………… I can’t be confident of my interpretation because I myself am not the infallible interpreter.”

    You can trust yourself to read the Bible. When its says, ” Thou art Peter…”, it is pretty clear. Same goes for, ” Unless you eat my Body…” or “Behold thy mother”.
    When the Bible says Jesus died for all men, go right ahead trust the head on your shoulders.
    By all means, trust yourself to read Peter’s statement about Paul’s writing not to be perspicuous.
    Trust yourself to see the extra-biblical authority set up in the Book of Acts. The authority that, without recourse to scripture, on its own authority, abrogated circumcision.
    If you trust yourself to read the directions on a bottle of medicine, or on how to repair electrical appliances, or to understand a road map, you are not all that crazy. Go ahead and read the Bible, just make sure you don’t deviate from the “traditional” understanding of any of the texts.

    As for the Trinity, well, did you read what I posted above on this month’s edition of the “WATCHTOWER”? Right out of the Reformation’s gate, while Luther was still calling the shots, men we denying the Trinity. And they were doing so based on the Bible.

    By the way, if the Church is invisible, how did Paul excommunicate the adulterous fellow in Corinthians? If the Church is invisible, the guy could have just gone over to the next burg and said, ” Hey folks, Paul is preaching legalism. He has fallen from grace. Let’s start a new church here without all the legalistic heresy”.

    No way could an invisible church have gone from Palestine to the entire Roman world in such a short time unless it was organized with a defined hierarchical structure and clear cut doctrine.
    Again, like I said above, it would take 1800 years before Congregationalism was to come along and totally unravel things.

  40. Robert, you write:

    Is the baptized and communing Roman Catholic who, unbeknownst to you, is just putting on a show but actually hates Christ and, moreover, will always hate Christ actually united to you and to Christ?

    Valid reception of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist) bring one into communion with the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. These Sacraments give one membership in the true church. There are four ways to lose membership in the true Church: become a schismatic; become a heretic; become an apostate; or be excommunicated.

    The person that “actually hates Christ and, moreover, will always hate Christ” is an apostate, and an apostate has no membership in the church. Which means he is NOT united either to Christ or the members of the body of Christ.

    An infant that is validly baptized has become united to the true church because of the unmerited grace grace of God that is bestowed by the Sacrament of Baptism. If the infant grows up to be a man that embraces heresy, that man is no longer a Christian, because embracing heresy is a sin that causes the loss of membership in the true church.

    Eric, you write:

    To insist that an unbelieving, unrepentant prostitute should become united with Christ in the Eucharist doesn’t set well with me. But Paul does, however, say that when a Christian has carnal relations with said prostitute, he joins Christ in some sense to the unholy.

    That is a very bad understanding of what Paul is really teaching, as Paul is making an analogy between the stone Temple in Jerusalem and the true Temple which is the physical body of the Christian.

    The stone Temple could become desolate of the Holy Spirit by bringing in the “desolating abomination”. Desolate means uninhabited – the Holy Spirit no longer inhabited the stone Temple when it became defiled by the desolating abomination. The analogy Paul is making should be obvious – the Christian man that has sex with a whore is bringing the desolating abomination into his Temple, and the Holy Spirit will not dwell in a Temple that has been defiled. And it is not just sex with whores that is a desolating abomination; a Christian man committing adultery loses the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as does a teenage Christian boy that is fornicating with his girlfriend.

    The sins of adultery and fornication are mortal sins. Do these sins cause the loss of membership in Christ’s church? No. The adulterer and the fornicator would still be united to the body of the Church but not the soul of the church. The adulterer and the fornicator would be united by faith, but not charity, which is why it is possible to have faith and not be saved. The adulterer or fornicator that repents of his sin, can have charity restored and be saved.

    What is both abhorrent and heretical is the Calvinist’s insistence that if a man is one of the “frozen chosen”, that he can have sex with whores all night long and still have the Holy Spirit indwelling his temple when he wakes up in the morning hungover and infected with syphilis.

  41. Robert,

    Just a quick aside about the visibility, catholicity and unity of the Church, I was in downtown Lisbon last week and decided to go to Mass in the Cathedral. Upon entering I heard what sounded like Buddhist chanting coming from one of the side chapels. I checked it out and it was a Japanese priest and tour group celebrating Mass. Other than the fact that they bowed to one another at the sign of peace, they were offering the same Clean Oblation celebrated from the sun’s rising to its setting among the nations( Mal 1:11 ).
    I know I have mentioned that I live in an area with lots of ex-pats and a few Protestant mainline and non denominational churches. Although they practice open Communion with one another, I assure you, what binds them together is the English language, not unity of doctrine or discipline. ( I know of one couple who quit the Riverside church and now attend the Anglican one for “political” reasons. IOW, The Riverside church’s pastor is anti-abortion and the couple are rabidly pro-Obama. )

    Robert, please. You really should be embarrassed with your constant assertion that Catholics and Protestants are equally divided.

  42. Robert,

    We say Augustine is our guy. You say he is yours. But there is one place where neither of us want anything to do with him; the fate of unbaptized babies.

    Augustine wasn’t perfect. There, I’ve said it.
    How did he get it so wrong? Well, he could see the inability of unaided human nature, sinful or not, to elevate itself to a supernatural state.
    He could also see, with crystal clarity, that it is Baptism that regenerates, elevates, engrafts into Christ and makes one a member of the Church that is necessary for salvation.

    In the absence of any texts explicitly saying otherwise, he was left to conclude the worst possible scenario.
    Sixteen centuries on, we still have no 100% absolute assurance as to the salvation of unbaptized babies. Theologians after Augustine came up with Limbo, but that is speculation, not revelation.
    People. speculate, conclude, infer, hypothesize , reason, guess,,deduce, surmise, etc. but the only body commissioned by Christ to speak for Him, the visible Church, hasn’t dogmatically put an end to it all.

    Robert, the scriptures are not perspicuous here. All the Church has really said is that babies cannot go to hell as they have not committed actual sin. How or if they get into heaven, we can’t say. That’s where it sits.

    The Gospels were not written as apologetic discourses to convince unbelievers. They were written to people who already believed.
    Jesus did not say, ” I am God, Second Person of the Trinity, consubstantial with the Father. Three Persons but One nature”. Rather, He acted like God. He controlled the elements, walked on water and multiplied loaves. He went further and forgave sins. Later, when the bad guys accused Him of blasphemy, He did not retract or clarify. He pretty much left it for people to conclude He is God.
    Things get even iffier when we speak of the divinity of the Holy Ghost.

    If the NT was so perspicuous, the world would not have “woken up and groaned under Arianism”.

    Robert, how does an invisible Church guard doctrine? How does an invisible Church determine legitimate development of doctrine from heresy? With but a few exceptions, most Protestant denominations don’t even make the audacious claim to be The One, True Church founded by Christ. And those that make that claim are usually cults. Hmmmmm?

    I think Matt 16 is looking more and more perspicuous all the time.

  43. Jim,

    Good questions.

    Robert, how does an invisible Church guard doctrine?

    The invisible church does not guard doctrine. The invisible church believes the doctrine that God has revealed. The invisible church enjoys salvation. The invisible church is united to Christ. The main point of the invisible/visible church distinction is to show that there are some people who are a part of the life of the church who are nonetheless not united to Christ. That’s what the New Testament teaches.

    How does an invisible Church determine legitimate development of doctrine from heresy.

    Neither the visible church nor the invisible church determine doctrine. They recognize what the Apostles and prophets have taught. The Holy Spirit confirms the gospel in the hearts and minds of the elect through the faithful preaching of the Word of God and the right administration of the sacraments.

    With but a few exceptions, most Protestant denominations don’t even make the audacious claim to be The One, True Church founded by Christ. And those that make that claim are usually cults. Hmmmmm?

    The Protestants I know claim that any church that is faithful to Apostolic doctrine is the church founded by Christ. We just deny that we need the same home office in order to be a united church. Rome makes an audacious and unsubstantiated claim that it is the One, True Church and ignores all the marks of error in its midst.

    The Gospels were not written as apologetic discourses to convince unbelievers. They were written to people who already believed.

    That is a truncated view. It certainly must be qualified at least in the case of John 20:30–31:
    Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    Matthew at least in part is an apologetic to Jews that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Luke sets out to make a historical case for Christ (Luke 1:1–4). Acts continues the case.

    Jesus did not say, ” I am God, Second Person of the Trinity, consubstantial with the Father. Three Persons but One nature”. Rather, He acted like God. He controlled the elements, walked on water and multiplied loaves. He went further and forgave sins. Later, when the bad guys accused Him of blasphemy, He did not retract or clarify. He pretty much left it for people to conclude He is God.

    Bingo, and you’ve just given an opinion that is very Protestant. Jesus doesn’t tell people that an infallible church pronouncement is required to know that He is God. In fact, He condemns the Pharisees and Sadducees for having the Word of God but not understanding it. That presupposes that it is possible to have only the Word of God and to know who Jesus is by it apart from an infallible decree. Now, the church and its teachers help us understand divine revelation, but they are not revelation itself, and I don’t see how the Roman position does not ultimately devolve into making the church God’s organ of revelation.

    Things get even iffier when we speak of the divinity of the Holy Ghost.

    Too bad the early church fathers didn’t think so.

    If the NT was so perspicuous, the world would not have “woken up and groaned under Arianism”.

    If the fact that people disagree disproves NT perspicuity, it likewise disproves the perspicuity of the Magisterium. Plenty of communing Roman Catholics who have not been excommunicated and are thus in good standing with the church disagree with one another and, more significantly, disagree with the Magisterium.

  44. Robert, you write:

    Neither the visible church nor the invisible church determine doctrine. They recognize what the Apostles and prophets have taught. The Holy Spirit confirms the gospel in the hearts and minds of the elect through the faithful preaching of the Word of God and the right administration of the sacraments.

    No doubt the Judaizers that went to Antioch believed in the heretical doctrine that they were preaching. It took the Council of Jerusalem to settle the doctrinal dispute between the Apostle Paul and the Judaizers that had come to Antioch from Jerusalem. The visible church in Antioch knew what they needed to do to settle the doctrinal dispute – “… when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.”

    Robert, your Protestant belief that the visible church does not determine the doctrine binding upon the faithful Christians completely contradicts what is written in the word of God!

    Robert, it is not just your little Protestant denomination that thinks the Holy Spirit is guiding your sect; the members of every Protestant sect believe the same thing. Even the Lone Ranger Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is personally guiding them into all truth. But the reality of Protestantism is that it is a Babel of divided sects proclaiming wildly contradictory doctrine. It is impossible that thousand upon thousands of Protestant sects teaching contradictory doctrine are all being guided by the Holy Spirit. Which is why I have no reason at all to believe that your Protestant sect is being guided by the Holy Spirit into the preaching of orthodox doctrine and the right administration of the sacraments!

    Jim, you ask:

    Robert, how does an invisible Church guard doctrine?

    Exactly! Just how does an invisible church determine what doctrine is orthodox and what doctrine is heterodox? Christ commands his disciples to take their doctrinal disputes to the church, because the church has the authority to settle, once and for all, doctrinal disputes. Which is something that all Protestants refuse to do, because Protestants will listen to any old church except the church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

    If a doctrinal dispute arises in a Protestant “church”, the dissenter that doesn’t’ agree with what his Protestant sect is preaching can just kiss off his sect and go found his own personal bible church – a new Protestant “church” that teaches (quite naturally) the doctrine that the dissenter wants to hear preached from the pulpit. Or the dissenting Protestant can become a Lone Ranger Christian and cobble together his own personal bible religion by picking and choosing whatever it is that he thinks the Holy Spirit is teaching him.

    No Protestant can reconcile what he is doing by refusing to listen to the church with what Christ commands of his disciples. Creating personal bible churches is the sin of schism, a sin that removes the sinner from the church of Christ.

  45. Mateo,

    No doubt the Judaizers that went to Antioch believed in the heretical doctrine that they were preaching. It took the Council of Jerusalem to settle the doctrinal dispute between the Apostle Paul and the Judaizers that had come to Antioch from Jerusalem. The visible church in Antioch knew what they needed to do to settle the doctrinal dispute – “… when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.”

    Robert, your Protestant belief that the visible church does not determine the doctrine binding upon the faithful Christians completely contradicts what is written in the word of God!

    There haven’t been any apostles since the last one, John died. There is no entity that has the same kind of authority they did—even Rome would profess that. If you want to equate the Council of Jerusalem—where James was the “pope” by the way—with later church councils, then later church councils must be inspired in exactly the same way. Even Rome doesn’t claim that.

    Robert, it is not just your little Protestant denomination that thinks the Holy Spirit is guiding your sect; the members of every Protestant sect believe the same thing. Even the Lone Ranger Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is personally guiding them into all truth. But the reality of Protestantism is that it is a Babel of divided sects proclaiming wildly contradictory doctrine. It is impossible that thousand upon thousands of Protestant sects teaching contradictory doctrine are all being guided by the Holy Spirit. Which is why I have no reason at all to believe that your Protestant sect is being guided by the Holy Spirit into the preaching of orthodox doctrine and the right administration of the sacraments!

    Mateo, it is not just your Roman Catholic denomination that thinks the Holy Spirit is guaranteeing infallibility for your sect; the members of every RC, EO, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, David Koreshite, Shiite Islam, etc. sect believe the same thing. Even the random crazy RC who sees Mary believe that the Holy Spirit is personally guiding them into all truth. But the reality of Roman Catholicism is that it is a Babel of divided sects proclaiming wildly contradictory doctrine. It is impossible that thousand upon thousands of Roman Catholics sects teaching contradictory doctrine (see Molinism vs. Thomism for starters, then go to all of the different opinions on birth control and abortion) are all being guided by the Holy Spirit. Which is why I have no reason at all to believe that your Roman Catholic sect is being guided by the Holy Spirit into the preaching of orthodox doctrine and the right administration of the sacraments!

  46. Mateo–

    If every Catholic church in your vicinity (and indeed, for miles around) were clearly apostate–the priests were pro-choice, pro-contraceptive, practicing homosexuals who sat their boyfriends in the front pew and winked at them during the homily–would you really consider yourself schismatic by attending the local Methodist church with your wife and kids? Would it be a sin to form your own family devotional circle with a few believing friends?

    Exactly HOW impure does the doctrine and ethics of THE church have to become before one listens to the Holy Spirit instead of the “powers that be”? Why, in the minds and hearts of so many Catholics, does continuity of hierarchy trump purity of doctrine every single time? Schism–as the preeminent error to avoid–beats heresy in spades. You all are about as heretical as it’s possible to be (without leaving the faith entirely like liberal “Protestantism”), but at least you’re not schismatic!

  47. Eric,

    If every Catholic church in your vicinity (and indeed, for miles around) were clearly apostate–the priests were pro-choice, pro-contraceptive, practicing homosexuals who sat their boyfriends in the front pew and winked at them during the homily–would you really consider yourself schismatic by attending the local Methodist church with your wife and kids?

    That is a fascinating question and one I have wondered about myself. My gut feeling is that the answer for the RC conservative is that it would be impossible for that to happen or for the whole hierarchy to go bad. If they want to believe that, that is fine, but such a belief is no less fideistic than the Protestant belief that there will always be a true church to witness to the Lord in the world.

  48. Eric,

    “the priests were pro-choice, pro-contraceptive, practicing homosexuals who sat their boyfriends in the front pew and winked at them during the homily–”

    Whew! Sure glad I am Catholic and not a Protestant! My Church’s Sacraments are not dependent on the holiness of the minister but work ex opere operato, by the promises of Christ. That winking, blinking, kiss blowing and leering Anglican or Baptist minister may invalidate his ordinances, but my priest remains an Alter Christus no matter what.

    “Would it be a sin to form your own family devotional circle with a few believing friends?”

    Can the circle of friends feed me the Body and Blood of Christ? Will they keep sound doctrine? How do I know?

    “Exactly HOW impure does the doctrine and ethics of THE church have to become before one listens to the Holy Spirit instead of the “powers that be”? Why, in the minds and hearts of so many Catholics, does continuity of hierarchy trump purity of doctrine every single time? ”

    Caiphas was pretty nasty. Yet he prophesied by the power of the Holy Spirit in virtue of being High Priest. David didn’t kill Saul, bad as he was, because he was the Lord’s anointed.
    As the the DOCTRINE becoming impure, remember, we are talking about the Catholic Church. Not you denomination.

  49. Robert,

    I think Mateo pretty much answered most of what you said.

    Again, I don’t want to get off target but your assertion that James “poped” the Jerusalem Council is too delicious to let slide.

    James, the local Bishop who had pastoral care of his Jewish Christian flock decreed that people were to abstain from blood and non kosher meats. ( Sounds like he was preaching Law! ). As this decree has zero binding affect on you or me today, it obviously was not infallible.

    Peter’s decree is still in effect. Circumcision is not a requirement for membership in the Church although it was established “in perpetuity” with Abraham 400 years before the law of Moses.
    Besides, the whole Council was called after Peter had unilaterally opened the door of the Church to the gentiles starting with Cornelius. The discussion was about how to implement what Peter ALONE had decided to do.
    Remember, it was to Simon Peter, and not to James, nor Paul, nor John the Beloved, that God Almighty had given the vision of the net of unclean animals.

  50. Jim,

    You need to take off your Traditionalist RC glasses for a minute because that reading of Acts is impossible, as is this idea that Peter unilaterally opened the door to Gentiles. He closed it not longer after he “opened” it in Galatia and needed Paul to correct Him. There’s also no evidence that what was said about meat et al was intended only for his “Jewish flock.” I agree that it is no longer binding, or at least it is binding in a different way, but not because it was only for the Jerusalem Church.

    For centuries, Rome and its scholars has been moving away from the demonstrably false idea that Peter was somehow formally instituted as pope. There is a far greater tendency to see the papacy as a necessary and organic development. Thus, there is no way that Peter was a “pope” unilaterally deciding anything. The only one who acts in anything like a unilateral sense in Jersusalem was James, and even then it is a big stretch. The early church was conciliar, not papal. Rome abandoned conciliarism long ago. But it looks a little bit like Francis wants to bring it back. Here’s hoping.

  51. Jim,

    I think Mateo pretty much answered most of what you said.

    The “You guys don’t claim infallibility and are a small sect that doesn’t base unity on having the same home office, therefore Rome is God’s voice on earth except when she isn’t” argument from Mateo and the rest of you guys isn’t impressive.

  52. Gentlemen–

    The decree of the Council of Jerusalem was “abrogated by custom” early on in the West but is still fully binding in the East.

  53. Jim–

    Caiphas was not a Zadokite, and thus not a legitimate high priest. The Sadducees didn’t even survive the fall of the Temple, but passed into history.

  54. Robert, you write:

    Mateo, it is not just your Roman Catholic denomination that thinks the Holy Spirit is guaranteeing infallibility for your sect; the members of every RC, EO, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, David Koreshite, Shiite Islam, etc. sect believe the same thing.

    Quite true. But so what? Delusional people that think that God is speaking to them are not all that rare. When John Calvin started excommunicating Christians in Geneva, John Calvin was taking upon himself an authority that Christ gave to the church that he personally founded. John Calvin is not the church that Jesus founded, and John Calvin was no different than Charles Taze Russell, David Koresh, Martin Luther, Amiee Semple McPherson or Jim Jones in that these are all deluded people who thought they had a teaching authority that they did not really possess.

    … the reality of Roman Catholicism is that it is a Babel of divided sects proclaiming wildly contradictory doctrine …

    The Catholic Church is not a conglomeration of dissenters as is the case of Protestantism. The fact that you can even identify a cafeteria Catholic that is dissenting with the official teaching of the Catholic Church works against you, because it shows that even you, a Calvinist, have at least some awareness of what the Catholic Church teaches as orthodox doctrine.

    Ericyou write:

    If every Catholic church in your vicinity (and indeed, for miles around) were clearly apostate–the priests were pro-choice, pro-contraceptive, practicing homosexuals who sat their boyfriends in the front pew and winked at them during the homily–would you really consider yourself schismatic by attending the local Methodist church with your wife and kids?

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. I take these kind of “what if” scenarios about as seriously as two kids discussing what would happen if Lois Lane put red kryptonite in Superman’s sandwich.

    Exactly HOW impure does the doctrine and ethics of THE church have to become before one listens to the Holy Spirit instead of the “powers that be”?

    You are our resident Lone Ranger that listens to no man but Eric. You tell me, how corrupt does the personal religion of Ericism have to be before I should no longer listen to anything that you have to say?

    What criteria do you exercise for determining what constitutes orthodox doctrine for the religion of Ericism? Is Mormon style bosom burning your guide? And how is it, exactly, that you are exempt from having to obey the commandment of Christ to listen to the church that he personally founded or be excommunicated?

    blockquote>Why, in the minds and hearts of so many Catholics, does continuity of hierarchy trump purity of doctrine every single time?

    When did God give you the ability to read the hearts of Catholics? This statement is just bunk.

    Eric, you don’t have any criteria for determining what constitutes “purity of doctrine”. You believe that Eric is the ultimate temporal authority for determining what constitutes orthodox doctrine, and you can’t show a single verse in the scriptures that supports your eccentric Lone Rangerism. But at least your Lone Rangerism is out in the open. The Protestants that believe that they have the right to “church shop” are also Lone Rangers, because they are deciding that they are the ultimate authority that determines to whom they will listen. Church shopping is as much of a sin as founding a personal church with one member.

    When I submit, only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

  55. The Catholic position doesn’t suffer from this dilemma, because both Scripture and Tradition show that the Magisterium is indefectible, as well as affirming the fact it is possible for a Christian to lose their salvation.

    I really don’t think I understand this argument. nI don’t even know what the “dilemma” is much less how RCs differ. We believe that Christians can lose their salvation…. but we also believe that it is possible for men to belong to the “soul of the Church” even though they are not formal members of the Church per se…. this is the equivalent of what protestants mean when they say “invisible church”.

  56. Is Nick arguing that there is absolutely no salvation outside of visible membership with the Roman Catholic Church? If he isnt…. I don’t understand the point

  57. Quite true. But so what? Delusional people that think that God is speaking to them are not all that rare.

    So are delusional institutions.

    When John Calvin started excommunicating Christians in Geneva, John Calvin was taking upon himself an authority that Christ gave to the church that he personally founded. John Calvin is not the church that Jesus founded, and John Calvin was no different than Charles Taze Russell, David Koresh, Martin Luther, Amiee Semple McPherson or Jim Jones in that these are all deluded people who thought they had a teaching authority that they did not really possess.

    1. John Calvin isn’t a church.
    2. We don’t think John Calvin is infallible.
    3. John Calvin wasn’t a lone ranger working for himself
    4. The church Jesus personally founded is identified by its faithfulness to what the Apostles actually taught, not by some tenuous notion of physical succession that only works if you ignore the gaps in history, the medieval papacy when everyone in the West was excommunicated because all three current popes did so, and so on.

    The Catholic Church is not a conglomeration of dissenters as is the case of Protestantism. The fact that you can even identify a cafeteria Catholic that is dissenting with the official teaching of the Catholic Church works against you, because it shows that even you, a Calvinist, have at least some awareness of what the Catholic Church teaches as orthodox doctrine.

    I have no better awareness of what the RCC teaches as orthodox doctrine than you do of what Calvinism teaches as orthodox doctrine. There’s no infallible list of list of every orthodox doctrine you must believe as a Roman Catholic. Since according to your principles I am not infallible, all I can offer you is my opinion as to who is a cafeteria RC based on my fallible reading of your sources. The thing is, that is all you can offer me either. Thus, neither one of us has any idea whether Catholics for Choice are endorsing an orthodox position or not. If Rome solves all our doctrinal problems, I actually would have to lean on it being fully acceptable in Roman Catholicism today to promote abortion. Without excommunication, I don’t know the boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn’t.

    We can keep going at this, but if you are going to apply one set of principles to us, you better apply it to yourselves. And if you can’t discern what Calvinists believe from their sources, you can’t discern what Rome believes from its sources either.

  58. Kenneth,

    Thank you for being the voice of reason on the RC side. Every professing Christian body has to have a doctrine of the invisible/visible church distinction. There are too many passages on false sheep in the church’s midst to say otherwise.

  59. Robert,

    “Peter unilaterally opened the door to Gentiles. He closed it not longer after he “opened” it in Galatia and needed Paul to correct Him.”

    Did Paul close it himself when he circumcised Timothy? Was he right to correct peter or was he a hypocrite too?

    By the way, some scholars say the Cephas spoken of by Paul is a different person than Peter. I don’t subscribe to that theory, but it is out there.
    Anyway, Paul accused Peter/Cephas of hypocrisy A.K.A. behaving differently from one’s preaching or “not walking the talk”. Peter’s doctrinal preaching was sound. That’s all infallibility pertains to. Impeccability is a different thing altogether.

    ” There’s also no evidence that what was said about meat et al was intended only for his “Jewish flock.”

    I didn’t say it was. It was so as not to scandalized the Jewish flock.

    “For centuries, Rome and its scholars has been moving away from the demonstrably false idea that Peter was somehow formally instituted as pope.”

    Really? Sources please.

    ” Thus, there is no way that Peter was a “pope” unilaterally deciding anything.”

    No? His decision to replace Judas looks pretty unilateral.

  60. Jim–

    And then there’s Balaam, not a man of the faith even, who prophesies in the OT.

  61. Mateo, you wrote to Robert:
    When I submit, only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

    Was Aquinas wrong ?

    Reply to Objection 3. Obedience, like every virtue requires the will to be prompt towards its proper object, but not towards that which is repugnant to it. Now the proper object of obedience is a precept, and this proceeds from another’s will. Wherefore obedience make a man’s will prompt in fulfilling the will of another, the maker, namely, of the precept. If that which is prescribed to him is willed by him for its own sake apart from its being prescribed, as happens in agreeable matters, he tends towards it at once by his own will and seems to comply, not on account of the precept, but on account of his own will. But if that which is prescribed is nowise willed for its own sake, but, considered in itself, repugnant to his own will, as happens in disagreeable matters, then it is quite evident that it is not fulfilled except on account of the precept. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xxxv) that “obedience perishes or diminishes when it holds its own in agreeable matters,” because, to wit, one’s own will seems to tend principally, not to the accomplishment of the precept, but to the fulfilment of one’s own desire; but that “it increases in disagreeable or difficult matters,” because there one’s own will tends to nothing beside the precept. Yet this must be understood as regards outward appearances: for, on the other hand, according to the judgment of God, Who searches the heart, it may happen that even in agreeable matters obedience, while holding its own, is nonetheless praiseworthy, provided the will of him that obeys tend no less devotedly [Cf. 82, 2] to the fulfilment of the precept.

    http://newadvent.org/summa/3104.htm#article2

  62. Jim–

    You may be happy to put the very Body of Christ into Satan’s slimy hands (as long as he is a duly “ordained” priest in the so-called “catholic” church), but I am not. When a church couldn’t care less whether their clergy are doctrinally and ethically pure, it has ceased to retain the right to be called a church of Christ.

  63. Mateo–

    I didn’t give you a hypothetical. That’s a real decision for many American Catholics. When there exists no right choice possible, it doesn’t matter whether two wrongs don’t make a right. Three or four wrongs don’t make a right either, but many people have only wrongs to choose from thanks to the lack of faithfulness of others.

    I would much rather not be in “schism” as you call it, but I have no other choice. No historic church remained faithful to the Apostolic heritage.

  64. Mateo–

    If I am the only one who embraces my version of the true faith, then my faith is entirely pure in doctrine. There are absolutely no dissenters. And even when I disagree with myself due to self interest or doubt, I submit to the better angels of my nature. I guess that must mean I submit to the truth and not just myself.

  65. Kenneth–

    Unless Nick is arguing that there is absolutely no salvation outside of visible membership in the Roman Catholic Church, then he doesn’t have a point. That’s what we have been “pointing” out.

  66. Mateo–

    I listen to “no man but Eric” in my theological deliberations because he is the only one allowed to make decisions for me. Even if you were to hold a shotgun to my head, he and he alone must make the decision to yield or not to yield.

    By the by, you do the exact same thing…and so does Mateo…and Jim…and Robert…and Jonathan…and even Jason (if he were here). Lone Rangers all (for nothing else exists).

  67. +JMJ+

    Kenneth Winsmann wrote:

    I really don’t think I understand this argument. nI don’t even know what the “dilemma” is much less how RCs differ. We believe that Christians can lose their salvation…. but we also believe that it is possible for men to belong to the “soul of the Church” even though they are not formal members of the Church per se…. this is the equivalent of what protestants mean when they say “invisible church”.

    The issue revolves around (or at least, is clearly demonstrated by) Sacramentalism.

    For example, under the unified, organismal view of Catholicism, Baptism, when the requisite conditions are met, intrinsically conveys grace. Always.

    Under the Protestant Visible/Invisible dichotomy, there is no way to intrinsically tie Baptism, regardless of conditions being met or not being met, to Regeneration. Thus, a principled wedge is driven between the activity of God and the agency of Man.

    In short, at issue is the Incarnational nature of the Church.

  68. Eric,

    ” When a church couldn’t care less whether their clergy are doctrinally and ethically pure, it has ceased to retain the right to be called a church of Christ.”

    Rest assured, the Catholic Church does care. You are just mud slinging now.
    The doctrinal aspect is guaranteed by Christ’s words to be with us always. Are you saying your church or churches are more on top of things? Ha!

    I would love to talk to you about the “doctrinal and ethical purity” of your denomination on the life issues, gamete donation, divorce and remarriage, charitable giving, etc. etc. How many Mother Theresas are in your ranks? How many hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters, etc. do you have?
    Before worrying about our speck, get the beam out of your own eye. How much missionary work did your outfit do back when it counted? ( When it counted was when to be a missionary meant probable death, not sending prostletyzers to modern day Latin America ). Where does your church stand on the culture war? You are Anglicin(ish), right? If yes, you have caved to the whole gay agenda.
    Eric lad, if it’s a food fight you are looking for, you are gonna lose.

    Bad priests are few and far between. They have been around since Judas. Why leave Peter because of Judas?

    As for Caiphas, Jn 11:52 doesn’t seem to be as concerned as you are which line he descended from, He poke prophecy because of his office, not his holiness.

    You think you are going to make a Church of saints only? Sorry, but the tares will be with the wheat until Judgement Day.

    Only the Jehovah’s Witnesses have what you seem to be looking for. Talk to them. They are proud to say they have a pure group of followers.

  69. Eric,

    “By the by, you do the exact same thing…and so does Mateo…and Jim…and Robert…and Jonathan…and even Jason (if he were here). Lone Rangers all (for nothing else exists).”

    No again Eric. We Catholics check our minds at the door. Let me prove it.
    Jason, Mateo, Jonathon and I know a lot of what we believe. But not all.

    Did you get that? What we know about what we believe and what we believe don’t line up 100%.
    You see Eric, I believe all the Church teaches. Even what I don’t know.
    Can you say the same?
    Catholics are not Lone Rangers. We check our puny minds at the try in order to put on the mind of Christ.

    We are Catholics. Not ” Catholicish”. For someone who is Baptistish/Anglicinish but neither actually Baptist nor Anglican, as you claim to be, this is probably hard to grasp.
    Google the New Advent article on Faith. It’s much more than merely “an empty hand that receives the imputed righteous of another”.

  70. Jim–

    The “catholic” church doesn’t give a crap, and you darn well know it. And bad priests outnumber good priests by a long shot.

    As Mateo has pointed out, I am my own denomination, and we (I) have an excellent record on life issues. (So far, though, we only have one member who is like unto Mother Theresa.) We don’t have any “tares” to speak of. Heck, we don’t have any at all!

    The “catholic” church, since it doesn’t even believe in conversion, has never done any missionary work whatsoever. You can’t do evangelism when you deny the evangel.

    There are plenty of Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Baptist hospitals by the way. And Protestant missionaries used to carry their coffins with them to West Africa, knowing they weren’t coming back. Many of them lasted only a few weeks.

    Caiphas was accorded no honor for his office. Where did you get that silly notion? Jesus cleaned out the Temple grounds because of his abhorrence at what it had become. He showed absolutely NO respect for the Sadducees…for they deserved none. He showed far more respect for the Pharisees, many of whom probably eventually accepted him as Messiah.

    The “catholic” church is composed almost exclusively of tares. That doesn’t bode well for its continuance. My guess is that it will begin to bleed membership much as the mainstream “protestants” have already done.

    I have told you over and over again that I am not Anglican. There are not strong enough words available in the English language for me to adequately repudiate The Episcopal Church in the U.S.

    The JW’s are Arians. You know, what RC’s always become when left to their own devises (kind of like your accusation that Calvinists invariably become Unitarian).

  71. Jim and the rest of the RCs,

    What Eric has been alluding to and what I’ll say directly is that you can jump up and down and sing the praises of the visible church all you want , but if there isn’t any discipline, it ain’t worth a darn. And the problem isn’t getting better for you guys, its getting worse. When the only unforgivable sin is leaving the RC Church, you’ve got a sting motive to have a huge tent that welcomes Nancy Pelosi as warmly as Mother Teresa.

  72. Jim–

    You yourself choose to “check your mind at the door” and submit yourself body and soul to the corrupt clutches of the magisterium.

    We submit ourselves to the dictates of Scripture, a divine source rather than a human one. Much of what it teaches we don’t like very much, especially at first. The Holy Spirit must reassure us and adapt us to these things. The Bible is a difficult, difficult book to live by (or, as A.W. Tozer would say, an impossible one to live by). Its message is definitely NOT one we would choose on our own.

  73. Eric,

    We submit ourselves to the dictates of Scripture, a divine source rather than a human one. Much of what it teaches we don’t like very much, especially at first. The Holy Spirit must reassure us and adapt us to these things. The Bible is a difficult, difficult book to live by (or, as A.W. Tozer would say, an impossible one to live by). Its message is definitely NOT one we would choose on our own.

    As seen in how Calvinism elicits all manner of boos and hisses. Telling people they are bound to sin, that their good works are filthy rags, and that their destiny is not finally in their hands is not the theological system that any savvy marketer would have invented. The Bible itself tells us that it is message is hard. Frankly, in Roman Catholicism and just about every other non-Reformed Christian system I don’t find anything “hard” to believe in the sense of being disagreeable to the religious proclivities of sinners.

  74. Robert you write:

    1. John Calvin isn’t a church.

    That is correct. John Calvin was a member of the true church until he lost his membership in the true church by becoming a heretic.

    2. We don’t think John Calvin is infallible.

    This is good, because John Calvin is a heretic.

    3. John Calvin wasn’t a lone ranger working for himself

    John Calvin was a so-called “magisterial Reformer”, that is, John Calvin got permission from the magistrates of City of Geneva to exercise the power to excommunicate anyone that dared to disagree with almighty John Calvin. Those are the facts of history. But the Sacred Scriptures do not give to city magistrates the authority to delegate to lay Catholics the power to excommunicate members of the true church. Calvin was indeed a Lone Ranger that worked outside of the authority vested by Christ with bishops of his church.

    When I think about it, John Calvin getting authority from city magistrates to define doctrine, would be like me going to the City of Las Vegas and getting the authority to excommunicate any Christian that disagreed with the doctrinal novelties that I begin making up. John Calvin being a “magisterial reformer” is nothing but a bad joke that no one should take seriously.

    4. The church Jesus personally founded is identified by its faithfulness to what the Apostles actually taught …

    So how do you know that your Protestant sect is faithful to what the Apostles actually taught? From where I stand, the Calvinism that you embrace is shot full of heresy. So I personally disagree with what your Protestant sect teaches, along with thousands upon thousands of other Protestants that don’t believe what your sect preaches. Why should your fallible opinion about what constitutes orthodoxy matter to me or anyone else?

    I have no better awareness of what the RCC teaches as orthodox doctrine than you do of what Calvinism teaches as orthodox doctrine.

    Of course I do. Christ did not found a church and then ascend to heaven to leave us as sheep without a shepherd. Christ does NOT want us to be bickering Lone Rangers, nor does Christ want us to be ecclesiastic hippies each doing our own thing.

    Christ established the living magisterium precisely so that disputes about doctrinal matters could be resolved. Thus, by listening to the church (as Jesus commands me to do), I can actually know what constitutes orthodox doctrine. Is everything that your Calvinist set teaches rank heresy? No. Some of what your sect teaches is heretical, and some of what your sect teaches is orthodox. So yes, I can actually know what aspects of your Calvinist religion are heretical and what aspects of Calvinist religion are within the bounds of orthodoxy.

    There’s no infallible list of list of every orthodox doctrine you must believe as a Roman Catholic.

    So what? Neither can you provide me with a list of every possible infallible doctrine that can be derived from the Sacred Scriptures. Your Protestant sect can only provide me with a list of fallible opinions that may be orthodox, or might be heretical, with no principle means of making the distinction.

    Since according to your principles I am not infallible, all I can offer you is my opinion as to who is a cafeteria RC based on my fallible reading of your sources.

    You are quite right, you are not infallible. But you do possess some degree of critical reading skills, and you could read what the magisterium teaches, and then show me why you think that someone is a cafeteria Catholics. I might disagree with your interpretation of what you have read, but we can always take our dispute over interpretation to the living magisterium, and then listen to what the living magisterium has to say about our dispute. In the Catholic Church, disputes can be settled. In Protestantism, no disputes can be ever settled because Protestantism lacks a principled means of settling disputes. The end game of Protestantism is Lone Rangerism.

    We can keep going at this, but if you are going to apply one set of principles to us, you better apply it to yourselves.

    The principle that I accept the scriptural commandment of Jesus to listen to the church that he personally founded. I apply that principle to myself, and I say to you, that you should apply that same principle to yourself. The problem isn’t a lack of consistent principles, the problem is that Protestants will listen to any old church except the church that Jesus Christ founded.

  75. Eric you write:

    The “catholic” church doesn’t give a crap, and you darn well know it. And bad priests outnumber good priests by a long shot.

    This is nothing but the rantings of a religious bigot. You can’t show any evidence for what you are claiming.

  76. Eric,

    In the OT, there was corruption. Kings were idolaters, murderers and adulterers. As the example of Hophni and Phineas shows, the priesthood was not perfect. The scriptures were lost for a long time. Prophets were killed. Everyone was not a saint.
    Where do we see a group leaving and setting up a pure Israel?

    In the NT, Jesus would send those He had cured to the priests. He Himself was an observent Jew,keeping the feasts, wearing tassles. As a 12 year old boy, He found conversing in the Temple. He wasn’t denouncing the scholars.

    While there were churches in Rome, Ephesus, Smyrna, Corinth, etc., the was ONE Church, one Faith and one Baptism.

    The only guys like you that we see in the Bible are the Nicolaitan types.

    By the way, the only reason I can’t dredge up dirt on you Protestants from the middle ages and before is because you didn’t even exist!

  77. Mateo–

    Spoken like a true religious zealot. Look up the stats: between 20 and 60% of Catholic priests are homosexual, about 50% are sexually active (either homo- or heterosexually), and a majority are pro-choice and pro-contraceptive.

    I wish I WERE ranting. The facts on the ground are truly sad.

  78. Eric,

    Seriously now, when a man takes vows to be a priest, he usually does so in context of a religious order. That means vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They give up amassing wealth, career, and family.

    I don’t doubt there are serious men in the Protestant ministry as I know the ministers over here.
    But, I gotta tell you, although they are okay guys, and this includes the English Orthodox priest/ musical composer my wife works with, none of them strike me as pursuing holiness.
    But then, that is what the Reformation was all about, wasn’t it. Luther denounced all vows, the Evangelical Councils and mocked the “striving for holiness without which nobody will see God” in exchange for a” righteousness not of my own”.

    You seem to have got Mateo’s ire up with your disrespectful remark. I am actually glad you said it. It proves to me you have had very limited contact with Catholic priests. You don’t know enough to be giving an opinion.
    Is this site the only place you dialogue with Catholics? Probably not the best place to meet Catholics as the tone is a bit adversarial.

    Oh, as for those Protestant missionaries, in Hawaii they stole the islands from the people so they could grow sugar and drove out the French Catholic priests.
    William Carey abandoned his family in England so he could run off and glory in his own will.
    My favorite is how the Protestant missionaries brought Bibles and opium to China. When the Empress said, “thanks but no thanks”, they got the western nations to invade so they could spread the gospel and opium.
    As I have said before, where the Protestants missionized one of the fruits of their efforts has been racism ( N. America and S. Africa ). Tons of Catholics from Macau, Goa, Angola and Brazil where I live. The Portuguese intermarried with the Chinese, East Indians, Africans and Native Americans. Did the Dutch and English?
    Again Eric, lets not have a mud throwing contest. The Catholics will win.

  79. Jim–

    I didn’t leave the holy catholic church. You did. Similarly, any number of OT prophets denounced the official sacrificial cult, calling it invalid. They didn’t leave Israel. They pointed out those who had.

    Elijah set up his very own Yahwistic religion in the North, as he had no access to the Temple in Jerusalem and the Northern sanctuaries were apostate.

    The Zadokite priesthood did not continue intact in Christianity. It was spiritually superseded, just as the Petrine office has been.

  80. Eric,

    You slay me with your, “look up that stats” nonsense! Whose stats?

    Ever hear the phrase “Protestant pornography”? I goes back to the days of Fr. Chiniquey and Maria Monk.
    Sanctimonious Protestants like you who say “darn” in lieu of “damn” and who would never look at a naughty magazine loved to leer over the lurid details of what goes on behind convent doors or when all alone with a priest in a confessional.
    Oh, to be sure, not for prurient reasons. Oh, no. Just to get the facts so as to expose what those papists are up to. HA!

  81. Eric,

    You say, “Jim–
    I didn’t leave the holy catholic church. You did.”

    Indeed. And King George and all of England broke away from George Washington and the colonies.

  82. Jim,

    Get serious. Francis just had to slap down a high-profile European bishop for amassing way too much wealth and property. There are far more wealthy priests than poor ones around here. I’m not at all sure there ARE any poor ones here in the West.

    You appear to have had NO contact whasoever with actual confessional Protestant pastors. So how in the world would you know if they pursued holiness or not?

    Talk about rantings. Clearly, you never read anything aside from Catholic propaganda.

    Go ahead. Sling your “mud.” We’ll get a dusting, and you’ll get a truckload dumped on your sorry head!

    Talk about ravings. Clearly, all you have ever read is Catholic propaganda.

    Go ahead and sling your “mud.” We’ll get a dusting while you’ll get a truckload dumped on your sorry head.

  83. There are none so blind as he who will not see….

  84. Robert,

    Enough hair pulling with Eric. It’s fun but doesn’t go anywhere. Back to the topic of the Church.

    Does doctrine matter? Once again, how are you going to have unity of doctrine without a visible head?
    Please, I’m begging you, don’t give me the business about the Holy Spirit.
    And don’t answer my question with a question about medieval popes or Mary. Don’t switch subjects and say that the Catholic Church apostatized from the real Church somewhere in times past. Answer my question first.

    I would love to discuss medieval popes, Mary’s Assumption, indulgences, inquisition, etc. But not now.

    Please, don’t answer by saying Catholics are as divided as the thousands of Protestant sects because we are confused about the Dominican/Jesuit stuff on predestination*. It’s irrelevant to you answering when, how, where there can be or ever has been unity in anything without a visible or final court of appeal.

    Are you watching the World Cup? When a ref wants to give out a red or yellow card to a player, does he turn to the crowd for a thumbs up or down? Or does he call the shots despite a cheering or jeering mob’s opinion? Could we do away the the office of referee and still have a game guided by the spirit of fair play and good sportsmanship alone?

    * Is that your chief bugbear about swimming the Tiber? You mention it all the time. I don’t know of any Catholics who are divided from other Catholics over the issue. You seem to be using it as a red herring.

  85. Jim–

    Did mad King George and all of England break away from George Washington and the colonies?

    Yes, sir, they did…which is why we fought back and kicked their sorry butts!

    By the way, I’m not sure it’s “cricket” to accuse heterogenous groups with implicit racism. Whom one marries is often within the bounds of similar economic status, educational attainment, cultural heritage, and ethnicity. There is some practicality to this practice that need not be racist. The Spanish and Portuguese were quite caught up in the slave trade…which just might be thought to have some racist “overtones” despite their willingness to intermarry.

  86. Jim–

    I’m kinda with you on that. Fun…but it doesn’t go anywhere. You…and your compatriots for that matter…are too blindly dogmatic for it to go anywhere. We often offer up areas of common ground only to be told that even where both sides agree, you are right and we are wrong.

    I can answer tentatively for Robert. We have confessions…ones which we actually hold to. Ones which, for the most part, do not change. Unlike Catholic conciliar canons and papal encyclicals which, though binding for a time, are “abrogated by custom” by the hundreds.

  87. Jim–

    I was just talking to my sister today whose daughter plays high-school soccer. She was telling me how brutal it is because the parents want it that way and the “referees” call games as the parents wish. Not according to the rule book…but according to parents’ (and in some cases, coaches’) wishes.

    I myself remember playing “alley ball” (basketball) as a kid where we called our own fouls. It was a rough game. “No blood, no foul,” we’d say. Then when I tried to make the transition to organized team play, I was in for a rude awakening. Games with REFEREEING were even rougher! If I ever attempted to drive the lane, I was hacked to death. But there was never a whistle….

    Referees only help when referees know the rules and call games according to the rules. The United States Constitution might as well go up in flames. Judicial activism has made it totally obsolete. Liberal hermeneutics has similarly made Scripture obsolete. The Catholic Magisterium keeps moving the markers. They are not a “referee” I trust.

  88. Eric,

    Thank you for writing,
    “Jim,
    Get serious. Francis just had to slap down a high-profile European bishop for amassing way too much wealth and property. ”

    I rest my case. Rome does indeed “give darn” about “purity in doctrine and ethics”.

  89. Robert,

    You say,

    “The early church was conciliar, not papal. Rome abandoned conciliarism long ago. But it looks a little bit like Francis wants to bring it back. Here’s hoping.”

    Really? Maybe Pope Francis will preach the Gospel too, huh? Justification by Faith Alone. Do you think he will pronounce the Eucharist a to be symbol any day soon. Or that Mary was not assumed into heaven?

    Oh, and lets hold our breath for an infallible statement saying Popes aren’t infallible. I can hardly wait. Oh Joy!

    You know, at this very moment the TV is on over my shoulder. With one eye I am watching the new King of Spain being sworn in by parliament. What a joke. Sworn in by parliament’s fiat? Who needs such a monarchy?
    Who needs a pope who is told what to do by a council?

  90. Eric,

    Your referring to the consecrated hands of a priest as ” the slimy hands of Satan”, your lurid innuendos about “homosexual priests winking to their boyfriends” during Mass and your twisted stats on the percentage of priests that break their vows isn’t really necessary is it?
    You do know of course, there exists a parallel blog to this one that traffics in Jack Chick style slurs. Perhaps you should apply there as such rhetoric would be more than welcome.
    I enjoy the repartee as much as the next guy. But I think you are being intentionally offensive. Am I correct? If I, for one, have really offended you beyond what is within bounds on a site like this, I apologize. Okay?

    The issue of the visibility or the Church is really an important one. Could we focus on that rather than getting sidetracked into non essentials that bring more heat than light?

  91. Eric,

    Moving right along, you responded to my futbol referee /Pope analogy by quipping,

    “The Catholic Magisterium keeps moving the markers. They are not a “referee” I trust.”.

    As I said, I gave you an analogy. Analogies limp. Analogies with Christ, the Church or the Pope limp pathetically as we are no longer using our terminology in a univocal sense.
    The “referee” you don’t trust is Christ, not the FIFA. His standing behind the Vicar He established is quite a bit more reliable than FIFA’s endorsement of some dude deciding who tripped who or who butted who, dontcha’ think?

  92. Jim–

    In all honesty, I had no agenda behind the stats. I just went and found available ones. Yours is what we call a “mixed” denomination, like the Episcopal Church in the USA or the United Methodist Church or the Presbyterian Church in the USA. They each have a faithful conservative remnant mixed in with a boatload of unbelievers. What are the true stats according to you? Best I could do with the RC’s here in the US–the consensus seems to be that 25 to 30% of priests are homosexual. That doesn’t appear to be exaggeration or bigotry or anything…just the God’s honest truth. Only something like 4% are involved in any kind of child molestation, very much in line with Protestant clergy or the general population.

    Priests in the Old Testament who sullied their hands were called every name in the book by God himself. I guess he lowered his standards over time.

    And of course, I trust Christ just fine. I just don’t catch much of an inkling of my Lord behind any of the shenanigans of the Roman church.

  93. Jim–

    You really don’t believe the popes are bound by the pronouncements of the Ecumenical Councils?

  94. Jim–

    And both JDDJ and B16 declared JBFA to be hunky-dory. So why do YOU still have a problem with it?

  95. Eric, JDDJ? What’s that?

    As for B16, are you trying to obfuscate again? Are you asserting that he said Justification by Faith Alone, to the exclusion of repentance, Baptism,or conversion of heart, without any qualifiers at all, as taught by those opposed at the Council of Trent to the Reformers, without being formed by love, to the exclusion of James 2:24, is orthodox?

    Is that what you are saying Eric?

    I didn’t think so! Just up to your old tricks again, eh?

  96. Jim,

    Are you asserting that he said Justification by Faith Alone, to the exclusion of repentance, Baptism,or conversion of heart, without any qualifiers at all, as taught by those opposed at the Council of Trent to the Reformers, without being formed by love, to the exclusion of James 2:24, is orthodox?

    For the Reformers, faith alone doesn’t mean no repentance, no conversion of heart, and even no baptism. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin, you turn away from trust in self to trust in God, that requires conversion of heart, which precedes faith, and that doesn’t do away with baptism. There were differences on baptismal regeneration, but no one said it was unnecessary, and in any case they agreed on the other points.

    The Reformers did not reject James 2:24, and they did not reject formation of love in the sense that love is always present where faith is. What they said is that justification is by faith and not by love. Even Augustine didn’t hold to justification by love. The whole Reformation project in regards to justification was really about one thing—we are righteous in God’s sight only through faith and nothing else. Not our works, not our love, none of that. There’s no meriting of further justification condignly, congruently, or whatever. Even our faith doesn’t merit our justification. Nothing we do is taken into account in any sense whatsoever when God declares us righteous before His court. You’re either justified or you’re not; there isn’t a person who is more justified than another if justification is grounded only in the merit of Christ. Christ and only what He did outside of us is the grounds for our justification from start to finish.

    Trent is example #1 of the fallibility of the RCC. They hold a session on justification to condemn the “errors” of the Protestants, and with a few exceptions, they end up anathematizing beliefs that none of the Reformers held. If Rome couldn’t even get the positions of its opponents right, how can anyone expect that they got the answer right?

  97. Jim–

    Well, yeah, mostly yanking your chain. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, an agreement between Catholics and the Lutheran World Federation, appears at first glance to remove the anathemas from JBFA, but is clearly focused on new interpretations of Luther positing his embrace of deification. B16 only gave one qualification: that JBFA not exclude love (but we both know that what he meant was very close to the plethora of qualifications you listed off).

    I recommend that we attempt a new ploy…in line with this thread. What say we start comparing apples to apples for a change? Confessional Protestantism is probably only 5 to 10% of nominal Protestantism. “Confessional” Catholicism (those adherents who actually believe in the tenets of the Catechism and attempt to faithfully live them out) is probably, what? Ten percent of Catholicism as a whole? Can we begin to compare and contrast your niche against ours?

    We try to ghettoize our invisible church and you all–God bless your hearts!–not so much. Trouble is, your “visible” church is a rotting corpse, and that doesn’t help your argument very much. We don’t have any liberal Catholics in the mix here anyway. You can distance yourself from those losers. We’ll let you. According to you guys, they have effectively excommunicated themselves anyway!

  98. Robert,

    Thanks but I was just trying to pin Eric down.
    I would question what you said about Augustine and love though.

    While I have your attention, could you tell me if it is the Church’s not deciding on the Jesuit/Dominican dispute or, the Church’s not deciding on the Dominican side that keeps you up at night?
    What if Pope Francis were to come down on the side of his fellow Jebbie’s ? Would that be okay?

  99. Eric,

    Before considering the terms of your duel, I had better ask you to define what “Confessional” means? Do you mean those Protestants who attend Sunday services or those Protestants who are members of denominations that confess a creed?

    So far, it doesn’t sound like we are comparing apples to apples.

  100. Robert,

    As for the Council of Trent not understanding who and what they were anathematizing, I think you are wrong.
    I have heard this addressed many times. For starters, neither Luther nor Calvin are mentioned by name. The formula used was ” If anyone says…”.
    Please, don’t tell me none of the Reformers, Agricola, Amsdorf, Major, Bugenhagen, Capito, Carlstadt, Osiander, Bucer, Zwingli, Vermigli, etc. etc. didn’t hold a myriad of bizarre ideas on works, the commandments ( To the gallows with Moses! ) and all the rest.

    I think every Catholic on this site has had to suffer through hearing guys like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, James Kennedy, Rob Zins, John Ankenberg, and other professional anti-Catholics bray, ” At Trent, Rome anathametized the Gospel!” and them hear them go on to give a half explanation of what the canon or anathema MEANT .

    I think the Council fathers said exactly what they meant to say. It’s your guys who totally misunderstand what Trent condemned.

  101. Jim–

    We have defined “confessional Protestant” plenty of times before on this blog. Were you napping?

    Confessional Protestants are genuine believers who adhere to one or more of the major Reformational confessions (Westminster, Heidelberg, Dordt, Belgic, Augsburg, the 39 Articles (as originally interpreted), and London Baptist 1689). In general, these would include conservative Lutherans, conservative Anglicans, conservative Presbyterians, conservative Dutch/Swiss/German/Hungarian Reformed church members, and Reformed Baptists. Conservative Lutherans and Anglicans are somewhat problematic. Some of them find a great deal of affinity with the Reformed (e.g., White Horse Inn/Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals) and some of the revile us in no uncertain terms….

  102. Jim–

    What you wrote on Trent sounds like a dodge to me. How about if Robert gives a few examples of Trent’s misperceptions and you can reply back with how Bullinger or Oecolampadius did indeed believe such a thing?

  103. Eric,
    No, I wasn’t napping. You have described yourself as “confessional” on more than one occasion. You threw me with your apple to apple business.

    You still are qualifying your definition with the phrase “genuine believers” who are in the mainline denomination ( with creeds ).
    Are there any false believers, non-elect pew warmers in those confessional denominations?
    Are there “genuine believers” in non-creedal little storefront denominations or house churches?
    Why are you making the distinction? What little mind game are playing now?
    I don’t trust people who “yank my chain”.

    “Confessional” Catholics is not an apple to apple equivalence to what you are describing. The “genuine believer” stuff renders the comparison unintelligible. Such a person, Once Saved Always Saved, regenerated before Faith or Baptism, never really lost as elect from all eternity, not really needing to be in any church, etc. etc. is not the kind of person you will find in the Catholic Church ( or anywhere else for that matter ).

    Our view of what constitutes a Catholic, whether or not in a state of grace, has been told to you many times. Were you napping Eric?

  104. Eric,
    Oecolampadius and Bullinger? You have mentioned Bullinger before, haven’t you?

    More “chain yanking”?
    I have told you several times now, I am not impressed with your popinjay “erudition”. ( Bullinger said some interesting things on Mary’s Assumption, didn’t he? As for Oecolampadius, he was in a Brigattine monastery for while. Guess what? So was I! )
    After your “absinthe” faux pas , I would think you would have stopped with the silliness.

    Say good night Eric.

  105. An argument about which church produces the most mortal sins per capital can wait for the Final Judgement.

    As to the debate of visible vs. Invisible church, Calvinists are to be commended for the consistency of their theological system. Invisibility is resin binding the entire paradigm together.

    Total Depravity renders every human invisible under the irradiation of Divine Sovereignty. Unconditional election, imputation of alien righteousness, monergistic regeneration, faith alone, and penal substitution all have invisibility, remote control, stealth, abstraction, and distance-salvation as common qualities. To then try to house these disembodied doctrines in a Visible Church — would be problematic.

  106. Jim–

    Would you mind posting a photo of yourself? I’m self-publishing a dictionary, and I’d like your picture to illustrate a couple of adjectives: obtuse and rude.

    Frankly, Jim, I tire of your contentless commentary. The constant provocation is amusing for a while, but you refuse to delve more deeply into any topic than your smart-alecky rhetoric allows. Since you yank everyone’s chain within striking distance, why would you react so sensitively to someone yanking yours? Do you ever wax serious…or civil? Do you possess any gravitas at all? You’re always either offending or offended. Always the melodrama villain or the balloon-tying clown, never just a regular Joe.

  107. Eric,
    I have been rude? When?
    Are you are “regular Joe” Eric? Not a bit superior?
    Not interested in getting personal. Wanna talk about the visibility/invisibility of the Church or not?

  108. Calvin,

    Are you the real Calvin? I thought you were dead.

    Thank you for saying that we cannot house those invisible Calvinist doctrines within a Catholic framework. That’s why Eric’s apple to apple analogy in unintelligible.

  109. Eric,

    Read what Calvin just said.
    We Catholics don’t sit around discussing which of us is elect from eternity past. Roberts’ Nancy Pelosi just must die a saint for all anybody knows.

    We do talk about who seems to be headed south though. We base that on who is receiving the Sacraments ( including Confession ) and outward behavior, not God’s monergistic choice in eternity past.

    In your challenge, you made a distinction between “nominal” and “confessional” Protestants. I could understand a possible distinction between nominal and practicing Catholics. But you muddied the waters with your “Creedal” stuff as if non creedal protestants were only nominal.
    When I asked for clarification, you asked If I had been napping previously.
    I don’t appreciate your rudeness, Eric. And then you have the audacity to yap at me for being rude? Ha!
    Blogmiesters Nick, Mateo and Jonathan, stand by to moderate comments please.

  110. Robert,

    Eric says my response to you on the Council of Trent was a dodge. Was it? I didn’t think so.

    Back to the Dominican/Jesuit issue you keep demanding that the Pope settle.
    I agree with Fr, Most who is critical of both views.
    Robert, don’t forget, concepts like “foreseen merits” and decrees from all eternity baffle us who see everything in our cause and effect sequential time plane.

    God lives in eternity. Eternity is not endless time. It’s timelessness, a forever now.
    The dispute between the Jesuits and Dominicans seems rather moot when thought of from God’s vantage point, doesn’t it.

  111. Jim–

    When have you ever NOT been rude? I sincerely doubt you are even capable of civility.

    You’ve already gotten personal…for the last time.

    Goodbye.

  112. Eric,
    Please don’t go away angry.
    C’mon, be serious. You are the guy who has spoken about Catholic devotions and doctrines on Mary as making you “gag”.
    You just waxed on and on about how the majority of our priests are acting out sexually. And you used rather graphic language to do it, didn’t you? You seemed to be salivating over your keyboard to do so.
    You know Eric, after a priest says his first Mass, it is customary for the laity to go forward and kiss his hands. Yesterday or the day before, you referred to those hands as the “slimy hands of Satan”.
    Get real Eric. You know you are being offensive. When I call you on it, you call me rude.
    I really am not interested in a personal tiff with you. I think the subject of the Church’s visibility supplies us with enough material to really argue.
    My personality, or yours, is of little interest to the others on this blog. Leave me alone. If you want to duke it out on the issue of the Church, let’s do it. Okay?

  113. Calvin,

    Greetings. St. Paul says the Church is our mother. You ( or your namesake back in the 16th century ) affirmed this although most Protestants today have a low ecclesiology if any at all.
    St. John’s Revelation uses the imagery of a Woman as mother of all who follow Jesus. Elsewhere, in Jn 19, he clearly shows that Mary to be that Mother.

    Could you explain how Protestants who are quick to affirm the Church to be mother, don’t see Mary to be be their mother, even though she was announced so from the cross?

    Also, the fathers who wrote on both the Church and Mary being mother, referenced, Baptism to be the point of entry into the Church and rebirth. The Baptismal font was for them the “amniosis” of both Mary and the Church.

    What happened?

  114. Robert,

    I was just meandering about on Taylor Marshall’s site and stumbled upon a guy name Bernardino Ochino.
    Ochino caused a great stir when he was general of the Franciscan order, he became a Lutheran and went forts to Geneva and from there, at Cranmer’s invitation, to England where he was put in charge of Canterbury Cathedral.
    He wrote a book on how the Papacy had usurped all power from the Church. So far so good.
    He ended up in trouble though by eventually denying the Trinity and supporting polygamy. Oh, well.

    I am reminded of the articles I mentioned a few days back in this months Watchtower on Capito, Cellularius and Campinho. They were Bible guys who denied the Mass for starters. No problem yet. But they went on to deny the Trinity too, were jailed for it by the established (creedal ) churches.

    Once again, how does an invisible Church keep doctrine from devolving into heresy? How does an invisible church promulgate creeds? Where do invisible churchmen meet to hammer out their creeds and confessions?

  115. Calvin wrote:

    As to the debate of visible vs. Invisible church, Calvinists are to be commended for the consistency of their theological system. Invisibility is resin binding the entire paradigm together….

    Response:

    Take monergistic regeneration. I would love to see the resin binding the sacramental/baptismal regeneration of the RC paradigm. I wonder which visible church remains consistent when the Apostles baptized “in the name of Jesus”, and not “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Protestants are wise to avoid RC sacramentalism because the form (words spoken) is not uni-form. A monergistic regeneration can operate within the diversity of words. This sort of visible sacramentalism, if pressed, ALWAYS ends in schism. Just look at the RCC and the Church of Christ.

  116. Eric W,

    ” A monergistic regeneration can operate within the diversity of words. ”

    Which Calvinistic/monergistic system says regeneration takes place regardless of which words are spoken?
    I thought Baptists and Presbyterians alike reject Baptismal regeneration regardless of the formula used.
    Do the non elect ever get grace from any Sacrament?
    On the previous thread, I posted an article about a Presbyterian minister who doesn’t even say the words over the bread and wine in a communion service as grace is given by the Spirit to whom He will regardless of receiving the Eucharist.

  117. Eric W,

    “This sort of visible sacramentalism, if pressed, ALWAYS ends in schism. Just look at the RCC and the Church of Christ.”

    Okay, I am looking. What are you talking about? Whose in schism? Not Catholics.

    As for the Cof C, I know they had a rupture of the use of musical instruments, ( not the Sacraments ) resulting in the Disciples of Christ. ?????

  118. Eric W,
    “Protestants are wise to avoid RC sacramentalism because the form (words spoken) is not uni-form.”

    Really? How many different forms do we Catholics use for the various Sacraments?

    Why is it important which words are used? I mean, it is important for us but why does it matter for you? It it a magical formula?

  119. When you really think about it, all our bodies are visible – it is what is inside the body that is invisible.

    You can’t have the ‘invisible stuff” outside the visible body. period.

  120. Jim,

    Okay, I am looking. What are you talking about? Whose in schism? Not Catholic

    Rome is in schism from the Eastern Church. Just ask the East. Rome also caused the schisms in the Western Church. To put it bluntly, it is the fault of Rome’s failure to embrace conciliarism, the degeneracy of the medieval episcopate, it’s elevation to matters of dogma beliefs that cannot be found in Scripture, and its rejection of dogmas taught in Scripture that created Protestantism in the first place.

    Even according to Rome’s principle of a strong visible church, it’s hard so see how there were any Christians during the era of three popes and any church for schism to impact. When each pope excommunicates the other two and all of their followers, you’re left with a situation in which no one is united to the visible church anymore.

    The papacy was the problem that led to divisions both in the East and in the West. The solution is not the ecclesiology that led to the problem in the first place.

  121. Robert,

    But we don’t acknowledge that we are in schism from them. We can’t both be right.
    In order for a person on the outside of this dispute such as yourself, I can only suggest that you examine both sides claims.

    Here is a link to a short talk by James Likoudis, Greek Orthodox to Catholic.
    I hope it moves you examine further.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuK1eWDHZTg

    Also, we Catholics deny that we elevated to belief doctrines not found in scripture.
    Which reminds me, a month or so ago you were clamoring for a list of extra-biblical Traditions. I submitted a list to you about 3 or 4 times. Each time you objected that the items on my list were not sufficiently “extra” to the Bible. You basically said they had too much scriptural support ( Trinity, rejection of polygamy, women and children receiving Communion, etc. ) I would now like to add to that list what we discussed a couple of nights ago, the lifting of James’ ban on blood. Also, due to Eric W’s recent post, the Baptismal formula.
    It seems we are damned if we do/damned if we don’t. One one hand you deny anything extra-biblical to be legitimate and on the other hand you want a list of things 100% divorced from scripture. How can we please you Robert?

  122. Robert,
    “The papacy was the problem that led to divisions both in the East and in the West. ”

    I gotta chuckle as it the Father’s of the East are some of our strongest proofs for the Papacy.

    By the way, you do subscribe to the Filioque, don’t you? Yes? Okay then, you have answered your own question.

    As an interesting aside, I think it was on Dave Anders’ show a few days ago that he mentioned in the middle ages, the sticking point for the Greeks was the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist. It seems to me they are always grasping at straws for some reason to submit to Peter.
    In the 19th century some of the Eastern Bishops objected to the Pope proclaiming the Immaculate Conception. What I find amusing about that one is that the really believe in the doctrine and always have. They call the feast the Conception of St. Anne. They just hate to acknowledge Rome over Constantinople.

    “Better the Sultan’s turban than the Pope’s tiara” said the Greeks. Due to their errors on the Holy Spirit, Pope Nicholas V threatened to excommunicate them if they didn’t submit. They didn’t.
    On Pentecost Sunday, Constantinople fell to the Turks. The great church of Hagia Sophia has been a mosque ever since.
    I don’t say this with any triumphalism. My own mother, like James Likoudis, was Baptized Greek Orthodox before being raised Catholic.

  123. OOPS! I meant to say they grasp at straws for some reason NOT to submit.

  124. Jim,

    The RC brand of church visibility includes valid, defect-less baptismal formula(s). Is the formula “in the name of Jesus” valid after the Apostles ? If so, why didn’t this “Apostolic Seed” get planted in the post-Apostolic churches ? If authority and power from the Apostles is the answer, then why the VISIBLE DISCONTINUITY in the exercise of authority and power by their successors ?

    The RCC causes schism because it is “of Cephas” (1 Cor.1:12) and the C of C is “of Christ” (vs.12).

  125. Jim,

    It seems we are damned if we do/damned if we don’t. One one hand you deny anything extra-biblical to be legitimate and on the other hand you want a list of things 100% divorced from scripture. How can we please you Robert?

    ????

    I don’t deny the legitimacy of everything extra biblical. If I did, there’d be no place to go to church today because every church has practices that aren’t found in Scripture. There’s no biblical rule that Sunday Morning service should start at 9:30 am, but it does at my church.

    I object to two things:

    1. Beliefs and practices that are clearly anti-Scriptural, some of which are RC and some of which are not—Unitarianism, justification by faith and works, ecclesiastical infallibility, and other such things.

    2. Beliefs and practices that in themselves are pious opinions or not talked about in Scripture that are made conditions of salvation. Here the best example I can think of is the Bodily Assumption of Mary. I don’t find that in Scripture. I don’t teach it. I wouldn’t teach it. I think that it leads to Mariolatry in most cases. But I am not bothered if someone wants to hold it as a pious opinion. The problem becomes when a pious opinion is elevated to a matter that is determinative for salvation, as has happened in Rome. Another good example would be the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. I don’t hold or teach it for the same reasons, but if someone wants to hold it as a pious opinion, it doesn’t bother me. Making it a condition of salvation, that’s a problem.

  126. Jim,

    In the 19th century some of the Eastern Bishops objected to the Pope proclaiming the Immaculate Conception. What I find amusing about that one is that the really believe in the doctrine and always have. They call the feast the Conception of St. Anne. They just hate to acknowledge Rome over Constantinople.

    From my understanding, the problem that the East has here is that Rome takes on itself the unilateral authority to declare something as infallible dogma instead of doing it through a truly ecumenical council. That’s one of their main beefs with the filioque as well. They’re objecting to specific Roman claims of authority and jurisdiction. We Protestants join them in that.

  127. Robert,

    I think that your main problem is that you put to much emphasis on historical corruption and political power-plays in Church history. You read catholic theology, invent in your mind what said theology should look like over the course of history and then smash anything that disappoints your imagination. Its much to easy to argue “corruption started early, power was given to Rome for mainly political reasons, blah-blah-blah-blah.”

    Its the same line of reasoning CDHOST used to roll out all of the time with his gnostic madness. The only difference between you and him is that he took the argument to its logical conclusions and posited that there was simply NO SUCH THING AS ORTHODOXY outside of political influence and the decisions of Kings, emperors, and Popes. The hermeneutic of skepticism that protestants employ has been responsible for such things as “the enlightenment”, and also borne men such as Bart Ehrman and Emmanual Kant. (according to Horton) I don’t really have an argument to offer (I still don’t think I understand what Nick is trying to argue) I just wanted to say that you should be careful putting the cart before the horse. Theological principles inform our historical hermeneutic and not vice-versa. Be careful not to mix them up.

  128. I have finally had a break in work so I can catch up with this thread. I have not gotten through all 127 comments, but I’ve noticed a pretty remarkable trend (which I predicted from the start), which is that the Dogma of the Invisible Church has no basis in Scripture, and the lack of Scriptural citations in the comments reflect this.

  129. The reason why it is important to demonstrate the Dogma of the Invisible Church *from Scripture* is because on this distinction hinges whether or not Reformed doctrines such as infant baptism are actually feasible, because they are based on the idea someone can *truly* be in the Church but never actually have been saved.

    Whenever Paul writes a letter to a specific congregation and he says some members are acting sinfully, the Reformed will typically say that Paul was writing to a ‘mixed crowd’ of believers and unbelievers. But this claim is based on the Invisible/Visible distinction, which itself isn’t exegetically warranted.

    So that’s why the *exegetical* basis for the Invisible-Visible distinction is crucial for the Reformed, and even Evangelicalism in general, needs to address.

  130. Eric W,
    “The RCC causes schism because it is “of Cephas” (1 Cor.1:12) and the C of C is “of Christ” (vs.12).”

    It is interesting you quote part of “are you of Paul, … of Apollos, …of Cephas, … of Christ? in I Cor 1:12.

    Turn the page of your Bible and look at I Cor 3:5. It says being in Paul and Apollos is not important in comparison to Christ. Please notice the name Cephas is conspicuously absent as one of the unimportant names.

    One must be in the Church Cephas is visible head of because he is the vicar of Christ.

  131. Kenneth,

    I think that your main problem is that you put to much emphasis on historical corruption and political power-plays in Church history. You read catholic theology, invent in your mind what said theology should look like over the course of history and then smash anything that disappoints your imagination. Its much to easy to argue “corruption started early, power was given to Rome for mainly political reasons, blah-blah-blah-blah.”

    Wrong. God works even through historical corruption and political power plays to preserve His church. I’ve never denied that, and I would never deny that. What he hasn’t done is granted any church to say that it has some kind of guaranteed infallibility.

    The reason I reject Rome is not primarily due to its history of corruption, though that puts an even stronger burden of proof for it than it already has. I reject Rome because so much of its doctrine is based on exegetically impossible conclusions. I reject Rome because in practice it sets tradition over the Word of God and ultimately the Magisterium over tradition.

    I only raise the issue of corruption and disunity because those are the charges leveled at Protestantism to “prove” it is not true. If that is going to be the reasoning, Rome will have to provide the solution, but the solution it proposes is the very one that sparked the East to separate and that led to the Reformation. Not buying it, sorry.

    There are legitimate disagreements between Rome and Protestantism that can be and should be discussed — exegetical disagreements, how one determines what is good from tradition and what isn’t, what it means to follow tradition, the role of tradition in the interpretation of Scripture, and so on. The illegitimate arguments because they just aren’t true are the ones that go something like:

    1. Rome has a principled means for distinguishing doctrine for opinion
    2. Protestantism doesn’t reflect patristic theology but Roman Catholicism keeps it pristine
    3. Rome is united but Protestantism is divided

  132. Nick,

    Which is why the “apple to apple” comparison Eric ( not Eric W ) about “Confessional Catholics” vs “true believers in Confessional Protestant” churches he put to me yesterday was unintelligible.

  133. Nick,

    So the businessman who becomes a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church but actually never believed anything Rome taught and did so only because he was in a RC community that would choose not to frequent him if he weren’t RC.

    That man was never united to the visible church and not the invisible church? What was he?

  134. Robert,
    You say” Rome is united but Protestantism is divided” is not a legitimate argument. Why?

    Is there a debate within Catholicism over the number of Sacraments? Infant Baptism? Works? The ordo salutis? The Eucharist? The necessity of Baptism? Abortion? Divorce and remarriage? Gay marriage, Musical instruments? Dispensations? Savior only or Lord and Savior? Women’s ordination? The Baptismal formula? The date of Easter? Sabbatarianism? Once saved always saved? Church government?

    Catholics also don’t argue with other Catholics over the Mass being a sacrifice”, Mary’s Assumption. women’s ordination, the number of Sacraments, Infant Baptism, abortion,contraception, stem cell research, surrogacy, gay marriage, or if Francis is the Vicar of Christ?

    ( Dissent doesn’t count as argument. Dissenters will either get in step or eventually leave or be put out. Some of those who leave start Protestant churches, not Catholic ones. )

  135. Robert,
    ( Sorry Nick, but I gotta ask Robert this question )

    What if the scoundrel gets ordained a deacon and later has a conversion of heart? Is he a deacon or was the ordination invalid due to his mixed motives at the time he was made a deacon?

  136. Robert,
    You asked:

    So the businessman who becomes a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church but actually never believed anything Rome taught and did so only because he was in a RC community that would choose not to frequent him if he weren’t RC. That man was never united to the visible church and not the invisible church? What was he?

    First off, your line of questioning, while not unimportant, misses the bigger issue here, namely the exegetical basis for the Invisible Church. Without THE BIBLE telling you such a distinction, then you’ve by definition created a man-made tradition and overlaid it upon your soteriology-ecclesiology.

    As to your question, there is a mechanism by which we can truly say whether a person was ever Christian, and that’s if they received Baptism. There is no such thing as someone being Catholic who was never saved in the first place. That’s a Reformed problem. If someone was truly saved, then they’re part of the Church. If the deacon in question was never truly saved, then he never was truly part of the Church *in any sense* and he wouldn’t even be a deacon in any sense. But for the Reformed, they believe there can be such a thing as an unregenerate pastor, which is absurd.

  137. Eric w.

    Is your negativity toward baptism biblically warranted? Have you never read, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body … ” 1Cor 12 : 12 ? Or ” For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ ….. For you are all one in Christ.” Gal 3:27-28 ?

    May I suggest, Eric, you collect the 25 or more passages in the New Testament which relate to baptism, and rethink this subject by way of ” lectio divina “.

    Next — you have a conviction about monergism. Is the Bible, in origin and function, monergistic? If you answer “yes “, then you should never even touch the Bible. If you answer ” no “, then monergism is an invalid concept which you should discard from your theology.

    Jim,

    Thank you. Actually, I was named after a wonderful contemporary Southern Baptist who taught me much about Christ. Your comments about Mary are excellent and so true. Studying John Henry Newman helped my understanding of her role in the gospel to flourish. The Lord be with you.

  138. Jim, you wrote:
    One must be in the Church Cephas is visible head of because he is the vicar of Christ.

    MUST BE ! Nothing more is required to show the RC schism ” of Cephas.”

  139. Nick–

    The visible/invisible distinction permeates Scripture (e.g., Romans 2:28-29). I don’t think for one second it’s up for grabs. We haven’t produced Scripture because we have felt no need. We have instead noted the Catholic embrace of their own version of the distinction.

  140. Calvin, you wrote:
    Next — you have a conviction about monergism. Is the Bible, in origin and function, monergistic? If you answer “yes “, then you should never even touch the Bible. If you answer ” no “, then monergism is an invalid concept which you should discard from your theology.

    I never considered that question. I need to see how the will is related to God “moving” the writer. Function ? My initial reaction is to say NO, but I never view the bible functioning apart from the interior work of the Holy Spirit.

  141. Jim–

    Sorry. I was down to my last nerve, and you were on it. In the past, I have simply ignored your constant rudeness. I obviously cannot do that anymore. I hope you don’t take offense, but I will only be answering comments which are written in a manner not intended to provoke. I honestly desire to engage only substantial arguments. For my part, I promise to bite my tongue rather than fire zingers. It’s kind of fun, but it doesn’t advance the dialogue between us.

    The “Satan” comment was meant as hyperbole. Maybe you could answer this question: Exactly how far would you go in accepting the priest distributing elements?

  142. Jim–

    Your comment that my one-to-one correspondence of confessional Protestantism vs. “confessional” Catholicism (for purposes of comparison/contrast) was unintelligible…was itself unintelligible. Mind explaining?

  143. Nick, you wrote to Robert:

    As to your question, there is a mechanism by which we can truly say whether a person was ever Christian, and that’s if they received Baptism. There is no such thing as someone being Catholic who was never saved in the first place. That’s a Reformed problem. If someone was truly saved, then they’re part of the Church. If the deacon in question was never truly saved, then he never was truly part of the Church *in any sense* and he wouldn’t even be a deacon in any sense.

    Response:
    This is not true. The RCC teaches that the power and jurisdiction of the Pope is IMMEDIATE over the baptized. In this sense, he is always part of the church. A RC Christian can be baptized and never be saved. Being a Christian doesn’t require the virtue of charity; therefore, it is possible they were never saved.

  144. Debbie, you write:

    When you really think about it, all our bodies are visible – it is what is inside the body that is invisible.
    .
    You can’t have the ‘invisible stuff” outside the visible body. Period.

    I am not so sure about that second sentence. Aren’t St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael members of the Church Triumphant? In one sense, all the members of the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant are “invisible” to the Church Militant. Which is why the Catholic Church can speak about the “visible bodily structure” of the Church. For example:

    They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.”
    .
    Ref: Lumen Gentium 14
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

    Note that Lumen Gentium is teaching that one can have faith and be united to the “visible bodily structure” of the Catholic Church. However, faith alone is not sufficient to assure one’s salvation because, “He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity.” IOW, a man with faith in his head, but devoid of love in his heart, cannot be saved. Which is exactly what St. Paul teaches: “… if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

    Protestant JBFA doctrine isn’t Christian doctrine, it is a corruption of Christian doctrine. That said, does the Catholic Church teach that salvation is impossible for men and women that are not part of the “visible bodily structure” of the Catholic Church. No, because Lumen Gentium also teaches:

    Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.
    Ref: Lumen Gentium 16

    It seems to me, that what LG 14 &16 is teaching is a point that Kenneth Winsmann made earlier:

    We believe that Christians can lose their salvation…. but we also believe that it is possible for men to belong to the “soul of the Church” even though they are not formal members of the Church per se….

  145. Eric W, you write:

    Being a Christian doesn’t require the virtue of charity; therefore, it is possible they were never saved.

    The Catholic Church does not teach this. If a man has received a valid Sacrament of Baptism, he has also been regenerated. Being baptismally regenerated means the man has been “born again” and is “saved” (to use Protestant terminology). Nick is quite right when he says:

    There is no such thing as someone being Catholic who was never saved in the first place. That’s a Reformed problem.

    Eric W, you write:

    The RCC teaches that the power and jurisdiction of the Pope is IMMEDIATE over the baptized. In this sense, he is always part of the church.

    The pope has power and jurisdiction of every man on earth, baptized or unbaptized. Satanists, Protestants, Muslims, etc. may not recognize that the pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth, but their lack of recognition of the authority of the pope doesn’t deprive the pope of his authority over all men living on earth.

    As to your assertion that a Catholic must alwaysbe a part of the church; that is not correct either. A Catholic can lose his membership in the true church by committing the mortal sins of schism, heresy, apostasy, or by being excommunicated.

    It seems to me, that on the issue of excommunication, that Nick’s main article is most germane. An invisible part of the true church can be said to exist, but the invisible part of the true church cannot resolve disputes over doctrine. When disputes over doctrine arise within the visible church, Christ commands that his disciples take their dispute to the visible church. Christ has given the visible church the authority to settle doctrinal disputes (that is, the authority to bind an loose):

    … if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
    Matthew 18:17 & 18

    All Protestants refuse to “listen to the church”, which is why no Protestant can claim that they submit to what is taught in the bible. Listening to any old church founded by some man or woman is not reconcilable with listening to the church personally founded by Jesus Christ. The end game of Protestantism is Lone Rangerism – every man acting as his own little pope.

    When I submit, only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

  146. Mateo–

    When a Protestant says that someone is “saved,” it must include conversion (i.e., repentance and faith). Since an infant can neither repent nor believe, he or she cannot be regenerated (thus, there can be no baptismal regeneration). When you and I speak of regeneration, we are speaking of entirely different things. For us, it is initiated by the Holy Spirit according to his own timing, and it is always permanent. Yours is initiated by parents bringing forth their infant for baptism. Yours is not tied to the repentance and faith of the one coming forward for baptism (unless, of course, they are adults). Yours can be, but is not of necessity, permanent.

    Totally. Different. Things.

    I know you know this. I’m just pointing it out.

  147. Mateo–

    Thanks for admitting that the RC church has its own sense of the invisible church.

    Like you, confessional Protestants believe in a visible church. For only the visible church can define and adjudicate doctrine…same as you. The visible church is the church founded by Christ…same as you. We simply identify the true church as being confessionally Protestant.

    By the way, everyone but everyone believes that THEIR church is the true church, the one Christ founded. (Not their denomination, their CHURCH. All confessional Protestants. Or all Charismatics. Or all Evangelicals.)

  148. Kenneth–

    I tend to think many of the later dissents from Catholicism were rebuffed by Rome more for political rather than theological ones. When Protestantism was denounced, when Jansenism was denounced, when Jesuitism was suppressed, they were no longer dealing with first order theological issues, but with things not covered by the ecumenical creeds (Nicene, Apostles’, Athanasius’). Prior to Trent, sola fide was acceptable. Sola scriptura was acceptable. Take a gander at the ECF’s and you’ll see wildly divergent soteriologies and hermeneutics. The same thing holds sway in medieval times: no set soteriology or system of hermeneutics.

    Look at every single heresy denounced by the early church. ALL of them have to do with flawed Trinitarian formulations, skewed christologies, or schism: in other words, first order issues.

  149. Mateo–

    The very act of submission is an admission of agreement.

    Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief. I trust that the magisterium is wiser than I, and therefore I choose to agree with them.

    So you’re submitting to yourself, as well. It’s just hidden a little better.

  150. Lady and Gentlemen, Catholic and Reformed,

    May I make a suggestion?

    The discussion of who is a member of the Church, about Eric W’s deacon or Eric’s wicked priest distributing Communion is very interesting indeed. One thing seems to be totally overlooked though;

    THE CHARACTER GIVEN IN BAPTISM OR ORDINATION TO DIACONATE OR PRIESTHOOD.

    The are many people in a state of grace outside visible membership in the Church.
    By the same token, their are many priests and deacons with the Character not in a state of grace. There are myriads of folks with the Baptismal seal who are not in a state of grace.

    Neither mortal sin, heresy nor excommunication wipe this Character out. Hell doesn’t erase it either.
    Men can be Ordained, or Confirmed and get NO grace if they they are in a state of mortal sin. They do get a Character though. Grace can revive later after repentance.

    Benedict 16 was asked to reconsider the Church’s laws on Baptism and Marriage because so many people, Baptized as babies but never raised Catholic, were being bound by the Church’s laws of canonical form. Lack of canonical form was rendering their subsequent marriages invalid although they didn’t even know of it. They didn’t even consider themselves Catholic so why would the Pope involve himself?

    I won’t tell you the end of the story. Google it. And while you are at it, click on this link aboutEdgardo Mortara http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgardo_Mortara

    Lady and gentleman, delving into the Seal or Character given in three Sacraments will clarify things for both sides as to who is a member of the Church and the questions about sinful deacons and priests.

    Happy googling.

  151. Calvin,

    Good for you! Given your name, you have a clear running field. One can search the Lives of the Saints, Roman Martyrology or any ancient records and never find a Saint Calvin. You can be the first, I am sure.

    My own Confirmation name, Jude, was obscured by Judas. I also understand there was a Saint Lucifer in the early days of the Church. Pelagius or Pelayo is an acceptable name in Iberia. Damon or Damian are forms of Demon. Fr. Benjamin Luther writes a Q&A column in Catholc magazines.
    So, it’s on you Calvin to restore the name to it’s once pristine state. You can do it. Go for it!

  152. Eric,
    It’s a new day and my cudgels are down too.

    Okay, moving on to your assertion,that only the Trinitarian heresies of the early Church mattered and all subsequent disputes were over secondary or non essentials. Worse, you say Rome’s denunciation of Protestantism and Jansenism were more political than theological. You threw the suppression of the Jesuits in the mix. Since I live in the land from whence that suppression emanated, I gotta weigh in.

    Popes have issued several statement against Marxism. Would you say those were about economics?
    Was Mit Brenennder Sorge about race relations in Germany?
    From 1435 until 1890 Popes condemned slavery more than once. In the latter 19th century and early 20th they addressed social justice. Were those merely political meddlings? And what about Humanae Vitae? That one must really be a source of consternation, huh? Just population control and demographics? What people do in their bedrooms is purely a private matter that old celibate men know nothing about, right?

    Yesterday one of the Catholics called Robert on his scouring the history books for corruption in the Church. I think ( not a personal zinger at you ) Protestants see the Church as interested in anything and everything but how to get to heaven.
    Wrong! All of the stuff above is about men and how they get to heaven. Nothing else.

    As for the Jesuit business, the last time they were expelled from Portugal was in 1910 when the Republic was established. I have seen old photographs of the Jesuits being subjected to having their heads put in metal contraptions so the enlightened doctors of the time, using phrenology, could prove they had the skulls of criminals prior to being marched on to the boat and sent away.
    There still isn’t a large Jesuit presence here but Opus Dei has emerged as the Catholic influence in politics. The opposing influential power is Freemasonry.
    While it may seem to be political on the surface, trust me, it is really all about Christ vs Satan.
    Or about the Woman vs the Dragon.

  153. Mateo, you wrote this,
    The Catholic Church does not teach this.

    against this,
    Being a Christian doesn’t require the virtue of charity; therefore, it is possible they were never saved.

    Trent, Justification, Canon 28:
    If anyone says that with the loss of grace through sin faith is also lost with it, or that the faith which remains is not a true faith, though it is not a living one, or that he who has faith without charity is not a Christian, let him be anathema.

    If the loss of grace (grace of Christ), then the possibility of no grace from the beginning. I am only showing the possibility within the RC system. See how a charity-less baptized person is called a Christian.
    —————————-

    You wrote:
    The pope has power and jurisdiction of every man on earth, baptized or unbaptized.

    Response:
    ….Consequently “we must see the ministry of the Successor of Peter, not only as a ‘global’ service, reaching each particular Church from ‘outside’, as it were, but as belonging already to the essence of each particular Church from ‘within'”(58). Indeed, the ministry of the Primacy involves, in essence, a truly episcopal power, which is not only supreme, full and universal, but also immediate, over everybody, whether Pastors or other faithful(59). The ministry of the Successor of Peter as something interior to each particular Church is a necessary expression of that fundamental mutual interiority between universal Church and particular Church(60).

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_28051992_communionis-notio_en.html
    ————————-

    You wrote:
    When I submit, only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

    Response:
    This is not true and a very popular mistake among RCs. If they agree, then they are willing to obey a precept of lawful authority. You disagree with Aquinas:

    Reply to Objection 3. Obedience, like every virtue requires the will to be prompt towards its proper object, but not towards that which is repugnant to it. Now the proper object of obedience is a precept, and this proceeds from another’s will. Wherefore obedience make a man’s will prompt in fulfilling the will of another, the maker, namely, of the precept. If that which is prescribed to him is willed by him for its own sake apart from its being prescribed, as happens in agreeable matters, he tends towards it at once by his own will and seems to comply, not on account of the precept, but on account of his own will. But if that which is prescribed is nowise willed for its own sake, but, considered in itself, repugnant to his own will, as happens in disagreeable matters, then it is quite evident that it is not fulfilled except on account of the precept. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xxxv) that “obedience perishes or diminishes when it holds its own in agreeable matters,” because, to wit, one’s own will seems to tend principally, not to the accomplishment of the precept, but to the fulfilment of one’s own desire; but that “it increases in disagreeable or difficult matters,” because there one’s own will tends to nothing beside the precept. Yet this must be understood as regards outward appearances: for, on the other hand, according to the judgment of God, Who searches the heart, it may happen that even in agreeable matters obedience, while holding its own, is nonetheless praiseworthy, provided the will of him that obeys tend no less devotedly [Cf. 82, 2] to the fulfilment of the precept.

    http://newadvent.org/summa/3104.htm#article2

  154. Eric W,
    “See how a charity-less baptized person is called a Christian.”

    Once again, this could be cleared up by checking out the Character. I have written on it at length in the past but to no avail. Maybe by doing the arduous footwork of googling it yourself, it will sink in.

  155. Robert and Erics plural,

    Ever wonder why Catholics on this blog are such fiery boanergeses? How did we come to have such mighty apologetic zeal?
    We have a Character or spiritual tattoo you lads don’t have that empowers us beyond our mere mortal powers. Actually, we have two tattoos. One was given in Baptism. You have that one too although you don’t realize it. But you don’t have the either one, the one of which I speak now.

    Whether we like it or not, we have to call you fellows “brother”. Not because you we like you so much or because you are in a state of grace. I assume you are despite your obstinance and downright pig headeness ( I hope you are anyway ).
    No. Many Jews, Mormons and Zoroastrian are probably in a state of grace too. But they are not our kid brothers like you boys are. How is this so?
    Because of the first tattoo.

    If and when you guys get around to swimming the Tiber, you won’t have to be Baptized again. As a matter of fact, it would be a sacrilege to do so. Once tattooed, always tattooed.
    But you will have to be Confirmed. You need the other tattoo to be like us.

    Have you been wanting to slip down to Sailor Joes’s Tattoo and Piercing Parlour for a cool dragon or mermaid tattoo but your wife says no? Well, the tattoo I am speaking of is cool too. First, you get a new name. You get to choose your favorite saint like Lawrence who cracked jokes while they were cooking him on a gridiron or Martin of Porres who could fly to China and back from Peru or maybe Ignatius who was a swashbuckling soldier who got his leg shot off. Somebody cool like that. Robert can keep his name if he really likes it by choosing Robert Bellarmine as his patron. ( Bellarmine was a super anti Calvinist who opposed Beza ).

    When you enter into FULL Communion with us, the Bishop will ask you your new name. He will give you a slap on the cheek to symbolize your readiness to suffer and argue for the Faith. Its a cool rite and it doesn’t hurt as much as that other tattoo of the mermaid or dragon. And your wife will give you her permission.

    Read up on the Character!

  156. Jim,

    Confirmation is a mockery and play-act of Acts 2 & 8. It is akin to laying money at the bishop’s feet like the Apostles. Even if all of this is true, you were not baptized in the name of Jesus. You need to start over for true visible conformity. By the way, these are not insults because you lack visible continuity at baptism.

  157. Eric, you write:

    When a Protestant says that someone is “saved,” it must include conversion (i.e., repentance and faith). Since an infant can neither repent nor believe, he or she cannot be regenerated (thus, there can be no baptismal regeneration).

    You should say that there are some Protestants don’t believe in baptismal regeneration, and especially not the baptismal regeneration of infants. In the personal religion that you have created for Eric, you have embraced the mistaken ideas espoused by Menno Simons and the anabaptist protestors.

    When you and I speak of regeneration, we are speaking of entirely different things.

    I know what I mean by baptismal regeneration, and I know that you don’t believe in it, even though what I believe was what all orthodox Christians believed before the anabaptists began teaching the heresy of “believers baptism”.

    For us, it is initiated by the Holy Spirit according to his own timing, and it is always permanent.

    Which is a thouroghly mistaken idea that has degenerated into the Protestant heresies of “Once Saved, Always Saved” and “non-Lordship salvation” (that is, the heresy of antinomianism).

    Like you, confessional Protestants believe in a visible church.

    Some Protestants “believe” in confessional “churches” that are founded mere men and women. Men and women that are heretics and schismatics that teach wildly contradictory doctrine. You cannot possibly reconcile your strange Protestant idea of men and women founding their own personal “bible churches” with what is written in the scriptures.

    The “true Christian” follows Christ, and Christ commands that his disciples must listen to the church that Christ personally founded or suffer the punishment of excommunication. The discipline of excommunication within Protestantism is a joke, since anyone that has been excommunicated from a Protestant sect can just go out and found his own personal bible church that teaches what he or she thinks is right. Or, the excommunicated man or women can just become Lone Rangers that belong to a “church” with one member.

    We simply identify the true church as being confessionally Protestant.

    The “true church” for Eric, is the church that agrees with Eric. The difference between us is that I listen to Christ who commands me to listen to his church, and you are a Lone Ranger that listens to no man but Eric.

    The very act of submission is an admission of agreement.
    .
    Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief. I trust that the magisterium is wiser than I, and therefore I choose to agree with them.
    .
    So you’re submitting to yourself, as well. It’s just hidden a little better.

    Eric, I was an apostate for fifteen years, but never an atheist. My Lone Rangerism was far more extreme than your Lone Rangerism. There came a time when God put before me the choice of totally submitting to him, which meant believing what the bible teaches, or continuing to live my life my way, with me deciding what I will believe. I chose total submission to God, even if that meant becoming a Catholic, which was the last thing that I ever wanted to do.

    I can read the bible too, and the bible does not authorize men and women to found their own personal “bible churches” that teach whatever novelties seem right to their founders.

    You are going to stand in judgment before God like all men. There will be no delusion when it is revealed to you that you listened to no man but yourself. You have made up your own personal religion from a variety of sources, and your personal religion is not the religion of Christianity.

    I, on the other hand, am going to be able to stand before God and say that I did what I could, with the help of God’s grace, to listen to, and to obey, the teachings of the church that Christ personally founded. I know that I have made a decision to quit being the pope of my own personal religion. Can you make that claim?

  158. Eric W, I know what the Catholic Church teaches, and she teaches that infants are baptismally regenerated. Which is what ALL churches with a two-thousand year old history teach. If you don’t believe me, go ask the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Oriental Orthodox Churches what they teach about infant baptism.

    “Believer’s baptism” is a novelty of the radical “reformers” – a heresy.

  159. Eric W,

    How do you know the formula to be baptized in the name of Jesus is not, ” I Baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”?

    Sources please?

    Anyway, you miss my point about the Characters given in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.

    How did the Baptismal Formula come to be an issue in this discussion? I thought it was about how we identify a member of the Church and how we find that visible Church. I offered the Character/tattoo/mark/brand/seal stuff to clarify some of the questions asked about grace and the Sacraments.

  160. Eric W,
    I know Robert is a card carrying Presbyterian. That makes it a bit easier to address his position.
    What is your denominational position? Do you have one? Do you attend the same church every Sunday?
    Please, don’t answer with any cryptic mumbo-jumbo like, ” I am a member of the Church of the living God founded by Jesus Christ”. I fellowship as the early Church did”.

    Not that it is 100% important but it does help clarify things. Your objection to the Trinitarian Baptismal formula implies you are either a loose canon ( not necessarily meant as a pejorative ) or a member of a Oneness Pentecostal. If Pentecostal, you are probably not Calvinist so why are you making common cause with them against Catholics?

  161. Eric W,

    If you are Oneness Pentecostal, what is your problem with Confirmation? Could you give me something a little more substantial than that it is a “mockery and a play act of Acts 2 and 8”?

    How is it akin to laying money at the Apostle’s feet? I got Confirmed as a teenager and I didn’t pay or lay money at anybody’s. If you are aware of a Catholic paying for Confirmation, please report it as it is the sin of simony. If not, the innuendo is not appreciated.

    I would love to have a serious chat with you Eric, but it is getting a bit tiring seeing our Sacraments mocked and blasphemed on this site by guys who seem to relish using emotionally charged terminology designed to inflame rather than seriously dialogue.

  162. Eric W.–

    Don’t bother to give Jim your denominational affiliation. He only asks in order to find what he thinks to be a vulnerability and then visciously to attack. Do not give him the pleasure. He has no interest in dialogue on that topic.

  163. Eric,

    In my eyes there wasnt ever a time that sola fide or sola scriptura were ever acceptable. How could the Arian heresy ever have.been dealt with if sola scriptura was an acceptible position? Why didnt arius and all of the other well known heretics just say

    “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

    The fact that these heresies were primarily put down by Church Councils is in itself evidence against your religion. Wouldnt you agree?

  164. Jim–

    Thanks, by the way, concerning the reminder on the indelible character of Catholic ordination. I assume that that means you really don’t care how vile a man a priest may personally be (in terms of his sacramental validity). He could be the pedaphile who molested your child, and you would still (theoretically) kiss his hand.

    Of course, he can be defrocked. He will retain the character nonetheless, but at least, for the most part, he won’t be out there practicing (except in the case of emergency).

  165. Kenneth–

    Except that Luther did indeed accept popes and councils on any number of issues. He was saying we shouldn’t accept their pronouncements like dumb sheep when they were clearly unbiblical, clearly irrational, clearly inconsistent, or otherwise corrupt.

  166. Mateo–

    1. Neither I nor any of my predecessors have any real link to the Mennonites or to Anabaptism.

    2. Among magisterial Protestants, only the Lutherans give any lip service to baptismal regeneration. On the other hand, they–like Luther–do so inconsistently, positing the absolute necessity of conversion…but stating that water baptism is NOT absolutely necessary. Practically the only Anglicans who stick to baptismal regeneration (a form of it is indeed found within the 39 Articles) are the Anglo-Catholics, and they DO NOT consider themselves to be Protestant (and neither do we consider them such).

  167. Mateo–

    You’ve been told enough times. At this point, I must assume you’re being willfully misrepresentative: Once saved, always saved is a dispensational Baptist tenet, and as such, is NOT confessionally Protestant. The Free Grace movement (non-Lordship salvation) is typically dispensational, but has infected a few Presbyterians (e.g., Tullian Tchividjian [Billy Graham’s grandson] and Steve Brown at RTS Orlando). It is characterized by a skewed view of sanctification, but is falsely stereotyped as antinomian, I believe.

  168. Mateo–

    You can delude yourself if you wish, but every single denomination, including the RC church, has been directly founded by mere men and women and only tangentially by Christ. Christ wants to know who will recognize him, who will genuinely hear his voice.

    I am secure in my rejection of the validity of Rome and do not fear any judgment on that account. I know that I know that I know that you have made the wrong choice. I hope and pray this choice does not make it go badly for you, but I fear that it will and therefore warn you to flee the wrath to come.

  169. Kenneth–

    Actually, I am not opposed to ecumenical church councils (and neither are most confessional Protestants). We accept the first four unequivocally. We do not oppose tradition, just tradition that sets itself up above Scripture (contrary to Scripture but somehow true nonetheless).

  170. Eric,

    “Once saved, always saved is a dispensational Baptist tenet, and as such, is NOT confessionally Protestant.’

    Preservation/ perseverance of the saints or OSAS is the one petal of the TULIP Dave Hunt agrees with James White on. Watch the debate on utube.
    True, White’s position is more consistent than Hunt’s, but at the end of the day, they join ranks to denounce Catholics for saying salvation is not secure until you make it through the Pearly Gates or to Purgatory.
    It’s a distinction w/o a difference.

  171. Jim–

    It is a distinction with a decided difference if you would but google it and figure that out for yourself.

  172. Eric,

    Bingo! While I wouldn’t phrase it quite so colorfully as you, you deserve a cigar.
    You understand our position quite well ( except for the part about us “really not caring how vile…”. We do indeed care. Shame on you for saying we don’t. )

    As someone who is familiar with Anglican/Catholic issues, I am surprised we haven’t discussed this issue before. It’s all about why Catholics make nice with beaucoup Eastern Churches but not with Anglicans.

    As for kissing a priests hands, is a devotional custom of some people to kiss a newly ordained priest’s hands. When priest is first ordained, he is fresh out of seminary. If he had knowingly been involved in any foul play in the seminary, he wouldn’t have gotten ordained. So don’t worry about that anymore, okay?

  173. Eric,
    “Eric W.–
    Don’t bother to give Jim your denominational affiliation. He only asks in order to find what he thinks to be a vulnerability and then visciously to attack. Do not give him the pleasure. He has no interest in dialogue on that topic.”

    So, the little spiel you make earlier was insincere. Cudgels taken back up and let the games begin!

  174. Jim–

    Look again. I didn’t say you didn’t care. I said you didn’t care…in terms of the priest’s sacramental validity.

    From what I hear–from both Catholic and mainstream Protestant seminaries (and a few Evangelical seminaries, as well)–there is plenty of “foul play” and hijinx in seminary. And the miscreants often get ordained without the slightest obstruction. It is actually more often that faithful conservatives get their ordinations held up by progressive bishops and the like.

  175. Jim–

    No sir. I will not play.

    In terms of my comment to Eric W., I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you. This is your chance to show yourself trustworthy. Let it go.

  176. Eric W,

    Have no fear of me. Eric is just smarting over the really hard spanking I gave him over his (semi) membership in denominations that historically hate each other.

    It’s not his denominational affiliation that is the problem. It’s that he is really isn’t 1/2 Anglican and 1/2 Baptist. It’s that he is “Anglicanish” and “Baptistish”. ( His words, not mine).

    Given such credentials, it’s amazing he dares to weigh in on a dispute with people who actually have defined beliefs.
    I hope you are Onesness and not 1/2″Onenessish” and 1/2 “Trinitarianish” or some crazy and contradictory hybrid too. One chimerical half man/ half clown is enough to deal with.

  177. Eric,

    “Look again. I didn’t say you didn’t care. I said you didn’t care…in terms of the priest’s sacramental validity.”

    Huh? I don’t understand that statement. We most certainly do care that Sacraments are validly administered. Again, that’s why we and the Eastern Churches can have Communion with one another but not with Anglicans. It’s all about the Seal/Character.

    By the way, where are you on women’s ordination?

  178. Eric,
    Let’s enjoy going through this post to Kenneth of yours;

    “Actually, I am not opposed to ecumenical church councils (and neither are most confessional Protestants). We accept the first four unequivocally.”

    Orange? Trent? Vatican I and II? So, the Apostasy happened sometime between Chalcedon and Constantinople II?

    ” We do not oppose tradition, just tradition that sets itself up above Scripture (contrary to Scripture but somehow true nonetheless).”

    WOW! We do too!

  179. Eric,

    Enuff horseplay. Back to the topic of the Church.

    Your belief system of determining which doctrines are orthodox and which aren’t, which traditions contradict the Bible. which councils, confessions and creeds you accept or reject, your comaraderie with the Oneness Baptismal formula, semi-membership in two denominations, etc. has proven this blogs point of why the Church must be visible and hierarchical better than anything any of the Catholics could have presented. Thank you.

  180. Jim–

    Once more for clarity’s sake: you do not care how vile a priest may be personally as long as he is properly ordained. Again, this indifference is merely as it pertains to the validity of the sacraments this vile man administers and not to the vileness itself. In other words, no matter how wicked the priest, as long as he has been properly ordained (has the “tattoo,” as you put it) and has not been defrocked, you will be happy to receive the elements from him or have him sprinkle your young’ns.

  181. Jim–

    I accept the councils, confessions, and creeds which the confessional Protestants accept, no more and no less. I am a “Lone Ranger” in the company of at least ten million others ( in other words, not very “lone”).

    I have no connection whatever to Oneness Pentecostals. They are formal heretics.

    You need to google “denomination” as you don’t have a very accurate handle on its definition.

  182. Jim–

    There are only seven councils considered ecumenical by Rome AND Constantinople. There are only four considered ecumenical by Rome, Constantinople, and Geneva/Wittenberg.

    To term Orange or Trent or Vaticans I & II as “ecumenical” shows the type of hubris displayed by Major League Baseball in calling their fall classic the “WORLD Series.”

  183. Kenneth,

    In my eyes there wasnt ever a time that sola fide or sola scriptura were ever acceptable. How could the Arian heresy ever have.been dealt with if sola scriptura was an acceptible position? Why didnt arius and all of the other well known heretics just say
    “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

    The fact that these heresies were primarily put down by Church Councils is in itself evidence against your religion. Wouldnt you agree?

    But the problem is that these church councils didn’t “put down” anything. Arianism has never left us. At one point, the very same people at the councils who “put down” Arius were willing to accept his disciples back and throw Athanasius to the curb.

    Councils can’t force anyone to change their beliefs unless you give them the sword, and even then, those that change at the point of sword aren’t really the kind of converts you want. One could just as well say that the fact that more than half of Roman Catholics in this country ignore the Magisterium and don’t have a clue about the councils proves that your “religion” is invalid.

    There is a severe double standard at work here. People disagree over the interpretation of the Bible, so sola Scripture must not be true. People disagree over the interpretation of the Magisterium and the Magisterium doesn’t care, but somehow that doesn’t invalidate the Magisterium.

  184. Nick,

    First off, your line of questioning, while not unimportant, misses the bigger issue here, namely the exegetical basis for the Invisible Church. Without THE BIBLE telling you such a distinction, then you’ve by definition created a man-made tradition and overlaid it upon your soteriology-ecclesiology.

    So you are telling me that Augustine was wrong to view the church as always a mixed body?

    The distinction, as Eric said, permeates Scripture. Matthew 7 says there will be people who did “Christian things” but whom Christ will say that he NEVER knew. These people were never part of the church in any sense? Really?

    As to your question, there is a mechanism by which we can truly say whether a person was ever Christian, and that’s if they received Baptism. There is no such thing as someone being Catholic who was never saved in the first place. That’s a Reformed problem. If someone was truly saved, then they’re part of the Church. If the deacon in question was never truly saved, then he never was truly part of the Church *in any sense* and he wouldn’t even be a deacon in any sense. But for the Reformed, they believe there can be such a thing as an unregenerate pastor, which is absurd.

    So the adult convert who was baptized and later became a deacon but never had faith and it was all just a show, he was a Christian? I imagine you would say no. But will you say he wasn’t a part of the the church? The priest and the congregation sure thought he was.

    The only point of the visible/invisible church distinction is to note that not everyone who professes the name of Christ has believed in him. This reality is so obvious that it shouldn’t even be mentioned. It happens in every system of religion and even in the secular world. Plenty of people work for non-profits and give lip service to believing in its mission even though they don’t and are only looking for a paycheck.

    The only reason I can see for not liking it is that if it is true, it really mucks up the idea that you can lose your salvation. But you guys already do that with baptism conveying regeneration but not always. If you are going to tell me we can identify who was a true Christian by baptism, that means we have to identify a true Christian by baptism as an adult even if they never really believed in the first place. But I don’t think you guys want to do that. That person was united to the church externally. He participated in the life of the parish. Heck, he may have even been a really good guy. His whole family might be actually faithful RCs. This really shouldn’t be difficult.

    As for having pastors that aren’t saved, doesn’t the whole Donatist controversy that said sacraments are valid regardless of the state of the soul of the administer answer that? If a sacrament is valid even if the priest doesn’t believe in Christ or he does not believe what the church believes, you have an unsaved priest.

  185. Eric, you write:

    Neither I nor any of my predecessors have any real link to the Mennonites or to Anabaptism

    Apparently you don’t know your own history. If you are really “Baptistish” as you claim to be, then you do indeed have a link to the Mennonintes, because John Smyth, the “founder of the modern baptist movement”, was an  an “Elder in the Waterlander congregation of Mennonites in Amsterdam.” See:

    John Smyth (1554-1612): Puritan, Separatist, Baptist, Mennonite
    .
    http://levellers.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/john-smyth-1570-1612-puritan-separatist-baptist-mennonite/

    John Smyth started out as an Anglican, became a Calvinist, and later got involved with the Mennonites. It is from the Mennonites that Smyth learned of the novelty of “believers’ baptism”, which is why most of the hundreds of “Baptist” sects of our era (if not all of them) practice “believer’s baptism”.

    The Baptist religion is a hybrid mixture of Luther’s personal religion, Calvin’s personal religion, Menno Simon’s personal religion with some elements of Christianity tossed into the mix.

    You’ve been told enough times. At this point, I must assume you’re being willfully misrepresentative: Once saved, always saved is a dispensational Baptist tenet, and as such, is NOT confessionally Protestant.

    The Calvinist novelty of “Once Elect, Always Elect” is the foundation of the Baptist novelty of “Once Saved, Always Saved”.

  186. Mateo–

    Apparently YOU don’t know that the history of English Baptists is divided up into the history of General Baptists (under John Smyth) and that of Particular Baptists (usually traced back to Henry Jacob). The two histories are completely SEPARATE, and the latter owes next to nothing to the Mennonites or any other Anabaptist group.

    Once elect, always elect is a tautology that could be applied to Thomism without any difficulty. Look up the “Perseverance of the Saints” so that you, too, can be a full participant in this discussion.

  187. Jim–

    I almost forgot. Pretty much every confessionally Protestant denomination stands against women’s ordination, as do I. The only exceptions are some small peripheral groups unduly influenced by theological liberalism: the Evangelical Presbyterian Church allows each congregation to make up its own mind on the matter; a few charismatic and evangelical Anglican groups also support it.

  188. Jim–

    I suppose I could also mention the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, a split-off from the ELCA over same-sex marriage and ordination. But they are mostly conservative from a cultural standpoint (at least, that’s my impression of them), not in terms of biblical hermeneutics. As a consequence, they are fully supportive of women’s ordination.

  189. Jim–

    I also forgot the Christian Reformed Church, which started ordaining women fairly recently. And the Evangelical Covenant Church (which split off from Lutheranism) has been ordaining women for some time. All of these lurches to the left can be traced to secular influence. The Catholic church itself has many, many members lobbying for a similar change in policy. It has nothing whatever to do with “sola scriptura”–there are no good biblical arguments for the practice–and everything to do with man’s infatuation with himself and his own “wisdom.”

  190. Mateo,

    The Calvinist novelty of “Once Elect, Always Elect”

    Except that the fact that Augustine and Aquinas taught it, as well as many others, means you have no idea what you are talking about. Heck, no matter how one construes a doctrine of individual election unto salvation, either based on God’s foreknowledge of future events (Arminians, a whole bunch of RCs) or on His sovereign decree (Calvinists, many RCs), individual election unto salvation is “once elect, always elect.” It’s kind of the whole point, actually.

  191. Jim,

    Eric said:

    The Catholic church itself has many, many members lobbying for a similar change in policy.

    Yet another proof of RC disunity.

  192. Robert,

    I really am surprised at you. Seriously? Lobbying? I think you are confusing us with another outfit.

  193. Robert,

    Ouch!

    I am scrolling from the bottom up. Your remark to Mateo on what Augustine and Aquinas taught is not as bad as the “lobbying” one but, it’s bad too.

    Aquinas questioned Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Augustine put babies in hell.
    You have it bass-ackwards, Robert. Membership in Christ’s Church makes those guys great. Christ’s Church isn’t great because of those guys.

    I guess your errors come from your faulty understanding of the Sacraments, Papacy, development of doctrine, etc. The Church is not Lion’s Club, or Boy Scouts. It’s totally different.

  194. Eric,

    “I have no connection whatever to Oneness Pentecostals. They are formal heretics.”

    This is so beautiful Eric. I could cry. I am not even going to comment on it but leave it just like it is so Mateo and Nick can appreciate it too. It’s the nicest thing anybody has ever given me. I am speechless. I will treasure it forever.

  195. Eric,

    “There are only seven councils considered ecumenical by Rome AND Constantinople. There are only four considered ecumenical by Rome, Constantinople, and Geneva/Wittenberg.”

    I forget, could you explain to me one more time what absinthe is?

  196. Eric,

    Read my lips. I am going to spell it out for you so you don’t have to keep asking.

    I would receive Holy Communion, without a moments hesitation, from a priest regardless of his philandering, boozing, pilfering, laziness, stupidity, simony or the obsessive fixation you keep drooling over, pedophilia.

    Why or how can I say this? Because nobody knows if the parish priest they receive the Sacraments from now aren’t guilty of some or all of the above.

  197. Eric,

    I really do want to bury the hatchet with you and move on from the barbs and snipes. But you just won’t stop. My rule of thumb is to never be snotty first but to let the other guy determine the level of cordiality, vitriol or sarcasm used.

    Your constant talking down to me and “schooling” me in everything, including Catholic ones, is over the top.

    I don’t want to offend any sincere Anglican lurkers on this blog. But I must speak of my own experience with Anglicans, both in America and here in Portugal where we have a strong British influence. There is even a church known as the Lusitanian Church which is really part of the world wide Anglican communion.

    In my experience, the biggest lure to Anglicanism is it’s snobbish Britishness.
    Wherever they go, the English assume a sort of colonial superiority and there are always sufficient anglophiles who buy into it.
    In America, I knew Episcopalians, clergy and laity alike, to actually affect a British accent. Here in Portugal, there is a love/hate relationship between the “world’s oldest allies”. My own English language Irish parish has more Portuguese than ex-pats in attendance despite several Portuguese chapels in the area. I suspect they just like to rub shoulders with English speaking ubermensch.
    Episcopalians/Anglicans ALWAYS ( about 99% of the time ) think their association with Britain qualifies them to instruct us “Romans” ( usually of a dago, mick, polish or some other inferior breed more suited to cleaning chamber pots ) on all things catholic or ecclesial.

    Eric, your pompous Oxford don Anglicanish condescension to me is never going to end, is it?

  198. Eric w.

    Is faith monergistic? If so, you and I have uniformly identical faith. True?

  199. Mateo, you wrote:
    I know what the Catholic Church teaches, and she teaches that infants are baptismally regenerated.

    Just an observation….you pick an example where the recipients are not able to offer any obstacle.

  200. Eric,

    I can’t take it anymore. I had hoped to leave your tempting comment of

    “I have no connection whatever to Oneness Pentecostals. They are formal heretics.”

    untouched for as long as possible. Kinda’ like that last Godiva chocolate bon-bon laying in the box and enticing me by whispering, “Come and have me. All of me” . I wanted my fellow Catholics to admire the dark cocoa goodness, savor the aroma, and even take little mouse nibbles out of your delicious statement for as long as possible.

    But I got to worrying that Mateo or Nick would be pigs and and gulp my bon-bon down like an ordinary tootsie roll or some other common candy. I decided to snatch it before they do. I am going to just blurt out the obvious question of,

    “Eric, how does a half Anglican, half Baptist, Bible only believing member of an invisible church get off calling anybody, no matter what beliefs they profess, a ‘heretic’?”

    Do words mean anything anymore? Eric, if you are not a heretic, nobody is.

    Yum! That was delicious. Sinfully so. But now it’s all gone. Could you offer me another yummy jewel? Another of your yummy pearls for this old swine to choke down? Please?

  201. Jim, you asked:
    How do you know the formula to be baptized in the name of Jesus is not, ” I Baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”?

    Response:
    As formulas, I think both are valid and should be accepted for “ecumenical” work.
    ————————

    You wrote:
    How did the Baptismal Formula come to be an issue in this discussion? I thought it was about how we identify a member of the Church and how we find that visible Church.

    Response:
    For the RC, the formula is vital to begin the “visible” incorporation. It seems important to this topic because Trinitarians appear to lack the initial visible incorporation.
    ——————–

    The point I made about Confirmation is connected to the initial visibility in baptism. IF the baptism is in invalid, then Confirmation is mockery or play-act. The RC is in a difficult position because Apostolic authority and an institution from Christ (Trinitarian baptism) appear to be opposed.
    ——————–

    Don’t prove Eric right….I’m a southern baptist who is willing to back out of the SB Convention.

  202. Calvin,

    I would say that faith is monergistic because it must be given by God. In scholastic language, I tend to disagree with Thomists on faith being supernatural in essence. I opt for supernatural in mode. It depends on the wind sometimes !

  203. Eric W,

    Okay. Thanks for the clarification of your church affiliation.
    Indeed, Confirmation, and all the Sacraments, are connected to Baptism.
    The following statement is not clear though.

    “The RC is in a difficult position because Apostolic authority and an institution from Christ (Trinitarian baptism) appear to be opposed”.

  204. Erics and Robert, ( And fellow Catholics too),

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O4T_llBco8

    Today is Corpus Christi or, as they say here, Corpo Santo. For your edification and sanctification, I offer this video of Lisbon’s Procession with the Blessed Sacrament.

    The Church is visible. Christ said He would be with His Church until the end of time. We take Him at His word.

    Enjoy. ( Maybe, if you look closely, you can pick me out of the crowd?)

  205. Eric W,

    Yes, I am quite aware of what Aquinas said on the subject. Still, I don’t understand your statement.

  206. Eric W,

    If I am understanding your assertion, maybe this link will clarify things. After clicking on, scroll down to “Wht is meant by Immediate Institution”.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13295a.htm

  207. And yes, the white horses the cops are riding in the video are the famous Lusitano breed which are born black.

  208. Jim,

    The Church is visible. Christ said He would be with His Church until the end of time. We take Him at His word.

    So do we. What we say is that those portions of the visible church that teach false doctrine and don’t discipline their members cease to be visible churches. They prove that they no longer have any connection to the invisible church.

    I personally don’t see why this is even an issue. All the visible church means is that body or bodies that include all professing believers regardless of whether or not they have faith in their hearts. The invisible church is only that group with faith in their hearts. Even Rome knows that it is possible to profess faith without possessing it. We’re not saying anything substantially different except that we don’t believe the visible church has to have one home office. And neither did most of the Early Church.

  209. Eric (from June 20, 2014 at 7:03 pm)

    You said:

    The visible/invisible distinction permeates Scripture (e.g., Romans 2:28-29). I don’t think for one second it’s up for grabs. We haven’t produced Scripture because we have felt no need. We have instead noted the Catholic embrace of their own version of the distinction.

    Permeates Scripture? I truly believe you haven’t produced Scripture because there aren’t any Scriptures I know of that speak of the Church as an invisible reality, and I’ve encountered this phenomenon many times when dealing with Reformed doctrines that don’t actually have Scriptural support but are touted as if they do.

    That passage you cited doesn’t use the term “church,” but rather is speaking of ethnic vs spiritual Jews. It seems to me that you/Calvinism is bordering dangerously close to the Judaizer heresy, wherein the Old Covenant never really left, it just changed names. The New Covenant is a different covenant. You’re trying to make a 1-to-1 comparison between circumcision and baptism, but you cannot do this without making the distinction between Mosiac Covenant and Christian Covenant one of outward ordinances.

    Paul never makes an equivalent claim of “Not all who are Baptized are spiritually Baptized”. This goes hand in hand with the fact no text of Scripture speaks of Baptism as merely an entrance rite, but rather the texts always speak of Baptism as doing something transformative.

    So I do feel I need to call you out on this and put the breaks on any attempts to let this issue slide. If it ain’t in Scripture, then it’s a tradition of men by Reformed reckoning. It doesn’t matter who taught it, be it Augustine or even Rome, it’s a tradition of men by (properly applied) Reformed standards.

  210. brakes*

  211. Nick–

    I’m sorry you feel that way. Your fellow Catholics here have shown no hesitance in recognizing that Catholicism has its own brand of the visible/invisible distinction. I’m guessing your own reticence may be idiosyncratic.

  212. Jim–

    That was an incredibly beautiful procession. (Liturgical Protestants are no strangers to processions. Non-liturgical churches are missing out on an inspiring form of worship!)

    Your other comments were intended to provoke, so I will not be answering those. You have misunderstood my intentions. I was not negotiating a truce with you. I was unilaterally informing you of what I will no longer abide in terms of your behavior. This nonsense that you don’t provoke unless provoked is simply untrue.

  213. Nick–

    So much of OT prophecy observes God’s approval of heart religion and his disapproval of empty ritual.

    The fact that no NT passage says something on the order of “Not all who are baptized are spiritually baptized” suggests that there was no infant baptism. Those who were baptized were converted first. They were convicted of their sin and repented of it, calling on the name of the Lord. Heart religion is a given under these circumstances.

  214. Robert,

    You speak of churches plural. Yes, the early Church had branches all over the Mediterranean. But We just can’t agree that the Church in Ephesus, Smyrna, Corinth, etc. were like different denominations. The all held the same doctrine.
    If any taught false doctrine, they were disciplined. There was no agreeing to disagree on “non essentials”.

    ” All the visible church means is that body or bodies that include all professing believers regardless of whether or not they have faith in their hearts.”

    We would say the visible Church is made up all those with the Sacramental Character I keep harping about and profess the Faith of Peter.
    For us, Faith is not in the heart. We would say Charity or grace or the Holy Spirit reside in the heart but Faith resides in the intellect.
    Hopefully a Catholic has that grace or Charity as he can’t get into heaven if he has lost it after having been given it in Baptism. We don’t question if someone has Faith unless he is teaching heresy. However, as long as he has Faith, he has a chance of getting the lost grace/Charity back by repenting.

    ” The invisible church is only that group with faith in their hearts. Even Rome knows that it is possible to profess faith without possessing it.”

    You know, we really don’t talk much about people who profess Faith without having it. If someone has that Character, they had Faith once and probably still do.
    I have heard of Communist spies infiltrating the Russicum in Rome or of Elizabethan Protestant spies infiltrating Jesuit seminaries, but that’s about it.
    But I am pretty sure we don’t have people enter the Church who don’t have Faith.

    ” We’re not saying anything substantially different except that we don’t believe the visible church has to have one home office. And neither did most of the Early Church.”

    Robert, if there is no “home office”, how is that church One?

  215. Robert,

    There are many pro-choice politician who are Catholic. ( Let’s not be so presumptuous as to assume who is in a state of grace or not including someone whose initials are N.P. )
    When they were Baptized as babies or whenever they were justified/regenerated/saved. Throughout their lives, they may have been in and out of grace many times but they always remained members of the Church.
    As long as they have not embraced another religion, they remain members of the visible Catholic Church. As a matter of fact, they really can’t leave the Church even if they submit a written statement to their Bishop. Excommunication says they may not receive the Eucharist but they still remain Catholics. Non practicing Catholics remain Catholics too.

    We say certain non Catholics can be invisibly united to the visible Church if they have grace. We don’t say they are members of the Church if they are elect. We don’t use that language.

  216. Eric,
    Hello. Nothing up my sleeve. Waving a white flag. No hidden agenda.

    Okay. As for babies, we believe they come into the world unfit for heaven or hell.
    Unfit for heaven because they have not been raised to a supernatural state. They are unfit for hell because they haven’t done anything that deserves punishment.

    What happens to babies who die? What does the Bible say? ZERO.

    Jesus told Nicodemus we must be born from above by water and Spirit.
    Elsewhere the Bible speaks of Paul’s sins being washed away in Baptism.

    Unlike Paul, babies don’t have any personal sins to wash away but they do need to be born from above.

    They aren’t able to profess Christ but why should that matter if salvation is free?
    Adults need to make a profession of faith and renounce their erroneous beliefs and repent. That doesn’t apply to a baby. He has no erroneous beliefs to renounce and nothing to repent of.

    So, should we baptize him or not? The Bible doesn’t say we should. It doesn’t say we shouldn’t. Hmmmmmmmm?

    He won’t go to hell if he isn’t baptized. But then, how can he get into heaven if he isn’t born from above? Nothing is stopping us from getting him wet and it’s free.

    What to do, what to do?

    Maybe there is a third place for babies who die without being born from above.
    They won’t see the face of God like we baptized and regenerated folks. But they will be happy, blissfully so. Kind of like the Jehovah’s Witness paradise on earth.

    Again, the Bible doesn’t say not to and it’s free. And it infallibly, 100% guarantees they will go to heaven and see God’s face. A few drops of water assures beyond all doubt the baby will live forever in heaven.

    Why would any parent hesitate?

    Portugal vs America in an hour and 20 minutes. I sure hope Cristiano Ronaldo goes down. They haven’t been their usual arrogant selves since the Krauts gave them a shellacking last week. Here’ hoping… Ciao

  217. Eric w.

    Just a final thought. Faith cannot possibly be monergistic, or else it would be rigidly monolithic. Every believer would be the same. But that is not the case. There is vast diversity and individuality among bellievers, as well as disagreements. So then, faith is a gift in which we participate, make input, and collaborate with God. So too covenant, proclamation, and prayer. So too mercy, love, and perseverance. I am trying to build the case, that grace is synergistic. If you could ever get to the point of believing that, then you have been granted a set of wings.

  218. Jim–

    1. We believe everyone is fit for hell, even babies. Our kids just turned one year, and they’re already beginning to be noticeably rebellious. They were rebellious before; it just wasn’t as noticeable.

  219. Jim–

    2. 1 Corinthians 7 calls the children of a believing parent “clean” and “holy” without suggesting that they need (or could benefit from) baptism. Both baptism and salvation are almost always matched with repentance and belief. Things young children (toddlers and infants) are incapable of. I trust that the Lord of the universe will deal with them fairly and have no need to be further reassured. Our God is love…what is yours?

    3. Being born from above is spiritual rebirth and inward renewal/transformation. It is certainly NOT just getting wet. Very few who take part in Catholic baptism end up regenerate (i.e., converted/spiritually transformed). All they really get is a character and a status. And any benefit they receive period is just the completely fallible opinion of the Roman church. As you readily admitted, there is no such promise in Scripture concerning infant baptism. In fact, there is no infant baptism.

    4. We missed winning by what, 30 seconds? Hopefully we advance on through to the next round.

  220. Eric and Robert,

    We have already been around this merry-go-round a couple hundred times together! lol never gets old but I think that we know where each other stand. I’ll leave the comments to Jim and others with fresh legs. You guys have worn me out over the years. I hope y’all are doing well. We need to arrange a creed code cult get together at some pub one day. I’m certain you reformed have a taste for a good brew? In other news, I had the opportunity to talk with Tim Staples of Catholic Answers the other day…. he has talked me out of my old radtrad ways. (didn’t think it was possible). Anyways, I have turned my attention away from converting neocatholics and will now be actively writing on protestantism and its inconsistencies (im sure you are thrilled!). Ill be rolling out a couple of my own arguments and would love to hear your critique.

    http://www.coffeehouseinquisition.com/moral-argument-against-sola-fide/#sthash.h3JUTobH.dpbs

    OK, done hijacking the thread back to scriptural evidence for an invisible church. Cheers, yall!

  221. Jim,
    I can’t find you in the video, but you must be part of the security detail.

  222. Eric,
    “. Our God is love…what is yours?”

    Our God is Love. It seems the Calvinist God wants to glorify Himself by justly condemning some men.

    Our God wants to glorify Himself in saving as many men who choose to accept His universal love for all men.

    I feel the Calvinists and Catholics talk past each other sometimes. You see, we would never agree that any baby who is baptized is not regenerated. 100% totally impossible.
    He may, after reaching the age of reason lose the grace of generated by mortal sin.

    Also, when I said the Bible says nothing about babies who die,I meant those who die without baptism. It doesn’t specifically mention the fate of baptized babies either. For that we have the Church’s teaching that says every baptized baby goes immediately to heaven if they die.

    As for the futbol game, I am using it as a teaching refence to the Portuguese. They worship futbol and Cristiano Ronaldo is their golden Adonis.
    However, I just submitted a letter to the paper saying the man should be jeered off of the field and lose all of his endorsements. Huh?! What a horrendous thing to say! Perhaps I need deportation back to the States?
    Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson, Muhamed Ali, athletes busted for dope, etc. have all paid for their private behavior with a loss of career, money and star status.
    In an age when children growing up without both biological parents due to the tragedies of death,abandonment and divorce is at epidemic levels, why is a billionaire stud being given a free pass for intentionally creating such a situation?
    Do American fans know, the guy who could snap his fingers and have any women he desires, flew to America and rented a womb. ( He may have bought an egg from a separate woman too ). The baby (named, what else? Cristiano ) will never, by design, know his own biological mother. This should be a crime.
    Cristiano is just a self adoring creep. The other villains involved are the gamete donation industry and the fans who are happy to look the other way at what is clearly a crime against humanity just so long as they win a game or get rich.

  223. Jim,

    Our God wants to glorify Himself in saving as many men who choose to accept His universal love for all men..

    According to Thomas and Augustine, God chooses who will perseveringly accept His universal love for all men. That’s Calvinism.

  224. Robert,
    I know both Catholics and Calvinists are going to rend their garments but how can Augustine say God loves all men? If God “passes over” some men, he is like the guy with 10 life preservers in the boat to throw to 10 drowning men in the water but opts to toss in 5 only. He lets 5 go under so the 5 he saves can glorify him for his whatever.
    Even you, as sinful as you are, can see what’s wrong with this picture. I really believe A. said some ot he stuff he said as a counter to Pelagius only.

    Once again, I go with Fr.William Most. St. Augustine was WRONG! So that makes Calvin even wronger. (????)

    As for Aquinas, he really didn’t go along with Augustine on everything. His belief in limbo proves he didn’t believe Original Sin or an absence of grace/ corruption of nature without actual sin deserves hell. Much less extreme.

  225. Robert,

    Catholic theology is compatible with your view, namely, that a visible local church community ceases to be a visible church when it teaches heresy, and it consequently excommunicated by the worldwide Church or via the Pope.

  226. Nick,

    John 17: 20, 21 teaches the invisible church.

  227. Eric W,

    How does John 17:20-21 teach that the Church is only invisible? That’s the burden….

  228. Erick–

    Since no one I know believes the church is ONLY invisible, it doesn’t seem like much of a burden….

  229. Erick,

    “Believe” and “One” signify the invisible.

  230. Eric Y.,

    I know, which is why Nick’s complaint about the visible/invisible church distinction is incoherent and irrelevant. It’s no different, as far as I can tell, than the Reformed understanding except that Rome views only Rome as a fully valid visible church.

  231. Jim,

    Whether Augustine was right or wrong on this issue can be debated. The fact that he taught what he did proves that what Calvinism teaches was present in incipient form from the beginning. Which puts to death the absurd idea that the Reformation taught things never taught in history before.

  232. “According to Thomas and Augustine, God chooses who will perseveringly accept His universal love for all men. That’s Calvinism.”

    Calvinism does not have a monopoly on election and predestination, nor can it be reduced to just that. So T and A do not “prove that what Calvinism teaches was present in incipient form from the beginning. “

  233. What is distinguished within Reformed and Catholic Ecclesiology is the nature of indefectibility. The Catholic Church teaches that the visible Church has certain visible components which are all alike visibly indefectible. For instance, the Pope cannot never be “invisible”, and so on the basis of the perpetual visibility of the Pope, the Church must be visible, for by definition the Church is in communion with the Pope. So to the degree this visible disunity arises, it is that degree that one digresses from being the visible Church.

    Visible Pope/Visible Bishops is what makes whole world of Christians visible, for they are bound to be in communion with the former.

  234. Eric,

    Visible Pope/Visible Bishops is what makes whole world of Christians visible, for they are bound to be in communion with the former.

    What happens when the visible pope is an avowed heretic?

  235. James,

    Calvinism does not have a monopoly on election and predestination, nor can it be reduced to just that. So T and A do not “prove that what Calvinism teaches was present in incipient form from the beginning. “

    Translation: When Calvinists pick and choose from Thomas and Augustine, that does not mean Calvinism was there from the beginning in incipient form. When Roman Catholicism picks and chooses from Thomas and Augustine, it does prove that Roman Catholicism was there from the beginning. How do we know this. Cause Rome says so.

  236. Robert, you asked to Erick:
    What happens when the visible pope is an avowed heretic?

    No RC can give you the “official” answer. In principle, there are NO objections to their system. Unlike the Lord Jesus, power and authority (RC style) are separable from the man.

  237. In Catholic Ecclesiology, it is possible for the Pope himself to be excommunicate, and therefore not a living member of the body of Christ, and yet his office still plays a vital and essential role in the structure and visibility of the earthly Church. We believe as the Spirit protected the bible authors from error, so also the same Spirit keeps the Pope from teaching heresy in the capacity of his teaching office. This does not include off the cuff remarks, personal writings, personal conversations, etc,etc.

    Of course, this is a strange situation, and is by no means the norm. There are, however, in the 2,000 years of Christ’s Church, instances.

  238. Eric,

    You said:

    I’m sorry you feel that way. Your fellow Catholics here have shown no hesitance in recognizing that Catholicism has its own brand of the visible/invisible distinction. I’m guessing your own reticence may be idiosyncratic.

    There is a subtle yet ever present fallacy that continues on here, which is that you and other Reformed keep trying to silently dodge the fact there is no Scriptural support (or at least yet to be presented) for the dogmatic Invisible/Visible distinction. From the ‘true Protestant’ point of view, if X is not plainly in Scripture, then it’s to be denied, regardless of whether Catholics ‘have their own version’ of X. This is why you’ll notice that when Reformed theologians go about proving infant baptism, they never appeal to the fact Rome also practices infant baptism.

    And just like how Rome has a different understanding of infant baptism, we likewise have a different understanding of ecclesiology. So even if there is some type of ‘invisible church’ in Catholicism, that doesn’t make it substantially similar to the Reformed view.

    So much of OT prophecy observes God’s approval of heart religion and his disapproval of empty ritual.

    But that’s not what the invisible/visible distinction is about. It’s about whether someone is truly part of the body or not. If someone never engaged in the ritual validly, namely valid baptism, he never was part of the Church in any sense. The invisible/visible distinction is that some of those who *validly* take part in the Sacraments are only members of the visible communion.

    The fact that no NT passage says something on the order of “Not all who are baptized are spiritually baptized” suggests that there was no infant baptism. Those who were baptized were converted first.

    Well then, your problem here is really with the Reformation, since the Reformers didn’t cast off infant baptism. And if that’s the case, then you’re outside the scope of this discussion. But I’m sure even Baptists would say that not everyone who was baptized as an adult after making a public profession was necessarily regenerate/elect. (Edit: The London Baptist Confession, Ch26, goes along with the Westminster in teaching an invisible/visible distinction.)

  239. Eric W,

    You said:

    John 17: 20, 21 teaches the invisible church.

    20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

    “Believe” and “One” signify the invisible.

    This is really a very weak, even dangerous, claim to make. The believing and oneness Jesus speaks here is of the Apostles being a united body and bringing others to the Gospel through apostolic preaching after Jesus ascended. Nothing invisible about this; in fact, just the opposite is intended.

    ———————-

    Robert said:

    I know, which is why Nick’s complaint about the visible/invisible church distinction is incoherent and irrelevant. It’s no different, as far as I can tell, than the Reformed understanding except that Rome views only Rome as a fully valid visible church.

    This is unfortunately more subtle attempts to dodge what my complaint was: the lack of Scriptural support. The stakes are only raised by the fact the Westminster *does* give a few Biblical texts, but when you look at these texts they say nothing of such a distinction; it must be read into the the text, i.e. presupposed.

    And No, Rome’s view is not substantially the same as the Reformed. There are substantial differences. But right now the spotlight is on the Reformed proof from Scripture, so any in-depth treatment of Rome’s view is simply a diversion tactic.

  240. Nick, you wrote:

    This is really a very weak, even dangerous, claim to make. The believing and oneness Jesus speaks here is of the Apostles being a united body and bringing others to the Gospel through apostolic preaching after Jesus ascended. Nothing invisible about this; in fact, just the opposite is intended.

    Response:

    I want to quote RL Dabney to highlight the level of disagreement between RCs and Prot. on this issue.

    But the history of this delusion is especially instructive, as it shows us that its advocates from the first were chiefly led astray by disregarding the scriptural distinction between the visible and invisible church. In the controversies of the early ages against the Montanist, the Novatian, the Donatist sects, as in the pretensions of Rome now, this difference is quietly but totally omitted. Those Scriptures which do beyond dispute teach us that the invisible and spiritual church of Christ is one, “even as he and the Father are one”; that it is his body; his spouse and bride; catholic; i.e., the fulness of him that filleth all in all; that it is holy; that it is indefectible; all these Scriptures were quoted as though they applied to one organized, visible body of believers, and thence were drawn the tremendous and false consequences of the damning sin of all formal diversity, the necessity of outward conformity, the propriety of pains and penalties to enforce it. Search and see! It is the same false logic which inspires this modern furor for unification.
    —————————

    The great thing about the oneness is election. The Apostles were “elect…gathered into one under Christ” WCF. The united body you mentioned was an elect body in Christ and the Father. Whatever visible body you wish to see from the verses MUST consist of elect ones. You cannot escape this conclusion.

    Since you affirm a visible body from the verses, then please identify this visible body of ELECT with the Apostles. You should stay away from John 17 because it proves too much for you.

  241. Nick–

    Christ says that he has sheep that are “not of this fold.” He rebukes the disciples for not accepting someone who cast out demons in Jesus’ name, but who is not formally connected to them. People receive the gift of the Holy Spirit without any association with the Apostles. Jesus tells us that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, there he is in the midst of them. There is no formal structure uniting the ministries of Paul and John and Peter, etc. The spirit of the law trumps the letter of the law. Exactly how much evidence do you have to have before crying “uncle”? You cannot win this one!

  242. Nick–

    Could you please quit speaking of “diversion tactics” as if we were not dialoguing in good faith? It’s insulting. If you demand exegetical evidence for the visible/invisible divide, then we can demand of you a clarification as to how the Catholic version differs from the Protestant version. As far as I can tell, the Catholic “Church Triumphant” is identical to the Protestant “Glorified Church,” both of them made up of the elect and the elect only, with the visible church a long forgotten footnote to history. The only thing we would differ on is the composition of the elect. We would go with the converted faithful who evidence the Holy Spirit’s change in their life, and you guys would go with people who once upon a time got slightly damp, and then did nothing overt to “blow it.”

  243. Nick,
    You wrote to Eric, “If someone never engaged in the ritual validly, namely valid baptism, he never was part of the Church in any sense.”.
    A few days ago, this issue was presented in the context of the evil deacon.

    Maybe an explanation of matter and form AND intention or disposition would clarify things. He has repeatedly brought up the deacon or person without faith receiving a sacrament. I think we are talking past each other. I
    think he means ” without proper intent to ‘do what the Church does’ or disposition”. But we clash every time we address one another so I will pass the ball to you.

    Eric, as an Anglican probably knows Leo XIII denied their orders. But seems not to understand how a sacrament can be valid/invalid or, even more perplexing, be valid and yet the recipient actually receive no grace.

    I have tried several times to explain the Character but nobody, Catholic or Protestant, seem to follow or comment so I will leave it up to you explain the “ex opere operato” of the Sacraments that Calvinists so vociferously deny.

  244. Robert,

    “Which puts to death the absurd idea that the Reformation taught things never taught in history before.”

    Huh? Aleister MacGrath’s “theological novum” of Luther has been quoted several times. But that’s about it.
    Still. when Jason Loh, a Lutheran was posting, nobody ever disagreed that the Lutheran view of the Real Presence was condemned before Trent as some fathers seem to have held a similar views.
    Gabriel Biel and the nominalists held a lot of views that were later denounced. Gottschalk and Meister Eckhart held views on predestination that were problematic. Yes.
    Robert, lots of views can be held UNTIL addressed and condemned. After that, it’s a done issue. Like women’s ordination and contraception you guys keep saying proves we are as divided as you because some Catholics dissent from settled issues.

  245. Eric,
    Since one should never ask somebody to do something one won’t do themself, I will make a stab at what I earlier asked Nick to do.
    I think what keeps getting in the way of your question about Church membership, grace, the deacon or priest without faith is this;
    Faith for you guys, unless I am missing something, is something someone already regenerated and elect from eternity past possesses. Only the elect are given grace in the sacraments. Am I correct?

    We don’t talk like that. For us, God wants all men saved so in that sense, one could say all are elect. And we would say that this doubly applies to all baptized Christians as they are elect in Christ. ( I would rather not get into Augustine or his distinction between election to grace and election to glory at this time).
    To be blunt, I think the preoccupation with who is elect from eternity past before foreseen merits to not be helpful in determining who is a member of the Church visible or invisible.

    In a futile attempt to arouse interest in sacramental causality I have mentioned ( what I find to be ) the fascinating and very instructive examples of the Baptisms of the kidnapped Jewish boy Edgardo Mortara and the Jewish gangster Dutch Schultz.
    Alas, all for naught on Baptism. There are some really bizarre marriage cases too such as the one between Napoleon and Josephine or in your case, the one between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon which will clarify what is involved in what determines if a Sacrament is valid or invalid because of the minister’s intent or even trickier, how a validly administered Sacrament can fail to produce the grace it should produce due to alack of proper intention or disposition on the part of the recipient and still leave a Character or valid marriage.
    What constitutes the intention or disposition is very hard to pin down sometimes as in the case of Matthew Parker and Anglican Orders. But it can be done.
    You speak of Faith. We do too and say it is needed for the Sacraments. How people without faith can receive a Sacrament, how much faith or awareness, is needed, the Sacraments confected by an Apostate or unbelieving priest or even lay persons in the case of marriage, are all involved in this question you ask.
    However, a blog like this is probably not the best way to explain it to you. I would suggest to you, as I did to Robert, to click on the New Advent site under Sacraments. Then click on each one ( all 7). It’s a task but I really think it will be good for you.

  246. Jim,

    Aleister MacGrath’s “theological novum” of Luther has been quoted several times. But that’s about it.

    McGrath’s work also says that before Augustine, the doctrine of justification was inchoate and undefined, which is a point that always seems to go missing in these discussions. As such, there is plenty before Augustine that points to the Protestant understanding of justification, such as 1 Clement and the Epistle to Diogenetus. Further, during this period and through Augustine, the church rejected the idea of papal primacy of jurisdiction, there’s no reference to the Assumption before Nicea and when it first appears, people aren’t sure if it is orthodox or not. I could go on.

    Further, even Augustine did not say we are justified by love, he affirmed double predestination, and he held to the essential Calvinistic concept of the two wills of God. Welcome to Reformed theology, buster.

    Robert, lots of views can be held UNTIL addressed and condemned. After that, it’s a done issue.

    Bingo. Now the question is, how do you know that the body that addressed the issue was correct? For Rome, it is whenever Rome says so. Sorry, not good enough.

  247. Robert,

    Good talking to you again.

    If we are going to trust Clement’s epistle to the Romans, and if we are going to trust the Epistle to Diogenetus, then we must accepts also the surrounding documentary evidence of what the early Christians believed as far as doctrine. In fact, if you reject, let’s say, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, Eusebius, etc,etc, then there would be no grounds for you to historically accept Clement or the Epistle to Diogenetus.

    Having said that, I don’t think you would reject the enormity of other documentary evidence that we do have of the early Christians and their theology. And so it would be almost apparent that Clement of Rome held to the orthodox view of baptism, which sees regenerative power working through the physical element of water. Without going into much further detail, that, in and of itself, departs from the historic Calvinistic understanding of salvation or even justification.

  248. Eric Y.,

    And good to talk to you as well.

    If we are going to trust Clement’s epistle to the Romans, and if we are going to trust the Epistle to Diogenetus, then we must accepts also the surrounding documentary evidence of what the early Christians believed as far as doctrine. In fact, if you reject, let’s say, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, Eusebius, etc,etc, then there would be no grounds for you to historically accept Clement or the Epistle to Diogenetus.

    Having said that, I don’t think you would reject the enormity of other documentary evidence that we do have of the early Christians and their theology. And so it would be almost apparent that Clement of Rome held to the orthodox view of baptism, which sees regenerative power working through the physical element of water. Without going into much further detail, that, in and of itself, departs from the historic Calvinistic understanding of salvation or even justification.

    To be honest, I don’t see your point. There are Protestants who accept some form of baptismal regeneration (Lutherans, for example), while affirming justification by faith alone. I don’t think that is consistent with Scripture, but we’re all inconsistent at some point.

    My point is only that we all pick and choose from the early church fathers, and really from any era of church history. What is the standard by which we pick and choose? For RCs, it is ultimately what the Magisterium says today. For Protestants, it is the exegesis of Scripture. The idea that somehow the RC and EO are more consistent with the history of early Christian belief than the Protestants is just flat-out wrong.

    The grounds for which I accept anything from any of the great theologians of church history, whether it is Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Hodge, et al is its conformity to Scripture. You can accept what people say when it is true and discard it when it is false. Roman Catholics do it all the time. You all are doing nothing different than what Protestants do except that your interpretative grid is different.

  249. Robert, you write:

    … we’re all inconsistent at some point …

    Inconsistency isn’t from God, because God is not the author of confusion. The undeniable fact that Protestantism is thousands upon thousands of divided sects teaching contradictory doctrine is overwhelming evidence that Protestantism isn’t from God.

  250. Mateo,

    Inconsistency isn’t from God, because God is not the author of confusion.

    I agree. Many of your RC compatriots do not. Just ask Wosbald who glories in inconsistency.

    The undeniable fact that Protestantism is thousands upon thousands of divided sects teaching contradictory doctrine is overwhelming evidence that Protestantism isn’t from God.

    I’ll say it again: the differences between Protestant sects are no more significant than the contradictory teachings of the Molinists vs. the Thomists. So if our division proves we’re invalid, so does yours.

    It’s no good to have one home office when blatant contradictions are tolerated within the camp. And that’s even before we start multiplying divisions such as between pro-life RCs and Catholics for Choice, both of which must be fully acceptable positions in your church since members of both groups continue to be in good standing.

  251. What happens when the visible pope is an avowed heretic?

    This is question along the lines of what if Lois Lane put red kryptonite in Superman’s sandwich.

    No pope has ever been an avowed heretic, so we can only speculate if that is even possible. That said, the answer to that question is that no heretic can ever be a pope, because the pope has to be a member of the church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

    If a man was the pope and not a heretic, and then became a heretic while he was the pope, he would immediately cease to be the pope, because the sin of heresy brings automatic excommunication from the true church. See Code of Canon Law (CIC 1364:1).

    Can a council depose the pope?

    .
    This question is a legitimate one, for in the history of the Church circumstances have arisen in which several pretenders contended for papal authority and councils were called upon to remove certain claimants. The Councils of Constance and Basle, and Gallican theologians, hold that a council may depose a pope on two main grounds:
    ob mores (for his conduct or behaviour, e.g. his resistance to the synod)
    ob fidem (on account of his faith or rather want of faith, i.e. heresy).
    .
    In point of fact, however, heresy is the only legitimate ground. For a heretical pope has ceased to be a member of the Church, and cannot, therefore, be its head. A sinful pope, on the other hand, remains a member of the (visible) Church and is to be treated as a sinful, unjust ruler for whom we must pray, but from whom we may not withdraw our obedience.
    .
    But the question assumes another aspect when a number of claimants pretend to be the rightful occupants of the Apostolic See, and the right of each is doubtful. In such a case the council, according to Bellarmine (Disputationes, II xix, de Conciliis) has a right to examine the several claims and to depose the pretenders whose claims are unfounded. This was done at the Synod of Constance. But during this process of examination the synod is not yet Ecumenical; it only becomes so the moment the rightful pope assents to its proceedings. It is evident that this is no instance of a legitimate pope being deposed by a legitimate council, but simply the removal of pretender by those on whom he wishes to impose will.
    .
    Not even John XXIII could have been deposed at Constance, had his election not been doubtful and himself suspected of heresy. John XXIII, moreover, abdicated and by his abdication made his removal from the Apostolic See lawful. In all controversies and complaints regarding Rome the rule laid down by the Eighth General Synod should never be lost sight of: “If a universal synod be assembled and any ambiguity or controversy arise concerning the Holy Church of the Romans, the question should be examined and solved with due reverence and veneration, in a spirit of mutual helpfulness; no sentence should be audaciously pronounced against the supreme pontiff of the elder Rome” (can. xxi. Hefele, IV, 421-22).

    Reference: Catholic Encyclopedia, article “General Councils”

  252. b>Robert, you write:

    I’ll say it again: the differences between Protestant sects are no more significant than the contradictory teachings of the Molinists vs. the Thomists.

    That is bunk Robert, and you know it. The questions being debated between the Molinists and the Banezians have never been settled by the solemn exercise of the teaching authority of the living Magisterium. There are many such questions that are open for legitimate debate within the true church.

    Protestantism exists in an entirely different universe from the true church. This has to do with the Protestant’s heretical idea that the true church on earth is an invisible church. Protestantism exists in a realm of utter doctrinal chaos, a realm where any article of faith that has been solemnly defined by the true church is disputed by some Protestant sect or another. Not even the doctrine of the Trinity is held by all Protestants, and if the Trinity can be disputed, so can everything else. Protestants believe anything and everything, and there is absolutely no comparison between the doctrinal chaos of Protestantism, and doctrinal unity that exists in the true church.

    Excommunication for heresy is nothing but a meaningless joke within Protestantism, since any man or woman excommunicated from one Protestant sect can simply go out and found their own personal bible church that teaches what they want to hear. Ever hear of the term “the split P’s” applied to the Presbyterians? There is a reason for it.

    Conversely, a member of the true church can become a heretic, go into schism with the true church, and then found his own personal bible church, as did Martin Luther, John Calvin and Menno Simons – pride filled gas bags with no common sense that taught contradictory doctrine – so-called “Reformers” that left Protestantism with no way of ever settling, once and for all, what constitutes heresy and what constitutes orthodoxy. Which is why doctrinal chaos reigns supreme within Protestantism, and will always reign supreme within Protestantism.

    When I submit, only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

  253. Calvin said to Eric W ” Im trying to get you to see grace is synergistic so that you cant get wings and fly away” So grace is something we do. Nice new theology. We thought it was a “free gift” I’m sure Eric wiil be happy to know he has to cooperate his whole life to fly like a bird. Thats good news.

  254. Robert,
    I don’t have the energy to keep correcting and recorrecting you so here is a link on Augustine.
    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/06/st-augustine-on-faith-without-love/

    As you can see, it’s from called to Communion.

    Here is another one on Predestination according to Augustine from EWTN.
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/AUGUSTIN.htm

    Robert, I have read about a million times how both Luther and Calvin went way beyond Augustine to the point of making God the author of sin.

    “Buster”? I haven’t heard that word in years. Are you old enough to have worn Buster Brown’s too? Without googling, can you remember his dog’s name?

  255. Mateo,

    The questions being debated between the Molinists and the Banezians have never been settled by the solemn exercise of the teaching authority of the living Magisterium.

    That doesn’t mean they aren’t contradictory beliefs. Your church is allowing contradictory beliefs within its midst. I guess your God is the author of confusion.

    Protestantism exists in an entirely different universe from the true church. This has to do with the Protestant’s heretical idea that the true church on earth is an invisible church. Protestantism exists in a realm of utter doctrinal chaos, a realm where any article of faith that has been solemnly defined by the true church is disputed by some Protestant sect or another. Not even the doctrine of the Trinity is held by all Protestants, and if the Trinity can be disputed, so can everything else. Protestants believe anything and everything, and there is absolutely no comparison between the doctrinal chaos of Protestantism, and doctrinal unity that exists in the true church.

    1. Protestants don’t believe the true church on earth is the invisible church. We just believe the true church doesn’t have one home office, just like the New Testament teaches, and just like the early church teaches.

    2. You aren’t a Trinitarian, then you aren’t a Protestant. If you insist on saying otherwise, then I will insist on saying that Nancy Pelosi is one of your great modern theological scholars.

    3. There’s no comparison because unlike your church that tolerates heresy in its midst, the Reformed do not.

    Excommunication for heresy is nothing but a meaningless joke within Protestantism, since any man or woman excommunicated from one Protestant sect can simply go out and found their own personal bible church that teaches what they want to hear. Ever hear of the term “the split P’s” applied to the Presbyterians? There is a reason for it.

    Conversely, a member of the true church can become a heretic, go into schism with the true church, and then found his own personal bible church, as did Martin Luther, John Calvin and Menno Simons – pride filled gas bags with no common sense that taught contradictory doctrine – so-called “Reformers” that left Protestantism with no way of ever settling, once and for all, what constitutes heresy and what constitutes orthodoxy. Which is why doctrinal chaos reigns supreme within Protestantism, and will always reign supreme within Protestantism.

    Look man, just because your church thinks its okay for its members to promote abortion, doesn’t mean you should get all riled up. I can understand how your church, which makes the patently false claim to be the one true church Christ founded, is so disappointing. I mean, after all, if the one true church isn’t going to exercise its teaching authority anymore, whatever will we do? We certainly can’t be left to think of ourselves. That’s too heavy of a responsibility. God just wants us to put implicit faith in an institution, so that if they get it wrong, on judgment day we can just say “Not my fault God, its theirs.”

    In any case, any RC can be excommunicated and start his own Bible church. The fact that Rome won’t recognize it proves nothing. In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t much care whether Rome recognizes us or not. As the years go by, there is reason less and less to care. Your guys couldn’t even protect children, and you want us to believe you are infallible whenever you say your infallible. Sorry, we have too much respect for the depravity of man to buy that one. We pray for you guys who are deep in the heretical mess that is the Vatican, but we can’t open you eyes for you.

    Rome is not the church Christ personally founded. Not even close. If the pope is so necessary, then you guys are in big trouble. Honorious was a monothelite. During the era of the three popes, there was no Western church with “apostolic succession” because each pope excommunicated the other two.

    There’s no way for Rome to be reformed according to Scripture as long as its current understanding of itself remains. Those who are Christians within the bosom of Rome are Christians despite its teaching. There’s still time for Rome to repent.

  256. Mateo,
    “as did Martin Luther, John Calvin and Menno Simons – pride filled gas bags with no common sense that taught contradictory doctrine –”

    Pride filled gas bags? No common sense? I love that kinda’ talk! You remind me of me son.

  257. Jim,

    I don’t know where the Buster came from. I think I was just trying to be funny.

    That Augustine taught double predestination is so clear that some of you on here have had to say that he basically didn’t mean it or that he was being inconsistent with his “principles.” To that I just have to say “whatever”. You all are just proving our point that all theologians are mixed bag and you must take the wheat and discard the chaff. How one does so is the issue. Again, it boils down—to put it most simplistically—that Roman Catholics accept from the tradition whatever modern Rome says they can accept, and Protestants accept whatever can be squared with the plain teaching of Scripture.

  258. Eric W,

    Thank you for that quote from Dabney. As I understand Dabney’s words, the denial of the “scriptural distinction between the visible and invisible church” was a chief error in many early sects and in Rome. Instead, every text where the Church’s beauty, perfections, divine promises, etc, are stated, Dabney says these apply to the invisible church, yet Catholics have been mistakenly applying this to the visible this whole time. My response to Dabney, if he were still alive to read it, would be that these texts don’t speak of a visible/invisible aspect, but rather these have been read into the text. It’s an exegetical issue as much as anything else, and any unbiased reader of Scripture will admit when only the term “church” is used you cannot simply assume it means invisible.

    You then said:

    Whatever visible body you wish to see from the verses MUST consist of elect ones. You cannot escape this conclusion. Since you affirm a visible body from the verses, then please identify this visible body of ELECT with the Apostles. You should stay away from John 17 because it proves too much for you.

    I totally understand your point but it seems you’ve directly contradicted your quote from Dabney, because Dabney only knew of a visible and invisible, and said those texts refer to Invisible. But in this verse you’ve collapsed the distinction between visible and invisible, because in this verse you say the visible church is synonymous with elect. Now you’ve forced yourself into a game where you get to pick when the mere reference to “church” means (a) invisible, (b) visible elect only, and (c) visible mixed. And this in fact makes your exegetical task all the more difficult to show that there is in fact a Visible Mixed Church, because now you have to show the text clearly isn’t talking about a Visible Elect Only body.

    Since Catholics don’t believe in Limited Atonement and Once Saved Always Saved, among other things, we are not caught in the same paradigm/dilemma as the Reformed on this point.

  259. Eric (not Eric W),

    You said:

    Christ says that he has sheep that are “not of this fold.” He rebukes the disciples for not accepting someone who cast out demons in Jesus’ name, but who is not formally connected to them. People receive the gift of the Holy Spirit without any association with the Apostles. Jesus tells us that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, there he is in the midst of them. There is no formal structure uniting the ministries of Paul and John and Peter, etc. The spirit of the law trumps the letter of the law. Exactly how much evidence do you have to have before crying “uncle”? You cannot win this one!

    I would object to the texts you’ve brought up since I don’t believe they are saying what you want them to say. In fact, the way you’re reading theses texts radically undermines Christian ecclesiology. The way you’re reading these texts, no Christian is bound to any Church leadership, he can simply run around doing as he pleases. I’m not even kidding or caricaturing here, because that’s precisely how most Protestants today think and act when it comes to the visible communion of Christians: everyman for himself.

    When Jesus said there are sheep not of this fold, He was saying nothing of invisible Church, but rather he was saying the Gentiles were going to be coming under the visible communion of the Apostles and Elders in the near future. Jesus left shepherds to guide; He was not saying ‘sheep not of this fold are free roaming sheep’.

    As for the man casting out demons but not formally connected with the apostles, this is not as clear, but it certainly doesn’t mean every Christian is free to run around doing whatever they please, and you’ve got to guard against letting the text be read that way. Maybe the man was on a special mission, or maybe the man was a poor confused guy just trying to do his best (so not worthy of condemnation) but none the less tragically possessing only part of the Truth. A similar thing could be said of people receiving gifts from the Holy Spirit without connenction to the Apostles, though I don’t recall this happening.

    And when Jesus said “wherever two of you are gathered in my name,” He was speaking of legitimate visible leaders. Jesus was not saying whenever two people want to go start their own Church that they have Jesus’ blessing to break communion and run and do their own thing. Jesus in fact just got through saying if there is a sinful brother “tell it to the Church” and the Church will discipline him…but you’re saying that if the Church disciplines him, he is free to get a friend and go run and start his own church since the magic number is 2 gathered in His Name.

    Do you see the slippery slope here that you’ve “established” with misreading these texts? Even if you don’t see it, the Evangelical world sees it and all its implications as plain as day. This is why a text like Acts 15 makes no sense in Protestantism.

    As far as I can tell, there’s really no middle ground here. Either you’ll slide in the direction of a visible body in the Catholic sense, or you’ll slide in the direction of a purely invisible body wherein every Christian runs around doing as they please.

  260. Nick,

    But the problems you’ve just stated are endemic to Roman Catholicism. How many Roman Catholics care about what there church teaches on abortion, contraception, etc. In this country, its less than half. What is strange is that you guys would rather have these heretics stay in then leave and start their own communions.

    And again, I would like to know what exactly is the problem you have with the fact that not everyone in the visible body of Christ has true faith, because that is all that the visible-invisible church distinction is saying.

    I’m sorry, but half the time it looks like you guys are just afraid that people will think for themselves and come to conclusions opposite that of the visible Magisterium that has no verifiable historical ties to the Apostles anymore. But the solution you guys propose is untenable. It produced the very problems you decry.

  261. Robert, you write about the debate between the Molinists and the Banezians:

    That doesn’t mean they aren’t contradictory beliefs. Your church is allowing contradictory beliefs within its midst.

    Of course there are differences in the positions that are staked out between these two schools of thought. And these two schools of thought are not the only game in town either. There are indeed issues under debate in the church, and who knows when, if ever, this controversy over grace will ever be settled by a solemn teaching of the magisterium. It would be the height of foolishness to think that there never will be theological questions that are as yet unanswered when Christ returns in the Second Coming.

    The point that you are avoiding is that these are the kinds of questions that can be settled in an Ecumenical Council, while Protestantism lacks any means of settling, once and for all, ANY question about faith or morals. Within Protestantism there is doctrinal chaos, a world where everything is up for debate, including the Trinity; the correct canon of scriptures; whether living a life of unrepentant wickedness can lead to eternal damnation in hell; etc. Name an article of the faith, and some Protestant, somewhere, in someplace, is dissenting from that article of faith.

    You aren’t a Trinitarian, then you aren’t a Protestant.

    Says who, and by what authority do you speak? Why should anyone listen to you?

    As a Protestant, you can give no coherent answer to as to how Protestants settle the doctrinal disputes that are rampant within Protestantism. In Protestantism, if a Southern Baptist and a Presbyterian disagree over a point doctrine, they cannot do as Jesus commands them to do to settle their doctrinal dispute. These Protestants cannot bring their dispute to the church to be settled, one and for all, because the “invisible church of the true believers” cannot be located in time and space. Christ did not give his disciples instructions that are impossible to follow.

    Look man, just because your church thinks its okay for its members to promote abortion …

    More hogwash from Robert. When has the Catholic Church ever promoted abortion? You would seem to be the only person in the world that does not know that the Catholic Church teaches abortion is a terrible sin in the eyes of God. But of course you are disingenuous about this point, because you know that there are Catholics that dissent with the official teaching of the Church on the issue of abortion, and you have no problem whatsoever in recognizing them.

    In the chaotic world of Protestantism, there are sects of Presbyterians that teach that abortion is not a sin that will send one of the “elect” to hell; and that is the “official” doctrine of those particular Presbyterian sects (“official” is in quotes, because everything that a Presbyterian teaches is nothing more than revisable opinion that may change tomorrow). What I know is that a person can believe anything he or she wants to believe about the sinfulness of abortion, and by church shopping among the split P’s, he or she can find a sect of Presbyterianism that teaches whatever it is that he or she wants to hear. In some sects of Presbyterianism, if the pastor dared to teach that abortion is a sin that can send anyone to hell, the members of the sect would send their pastor packing, merely because the congregation is hearing something that they don’t want to hear from the mouth of their pastor.

    When I submit, only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

  262. Robert,

    You said:

    How many Roman Catholics care about what there church teaches on abortion, contraception, etc. What is strange is that you guys would rather have these heretics stay in then leave and start their own communions.

    Catholics would never say they have the option of going off and starting their own church, because that’s impossible. Such talk only gives legitimacy to error, as if a Christian is free to go off and start his own church whenever he is not satisfied with something, no matter how small. The Church is clear that anyone promoting/practicing such things is in a state of grave sin, so the solution is to get them to repent and put themselves back in proper communion with the Church, not go start their own denomination.

    I would like to know what exactly is the problem you have with the fact that not everyone in the visible body of Christ has true faith, because that is all that the visible-invisible church distinction is saying.

    The Catholic position is radically different from that: One cannot be in the Church *in any sense* without having been saved.
    But the Reformed are trying to say that one can be in the Church *in a genuine sense* and never have been saved. Two very different teachings.

    To say one can be in the Church in some sense (e.g. the visible) while having never been saved is to say the Church (at least in the visible sense) doesn’t have a direct, even ontological, connection to Jesus. This is not only an outrageous thought, it forces one to make a distinction Scripture doesn’t (and would never) make.

    I’m sorry, but half the time it looks like you guys are just afraid that people will think for themselves and come to conclusions opposite that of the visible Magisterium that has no verifiable historical ties to the Apostles anymore. But the solution you guys propose is untenable. It produced the very problems you decry.

    And that’s precisely why I reduce the issue down to the Reformed failing to make a Scriptural case, because then the issue isn’t about ‘Catholics not thinking for themselves,’ and ‘Catholics blindly following the Pope,’ because the demand is something much more substantial and decisive: No scriptural proof makes it ipso facto a tradition of men.

    The issue of invisible-vs-visible church is NOT an issue of ‘Catholics versus Protestants’ but rather of ‘Protestants versus the Bible’.

    So if you are *truly* advocating thinking for oneself, and *truly* advocating coming to conclusions contrary to that of the Protestant Magisterium, then you will naturally see the immediate and pressing need to make a completely Scriptural case for the invisible/visible distinction and make your final stand on nothing but the Scriptural evidence.

    Basically, what I’m doing in this article is inviting Protestants to read the Bible. I’m not scared of the Bible, which is why I quoted it at the beginning, along with referencing all 112 verses where the term “Church” appears and saying none of these 112 verses speak of an invisible Church.

    The question all Protestants in this thread need to ask themself is: “What verses of Scripture can I put forward to show why I should believe in an invisible Church and thus force the Catholic to accept or reject the Biblical proof?”

  263. Robert you ask

    How many Roman Catholics care about what there church teaches on abortion, contraception, etc.

    All the practicing Catholics care about these issues, because these are issues pertaining to the Church’s doctrines of morals. If a Catholic were to know what the Church teaches about these doctrines of morals (which isn’t hard to do, because even you, a Protestant actually knows what the Catholic Church officially teaches), and that Catholic refused to listen “even to the church”, then that nominal Catholic is no longer a practicing Catholic, because he has brought the punishment of automatic excommunication upon himself for being what he really is: a heretical Protestant that is protesting against the true church by his willful and obstinate dissent. In other words, Robert, these dissenting cafeteria Catholics are just like you – obstinate dissenters that refuse to “listen even to the church”.

    When I submit, only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

    .

  264. Nick,

    The Catholic position is radically different from that: One cannot be in the Church *in any sense* without having been saved.
    But the Reformed are trying to say that one can be in the Church *in a genuine sense* and never have been saved. Two very different teachings.

    So, the infant who was baptized into Roman Catholicism, grows up in the church, and yet never actually believes was never in the church in any sense?

  265. Nick,

    Catholics would never say they have the option of going off and starting their own church, because that’s impossible. Such talk only gives legitimacy to error, as if a Christian is free to go off and start his own church whenever he is not satisfied with something, no matter how small.

    Except that Protestants don’t believe that anyone has the right to start his own church whenever he is not satisfied with something no matter how small. The fact that people do so doesn’t mean they are right to do so.

    The Church is clear that anyone promoting/practicing such things is in a state of grave sin, so the solution is to get them to repent and put themselves back in proper communion with the Church, not go start their own denomination.

    No the church is not clear on that. I have no reason to believe that Nancy Pelosi is in a state of grave sin because she remains a member in good standing of the Roman Catholic Church. It is clear that she is not going to repent, and it seems clear that the church doesn’t care if she repents. So all I can conclude is that it is an acceptable Roman Catholic interpretation to read what the church has said about abortion and that I won’t be in a state of mortal sin if I join up with Catholics for Choice.

  266. Mateo,

    All the practicing Catholics care about these issues, because these are issues pertaining to the Church’s doctrines of morals. If a Catholic were to know what the Church teaches about these doctrines of morals (which isn’t hard to do, because even you, a Protestant actually knows what the Catholic Church officially teaches), and that Catholic refused to listen “even to the church”, then that nominal Catholic is no longer a practicing Catholic, because he has brought the punishment of automatic excommunication upon himself for being what he really is: a heretical Protestant that is protesting against the true church by his willful and obstinate dissent. In other words, Robert, these dissenting cafeteria Catholics are just like you – obstinate dissenters that refuse to “listen even to the church”.

    In your opinion these people are not practicing Roman Catholics. They sure look like practicing Roman Catholics to me. The idea of automatic excommunication is incompatible with the “strong view” of the visible church that you guys pretend to have. It is a de facto witness that you guys believe in an invisible/visible church distinction, which makes Nick’s piece pointless.

    Oh, and I actually listen to the church. My church actually excommunicates people for impenitent adultery, cohabitation before marriage, apostasy, and other sins. Yours doesn’t, at least not anymore.

  267. Robert,

    The Catholic Church teaches that an infant, upon a valid baptism, has surely entered “into Christ”, has been transited from being “in Adam” to being “in Christ”, has been set free from the power and dominion of Satan, and is cleansed and purified from sin. However, you must realize that for historic Christianity, baptism and entrance into Christ is one’s entrance into the flight from Egypt to the Promise Land, and so the war is not over.

    Unfortunately, in our modern day, many Catholics just baptize their babies, and take no measure of catechesis and formal instruction on how to live as a disciple of Jesus, and so the “good work” that was begun is quickly tossed into the trash, and the blood is upon the sponsors (Parents). That child is ejected from being in a “state of grace”, and is cut off from Christ. Growing up in sin and licentiousness, he/she is to be judged accordingly.

    In fact, the CC teaches that simply be being baptized, sacramentalized, and institutionalized, does not in fact ensure that one will escape the fires of hell or the judgement of God. If one does not persevere in charity, all the way to the very end, he/she will not only be destined for the abyss, but he/she will be more severely punished or tormented.

    With regard to people just leaving the Church communion over small matters. Confessionally, you believe in some criterion for unity, which is the Spirit-illuminated gospel of Jesus, however, practically, if one deviates on these issues, then it is ok to break Church Communion. In fact, at that point, the visible Church ceases to carry that genuine name, and those who separate would constitute the “church” in that movement.

    Historic Christianity has never understood “Church” in this way. The is a guise of visibility, but in essence, it is truly invisible, and transitory. It can collapse in one place, resurrect in another, go into apostacy all together at another point, just to be resurrected by another group at a different time, and despite the difference in theology, as long as these divergent groups adhere to some small core of “essentials”, these carry the genuine title of being the “body of Christ”, since they are dogmatic on sola fide, sola scriptura, etc,etc,etc.

    Historic Christianity has always understood that the “Church” is a divine thing, and therefore cannot be re-capitulated or “started up” by mere natural will and decision. In order to have a Church “planted”, there must be a special annointing of the Holy Spirit upon certain individuals who can carry the proper unifying and sacramental orders who can reside at that location, giving that location the legitimacy of what is genuine to the “Church”. The Lord Jesus ordained the 12 Apostles, giving them the Holy Spirit, which gave the power to “forgive” and “retain” sins. The Apostles could not have just gone around “preaching the truth”. They needed to be endowed with a specific order of the divine, something from the Spirit, which could impart the graces won from the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

    So in the same way, each local Church community cannot differentiate, in its inception, from the inception of the Apostolic ministry, which included the natural selection of men, the teaching/formation of those men, and then a special ordination which applies a special annointing of the Holy Spirit to administer the sacraments and the word of life. Then and only then is there a local Church residing in a location given.

    I will present this a bit more seriously. If you drove to a made up town called “Hopka”, and within this little town there were only two places where a community of people gathered together and called it “Church”. Community #1 is a baptistic community of believers that was started through a couple of families who devoted themselves to the gospel and evangelism. Community #2 is a simple Catholic parish that was started with 1 Bishop, 1 Priest, 1 Deacon, and no one else. In the current state of affairs, community #1 has a thriving set of 100 congregants who are “on fire” for the Lord, who daily read the Scriptures, who go out Evangelizing door-to-door, they have prayer groups, etc,etc,etc. However, in community #2, the Catholic Parish, currently has no members at all, but they do weekly devote themselves, especially on the Lord’s Day, to the Liturgy and the Mass/Eucharist.

    In the above scenario, no matter how “on fire” and “full of life” the Baptist community is (Community #1), they do not retain the special properties that was there, in fullness, with the Apostolic Church. No one has “received” the properties of the Holy Spirit in order to confect that which is supernatural to the congregants. In fact, they “took it upon themselves” and “ordained themselves”, and thus they are not in continuity with that single stream from which comes to special annointing of the Holy spirit to enable to the body of Christ to be offered Sunday’s, the power to retain or pardon sins, and the power to preach the full gospel.

    So, in essence, the only option for Community #1 to “enter the Church”, would be to attend the Church of the validaly ordained men of Community #2, despite the “lack of life” in Community #2. Hope this clears up some misunderstanding.

  268. Nick,

    You stopped me in my tracks…need a day or two to consider your challenge…FYI, I’m not a paedobaptist for some of the reasons you raised in this thread

  269. Eric Y.,

    The Catholic Church teaches that an infant, upon a valid baptism, has surely entered “into Christ”, has been transited from being “in Adam” to being “in Christ”, has been set free from the power and dominion of Satan, and is cleansed and purified from sin. However, you must realize that for historic Christianity, baptism and entrance into Christ is one’s entrance into the flight from Egypt to the Promise Land, and so the war is not over.

    Unfortunately, in our modern day, many Catholics just baptize their babies, and take no measure of catechesis and formal instruction on how to live as a disciple of Jesus, and so the “good work” that was begun is quickly tossed into the trash, and the blood is upon the sponsors (Parents). That child is ejected from being in a “state of grace”, and is cut off from Christ. Growing up in sin and licentiousness, he/she is to be judged accordingly.

    In fact, the CC teaches that simply be being baptized, sacramentalized, and institutionalized, does not in fact ensure that one will escape the fires of hell or the judgement of God. If one does not persevere in charity, all the way to the very end, he/she will not only be destined for the abyss, but he/she will be more severely punished or tormented.

    I understand all that, but my question remains. The person who is baptized and stays in the church, receives all the sacraments but not in faith, leads a good life, is an active member of his parish not because he really believes in Christ but just because he thinks religion is a good thing, and never tells his priest or anyone else this. He is not united to the visible church in any true sense? Why is he not taken off the membership rolls?

    I don’t know how many times I can say it, but the invisible/visible church exists primarily to talk about the situation of that person. Don’t praise the RC nature of the visible church when it can’t do anything about this person or at least it can’t do anything more about it than Protestants can.

    With regard to people just leaving the Church communion over small matters. Confessionally, you believe in some criterion for unity, which is the Spirit-illuminated gospel of Jesus, however, practically, if one deviates on these issues, then it is ok to break Church Communion. In fact, at that point, the visible Church ceases to carry that genuine name, and those who separate would constitute the “church” in that movement.

    The fact that we might allow some people to depart in peace doesn’t make it correct to divide the church over any matter one might wish. It just means that we don’t think it is right to kill people for their religious opinions, an option that, I’m all too sad to say, is a relatively recent one.

    Historic Christianity has never understood “Church” in this way. The is a guise of visibility, but in essence, it is truly invisible, and transitory. It can collapse in one place, resurrect in another, go into apostacy all together at another point, just to be resurrected by another group at a different time, and despite the difference in theology, as long as these divergent groups adhere to some small core of “essentials”, these carry the genuine title of being the “body of Christ”, since they are dogmatic on sola fide, sola scriptura, etc,etc,etc.

    Except that John in the first few chapters of revelation says that a church’s lamp stand can be taken away if it continues in apostasy, so yes the historic church has believed that a church can die out in one place, be resurrected in another, etc. etc.

    Historic Christianity has always understood that the “Church” is a divine thing, and therefore cannot be re-capitulated or “started up” by mere natural will and decision. In order to have a Church “planted”, there must be a special annointing of the Holy Spirit upon certain individuals who can carry the proper unifying and sacramental orders who can reside at that location, giving that location the legitimacy of what is genuine to the “Church”. The Lord Jesus ordained the 12 Apostles, giving them the Holy Spirit, which gave the power to “forgive” and “retain” sins. The Apostles could not have just gone around “preaching the truth”. They needed to be endowed with a specific order of the divine, something from the Spirit, which could impart the graces won from the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

    1. Protestants do not deny that the church is a divine thing.
    2. The initial Protestant leaders were, by and large, properly ordained men.
    3. The New Testament warns that some who carry the proper sacramental orders can actually be false teachers. What happens when the church in a proper locale has one of these men who openly teaches heresy and the church does nothing about it?
    4. No one is talking about starting a church by natural will.

    So in the same way, each local Church community cannot differentiate, in its inception, from the inception of the Apostolic ministry, which included the natural selection of men, the teaching/formation of those men, and then a special ordination which applies a special annointing of the Holy Spirit to administer the sacraments and the word of life. Then and only then is there a local Church residing in a location given.

    So a couple of Arab families in Saudi Arabia happen to stumble upon Bibles (left there, no doubt, by a Protestant Bible society) and they are converted. They can’t leave their country. It is also illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity, so they can’t contact a RC bishop (assuming they would want to, I’m still waiting for the person who read a Bible, believed in Jesus, and then said, I need to go find the Roman bishop). The only recourse they have is to gather in secret for worship, and so they form a church. Do you really want to tell me that this group is sinning, because that is basically what you are saying with the idea that the only valid church is a church with this particular view of episcopacy?

    I will present this a bit more seriously. If you drove to a made up town called “Hopka”, and within this little town there were only two places where a community of people gathered together and called it “Church”. Community #1 is a baptistic community of believers that was started through a couple of families who devoted themselves to the gospel and evangelism. Community #2 is a simple Catholic parish that was started with 1 Bishop, 1 Priest, 1 Deacon, and no one else. In the current state of affairs, community #1 has a thriving set of 100 congregants who are “on fire” for the Lord, who daily read the Scriptures, who go out Evangelizing door-to-door, they have prayer groups, etc,etc,etc. However, in community #2, the Catholic Parish, currently has no members at all, but they do weekly devote themselves, especially on the Lord’s Day, to the Liturgy and the Mass/Eucharist.

    In the above scenario, no matter how “on fire” and “full of life” the Baptist community is (Community #1), they do not retain the special properties that was there, in fullness, with the Apostolic Church. No one has “received” the properties of the Holy Spirit in order to confect that which is supernatural to the congregants. In fact, they “took it upon themselves” and “ordained themselves”, and thus they are not in continuity with that single stream from which comes to special annointing of the Holy spirit to enable to the body of Christ to be offered Sunday’s, the power to retain or pardon sins, and the power to preach the full gospel.

    So, in essence, the only option for Community #1 to “enter the Church”, would be to attend the Church of the validaly ordained men of Community #2, despite the “lack of life” in Community #2. Hope this clears up some misunderstanding.

    That’s a nice example. Let’s make it a bit more realistic.

    Here is a list of known “gay-affirming” RC parishes:

    http://www.newwaysministry.org/gfp.html

    Here is another that has one group for gay men to meet in an affirming environment and one group for lesbians to do the same. It also has a group that practices zen meditation, and it recommends that parishioners visit the PBS site for “From Jesus to Christ.” (Which teaches what can only be described as a heretical view of Jesus.)

    In your hypothetical town, you only have a baptistic church and a RC Church like the one I just mentioned. What is the option of the baptists in that town?

    Another example—Athanasius was kicked out of his episcopate by the visible church several times. His parishioners continued to submit to him as bishop. Why were they not wrong in doing so if the church removed him?

    This is where the RC stress on their particular version of the visible church breaks down entirely.

    Aside from that, your response basically assumes that it is impossible for the visible church to go apostate. I know that is what RC believes, but it is by no means a teaching of the NT, as noted in the threat to take away the lamp stand and others. It is a belief that is purely fideistic, which is fine as long as you guys recognize it for what it is.

  270. @Robert:

    That Augustine taught double predestination is so clear that some of you on here have had to say that he basically didn’t mean it or that he was being inconsistent with his “principles.” To that I just have to say “whatever”. You all are just proving our point that all theologians are mixed bag and you must take the wheat and discard the chaff.

    Augustine flat out did not believe in (positive) double predestination. He believed in the massa damnata and damnibilis, which is not the same thing. You say “that’s Calvinism,” and yet it factually isn’t. You have the facts presented to them, but you don’t read or make any effort to understand them. Augustine’s view was different from Calvinism in principle, but it was only different from Catholicism by accident. That’s an important distinction, and it’s one that we can make historically.

    A competent interpreter discards wheat and chaff based on what the person being interpreted would have considered wheat and chaff. An incompetent interpreter discards based on what the interpreter would consider wheat and chaff. The historical evidence says what Augustine’s principles were and what he believed only by accident (due to mistake or misinterpretation). In other words, if this problem were pointed out to him, then even he would say it was a mistake. I don’t even need to appeal to the Magisterium for that conclusion; that’s just honest interpretation. I can do the same with theologians who did have errors in principle, such as Origen and Theodoret of Cyrus. This is not magical. Not all errors are created equal.

    The problem with your “mixed bag” statement is that you’re confusing authority with accuracy, and you make an ad hoc exception for the Scriptural authors and the Apostles. We can certainly interpret Scripture in exactly the same way we would interpret any other theologian; that’s what scholars do when determining the literal interpretation. But to make the Apostles’ assertions authoritative, one must reply on a visible authority in continuity with them, a visible church. The appeal to Scriptural authority without a visible church authority is vain. Essentially, Protestants don’t get to claim the authority of Scripture, because they’ve denied the basis for claiming Scriptural authority in the first place: the Church.

    It’s not a question of the “home office.” It’s a question of a visible body having continuity of authority with the apostolic deposit of faith. If individual churches are the loci of authority and if any individual church can lose its authority, then none of them have authority. Like theologians, they are a “mixed bag.” Continuity of authority only works if there is a collective sense in which authority is *always* retained and never fails, against which the failures of both individuals and local churches can be judged. Otherwise, there’s no possibility of authority, not even for Scripture. Hence, the Protestant claim to follow the authority of Scripture but not the visible church is inherently inconsistent; it’s claiming two things that can’t possibly be true. Only people who accept the authority of the church can validly appeal to the authority of Scripture.

  271. Jonathan,

    Augustine flat out did not believe in (positive) double predestination. He believed in the massa damnata and damnibilis, which is not the same thing. You say “that’s Calvinism,” and yet it factually isn’t.

    Sorry, you are wrong on this. The idea that there is a massa damnata and that God passes over some of them and elects others to salvation is what most Calvinists have believed when they talk about double predestination. Further, if you elect some to salvation then by definition you are predestinating the non-elect to damnation, at least in a passive sense.

    You have the facts presented to them, but you don’t read or make any effort to understand them. Augustine’s view was different from Calvinism in principle, but it was only different from Catholicism by accident. That’s an important distinction, and it’s one that we can make historically.

    Wrong again. Augustine taught the essential Calvinistic concept of the two wills in God, as well as the fact that God can will something that evil men will and yet he is not morally culpable. Go read the Enchridion. I quoted it for you in the other thread. You aren’t right on his “principles.” You are picking what you like and what you think is compatible with his “principles” and then ignoring the rest. Then you have the audacity to tell us what Augustine would have thought was chaff.

    A competent interpreter discards wheat and chaff based on what the person being interpreted would have considered wheat and chaff. An incompetent interpreter discards based on what the interpreter would consider wheat and chaff. The historical evidence says what Augustine’s principles were and what he believed only by accident (due to mistake or misinterpretation). In other words, if this problem were pointed out to him, then even he would say it was a mistake. I don’t even need to appeal to the Magisterium for that conclusion; that’s just honest interpretation. I can do the same with theologians who did have errors in principle, such as Origen and Theodoret of Cyrus. This is not magical. Not all errors are created equal.

    Again, wrong. We know what Augustine considered chaff in his thinking, and that is found in his retractions. You are presuming to read Augustine’s mind based solely on what you think his principles were. You don’t know what Augustine would have rejected had his “error” been pointed out to him. You also presume that the principle that God cannot do evil means God cannot ordain evil, which is wrong. Read the Enchiridion. Augustine was saying that God can will evil in a non-morally-responsible sense long before Calvin and Westminster were.

    The problem with your “mixed bag” statement is that you’re confusing authority with accuracy, and you make an ad hoc exception for the Scriptural authors and the Apostles. We can certainly interpret Scripture in exactly the same way we would interpret any other theologian; that’s what scholars do when determining the literal interpretation. But to make the Apostles’ assertions authoritative, one must reply on a visible authority in continuity with them, a visible church. The appeal to Scriptural authority without a visible church authority is vain. Essentially, Protestants don’t get to claim the authority of Scripture, because they’ve denied the basis for claiming Scriptural authority in the first place: the Church.

    Pure assertion. And it means that God’s voice had no authority before the time of Jesus. Abraham had no visible church to confirm God’s voice. Heck, even the Apostles didn’t; they had Jesus who was a self-autenticating authority. You guys make the church self-authenticating, displacing Christ speaking through His Word from the place he deserves.

    The Church doesn’t make the Apostle’s assertions authoritative, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit does. Regardless of whether you submit to Scripture or not, it has authority. In the temporal sphere, you need a visible church to enforce the authority on the human-human level, but the visible church’s failure to do so does not mean Scripture has no authority.

    It’s not a question of the “home office.” It’s a question of a visible body having continuity of authority with the apostolic deposit of faith.

    Which is determined not merely by the laying on of hands but by reflecting what that deposit is. The only deposit we have is Scripture. If you have laying on of hands but you have heresy, you don’t have authority.

    And until Rome stops seeing the East as schismatics, then yes, you have a one home office view of authority.

    If individual churches are the loci of authority and if any individual church can lose its authority, then none of them have authority. Like theologians, they are a “mixed bag.” Continuity of authority only works if there is a collective sense in which authority is *always* retained and never fails, against which the failures of both individuals and local churches can be judged.

    It’s called Scripture, primarily, and secondarily the continuity of witnesses within the church itself. Which is why all of the Magisterial Reformers turned to men such as Augustine as partial vindication of their claims.

    Otherwise, there’s no possibility of authority, not even for Scripture. Hence, the Protestant claim to follow the authority of Scripture but not the visible church is inherently inconsistent; it’s claiming two things that can’t possibly be true. Only people who accept the authority of the church can validly appeal to the authority of Scripture.

    Protestants follow the visible church. They deny that Rome is that visible church or, for the more ecumenically minded, at least that it is the only visible church. Rome isn’t the church Christ founded, at least it isn’t any more or less than my local Reformed church is.

  272. Robert,

    I see you have been carefully avoiding presenting Scriptural proof for the visible/invisible distinction. I’m going to keep calling you out on that because that aspect is what ultimately matters, everything else is tangential.

    Whether you realize it or not, I’ve been in these kinds of discussions enough to know that Protestants often will go on and on about tangential issues in order to take the spotlight off of the inconvenient truth that a doctrine they espouse doesn’t really have Biblical support.

  273. Robert,

    Thanks for your responses.

    To the person who is baptized and remains visibly united to the visible Church through outward sacraments, but who is neither inwardly participating nor interiorly alive in Christ, is simply a dead member of the Church, one of bad fish that happens to subsist in the same net, but which will nevertheless be removed at the final appearing of the kingdom with the coming of the Son of Man. The Catholic Church, at the moment, contains sinners and saints, and the eschatological kingdom will reveal the hearts and sustain the saints. In a very real way, the very mystery of the kingdom that Jesus intended to teach us was that the eschatological kingdom is semi-hidden by the fact that some, and not all, are good fish, wise builders, wise virgins, good fruit bearers, and true keepers of god’s commandments. Part of the glory of the eschatological kingdom is the full revelation of that promise in Jeremiah, that at that point in time, no one will not know the Lord (Jer 30-33).

    Christ removing the lampstand can be an eschatological judgement, just as the other judgemnents of his coming to wage war against the churches. However, if it can be considered a temporal judgement, that is still compatible with what I wrote.

    Regarding the Saudi Arabian family. This is, of course, a very unique situation, and therefore comes with high sophistication. It would be similar to the Jew who asks about the gentiles who lived in the outward parts of the world outside the confines of the revealed covenant with Israel. The Church has had much time to dwell on this question, and VII makes it clear that God is not restricted by the sacraments, nor the visible organization of the Church. And therefore, we would say that it is possible, that these people, through their good will, are annointed with the Spirit to have the life of Christ inside of them, and therefore the subsequent hope of glory. However, this would not mean that they lack nothing. For goodness sakes, even the island of Crete was “lacking bishops”, and this is why St. Paul commissioned Titus, precisely because bishops are essential to the Church, and without them, there is something essential lacking.

    With regard to the gay Church, I believe that this would be a situation of heresy/schism from the visible head of the Church, who has never condoned or expressed this teaching. Therefore attending this parish would be equivalent of attending any other heretical “churches” in the world.

  274. I don’t go for the ‘win by wearing out the opposing side’. It’s not how true apologetics is done. That’s more how Islamic apologetics is done. I know from experience that the Catholic side typically has the upper hand in a given argument when the Catholic consistently calls for exegesis and focus on the Scripture while the Protestant side will do anything to avoid Scripture.

  275. Jonathan–

    From Father William Most:

    (St. Augustine/On predestination)

    Predestination is an arrangement of Providence to see someone gets either full membership in the Church, or gets to heaven. All early writers, East and West, tended to telescope the two. Scripture speaks always and only of predestination to full membership in Church. Only two passages, Rom 8:9ff and Ephesians chapter 1. In Romans, all of chapters 8, 9, 10, 11 mention predestination and they are on membership in Church. Ephesians 1 is too. There are of course things that are implications relative to predestination to heaven.

    Basic question: does God decide to predestine to heaven with or without looking at a man’s merits or demerits? All in the past have taken for granted that if He decides to predestine to heaven without looking, He does same for negative reprobation (letting one go). Or He decides both with looking.

    Both views give impossible consequences. Augustine wants to make both decisions, favorable and unfavorable be given without looking. Easterners reject negative reprobation without looking at demerits.

    The Eastern Fathers, absolutely all of them, and Westerners before Augustine, and even after him, saw that there is no reprobation, not even negative, except in consideration of demerits. Augustine did not see that, and the unfortunate massa damnata theory, which said the whole human race by original sin became a massa damnata et damnabilis: God could throw the whole damned race into hell for original sin alone, without waiting for any personal sin.

    God wanted to display mercy and justice. To display mercy, He chose a small percent to rescue; the rest He deserted and so they would go to hell.

    He thought God picked those to rescue blindly, without any consideration of how they lived. He picked them not that He had any love for them, but merely to make a point. Augustine did not see it, but that was a denial of God’s love. For to love is to will good to another for the other’s sake. If I will good to another not for that other’s sake, but for some outside purpose of mine, I am not loving that person, but using him.

    So in that theory, God does not really love anyone, He merely uses the few for His own purposes, not for their sake. Hence, as we shall son see, he explicitly denied several times that “God wills all to be saved: (1 Tim 2:4) . He even said, as we shall soon see below, that it means nothing to God that most persons are damned, without a chance.

    Of course Augustine did not see this fact, or he would surely have stayed away from his theory. Actually, as we shall see later on, in about six places he implies the opposite of that theory, when his sense of God’s goodness took over his thinking.

    Further, he reached this theory from a collection of reasons, chiefly, the fact that he misunderstood the passage in Romans 8:29 through chapter 11. He thought it all referred to predestination to heaven or hell. (Hence, within that framework, he thought that the words of Romans 9:13,”I have loved Jacob and hated Esau” meant that God really hated Esau. And without even looking at Esau’s life wanted to damn him) . Actually, St. Paul does not speak of any such thing, but only of predestination to full membership in the Church. (We will; explain below why we use that word full) . By allegory—without any support in the text or context, he thought that in the image of the potter in Romans 9:19-24 the gob of clay on the potter’s table meant the whole human race, made into a massa damnata et damnabilis by original sin.

    **************************************

    Sounds pretty close to supralapsarianism to me, Jonathan. It is clearly closer to Calvinism than any of the various Catholic soteriologies. (And as Robert observed, a high percentage of modern-day Calvinists are infralapsarian…no double predestination.)

    Of course, Fr. Most comes across in some of his commentary as a complete and utter knucklehead, so perhaps he is mistaken in his evaluation of St. Augustine.

  276. Nick–

    I am fast losing all respect for you. When we do give you Scripture, you brush it away without reflection, giving your talking-points reply that reveals your simplistic interpretation garnered from peering through those dogma-colored spectacles of yours. I’m not going to bother to do serious exegesis with someone who isn’t the slightest bit serious himself about ecumenical dialogue! (At least you’re not as bad as Fr. Most!)

  277. Nick,

    I don’t go for the ‘win by wearing out the opposing side’. It’s not how true apologetics is done. That’s more how Islamic apologetics is done. I know from experience that the Catholic side typically has the upper hand in a given argument when the Catholic consistently calls for exegesis and focus on the Scripture while the Protestant side will do anything to avoid Scripture.

    I’ll second what Eric said. We’ve seen no exegesis from you, and we’re still trying to figure out what is wrong with saying that there are some people who are members of the local RC parish and thus part of the RC Church and yet not in the invisible church because they don’t have faith.

    I’m not trying to avoid the argument as much as trying to figure out what the argument is. There are scores of passages. You mentioned the one from first John but then go on about how it proves too much without any real justification. Whether the people snuck in on purpose or not, the author of 1 John clearly regards them as at one point being part of the community and yet not truly part of the community at the same time. Saying that they were sent out by the Apostles or that the verse doesn’t mean you can just up and go join another church might well be true, but it is irrelevant for the distinction. Paul says not all Israel are Israel. If he can call the entire body of Jews Israel and at the same time say they are not Israel, you have to explain why.

    I still don’t know what your problem is. According to RC theology, I’m united imperfectly to the church. I’m certainly not united to the visible RC Church, which I reject. The only church I can be united to is the invisible church.

  278. Eric,

    Sounds pretty close to supralapsarianism to me, Jonathan. It is clearly closer to Calvinism than any of the various Catholic soteriologies.

    You need to read Jonathan’s response again. He knows what Augustine really believed, and apparently he didn’t believe anything that reeks of Calvinism. That would be too damaging for the RC narrative.

  279. Nick–

    Look, to argue against invisibility, you’re going to have to argue against Catholic dogma. The fact that the Church Triumphant is a subset of the Church Militant shows that invisibility is a given. You guys speak of wheat and tares almost constantly. We shouldn’t complain about Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius because, as self-evident tares, they have excommunicated themselves. They have no real part in the holy invisible church that actually takes the catechism to heart. Those lovely ladies are still physically sitting in Roman pews; they have not been visibly excommunicated (i.e, constrained from partaking in the elements). They’re members of the visible church. They’re fooling no one, however, as to where their loyalties lie: they have committed themselves to secular “wisdom” and have rejected church teaching.

    The argument between us has to do with which takes preeminence: the visible or the invisible? Which is the more debilitating sin for the church: heresy or schism? (Which virtue is more sacrosanct: purity or unity?) It is pretty clear that for you all, if there are five faithful Catholics somewhere in the hinterlands of the planet, and there is a deposit of orthodox teachings locked away somewhere in the recesses of a subterranean Vatican vault, and a few duly ordained (even if apostate) clergy, then all is good to go. You’ll forgive us if we find that view of the church horrific.

  280. Robert,

    The crux of the issue is that while bishops are able to enter into heresy/schism with the Church, and therefore a local Church can fall away, the bishop of Rome is protected from heresy, and therefore cannot lose its visibility ever. In other words, the foundation of a building can never be broken down without breaking the whole structure down, but it is possible to take pieces from the top structure and rebuild it with new material. The Papal office, according to the CC, is the foundation of the Church, for the office is protected by the Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

  281. Eric Y.,

    The crux of the issue is that while bishops are able to enter into heresy/schism with the Church, and therefore a local Church can fall away, the bishop of Rome is protected from heresy, and therefore cannot lose its visibility ever. In other words, the foundation of a building can never be broken down without breaking the whole structure down, but it is possible to take pieces from the top structure and rebuild it with new material. The Papal office, according to the CC, is the foundation of the Church, for the office is protected by the Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

    But then this is reduced to special pleading. The pope can teach whatever heresy he likes in his encyclicals, and there’s going to be a “well, he wasn’t teaching in an OFFICIAL capacity.” That’s an extremely narrow view of infallibility, and it’s one that you guys can’t even agree on. Conservative, orthodox RCs don’t have a set list of what is infallible and what isn’t, and then on top of that you have disagreements with all the liberals in the church that Rome ignores.

    Then, of course, there are all the medieval popes who had mistresses, conspired to put their own children on the throne after them etc. There’s the period of the three popes when it took a council to figure out which one was the right pope—and none of them qualified. So apparently, at one point in Western history, there was no true pope. Where was the office then?

    Papal primacy and indefectability is just not credible in light of the actual historical record.

  282. Eric,

    You said:

    I am fast losing all respect for you. When we do give you Scripture, you brush it away without reflection, giving your talking-points reply that reveals your simplistic interpretation garnered from peering through those dogma-colored spectacles of yours. I’m not going to bother to do serious exegesis with someone who isn’t the slightest bit serious himself about ecumenical dialogue!

    I have interacted with the Scriptures you gave, and in fact I pointed out how you were the one making simplistic assertions that were really quite problematic when I examined them. I ask anyone who doubts my integrity to simply look back at my response on June 24, 2014 at 3:32 pm where I addressed your texts. Unless I’m mistaken, you have yet to respond to my interaction of those texts.

    When Jesus said “I have sheep not of this fold,” you want me to simply bow to your assertion that this refers to invisible church? Exegetes throughout history have always understood this to *plainly* refer to the Gentiles who were to be evangelized later on.

    Others such as Robert have not given Scripture (at least to my knowledge), and Eric W has recently admitted he has more reflection to do after I responded to his key prooftext of John 17:20-21. So your claim that “we” Reformed have been giving me Scripture is not accurate, or at least misleading.

    To tout that you’re “losing respect” for me is quite baffling, since *I* have been appealing to Scripture and engaging the limited amount of proof texts being offered. I’m the one begging *you* for exegesis of your alleged Biblical teaching of invisible Church.

  283. Nick,

    As is so often the case with your analysis, by focusing on a single word instead of the concept, you miss out on what the Scripture is telling you. You may search as you like for the word “eccelsia,” but by doing so, you do not get the full meaning of the concept of Church as the Bride of Christ. You simply get the full semantic spectrum of the word “ecclesia.” There are many passages that speak of the church, but do not use “ecclesia.” Among them are these:

    “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Romans 11:5)

    “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:6)

    “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Revelation 12:6)

    “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8)

    “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

    “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

    These all tell you something of the church, do they not? And yet none use the word, “ecclesia.” I would encourage you to consider such verses as these in your analysis of the concept of “the church.”

    Best regards,

    Tim

  284. Robert,

    You said:

    We’ve seen no exegesis from you …

    From me? I’ve brought up numerous passages and showed how they say nothing of invisible Church. Where is *your* exegesis? I haven’t seen you mention any Biblical texts!

    There are scores of passages.

    If there are scores of passage, then by all means present them! Like I said, from years of experience, I know that when I have to *beg* for them to give me texts of Scripture that it’s *typically* a sign they’re in evasion mode.

    You mentioned the one from first John but then go on about how it proves too much without any real justification. Whether the people snuck in on purpose or not, the author of 1 John clearly regards them as at one point being part of the community and yet not truly part of the community at the same time. Saying that they were sent out by the Apostles or that the verse doesn’t mean you can just up and go join another church might well be true, but it is irrelevant for the distinction.

    That’s a pretty serious caricature of what I actually said. I mentioned 1 Jn 2:19 because I’ve found that’s the most common text the Reformed appeal to. In other words, *I have* done my homework and *I have* been proactive in being the one to present this text from the very start, and *I have* presented a case against the Reformed assertion. Until now, I’m not aware of any Reformed addressing this verse and my take on it.

    I showed that the phrase “went out from us” does not refer to falling away from visible communion, but rather refers to taking on the appearance of being genuinely sent by the Apostles. John is not “clearly” regarding them as at one point being part of the community, that’s the very assumption I originally challenged (and refuted)!

    Paul says not all Israel are Israel. If he can call the entire body of Jews Israel and at the same time say they are not Israel, you have to explain why.

    I addressed this in my response to Eric on June 22, 2014 at 8:48 am. He responded by basically acknowledging Infant Baptism cannot be true, which is a logical reply but disastrous to Reformed Infant Baptism teaching.

  285. Robert,

    I understand your frustration.

    But there are a couple of things you are ignoring here.

    1) It is not simply a matter of “Oh, well he wasn’t teaching infallibly”. This ignore that extreme injury that is done to the Church via any Pope who endorses heresy, even outside of his official capacity. It makes people stumble, and sends souls to hell. Depending on the heresy, material or not, that individual Pope will be culpable for eternal damnation, especially for those whom he caused to stumble. Understand, the individual man in the Papal Office can incur the indignant wrath of God.

    2) The whole Church cannot count on one hand how many times this has happened in history. If you can find one situation where the conditions are normal, it still ignores the fact that the Catholic Church does not just say “oh well, he wasn’t speaking ex cathedra”. No, it matters greatly. And it can cause great harm to the Church. We do not pray for these things to happen.

    3) The ugliness of the Papacy has its moments, as does the history of Israel, and all will be squared away at the judgement of God. Although, God does send special times of renewal and repentance, where the whole church can look back and be remorseful for certain times of darkness. Remember, the mystery of the kingdom is the ground upon which the word fall upon, and even there, it is 3/4ths soil for wickedness and apostacy.

  286. Nick,

    You haven’t done any competent exegesis. Saying that there are 112 appearances of the word ecclesia in the Bible and they all refer to the visible church, therefore no visible church will get you laughed out of hermeneutics classrooms in both Protestant and RC seminaries. Timothy is exactly right.

    I showed that the phrase “went out from us” does not refer to falling away from visible communion, but rather refers to taking on the appearance of being genuinely sent by the Apostles. John is not “clearly” regarding them as at one point being part of the community, that’s the very assumption I originally challenged (and refuted)!

    You refuted nothing. John doesn’t say “they didn’t really go out from us,” he says, matter of factly, that they did go out from us.

    And again, we’re still waiting for you to explain how the RC Church doesn’t teach this invisible/visible distinction. According to your doctrine, I’m united to your church, but I’m not a member of the visible RC Church. We’ve brought up the Pelosi argument again and again. By what authority can you tell me she’s not a member of the visible RC Church when her bishop hasn’t kicked her out.

    The whole argument is inane and it doesn’t even fit with Rome’s understanding of itself vis a vis Protestants. If we’re truly united, if imperfectly, to Rome, the only way we CAN be united is invisibly.

  287. Protestant Eric,
    “dogma-colored spectacles of yours.”

    And you approach scripture without any spectacles? No Systematic Theology? No WCF?

  288. Timothy,

    I completely agree with you that we can and should look at texts which don’t use a specific word but are still speaking on a given subject. But first things first: the Bible uses the term “Church” about 110 times! Let’s start there, shall we? Which of these *one hundred* verses mentioning “Church” clearly refers to “Church” as an invisible institution? The fact I have to be the one to point out this crucial bit of information suggests Catholics are only the ones who truly care about Scripture.

    If you want to concede that none of the 110 verses that use “Church” clearly refer to invisible Church, then please concede that fact and let’s move onto your other texts.

    And if you feel the need to bring up texts which don’t use the term “Church” but are clearly speaking of Church, then please include some exegesis of those texts showing they must refer to invisible Church, otherwise at most it proves that the Bible sometimes speaks of the *visible* Church without actually using the term “Church.”

  289. Eric,
    ” knucklehead”? Only a knucklehead would say that.

  290. Nick,

    As to your comment,

    “The fact I have to be the one to point out this crucial bit of information suggests Catholics are only the ones who truly care about Scripture…. And if you feel the need to bring up texts which don’t use the term “Church” but are clearly speaking of Church, then please include some exegesis of those texts showing they must refer to invisible Church…”

    My only point is that you clearly believe you have exhaustively examined the concept of the visible church by evaluating very use of “ecclesia.” But if you want to examine the concept of the visible church, you will need to include verses that refer to the church, but do not use “ecclesia.” I am neither affirming or rejecting your conclusions. I merely point out that your analysis is far from exhaustive. On that basis, it is indeed far from conclusive. I do love the Scriptures rather much. This is why I point out to you that your analysis is not nearly as exhaustive as you think it is.

    Thanks,

    Tim

  291. Nick,
    How did St. Paul excommunicate the adulterous guy in Corinthians if the Church is invisible? What kept the guy from just starting his own swingers’ church?

  292. Tim,

    The visible/invisible distinction is Protestant ‘dogma’, so the verses should be there and they should be plain.

    I don’t need to actually list all 110 verses and comment on each. I did go through all of them on my own and I **provided a link** for others to do so. In the vast majority of cases, it was clear that “Church” referred to a visible body. I saw nothing to suggest there was an invisible Church, so those asserting so need to prove it.

    The Westminster does indeed give verses: Eph 1:10, 22-23; 5:23,27,32, and Col 1:18. I originally pointed this out and I originally said that these verses don’t plainly teach an invisible Church, especially Eph 5:23ff.

    To me, your ‘neutrality’ on this issue suggests you know the exegetical bind the Reformed are in, otherwise you’d have stepped up with some force. You know the list of texts you gave don’t suggest invisible Church. The “woman” who fled underground in Revelation 12 signifies the invisible church fleeing underground? The invisible church going underground and whisked off to safety doesn’t make any sense.

  293. Jim–

    Yeah, I laughed my head off hearing that folks were predestined to “full membership in the church.” A number of other times in the same article, he would refer to how Augustine took things out of context, and then supply his own completely off-the-wall, utterly ludicrous solution. When one produces laughable screed, one is worthy of the “knucklehead” epithet. I apologize if he’s a favorite of yours. He’s certainly inventive and comedically amusing.

  294. Nick–

    Here’s my passage for us to analyze together:

    Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21.

    One of the major overarching themes of Scripture is God’s preference for the spirit over the letter, for mercy over sacrifice, for genuine heart religion over faithful performance of ritual.

    To me, invisibility is such a self-evident slam dunk that I cannot take your challenge to it seriously.

    Do you honestly believe that when Christ prayed for us to be one, he was more concerned that we would be under one structural umbrella than that we would be of one heart and one mind, disseminating one truth in love?

  295. Nick–

    Let me illustrate with a concrete example of what I’m talking about. A couple of years ago I was rear ended by a gal in an SUV. While we were chatting–waiting for an officer to arrive, we discovered that we were both Evangelicals. There was instant camaraderie, like a reunion…though we had never met. I’m sure it somewhat unnerved the traffic cop to see us conversing animatedly while they wrote it up. That was unity…meaningful unity.

    When I meet somebody from my home state, though we may have lived under the same governmental structure for much of our lives, there is often virtually nothing that we hold in common. Unless two Catholics are both Opus Dei, or both graduates of the same year at Marquette or Georgetown, or both volunteers in the same pro-life organization or something on that order…they may have little to nothing in common.

    If you and Nancy Pelosi got together, would it be like old-home week, or would other be awkward stiffness and nervous laughter? Nick and Nancy. Now there’s a real picture of unity for you. Nick and Nancy. Almost makes me tear up a little. Got a handkerchief handy?

  296. Eric,

    What you say concerning unity between you and the gal who rear ended you is compatible with Catholic Ecclesiology. It is a thing to remorse over when 2 Catholics do not have unity. But that does not remove the truth of the Apostolic Church of Christ.

  297. Jim–

    Yes, I have a systematic, my own personal hermeneutic perspective. It would be inane for me to deny that there are filters through which I read Scripture. The difference is that my perspective bends to the truth. It is not fixed in place by any human institution. It is not irreformable.

    Supply me with a superior argument, and I may well see it your way. If you were by chance to agree with me, your only choice is to apostatize. I can move TOWARD you on many issues. You, on the other hand, must repudiate everything you now hold, just to budge an inch. We are not equal as dialogue partners. You have your hands tied so securely that no option exists for you to negotiate in good faith. We are the ones who cannot help but be disappointed and frustrated in dialogue. Unless we convince you of all, we can convince you of nothing.

  298. Erick–

    I understand where you’re coming from. I dearly wish there were a church with both unity AND purity. It’s what the early church possessed, and it is that overlap which confuses people concerning the message of Scripture. We should be working toward that end. But we cannot even begin when one side has determined that it has all the answers.

    Structural unity only provides the appearance of unity. Devout Catholics who genuinely share the faith would have something similar to the unity I discussed, but that is only true because there is a church within your church. An invisible church of ideological unity.

  299. Nick,

    Ok, I know why my wires got crossed. You are not, in my opinion, presenting RC teaching on the invisible/visible distinction. This distinction is taught when the Church is viewed as a Sacrament.

    4. Ecclesial communion is at the same time both invisible and visible. As an invisible reality, it is the communion of each human being with the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit, and with the others who are fellow sharers in the divine nature(12), in the passion of Christ(13), in the same faith(14), in the same spirit(15). In the Church on earth, there is an intimate relationship between this invisible communion and the visible communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the hierarchical order. By means of these divine gifts, which are very visible realities, Christ carries out in different ways in history his prophetical, priestly and kingly function for the salvation of mankind(16). This link between the invisible and visible elements of ecclesial communion constitutes the Church as the Sacrament of salvation.

    From this sacramentality it follows that the Church is not a reality closed in on herself; rather, she is permanently open to missionary and ecumenical endeavour, for she is sent to the world to announce and witness, to make present and spread the mystery of communion which is essential to her: to gather together all people and all things into Christ(17); so as to be for all an “inseparable sacrament of unity”(18).

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_28051992_communionis-notio_en.html

    This is important for our discussion because (17) offers John 17: 21-23 as a note.
    ————————-

    You wrote:
    Nothing invisible about this; in fact, just the opposite is intended.

    Response:
    This comment prompted me to focus on the visible church found in John 17. How can you write “nothing invisible” knowing RC teaching on Church as Sacrament ?
    ———————–

    I wrote:
    The great thing about the oneness is election. The Apostles were “elect…gathered into one under Christ” WCF. The united body you mentioned was an elect body in Christ and the Father. Whatever visible body you wish to see from the verses MUST consist of elect ones. You cannot escape this conclusion.Since you affirm a visible body from the verses, then please identify this visible body of ELECT with the Apostles. You should stay away from John 17 because it proves too much for you

    Response:
    These comments don’t reflect my position. I wrote them for you because you denied the “invisible” in John 17.
    ———————-

    John 17: 20-21 gives us “believe” and “one” to signify the invisible. Since the Apostles are elect believers in union the Holy Trinity, then the “believers through their word” are elect believers. If “belief” can be lost, then you challenge the foundation of the oneness (vs. 21). The visible is present too. The oneness in the Apostles teaching is part of the visible church, so we have the invisible/visible DISTINCTION in these verses.

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