Philip and I corresponded privately behind the scenes, but I wanted to respond here to some of his comments in the thread below:
1. I certainly did not (and do not) mean to be disingenuous. I just wanted to have a conversation. I am an affable and curious and talkative guy. Also, my name really is Philip Jude, so you don't need to put it in scare quotes. Heck, you even know my last name, having traced me back to Catholic Lane.
Hi Philip, I know we have corresponded privately, but I wanted to respond publicly to some of your comments here. I am sorry that you feel uncomfortable. I apologize, if you did not intend to be disingenuous, but after our private correspondence, and reading some of your other works, I’m still inclined to think you’re holding something back. (And again, I respect your privacy and anonymity, but I’m inclined to think you’re not being straight, and I’ll say why below).
2. I am not a professional by any means, just a practicing Catholic who loves the Bible and is fascinated by philosophy and theology. The last class I took on theology was in tenth grade. I don't even have a college degree! (For many years I struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse, which complicated the whole formal education thing.) Nope, I am just a theology geek with a big appetite for books. Simple as that.
Even so, this level of humility does nothing to explain some of the things you have written which are very articulate and well-thought-out pieces. Maybe not a “formal education”, but you are not just “a theology geek with a big appetite for books”. You have trained and knowledgeable teachers, and not only a “big appetite” for books, but access to them, and the time to study them. I’m thinking maybe you are affiliated with a religious order somewhere, or at least, you have close access to them, but that’s just a surmise.
4. Yes, I have been editing for Catholic Lane for several months. It is a part-time, unpaid position that I secured through a friend. It's my small way of giving back to the Church.
Such things take time and knowledge, and you have these, and you have not acquired them in a haphazard way, through light and curious reading.
The Bible is not enough, as it clearly states! That is an Islamic claim unknown to Christians prior to the Reformation. Even then, it was exclusive to the radicals, utterly rejected by the likes of Calvin and Luther.
You will have to show me where the Bible states that it is not sufficient. You should qualify that, as “sufficient for its own intended purposes”. As it is, your statement is a bit of a straw man. Even the WCF qualifies the “naked Bible” as you posit.
Anyway, the adjective "Roman" (which you insist upon) is ultimately misleading. It is rather the Church Universal. That the Chair of Peter happened to end up in Rome is an accident of history. (And, as I've remarked before, I am indeed wary of certain papal claims.)
On the contrary, Rome is precisely the problem. It is the wholesale importation of Roman culture that is among the earliest corruptions of the Apostolic message, and I believe that with the help of some of the modern New Testament scholarship, and other scholarship dealing with the early church, this will become more and more evident over time.
Rome “claims” universality, and I intend to comment, for example, on Ratzinger’s article about the very nature of “Roman” “Catholic”. And as far as Peter having ended up in Rome as “an accident of history”, Ratzinger disagrees with you. In his “Called to Communion”, he goes to great lengths to prove that “Rome was the original pre-eminent authority”, the very purpose of the progression in Acts. But I’m sure you are more correct than he is in this question.
Although, it is likely that Peter, a traveling missionary to the Jews, never had a “chair”. The concept of “a chair” is a later superimposition on what the Apostles actually taught and did.
You separate Christ and His Church, but this is impossible. Communion with Christ is communion with His Body (the Church), and vice versa.
No, I do not “separate Christ and His Church”. I separate Rome from “Christ and his church”. Roman, pagan accretions. Yes, every Christian, as I said above, may boast of “union with Christ”. But this is a direct, personal relationship. No Roman hierarchy is required.
Given this great and wonderful mystery, the Christian is bound to discern the true Church among the chaos of competing sects. From my (admittedly amateur) study of history and Scripture, I believe this to be the Catholic Church.
No, turn to Christ and you be a member of the church. “Repent and be baptized.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”. And you will be part of the universal body of Christ. No Roman hierarchy is required.
You insist on using the semi-pejorative term "Roman," but this is misleading: there are Byzantine Catholics, Maronite Catholics, Chaldean Catholics, Syro-Malabar Catholics, Malankarese Catholics, Coptic Catholics, Ethiopian Catholics, Syriac Catholics, and so on. Some of these rites differ significantly from Rome, undercutting the notion that communion with the papacy is truly a state of abject servility.
It is not the “rites” that are foundational. It is “abject servility to the papacy” that makes them part of the Roman network of things. There is one thing that unites all these “rites”. As an Opus Dei friend put it to me, “the pope is in charge”.
As for the hierarchy: Sure, all churches have hierarchies. Anyway, hierarchy was an aspect of the Church from the start, as evidenced by Acts. The episcopal structure is revealed by Scripture and confirmed by the earliest fathers.
Yes, and here is the hierarchy: “he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”. Not popes and bishops and sees and chairs and endless successions based merely on “office”. In the “earliest fathers”, you should note that even Ignatius did not hold to “apostolic succession” as Rome defines it.
As I mentioned in our emails, Francis Sullivan’s study, “Apostles to Bishops” concludes, “while most Catholic scholars agree that the episcopate is the fruit of the post-New Testament development, they maintain that this development was so evidently guided by the Holy Spirit that it must be recognized as corresponding to God’s plan for the structure of his Church”.
I’ll agree with him that it was a “post-New Testament development”, but it is evident (as further study is showing) that this is not only not “structural” in any way, but it was rightly rejected by the Reformers, when this system, which was beneficial in the 2nd century but had become totally corrupted by the 14th century.
Let me reiterate that I do harbor doubts regarding certain aspects of Catholicism (mainly the papacy).
Then you are on a good path, and in good company. Follow up on this. John Meier and others have said that the papacy “cannot give a credible historical account of its own origins”.