Saturday, August 23, 2008

Reading A Papacy Into The Bible

Truth Unites... and Divides wrote:

"Anyways, what does the RCC have to say regarding Origen's commentary on Matt 16:18?"

Different Catholics will respond in different ways. One Catholic might argue that Origen's comments aren't meant to deny that a papal reading of the passage is also appropriate, another Catholic might argue that Origen and other early sources don't have much relevance, because the understanding of the papacy hadn't developed sufficiently yet, and another Catholic might dismiss Origen's interpretation because he was a heretic. (However, Catholic apologists and the documents of the Catholic hierarchy often cite Origen. Any claim that Origen shouldn't be cited at all, because he's a heretic, is suspect on Roman Catholic grounds.) The Roman Catholic scholar Robert Eno wrote, "a plain recognition of Roman primacy or of a connection between Peter and the contemporary bishop of Rome seems remote from Origen's thoughts" (The Rise Of The Papacy [Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1990], p. 43). I've seen Catholics cite another passage in Origen that refers to Peter as a rock without referring to other Christians as such, but if Origen thought of all Christians as rocks, then it would follow that Peter is a rock. A reference to Peter as a rock doesn't prove that he was thought of as the only rock or that his unique status as such, if it were unique, has papal implications. No Christian should deny that Peter is a foundation stone of the church and a rock in other contexts, but the same can be said of other Christians (Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:5, Revelation 21:14).

The fact that Catholics are going to Matthew 16 to begin with is telling. The passage can more reasonably be interpreted in a non-papal manner. A papal interpretation requires reading multiple dubious assumptions into the text. See here.

Do we have to resort to something like a Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16 in order to find justification for the office of bishop or the office of deacon in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles? Not only are the offices mentioned (Acts 20:17, Philippians 1:1), but we also see repeated references to their appointment (Acts 14:23, Ephesians 4:11, Titus 1:5), their qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9), their discipline (1 Timothy 5:19-20), their responsibilities (Ephesians 4:12-13, Titus 1:10-11, James 5:14, 1 Peter 5:1-3), their reward (1 Timothy 5:17-18, 1 Peter 5:4), their rank (1 Corinthians 12:28), the submission due them (1 Timothy 2:11-12), etc. If there was an office that was to have jurisdictional primacy and infallibility throughout church history, an office that could be called the foundation of the church, wouldn't we expect it to be mentioned explicitly and often? But it isn't mentioned at all, even when the early sources are discussing Peter or the Roman church. In the New Testament, which covers about the first sixty years of church history (the prophecies in Revelation and elsewhere cover much more), there isn't a single Roman bishop mentioned or named, nor are there any admonitions to submit to the papacy or any references to appointing Popes, determining whether he's exercising his infallibility, appealing to him to settle disputes, etc. When speaking about the post-apostolic future, the apostles are concerned with bishops and teachers in general (Acts 20:28-31, 2 Timothy 2:2) and submission to scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 3:1-2, Revelation 22:18-19), but don't say a word about any papacy. The Catholic attempt to read a papacy into passages like Matthew 16 and John 21 has the appearance of revisionism.

If later generations had wanted to read a Pauline or Johannine papacy into the New Testament, they could have taken a Roman Catholic approach toward a passage like 2 Corinthians 11:28 or John's self-designation as "the elder", for example. But if a Pauline or Johannine papacy had been intended, we would expect much more to be said of it, both in terms of frequency and in terms of explicitness. The same is true of a Petrine papacy.

Since Petrine primacy of some type doesn't lead us to the conclusion of Roman primacy or primacy of a jurisdictional nature in particular, Catholics will sometimes cite a passage like Romans 1:8 in order to go beyond a mere Petrine primacy. But we could similarly cite something like Acts 20:28 or the fact that Revelation 2-3 cites the Ephesian church before any other church as evidence of an Ephesian primacy. Maybe Revelation 2:2 is meant to refer to the Ephesian church's role as the guardian of apostolic authority. I think that those of us who have had significant experience interacting with Roman Catholics can imagine what Catholics would make of a passage like 2 Corinthians 11:28, 2 John 1, Acts 20:28, or Revelation 2:1-2 if it had been directed at Peter, the bishops of Rome, or the Roman church.

And speaking of Origen, imagine what Catholics would make of the following passage in Origen if it had been said of Peter:

"I do not know how Celsus should have forgotten or not have thought of saying something about Paul, the founder, after Jesus, of the Churches that are in Christ." (Against Celsus, 1:63)

Since Origen mentions Paul instead of Peter, most Catholics probably haven't ever heard of this passage before, nor would they think it has papal implications. Elsewhere, Origen refers to somebody other than Christ as "the head of the Church" (Joseph Lienhard, translator, Origen: Homilies On Luke, Fragments On Luke [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 1996], pp. 138, 140). Is he referring to the bishop of Rome? No, he's referring to an angel.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is every Christian his own pope?

Catholics customarily object that Protestant theology makes every Christian his own pope. They also reprove Protestants for allegedly rejecting the traditional interpretation of Mt 16:18, and substituting a novel interpretation which no one in the early church would recognize.

Origen penned the first major commentary on Matthew. It’s interesting to see how he handles the leading prooftext for papal primacy:

[12:10] And if we too have said like Peter, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," not as if flesh and blood had revealed it unto us, but by light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, "Thou art Peter," etc. For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the church, add the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.

[12:11] But if you suppose that upon that one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, "The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it," hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, "Upon this rock I will build My church"? Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them? But if this promise, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," be common to the others, how shall not all the things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them? For in this place these words seem to be addressed as to Peter only, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven," etc; but in the Gospel of John the Saviour having given the Holy Spirit unto the disciples by breathing upon them said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," etc. Many then will say to the Saviour, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;" but not all who say this will say it to Him, as not at all having learned it by the revelation of flesh and blood but by the Father in heaven Himself taking away the veil that lay upon their heart, in order that after this "with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord" they may speak through the Spirit of God saying concerning Him, "Lord Jesus," and to Him, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And if any one says this to Him, not by flesh and blood revealing it unto Him but through the Father in heaven, he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to that Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches, to every one who becomes such as that Peter was. For all bear the surname of "rock" who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of the rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters.

Interacting with a Moral Government Theologian

Note: The following is a detailed response that I recently offered to a newfound acquaintance that holds to a heresy called Moral Government Theology (hereafter MGT). MGT is a real theological mess. It affirms Open Theism, denies mankind's solidarity with Adam, and adamantly promotes sinless perfectionism. There’s more theological error inherent in MGT, but those three tiers are the major heretical roots in the system that everything else flows from. I take this fellow to task pretty hard on his Openness views by reducing his position to absurdity by demonstrating that he is inconsistent with his own hermeneutic and thus should either (1) reject Open Theism on his own hermeneutical standards or (2) become consistent in his interpretations and start viewing God as a “big chicken man” with literal arms, wings, eyes, nostrils, etc.

I post this because it would be good to be familiar with MGT in general and open theism specifically if you have never wrangled with them before.


As to the various issues related to sinless perfectionism and our corporate solidarity with Adam, please take a look at a few short articles I wrote here, here, and here. These short articles were written in response to a kind fellow that, as far as I can tell, held to some very similar views that you do regarding the relationship of Adam's sin to our own as well as sinless perfectionism. We had a charitable discussion and I enjoyed interacting with him even though we still disagreed.

As to the issue of holding to Open Theism, I think that this doctrinal position paints a picture of a different god, and not the God of the Bible. Frankly, this is the biggest concern I have with your theology. I too believe that God knows all that can be known; however a sharp distinction must be drawn here as I believe this includes all things, past, present, and future (Job 37:16; Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 46:10; John 2:24-25; 16:30; 21:27; 1 John 3:20). However, there's more. Several passages tell us that God not only knows everything about everything that is, but He also knows everything that could be but is not. He knows all possible worlds even though He chose not to actualize those possibilities as part of His plan for His creation. These are things that were not planned to happen but would have happened had God planned the events of the universe differently (cf. Matthew 11:21-23). So, to say that not everything can be known, I believe causes the Scripture to contradict itself; However, I believe that this is impossible because I believe that Scripture is infallible. Because my time is limited, lets look at your reference to Genesis 22:12, which states, "He said, 'Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'"

The question before us is whether God literally did not know what Abraham's response would be until Abraham made it. Most Open Theists I've interacted with will say something like, "The verse has no clear meaning if God was certain that Abraham would fear him before he offered up his son." Then, they will cite several other Old Testament passages where God tests Israel "to know" whether they would fear God and serve Him. Then it is assumed that these passages cannot be reconciled with the view that God eternally knows exactly what will be in the heart of a person to do.

If we had no other information about God from Scripture regarding His nature and His eternal purposes other than Genesis 22:12 and some of the other passages you listed, then I agree that we would have to grant that these passages seem to teach that God's knowledge is growing and that God is learning things as history progresses. However, logically speaking, God cannot but know all things as certain, otherwise He would not be "perfect in knowledge" (Job 37:16). If God's foreknowledge were not eternal, then he must have learned something at some time. And if he learned it, then he must have previously been ignorant of it. If He had been ignorant and learned something, why could He not also forget something after a while? However, I do not believe that God learns or forgets. Does this mean that God did not know for sure what Abraham would do until He saw the raised knife? Does it also mean that God did not know whether or not Abraham feared Him as Genesis 22:12 states? But, the Open theist is presented with a problem because in Openness, God knows all the present completely and totally. If God knows all present things exhaustively, then did God not know the state of Abraham's heart regarding Abraham's reverent fear for God? How could He not? 1 Chronicles 28:9 says, ". . . for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts . . ." and Psalm 139:4, "Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all." Since God continually searches all hearts and presently knows even the intent of the heart, and exhaustively knows what words a man will speak even before the words are on the man's tongue, then surely He knew what the intent of Abraham's heart was during the three day journey to the place of sacrifice as well as whether or not Abraham feared Him. Again, He would have known that Abraham feared Him and the test was unnecessary to establish this fact.

It is important to also take note here that Genesis 22:5 says, "Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.'""He [Abraham] considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type." This is why comparing passage with passage is so important. This is because when you compare Scripture with Scripture, you learn that God must have known that Abraham was completely trusting in the Lord, or else, Scripture cannot be trusted because it contradicts itself. Nevertheless, in Abraham's case, we have some "behind the scenes" information supplied by the Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures. "He [Abraham] considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type" (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham's consideration that God is able to raise the dead must have existed before he lifted the knife, or else it would have had no bearing on his decision. For God to literally not know what Abraham would do, He would have had to be lacking knowledge of Abraham's heart and faith, which the book of Hebrews says motivated Abraham's obedience. As I've already iterated, this view must be rejected based on the clear teachings of Scripture. God is said to know the heart: "I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind" (Jeremiah 17:10a). In Acts 15:8 Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son and according to Hebrews 11:19, he expected the Lord to resurrect Isaac, , God is called the "heartknower" in the Greek. In many passages, He is said to judge according to the heart. Since given other passages of Scripture, God must have known Abraham's heart, and Abraham had faith in his heart that God could even raise the dead if necessary, God must have known what Abraham's decision would be. Therefore the clear teaching of Scripture demands that we do not take God's statement, "now I know" to be a literal declaration of previous ignorance but instead as an anthropopathism.

Because I believe that it is not consistent with the rest of Scripture to say that God did not know what was in Abraham's heart and that God did not know what Abraham would do, we can conclude that God was speaking to Abraham in terms that Abraham was familiar with. This is not at all foreign to the language of Scripture. In Genesis 3:9, after Adam's sin, God calls to Adam and asks "Where are you?" Are we to say that God did not know where Adam was in the garden? Of course not. To say such would contradict other clear passages that teach God's omnipresence, such as this one:

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there." Psalm 139:7-8

God makes statements often designed to reveal to us a truth that needs to be presented. In fact, God often asks questions of people that He Himself already knows the answer to in order to call people to account (just like I do with my own daughter when she's done something wrong – i.e., "Do you know what you've done?"). In Adam's case, the "where" has always been understood by classical theists to be dealing with Adam's spiritual condition, not his physical location because to say otherwise would contradict other clear passages of Scripture that teach God's omnipresence. In like manner with Abraham's situation, God is simply relating to Abraham in terms consistent what Abraham would understand, particularly, after event with Isaac on the altar.
It is also important to note that Genesis 22 is rife with types and shadows of the gospel. The Son, Isaac, is offered on wood, on a hill after a three day journey. Jesus, the Son, was offered on wood, on a hill, and was in the grave for three days. In fact, Jesus said in John 8:56, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." The day that Jesus is speaking of is the day of Christ's sacrificial death. God ordained that the gospel be revealed in types and shadows in the Old Testament and Genesis 22 is a great example of this.

In my studied opinion, God is doing two things: (1) God is revealing the gospel in typological form. (2) God is speaking for Abraham's benefit; that is, it was Abraham who needed to hear that God was acknowledging that Abraham feared Him. The test was not for God, but for Abraham and the words "Now I know" were not for God (since other Scripture says He already knew – 1 Chronicles 28:9), but for the man who needed to hear God affirm his faithfulness. Abraham is a man locked in time and the act of sacrificing Isaac was important prophetically. But it was also important to us as a testimony of a Godlover's faithfulness to God.


Thus, in my opinion, the Open Theist position on Genesis 22:12 raises more questions than it answers:

  1. Did God not know the then present condition of Abraham's heart since God knows all present things exhaustively according to the Open theist position?
  2. Did God not already know that Abraham feared Him per God's exhaustive knowledge of the present?
  3. God already knew, according to Genesis 22:5, that Abraham expected that God would resurrect Isaac. Did God forget this as He tested Abraham?
  4. Since the Open Theists states that people have libertarian free will, then what guarantee did God have that Abraham will not become unfaithful in the future?
  5. If God doesn't know for sure that Abraham will be faithful in the future then it means that if Abraham becomes unfaithful, God would have made a mistake. Can we trust a God that makes mistakes?

A Very Important Postscript on Hermeneutics

I realize that after all I have said, that you already have a hermeneutical grid to run my arguments through, for all people do. What I now want to get you to think about is the inconsistent and artificial distinctions made by open theists between anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms. Open theists attack classical theists for not taking the Bible literally and at "face value" when anthropopathisms are used (passions in God, God's repenting, learning, questioning, changing, etc.). So they adopt a univocal lens with the anthropopathisms and take them hyper-literally, but still inconsistently use an analogical filter with the anthropomorphisms.

So, according to the Open Theist's hermeneutic, when God is spoken of as repenting, questioning, changing, etc., this is all to be taken at face value one-hundred percent of the time and to suggest otherwise is in their opinion, to manifest a Greek, Hellenistic mindset, as opposed to a Scriptural, Hebraic one.

Yet, a blatant inconsistency becomes evident in the hermeneutic of the Open Theist when God is spoken of as having hands, a mouth, a heart, wings, and as travelling from place to place on cloud, these are to be taken figuratively, metaphorically, and analogically.

I have never read a work by the popular Open Theists Clark Pinnock or Gregory Boyd that has ever given a justifiable reason for taking one set hyper-literally while taking the other metaphorically. Thus, Open theists accuse classical theism of glossing over and ignoring the import of the anthropopathisms, yet they contradict themselves in the next breath when do the very same thing with the anthropomorphisms of Scripture! Thus, the hermeneutic of the Open Theist, even if left unchallenged, even hypothetically granting the distinction they make between mind-statements and body-statements relative to God, still leads to absolute absurdity.

Take for instance Clark Pinnock. He enjoys citing Jeremiah to illustrate divine "openness." In Jeremiah 32:35 Yahweh states, "They built their high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin." Why take this passage just literal enough to allow an "open" view of the future, but not literal enough to say that not only is the future unsettled, but certain things have not even occurred to God? Is this feasible? Child sacrifice had alreadyreally mean that the possibility of renewed child sacrifice had never crossed his mind before even as a remote possibility? Unless one is using a classical theist's hermeneutic, then one of course one must affirm that Yahweh did in fact mean precisely just that. occurred among the covenant people at this point in history. It was nothing new. Did God

All of these types of examples are absurd because everyone (except those in the cults) knows that these things are not true of God. However, endless articles have stirred up a tumultuous sound and fury over the repentance passages in Scripture. Yet a principled argument that sets aside one class of statements as anthropomorphic or anthropopathic, and another as "literal" cannot be made. Serious intellectuals in this country are using the "repentance" passages, one metaphor among a myriad of metaphors which, when taken literally, tend to make chaos out of the doctrine of God, to deny that God knows the future.

Can it be more obvious that the only metaphors in Scripture which are taken literally are precisely those metaphors which conveniently uphold the open theist's agenda of discrediting the notion of exhaustive foreknowledge in order to maintain the philosophical notion of libertarian freedom? That statement was not meant to be pejorative by any means, but based on the Scriptures (the statement to Adam, the tower of Babel, Sodom, Yahweh's test of Abraham, etc.) as interpreted through by the hermeneutic supplied by the Open Theist, why, should God's exhaustive knowledge of the present continue to be accepted and believed? Yet no Open Theist has challenged God's exhaustive knowledge of the present? Why? Because it does not directly threaten the shibboleth of libertarian free-will, which, in their opinion, exhaustive foreknowledge destroys.

As an aside, Clark Pinnock did indeed start to take the plunge into absurdity in his book "The Most Moved Mover" when on page 138 of that book he tentatively puts forward that God indeed has a body of flesh and bones, just like the Mormons teach! At least he's being consistent; consistently heretical. Thus, this issue is one of the philosophical tail wagging the dog, instead of the philosophy being informed by a rigorous, systematic theology that is guided by a classical, theistic hermeneutic that relies upon the analogy of faith.

Aerobic exercise for gerbils


“Yes they had a bible which taught things contrary to Christianity. Like the necessity for following the law. I'm yet to hear how it helps you to point to the existence of a body of scriptures teaching contrary to your religion.”

Christianity includes the NT reverence for the OT. It’s “helpful” for a Christian to take his cue from Jesus and the Apostles. I’m merely following their example in terms of how they preach the gospel from the OT Scriptures. That’s good enough for me.

“If the apostles keenly wrote down all their teachings, then they could at least follow sola scriptura other than during the actual process of enscripturation. However they didn't do that. And more problematic for you.”

i) That’s not problematic for me since you’re attacking a straw man version of sola Scriptura. As Turretin explains, “the question is not whether the Scriptures contain all those things which were said or done by Christ and the saints or have any connection whatever with religion…The question relates only to things necessary to salvation—whether they belong to faith or to practice: whether all these things are so contained in the Scriptures that they can be a total and adequate rule of faith and practice.” Institutes 1:135.

ii) An inspired individual doesn’t need to write down what he knows for his own benefit. It’s only for the benefit of others.

“_1) That doesn't tell you what "this month" is in Ex 12.__2) Harvest times do not tell you what "this month" is.__3) Harvest times are not month based.__4) Are they solar or lunar months? (Many people think they are lunar months).”

i) That’s all irrelevant to the doctrine of sola scriptura.

ii) Apropos (i), what calendar they use is a matter of indifference. Custom can set these adiaphoral logistics.

iii) Does the time of day when you observe Mass depend on oral apostolic tradition? Did the apostles, via oral tradition, tell you how many times a day you are allowed to celebrate Mass, when Mass must begin and end, &c.?

“The priesthood is not instituted until Exodus 28, and after this time every biblical indication is that sacrifices are the exclusive job of the priests.”

You’re confusing a literary sequence with a historical sequence.

“I'm sure if you'd been living at the time you'd be the first to object if every man and his dog was doing the sacrifices.”

No, I’d take Exod 24:5 into account.

“Your idea of what an emergency is, is entirely arbitrary.”

I don’t have to come up with some rule of thumb to justify the exception. I’m citing a Biblical example, sanctioned by Jesus Christ himself.

David wasn’t following an oral law. He action was based on exigent circumstances.

In the nature of the case, what constitutes an emergency situation is a judgment call.

You are constantly at war with the Bible because it doesn’t slip through your preconceived filter.

“They could hardly teach it in principle when they were simultaneously promulgating unwritten dogma.”

Inscripturation is for the benefit of *posterity*. That’s why the Bible lays such emphasis on a written record.

That doesn’t mean a prophet or apostle must only communicate with his *contemporaries* through the written word. Try not to be such a dunce.

“If they were teaching important things without them being written, then they were contradicting sola scriptura.”

You keep flailing away at your straw man version of sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura isn’t operative during a period of public revelation. The whole notion of inscripturation is concerned with having an inspired record for posterity. Sola Scriptura operates in-between or after a period of public revelation.

“Since most apostles were writing nothing, they were very clearly teaching without scriptural backing.”

They always taught with scriptural backing. Consider all of the OT prooftexting which is a fixture of the apostolic kerygma.

“You can't teach sola scriptura in principle, and then fail to provide the tools to make it work.”

i) They did provide the “tools.” Before they died, they left us a written record of their representative teaching.

ii) And they constantly point their audience to Scripture. They reason from the scriptures. They use Scriptural prooftexts (e.g. Messianic prophecies) to ground their arguments.

“No, you're not honest, because you're not acknowledging that the apostles taught for decades without scriptural backing, and you can't teach a sola scripture principle when your disciples have no scriptures to support the teachings.”

To the contrary, their teaching often took a written form. There’s a little thing called the NT. You might want to read it some time.

“Except that you've forgotten that this wasn't an argument against authorities, it was an argument against the claim that you can't define what scripture is and what it means, and yet be subject to it.”

Which I’ve responded to, both on my grounds and your grounds.

“I'll take this as a concession that this favourite one liner has been refuted.”

Answering an opponent on his own grounds is not a concession. You need to bone up on the basic principles of argumentation.

“Neatly avoiding the actual question of whether it is epistemologically superior.”

If something is true, that makes it epistemologically superior to something that’s false. That’s the actual question.

“You've clearly shown an unwillingness to address the real issues.”

I’m unwilling to let you dictate the terms of the debate.

“It is far more objectively defensible that the Church is in a unique position to promulgate a correct canon.”

To judge by your own conduct, it’s not objectively defensible since you never objectively defend it. You only *say* it’s objectively defensible.

“Than that STEVE and every man and his dog are.”

This isn’t a question of people. It’s a question of evidence.

“(Especially since there is so much disagreement).”

Invoking disagreement is a doubled edged sword. Catholicism is an object of disagreement. Many professing believers disagree with Catholicism. Disagreement is not an argument for Catholicism when Catholicism is, itself, a source of disagreement.

“As soon as I quoted one church father, I'm no longer acting as an individual.”

i) You’re acting as one individual quoting another individual. Run as fast as you like, but you’re still running in circles.

ii) And the fact that you quote a church father rather than Arius or Valentinus reflects your selective and subjective value-judgment on who’s worth quoting.

“Still waiting for an answer for why you need a rule of faith for the church, and not merely a rule of faith. Your unwillingness to answer demonstrates the two-faced nature of your position.”

The word of God is not merely a standard for the church. It’s a standard for the world.

God’s word is the means by which he holds humanity accountable to himself according to their revealed duty to him and their fellow man.

All men, whether believers or unbelievers, are obligated to believe his word and conform their lives to its precepts. And his word is a standard of judgment for those who defy his word.

“And what chaos there was wasn't caused by "your rule of faith", whatever it is you are referring to.”

Yes, the chaos was caused by your rule of faith. By the extraordinary Magisterium (in this case, ecumenical councils).

“What Pope Benedict is talking about, and the formal notion of ecclesiastical unity are not the same thing.”

Of course, what you’ve done here is to begin with your preconceived theory of ecclesial unity, then harmonize any historical outcome consistent with your theory. So your notion of ecclesial “unity” is vacuous since it’s consistent with any outcome. You will always add enough escape clauses so that no outcome can ever count against your theory.

And yet the Catholic article I quoted from was very insistent on the point that ecclesial unity should be empirically verifiable:

“The marks of the Church are certain unmistakeable signs, or distinctive characteristics which render the Church easily recognizable to all, and clearly distinguish it from every other religious society, especially from those which claim to be Christian in doctrine and origin…The Catholic conception of the mark of unity, which must characterize the one Church founded by Christ, is far more exacting. Not only must the true Church be one by an internal and spiritual union, but this union must also be external and visible, consisting in and growing out of a unity of faith, worship, and government.”

“Unmistakable signs” of unity, “easily recognizable to all,” “clearly distinguishing” it from “every other religious society”; this union must also be “external and visible,” “consisting in” and growing “out of” a unity of “faith,” “worship,” and “government.”

Is that what we see on display in the aftermath of Nicaea or Vatican II?

“I said that what is Catholic is objective. Whether it is based on what is objective introduces an entirely different argument. Try to keep up with the actual line of argument.”

No, what you said is: “the catholic understanding is an objective reality.”

Understanding of what? Understanding requires an object. Try to keep up with your own statements.

“Being Catholic reduces the extent of my subjectiveness.”

In your subjective opinion, being Catholic reduces the extent of your subjectivity.

“I don't have to decide if the bible teaches infant baptism, because that Catholicism teaches it is less subjective.”

Because you rendered a subjective value-judgment on the teaching authority of your denomination.

You’re still a gerbil on your exercise wheel. Must get be fatiguing.

“Objectivity is a necessary, but not sufficient criterion. Try to avoid the most obvious logical errors please?”

Look, you twit…you’re the one who’s harping on the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity. It’s incumbent on your to explain if and how you qualify your own categories.

“It's not entirely subjective since agreement is a scriptural command.”

And does that represent a Magisterial interpretation of the scriptural command, or your private interpretation?

“You made the same judgement when you chose not to start from "I think therefore I am".”

I’m not the one who has a problem with subjectivity, you do.

“Exactly, revelation trumps supposition. Which is why an identifiable source of canon trumps making up your own canon.”

i) For that conclusion to follow, you would have to equate the Council of Trent with divine revelation. Do you believe in continuous revelation? According to Catholic theology, the age of public revelation ended with the apostles.

ii) You also disregard the internal evidence for the canon, where one revelation identifies another revelation (e.g. intertextuality).

“All of which would have to worship at the one temple to be truly Jews. While there were differences of opinion, there were boundaries.”

i) You’re such an ignoramus. They didn’t all worship at the Temple. Some Jewish groups of the 2nd Temple period regarded the official priesthood as hopelessly compromised due to their affiliation with the Romans.

ii) And worshipping at the same Temple is not the only criterion of unity.

“Try and read more carefully. What was handed down was workable AND true.”

Try and reason more carefully. Both must follow for either to follow (even on your own suppositions).

“If there was a book which was true, but they didn't find how to make it work, you would not possess it today. The only reason you possess books is because the church figured out how to apply it. Otherwise they would have thrown it out.”

So, according to you, the church threw out true books. If a book was true, but unworkable, the church threw it out.

BTW, what true, but unworkable, books did the church throw out?

And in what sense can something be true, but unworkable?

“Right, because the others are traditions of men.”

According to your subjective value-judgment.

“I don't have to make such black and white statements about the fathers as to be inspired or not inspired. They are witnesses to the Catholic tradition.”

Are they fallible or infallible witnesses to the Catholic tradition?

“Which subsists throughout time right up to today.”

Assuming what you need to prove.

“One church father more or less doesn't matter.”

What’s the cut-off? How few are too few?

“Even someone unsure on an historical basis about the authorship of 1 Timothy, can say confidently that the Catholic church is an organisation existing continuously since the apostles until now. There may never have existed a witness for the former fact, but the latter fact has thousands of witnesses in history.”

i) When an institution changes hands from one generation to the next, it can depart widely from the vision of the original founders. It can become the antithesis of what it used to be.

ii) Early witnesses aren’t witnessing to a later phase, and later witnesses aren’t witnessing to an earlier phase.

iii) Since the present is the effect of the past, historical continuity applies to any outcome. You can trace any outcome through a seamless series of intervening events. Continuity doesn’t prove identity.

“If the question is inspiration, then the Christian position has always been that the link to Christ forms the basis for inspiration.”

Does this mean the OT is uninspired? Or do you forge a retroactive link?

“The Church is objectively linked to Christ, therefore it is inspired.”

Judas is objectively linked to Christ, therefore Judas is inspired.

“You can't deny this supposition entirely and be left with even the remains of a canon, since Christ wrote no scripture directly.”

And where does the OT fit into this framework?

“The protestant argument is that scripture is "sufficient for every good work" (2 Tim 3). If unity is a goal, it is a good work. Empirically, sola scriptura is not leading to unity, even between protestants who like each other. So clearly addition of the "sola" to the scriptura has made the scriptura non-functional.”

i) First of all, that doesn’t salvage your own position. You say a rule of faith must be “workable,” and you define feasibility in terms of maintaining unity. You then cite a passage from Paul as your prooftext for ecclesial unity.

But you didn’t bother to consider the context. The Pauline injunction is set in the context of ecclesial disunity. Therefore, you can’t make actual unity a mark of the church. Therefore, you can’t make actual unity a necessary condition for a rule of faith.

ii) Scripture is a sufficient standard. Whether everyone obeys the standard is irrelevant to the validity of the standard.

iii) If some people disobey the standard, that also serves the purpose of the standard since one purpose of Scripture is to function as a standard of judgment.

“Without working towards the unity of mind, they'd be in danger of becoming formally disunified, which would make them false churches.”

i) You’re being evasive. Was the church of Corinth a false church at the time Paul issued his injunction?

ii) Also, where in 1 Cor 1:10ff. does Paul define unity in terms of “formal” unity? Remember, this is your prooftext. So you need to exegete the condition of formal unity from your own prooftext.

iii) By the way, I’m still waiting for you to supply me with the Magisterial interpretation of 1 Cor 1:10ff.

“A Protestant cannot interpret contrary to Paul. The point is?”

Try not to be senile. We’ve been over this ground many times before. The Magisterium isn’t answerable to the authority of Scripture since the Magisterium presumes to offer the authoritative interpretation of Scripture. Therefore, a Catholic can’t challenge a Magisterial interpretation.

The Protestant situation is not comparable. A Protestant interpretation isn’t an argument from authority. A Protestant interpretation can be challenged if it rests on poor exegesis of the text.

“Protestant arguments about the canon are always outcome based - to justify their current list. We need Mark to be inspired as an outcome, therefore we will assume that if he knew Peter that is sufficient basis for inspiration.”

i) Once again, in your lazy, evasive fashion, you fall back on a tu quoque maneuver rather than defending your own position. So are you admitting that you operate with an outcome-based criterion? If so, then even if a Protestant did the same, you couldn’t very well fault a Protestant from sharing your own methodology.

If not, then you need to refute the charge.

ii) The Protestant doctrine of inspiration isn’t based on what we need, but on the self-witness of Scripture.

“We've yet to be told where the bible mentions rules of faith for the church.”

Once again, you talk like a Jehovah’s Witness. If we can’t find the word “Trinity” in Scripture, we can’t find the Trinity in Scripture.

The concept can be present with or without the terminology. The words of Moses and the prophets and apostles *function* as a rule of faith.

“The protestant sola scriptura definition is outcome based. That's why nobody thought of it for 1500 years. Luther needed a way out, he needed a particular outcome.”

We simply take our cue from Jesus, the apostles, and other NT writers, when they constantly refer their audience to the Scriptures—and not hoary traditions or bishops—to establish a point.

“Great, but true/false minus the objectivity is called Las Vegas.”

That’s an assertion, not an argument.

“No, you don't want to actually admit enough to get pinned down, when it comes right down to it.”

I don’t need to defend sola Scriptura by defending perspicuity. I don’t need to justify sola Scriptura by offering a pragmatic rationale. The warrant for sola Scriptura turns on the fact that God has chosen to make his word the primatial source and standard of knowledge for the church and the world. I don’t need to justify God’s choice by appeal to perspicuity. That was Bryan’s framework, not mine.

“Which is a side issue, the real issue being that you can't be sure if the bits you believe are the reprobational bits, leading to Orwellian perspicuity.”

Several problems:

i) You’re imposing an internalist constraint on knowledge. In so doing you fail to distinguish between first-order knowledge (knowing x) and second-order knowledge (knowing how you know x).

A person can know something without being able to prove it. Newman’s illative sense. It depends on the source or type of knowledge.

ii) If you’re going to play the internalist card, then that will undercut your own position. You can’t be sure your church is the true church. You can’t prove apostolic succession. And what if your church suppressed evidence to the contrary? You can’t be sure a pope is not an antipope. You can’t be sure what parts of an ecumenical council are fallible, and what parts are infallible. You can’t be sure a Cartesian demon didn’t trick you into believing Catholicism.

“1) Even something garbled is useful if you recognise its limitations. A detective can make use of a garbled message.__2) Even scripture is garbled to some degree by the work of scribes.__3) By looking at multiple garbled messages one can construct the original message.”

This is all consistent with Protestant theology. It doesn’t plot a path to Rome.

“So you claim, but I'll take that as a concession of the principle being valid. That means the epistemological superior position stands, even if you disagree about the facts.”

What position? Not the position of Rome. Appealing to fallible probabilities doesn’t establish the epistemological superiority of Rome. Rome claims to be superior because it offers more than that.

“Just like the agreement of interviewing 1000 people, or agreement of the manuscripts is a "way to distinguish", so the catholicity of the belief is a way to distinguish what was taught everywhere by the apostles.”

i) If catholicity is your criterion, then catholicity falsifies Catholicism since modern Catholicism doesn’t pretend to base all its dogmas on universal Christian belief. It has resorted to the doctrine of development.

ii) And it’s not just a discrepancy between now and then. Where was the catholicity in the aftermath of Nicaea?

You invent a nice sounding criterion which, if we did apply it to your cause, would instantly falsify your cause.

This is the problem with Catholic apriorism. Not only is there no evidence for the a priori, but actual evidence runs counter to the a priori.

“That's because you've forgotten what I was responding to. The question posed was: "How is fallible authority an improvement over sola scriptura or private judgment? "

That’s no improvement over private judgment since collective judgment is reducible to private judgment.

“But Catholics believe that the interpretation is part of the testimony. We pass down not only the facts, but also what it means.”

You can add that to your hypothetical (“100 people comparing notes”) if you like. You can improve your hypothetical to any degree of hypothetical excellence. You can tell a just-so story about a hypothetical church with hypothetical apostolic succession, hypothetical infallibility, hypothetical evidence, hypothetical certainty, and so on and so forth. That’s not an argument for Roman Catholicism.

“I'm willing to submit my interpretation to the Fathers.”

How are you going to do that? Do you have a patristic ouija board?

And it’s not as if the church fathers all speak with one voice one every issue. So which interpretation of which church father are you willing to submit to? Will you flip a coin?

“The historical church.”

Such as what? The Church Expectant? The Church Triumphant? Does Purgatory have email? What about heaven?

“And the Magisterium.”

Do you have the pope’s cellphone number?

“Should anyone care to dispute it and bring some further facts to the table.”

Are you going to hold a séance?

“That's called humility.”

Humility? No, that's called arrogance. It’s arrogant of you to reject the sufficiency of God’s word.

And there’s nothing humble about your faith in the Magisterium. That’s an individual value-judgment on your part.

You have no right to contact out your religious duties to a second party. You are personally accountable to God for what you think and do.

“Will you guarantee the same?”

I can’t guarantee that Thomas Aquinas will appear at your séance to dispute your interpretation of Thomism.

And I don’t need to issue guarantees. I content myself with whatever assurance God offers his people.

“You are the one claiming he needs to be a convert for your interpretation to fly. You need the verse to mean something that it doesn't on its face mean.”

i) Try not to make such a fool of yourself. My interpretation is no different than Fitzmyer’s.

ii) And I don’t need this verse to prove my position. It was your prooftext, not mine.

iii) Once again, why should anyone care what *you* think it means. Where is the Magisterial interpretation of your prooftext for the Magisterium?

For someone who repudiates the right of private judgment, you become oddly irate if someone else dares to question your private interpretation.

“Why should I answer a hypothetical? The Ethiopian was sent on his way in the knowledge that scripture was not enough.”

i) You’re equivocating. Scripture was not enough because he didn’t have enough Scripture? Would Scripture not be enough to point him to the identity of Jesus even if he read Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans…?

ii) And how is that hypothetical? You yourself are quoting from the Book of Acts. You’re not citing an oral tradition about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. You think the Book of Acts is sufficient to make your point. So you reply on the sufficiency of Scripture even when you try to disprove the sufficiency of Scripture.

“Let's take the story in context shall we?”

By all means. What is the context? Scripture. The Book of Acts. The Lucan record of this event.

“Are you going to ignore your pastor because he doesn't quite measure up to your standard of measures?”

Not *my* standards. *Pauline* standards. And, yes, I’d hold a pastor to Biblical standards of church office. Will you do the same for the papacy and the episcopate?

“The analogy is so obvious as to need no defence. God set up an authority structure for his OT people AND for his NT people. The freedoms individuals would have to disregard the OT authorities is very relevant for here and now. If you want to claim it is all different, the onus is on you to claim something changed.”

i) You’re only citing one half of the analogy. The onus likes squarely on your wobbly shoulders to show us that the Roman Catholic church supplies the NT analogue. Is the church of Rome the corresponding authority-structure? Where’s the argument? Where’s the evidence? “Obvious” doesn’t cut it.

You keep exposing the utter hollowness of your position.

ii) And quite a lot has changed from the 1C church of Rome to the 21C church of Rome.

“There is no expiration for the Church apart from the 2nd coming.”


“I wouldn't fault a protestant interpretation if it was almost certainly true. The problem is protestant interpretations which are highly debatable.”

And how do you insulate your own interpretations of Magisterial teaching, as a lowly Catholic layman, from the same strictures?

“Yes someone must vouch, otherwise it is Las Vegas.”

Once again, you’re tumbling down the bottomless pit of an infinite regress. I hope you don’t suffer from vertigo.

If an authority-figure must vouch for the truth, then another-authority figure must vouch for the authority of the first authority-figure, and so on and so forth.

“No, I'm talking about dogma. Paul didn't just leave a group of people with discipline but no beliefs.”

He left them with letters, and—in the case of those who heard him—memories.

“That's great, but the church didn't hang out the "No Vacancy" sign as soon as Paul moved to the next city.”

Irrelevant to my point.

“Sure I have things guaranteed to be correct.”

You’d be a real sucker for a used car salesman. You’re unable to distinguish between a truth and a truth-claim. Gullibility is a sorry substitute for knowledge or well-informed opinion.

“So individuals are not affected by the power trip of infallibility.”

I agree with you that papal infallibility is a power trip. Same thing with conciliar infallibility. Now you can become a Protestant.

“You're assuming that the correct interpretation can't be part of the oral tradition.”

It could be, but you need to verify that. You never verify anything. You’re just a credulous Catholic.

“Lots of protestants have. If you don't want to say it, your canon could be not merely wrong, but utterly wrong.”

i) There’s no appreciable difference between merely wrong and utterly wrong.

ii) Something doesn’t have to be widely known to be canonical. Most of the NT letters were addressed to one local church or one locality.

“You at least accept the Catholic NT canon. Not the Ethiopian, Syriac or Marcion canons.”

Even on church historical grounds, the church of Rome didn’t produce the NT canon. Try not to be such a chauvinist.

“Uh, we have a Magisterium. It's not just about what individuals want to count as councils or traditions.”

Uh, you need to *argue* for the Magisterium.

“As I have a right to, when the foundation of your rule of faith is an individual's interpretation of history.”

The foundation of your faith in Roman Catholicism was laid by your individual interpretation of church history. Try not to be such a klutz.

“There can be no end to the questions when that is the sand on which you built your house.”

i) If so, then that would apply to the sandy foundation of your individual interpretation of church history.

ii) If an interpretation is true, that ends the regress.

What generates the regress is the insistence that, over and above a true interpretation, an authority-source much vouch for the veracity of the interpretation.

“No I don't. Again, this is like saying you need Paul to validate everything you say about Genesis.”

i) You aren’t entitled to that comparison. That comparison implicitly grants the right of private judgment—which Catholicism repudiates.

If you’re going to frame the issue in terms of an authoritative interpretation, rather than a merely true interpretation, then you need an authority to validate every step of the process. But that, in turn, generates the need to authorize your authority source.

ii) How do you distinguish between Catholic and non-Catholic traditions? Using the Magisterium.

But you also appeal to various traditions to attest the Magisterium. So your procedure is viciously circular.

“I'm addressing whatever supposed counterevidence is raised here. The historical continuity of the Catholic church from the apostles is well known. I think the onus is on you to raise something specific as an objection.”

i) You see how useless it is to debate someone like JJ. He can never see around his own position.

ii) Let’s go back to apostolic succession. How do you know this is true? To know it’s true, you’d have to:

a) Verify every link in the chain. Apostolic succession cannot afford a single broken link. In this case, the chain is allegedly 2000 years old. Where’s your positive evidence?

b) You also need to deal with evidence of where the chain broke down. Rigged papal elections. The Great Schism.

c) You also need to eliminate the possibility of ecclesiastical impediments to valid ordination.

Sometimes you can take a shortcut on questions like this if you have a sufficient authority source. But, in this case, the authority-source is the very point at issue. You need to verify the Magisterium before the Magisterium can verify anything else.

“Your response was to point to the inspiration of Paul as equivilent to Genesis. Then I pointed out that is the point of dispute that the Magisterium is inspired. Or in other words, your defense was to assume what you want to prove.”

Your chronic inability to follow the argument. I said the Magisterium isn’t answerable to Scripture. Your parallel reinforces my charge.

“Since scripture never touches on the subject, that would be a neat trick for sola scriptura.”

i) This illustrates the self-reinforcing ignorance of the average Catholic. Because he depends on Mother Church to breastfeed him everything he believes, he doesn’t bother to study the Bible.

If, for example, he bothered to read someone like Warfield, he would realize the connection between apostolicity and inspiration.

ii) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Scripture never touches on the connection between apostolicity and inspiration, this cuts the ground out from under apostolic succession—for apostolic succession (as Rome defines it) would only ground the indefectibility of the church if the apostles were infallible by virtue of their office, and this is transferred to their successors.

iii) And JJ can’t treat the connection as an extrascriptural Magisterial teaching, for the teaching authority of the Magisterium is contingent on this connection.

“One obscure document could refute your supposition. To refute Catholic claims need a rewrite of history. A much tougher and more unlikely standard.”

i) One rigged papal election will throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of apostolic succession. And, in fact, that can already be documented on multiple occasions.

ii) Moreover, “history” is the history of visible events. But apostolic succession also depends on invisible events (i.e. valid ordination). That’s something which is indetectible even in principle. It wouldn’t change the outward history. It would destroy it from within.

“Let's hear the protestant OT canon argument that never mentions what the Jews say.”

i) You’re terminally dense to the bitter end. Let’s try one more time. Protestant theological method doesn’t have a problem with fallible historical evidence. It’s *your* position which affects an epistemically superior source. Tu quoque is no response.

ii) And the case for the OT canon doesn’t depend on external attestation alone. There is also internal evidence (e.g. intertextuality).

I realize that, due to your self-reinforcing ignorance, that passes right over your head. You’ve never studied the subject.

“I know you've quoted Jews speaking of their traditions, so consider yourself refuted.”

See above.

“How so, we aren't told.”

As usual, you can’t follow your own stupid argument. This is what you said:

“If I asked you to prove the OT canon, you'd start talking about what such and such a Jew had to say. That's an appeal to tradition. That's an appeal that assumes a recognisable body of Jews existed who held a unified tradition, and that the person quoted was a member of said group. In short, you'd be forced to fall back to a tradition-based canon.”

So you’re suggesting an analogy between Jewish tradition for the OT canon and Sacred Tradition in Catholicism. But, in Catholicism, Sacred Tradition would rank higher than fallible Jewish traditions regarding the scope of the OT canon.

“It's not unknown to them. They know that the apostles founded the church of Rome, just like historians do.”

i) Another bait-and-switch. There’s much more to Roman primacy and papal primacy than your minimalistic claim.

ii) And historians don’t grant that apostles founded the church of Rome—much less that Peter founded the church of Rome. Some apostles may have paid a visit to Rome. That’s quite different from founding the church of Rome.

In fact, the church of Rome was probably founded by Messianic Jewish missionaries like Pricilla and Aquila.

“It's only a problem when conversing with someone who wants to deny the sky is blue, and other obvious facts.”

This is what passes for argumentation by JJ.

“What he might or might not do is beside the point.”

It’s very much to the point when you quote him as a prooftext for Roman Catholicism.

“I notice you didn't object that the 5C church was the church founded by the apostles.”

See above.

I have better things to do with my time than debate a hidebound Catholic fideist. You’ve performed a useful, if unwitting, service for the Protestant cause by demonstrating, once again, that Catholicism is indefensible.

But now that you’ve completed your tour of duty, don’t bother to come back. Debating you may be a good aerobic exercise for gerbils, but I’m not a gerbil.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Row, row, row your boat...


“Christianity is not Judaism. Christians are not subject to follow the Law. Jews are. That one is a fulfilment of the other does not alter the fact that the OT scriptures do not teach one to do he same things as the NT.”

In your desperation, you multiply irrelevant distinctions. This is all irrelevant to my statement that Christians were never without a Bible. And Messianic prophecies were central to the Apostolic kerygma.

“If it's not the rule of faith during the apostolic age, the the apostles didn't teach it.”

i) The Apostles *embody* sola Scriptura. They are agents of inscripturation.

ii) The fact that sola Scriptura is inapplicable to apostles and prophets doesn’t mean it’s inapplicable to you and me. The fact that a wellspring is its own source of water doesn’t mean that I don’t need to get my water from the wellspring.

“As I pointed out before, they didn't practice sola scriptura in the OT...... The sacrificial calendar depends on Ex 12:2. Is it referring to Egyptian months (where the Jews were living at the time) or Chaldean months (from where their patriarch Abraham originated)? Give an answer without oral tradition.....”

According to the Mosaic law, they used an agricultural calendar (Exod 23:16; 34:22; Lev 26:6,23-25).

“After King Solomon had the Temple built, he sanctified the interior of the courtyard by personally offering sacrifices [1 Kings 8:64]. How could Solomon offer these sacrifices in the Temple when every indication in the Torah is that only priests may offer sacrifices? From where did Solomon know that a non-priestly king can offer a sacrifice to sanctify the Temple if not from an oral law?.....”

According to the Mosaic law, even laymen could offer sacrifice (Exod 24:5).

“Elijah offered a sacrifice on Mt. Carmel [1 Kings 18:3-38]. However, the Torah forbids bringing sacrifices outside of the Temple [Deut. 12:13-14]. From where did Elijah receive permission to violate this prohibition unless he knew from an oral law that in his case it was permitted.”

i) Deut 12:13-14 doesn’t mention the “Temple,” which didn’t exist at that time, or for several centuries thereafter.

ii) You’re such a legalist. One doesn’t need an “oral law” to “violate” a Mosaic prohibition in an emergency. Did David have an oral legal exemption which permitted him to eat the showbread (1 Sam 21:1-6)? No.

Elijah could hardly invite Baal worshippers into the Temple. The contest would have to take place out of doors.

iii) You also equivocate over “tradition.” In Catholicism, Sacred Tradition is not synonymous with oral tradition.

I’m not going to keep correcting you on these underhanded equivocations.

“No one apostle wrote down the whole of revelation. No apostle shows evidence of being aware of the whole NT. Not even close. So no apostle could know if all revelation was written. Thus no apostle could have advocated sola scriptura.”

Non-sequitur. An apostle could teach it in principle.

“Most of the apostles wrote nothing. If their imperative was to write scripture, most of them botched it.”

Red herring. Sola Scriptura doesn’t imply that every apostle or prophet wrote down everything he ever said.

You aren’t even trying to honestly represent the opposing position. I’m not going to waste time on a dishonest opponent.

“A fancy sounding distinction that adds nothing to your case. The limitations of the individual effectively form part of the criteria, because individuals all start from different knowledge and suppositions. That protestants won't admit the significant place these internal criteria effect the outcome behind the scenes, doesn't mean they don't exist. Protestants judge by the criteria of their own world view, even though they won't admit it.”

If you want to deploy that argument, then that’s also an argument against the authority of popes, church fathers, church councils, doctors of the church, &c. A pope is an individual. A church father is an individual. A council is a collection of individuals.

Adding individuals together (tradition, church councils) doesn’t eliminate the individual basis of the net total.

“Right. So do you grant Christianity an epistemologically superior position to those following the Koran or Vedas? If so, it must be surely because of the objective nature of Christian revelation in comparison to the other claims.”

Christianity is superior because it is true and they are false.

“Therefore, the objective nature of what the Church says is canon trumps what STEVE says is canon.”

That wouldn’t be based on the “objectivity” of the church, but the alleged “infallibility” of the church. Where’s your argument?

“If you don't grant Christianity a superior position, you level the church to the ground, as I said.”

Since I don’t equate Christianity with your ecclesiolatry, your conclusion doesn’t obtain.

“St Basil, on the Spirit.”

So you’re quoting an individual church father to disprove individualism. Impressive logic.

“Why do you need a rule of faith FOR THE CHURCH? Why not just a rule of faith for individuals? The answer is obvious.”

I realize you lack a disciplined mind, but you actually need to present an argument for your claim that a rule of faith must maintain unity.

“You confuse disagreement with disunity. The bishops define who is in unity and communion. The unity is manifest in the shared Eucharist.”

i) The definition of Catholic unity is far more expansive and demanding than your minimalistic version:

ii) Even Pope Benedict XVI admits that your rule of faith generates disunity. “Chaos.”

iii) Your hairsplitting distinction between “disagreement” and “disunity” is false to your own prooftext. Does Paul, in 1 Cor 1:10ff, draw that distinction? No.

“Wrong, because the catholic understanding is an objective reality.”

i) You seem to think that offering your exposition of Catholic theology is a sufficient response. It isn’t. It begs the question. Once again, I’m not going to waste time on someone who merely asserts his position ad nauseum.

ii) Even if, ex hypothesi, there is an objective reality which supplies the object of Catholic understanding, that objective reality must be individually and subjectively discerned. You keep running in circles, like a gerbil on an exercise wheel.

“Objectivity is no index of truth.”

How do you think that admission is supposed to help your case? You’ve been pinning your hopes on the “objectivity” of the church. So, according to you, the church could be both objective and mistaken.

“I know of no other criteria that would result in a religion short of a direct revelation from God. If I have to start at square one from "I think therefore I am", it would take me decades and I'd probably end up in a religion of one.”

i) Even if that were true, it doesn’t’ change the fact that making catholicity the goal is a subjective value-judgment.

ii) Christianity is a revealed religion. Grounded in a public revelation. If that’s insufficient for your purposes, then you’re not a Christian.

“They must have been unified since there was only one temple. Otherwise we'd be talking about 5027th temple protestant Judaism.”

You simply make things up in your armchair fashion. There were many different Jewish “sects” and schools of thought in 2nd Judaism.

“What is passed down over the centuries is what was found workable and true.”

There’s no logical connection between the premise and the conclusion. Something is true because it’s handed down over the centuries? Do you apply that reasoning to the Hadith?

“You're in no position 2000 years later to distinguish which is which.”

i) Actually I am, just as 1C Jews were in a position to challenge Pharisaic traditions.

ii) You yourself are very selective about what traditions you honor. You only honor Catholic traditions.

“You can't communicate with God directly to find out what he inspired.”

i) If you’re going to use that argument, then it cuts both ways. I can’t communicate with the church fathers directly.

ii) If you think there’s no direct evidence for the inspiration of the Bible, then there’s no direct evidence for the inspiration of the Magisterium. All you’ve done is to push the issue back a step (assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is a real issue).

“It's only divisive for sorting the wheat from the chaff.”

As in sifting Evangelical wheat from Catholic chaff.

“And the chaff are not part of the unity anyway.”

A truism, since that’s a result of the winnowing process.

“Unity may not be the only function, but it is clearly _a_ function since scripture lists that as a goal for the church.”

You’re confusing imperatives with indicatives. If it’s merely a “goal,” then it’s an ideal rather than a reality. In that case, unity doesn’t define the actual church.

The very fact that writers like Paul enjoin church members to be of one mind is set in the context of ecclesiastical disunity. Or do you think Pauline churches were false churches?

“Nonsense. I don't ask permission from the Magisterium before buying a bible.”

Now you’re dissembling. That was never the issue. A Catholic cannot interpret the Bible contrary to the Magisterium.

“I could say the same of the Magisterium. That of course is the point of issue.”

Now you’re backing down from your earlier mischaracterization of what I said, although you act as if this is what you said all along.

“Have you told us what a rule of faith is supposed to accomplish so we can take a look at it?”

Notice JJ’s methodology. He begins with his outcome-based criterion, then uses that criterion to select for his rule of faith.

Of course, in that event, the rule of faith is not, itself, the criterion—but is subject to his outcome-based criterion.

For me, by contrast, God’s word is the criterion.

“One would think one of the points would be an objective source of truth.”

I’m less concerned with the subjective/objective duality than I am with the true/false duality.

“But since you've admitted the necessity of subjective internal light, and commentaries some of which may be heretical and reprobational, your definition of "perspicuous" ends up meaning "I don't know if I'm being saved or reprobated by what I think this means. That's Orwellian 'Perspicuity'.”

i) I haven’t admitted that. I merely pointed out that Bryan Cross was attacking a straw man version of perspicuity.

ii) Even reprobates can write useful commentaries. For example, there are learned liberals who, because they reject the authority of Scripture, allow the Bible to speak for itself. Since they don’t feel the need to agree with Scripture, they don’t have a problem construing Scripture to mean something at odds with their personal beliefs. They don’t feel threatened by that hiatus.

“In the same way that if I met the apostle Paul, and told you what he said, it would be an improvement over you privately interpreting Genesis on your own. Despite my fallibility in conveying it to you.”

No, that wouldn’t necessarily be an improvement. If you garbled what he told you, then that would be worse than if I tried to interpret Genesis without your erroneous gloss.

“If you could interview 100 people who could relate to you what Paul said, you'd be in a better position still.”

Of course, that hypothetical doesn’t correspond to the church of Rome.

“The more you care to take in from the Spirit led church, the better you would be, even though individual parts could be fallible.”

Not unless I had a way of distinguishing inspired statements from errant, uninspired statements.

“And if the 100 people compare notes and agree that the truth is around the centre of their collective memory, the fallibility of the trees does not hurt the sufficiency of the forest in establishing truth.”

I don’t deny that collective fallible testimony can be useful, but your hypothetical fails to illustrate the distinctive Catholic claim to a Magisterium which can, under certain conditions, speak infallibly.

“And the objectivity of 100 people comparing notes is far in excess of 1 person with their bible under a tree, or even 1 person under a tree with a possibly reprobational commentary.”

Now you’re comparing the incomparable. There’s a difference between the transmission of information (e.g. testimonial evidence) and the interpretation of the testimony.

“We don't know that he was a fully fledged convert. There were a lot of hangers on to the outskirts of Judaism. He may have been a convert.”

i) Why should we even care about your “private” interpretation of Acts? You’re using a Protestant methodology to defend Catholic methodology. If your private interpretations are sufficient to prove the necessity of the Magisterium, then you prove the superfluity of the Magisterium in the act of proving the necessity of the Magisterium. Quite a conundrum, I’d say.

ii) We’re waiting for you to supply us with the Magisterial interpretation of Acts 8.

“Classic example of how you treat your own interpretation as functionally infallible.”

It’s not just *my* interpretation. As Joseph Fitzmyer explains, in the standard Catholic commentary on Acts, “this implies that he was a Jew or at least a proselyte coming from the diaspora” (412).

Pity you can’t even keep up with Catholic Bible scholarship.

“But fallible oral communication that was informed by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.”

You have the cart before the horse. Oral tradition precedes Sacred Tradition.

“He didn't have the gospels or Romans because they didn't exist. So at least one Ethiopian went home informed by a non-sola scriptura hermeneutic.”

Once again, you’re changing the subject. Could he or could he not learn who Jesus was by reading the gospels or Romans or Hebrews?

“Church office is not dynastic by blood, but by succession. Very similar.”

Succession by election is quite dissimilar to succession by genealogy. In the latter case, the only qualification is your bloodline.

“You're confusing qualification with facts and authority. Just because I'm " irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach" doesn't make me an elder.”

A diversionary tactic on your part. Did I say qualifications for church office automatically make one a church officer? No.

The point is that if these are qualifications for church office, and various popes (to take one example) don’t measure up, then that would disqualify them from holding church office. That would make them antipopes.

“Just because I'm from the tribe of Levi, of the right age and gender, didn't give me the right to overthrow the Levitical priesthood and temple and start a new cult.”

i) Another diversionary tactic. You keep trotting out this comparison, which is irrelevant to my point. It does nothing to overturn my point.

ii) Moreover, you’re repeating yourself despite the fact that I already addressed your irrelevant comparison.

I’m not going to waste time on an opponent who raises an objection, then when I address his objection, reiterates the same objection as though nothing was said by way of response.

“What I said stands. It took a special intervention by the messiah to overthrow the authority structure.”

i) Once again, you’re merely positing an analogy between the Levitical priesthood and the Catholic church. You haven’t begun to argue for that analogy. Don’t waste my time with these tedious fallacies.

ii) BTW, the Messiah didn't have to "overthrow" the priesthood. The priesthood always had an expiration date.

“You're trying to split the hair between true and infallibly true.”

No, you were the one who introduced the condition of infallible truth when you fault (Protestant) interpretations of Scripture unless they are “necessarily true.”

What is merely true could be false. What is necessarily true is not only true, but couldn’t be false. That’s the definition of infallibility. Try to keep track of your own sorry argument.

“If I relate to you what Paul said, it is true, but not infallible, because I related it to you.”

That’s a complete non-sequitur. The fact that you relate something to me doesn’t make it true.

Perhaps, in your bugling way, you’re trying to say that what you relate to me could be true even though you are not infallible.

Granted. But Catholic polemical theology isn’t satisfied with that condition. It’s not enough that it be true. Some suitable authority must vouch for its truthfulness.

“But it is authoritative.”

Not unless you’re an authority-figure (e.g. the Magisterium). Try to remember your own argument.

“Otherwise Paul left his churches en route, at least the ones prior to his writing spree, without an authority. Which would be unworkable.”

You’re confusing knowledge with church discipline. Church discipline is an authoritarian exercise.

But any member of Pauline church who heard him speak, who heard the same thing the elders heard, would have just as much right to his interpretation as theirs. Their memory is no better than his.

“Do we need it? Since you've already admitted the necessity of commentaries, but you can't be sure if they are reprobational, then clearly we need something. I'd prefer something guaranteed to be correct than that which may or may not be reprobational. But we both agree we need something.”

i) You don’t have anything guaranteed to be correct. All you have is your fideistic claim.

ii) In fact, the Magisterium is far more likely to be wrong. If an institution imagines itself to be inspired, when it is not, then it will rely on its nonexistent inspiration rather than sound hermeneutical methods, to interpret the Bible.

“And again, back to your presupposition that the canon should be widely known because of the purpose God has for his word.”

I never said that.

“The same supposition says that interpretation should be widely known.”

Even if that were analogous, which is not the case, your parallel turns on a premise which I reject (see above).

“But your world view says for a thousand years it was not known, even though you accept the decision about the canon from those whose interpretation you reject.”

That’s such a dumb statement. I don’t accept the Catholic canon. I accept the Protestant canon. My OT canon corresponds to the Jewish canon, not the Catholic canon.

“Any list of books can be defended. But individuals will all have their own cut of probabilities of what to include. Thus the need for some kind of authority, whether it be Trent or tradition.”

Individuals will all have their own cut of probabilities as to which councils or traditions to include.

This is typical of you. You pose a problem—as you see it. You then propose a solution which only pushes the problem back a step.

“By casting out both you cast away your hermeneutical foundation.”

One can sift tradition as a historical source. And external attestation is not the only line of evidence for the canon.

“The Catholic Church is objectively the one the apostles founded.”

You never miss a chance to beg the question. Given your devotion to circular reasoning, you should convert to Islam. You missed your true vocation as a swirling Dervish.

And not only do you beg the question against the Protestant, you also beg the question against the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox.

“1) You assume apriori that 1Tim and 2Tim are inspired.__2) You assume Paul isn't quoting some other now lost writing. __3) You assume Paul wrote it.”

Notice how JJ is moving the goal post. He demanded a reference. When I complied with his demand, he makes another demand.

i) Now you’re resorting to the tactics of the liberal German source critics, who reject extant documentary sources in favor of nonexistent, unverifiable sources.

ii) I don’t need to reinvent the wheel on the inspiration and authorship of Scripture. This is well-trodden ground in conservative Evangelical literature.

“You've just shown your epistemological foundation is viciously regressive. What you regard as inspired cannot have the objective foundation as the historical fact that the apostles founded the Catholic Church.”

i) Both claims involve historical evidence.

ii) The Bible has the additional advantage of internal evidence.

iii) You’re appeal to the Magisterium is viciously circular since you need the Magisterium to validate your traditions and prooftexts for the Magisterium.

iv) All you ever do is to profess your fideistic belief in the Catholic church. You don’t furnish any probative evidence to support your claim, or address the counterevidence.

v) Foundationalism is a questionable epistemology.

“That's like saying I can't interpret Genesis apart from Paul. The obvious silliness of the accusation is apparent to all.”

Once again you keep rehashing the same stale arguments and illustrations even though we specifically responded to these the first time, the second time, the third time...

“You need to prove whether apostolic authorship makes something inspired, irrespective of what I believe.”

As if Evangelical scholars had never done that before.

“Irrelevant. Unless you can produce every non-extant ancient document to do an exhaustive search in, then you're making a supposition.”

i) It’s not irrelevant for you to discharge your own burden of proof.

ii) Unless you can produce every non-extant ancient document to prove to us that the Catholic church didn’t suppress evidence which would expose its fraudulent claims, then you're making a supposition.

“Before Trent we had the Tradition and customs of the Catholic Church. Same as the Jews had.”

So, when push comes to shove, you fall back on fallible tradition and fallible customs.

“If I asked you to prove the OT canon, you'd start talking about what such and such a Jew had to say. That's an appeal to tradition. That's an appeal that assumes a recognisable body of Jews existed who held a unified tradition, and that the person quoted was a member of said group. In short, you'd be forced to fall back to a tradition-based canon.”

i) You assume you know how we go about defending the canon. You clearly don’t have a clue as to how we actually do it.

ii) You continue to play your bait-and-switch game on “tradition.” You try to pole-vault from “tradition” to “Sacred Tradition.”

“Document a widely known historical fact?”

If that’s a widely known fact, then why is that fact unknown to the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican Communion, Lutherans, Baptists, &c.? How do you define “wide”? In millimeters?

“There's 2000 years of witnesses and continuity.”

You say it but you don’t show it.

“Where would one even begin?”

That’s your problem.

“The Holy Church.” God is pointed out, and His temple. “For the temple of God is holy,” says the Apostle, “which (temple) are ye.” This same is the holy Church, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church" - Augustine, on the Creed.”

i) Quoting a Latin Father begs the question.

ii) Moreover, you can’t quote a 5C church father as a witness to the 21C Catholic church. Augustine wasn’t vouching for the 21C Catholic church. He knew absolutely nothing about the 21C Catholic church. And if he had known, he might disown it.

Before you can apply his statement to the 21C Catholic church, you have to already assume that your church is the one true church—in which case you’re using your church to prove his statement, rather than using his statement to prove your church.

You’ve demonstrated, in a short time, that you don’t debate in good faith. I’d advise you go away until you cultivate a modicum of intellectual honesty. I not going to keep playing “Row, row, row your boat” with you. The round gets to be monotonous in a hurry.


While hanging in the chow line, JJ has seen fit to respond to Steve and me in the last rejoinder to him.

I'm bringing a portion of that to the main page. Hopefully, Steve will respond here to the rest of what JJ wrote as well, so readers will likely find more below in the combox. I'll be out of town for several days, so I may not be able to return here until into next week. (Any respo ses to anybody else in any other arena will have to wait as well).

To begin, I responded to a portion of JJ's reply to Steve as follows:

The bishops define who is in unity and communion. The unity is manifest in the shared Eucharist.

Oh, okay. Earlier you said that those who take the Eucharist are in a state of grace. So, when an abortionist like John Kerry takes the Eucharist, he's in a state of grace. Yet murder is a mortal sin. That's Catholic unity for you.

Nonsense. I don't ask permission from the Magisterium before buying a bible.

You can't interpret it w/o the Magisterium. Try to follow along.

But fallible oral communication that was informed by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

Where was the Roman Catholic Church that day?

Church office is not dynastic by blood, but by succession. Very similar.

Not the same. Now you're trying to fill in gaps.

Thus the need for some kind of authority, whether it be Trent or tradition.

Trent canonized Wisdom of Solomon. Does your theory of inspiration include pious frauds like Wisdom?

By casting out both you cast away your hermeneutical foundation.

Only if we assume your standard.

The Catholic Church is objectively the one the apostles founded

You've not shown this to be true.

but no book is objectively inspired by God. All Scripture is inspired.

1) You assume apriori that 1Tim and 2Tim are inspired.

1. Pauline authorship would select for this, or do you believe that Apostolic authorship doesn't select for canonicity?

2) You assume Paul isn't quoting some other now lost writing.

What's your alternative?

3) You assume Paul wrote it.

1. No we've argued for Pauline authorship on the blog before.
2. Interestingly Cardinal Dulles has problems with Pauline authorship.

You've just shown your epistemological foundation is viciously regressive. What you regard as inspired cannot have the objective foundation as the historical fact that the apostles founded the Catholic Church.

So, tell us again how exactly the Jews muddled along without Trent to define the OT and the Subapostolic Church and Medieval Church muddled along without Trent?

You have never demonstrated that the Apostles founded the Catholic Church. Here's a thought, why don't you document that assertion before making it again.

Oh, and second warning for repeating that assertion numerous times w/o supporting argument. Three is the magic number for a permaban.

JJ responded:
Oh, okay. Earlier you said that those who take the Eucharist are in a state of grace. So, when an abortionist like John Kerry takes the Eucharist, he's in a state of grace. Yet murder is a mortal sin. That's Catholic unity for you."

What's this diversion? You are supposed to be in a state of grace. If people defy the church's rules, it's not an argument against the rules. Do you allow unrepentant sinners to partake? If not, why be such a hypocrite?

"You can't interpret it w/o the Magisterium. Try to follow along."

That's like saying I can't interpret Genesis apart from Paul. The obvious silliness of the accusation is apparent to all.

"Where was the Roman Catholic Church that day?"

Where was the Catholic Church? What sort of a question is that?

"Trent canonized Wisdom of Solomon. Does your theory of inspiration include pious frauds like Wisdom?"

You mean because of the title? I await your proof that the book contains nothing at all passed down from Solomon. (Good luck proving a negative). And that assumes I need to regard the title as part of the inspired text. Or that the title isn't an idiom.

"1. Pauline authorship would select for this, or do you believe that Apostolic authorship doesn't select for canonicity?"

You're the one tasked with manufacturing a rule of faith out of whole cloth. You need to prove whether apostolic authorship makes something inspired, irrespective of what I believe.

"What's your alternative?"

Irrelevant. Unless you can produce every non-extant ancient document to do an exhaustive search in, then you're making a supposition.

"1. No we've argued for Pauline authorship on the blog before."

An argument? Give me a witness at least, if you don't accept tradition as an argument.

"So, tell us again how exactly the Jews muddled along without Trent to define the OT and the Subapostolic Church and Medieval Church muddled along without Trent?"

What's Trent got to do with anything? Before Trent we had the Tradition and customs of the Catholic Church. Same as the Jews had.

If I asked you to prove the OT canon, you'd start talking about what such and such a Jew had to say. That's an appeal to tradition. That's an appeal that assumes a recognisable body of Jews existed who held a unified tradition, and that the person quoted was a member of said group. In short, you'd be forced to fall back to a tradition-based canon.

"You have never demonstrated that the Apostles founded the Catholic Church. Here's a thought, why don't you document that assertion before making it again."

Document a widely known historical fact? There's 2000 years of witnesses and continuity, where would one even begin?

"“The Holy Church.” God is pointed out, and His temple. “For the temple of God is holy,” says the Apostle, “which (temple) are ye.” This same is the holy Church, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church" - Augustine, on the Creed.

"Oh, and second warning for repeating that assertion numerous times w/o supporting argument. Three is the magic number for a permaban."

Pity you don't apply the criteria to yourselves and perma-ban the whole blog.

Now, here's where we are currently:

What's this diversion? You are supposed to be in a state of grace. If people defy the church's rules, it's not an argument against the rules. Do you allow unrepentant sinners to partake? If not, why be such a hypocrite?

Now you have added a caveat not in your original statement. Earlier you said:

Since you can only receive Eucharist if you are in a state of grace, it hardly seems rational to talk about the Eucharist as primary means for remaining in a state of grace and avoiding dying in mortal sin.

Now you are saying, "You are supposed to be in a state of grace." So, in your case, what we have is the priesthood threatening to without the Eucharist from abortionists like Kerry but failing to do so, yet abortion is murder, therefore a mortal sin. So, according to your defintion of "unity," that would mean that Catholicism unites itself with those in mortal sin. That's Catholic unity for you.

And you've also undercut one of your own objections to Sola Scriptura. If people can't agree on the correct intepretation of the text, it's not an argument against the rule of faith.

That's like saying I can't interpret Genesis apart from Paul. The obvious silliness of the accusation is apparent to all.

You keep offering that retort without an argument. We've aleady answered several times.

In Roman Catholic theology, the Magisterium is the gatekeeper. It defines the canon. You can't begin to know what your Bible contains without the Magisterium to tell you. Not only does it define the canon it claims it and only it has the right to interpret it. Any interpretation outside of their viewpoint is off limits. I guess I have to show you the Council of Trent itself:


The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent,--lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the Same three legates of the Apostolic Sec presiding therein,--keeping this [Page 18] always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament--seeing that one God is the author of both --as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. And it has thought it meet that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one's mind, which are the books that are received by this Synod. They are as set down here below: of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second. Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according [Page 19] to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle. But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema. Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.


Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod,--considering that no small utility may accrue to the Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions, now in circulation, of the sacred books, is to be held as authentic,--ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many years, has been approved of in the Church, be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever.

Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,--in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, --wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,--hath held and doth hold; [Page 20] or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established.

And wishing, as is just, to impose a restraint, in this matter, also on printers, who now without restraint,--thinking, that is, that whatsoever they please is allowed them,--print, without the license of ecclesiastical superiors, the said books of sacred Scripture, and the notes and comments upon them of all persons indifferently, with the press ofttimes unnamed, often even fictitious, and what is more grievous still, without the author's name; and also keep for indiscriminate sale books of this kind printed elsewhere; (this Synod) ordains and decrees, that, henceforth, the sacred Scripture, and especially the said old and vulgate edition, be printed in the most correct manner possible; and that it shall not be lawful for any one to print, or cause to be printed, any books whatever, on sacred matters, without the name of the author; nor to sell them in future, or even to keep them, unless they shall have been first examined, and approved of, by the Ordinary; under pain of the anathema and fine imposed in a canon of the last Council of Lateran: and, if they be Regulars, besides this examination and approval, they shall be bound to obtain a license also from their own superiors, who shall have examined the books according to the form of their own statutes. As to those who lend, or circulate them in manuscript, without their having been first examined, and approved of, they shall be subjected to the same penalties as printers: and they who shall have them in their possession or shall read them, shall, unless they discover the authors, be themselves regarded as the authors. And the said approbation of books of this kind shall be given in writing; and for this end it shall appear authentically at the beginning of the book, whether the book be written, or printed; and all this, that is, both the approbation and the examination, shall be done gratis, that so what ought to be approved, may be approved, and what ought to be condemned, may be condemned.

Besides the above, wishing to repress that temerity, by which the words and sentences of sacred Scripture are turned and [Page 21] twisted to all sorts of profane uses, to wit, to things scurrilous, fabulous, vain, to flatteries, detractions, superstitions, impious and diabolical incantations, sorceries, and defamatory libels; (the Synod) commands and enjoins, for the doing away with this kind of irreverence and contempt, and that no one may hence forth dare in any way to apply the words of sacred Scripture to these and such like purposes; that all men of this description, profaners and violators of the word of God, be by the bishops restrained by the penalties of law, and others of their own appointment.

So, if you've got a problem with our reply, JJ, we're just taking what Trent says seriously. Remember, you're the one who appealed to Trent earlier yourself.

Where was the Catholic Church? What sort of a question is that?

Where was the ROMAN Catholic Church that day? It's a simple question. So, in relation to the Ethiopian Eunuch, where was the Roman Church the day he was converted? What fallible oral traditions were involved?

You're making the claim that such tradition existed, so support your assertions. It begs the question to point to the Apostles, for you've not established that there is such a thing as Apostolic Tradition going from the Apostles to the Roman Magisterium or that there was a Catholic Church. I too affirm there was catholic (small c) church, but I deny that we can get from there to Rome.

And, one more time, nobody here has ever argued that our rule of faith was the rule of faith qua rule in the time of inscripturation. You keep trading on a straw man of what we actually teach.

You mean because of the title? I await your proof that the book contains nothing at all passed down from Solomon. (Good luck proving a negative). And that assumes I need to regard the title as part of the inspired text. Or that the title isn't an idiom.

Nooo, problem.

“Thus the author of Wisd is quite capable of constructing sentences in true period style (12:27; 13:11-15), and his fondness for compound words is almost Aeschylean. His manner at times has the light tough of Greek lyric poetry (17:17-19; 2:6-9; 5:9-13), and occasionally his words fall into an iambic or hexameter rhythm. He employs…Greek philosophical terminology,” D. Winston, the Wisdom of Solomon: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Doubleday 1979), 15-16.

“These characteristics, in addition to the author’s many favorite ‘theme words and expressions which recur throughout the work, argue for unity of authorship, and make the hypothesis that Wisd is a translation of a Hebrew original virtually untenable,” ibid. 16-17.

“No consensus has thus far emerged regarding the date of Wisd, and various scholars have place it anywhere between 220 BCE and 50 CE,” ibid 20.

“There are further considerations, however, which point to the reign of Gaius ‘Caligula’ (37:41 CE) as the likeliest setting for Wisd,” ibid. 23.

Yet book intimates Solomonic authorship. This would make Wisdom a pious fraud.

You're the one tasked with manufacturing a rule of faith out of whole cloth. You need to prove whether apostolic authorship makes something inspired, irrespective of what I believe.

Punting back to us won't help you since we've made a case for the canon and the authorship of many books in the archives.

Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox agree that apostolic authorship selects for canonicity. Ergo, I have no such burden of proof to discharge if we share this common ground.

Also, there is a long history of Protestants "proving that apostolic authorship selects for inspiration." Here's a thought, do your homework.

You sidestepped another issue: None other than Cardinal Dulles regards the Pastorals as pseudonymous. You may want to have a word with him.

"What's your alternative?"

Quite relevant. If you can't come up with an alternative, why should we? Again, punting back to us won't help you.

1. No we've argued for Pauline authorship on the blog before."

We've argued Pauline authorship with Jon Curry. You can see plenty in the archives relating to the authorship of several gospels.

It's not that we don't accept "tradition" as an argument. Rather, we deny the infallibility of tradition. External attestation is one source of evidence.

What's Trent got to do with anything? Before Trent we had the Tradition and customs of the Catholic Church. Same as the Jews had

1. See above.
2. You earlier claimed that you knew Luke was inspired by Trent's decree. How can we verify Trent was correct?
3. Your last statement is a case for my rule of faith, not yours.

If I asked you to prove the OT canon, you'd start talking about what such and such a Jew had to say. That's an appeal to tradition. That's an appeal that assumes a recognisable body of Jews existed who held a unified tradition, and that the person quoted was a member of said group. In short, you'd be forced to fall back to a tradition-based canon.

And how is that a problem for us, exactly? It's not. We call that external attestation. We also can do so via lines of internal evidence. We've done this many times, particularly with the Orthodox (Orthodox, Jay Dyer, etc.). The fact that you have yet to actually examine our archives betrays what a dishonest opponent you are.

Document a widely known historical fact? There's 2000 years of witnesses and continuity, where would one even begin?

Where you start is is up to you. If it's a historical fact, then you should be able to document it. The fact that you haven't, your attitude, and the way you spell certain words, Orth..I mean JJ, is leading us to think that you aren't simply "JJ," rather you are one of our former banned commenters.

“The Holy Church.” God is pointed out, and His temple. “For the temple of God is holy,” says the Apostle, “which (temple) are ye.” This same is the holy Church, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church" - Augustine, on the Creed.

The Orthodox would disagree that this is a reference to the Roman Catholic Church. You need to prove that the Roman Catholic Church actually goes back to the First Century.

Pity you don't apply the criteria to yourselves and perma-ban the whole blog.

1. We peg our responses to nitwits like you. If you repeat yourself, we have to repeat ourselves.
2. And you don't get to tell us what to do in our own house, JJ.
3. In fact, that's warning number 3.

Survey Says....GOODBYE!

My suggestion for you if you want to actually interact with this blog with this attitude and level of argumentation again is that you start your own blog. However, I strongly suspect you have one already under a different name.

That said, this is how this works: You aren't debating in good faith. You keep repeating the same objections, and we keep answering them, yet you keep repeating them. You keep making assertions without supporting arguments. We've documented this several times.

So, being that you've reached the 3rd warning you have two choices.

1. Shape up.
2. Don't shape up.

In the event you choose the second option, we will, without further commentary, begin deleting your posts, for the choice of Option 2 will be taken as an admission that your argumentation really isn't worth the bandwidth. You can choose Option 1; in fact, you would do well to ask some of your fellow Roman Catholics to help you in the combox. In principle, we have no objection to that if it actually moves the discussion along.