Answering 6 Arguments Against the “Apocrypha”

Zacharias, woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicles (1493)
Zacharias, woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicles (1493)

Protestant Bibles have seven fewer books than Catholic Bibles. These seven books are called “the Deuterocanon” by Catholics, and “the Apocrypha” by Protestants (although, confusingly, they also use “the Apocrypha” to refer to several other books, ones that are rejected by Catholics and Protestants alike).

So what’s the basis for the Protestant rejection of these books? Matt Slick, at the popular Protestant website CARM (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry), offers several reasons:

1. They were not referenced by Jesus.  Jesus directly referenced the entire Jewish canon of Scripture by referring to Abel (the first martyr in the Old Testament) and Zacharias (the last martyr in the OT) (Matt. 23:35).  He also never quotes directly from any of the apocryphal writings but makes numerous references to the Old Testament books.

This argument is extremely deceptive. When you hear that “Jesus directly referenced the entire Jewish canon of Scripture,” you might reasonably conclude that Jesus quoted or referenced each of the Old Testament books that Protestants accept. But that’s not true. In fact, Slick elsewhere concedes that “there are several Old Testament books that are not quoted in the New Testament, i.e., Joshua, Judges, Esther, etc.”

So how can he justify claiming that Jesus “directly referenced the entire Jewish canon of Scripture”? The argument (which he spells out at greater length elsewhere) is much stranger. In Matthew 23:35, Jesus refers to “all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.” Protestants sometimes claim that this is an endorsement of the (modern) Jewish canon of Scripture. Why?

Because the books of the modern Jewish Bible aren’t in chronological order (they’re thematically divided between Law, Prophets, and other Writings). If you read that Bible, Slick’s claim is that  the first martyr you would encounter would be Abel (Genesis 4:8), and the last would be Zechariah (or Zacharias) (2 Chronicles 24:21-22). That’s why he can claim that Zechariah was “the last martyr in the OT,” when that’s not chronologically true.

There are three reasons that this claim is false, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere:

  • It’s not even the right Zechariah. Matthew 23:35 refers to “Zechariah the son of Barachiah.” That’s not the same person as “Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:20) . Jesus is referencing an extra-Scriptural Jewish tradition, not endorsing a particular canon of Scripture.
  • The idea of a canonical book order is anachronistic. Slick is assuming that there was not just a fixed number of books, but a fixed order in which the books appeared, as if the Bible was a single bound book at this point. It wasn’t. The Jews at the time used scrolls, not books, as the Bible repeatedly illustrates (Jeremiah 36:4, Luke 4:17, etc.). The first bound Bibles were an early Christian invention.
  • The Protestant Old Testament wasn’t the one used by Christ. Lee Martin McDonald, a Baptist scholar, concedes that “the current canon of the HB [Hebrew Bible] and the Protestant OT [Old Testament] reflects a Babylonian flavor that was not current or popular in the time of Jesus in the land of Israel.”

The last line of Slick’s last argument is just as deceptive as the rest. He says that Jesus “also never quotes directly from any of the apocryphal writings but makes numerous references to the Old Testament books.” Notice what he’s doing there? He’s demanding that the books that he rejects be held to one standard (directly quoted by Jesus) while accepting a much lower standard for the books that he accepts (for these, it’s enough for them to just be referenced by Jesus). It’s a classic double standard.

But as I mentioned above, many of the Old Testament books that both Protestants and Catholics accept are never quoted or even referenced in the New Testament. Meanwhile, at least part of the Deuterocanon is referenced (e.g., Hebrews 11:35-37 appears to be recounting 2 Maccabees 7). So from start to finish, Slick’s first argument is both deceptive and inaccurate.

2. They lacked apostolic or prophetic authorship.

In a footnote, Slick explains:

Every book in the New Testament was either written by an apostle or someone who knew an apostle (i.e. Luke, who was not an apostle, knew Paul; Mark, who was also not an apostle, knew Peter). One characteristic of an apostle was someone who had seen the risen Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1).

This argument is senseless, since it only applies to New Testament books. Every one of the books in dispute between Catholics and modern Protestants is in the Old Testament. (Luther had rejected four of the New Testament books, but Protestants have long since concluded that the Catholic Church was right.) There’s no requirement that Old Testament books be authored by a particular prophet – several aren’t, and a great many of the books are anonymous (for example, who wrote 2 Kings?).

Even for the New Testament, many of the books are internally anonymous. So how does Slick know that these other books were written by an Apostle or someone who knew an Apostle? Because the early Church says so… an early Church whose views he distrusts.

3. They did not claim to be the Word of God.

Again, this is an obviously bad standard. Where do any of the books of the New Testament claim to be the Word (or small-w word) of God? Short answer: they don’t. St. Peter references at one point to Paul’s writings being Scripture (2 Peter 3:16), but that’s it.

So if you reject every book that doesn’t announce itself to be Scripture, be prepared to throw out all of the New Testament and much of the Old. Otherwise, it’s just another ridiculous double standard, in which books Slick doesn’t like need to declare themselves Scripture, but ones he likes don’t.

4. They contain unbiblical concepts such as prayer for the dead (2 Macc. 12:45-46) or the condoning of magic (Tobit 6:5-7).

Rejecting parts of the Bible because you don’t like what they teach is elevating yourself above Sacred Scripture. And calling these teachings “unbiblical” is circular: they’re not part of the Bible because they teach things that aren’t in the Bible because they aren’t in the Bible.

It’s good that Slick concedes here that the Catholic teaching about praying for the dead is found in the Deuterocanon. It means that if he’s wrong about the canon (and so far, he’s clearly wrong about the canon) then he’s also wrong about praying for the dead.

I’ve addressed the Tobit 6 argument before, but you can’t just call miracles you don’t like “magic.” In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus has Peter catch a fish with enough money in its mouth to pay the Temple Tax. And all four Gospels involve miraculous feeding of thousands of people with just a few fish. If Tobit 6 is “magic,” then so are these. This argument betrays a total (and startling!) failure to understand the difference between miracles and magic.

5. They have serious historical inaccuracies (For more information, see “Errors in the Apocrypha”).

This is another double standard. Secular scholars question the historicity of several of the Old Testament accounts (Noah’s Ark, the size and scale of the Israelites’ battles, etc., etc.). To reject these secular critiques for the books you like, and blindly parrot them for books that you don’t, is another indefensible double standard.

The “lost books” were never lost. They were known by the Jews in Old Testament times and the Christians of the New Testament times and were never considered scripture. They weren’t lost, nor were they removed. They were never in the Bible in the first place (see: Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible). [….] Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic church has added certain books to the canon of scripture. In 1546, largely due in response to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic church authorized several more books as scripture known as the apocrypha.

This is just a lie.

On CARM’s own website, they acknowledge:

It is true that the Catholic Church accepted the Apocryphal books at earlier councils at Rome (A.D. 382), Hippo (A.D. 393), Carthage (A.D. 397), and Florence (A.D. 1442).  However, these were not universal Church councils and the earlier councils were influenced heavily by Augustine, who was no Biblical expert, compared to the scholar Jerome, who rejected the Apocrypha as part of the Old Testament Canon.  Furthermore, it is doubtful that these local church council’s decisions were binding on the Church at large since they were local councils.  Sometimes these local councils made errors and had to be corrected by a universal church council.

To claim that these books were “never considered Scripture” is just grossly false, then, and they know it. So, too, is the claim that the Catholic Church “authorized” new books after the Reformation is false, and the claim that the Church “added certain books to the canon of scripture” in 1546.

It’s also false that Florence wasn’t a universal Church Council: it was (it’s the Seventeenth Ecumenical Council). The Council was convened by the Pope Eugene IV (who personally attended), and represented by Catholics, Orthodox, and Copts. It was actually in the Bull of Union with the Copts that the Catholics, Orthodox, and Copts jointly declared their belief in the 73 books of the Catholic canon.

Finally, it’s more than a bit hypocritical to bash the Councils of Carthage and Hippo for their alleged lack of Biblical expertise, and then rely upon those same two Councils to try to prove the historicity of the New Testament canon. But Matt Slick, unsurprisingly, does just that.

So every part of Slick’s line of argumentation against the canon of Scripture relies upon lies, deceptions, or double standards. Mind you, I’m not cherry-picking, here. I answered each and every one of the arguments that he listed. And CARM invited this debate: they have a whole section on their site about Biblical “lost books,” and have written several equally-inaccurate arguments against the Catholic Deuterocanon. Nor am I choosing some fringe Internet loon. By their own reckoning, CARM “has reached more than 7.5 million people in the last year,” averaging “about 23,000 New Visitors to the site daily.” It’s scandalous that a Christian apologetics site would rely upon deceptions, half-truths, and outright lies in this way. More importantly, I’m hopeful that this helps my Protestant readers to become aware of just how bad the case is for the 66-book Protestant Bible.

124 Comments

  1. Thank you for refuting Slick’s slick arguments! His website causes much confusion. This is a great article and I will definitely share it. I think I noticed a typo in point 2 though. Did you mean “a particular Prophet” instead of “Protestant”?

    1. Christen,

      Good catch on that (amusing) typo, I’ve fixed it. And I’ll have you know I stayed (barely) above making the “Slick slick” pun…. although I might have used it in an earlier post.

  2. “Sometimes these local councils made errors and had to be corrected by a universal church council.”
    I have wondered if M. Luther, et al ever called a Universal Church Council to debate his(their) ‘reforms’.

    1. No. But Trent was held where it was held so it would be easier for the prots invited to that council to debate whatever they wanted to debate.

      But, although many were called, few (actually none)chose to go.

      1. How could M. Luther call a Church Council to debate the ‘reforms’ when he said that “There are now as many doctrines as there are heads?” This is why this concept is inherently humorous in all of its tragedy. It might be the source of the joke about ‘herding cats’.

  3. The Gutenberg Bible was printed 33 years before Luther was born, and 100 years before the Council of Trent. In it, you will find all the books that were re-named in the 16th century “deuterocanonicals”.

  4. Yeah, Matt Slick is not really a serious apologist and what’s worse is he thinks he is. James White is a much better critic of the Church but his arguments are bad as well. Slick would do well to at least familiarize himself with the early Church Fathers but he’s admitted he hasn’t. Let’s pray for his conversion.

    Matthew

  5. Hmm…

    As to Jesus never referencing the Deuterocanonical books, how about His parable of the foolish wise man?

    “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
    (Luke 12: 16-20)

    Compare to what the Book of Sirach says:

    “There is a man who is rich through his diligence and self-denial, and this is the reward allotted to him: when he says, “I have found rest, and now I shall enjoy my goods!” he does not know how much time will pass until he leaves them to others and dies.”
    (Sirach 11:18-19)

    I’d say that was a referencing!

        1. Hmm…

          Wikipedia says that the Aesop fable is not original to the Greek fabulist, dates to the Middle Ages, and was actually inspired by Jesus’s use of the idea of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

          So what is the truth here? Did Jesus reference an Aesopean fable, or did Medieval scribes invent a fable based on Jesus’s parable?

          But this is all a side-issue. What is indisputable is that Jesus referenced the Deuterocanonical texts. (And everyone knows that the Book of Hebrews is absolutely chock-a-block with allusions to Tobit and 2 Maccabees.)

  6. Protestant apologetics on this issue are woefully inadequate. James White accepted my challenge to demonstrate how Esther is Canon and not Wisdom of Solomon. Sadly, he responded with a historical fallacy and claimed Esther was laid up in the temple, but Wisdom of Solomon was not. However, no one knows which books were in the temple and 1 and 2 Maccabees says only the Torah was.

    This is me interacting with James WHite’s historically false response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qgf3AT0_0CM

    Apologists make a lot of false historical claims to bolster their arguments, which saddens me. Joe has been on the other side of this too, claiming in the same post that “no one” in the early church held to a 66 book Canon yet in the same post saying that Jerome and Rufinus are two such examples. To argue that because Jerome, for example, sometimes quoted what he himself called “apocrypha” as Scripture he never held to a 66 book Canon is a position so nuanced, and misleading, that it falls into the misleading apologetics we see in the CARM article above.

    So, in short, I have found both sides of this issue to be dishonest, or just plain ignorant. However, I would happily concede, the RCC and EO positions is historically more consistent. Personally, I think the truth concerning Canon is somewhere in the middle which is why I do not take a firm position on it.

    1. The difference being, of course, that in the post you’re talking about, I specifically address Rufinus and Jerome, and why it’s meaningless to say that they had a 66-book canon in any meaningful sense. They didn’t have a physical 66-book canon (the first codices had some or all of the Deuterocanon, including the Latin Vulgate that St. Jerome helped to create); they quoted the Deuterocanonical Books as Scripture, etc. It’s not as if a 66-book Bible believing Protestant would be able to endorse either of their views on Scripture (other than by cherry-picking a handful of quotations in isolation from the rest of their work).

      I get that you disagree, and think that the fact that they argued for a 66-book canon means that they must have used it at some point, but it’s not dishonest for me to present the evidence, and interpret it differently than your (unique) interpretation.

      That’s pretty night-and-day different from Slick lying about the evidence, or presenting half-truths, employing double standards, etc.

      1. “The difference being, of course, that in the post you’re talking about, I specifically address Rufinus and Jerome, and why it’s meaningless to say that they had a 66-book canon in any meaningful sense.”

        This makes no sense. Jerome gave an introduction to one of his translationsa nd passed comment on what he knew the Canon to be. He directly addressed the issue and he gave an answer you do not like.

        I honestly am amazed, and I mean no disrespect, that you act incredulous that many fathers give Canons that specifically exclude Deuterocanon (Athanasius, Jerome, Rufinus, etc) but at other points quote the Deuterocanon as Scripture. You immediately assume, for some reason I do not know, that this shows in no practical sense did they believe in a Canon excluding the Deuterocanon. However, there are other, perfectly consistent, explanations i.e. they saw the DC as less-inspired/or useful for teaching and used during church readings/etcetera but not up to the par of the books they explicitly list as Canon.

        You, surprisingly, take the position that all of these men changed their minds and contradicted themselves on the issue. While not impossible, this is hardly an necessary reading and acting like it is is just as misleading as some of the mental gymnastics CARM takes part in.

        You, and your readers, know I don’t pick fights and act nit picky for no reason. THere are many thigns you have written I have readily affirmed. In my previous reply, I called out James WHite. I am not trying to pick sides. However, I think you are wrong on this, jsut as I think White is clearly wrong in what he said.

        GOd bless,
        Craig

        1. Hey Craig,

          We’ve been through these arguments before. I recommend you pick up Gary Michuta’s book “Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger” because it addresses a lot of your claims here as well as James White’s (they did debate each other right before Michuta wrote the book). What you have to keep in mind is that when they early Church Fathers used the word “Canon,” they do not mean exactly the same thing we do. They probably used that word to identify which books are read during the liturgical calendar of their respective episcopal sees. However when they use the word “scripture,” Gary Michuta points out both in his book and in his debate with James White that they have to mean what St. Paul means by “scripture” which can be found by looking at the favorite protestant verse of 2 Timothy 3:16. All scripture is inspired by God. That means if an early Church father calls a book “scripture,” he believes that it is inspired (and therefore useful for teaching, correction, training in righteousness, ect.) but maybe not “canonical” according to the definition of that word at the time. But let me ask you this Craig, do you think any of the deuterocanonical books carry any doctrinal weight at all? If so, do you pray for the dead?

          May God be with you.

          Matthew

          1. Michuta’s differentiation does not pertain to several of our early Canons. If we read Athanasius’ festal letter, he clearly and unequivocally excludes other books (and not just for liturgical reasons.) The same can be said for Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Origen, in fact, the whole lot of them. They are not passing comment on which books to read that year. They are saying which books are, indeed, the Scriptures.In fact, the burden of proof would be to point out a “Canon” that is liturgy specific, because all of the famous Canons of the preceding men I named are not.

            To answer your question, yes the DC carries doctrinal weight and no, 2 Macc 12 does not justify prayers to the dead nor purgatory. The prayer on behalf of the dead was pious inasmuch as it had in view the resurrection. The resurrection of the dead was a doctrine disputed by the Jews, and the prayer indeed reflected an approval of this doctrine. However, being that this is the only facet of the prayer that is explicitly approved of by the history in 2 Macc, to take it as approval of the content of the prayer, or as normative, or as allowing us to infer intercessory prayers work on behalf of the dead, or there being a purgatory are far beyond what the text says.

            The fact CARM will reject 2 Macc because of the passage in 2 Macc 12 shows he has not properly read 2 Macc to begin with, let alone having his logic wrong (we cannot reject a Scripture simply because we don’t like what it teaches.)

            God bless,,
            Craig

          2. Craig, what is the point in praying for the dead if it does them no good at all? 2 Maccabees 12: 44-45 states:

            “For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”

            Martin Luther disagreed with you on the interpretation of this text. He knew, as Johan Eck pointed out, that this text is a clear affirmation of purgatory, prayers for the dead, and indulgences used on their behalf. That is why he rejected 2 Maccabees as scripture. It’s extraordinary that you don’t think this text justifies prayers for the dead when it is explicitly commending Judas Maccabeus’s prayers for the dead as “holy and pious.” He took up a collection for a sin offering which “made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” Evidently, the dead could benefit from the sin offering of Judas Maccabeus and his men. The author clearly states that “he made atonement for the dead.” And pointing out that the resurrection is a “disputed doctrine” is irrelevant because as the New Testament makes clear, it is a true doctrine.

            It’s entirely possible that some Church Fathers legitimately did not believe the deuterocanonical books to be scripture at various points. The canon was certainly in question at the time. But Joe is correct that no father ultimately held the view. I’d have to do some more digging on Jerome but even if he did dispute the inspiration of the DCs, he obeyed the Church anyway. He also still called them “scripture” at various points as did Athanasius. Michuta goes into a lot more detail in his book which I highly recommend.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          3. Matt,

            I see you have abandoned Michuta’s argument that the ancient Canons referred to the liturgical calendar.

            “Craig, what is the point in praying for the dead if it does them no good at all?”

            if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.”

            The author of 2 Macc is not entirely sure how to interpret the event so he simply says if the resurrection was in mind, the thought was pious. The implication is that the author is aware that the act itself was scandalous, or unorthodox, or odd, and so he was devising a reasoning to put some sort of positive spin on it. This much is clear. To then jump to all the conclusions you jump to based upon this very guarded, limited approval to me makes no sense.

            “Martin Luther disagreed with you on the interpretation of this text.”

            So, now Luther has everything right according to you?

            If the text so clearly taught purgatory, writers like Augustine would have not commented on the fact that the doctrine may be “doubtful” (his words, not mine) and under dispute.

            “But Joe is correct that no father ultimately held the view.”

            No, this is ridiculous. We do not know what a lot of these guys died believing, as if that were the measure of what their Canon’s were. We have plenty of Fathers than never give Canons, and never cite DC books. To say that no father “ultimately held the view” is to oversstate the evidence.

            Ultimately we have more than a few Canons. Three ECFs gave 66 book Canons. Several more gave 64-68 book Canons largely or entirely leaving out the DC. Not all of them referred to the DC as Scripture in their other books.

            To take the above evidence and then claim no one held to a 66 book Canon or as you modify your claims now, ultimately held to a 66 book Canon, cannot be demonstrated as fact from the preceding evidence. THe former is obviously impossible and the latter is not substantiated by the evidence.

            God bless,
            Craig

        2. Craig,

          What would be the problem if after the council of Hippo, Jerome did submit his mind to be in accord with the Church? Is there a problem in your mind with arguing for a certain position, but then when a council has decided against your position, aligning what you believe, or even arguing for the position that the Church has decided to hold, even though it is opposite what you believed before a council was held?

          1. “What would be the problem if after the council of Hippo, Jerome did submit his mind to be in accord with the Church?”

            Nothing. Men certainly can change their minds.

            My issue is not with a 73 book Canon, nor do I reject that there is some evidence that some fathers accepted some or most of the DC. However, Joe’s claim, that no one had a 66 book Canon, is historically untenable. At most he can say that there were ECFs who had 66 book Canons, but there is evidence that they were inconsistent or changed their minds.

            Personally, I take the view that Jerome saw the DC as secondary the whole time. Hoenstly, this is why I prefer the term DC though the ECFs actually used “apocrypha.” DC carries the correct connotation that these books are of a secondary nature and chronologically were written after the protocanon.

        3. Craig,

          The position you’re accusing me of (that Jerome, et al, once rejected the Deuterocanon and then later changed their position) is not really the position that I’m arguing here. My position is that Jerome argued for a canon that wasn’t a canon that he ever realized (as a codex), a canon that wasn’t what he confined himself to (even in supporting doctrine!), and which wasn’t the canon that he helped to create at the urging of Pope Damasus.

          All of this is easily explained in that the Deuterocanon was widely accepted, and St. Jerome showed himself willing to submit his personal theological opinions to ‘the judgment of the churches,’ and in a special way to the pope.

          “However, there are other, perfectly consistent, explanations i.e. they saw the DC as less-inspired/or useful for teaching and used during church readings/etcetera but not up to the par of the books they explicitly list as Canon.”

          This position isn’t the Protestant position. Someone who believes, as CARM does, that there are 66 inspired books and that the Deuterocanon is unprophetic and erroneous can hardly take refuge in those Fathers who thought that the Deuterocanon was inspired Scripture but not ‘fully canonical.’

          Do you at least agree that Jerome and Rufinus don’t actually take the Protestant view of the canon of Scripture? The mere fact that Jerome has a trifold distinction between canonical-ecclesiastical-apocryphal already sets him apart from the Protestants seeking to appropriate him. (My point, remember, isn’t that Jerome was right or that he held the full Catholic canon; it was that his appropriation by modern Protestants involves an oversimplification of his views on Scripture and the canon.)

          “You, surprisingly, take the position that all of these men changed their minds and contradicted themselves on the issue. “

          No, I don’t.

          I.X.,

          Joe

          1. “All of this is easily explained in that the Deuterocanon was widely accepted, and St. Jerome showed himself willing to submit his personal theological opinions to ‘the judgment of the churches,’ and in a special way to the pope.”

            Yet there is no letter where Jerome is submitting to churches, or the Pope, on this matter that I am ware of. If you cannot produce that, then it is simply made up speculation which hardly is historical evidence.

            “This position isn’t the Protestant position. Someone who believes, as CARM does, that there are 66 inspired books and that the Deuterocanon is unprophetic and erroneous can hardly take refuge in those Fathers who thought that the Deuterocanon was inspired Scripture but not ‘fully canonical.’ Do you at least agree that Jerome and Rufinus don’t actually take the Protestant view of the canon of Scripture? ”

            Being that Jerome (and I know less about Rufinus) did not state a rationale as to how they gave 66 book Canons, but continued to cite other books as authorities, I cannot say that they held to any level of inspiration or how much. I do not know.

            I will happily concede the following: the Reformers, as students of the renaissance, did largely reject the DC because it was not in the original languages. So, I do believe much of this is based upon an unhealthy priority given to the Masoretic Text, which is not part and parcel with reformation doctrine, but it is defintely part of the mindset of the time.

            “No, I don’t.”

            It appears that you do, which is why I said in my original reply, your position on the issue is so misleading that you in part act in this respect much like CARM does.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. Craig,

            You asked about the conflict of St. Jerome and St. Rufinus. Here’s a helpful background to it. It originated in a dispute over Rufinus saying that Jerome was a fan of Origen, but it also involved questions of canon and manuscript. Rufinus thought that Jerome was attacking the Deuterocanonical portions of Daniel, contrary to the canonical Tradition of the Roman Church. That’s the part I quoted earlier.

            Another dimension to their fight was Jerome’s decision to use the Theodotion translation (rather than the LXX) of Daniel. Jerome responded by saying he wasn’t denying the canonicity of the Deuterocanonical portions, and that he follows the “judgment of the churches” in following the Theodotion translation (over his own objections):

            “I also told the reader that the version read in the Christian churches was not that of the Septuagint translators but that of Theodotion. It is true, I said that the Septuagint version was in this book very different from the original, and that it was condemned by the right judgment of the churches of Christ; but the fault was not mine who only stated the fact, but that of those who read the version. We have four versions to choose from: those of Aquila, Symmachus, the Seventy, and Theodotion. The churches choose to read Daniel in the version of Theodotion. What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book. I said therefore, As to which this is not the time to enter into discussion. […] Still, I wonder that a man should read the version of Theodotion the heretic and judaizer, and should scorn that of a Christian, simple and sinful though he may be.”

          3. Joe,

            You are a former lawyer, and I mean this in love, but you have to present the Truth consistently. I know the practice of law is not conducive to this. I honestly even hate wasting my time correcting you on an issue at this, but because I trust that you are open to legitimate criticism and so that readers here may not think your zingers have somehow detracted from the truth, I will address this issue directly.

            I brought up the historical fact that different manuscripts of Jeremiah included Baruch and so many fathers accepted Baruch explicitly may have implicitly passed comment on what they felt to be the most accurate manuscript tradition and compilation. After all, tradition states that Baruch wrote the book of Jeremiah and we have always known that there are marked differences between the Greek and Hebrew traditions of Jeremiah, let alone the issue of Baruch and the Epistle. So, the real argument is which set of words really were penned by Baruch’s hand–the Masoretic/Hebrew tradition with a long version of Jeremiah, or the LXX tradition with Jeremiah/Baruch/Epistle.

            You responded it was not a matter of manuscripts:

            the Fathers were aware that there were different versions of Jeremiah. Several of them are quite explicit on this question. The fact that they held that Baruch was properly part of Jeremiah is a canonical determination, not a quibbling over manuscripts.

            You cite no evidence that this was a Canonical, as opposed to a manuscript, argument. I have read the Fathers on the issue and I cannot recall a single Father that said “I accept Jeremiah, but not Baruch.” Many said, “Jeremiah and Baruch” or just “Jeremiah” when they explicitly addressed issues of Canon. But, how do we know when they say “Jeremiah” they don’t also mean Baruch (and, to be perfectly honest, most read the LXX so they probably did include Baruch by default)? You simply assume that the debate was over Canon. However, you probably cannot show this to be true. You can find Fathers speaking about differences between manuscripts, and their preferences, but not hard and fast differentiations such as Baruch being a separate book from Jeremiah and accounted separately.

            Then, in the above reply, you quote Jerome’s response to Rufinus as to why he went with the Theodotion tradition as opposed to the LXX. In your comments on it you write:

            Rufinus thought that Jerome was attacking the Deuterocanonical portions of Daniel, contrary to the canonical Tradition of the Roman Church…Jerome responded by saying he wasn’t denying the canonicity of the Deuterocanonical portions, and that he follows the “judgment of the churches” in following the Theodotion translation (over his own objections)

            Your thought here is confused. On one hand, you want to portray Jerome as slavishly following the “Canon of Damasus” (which might have never existed, the only mention of its existence was from the sixth century Decretum Gelasianum). However, Jerome never mentions this. He simply appeals to the practice of “churches” at large. On the other hand, you in your own words admit they are quibbling over manuscript traditions.

            If you read Jerome’s words that you cited, that is all he is doing. Quibbling over manuscripts.

            So, the argument is not over whether Daniel is Canon, or if the additions are also Canon. The question is which is the legit book of Daniel. Jerome’s answer is that the church more widely recognized the Theodotion version, which follows the Masoretic Text and not the LXX generally.

            My chief concern in your treatment of the DC is that it is so one sided that it leads you to reject obvious truths (there demonstrably were 66 Book Canons in early church history, the argument between Rufinus and Jerome was over Canon when it clearly was over manuscripts, etc), that you in fact engage in the same misleading tactics that CARM did. To make the audacious claim that “no one used a 66 book Canon” and when posed with a list of men who did respond with, “but they quoted DC books here and there” is to quibble over the word “used.” It’s a lawyer tactic and it misleads people who simply read things at face value. To 99% of your readers who read “no one used a 66 book Canon” they will immediately assume, and rightly so based upon the standard conventions of communication, that a 66 book Canon never existed. And there’s the rub. By your use of words, you just misled your readers. Sure you can defend yourself over how you are technically correct until the cows come home, but so can CARM argue the same way in defense of Point 5 in the above article.

            God bless,
            Craig

    2. I readily admit that some of the Church Fathers thought of the deuterocanon as a “secondary canon” of useful readings (which is also what some early protestants believed). I also readily admit that some of the cardinals at the Council of Trent advocated for one of the shorter canons. However, being that I’m a Roman Catholic, once a council clarifies so, it’s settled, and that’s the only reason I take a firm position on it amongst Catholics.

      We’ve been over Councils before though.

      In the end, the canon (while it may be fun to pick apart each other’s arguments) is a red herring to the substantial differences in Ecclesiology, Authority, Justification, Anthropology, Sacramentology, etc. Best to follow the example of our Blessed Lord and talk about the Resurrection first rather than the Authority of the Prophets first. 😉

      Pax Domini,
      Alex Folkerts

      1. Again, my issue with WHite, CARM, and the quibble with Joe is when people use historically false statements to support some sort of presupposition they have. If your statement is simply, “Yes, some ECFs had 66 book Canons and many Catholics rejected the DC until Trent, but once Trent settles it that’s it” I will accept that argument as historically true and internally consistent.

        1. Craig,

          Which ECF’S call the Deuterocanon Apocrypha? I know Athanasius and Rufinius clearly state that they are not.

          Craig said:

          The same can be said for Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Origen, in fact, the whole lot of them. They are not passing comment on which books to read that year. They are saying which books are, indeed, the Scriptures.

          Glad you made this comment, because in the past I have showed you where Athanasius, Jerome and many other ECF’S quote from the Deuterocanon, and call them either holy scripture, or inspired scripture. In one quotation, Jerome calls it God’s word. I believe his quotations from the Deuterocanon, where he calls them scripture is over 50.

          1. “Which ECF’S call the Deuterocanon Apocrypha? ”

            Thanks for pointing this out by asking the question. I was misremembering the last chapter of Athanasius’ festal letter. He excluded the DC as Canon, but he specifically did not call them apocrypphal, as he said heretics wrote apocryphal books.

            I apologize for misinforming you.

        2. Craig,

          “Yes, some ECFs had 66 book Canons and many Catholics rejected the DC until Trent, but once Trent settles it that’s it” isn’t accurate. First, you’re actually claiming that one Father did, Jerome.

          You can’t really claim Rufinus as a defender of the Protestant Bible. After all, Rufinus is the one who tore into Jerome for abandoning the Deuterocanonical portions of Scripture:

          “I reject the wisdom which Peter and Paul did not teach. I will have nothing to do with a truth which the Apostles have not approved. These are your own words: The ears of simple men among the Latins ought not after four hundred years to be molested by the sound of new doctrines. Now you are yourself saying: Every one has been under a mistake who thought that Susanna had afforded an example of chastity to both the married and the unmarried. It is not true. And every one who thought that the boy Daniel was filled with the Holy Spirit and convicted the adulterous old men, was under a mistake. That also was not true. And every congregation throughout the universe, whether of those who are in the body or of those who have departed to be with the Lord, even though they were holy martyrs or confessors, all who have sung the Hymn of the three children have been in error, and have sung what is false. Now therefore after four hundred years the truth of the law comes forth for us, it has been bought with money from the Synagogue.”

          Rufinus also quotes Baruch 3:37 as a prophecy of the divinity of Christ, using it as one of the proofs of Christ’s divinity in his explanation of the Creed (ascribing it to “the Prophet”).

          You also can’t claim Athanasius, since he also held to the canonicity of the Book of Baruch, and quite explicitly.

          I.X.,

          Joe

          1. Joe,

            As we discussed previously, Baruch was not considered a separate book from Jeremiah from many of the Fathers, and rightly so as it was part of the same manuscript in the LXX. I see the debate over Baruch as a matter of manuscripts as Protestants already presume that Baruch compiled the book anyway. Hence, when we read Jeremiah, we are really reading Baruch (and, in fact, really reading God, but I digress.)

            As for Rufinus “tearing into Jerome” for not adhering to the DC, I don’t see that in your citation. Perhaps I am especially dense today, but I just don’t see it there. Can you elaborate or specify specifically what you are citing as evidence?

          2. Craig,

            That objection doesn’t hold for two reasons. First, the Fathers were aware that there were different versions of Jeremiah. Several of them are quite explicit on this question. The fact that they held that Baruch was properly part of Jeremiah is a canonical determination, not a quibbling over manuscripts.

            Second, you’re arguing that the “66 book canon” was held by these early Fathers, meaning that you’re applying the modern canonical distinctions. You can’t honestly make that claim while conceding that their actual canons would (by modern numbering) be either 65 or 67 books.

            I.X.,

            Joe

        3. Second, while there was a position that held the Deuterocanonical Books were somehow less-inspired, or that some or all of these books were ‘non-canonical Scripture,’ this isn’t remotely the Protestant positions. And in fact, all non-Lutheran Protestants would stand with Catholics (I think) in saying that the categories of “canonical Scriptures” and “inspired Scriptures” are properly coterminous. Which is to say that Protestants would say that, given their views on the DC being inspired, these Fathers should have included the books in their canon.

          This points to a difference in how we’re using the term “canonical” compared with how some earlier Catholic authors used it. (For example, certain inspired books are never used in the Liturgy. We wouldn’t hesitate to say that such a book is “canonical,” because it’s inspired; some Fathers would say that it isn’t, because it isn’t liturgical. But that’s a dispute only over the meaning of the term “canonical,” not over the actual status of the book.)

          1. Joe,

            To piggyback on what you have said, I would add that a comparison of early church fathers use of the word canon to the way most Protestant’s use the word canon is not even close.

            When a Protestant uses the word, they mean scripture, and for them, if it’s scripture, it’s in the canon. An honest reading of the church fathers, shows this not to be the case for them. Every church father Craig has mentioned as having the same canon as Protestants, at some point quotes from the DC’S as scripture, and clearly state that it is scripture. No community of Protestants would ever do that.

            Even if a church father did hold the DC’S to second class status, that is still a far cry from how the Protestant community holds them, where they are denied scriptural status at all.

  7. Matthew said:

    Martin Luther disagreed with you on the interpretation of this text. He knew, as Johan Eck pointed out, that this text is a clear affirmation of purgatory, prayers for the dead, and indulgences used on their behalf. That is why he rejected 2 Maccabees as scripture.

    It also was clear to St. Augustine in The Care To Be Had For The Dead, and John Calvin.

  8. You know, this conversation is an excellent illustration, in a nutshell, of why I joined the Catholic Church. I don’t have the time or the knowledge to pore over the church fathers and historical evidence to pick this issue apart for myself. Most people don’t. If Christ didn’t establish an authority to decide these issues, people like me are in big trouble. This is the issue I never see Protestants acknowledge. It’s great to say “Just read the Bible and follow what it says,” but Protestants never seem to admit that figuring out what it actually says (or even, clearly, which books are actually Scripture) is no trivial matter. Interpretation is the key, and the average layperson simply isn’t equipped to do it accurately. We have to rely on an authority, and how do I know that my Protestant pastor is interpreting correctly? I can’t. Ultimately, it all boils down to a question of authority, and the Catholic Church is the only one with a plausible claim to that, in my opinion. I’m so grateful to finally have found a place I can rest, without constantly having to evaluate the claims and interpretations of every preacher I come across. It was exhausting, and I could never be certain I was right, which was really deeply disturbing when considering questions of eternal significance.

    1. I think you are invoking a false epistemological dilemma, or in simpler jargon, you are saying that without a cut-and-dry authority we are in an intellectual crisis where we have no idea what is true.

      Job did not have a magesterium. The Maccabbees, who wrote during a time when there were no prophets in the land, had no authority from God other than their Scriptures (and sacraments which portrayed divine realities.) And, if you honestly read the early church fathers, and know your history, they also lacked an infallible Pope (no one ever heard of the concept), infallible Canon, or even a belief in any infallible interpretation of Scripture.

      Yet, believers in the one true God have persisted all these years.

      So, while none of this should be construed to mean that there is no need for a Pope, as one can be a Roman Catholic and still be a faithful Christian, my point is that Roman Catholicism is only the answer to an epistemological problem that has never existed. If we study our history, this is something we can affirm.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. No one ever heard of the concept? If one of the earliest church fathers said no error could come from Rome, would that not be the concept of infallibility personified?

      2. But I don’t read the early church fathers, honestly or otherwise, because I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five young children with many other things that keep me busy. Reading you and Fr. Heschmeyer arguing about them is barely manageable. Much as I would loe to do an in-depth historical, linguistic analysis of each doctrinal topic, I can’t. And that was my point. How does someone like me evaluate her authority figures for orthodoxy?

        Interesting point about a lack of infallible authority in OT times.

        1. This is a good point. This is why God’s model for the Church is a Kingdom. A Kingdom is a hierarchy with princes to fulfill the Kings orders and desires. The peasants trust the princes even as they trust the King, because the princes are given this very task of governing in the Kingdom. Thats what a kingdom is all about. The peasants believe in this model. They are good and faithful citizens of the Kingdom. The King loves them for their loyalty and obedience to all others in their kingdom. The Shepherd loves his sheep and the sheep loves the shepherd. It’s all the same thing. Everyone works and lives as ONE body. Faith leads everyone to understand this model, and to reject the model of disunity and senseless anarchy.

        2. Elizabeth, and you don’t need to read the church fathers, because you do not need an infallible authority to worship GOd in truth. Ultimately, your decision to follow ROme was a fallible decision. So, every Christian makes fallible decisions all the time.

          However, if one were to argue you need an infallible authority, or such an authroity has historically existed, such claims would have to be demonstrated. Otherwise, the default position would be to presume neither or true.

          May God bless you and your family, 5 kids is a handful!

          1. “Elizabeth, and you don’t need to read the church fathers, because you do not need an infallible authority to worship GOd in truth. ”

            Even most protestants disagree with you here, hence Sola Scriptura and the strong emphasis on Scriptural Infallibility and Perpescuity.

            How are you going to worship the Holy Trinity in truth if there’s no certain truth, just a guess? Then you’re worshiping the Holy Trinity in opinion.

            Did you slip up when typing this? It doesn’t seem likely that you think that fallible authority is sufficient to worship God in Truth.

        3. Elizabeth, I doubt that you are an intellectual peasant. But I know that I am. I’m a bonafide intellectual onion peeler.

          But fortunate for me that intellect isn’t everything. In the “Imitation of Christ” it says ” It is better to Love, than to know how to define it”. And so in the spiritual life intellect is not everything. What is important for everyone in a kingdom, is to follow the king, whether they have intellect or no intellect. This is why Jesus says “The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and follow Him”. What does this have to do intellect? And if they can’t hear the voice of the shepherd they can still follow the other sheep until they get closer, and then maybe they will hear him.

          Anyway, this is just the observation of a bonafide intellectual potato picker. But for me it doesn’t matter, because I really looove french fries and hash browns. 🙂

      3. Craig,

        Where do the fathers say the pope is fallible, in the sense that Vatican I defined it? You take their silence on the issue as meaning that they did not believe in it, or had no concept of papal infallibility. This may be true. But you must admit, if you are honest with yourself, that this does not mean that papal infallibility did not exist at that time. Ignorance of something, does not mean something does not exist. It did. It was a gift from Jesus to the Church, at the foundation of the Church. This I clearly see in the Gospels.

        But you, as is your wont, misread, or ignore something when a father says something that doesn’t fit your paradigm. An honest reading of St. Cyprian reveals that he clearly understood the concept of papal infallibility when he made this statement:

        “Would the heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come?”

        Isn’t no errors infallibility?

        Furthermore the Church has always believed she was able to teach infallibly. This can easily be seen from the early councils, and in the writings of Origen, Cyprian, Augustine, and just about every other church father.

        1. 1. You are allegedly quoting Cyprian who explictly rejected Rome’s view of re-baptism and held a council affirming that each Bishop may decide on their own, and that no Bishop is lord over them.

          2. I cannot find that quotation anywhere but on Catholic websites, with no citation or context around it. Until I can actually read what Cyprian wrote, I am going to presume that Cyprian believed the Popes were fallible as it is known historical fact that he disagreed with the doctrine the Pope of his time taught and defied him…something inconsistent with both Roman Primacy and Infallibility.

          1. “I cannot find that quotation anywhere but on Catholic websites, with no citation or context around it.”

            Found it. New Advent numbers the letters differently. It’s in there as Letter 54: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050654.htm

            The translation is also different, and the differences are pertinent to the discussion:

            “After such things as these, moreover, they still dare— a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics— to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access.”

            “Until I can actually read what Cyprian wrote, I am going to presume that Cyprian believed the Popes were fallible as it is known historical fact that he disagreed with the doctrine the Pope of his time taught and defied him…something inconsistent with both Roman Primacy and Infallibility.”

            Modern Catholic do things like this all the time. And they are at times vindicated as Saints for having done so. This leads me to believe that you don’t understand either Papal Primacy or Infallibility.

          2. Alex,

            Vindicated? You mean, by the quote fro Cyprian that does not prove infallibility, but is rather a passing comment on the faithfulness of those in Rome at the time (which Novatian had seperated himself from)?

          3. “Vindicated? You mean, by the quote fro Cyprian that does not prove infallibility, but is rather a passing comment on the faithfulness of those in Rome at the time (which Novatian had seperated himself from)?”

            Separate comment. I mean that some people oppose what the Pope is publicly teaching/doing and are canonized as Roman Catholic Saints. This is what I’m talking about when I say that I don’t think you understand Papal Infallibility.

          4. You mean, by the quote fro Cyprian that does not prove infallibility, but is rather a passing comment on the faithfulness of those in Rome at the time (which Novatian had seperated himself from)?”

            That’s why I said the translation is pertinent to the discussion. For specifically this reason. I’ll let others debate that if they want, but I’m satisfied in this quote in particular not being a defense of Papal Infallibility.

            I don’t think there’s any getting around of this one though:

            “the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source”

            Cyprian here brazenly supports Roman primacy (the throne of Peter, and to the chief church) and the Papacy as the practical basis for Church unity (whence priestly unity takes its source). By calling it the “throne of Peter”, he’s also implying that it’s an enduring office, not just a practical decision to have Rome be the primary church.

          5. Alex,

            “Brazen” is the wrong word. You misunderstand Cyprian. FOr one, you are importing too much meaning into a passing comment. Second, if I import all of that meaning, I have to go by how Cyprian defines the throne of Peter.

            The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, I say unto you, that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And again to the same He says, after His resurrection,Feed my sheep. And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, As the Father has sent me, even so send I you: Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins you retain, they shall be retained; John 20:21 yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity (Treatise 1: On Unity of the Catholic Church, Chapter 4).

            Our Lord whose precepts and warnings we ought to observe, determining the honour of a Bishop and the ordering of His own Church, speaks in the Gospel and says to Peter, I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Thence the ordination of Bishops, and the ordering of the Church, runs down along the course of time and line of succession, so that the Church is settled upon her Bishops; and every act of the Church is regulated by these same Prelates (Epistle XXXII, On the Lapsed, Chapter 1).

            Cyprian believed that all the Bishops exercised primacy, and so if you read a passing passage about Rome not having error, he is asserting this is true of all the churches. Further, he apparently was not dogmatic about this, as he opposed Rome in a council.

            So, while I understand primacy and infallibility are two different issues, I can only intelligently comment on primacy and speculate on infallibility because Cyrpian really does not address this issue of infallibility

      4. Isn’t that the fruit of the Protestant model, no idea of what’s true? Otherwise, there would be unanimity in actual doctrine / dogma, not just a dogged attachment to the model (sola scriptura) that is supposed to be so clear as to not need anything else. The differences across the Protestant spectrum are not minor and have done nothing but diverge over time.

        The mere fact that you are arguing whether Deuterocanonicals belong in the canon implies that they are worthy of consideration, certainly a strong testimony when trying to decide between competing doctrinal propositions. For example, prayers for the dead / purgatory…the weight of their evidence, whether canonical or not, strongly supports Catholic beliefs.

        1. “The mere fact that you are arguing whether Deuterocanonicals belong in the canon implies that they are worthy of consideration”

          Of course they are, this is an open historical question.

          “…prayers for the dead / purgatory…the weight of their evidence, whether canonical or not, strongly supports Catholic beliefs”

          Yet the DC does not teach either of those things.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. “Yet the DC does not teach either of those things.”

            We, the original Protestant Reformers, and a great number of scholars disagree with you.

            Continuing to assert something that you know your opponent disagrees with without providing any additional substantiation isn’t an honest discussion method.

          2. Alex,

            Where’s the word “purgatory” in the DC?

            Not there.

            Where’s the words “praying to the saints is a good, normative practice?”

            It’s not there. Saul used a witch to speak to Samuel…do you think that’s a good thing to?

            I have already responded to these ideas, at some length, here:

            https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/04/16/catholic-myths-about-the-deuterocanon/

            As for citing Protestant authorities that agree with me, they exist though it would be meaningless to you. Even Thomas Aquinas wrote: “Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory.” (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/7001.htm)

            So, if Aquinas agrees with me that the Biblical evidence for Purgatory is unconvincing, why do you act incredulous when I state the same? Surely Aquinas is reading the same passages I am.

          3. “Where’s the word “purgatory” in the DC?”

            You and I both know that’s a bad argument.

            “As for citing Protestant authorities that agree with me, they exist though it would be meaningless to you.”

            Not really meaningless to me. My statement only touched on the original Protestant Reformers. Obviously, I don’t accept their authority, but I am willing to use them as a hostile witness.

            As for Aquinas, in context, he was talking about the location and nature of Purgatory, not its existence as a state itself. Therefore, I don’t think that’s a very good support.

            “It’s not there. Saul used a witch to speak to Samuel…do you think that’s a good thing to?”

            Even in your blog you admit that Judas Machabeus was honorable in doing the act.

            (from your blog)

            “Whose sin was blotted out? The dead’s or the whole camp’s, as Achan’s sin in Josh 7 affected the whole army?

            Context indicates those of the dead soldiers.

            Further, how did Judas act “well and honorably?” Because intercession is well and honorable, or because of the fact his actions belied a belief in the resurrection?”

            Both.

            Besides, praying for the dead is certainly a pious and useful practice anyway, since God is outside of time, and even if it doesn’t “do” anything in a particular case, God cares that we are showing Love for them. That protestants continue to oppose this practice baffles me. When I was a protestant, I never even realized that praying for the dead was considered by protestants to be wrong.

          4. “You and I both know that’s a bad argument.”

            It’s a question.

            “Not really meaningless to me. My statement only touched on the original Protestant Reformers. Obviously, I don’t accept their authority, but I am willing to use them as a hostile witness.”

            To be perfectly honest, has AL has argued, the lack of saintliness and discernment in the reformers would be the main persuasive factor for me to consider conversion to Orthodoxy or RCism.

            “As for Aquinas, in context, he was talking about the location and nature of Purgatory, not its existence as a state itself.”

            How so? I apologize if I read him wrongly, I didn’t see that.
            “Even in your blog you admit that Judas Machabeus was honorable in doing the act.”

            Inasmuch as it is consistent with a belief in the resurrection.

          5. To be perfectly honest, has AL has argued, the lack of saintliness and discernment in the reformers would be the main persuasive factor for me to consider conversion to Orthodoxy or RCism.

            To be fair, I don’t know you as well as some of these other people who comment here. I would agree, and in addition point to the examples of great Catholic Saints such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John Fisher, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis de Sales and others. There is wisdom in considering people’s lives, and judging by actions that both sides of the debate agree are acts of Christian Charity, RCism seems to work.

            How so? I apologize if I read him wrongly, I didn’t see that.

            The article of the Summa in question concerns whether Purgatory is the same place/nature as the Hell of the damned or not.

            St. Thomas doesn’t always agree with modern Catholicism, but he’s one of the main Scholastic sources of Catholic Doctrine. Chances are if St. Thomas Aquinas seems to disagree with RCism, we ought to be suspicious of our reading of St. Thomas, unless there is an acknowledged difference (such as his understanding of the Immaculate Conception).

  9. “you are saying that without a cut-and-dry authority we are in an intellectual crisis where we have no idea what is true.”

    Is this not exactly the problem with Protestantism? Even Martin Luther recognized that his anarchical revolution produced “… now as many doctrines as there are heads”. If Jesus wanted to establish this kind of disunified Church why would He have spent so much time and energy preaching about the importance of unity, and teaching such as this?:

    “And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. [20] And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me;[21] That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. [22] And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: [23] I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.”

    And the very name ‘Catholic’ is very appropriate for Christ’s Church, as it defines clearly what the Lord was looking for in the saying and prayer, above. The term ‘kingdom’ also connotes unity, and assumes that there is a hierarchy of queens, princes, generals, servants, etc… all of which have their own place in the organization and life of the ‘kingdom’.

    The reality of Protestantism is that it does not fit into either the ‘universal’/’catholic’ ecclesiological model, or the ‘kingdom/monarchical’ metaphorical model, both of which were desired, and taught, by Christ as His model for His Church. And the Council of Nicaea got it exactly right, by defining the Church as: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.
    Are the Protestant denominations in conformance with any of these Nicaean definitions? How could they be if there are as many ‘doctrines as there are heads’?

    1. “If Jesus wanted to establish this kind of disunified Church why would He have spent so much time and energy preaching about the importance of unity”

      Unity is predicated by love and humble reliance upon God’s word, not authorities that history does not bear out their existence.

      1. “Unity is predicated by love and humble reliance upon God’s word”

        Is this how unity was maintained in the Church during the dispute at the 1st Council of Jerusalem, as revealed in Acts.15:6 which teaches “And the apostles and ancients assembled to consider of this matter. [7] And when there had been MUCH DISPUTING, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know, that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. …” ?

        Authority has always been needed to settle disputes in the Church. To say that scripture alone is sufficient to settle disputes neglects to recognize all of the heresies in the early Church started by Bishops who were well aware of the scriptures. Many had them memorized. Thus the need for synods modeled after the one above, wherein much debate was needed and then an authoritative conclusion reached. Eusebius’ “Church History” details the multiple times in which Church unity was threatened and damaged by such heresies, and how it was necessary for such ecclesiastical leadership and Church synods to resolve them peaceably.

        ‘Love and humble reliance on God’s word’ was never sufficient to maintain Church unity in the first centuries of Christianity, and it still isn’t today.

        If it was sufficient, then why is it that true Church unity among in the multitudes of Protestant denominations is no where to be found?

        At least the various Catholic’s on this blog have great unity of faith amongst themselves, and they are the same beliefs that can be found in every country throughout the world today. All that is needed to understand that unity is a mere $20.00 for a Catholic Bible and a Catholic Catechism.

      2. “Humble reliance on the word of God”…the problem is that this is a subtle form of pride, not humility; because it ultimately relies on self to validate what constitutes the word of God and decide what it means. Every man is his own Pope, and the ensuing battle of wills does not lend itself well to charity.

        1. Again, I would agree if it were not for the fact that we do not see any Bishops cloaked with infallibility in early church history. This is a later doctrine. When you read the fathers, it is obvious that they are giving personal interpretations and extrapolations, appealing to common custom when it accords with their views.

          So, while it may be a mark of humility to submit to the teachings of an authority like Rome, we don’t have Biblical or historical basis to do so.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. Craig, you are wrong.

            “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.”

            -Ireneaus AH 3.3.3

            And it’s necessary to point out that John would be correct even if you were. Christianity would be nothing more than an exercise in subjectivism which is what protestantism is and always was. The blind leading the blind. Surely our Lord left us a better situation.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          2. Jesus gives his disciples authority for the future when preaching throughout the world with the same scripture already noted above:

            “And the glory which thou hast given me, I HAVE GIVEN TO THEM; that THEY MAY BE ONE, as we also are one: [23] I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and THE WORLD may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.”

            Jesus looks to the future here, and sees how the infant Church would grow to such a degree that THE WORLD would recognize Christ through their perfection and unity. This is true Christian ecclesiology. This is the will of Christ, that His ‘glory’ which He gave to His Church, will be a witness to both Himself and His Father throughout the world.

            Now, indeed, we are witnesses to this very fact 2000 years later. Almost the entire world has had at least rudimentary teaching as to who Jesus Christ is. And, this is also due largely to the Holy Catholic Church. What Jesus has said on the night before He died is proven to be true today. The whole world knows of Him because of the very visible witness of His Catholic Church for the last 2000 years.

          3. Matt,

            I must respectfully disagree, you are misreading Irenaeus. He never calls the roman church infallible there. Nor, does he even prove their primacy. It takes a lot of presuppositions to read that into those words.

            I have responded to the matter at length if you want my reasoning:

            https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/07/24/irenaeus-view-of-scripture-and-apostolic-succession-part-i/

            https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/07/28/irenaeus-view-of-scripture-and-apostolic-succession-part-ii/

          4. Craig,

            We’ve kind of been through Ireneaus before. I maintain that you interpret him in an absurd way, assuming that he means “scripture” when he says “tradition.” We’ve hashed that out on other threads but there is simply no way of avoiding this. You said this:

            “So, while it may be a mark of humility to submit to the teachings of an authority like Rome, we don’t have Biblical or historical basis to do so.”

            Ireneaus says this:

            “For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church (ie ROME!), on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.”

            Every Church MUST agree with Rome! The faithful everywhere must agree with Rome! And on account of its preeminent authority that comes from Peter and Paul because they were the ones who founded and organized the Roman see. I noted in your links to your articles that you think Ireneaus is simply wrong on that account. Do you deny that Peter was in Rome? That puts you well outside all scholarly thought. And Paul could have done plenty even while he was in jail. He wrote plenty of letters from jail. He could have had visitors that asked him for direction from jail. And furthermore, you are ignorant as to what Ireneaus means by “founded and organized.” He does not mean that Peter and Paul were the first Christians to set foot there. He means that they were the ones who organized the diocese and ordained successors to their ministry. As long as they at least ordained a single bishop, they can be considered it’s founders because they were the source of all the authority from that See. If they never went there to ordain successors, Rome wouldn’t have any authority at all.

            In any event though, you said that we have “no historical basis” to submit to Rome’s authority while Ireneaus explicitly says that “every Church must agree with this Church (Rome). Please don’t pretend that by “agree with the Roman Church” he just means “agree with our interpretation of Scripture.” The reason Rome has authority is because the Roman See was established by Peter and Paul. To deny that is simply blind arrogance. Feel free to disagree with Ireneaus, but don’t pretend he means something completely different from what he wrote.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          5. Matt,

            To quote myself:

            While a lot of Catholics will focus on the term “preeminent authority,” they would be missing Irenaeus’ big point: every [prospective] church should agree with Rome’s rendering of Apostolic teaching because every church everywhere started by the Apostles has the same exact teachings. Irenaeus is using Rome as a prominent example, as it would be tedious to lay out the succession for every church. It is “good enough” to lay out Rome’s because everyone may readily acknowledge that Rome teaches what all the others teach.

          6. Craig,

            I read that in your article but it doesn’t address what I said. Rome has “preeminent authority” because it is “the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops.” Rome is the “preeminent” example because it was founded by Peter and Paul.

            Matthew

          7. Wake up and open your eyes, Craig! The principle of sola scriptura that you so ardently try to defend is a man made proposition that didn’t exist until 500 years ago and that has no basis in scripture and in fact contradicts scripture. Jesus never wrote a book, nor did He tell anyone else to write a book nor did He even authorize a particular canon of scripture for future use by others. What He did do was teach, train and empower specific men to teach (and much more) in His name, endowing one, Peter, with the keys to His kingdom. Scripture was a tool Jesus used to support (not replace) His ministry, just as it was to His successors. There’s plenty of scriptural evidence that the hierarchy existed and was passed on. Just because Papal infallibility wasn’t dogmatically defined until relatively late, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist in practice. If anything, history shows that it has continually existed to the present day as a key principle of Church unity. When things fall apart, it’s not until some decide they want to take exceptions and dream up rationale like sola scriptura to justify it. Sola scriptura is a principle built in an attempt to justify dissention and it breeds the same. If it had been the operating principle intended by Jesus for His Church, the Church would have dissolved into chaos and been vanquished early on.

          8. Well of course their wouldn’t be , Because Bishops were never given this privilege . that privilege is reversed for the Papacy .

      3. “Unity is predicated by love and humble reliance upon God’s word, not authorities that history does not bear out their existence.”

        1. Love and Humble reliance upon the Sacred Scriptures doesn’t automatically produce unity unless there is also developed a structure of authority to make that unity realized, and a tradition to provide common practice. Even protestant groups work like this.
        2. Again. We and a great number of scholars (Protestant, Catholic, and secular alike) disagree with your opinion that the Papacy isn’t historic.

        We keep providing substantiation against your arguments, but you keep asserting. This inhibits real fruitful dialogue.

        1. I disagree Alex, I do not think I have been presented with evidence. I have said in the beginning, it is a false dilemma to say we need an infallible authority. My evidence was that history does not bear out the existence of this authority. The early church, without an infallible Canon, infallible Bishop, or infallible anything other than the Scriptures (and even then were unsure which ones were infallible) got by just fine.

          Yet several people here carry on that it is impossible to be a believing Christian without an infallible authority, that you are thrust into existential doubt without it.

          No evidence has been put forward for this assertion other than (1) a “quote” from Cyprian without a citation, (2) a quoted from Irenaeus that does not prove your position, and (3) the re-assertion that there is an intellectual dilemma but with no real evidence to sustain it.

          So, I deny that you have provided any true substance against my arguments.

          1. Okay Craig. This is one of the reasons debating you is so frustrating. There’s no winning with you and it’s like debating an atheist who ardently presupposes materialism. Nothing can shake them of that presupposition so I’m going to ask you again, what would it take for you to believe you’re mistaken on your interpretation of the Church Fathers, Scripture, or otherwise?

            Matthew

          2. Craig,

            Do you believe that there was no development of Doctrine when it comes to the Trinity? Or the dual natures/wills of Christ? Do you not know the difference between development and innovation?

            Matthew

          3. And furthermore, what would “reasonable historical/scriptural evidence” look like to you? You already have your interpretations presupposed on all the Scriptures and early Church Fathers. What specifically (an example perhaps) would convince you otherwise?

            Matthew

        2. And finally Craig,

          If we “don’t need infallibility,” how do we know which doctrines are true if all of them are fallible and therefore might be erroneous? If no doctrine is infallible, no canon of scripture is infallible, how can any of it bind my conscience? How can anything bind your conscience? You said to Elizabeth that her decision to “follow Rome” was a fallible one. Well, isn’t your decision on what the canon is fallible? Isn’t your decision to follow reformed protestant dogma fallible? Isn’t reformed protestant dogma itself fallible? You have no way of knowing whether or not any doctrine you articulate is the TRUTH! You think that doesn’t matter??!! Why should I or anyone believe a word you say? As soon as you say something like “this is what scripture/church fathers mean,” I say “How do you know? You could be wrong because you are fallible.” And if there is no infallibility to be found anywhere, I am perfectly free to dismiss everything you say as being just as fallible as I am. We go on to follow our own contradicting consciences on all sorts of matters. And that’s what you think is the religion founded by God Himself? There is no way to ever know the Truth at all. Subjectivism and relativism abound.

          And finally you’re flatly wrong when you say that “the Early Church had no infallibility other than the scriptures.” You must be forgetting the Apostles. The difference is then I think infallibility continued on after them and you don’t.

          May God be with you.

          Matthew

          1. “Do you believe that there was no development of Doctrine when it comes to the Trinity? Or the dual natures/wills of Christ? Do you not know the difference between development and innovation?”

            No. If the Apostles, Christ, or God did not teach it then it is a false doctrine. Subsequent formulations of doctrine are only true inasmuch they correctly explain Apostolic teaching.

      4. Hi Craig , I think this statement of yours does’t work out . Unity is actually predicated in truth , first and foremost because truth ultimately determines how we respond to Gods calling

        For example ; If the catholic church is correct , which I believe it is , then prayers for the dead , for example , demonstrate a necessity to do so due to the TRUTH of the nature of the subject , that being that people require our supplication on their behalf , To do so is an act of LOVE on their behalf in order to relieve them of their suffering

        TRUTH disposes us to act in LOVE , rather than the other way around . Christ even tell us that its TRUTH that sets us free .

        He does not say that LOVE sets us free , but truth …..why ; because truth disposes us to act in Love

        If I accept the protestant view that we cannot pray to the dead ,which I believe to be false , then by virtue of this other “TRUTH” , I am disposed to act in a way contrary to the TRUTH of the realisation that the dead need our prayers .

        How can we KNOW we are acting in LOVE if we do not understand how , or what it means to act IN LOVE . Love cannot be the measure of whats true , because we need to KNOW what love is first , and its only through the SPIRIT of TRUTH , through the guidance of the church , that we can ultimately determine HOW to act in LOVE

        So we actually need the church , that is guided by the SPIRIT of TRUTH , to assist us in determining what is TRUE and what is not , so that once properly catechised by scripture , THROUGH THE LENS OF THE CHURCH , we are then free to act in accordance to God Law without the shackles of uncertainty or falsehood . Unfortunately protestantism cannot unite the people of God in the fullness of truth , because there is no central authority the UNIFY these churches , and the result has been an explosion of denominational churches , each with its own VARIANCE of what TRUTH is .

        Protestantism is a shackle of uncertainty

        Jesus , however , did give us a church , and that church was endowed through the Papacy to govern ( BIND and LOOSE ) , not independent of the scriptures , but through the HOLY SPIRIT to guide and lead its people in all truth

        The solution for Protestantism is Catholicism

        So I disagree with your summary of the authoritative church NOT BEARING OUT ITS EXISTENCE

        Disclaimer : I use caps for emphasis , not because I am shouting . Just thought I would clarify

      5. Hi Craig ,I accidentally replied to different post , so you might see this somewhere else in this forum . I am not repeating myself , I just want make sure I am replying to the correct comment . I am new to this type of forum so I am just gathering my bearings .

        I think this statement of yours does’t work out . Unity is actually predicated in truth , first and foremost because truth ultimately determines how we respond to Gods calling 
For example ;

        If the catholic church is correct , which I believe it is , then prayers for the dead , for example , demonstrate a necessity to do so due to the TRUTH of the nature of the subject , that being that people require our supplication on their behalf , To do so is an act of LOVE on their behalf in order to relieve them of their suffering 
TRUTH disposes us to act in LOVE , rather than the other way around .

        Christ even tell us that its TRUTH that sets us free . 
He does not say that LOVE sets us free , but truth …..why ; because truth disposes us to act in Love 


        If I accept the protestant view that we cannot pray to the dead ,which I believe to be false , then by virtue of this other “TRUTH” , I am disposed to act in a way contrary to the TRUTH of the realisation that the dead need our prayers .


        How can we KNOW we are acting in LOVE if we do not understand how , or what it means to act IN LOVE . Love cannot be the measure of whats true , because we need to KNOW what love is first , and its only through the SPIRIT of TRUTH , through the guidance of the church , that we can ultimately determine HOW to act in LOVE 


        So we actually need the church , that is guided by the SPIRIT of TRUTH , to assist us in determining what is TRUE and what is not , so that once properly catechised by scripture , THROUGH THE LENS OF THE CHURCH , we are then free to act in accordance to God Law without the shackles of uncertainty or falsehood .

        Unfortunately protestantism cannot unite the people of God in the fullness of truth , because there is no central authority the UNIFY these churches , and the result has been an explosion of denominational churches , each with its own VARIANCE of what TRUTH is .

        
Protestantism is a shackle of uncertainty

        
Jesus , however , did give us a church , and that church was endowed through the Papacy , to govern ( BIND and LOOSE ) , not independent of the scriptures , but through the HOLY SPIRIT to guide and lead its people in all truth

        
The solution for Protestantism is Catholicism

        
So I disagree with your summary of the authoritative church NOT BEARING OUT ITS EXISTENCE

        
Disclaimer : I use caps for emphasis , not because I am shouting . Just thought I would clarify

.comment-content .

  10. Craig,

    I love it when you post on this blog. You always make me laugh, and I thank you for it. I can always count on you to misremember (your words) what a father has stated. You constantly make statements, that when proven false, you then try to weasel out of by trying to cover up by obfuscation what you originally said. Case in point, you said this:

    And, if you honestly read the early church fathers, and know your history, they also lacked an infallible Pope (no one ever heard of the concept), infallible Canon, or even a belief in any infallible interpretation of Scripture.

    Both parts of your quote that I highlighted are demonstrably false. First I want to ask you a question.

    Can you prove they lacked an infallible pope?

    You can quote all the church fathers you want on this one. You need to provide evidence that a pope taught something on faith and morals in the early Church that was fallible. Even if they did not realize the pope was infallible in certain instances, does not mean the pope was not infallible, by the definition used by the Catholic Church. It simply means that they did not believe he was infallible.

    Now for the next part of your quote. Originally you said no one ever heard of the concept. When you were shown in writing from Cyprian that you are wrong (he clearly shows the concept is there) what did you do? You try to cover your error by pointing out the fact that Cyprian disagreed with the pope on baptism. But that is not the point that you originally made. Cyprian and Stephen disagreeing on baptism has no bearing on whether the concept was unknown, as Cyprian at one point clearly held to the concept. Maybe in you world Cyprian changing his mind means the concept never existed.

    And now for the last part, infallibly interpreting scripture. While they held individually they could err when interpreting scripture, it is quite clear from their writings that they feel that the Church has always been able to interpret scriptures infallibly, as did all the councils. Show me one early church father that says the Church cannot infallibly interpret the scriptures.

    1. Duane, I will refrain from “lawling” or anything of the sort.

      1. I do not need to prove that a father taught that bishops are fallible. You, who make the assertion, have the burden of proof of showing that anyone held to such a position. The default is, if no one voiced such an idea, that no one believed in such an idea.

      2. Ironically, we do have evidence of Bishops acting inconsistently with both Roman primacy and infallibility. In Augustine’s second book against the Donatists he explicitly says that everything other than the Scriptures, including “all” the writings of the bishops and the ecumenical councils, are liable to err. Further, as I already pointed out here, we have Cyprian rejecting a Roman Bishop’s view of re-baptizing and defying him, with more than a hundred African bishops joining him. Your claim that Cyprian once agreed with the Pope means that he believed the Pope is infallible is silly. I agree with the Pope on stuff, though not exhaustively. If you find one thing that I agree with him, does that mean for that moment I conceded Papal infallibility? Of course not! To reason that this would be so is so irrational it does not warrant any more explanation. Yet, this is your “evidence” that Cyprian adhered to the doctrine of infallibility. Sorry, but that’s not evidence. It’s, in fact, a terrible extrapolation of the evidence.

      So, being that in the above I show that both the burden of proof is on the one who claims that people believed something they never talked about, and then I go ahead and actual bring up evidence contrary to your position, your chuckling confidence is surely misplaced.

      Laughing does not cover for a lack of substance, evidence, and logic.

      1. Nice try Craig.

        But you said papal infallibility did not exist back then. Now you have changed it to whether other bishops believed it existed. But their belief in whether it existed or not does not mean it didn’t. You made the statement. The burden is on you to prove it. But you realize you cannot, or you would have presented evidence to back your argument. All you do is keep repeating it did not exist, or these bishops did not believe it existed.

        Addressing the quote that Cyprian said that I posted, where he says that no error can come from Rome, IS THAT NOT THE CONCEPT OF INFALLIBILITY THAT YOU SAID NO ONE IN THE EARLY CHURCH HAD A CONCEPT OF? The fact that he changed his mind has no bearing on whether he at one time did conceive the notion, which his own words prove he did.

        1. “But you said papal infallibility did not exist back then.”

          Yes, because I don’t presume things exist if there is no historical mention. For example, I don’t presume the expression, “What’s up dawg” existed in ancient Rome, because you cannot find any mention of it historically. Is it possible? I guess. But it is not an idea anyone would take seriously.

          “Addressing the quote that Cyprian said that I posted…”

          Yeah, the one torn out of context that is not addressing Roman infallibility? Cyprian not only defied Rome, he specifically said that all bishops inherit the keys and office of Peter. So, you are misrepresenting Cyrpian’s views.

          1. Craig,

            In Cyprian’s epistle 54, did he said this:

            With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.” (Epistle 54, 14)

            He said this a few years before the clash with Stephen on re-baptism. His views about Rome obviously changed, but not he, nor you, can change the fact that at one point he said it was not possible for error to have entrance.

            I have in no way misrepresented Cyprian’s views, for I have not once stated that he retained the view from his epistle 54. I have merely showed that at one time he held the view.

            If he never held the view, which you cannot deny, since Cyprian put it in writing, why did he include that statement in his epistle?

            Was he trying to strengthen his argument by putting forth a concept that he was not aware of, nor that the readers of his letters at that time were aware of? Can you imagine what they thought when they read that particular sentence? They probably said, “That looks like infallibility, but it can’t be, because someone 1700+ years from now says the concept does not exist in our time.”

      2. Craig,

        You’ve been claiming this for a while but I’m calling you on it. Augustine’s second book “on Baptism Against the Donatists” does not say that there is no infallibility other than the scriptures. Let’s take a look. Here’s where you think you are getting that from:

        “But who can fail to be aware that the sacred canon of Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, is confined within its own limits, and that it stands so absolutely in a superior position to all later letters of the bishops, that about it we can hold no manner of doubt or disputation whether what is confessedly contained in it is right and true; but that all the letters of bishops which have been written, or are being written, since the closing of the canon, are liable to be refuted if there be anything contained in them which strays from the truth, either by the discourse of some one who happens to be wiser in the matter than themselves, or by the weightier authority and more learned experience of other bishops, by the authority of Councils; and further, that the Councils themselves, which are held in the several districts and provinces, must yield, beyond all possibility of doubt, to the authority of plenary Councils which are formed for the whole Christian world; and that even of the plenary Councils, the earlier are often corrected by those which follow them, when, by some actual experiment, things are brought to light which were before concealed, and that is known which previously lay hid, and this without any whirlwind of sacrilegious pride, without any puffing of the neck through arrogance, without any strife of envious hatred, simply with holy humility, catholic peace, and Christian charity?” (Augustine “On Baptism against the Donatists Book 2, Chapter 3)

        There are several things to note from this incredibly long sentence lol. Scripture is of course superior to the writings of subsequent bishops because Scripture is divinely inspired and the other bishops are not. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a subsequent bishop/pope or council cannot be infallible under any circumstances. Then he goes up the chain from a bishop, to a more knowledgeable bishop, to a local council and finally to an ecumenical/plenary council. And notice he says that the local council “must yield, BEYOND ALL POSSIBILITY OF DOUBT” to a plenary/ecumenical council (the protestant “reformers” by the way did no such thing). Then we come to the contentious point. First of all according to Augustine, any “correction” of a plenary council can only come from another plenary council and NOT from an individual’s conscience or private interpretation of scripture (sorry Martin Luther! lol). Second of all, it is not the position of the Catholic Church that everything stated in a plenary/ecumenical council is infallible dogma. Many things are applications and/or disciplinary practices which can be changed or “corrected.” In either case though, Augustine is clear that plenary councils demand obedience from all the faithful.

        There are also numerous examples from the same work that show forth Augustine’s thought on the evil of making schism which the original protestants did and continue to do quite frequently. For example, the very next chapter states:

        “Wherefore the holy Cyprian, whose dignity is only increased by his humility, who so loved the pattern set by Peter as to use the words, “Giving us thereby a pattern of concord and patience, that we should not pertinaciously love our own opinions, but should rather account as our own any true and rightful suggestions of our brethren and colleagues, for the common health and good,” — he, I say, abundantly shows that he was most willing to correct his own opinion, if any one should prove to him that it is as certain that the baptism of Christ can be given by those who have strayed from the fold, as that it could not be lost when they strayed; on which subject we have already said much. Nor should we ourselves venture to assert anything of the kind, were we not supported by the unanimous authority of the whole Church, to which he himself would unquestionably have yielded, if at that time the truth of this question had been placed beyond dispute by the investigation and decree of a plenary Council. For if he quotes Peter as an example for his allowing himself quietly and peacefully to be corrected by one junior colleague, how much more readily would he himself, with the Council of his province, have yielded to the authority of the whole world, when the truth had been thus brought to light?” (On Baptism…Chapter 4)

        And again:

        “Wherefore let the Donatists consider this one point, which surely none can fail to see, that if the authority of Cyprian is to be followed, it is to be followed rather in maintaining unity than in altering the custom of the Church; but if respect is paid to his Council, it must at any rate yield place to the later Council of the universal Church, of which he rejoiced to be a member, often warning his associates that they should all follow his example in upholding the coherence of the whole body. For both later Councils are preferred among later generations to those of earlier date; and the whole is always, with good reason, looked upon as superior to the parts.” (On Baptism…Chapter 9)

        And again:

        “Since the Catholic Church, both in the time of the blessed Cyprian and in the older time before him, contained within her bosom either some that were rebaptized or some that were unbaptized, either the one section or the other must have won their salvation only by the force of simple unity. For if those who came over from the heretics were not baptized, as Cyprian asserts, they were not rightly admitted into the Church; and yet he himself did not despair of their obtaining pardon from the mercy of God in virtue of the unity of the Church. So again, if they were already baptized, it was not right to rebaptize them. What, therefore, was there to aid the other section, save the same charity that delighted in unity, so that what was hidden from man’s weakness, in the consideration of the sacrament, might not be reckoned, by the mercy of God, as a fault in those who were lovers of peace? Why, then, while you fear those whom you have rebaptized, do ye grudge yourselves and them the entrance to salvation? There was at one time a doubt upon the subject of baptism; those who held different opinions yet remained in unity. In course of time, owing to the certain discovery of the truth, that doubt was taken away. The question which, unsolved, did not frighten Cyprian into separation from the Church, invites you, now that it is solved, to return once more within the fold. Come to the Catholic Church in its agreement, which Cyprian did not desert while yet disturbed with doubt; or if now you are dissatisfied with the example of Cyprian, who held communion with those who were received with the baptism of heretics, declaring openly that we should “neither judge any one, nor deprive any one of the right of communion if he differ from us,” whither are you going, you wretched men? What are you doing? You are bound to fly even from yourselves, because you have advanced beyond the position where he abode. But if neither his own sins nor those of others could stand in his way, on account of the abundance of his charity and his love of brotherly kindness and the bond of peace, do you return to us, where you will find much less hindrance in the way of either us or you from the fictions which your party have invented. (On Baptism…Chapter 15).

        If only Luther and Calvin would have done likewise.

        May God be with you.

        Matthew

          1. Sorry Craig, but you’re going to need to do a lot better than that. In fact, you are better than that.

            I don’t know why so many protestants cannot understand the difference between inspiration and infallibility. Something can be infallible without being Divinely inspired. All infallibility means is: “cannot err.”

            Matthew

  11. Craig,

    You must realize these points you pose for yourself.

    If the Church is not infallible how do we know the scriptures are? The church says they are, but she could be wrong if she is fallible.

    What good are infallible scriptures if they cannot be interpreted infallibly? You cannot point to anyone in scripture as being able to infallibility interpret them, because that presupposes that book belongs in the bible, which it may not, because under your paradigm the decision to include that book was fallible.

    You can say, well the early church accepted them, that is why we accept them. But the obvious reply would be, it was the tradition of the early church that accepted them, but was that tradition infallible? If yes, when did the Church lose the charism?

    Craig let’s presuppose that the Church got it right on the books of scripture.

    What good has scriptural infallibility done in the Protestant world?

    You have some churches that believe in infant baptism, some that don’t.

    Some that say rebaptism is a must, others that don’t rebaptise.

    You have some that teach in the case of adultery, divorce and remarriage is okay. Others say it is not allowed.

    And I can go on. All of them believe in the infallibility of scripture. All of these churches believe they have gotten it right. But they cannot all be right, as many of them hold opposing views.

    For any church that you believe has gotten it wrong Craig, what good has the infallibility of scripture done them?

    1. “If the Church is not infallible how do we know the scriptures are?”

      I have answered this several times, in my above video, I argue the historical position is that we don’t know with certainty what are the Scriptures. This was the RCC position until Florence/Trent…so that is 1400 years or so. I don’t know why people act like such tension is something unacceptable to the Christian when we lived with it for most of Christian history.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qgf3AT0_0CM

      1. Craig, that is once again incorrect.

        It was not the Catholic position that no one knows what the scriptures are until Florence/Trent. The canon of scripture was infallibly taught by the Universal Ordinary Magisterium as soon as the canon was complete. It was disputed but corrected in the due course of time. Florence/Trent are exercises of the EXTRAordinary Magisterium.

        Matthew

          1. Joe says the canon had not been “dogmatically defined/declared infallible.” I’ll let him speak for himself but I think he would tell you that the word “declared” is key here. The Church can teach something infallibly without declaring it as an infallible teaching. This was the case with the Trinity before Nicea 1. In fact, Joe tells you that lol. And Joe made a fantastic point that the Canon just was not the hugest issue for a very long time. Even when Jerome was making noise about it, the Church considered the local north African councils sufficient for the time which they were. It wasn’t until the Protestant reformation where this came up again in a huge way. It also reveals that the early Church did not behave in a Sola Scriptura manner because if they did, you’d think the Canon would be an issue that would need to be dealt with immediately. That’s not a proof but it is another hurdle.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          2. As a side note, I’ve called in to Catholic Answers a few times and you never get enough time to say everything you want 😉 lol. I actually want to give them another call relatively soon.

            Matthew

          3. Craig,

            You’re misrepresenting my position. As Matthew says, my position is that it wasn’t declared until Florence and not dogmatically defined until Trent. That doesn’t mean that nobody knew the right answer until then (Matthew’s Trinity example is apt – the truth of the Trinity was known long before the dogmatic definition).

      2. Craig,

        Several errors in your video, in just the first few minutes.

        1.) Your video does not answer my question. You can say Jesus quoted from the OT Scriptures, but how does one know that he quoted from the OT scriptures if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not belong in the bible?

        You say the Church is fallible. If she is, she may be wrong in saying those books are inspired. If she is fallible, why should I put my confidence in a book that many claim is infallible, but everyone making the claim admits they are fallible? You say it is no big deal about the certainty, but potentially, isn’t my eternal salvation at stake?

        2.) You explain R.C. Sproul incorrectly. His famous statement about a fallible list of infallible books is a real head scratcher. By saying fallible list, he is saying the list contains error. So which infallible book does not belong?

        Remember, saying an infallible list simply means that all the books on the list belong. Whether there could potentially be more books out there that belong on the list, does not change the fact that the books currently on the list belong on the list. Only if a book did not belong, could the list be fallible.

        3.) You state quite a few early church fathers held to the Protestant canon of 66 books. Then you say you have found three. Is three quite a few?

        In Protestantism, the 66 books are considered the entirety of scripture. Of the three you have found, none of them are using the word canon as you do. This is evident from the fact that every church father you have held up as an example as holding to the Protestant canon, quotes from the DC’s as scripture.

        Your 66 book canon is the entirety of your Holy Scriptures. The writings of the three show that their canon does not contain all the Holy Scriptures.

        4.) You state that Augustine said Maccabees is not scripture. This is false, as shown by Augustine in his own words:

        Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books:—Five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one short book called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of Kings; next, four books of Kings, and two of Chronicles, these last not following one another, but running parallel, so to speak, and going over the same ground. The books now mentioned are history, which contains a connected narrative of the times, and follows the order of the events. There are other books which seem to follow no regular order, and are connected neither with the order of the preceding books nor with one another, such as Job, and Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Ezra, which last look more like a sequel to the continuous regular history which terminates with the books of Kings and Chronicles. Next are the Prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, viz., Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. For two books, one called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are ascribed to Solomon from a certain resemblance of style, but the most likely opinion is that they were written by Jesus the son of Sirach. Still they are to be reckoned among the prophetical books, since they have attained recognition as being authoritative. The remainder are the books which are strictly called the Prophets: twelve separate books of the prophets which are connected with one another, and having never been disjoined, are reckoned as one book; the names of these prophets are as follows:—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; then there are the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books. That of the New Testament, again, is contained within the following:—Four books of the Gospel, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul—one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Colossians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews: two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and one of James; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; and one of the Revelation of John.

        In all these books those who fear God and are of a meek and pious disposition seek the will of God. On Christian Doctrine, Book ii, chapter 8 (about A.D. 397) 1

        When can I expect the video retraction on Augustine and Maccabees, as I am sure you don’t want to mislead your viewers any more than you already have?

        1. Retraction? No. I think you misunderstand Augustine:

          “Several errors in your video, in just the first few minutes”

          Like what?

          “You can say Jesus quoted from the OT Scriptures, but how does one know that he quoted from the OT scriptures if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not belong in the bible?”

          I never said that I would address that point, so that is not an error in the video.

          “You explain R.C. Sproul incorrectly. ”

          1. I don’t, as I don’t address Sproul’s position but rather the ramifications of what he said, and what, more so, White said pertaining to the subject.
          2. You yourself call it a “head scratcher” which appears to show you don’t understand what it means, which would make you unable to say that I am wrong in my own interpretation (even if I gave one).

          And, for the record, I don’t think it is possible for anyone, either you or me, or etc, can anticipate every single nuance to someone’s position pre-emptively, as the video was made before even the article here. So, I would expect that you, and others, would be reasonable in measuring my response accordingly.

          “You state quite a few early church fathers held to the Protestant canon of 66 books.”

          Actually, I didn’t say that. I said quite a few had similar Canons, and three specifically had 66 book Canons. If you actually cared to read what I wrote, this would be obvious. I may be an idiot, but not so stupid that I would boast that there are “quite a few” 66 book Canons when I, a sentence later, volunteer the fact that there were only three.

          “Your 66 book canon is the entirety of your Holy Scriptures. ”

          This is wrong as I am not defending a 66 book Canon, which is quite hilarious that you seem to think so (and shows you misunderstand the entire content of the video you are responding to.

          So far you are 0 for 4 in your claims that I had tons of errors in the first few minutes of my video. Let’s see your last:

          “You state that Augustine said Maccabees is not scripture. This is false…”

          From this time, when the temple was rebuilt, down to the time of Aristobulus, the Jews had not kings but princes; and the reckoning of their dates is found, not in the Holy Scriptures which are called canonical, but in others, among which are also the books of the Maccabees. These are held as canonical, not by the Jews, but by the Church, on account of the extreme and wonderful sufferings of certain martyrs (City of God, Book 18, Chapter 26).

          Augustine made some sort of differentiation between the DC and the regular Canon.

          So, do I get a retraction from you?

      3. I went on your youtube clip and i responded in the comments section by saying the following ;

        Thanks for your really honest insight into this . I find James White to be nauseating to listen to , but I really did appreciate your tone and sensibility .

        James White cheery picks quotes from the church fathers and many of these cherry picked quotes are really nothing more that prima face arguments . He uses them when they justify his position , but overlooks other contextual quotes from the fathers that seem to disagree with his positions ., He did this in a debate with Time staples when he tried to mis-contextualise a quote from one of the fathers on church authority . I don’t remember which debate it was though .

        While I find your arguments interesting and somewhat credible , I think you have overlooked an important element in this issue . : Whilst many church fathers may have disagreed what was to be considered cannon it is important to understand that Christ did give us a church with institutional powers to bind and loose .

        This does not have a precedence in the Judeo-Christian tradition .So Whilst the ruling elite in Christ time enforced the law of Moses , Moses himself did not institutionalise a Body of governance that was to have the powers that we see Christ giving to Peter , and ultimately the church .

        These powers would only make sense , of course , if they were to be guided by the Holy Spirit of Truth . So whilst Augustine and many other church Fathers may have had great insight into scripture , they themselves were fallible men with opinions of there own , just as many protestant scholars have varying decrees of opinions .

        It makes sense that the ultimately authority on this matter rests with the Church and the church decides what really is or is not to be considered canonical . These institutional powers where realised at Trent when the church gave us the Canon of scripture .

        I think ultimately in the end , we can see the necessity of the church and the wisdom of Christ when he gave Peter the keys to the kingdom and the powers to bind and loose .

        Christ has indeed invested in an earthly authority in his absence that logically was to continue throughout the ages . The differing of opinions without a central authority leave the protestant situation divided , ad infinitum , without clear leadership ; and for me that position is untenable , and I cannot believe that is what Christ envisaged for his church .

        The papacy and magisterium of the church are as Christ intended : to be the lynchpin or THE ROCK that keep the house standing and united in faith .

        As i look at protestantism today , I see a similar mode of disagreement as there were between the fathers of the Church . The only real arbitrary solution is a central Authority that can and does exercise the powers of binding and loosing in order that we may be united in faith .

        So the church can decide what is ultimately canonical , and her teaching is BINDING . There is no longer any division in this matter except for those who stand outside of the magisterium of the Church

        For me the catholic church is the unifier and the rock . The church did give us an infallible canon of scripture . She has exercised her authority on this matter once and for all .

        Of course you will not agree with this because of your own biases .

        So I have to disagree with you Craig :that we still do not have an infallible canon , but maybe i am just biased too , lol .

        God Bless Craig . and thanks again for your non hostility , it was a breath of fresh air .

  12. You state quite a few early church fathers held to the Protestant canon of 66 books. Then you say you have found three. Is three quite a few?

    In Protestantism, the 66 books are considered the entirety of scripture. Of the three you have found, none of them are using the word canon as you do. This is evident from the fact that every church father you have held up as an example as holding to the Protestant canon, quotes from the DC’s as scripture.

    That’s proof of Craig’s mishandling the evidence/data, something that wouldn’t pass a thesis jury unscathed.

    Telling that “quite a few” and presenting only three, based on a anachronistic and polemical definition of a concept, is not a serious argument (historical, theological or statistical). Ever made a statistic survey of how many writers accepted the 66-book-canon before your hero Luther?

    Finding your proto-protestant Church Doctor is like finding a serious biologist or philosopher (take your Biology 101 textbook here) explicitly denying evolution. Or hunting unicorns.

      1. Craig,

        Responding to your blog:

        St Amphilochus of Iconium-

        Does not hold to your canon, because as several websites put it:Amphilochius reports some of the earlier debate concerning Hebrews, the Catholic Epistles, and the Revelation of John. In fact, not only does he report the doubts of others concerning these books, but he himself appears to reject II Peter, II and III John, and Jude, and almost certainly rejects Revelation of John.

        -Rufinus-

        Quotes from Wisdom and Baruch as Scripture. In fact he uses Baruch to confirm doctrine. Now you can say Baruch is part of Jeremiah, but it is not part of the Protestant Jeremiah.

        Jerome-

        At least 55 times he quotes the DC’s as Scripture. But let’s let Jerome himself speak. From calledtocommunion:

        Ultimately, Jerome explicitly stated his acceptance of the Church’s Old Testament over and against the opinion of the Hebrew scholars under whom he had studied. For example, in his preface to Tobias, he says:

        For the studies of the Hebrews rebuke us and find fault with us, to translate this for the ears of Latins contrary to their canon. But it is better to be judging the opinion of the Pharisees to displease and to be subject to the commands of bishops.70,/i>

        His clear conviction is to be subject to the ruling of a Catholic bishop as opposed to the conclusions of Jewish Hebrew scholars. This same conviction appears in Jerome’s prolouge to Judith. There he states:

        Among the Hebrews the Book of Judith is found among the Hagiographa, the authority of which toward confirming those which have come into contention is judged less appropriate. Yet having been written in Chaldean words, it is counted among the histories. But because this book is found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures, I have acquiesced to your request, indeed demand.71

        Clearer still is Jerome’s work Against Rufinus. In it he writes:

        What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Son of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us.”72

        Epiphanius (He speaks of Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach being under dispute.)-

        And yet in Adversus Haereses, Haeres LXXVI he explicitly says Wisdom and Sirach are Scripture.

        I can do this for every father you name Craig. Everyone of them, except for Amphilocus, I can give a citation where they quote from a DC as Scripture.

        Which brings us to what is probably the obvious answer to why for most fathers do say the DC’s are part of the canon. I point you to the book A general and critical introduction to the study of Holy Scripture By Andrew Edward Breen, pg. 166:

        All the books were read; all were venerated by the faithful; but the books of the first Canon had the external sanction of the Synagogue, which raised them theoretically above the others. It was only in the Council of Trent, that the official declaration of the Church made the two classes perfectly equal. Now, such official declaration being wanting, it is not strange that these Fathers theoretically treating the question, should not place these books in the Canon…..Hence, Epiphanius, as it were, made two classes of Old Testament Scriptures; the books canonized by the Jews, and those adopted and used by the Church as Holy Writ. In favor of the former, was the authority of the Synagogue; while all used and venerated the latter, as, individuals, they did not feel warranted in giving them a prerogative that the Church had not yet given.

        This supports my conclusion that you took Augustine out of context in saying Maccabees is not in the canon. When in the very next sentence Augustine says Maccabees is in the canon of the Church.

        Craig said:

        It is worth noting that the Council of Carthage probably did not include the Book of Hebrews, so it was in fact a 72 book Canon.

        You amaze me Craig. You are so hung up on the word canon, thinking it only has one use. Here is what your link says:

        We also observe the peculiar manner in which the Epistle to the Hebrews is listed: “Epistolae Pauli Apostoli xiii., ejusdem ad Hebraeos una.” Here ejusdem looks like a later addition. In any case, the anachronism in the penultimate sentence shows that we do not have the canon in its original form here. The original canon has been edited by someone who has adapted it to churchly developments after 418 A.D.

        Your link is NOT saying the canon of the bible was changed, and the Epistle to the Hebrews added at a later point. Your link IS saying that canon 24 of the council had been changed, and the one word ejusdem added.

      2. Telling that “quite a few” and presenting only three

        Craig: ” Three ECFs gave 66 book Canons”
        How many church fathers were there in total?

        Craig: ” Several more gave 64-68 book Canons”
        How many church fathers were there in total?

        Craig: “Not all of them referred to the DC as Scripture in their other books”
        How many church fathers were there in total?
        How many did not refer to Protestant-rejected books as scripture? What is the proportion?

        Your statistical survey, according to you, generates only 3 authors who supposedly accepted a canon that would only arise more than 1000 years afterwards. Three, out of a plethora of Christian writers! Those three must be really, deeply, fundamentally important!

        I stand by my contention “Finding your proto-protestant Church Doctor is like finding a serious biologist or philosopher (take your Biology 101 textbook here) explicitly denying evolution. Or hunting unicorns.”

  13. Craig said:

    I may be an idiot,but not so stupid that I would boast that there are “quite a few” 66 book Canons when I, a sentence later, volunteer the fact that there were only three.

    Here is your exact quote from your video:

    “There’s quite a few church fathers that had 66 book canons, I’ve found three.”

    You just fulfilled the criteria you set for stupidity.

    Augustine said this:

    From this time, when the temple was rebuilt, down to the time of Aristobulus, the Jews had not kings but princes; and the reckoning of their dates is found, not in the Holy Scriptures which are called canonical, but in others, among which are also the books of the Maccabees. These are held as canonical, not by the Jews, but by the Church, on account of the extreme and wonderful sufferings of certain martyrs (City of God, Book 18, Chapter 26).

    Craig, he says Maccabees is held as canonical BY THE CHURCH. He’s talking about dates found in Jewish history, but you will not find them in the Holy Scriptures THAT THE JEWS CALL CANONICAL.

    Craig said:

    You are a former lawyer, and I mean this in love, but you have to present the Truth consistently. I know the practice of law is not conducive to this.

    Since you won’t retract what is clearly Augustine stating Maccabees is part of the Church’s canon in the very quote you try to say he denies it as Scripture, I guess we should say that your brand of Apologetics is not conducive to presenting the truth, and I state that in love.

  14. Duane,

    For the sake of anyone following this conversation, I just want to correct a few things which I feel you have said that needlessly misrepresent my position. After this, i will give you the last word as I believe your position has left the realm of intellectual disagreement and rather you are looking to disagree for the sake of it.

    It is worth reminding people, I am not here to defend a 66 book Canon, and in fact, I don’t believe a 66 book canon is a forgone conclusion.

    What you have written is in italics.

    Concerning Amphilochius, he gives a 66 book Canon in his Iambi ad Seleucum (source: 1.). You write, “he himself appears to reject II Peter, II and III John, and Jude, and almost certainly rejects Revelation of John,” but this is irrelevant. Even if he himself did not believe in a 66 book Canon, he writers that “some” did believe in the Scriptural status of Revelation and others accepted the Catholic Epistles. So, even if he “appears” to reject what others accept, this hardly proves Joe’s impossible position that no one had a 66 book Canon in Church History.

    You make mention that Rufinus and Jerome quote books other than the 66 Protestant Canon. This would be true. However, this only proves they were either 1. inconsistent or 2. believed in a 2 tiered view of Canon. Both are plausible. What is not plausible is the claim that no one in church history had a 66 book Canon, as both men give 66 book Canons here (2.) and here (3. ).

    You quote Jerome in saying, “I have acquiesced to your request, indeed demand.” But demand for what? To translate the Deuterocanon. This does not mean he radically changed his views on Canon itself, but that he merely translated them. But, even if he did, this only shows that Jerome was 1. inconsistent and, as I have said, it historically proves he had at one point a 66 book Canon, contradicting Joe’s fallacious claims.

    Your point concerning Epiphanius is roughly similar. He gives a 37 book Old Testament (4.) and he says Sirach and Wisdom are under dispute. So, even if he himself believes that those two books are Scripture, as you quote, the fact that they are under dispute shows that he knew people with 37 book Old Testaments…again, contradicting Joe’s view.

    Then you say, “You amaze me Craig” in that I am “so hung up on the word canon, thinking it only has one use.” This makes me wonder whether you are paying attention, as it is abundantly obvious that you simply seek to criticize me, evidence is irrelevant. I have said over and over again that Jerome, Rufinus, and Augustine probably had a two tiered view of Canon, which would mean, there is more than one use for the word Canon.

    But, two sentences before you write that I “took Augustine out of context in saying Maccabees is not in the canon” which betrays it is you, and not me, who is hung up one the word Canon having only one use/definition. Heck, the reason I quote Augustine saying that Maccabees is not Scripture, but it is Canonical due to the judgment of the Church, shows that he has two views of Canon: 1. those that are revealed to the Jews and laid up in the temple (as he writes elsewhere in the City of God) and 2. those that gain approval by general usage in the Church.

    So, what I don’t get is why you, and others, are so amazed. I am not defending the Protestant position. I am simply attacking the false claim that 1. the 66 book Canon was unknown in the early Church and 2. the early Church universally held that the Deuterocanon was equivalent to the Canon.

    Then, in a later reply, you disingenuously take issue with me saying, “There’s quite a few church fathers that had 66 book canons, I’ve found three.” For one, when you compare something I said off the cuff with what I have literally written in this reply section, it is obvious what I mean to say that many church fathers had Canons that approached 66 books, while three specifically had 66 book Canons.

    I apologize if my unprepared comments did not meet your rigor for accuracy. For one, there are 4 ancient witnesses to a Protestant Old Testament, three giving 66 book Canon outright, so my own comment was not even presenting my position as strongly as possible. Second, as I covered in Amphilocus’ (sp?) Canon, he wrote that others held to the Canon. So, I would technically be accurate in saying “quite a few,” but I am not going to quibble that point. After all, I was making unprepared comments, I did not speak as accurately as I could have, but obviously I was not being deceptive as I did not fail to give a specific number (three).

    This is why your snide comment, “your brand of Apologetics is not conducive to presenting the truth” is completely meaningless. Let’s record you for 20 minutes pontificating the subject and see how accurate you are in your adjectives. At least I got the number three write, which is impressive being that I was simply going by memory.

    So, with this I conclude my reply content that to those who have read it would see that I have been fair in dealing with this subject, that they have links to the said Canons I spoke of, and they have ample evidence of your disingenousness (specifically 1. your treatment Amphilocius, 2. your quibbling over a statemnt I made that was, in fact, technically accurate, and 3. your false accusation that I have stubbornly only adhering to one definition of the term Canon and not seeing the nuances in how the Fathers used the same word and then in the next sentence that is the very thing you do.)

    I wish to have productive, accurate dialogues with other Christians. Those who misrepresent or falsify the evidence, like James White, but also you and Joe on the occasions I have pointed to, will be called by me (time permitting.) I am confident that more even-handed observers will see that I am being honest and balanced with the evidence, and those like you/Joe/White in their zeal have presented a warped view merely fitting their presuppositions.

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. “you are looking to disagree for the sake of it.”

      Let’s see where I’ve heard that before… yes, it was Craig when he doesn’t convince someone and someone presents contrary evidence, he says we disagree “for sport”. Or else he censors us, if it’s his blog.

    2. I do appreciate you sentiment and I truly believe that are coming from a genuine place , and an honest search for truth . I don’t share the protestant worldview but i am at least willing to listen to you as you have a tone of respectability , unlike the nauseating rants of James White . .

      I left a a message on one of your youtube clips

  15. Craig,

    I am not disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing. I am disagreeing, because you are wrong. I hope you reply, because I am going to list some of your errors from when we started this discussion.

    Here is why Protestants like you should not use the early church fathers to argue they held to the same canon, or were close to the same canon as Protestants. Most Protestants do not believe the Deuterocanonicals are inspired, and therefore they are not Scripture. For most Protestants, using the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture, is verboten. But we have shown that every church father that you have listed, with the exception of Amipholicius, has used the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture. So even if some church father does have the exact same canon as Protestants, that church father does not have the same definition of canon as most Protestants. For most Protestants ( I realize that you may be an exception), canonIS restricted to the entirety of Scripture, found in their 66 books. But it is clear from reading the fathers, that their use of the word canon IS NOT the entirety of Scripture. So right there we see a clear change in how the word canon is used.

    Why would an early church father quote from books as Scripture that he did not list in the canon? We see that until Augustine, the fathers use of the word canon coincides with the Jewish canon. Now it becomes clear. Just as an external authority, the Synagogue, canonized the 39 books that the Protestants hold as the Old Testament, the early fathers are waiting for an external authority, i.e. a church council, to determine just what categorization the Deuterocanonicals will hold in the Bible, and in ecclesial life. All along the early fathers knew the DC’s were Holy Scripture, this is obvious from their use of them. At Hippo, an external authority made a determination.

    Now you say when Jerome or any other father does not list the DC’s in the canon and then quotes them as Scripture, that they are being inconsistent. Inconsistent? NO. They were waiting for an external authority to speak. Even if Jerome originally disagreed that the DC’s belong as part of the OT, after the council (the external authority), he bends his will to what the Church has decided. He has done something anathema to most Protestants, but is consistent with Catholicism.

    Craig on October 26th, you said this:

    The same can be said for Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Origen, in fact, the whole lot of them. They are not passing comment on which books to read that year. They are saying which books are, indeed, the Scriptures.

    And yet we have provided quotations in the past from these same fathers, from the DC’s, where they clearly state that a particular DC is Scripture.

    On October 27th, Craig said:

    To answer your question, yes the DC carries doctrinal weight and no, 2 Macc 12 does not justify prayers to the dead nor purgatory.

    St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and a host of others disagree with you. They felt Purgatory was easily proven from Maccabees.

    On October 28th, Craig said:

    And, if you honestly read the early church fathers, and know your history, they also lacked an infallible Pope (no one ever heard of the concept), infallible Canon, or even a belief in any infallible interpretation of Scripture.

    I asked earlier for you to show me where an early pope, using the Catholic criteria for papal infallibility, taught fallibly. This you have not done. So I can honestly say they did not lack an infallible pope.

    You say no one ever heard of the concept, yet I showed you where Cyprian at one point in his life clearly held to the concept. You responded that Cyprian denied the concept later in life. But his denial does not change the fact that at one point he held to the concept.

    You say they lacked an infallible canon. So which books that they listed in their canons did they have doubts about, or did not belong? Remember, all fallible means is that there is error.

    As for an infallible interpretation of Scripture, individually they did not feel they could infallibly interpret, but collectively they did. If not, then there was no reason for the council of Nicaea. Arius could be right, if that council’s reading of Scripture was fallible.

    On Nov 3rd, Craig said:

    Actually, I didn’t say that. I said quite a few had similar Canons, and three specifically had 66 book Canons. If you actually cared to read what I wrote, this would be obvious. I may be an idiot, but not so stupid that I would boast that there are “quite a few” 66 book Canons when I, a sentence later, volunteer the fact that there were only three.

    At the 3:26 of your video your exact words are: “There’s quite a few church fathers that had 66 book canons, I’ve found three.”

    Craig, I do not know whether your off the cuff comment in your post was your reply to me, or you meant off the cuff comment in your video. If it is in your video, why would you make a video with off the cuff comments? I would think one who claims to be an apologist and historian, would have all his ducks in a row before making the video. The fact is, you never thought someone would watch it that had any knowledge of what the early church actually believed. You never thought anyone would watch it that did not accept your musings as the truth.

    The fact that you know Augustine did believe that Maccabees was Scripture, yet provide a quote where one not familiar with what Augustine was doing, in contrasting the Jewish canon and the Church’s canon, I can only feel is an intentional step to mislead.

    If you are honest, and you say you are, and you really believe that Augustine was being inconsistent, then you should have stated that in your video. You did not say that in other writings Augustine said that Maccabees is Scripture. You deliberately misled your viewers into believing that Augustine thinks Maccabees is not Scripture. If the intention was not deliberate, then link a retraction to the video.

    On Nov. 5th, Craig said:

    What you have written is in italics.

    Concerning Amphilochius, he gives a 66 book Canon in his Iambi ad Seleucum (source: 1.). You write, “he himself appears to reject II Peter, II and III John, and Jude, and almost certainly rejects Revelation of John,” but this is irrelevant. Even if he himself did not believe in a 66 book Canon, he writers that “some” did believe in the Scriptural status of Revelation and others accepted the Catholic Epistles. So, even if he “appears” to reject what others accept, this hardly proves Joe’s impossible position that no one had a 66 book Canon in Church History.

    But in your blog you wrote that Amphilochius does hold to the 66 book canon. You specifically hold up this church father as a proof, but when shown all the books that most historians think he rejected, you say it is irrelevant. What? Since those books that he rejects are part of those 66 books, how does he hold a 66 book canon?

    And you also use Epiphanius, and say he says Wisdom and Sirach are under dispute, with no detail. So a reader of yours would infer that since you are using Epiphanius as a proof, he probably disputes the status of Wisdom and Sirach. But he doesn’t. He quotes from both of them as Scripture in the Panarion.

    Agreed those books were in dispute, but the dispute was between Judaism, and the Church. Most of those fathers did not have doubts about the DC’s. If they did, then to quote from them as Scripture, when they doubted them is unconscionable.

    One last point, on your blog you wrote this: It is worth noting that the Council of Carthage probably did not include the Book of Hebrews, so it was in fact a 72 book Canon.

    This is why I said I am amazed, and you are blinded by the whole canon debate. Your link is not saying that Hebrews is not part of the canon at Carthage. Your link said the canon was changed and the addition of one word was added. You saw the word canon, and thought, oh they changed the canon of the bible and added Hebrews right there, this will look good in now saying that Carthage had only 72 books. But it was canon 24 that changed between when they first wrote canon 24, and the final edition in 419, by adding the word ejusdem, to canon 24. NOWHERE DOES YOUR LINK SAY THAT HEBREWS WAS ADDED AT A LATER TIME. Yet in your zeal to make a point about the books of the bible and the canon, you misread the link’s use of the word canon.

    1. “So even if some church father does have the exact same canon as Protestants, that church father does not have the same definition of canon as most Protestants.”

      For the sake of not arguing and pointing out the obvious, pertaining the above, we agree. I hope you understand my contention that the way many in the early church understood the DC was likewise not the same as modern Catholics.

  16. I really don’t understand Prots who think there is some need to reject the Deuterocanon, or that these books contain anything “Catholic”….the passages coted as supporting purgatory don’t even, as what they really support is sacrifices being retroactive for the dead (kind of like how Jesus’ sacrifice can save Adam)…so I just don’t get the fear of the Deuterocanon.

    –a Prot who accepts the Deuterocanon

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