About Those Noble Bereans…

Raphael, St. Paul Preaching in Athens (1515)
Raphael, St. Paul Preaching in Athens (1515)

A certain subset of American Evangelicals are very fond of the “Bereans” in Acts 17, and the legacy of the Bereans can be found in everything from Berea College to polemical groups like Berean Call, to countless essays and sermons and articles that say things like:

The church in Berea may no longer be in existence but their legacy ought to live on in the church as we carefully examine Scripture in discerning truth from error. Modern wolves now roam among God’s flock in sophisticated sheep-skins. The seriousness of such a threat demands that we be present-day Bereans, and develop the necessary discernment to intercept these wolves at the point of entry into our churches.

So who were these Bereans, and why are they so popular? Surprisingly, they’re barely mentioned in Scripture, making a brief three-verse appearance. It’s in the context of St. Paul’s travels in Greece (Acts 17:1-4, 10-12):

Now when they had passed through Amphip′olis and Apollo′nia, they came to Thessaloni′ca, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas; as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. […]

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroe′a; and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni′ca, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Perhaps you already see why the Bereans might be popular with this subset of Protestants. It’s easy to envision them as basically ancient Protestants, and Scripture praises them as “noble.” And the Bereans are noble, but they’re not Protestants. Quite the contrary. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while reading this passage:

1. The Bereans Aren’t Using the Protestant Old Testament

Underlying this Protestant claiming of the Bereans is an assumption that the Scriptures that the Bereans are using was the Protestant Old Testament, as if they’re each rushing home to grab their 1611 King James Version English-language Bible. But the real-life Bereans lived in (you guessed it) Berea, in modern-day Greece, which is why Acts 17:12 mentions “few Greek women of high standing as well as men” converting alongside the Jews. These are Hellenistic, Greek-speaking Jews. Why does that matter? Because Greek-speaking Jews used the Septuagint which included 7 Books (Tobit, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Baruch, Sirach, and Judith) that are accepted as canonical by Catholic and rejected as “Apocrypha” by nearly all Protestants.

In other words, the Bereans are probably using the Catholic Old Testament, or something a lot closer to it than the Protestant Old Testament. I am admittedly oversimplifying here slightly. As Nijay Gupta, an Assistant Professor of New Testament at Portland Seminary (formerly George Fox Evangelical Seminary) writes:

I would like to talk about the Apocrypha, which is included within the LXX.

Disclaimer: it is a bit misleading to talk about “the Septuagint.” Someone once wrote that to refer to the Septuagint is like referring to the English Bible. Just as with the English Bible, the Septuagint (as a term) represents a variety of text traditions with a long and winding history. The same goes with the Apocrypha. Which texts make up the Apocrypha? Again, while there are variant collections, there is a central set of texts (Tobit, 1-2 Maccabees, Epistle of Jeremiah, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, etc…) and peripheral texts that appear in fewer collections (4 Maccabees, Odes, etc…). Still, I think we can refer to the Apocrypha generally for convenience.

These are good disclaimers. There isn’t a single Greek version of the Old Testament at this time: there are several, with slightly-different canons. So we can’t say with certainty that the Bereans had the full Catholic Old Testament, because we don’t know which Greek Bible they were using. But all of those Greek Bibles include at least some of the Books that Protestants call “Apocrypha,” which is to say that none of the Greek Bibles of this period looked like the Protestant Old Testament of today. We don’t know for certain which Old Testament they were using, but we can be pretty sure of which one they weren’t.

So the “66-book Bible” Protestants praising the Bereans actually have less in common with them than they might think. When I pointed this out several years ago, a Protestant reader suggested:

Those Greeks needed that Jew [St. Paul] to open their eyes to see the error of the Deuterocanon. And after listening to the argument and then turning to the Scriptures, they immediately repented and got their cutters out and edited their book, looking for more help from above so as not to make that stupid mistake again.

This is pure fiction, of course. The Book of Acts doesn’t condemn the Bereans for reading false Scriptures. Rather, Acts praises the Bereans for their reading of Scriptures that almost certainly included the Deuterocanon/”Apocrypha.”

2. The Bereans Aren’t Sola Scriptura Christians

The other major reason that Protestants of this sort tend to like to claim the Bereans is that they imagine that the Bereans believed in sola Scriptura, that all doctrines must be proven from Scripture alone. So, for example, Cameron Buettel of Grace to You writes that

Scripture was the Bereans’ accurate and effective filter for receiving truth and rejecting error. The fact that they read Scripture “daily” also points to a high degree of biblical literacy. They didn’t merely dip their toes in the reading of favorite stories and the memorization of “life-verses.” They were fully immersed in God’s Word and studied it as a collective whole, being able to identify the story of Christ woven throughout the Old Testament.

It is also telling that there is no mention of the Bereans consulting with any sources other than Scripture. Their belief in the sufficiency of Scripture is evident by their use of it as the sole, necessary plumb line of truth.

This is from an essay called “Meet the Bereans,” but the Bereans that we’re meeting are almost entirely a creation of Buettel’s imagination, and he goes well beyond the three lines of Acts 17:10-12 in order to create these “Protestantized” Bereans.

For example, Scripture doesn’t record anything about how the Berean Jews used to read the Scriptures together every day. It only says that they turned to the Scriptures daily while St. Paul was there, to determine if what he was saying was true. Don’t get me wrong: it would be great if the Bereans had a daily practice of examining Scripture together. But, other than during the short period that St. Paul was with them, nothing in Scripture suggests that they did.

Being Scriptural devotees is also not what they’re praised as “noble” for, despite countless Protestant commentaries that treat it like it were. Rather, they’re praised for being open-minded, ready and willing to hear a new Gospel message beyond the incomplete revelation that they already had: “these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni′ca, for they received the word with all eagerness…

In other words, they’re being praised precisely for not settling for the incomplete Old Testament but being open to the New Testament. That’s basically the opposite of what Buettel is praising them for.

And it’s worth noting that the Bereans couldn’t have been the sola Scriptura Christians that Buettel claims that they were, because sola Scriptura wasn’t practiced in the Apostolic era. Even James Whites, in the midst of trying to defend sola Scriptura, admits as much:

You will never find anyone saying, “During times of enscripturation—that is, when new revelation was being given—sola scriptura was operational.” Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is “sufficient.” It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, “See, sola scriptura doesn’t work there!” Of course it doesn’t. Who said it did?

 

 

Remember the context of Acts 17 here. St. Paul is coming and preaching something radically new: the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And he’s saying that Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, prompting the Bereans to go back and look at those Old Testament prophecies.

But make no mistake: even though the prophecies were already there, their fulfillment in Jesus Christ is new, and not to be found in the Old Testament Scriptures. So radical is the Christian revelation that some of the first listeners responded “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27).

So the Bereans don’t say “we don’t need anything other than the Scriptures.” If they did, they would have to reject St. Paul, since he’s bringing them a new and extra-Scriptural teaching!

Here, an important distinction should be made. Both Catholics and Protestants are against anti-Scriptural teachings, teachings that are contrary to what the Bible teaches. And the Bereans clearly (and rightly) double-checked to make sure that the Christian message wasn’t anti-Scriptural.

But not all extra-Biblical teachings are anti-Biblical. Not everything found in the Gospel of John is found in the Gospel of Mark, but that doesn’t mean that the two contradict (even if, at a surface level, they sometimes seem to). Likewise, not everything found in Sacred Tradition is found in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that the two contradict (even if, at a surface level, they sometimes seem to).

Sola Scriptura Protestants reject extra-Biblical teachings. But Catholics don’t, and the Bereans didn’t. If they did, they would have rejected St. Paul and the Christian Gospel — which, at that point, was only being transmitted orally. Instead, the Bereans were open-minded and open-hearted enough to listen to a teaching that was consistent with the Scriptures but not found in the Scriptures (namely, the Jesus of Nazareth died and rose) and to come to accept it as true.

All of this is to say that it’s more than a little ironic that Protestants who believe that all doctrines need to be found in the 66 books of their Bible claim to be modelling themselves off of the Bereans, who neither had a 66-book canon nor a belief that all doctrines need to be found in the Scriptures. So as I said before, the Bereans are noble, but they’re not Protestant.

120 Comments

  1. I have no dog in the race as to whether the Bereans were good Protestants or not; they were pretty clearly good Christians, and it seems like the actual virtue in question – that they checked teachings and sources against the Scriptures before accepting them – survives rather apart from your specific criticisms.

    (Though I think your comments regarding the Septuagint omit a pretty critical detail: we can assume that these were Greek-speaking folks, yes, but we also know that they were Greek Jews. What, to a Jew, were the Scriptures? If we had asked a Jewish rabbi of the time, “Which of the books in the Septuagint are Scripture?” what would he have answered?)

    But… well, look, you say:

    Sola Scriptura Protestants reject extra-Biblical teachings. But Catholics don’t, and the Bereans didn’t.

    Surely this misrepresents both our denominations. Mine doesn’t reject extra-Biblical teachings; we believe – well, since you quoted James White, here he is again:

    “The doctrine of sola scriptura, simply stated, is that the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fide, the “rule of faith” for the Church. All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source.”

    So my denomination believes just fine that 2+2=4, for instance, despite the lack of a math textbook in the Scripture. It rather insists that extra-Biblical teachings, in the context of the whole of Scripture, are not necessary for salvation or moral living: it says (as an example) that it may very well be true that Mary can hear and understand me, now that she’s dead, but that there’s no particular spiritual need to be much concerned with her afterlife existence

    Likewise, it’s insufficient to say that your denomination doesn’t reject extra-Biblical teaching – you do! If I teach that God rides around heaven on a neon green unicycle, I certainly hope you’ll reject that dogma. I understand your point – that you don’t automatically reject such teaching – but again, that’s a point of commonality. The real question here is which extra-Biblical teachings we each accept, and on what grounds.

    And it’s there that we differ. We find no other grounds today – now, with the Old and New Testaments, and no apparent apostles wandering around – that have authoritative grounds commensurate with the existing Scriptures. The Bereans, in their time, rightly did acknowledge a source with such grounds. Our complaint against you is that your teaching arm has erroneously claimed such grounds.

    And if we can take anything away from the Bereans – if this passage is to mean anything at all – it must be that we are to check a new source against what Scripture we have and judge in that light whether its claim to authority is justified. I think it’s that notion – that we should test you (or anyone else) and evaluate your claims to authority against the Scriptures – that most of your original sources are praising. (Some, sure, are going rather too far in their application of that principle.)

    Would you agree that’s true? Should we check the teachings of the Magisterium against Scripture and judge whether we find its claim to authority convincing?

    1. ” We find no other grounds today – now, with the Old and New Testaments, and no apparent apostles wandering around…”
      Not true. We know that Catholic priests have apostolic succession and therefore Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist. Do not give up, keep looking, keep asking! The Holy Spirit will find you!

      1. We know that Catholic priests have apostolic succession

        Cool. As per our text of the day, that’s something Rome can certainly try to prove is according to the Scriptures.

        1. You yourself accept the authority of Rome by your acceptance of the Scriptures, since it was Rome that told you these and no others are Scripture.

          1. On the contrary, as I have noted in multiple other posts, I accept the Scripture as the Scripture on its own evidence. I pretty clearly am not just running with the answer Rome provided, since, y’know, my answer differs from theirs.

            You’re welcome to believe that’s a bad reason, but I don’t think you can declare for me what my reason is!

          2. “I accept the Scripture as the Scripture on its own evidence.”

            If ‘their own evidence’ is so simple to understand, then why did it take 300+ years for the present canon of Scripture to be closed at the Council of Carthage?

            Eusebius, in his ‘Church History’, detailed the many difficulties and opinions of the Fathers in distinguishing the ‘spurious’ writing, from universally accepted ‘scriptures’ at about his time of 300AD.

            This history reveals that it was not as easy as you imply, to select the canon that we presently have, and that there are still various ancient Christian Churches, such as the Coptics in Ethiopia, that maintain a different canon to this very day.

            But it was the Post-Nicaean Church, with leading bishops such as St. Augustine adding his opinions, that eventually lead to the “closing the canon”…as the ‘Early Fathers’ described the momentous and final decision of selecting the lists of scriptural works which would be definitively ‘canonized’ for all future times.

          3. Hi awlms,

            I never suggested that determining what is and is not Scripture is simple; I just said that councils of fallible men are not the final standard to which we appeal. They’re useful; they are not authoritative.

          4. These same councils of ‘fallible men’ were started when ‘fallible apostles needed to replace Judas as apostle, since he committed suicide. And then, in deciding that the ‘diaconate’ needed to be created to solve various mundane problems in the Church. That is to say, the apostles came together in council to make important decisions regarding the future of the nascent Church.

            The same ‘fallible apostles’ decided that a council was necessary to straighten out the ‘Judaiser’ conflict infecting the early Church, and especially highlighted by the tensions between St. Peter and St. Paul over whether or not to circumcise the Gentiles.

            So, the ‘Council of Jerusalem’ was called to settle the matter, and the fallible apostles did indeed settle it. Moreover, we note that Peter was their lead in drawing the conclusion that the Church followed for all future times.

            So, the Church received the model for all future synods and councils from these very apostles; because, really, it’s not as if the ecclesiastical and doctrinal conundrums in Church were going to stop after just Judas, the Deacons, and the Judaisers. They were going to continue until the end of the world.

            Thus the need for a Church (One,Holy Catholic and Apostolic) which could continue making decisive rulings on any matter that came before them. As the Church grew, the synods and councils grew.

            You say: “They are fallible.” The Church says “They are infallible.” Jesus Christ says “Upon this rock I shall build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Catholics believe the opinions of the Holy Universal ( Catholic) Church and it founder Jesus Christ, and accepts all synods and councils since the first one’s at Jerusalem.

            And I might add that in our present day, with human cloning, gene editing, artificial intelligence, hydrogen bomb warfare, sex gender manipulation, and a host of other modern technologies on the horizon….such ecclesiastical synods and councils are needed more than ever.

            Protestants can make micro decisions for their multitudes of micro Churches. So, they don’t need councils, nor are they really possible considering the diversity of theology among them. But the Catholic Church is not a micro organization, it is the ‘Empire’ described in the first paragraph of the Book of Revelation. It is the very large tree that Jesus described in the ‘parable of the seed’. And a large tree needs to make large, macro decisions. It needs large, macro councils…not just a few pastors getting together to opine on scripture.

            Would anyone believe that only huge corporations (like McDonald’s and Apple computer) could be organized on a world wide scale, and NOT the disciples of Christ? That they alone of all ‘franchise’ type corporations, would have to lack unified leadership and cooperation on a world wide basis? Did not Jesus intend the exact opposite, and that His unified Church would expand to be an empire across the Earth? Didn’t also the great Church Councils such as Nicaea I, demonstrate the truth of this and demonstrate the progress and trajectory of the young Church…pointing towards world wide growth, and a world wide network of bishops and priests?

            The historical proofs are on the side of the Catholics.

          5. Good morning, Al,

            Thank you for your prayerful, worthy explication.

            Asking for a blessed Holy Week for you.

          6. Al,

            Forgot to add that the Holy Spirit REIGNS in the Church (as Jesus promised in Scripture), while the fallible men GOVERN/administer. This explains why men make mistakes; the Spirit never does.

          7. Hi Al,

            You say: “They are fallible.” The Church says “They are infallible.”

            Yes. And surely we don’t accept what men say of themselves, just by virtue of them saying it. We test them against the Scriptures, as the Bereans did, to see if their claim to authority is merited.

            By all means, prove it! Show, by ironclad exegesis, that I should trust anything the RCC has to say about itself.

            Jesus Christ says “Upon this rock I shall build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

            Jesus also said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” There’s no particular reason to believe that either verse is about the Roman Catholic Church.

            Would anyone believe that only huge corporations (like McDonald’s and Apple computer) could be organized on a world wide scale, and NOT the disciples of Christ?

            Well, yes, they would – the existence proof is that you’re talking to someone who believes exactly that. The standard for right Christian practice is not, “Well, that’s not how I would set it up.”

          8. ” And surely we don’t accept what men say of themselves, just by virtue of them saying it.”

            Yet you accept what these men say of Scripture, just by virtue of them saying it.

            You claim it is Scripture that tells you it’s Scripture. Yet there are scads and scads of books that tell you they are Scripture, so that falls apart. You had already accepted them before you could accept what they say.

          9. Hi Mary,

            Yet you accept what these men say of Scripture, just by virtue of them saying it.

            No, I don’t.

            You’ve attributed several beliefs to me in the last few posts, and so far they… aren’t exactly dead on?

        2. “Yes. And surely we don’t accept what men say of themselves, just by virtue of them saying it. We test them against the Scriptures”

          Jesus contradict’s you about the necessity of scripture. He says the gospel shall be PREACHED (yes by fallible men), and then when challenged by governors and kings….we are not to bring a bible with us…nor even plan the words we are to use. And why? : “For it is not you that speak, but the Holy Ghost.”

          Read the whole passage. Where is there anything about testing against scripture?… unless that’s just a Protestant invention?

          “For they shall deliver you up to councils, and in the synagogues you shall be beaten, and you shall stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony unto them. And unto all nations the gospel must first be preached. And when they shall lead you and deliver you up, be not thoughtful beforehand what you shall speak; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye. For it is not you that speak, but the Holy Ghost.”

          As a side note, maybe ‘testing against scripture would indeed have benefitted the ‘Father of the Reformation’, Martin Luther, when he agreed to the bigamous marriage of his benefactor, Philip of Hesse, to a seventeen year old girl, Margaret von der Sale. Not only was Philip a serial adulterer…ie. married already, but was also recovering from the infectious Syphilis disease which he contracted from so many illicit sexual encounters in his past. So, yes, Luther could have paid attention to scripture before agreeing to such a scandalous 2nd marriage. See for more details:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margarethe_von_der_Saale

          1. Hi Al,

            I’m fundamentally disinterested in defending Martin Luther; he was as big a sinner as any of the rest of us. I thought we were debating Scripture – why bring him up?

            Read the whole passage. Where is there anything about testing against scripture?… unless that’s just a Protestant invention?

            I would like to be clear: do you sincerely think this passage teaches that we are never to think about apologetics and hermeneutics, which don’t appear in the passage, or do you think maybe that’s not the point Christ is trying to make here?

          2. The side note regarding Luther was to remind folks that the inventor of the ‘sola scriptura’ doctrine, that all Protestant’s adhere to, was a person who promoted anti-Christian practices by his own personal example. And his only reason for doing so was to placate a worldly political leader so that he would not withdraw his military protection from him and his movement.

          3. The topic is what books of scripture are authentic. Most of history points to Luther’s paper, nails, church door as the beginning of the Reform movement. Since Luther chose to delete books from scripture which had not been in dispute for 1500 years, it seems appropriate that he be discussed. Further, he picked and chose church teachings he would or would not accept. The idea of hierarchy incorporates the idea of obedience. I’m a female so my male logic is weak. Instead, from intuition and creative intellect, I imagine Jesus praying in Luther’s garden: “Heavenly Father, let this cup pass by me. If it doesn’t, I cannot in good faith drink it. I’m sorry but I cannot discuss it any more.”

            Speaking of Magisterial church teachings, what is bad about them? How or where do they self-de-authenticate scripture? Or is that probably a question one wishes not to answer.

          4. “do you sincerely think this passage teaches that we are never to think about apologetics and hermeneutics”.

            The point Christ is making is that the Christian is to hear the Gospel proclaimed by 1st. the Apostles and 2nd by their successors until the end of the world. You hear this same gospel BOTH in Catechesis and in Liturgy, where it has been both taught and preached to this very day. This is how it was done since the beginning of Christianity. I might add that probably less than 5 percent of the world population in the early centuries were literate, and most didn’t even have a written language to translate the physical papyrus/parchment scriptures into. So, the proclamation by the mouth was the main source of teaching the Gospel message of Christ for the majority of Christian history.

            After understanding the Gospel message, through the Kerygma and Catechesis taught by the early Church, then a person puts that faith into practice. He both attended the weekly liturgy to hear the Gospel read and preached, and then incorporated it into his inner prayer life of meditation and reflection. In this way the Holy Spirit comes and teaches and inspires him how to live his life in the most productive way for the Kingdom of God. This is where a man finds his particular vocational calling from God.

            Having memorized the sayings of Christ, a person then practices these teachings…so as to not violate those very same teachings that he has heard, i.e… “my brethren are they who hear the word of God, AND DO IT.”

            So, in Christ’s teaching regarding ‘not preparing beforehand what to say’…I take this literally. A person who LIVES the Sacred Scriptures…has them written on his heart. He has no need to bring a book with him to a debate… or when tried by anti-Christian judges and kings…as Jesus teaches. The Word of God is written on his heart and he can express it in any way the Holy Spirit inspires Him to at that very moment. Even as St. Steven did as he was being stoned to death.

            Best to you.

          5. “I’m a female so my male logic is weak.”

            That’s because women were created by God to care for little children, and not fight off wolves, bears and barbarians. Men are more apt for argumentation because often there is an element of fighting and defense involved…which are both predominantly male traits.

            But this brings up another good point. The Gospel is less logical and more rhetorical. So, women might understand parables better then men in this context because they are generally more sympathetic by nature.

            So, there is something for everyone in the teachings of Christ. 🙂

          6. Hi Al,

            The side note regarding Luther was to remind folks that the inventor of the ‘sola scriptura’ doctrine, that all Protestant’s adhere to, was a person who promoted anti-Christian practices by his own personal example.

            How fortunate that no Pope has ever fit that category.

            C’mon, dude. Both our denominations have had sinners in leadership – it comes with the leaders being human. These are not stones you want to throw.

            The point Christ is making is that the Christian is to hear the Gospel proclaimed by 1st. the Apostles and 2nd by their successors until the end of the world.

            Oddly, Christ does not say any of that in this passage.

            So, in Christ’s teaching regarding ‘not preparing beforehand what to say’…I take this literally.

            You take it literally, as your personal interpretation, or the Catholic Church does? Has the RCC infallibly clarified the meaning of this passage to mean, “Don’t prepare for debates; don’t practice hermeneutics?” If so, where?

            Joe, would you be willing to comment on whether you ever (apparently) disobey Christ by preparing before writing one of your blog posts?

            ***

            Iiiiiii am really not comfortable suggesting that women are less logical than men in general. That seems… ill-founded, and, y’know, kind of offensive to logical women, and as far as I know it’s not something either of our denomination teaches. We are all called to be able to give reasons for the hope that we have.

          7. Sorry, I guess I’m just not as politically correct as you.

            As I understand it, according to mammalian biology, men and women have talents that are predominent to their particular genders. So, if you claim that male and female mammals have identical talents, go ahead and continue to believe it. Natural law contradicts your theory.

            The study of mammals shows that males of almost any species are primarily protectors of their progeny and female mates. And this is due mainly to their larger physical size. Maternal care, on the other hand is particularly a trait of females, as across virtually all mammals they are the ones to nurse and raise their offspring, and teach them how to hunt and survive in the world.

            But, of course, this is all just common sense that we get from observation…and watching the Discovery Channel. It’s really quite difficult to understand.

          8. Sorry, I guess I’m just not as politically correct as you… But, of course, this is all just common sense that we get from observation…and watching the Discovery Channel. It’s really quite difficult to understand.

            Wow. Okay, so we’re moving into the passive-aggressive jab part of the conversation. I think that’s my cue to bow out; I’ll try to leave off on this sidetrack with this post.

            As I understand it, according to mammalian biology, men and women have talents that are predominent to their particular genders.

            Sure. Men have, for instance, more testosterone and more muscle mass. I did not say “there are no differences between men and women.” My wife and I are complementarians; we celebrate our differences, and we see in Scripture that God designated different roles and authority to the two spouses.

            But “logic” is not, so far as we know, a function of testosterone; nor is it designated to one gender or the other in Scripture; nor is it observable particularly among male mammals on the Discovery Channel. The Lord says to all of us, “Come, let us reason together,” and it is destructive and unhealthy for us to say to our sisters in Christ, “Oh, well, you’ll just never be good at obeying that part.”

          9. “Wow. Okay, so we’re moving into the passive-aggressive jab”

            You moved onto a jab when you used seven I’s to start your response. Maybe one would do sufficiently?

            Regarding males and females, observation and common sense also works. Just consider this question as an example: Have you ever considered why there are very few females that comment on this blog? And on other Catholic apologetic sites as well? And the the comments are usually much shorter and in less detail than the male comments?

            I’m not kidding, it takes only a little common sense and intuition,to realize that women are not as attracted to dialectic as men are. As I stated earlier, they gravitate more towards rhetoric. And I’m not saying either is better than the other, and as said before, scripture is actually weighted more towards rhetoricin it’s ample use of metaphors, parables and symbolism as a technique for communicating spiritual ideas.

            Logic and dialectic does not appeal to the emotions, Rhetoric specializes in it. So, this is what I was getting at in my comment about the PREDOMINANT characteristics of men and women. There will always be women that are capable of mens dialectical thinking, and men who are predominantly rhetorical in their thinking. But as we note on this very blog, argumentation and logic are a major part of the conversation here…and you are a good example of this. In argumentation you need to defend your positions, and men, obviously are specialists in defense (probably due to millenia of warfare).

            If you think about it, this is all just common sense, aided by a little sociological observation. However, in our present political environment, feminism would like to turn the ‘natural law’ and also ‘common sense’ upside down. They would like to influence the world to accept their own definition of masculinity and femininity wherein there is very little sociological distinction between the two. And this is why I said that you were probably more ‘politically correct’ than I in this…because it is well known that those who tow the liberal line are rewarded in own present society, but those like myself will get violently protested against if we speak these things at public places, like college campuses.

            So…to me, you sounded much more ‘politically correct’, towing sort of the liberal/feminist line…with a statement like this: “That seems… ill-founded, and, y’know, kind of offensive to logical women”. It is typical that liberals are ‘offended’ by almost everything today, in their attempts to force their politically correct positions onothers…as is proven by the violent demonstrations seen on campuses recently over simple conservative speeches/debates (ie..think UC Berkeley about 3 months back).

            And lastly, whether a person is more logically minded or rhetorically minded has little to do with denominations…. unless you want to get into the particlar details of why the Catholic Church does not allow women priests. But that’s another story… although along the same lines.

            Just my opinion.

          10. Posting this comment again, because I posted it in the wrong thread at first…

            @ awlms
            About the whole thing with womens’ intelligence:
            1) Your claims are actually illogical – in what way is “rhetoric” the opposite of “logic”? Rhetoric means the tactic of presenting arguments in a speech; it is not at all the same as “emotion” – even I, as one of these emotionally driven woman, know this 😉 If you present illogical arguments with good rhetoric, they’re still illogical, that is, bad arguments; rhetoric is only good insofar as it serves the presenting of logic (just as pretty plates are useless if you have poisoned food in them). Are you saying that all women are capable of is empty, but at least eloquent appeals to emotions?
            2) Interesting – you are basing your observations about the intelligence of women on the number of comments you observe on a few of your favorite blogs? Not on, say, statictics about women graduating from college or university, for example?
            3) Your biological observations don’t actually confirm your claims, by the way. Surely one needs logic for hunting or warfare (a very logical enterprise where you are debating your opponents all the time!), but not for raising kids, and one doesn’t need emotion and intuition for hunting or warfare, but with the education thing, it’s all emotion and intuition. Surely. You can deduct that directly. (By the way, if you want to talk about *animals*, neither the males nor the females possess reason. They are *animals*. They possess instincts. And the females, say lionesses, for example, do a lot of hunting too. Not to speak of the fact that by appealing to animals you could very easily justify polygamy, general promiscuity, and a lot of other stuff we don’t really want to have, too.)
            4) Concerning tolerance and political correctness: surely you can believe us women to be less intelligent than you men. I guess I’m *sort of* offended by these kinds of subtle efforts to keep us women out of discussions in the first place (by the way, my guess about all those – according to your observations – non-participating American traditional Catholic women in American traditional Catholic internet comboxes is rather that perhaps a) they have already been fed too much of this belief that they are just emotional and intuitive and not really up to that whole thinking thing, but that that’s totally all right, it’s supposed to be like that!, or b) maybe they are just not the type to jump into internet discussions all the time as you, or, sometimes, I, are) ; but not offended enough to want to simply shut them up, no reason to worry 😉 Free speech and stuff. Your claims are just not true, that’s the problem.

            PS: By the way, I’m Catholic, too (yes, a “real Catholic”, not one of those pro-women priests people), and the Church does not teach anything like this. Actually, it sometimes almost seems to me that this kind of idea about what exactly makes up the differences between men and women (logic vs. emotion) is a more or less specifically American idea that you don’t hear so often in other countries (such as mine).

            PPS: I’m happy to discuss all this, but in the Catholic – Protestant controversy, maybe we should come back to the actual topic at hand – whether the Holy Scriptures attest to a belief in Sola Scriptura.

            PPPS: My apologies if there should be any mistakes in my English.

          11. Crescentia,

            In using the terms Rhetoric and dialectic, I was using them in a general sense and this is why I said “Rhetorical or logic/dialectical THINKING. Here is a short explanation that generally gets the point across to the differences between the two, and then I generally apply it to thinking processes predominant in men and women….at least as I have observed in my life thus far. The expressions ‘rhetorical thinking and dialectical thinking might not be perfect, but it’s the best I can find to describe what I have observed :

            “What makes rhetoric different from dialectic?

            As opposed to rhetoric which is a unilateral process, wherein one party engages in a lengthy and impassioned speech to bring others to consent to his way of thinking or to accept truth as he envisages it, dialectic is a bilateral process wherein two people or parties, engage in a philosophical argument to reach a consensus of truth through dialogue and debate, refuting and rebutting each other’s propositions.
            Rhetoric is also referred to as a practical art which uses bombastic language, ornamental words and cynical sophistication. Dialectic is more sober, practical and persuasive technique of argument which is deliberative and logical.
            Dialectic influences one person at a time whereas; rhetoric has in its power to sway large audiences to mindless submission. Great speakers have used rhetoric to influence masses over periods of time.
            Rhetoric is usually delivered in public spaces like assemblies, stadiums, political rallies and other large gatherings. The audience is usually so swayed by the words of the speaker that they stop thinking for themselves and are transported to the utopia promised by the speaker, transported to a future time and space which promises the sky. Dialectic, however, is more of a private place dispensation and has very few people listening in and participating in the deliberation. The speaker has much less power to convince the listener as he is constantly stopped by questions and arguments against his proposition.
            Rhetoric is a one way street, whereas dialectic is a two way street. What this means is that rhetoric proceeds in a flow and speech is continuous, while dialectic is fractured frequently by questions and answers.
            Rhetoric is more applicable in matters of the state or public, but dialectic can apply to any common matter.
            Rhetoric assumes that the audience has limited intelligence and will accept any bombastic discourse. Dialectic thrives on two way intelligent argument.
            Dialectic is argumentative and rhetoric is non- argumentative.

            Read more: The Difference Between Rhetoric And Dialectic | Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.net/language/the-difference-between-rhetoric-and-dialectic/#ixzz4eWao6D9w

          12. Well, going with these definitions of rhetoric and dialectic: how exactly does all that apply to the difference between men and women?
            Just speaking of the practical part, for a lot of history, (mostly) men have been both the speakers – and the listerners – in the marketplace and the debating philosophers and students at the universities, and nowadays (and sometime at certain times and places in the past, too), women are doing both things as well, rhetoric and dialectic.
            But you are not speaking of the practical part here, but of the thinking processes, okay. So what exactly are you saying: Men – in general – more often weigh different arguments before coming to a conclusion, while women – in general – more often are swayed by buzzwords without thinking a thing through, at least according to your experience?

    2. If one is open to examining teachings of the Magisterium as a case of “reformed” extrascripturation, one may check scripture, nature, reason, and tradition. Add the teachings of learned holy men, and top this off with prayer to the Holy Spirit.

      1. Irked,
        I’m praying for you!
        Please tell me where I can find some explanation as to why the Septuagint left out some books.

        1. Hi Margo,

          If one is open to examining teachings of the Magisterium as a case of “reformed” extrascripturation, one may check scripture, nature, reason, and tradition.

          One can and should, I think. But, to the best of my ability to judge, those are not tests they pass. I don’t really want to launch a whole side-discussion on the Magisterium, but there’s too much (of what seems to me to be) innovation and bad exegesis in the Magisterium’s teaching – too many cases of two words stretched into a volume of theology that You Must Believe, and which simply seems out of step with the plain reading of most of the relevant passages.

          Please tell me where I can find some explanation as to why the Septuagint left out some books.

          I’m not sure I’m interpreting your question correctly – can you reword it? Are you asking about the apocryphal books that were sometimes omitted from the Septuagint?

          Because if so, a reason those were sometimes left out (and the implicit answer to my question to Joe) is that the Jews had a pretty clear definition of what was Scripture and what wasn’t. To them, the Scriptural books – the canon! – were the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. The non-Scriptural books are the Catholic apocrypha; first-century Jews knew about them, but had always rejected them as uninspired.

          1. Hi Irked,
            I imagine that I understand what you mean about innovation, particularly with regard to those Marian dogmas which certainly are not EXPLICITLY WRIT IN SCRIP!

            When I once balked at some point, some wise teacher pointed out to me that I am asked to assent in faith to “Mysteries.” By definition such things are not easily understood. But I definitely know that God gives only good, and I want to know more. So for me there is the rub which isn’t a rub. It is the fun, the joy, the celebration in knowing God and his mother and what is best for us here in this world which would be prison but for Him.

            Best for Holy Week.

          2. Yes. I don’t understand exactly why the 70 scholars thought some books uninspired but Catholics today do consider them so inspired. Or am I completely and totally mixed up?! I don’t know.

          3. Hi Margo,

            But surely there’s a difference between “assent in faith to things you don’t understand” and “assent in faith to EVERYTHING you don’t understand,” right? We’re also called to have discernment, to reject false dogmas, etc.

            So we have to have a standard by which we divide good teaching from bad – and it can’t just be “what the Magisterium says,” since the reliability of the Magisterium is the thing we’re talking about evaluating. For me, the standard is (a historically-informed understanding of) Scripture – that seems to be what the Bible itself says to use.

            Yes. I don’t understand exactly why the 70 scholars thought some books uninspired but Catholics today do consider them so inspired. Or am I completely and totally mixed up?!

            No, that’s basically historically accurate – the Wikipedia article on the Septuagint is a decent intro to this topic. The kind of funny thing here is that, on the subject of the canon, the Jewish version of the Magisterium taught exactly the opposite of what the Catholic Magisterium does today.

            I’m obviously biased, but I do see this as something of a problem for Catholicism – if (as the Roman Catholic Church teaches), we know what Scripture is only because of an authoritative tradition, then why does that same argument lead a 30 AD Jew to reject the sources the Catholic Church would later accept?

            This is one of the reasons Protestants often argue that Scripture self-authenticates – that it is its own proof, rather than deriving proof from an external source.

            I’m afraid I’m drifting from the original topic, now, but since you asked – well, that’s what we make of it.

          4. Irked you said “The non-Scriptural books are the Catholic apocrypha; first-century Jews knew about them, but had always rejected them as uninspired.”

            Me – I have never understood why people see the first century Jews as the final authority on Old Testament matters rather than first century Christians. Think about this, the only reason we call ourselves Christians is because the majority of Jews rejected Jesus and were in control. If it were not for this we’d be called Jews and the Jews that rejected Jesus would have been called something else. Those that rejected Jesus have zero authority and any decision they made is not binding.

            Also there was no settled OT cannon in the 1st century. Not every Jew rejected Wisdom, Maccabees etc..

            So explain to me why should I give more credence to a first century Jewish leader than a first century Christian leader? Did the Christian lose some OT grace at conversion?

          5. I have never understood why people see the first century Jews as the final authority on Old Testament matters rather than first century Christians.

            I don’t! The Jews of the time would have pointed to their ruling body of scribes and said, “It is our established tradition that such-and-such Jewish books are Scripture; it’s been passed down through the generations this way, and God has protected our authority to establish by our traditions what is and is not Scripture.”

            I don’t think that’s a very good argument! I’m happy to reject it; Scripture is taken as Scripture because of its own internal evidence, not because an external source attests to it.

            It’s just that, if I’m going to reject this argument coming from the Jews, I’m also going to reject it coming from Rome.

            Also there was no settled OT cannon in the 1st century. Not every Jew rejected Wisdom, Maccabees etc..

            By that argument, there’s no settled canon now either.

          6. Irked – I don’t! The Jews of the time would have pointed to their ruling body of scribes and said, “It is our established tradition that such-and-such Jewish books are Scripture; it’s been passed down through the generations this way, and God has protected our authority to establish by our traditions what is and is not Scripture.”

            Me – would have doesn’t count. Did they is the question. The answer is they did not. The Jews were not unified on the OT. There is no council settling the issue before Christianity. Anything the Jews came up after Christianity is not binding on Christians. Those traditions you talk about is just as much Christian than Jewish except the Jews don’t have the benefit of Gods revelation in the New Testament.

            Irked-I don’t think that’s a very good argument! I’m happy to reject it; Scripture is taken as Scripture because of its own internal evidence, not because an external source attests to it.

            It’s just that, if I’m going to reject this argument coming from the Jews, I’m also going to reject it coming from Rome.

            Me-own internal evidence like an inspired table of contents?
            Again the very first Christians were Jews. Why give the OT settled on by Jews who rejected Jesus but ignore their view of the NT? Also do you reject everything that comes from “scary Rome”?

            Irked-Also there was no settled OT cannon in the 1st century. Not every Jew rejected Wisdom, Maccabees etc..

            By that argument, there’s no settled canon now either.

            Me-you are not making sense. Councils settled the issue. If Romish church councils don’t carry any weight as you say then then every single Christian doctrine is not settled and open to interpretation. Heck the Trinity may or may not be true, etc… sounds like you follow the Church of irked. The one and only that can settle disagreements.

          7. would have doesn’t count. Did they is the question.

            There’s reasonable evidence the Tanakh predates Christ, or minimally Christianity, yeah. This is not a side-track I particularly want to run-down, though.

            own internal evidence like an inspired table of contents?
            Again the very first Christians were Jews. Why give the OT settled on by Jews who rejected Jesus but ignore their view of the NT?

            As I say, I don’t think the testimony of traditions is the dividing line for either Testament.

            you are not making sense. Councils settled the issue.

            Your standard was that there was no Jewish canon, because not every Jew accepted the same books as canonical. Not every Christian accepts the same books as canonical; by your standard, then, there’s no settled canon.

            I think this is a silly conclusion, which is precisely my point.

            Also do you reject everything that comes from “scary Rome”?

            sounds like you follow the Church of irked. The one and only that can settle disagreements.

            If we’re going to have this conversation, I’d appreciate it if we could show a little more gentility to each other – which is advice I should probably heed in my own responses, as well. Let’s talk about ideas and not each other.

          8. Irked-Your standard was that there was no Jewish canon, because not every Jew accepted the same books as canonical. Not every Christian accepts the same books as canonical; by your standard, then, there’s no settled canon.

            Me-my standard is there was no authoritative Jewish body that settled the issue. They left it open. Had they done this before Jesus it would have been settled. How do you have any more claim to truth than any other Christian sect that you disagree with?

            At least Catholics are consistent. You seem to pick and choose ultimately submitting to your interpretation of scripture. I submit to the what I believe to be the Church Christ founded whether I understand or agree with what she teaches. The only reason I believe the Bible is inspired is because the Church tells me it is. This includes the book of Wisdom etc…

            I apologize for the my uncharitable tone earlier

          9. my standard is there was no authoritative Jewish body that settled the issue. They left it open. Had they done this before Jesus it would have been settled.

            So, to be clear: if the evidence that suggests that such an accord was reached prior to 33 AD – and maybe a lot prior to 33 AD – is accurate, then it follows that Catholicism must necessarily be incorrect regarding the canon of Scripture?

            I don’t really have a lot hanging on this point, because again, councils are not where I understand Scripture’s authority to originate. But it seems from what you’re saying that you do: that it’s absolutely essential to you that the Tanakh does not predate Christianity, and that if it did predate Christianity, that would invalidate Catholicism on the subject of the canon. Am I understanding you correctly on that point?

            Or let me approach this question from another direction: suppose I assume that, in fact, the Tanakh is not defined until sometime after Christ. How, then, is a faithful Jew living in 50 BC to decide which books are canonical?

          10. Irked-So, to be clear: if the evidence that suggests that such an accord was reached prior to 33 AD – and maybe a lot prior to 33 AD – is accurate, then it follows that Catholicism must necessarily be incorrect regarding the canon of Scripture?

            Me-ultimately I would defer to the Church, but I would want to understand why she did not accept a binding Jewish accord prior to 33AD.

            Irked-I don’t really have a lot hanging on this point, because again, councils are not where I understand Scripture’s authority to originate.

            Me-I agree with this also.

            Irked- But it seems from what you’re saying that you do:

            Me- no I’m not. Councils (the Church) get’s it’s authority from Jesus.

            Irked-that it’s absolutely essential to you that the Tanakh does not predate Christianity, and that if it did predate Christianity, that would invalidate Catholicism on the subject of the canon. Am I understanding you correctly on that point?

            Me-I’m not sure what you are asking.

            Irked-Or let me approach this question from another direction: suppose I assume that, in fact, the Tanakh is not defined until sometime after Christ. How, then, is a faithful Jew living in 50 BC to decide which books are canonical?

            Me-ok. I understand this better. What I’m saying is if there were scriptures that where not agreed upon and not settled before Christianity then Christians are not bound by what a Jewish council decides after the fact. If they have the power to bind Christians after Jesus then we would be bound by their view that the NT is not inspired. Consistency demands it.

            How did Christians know which books were inspired? Some were known to be written by the Apostles so those were not an issue. What about Hebrews, Revelation, Didache, Clement, etc…They were all thought to be inspired by some but not others who where much closer to the time of Jesus, or knew the Apostles themselves. They weren’t so sure but Christians 2000 years later are. The only reason you are sure is because a group of men of “gasp!” catholic persuasion through the inspirations of the Holy Spirit told us so.

            What denomination are you? If you don’t mind me asking.

          11. ultimately I would defer to the Church, but I would want to understand why she did not accept a binding Jewish accord prior to 33AD.

            Well, now, hang on. You said to me just a post ago:

            my standard is there was no authoritative Jewish body that settled the issue. They left it open. Had they done this before Jesus it would have been settled.

            It sounds like you’re adjusting that – are you? Is your standard that it doesn’t ultimately matter whether there was such an authoritative Jewish body, because the RCC is correct regardless?

            Because if so, I return to my original point: that’s an inconsistent treatment of the idea of an authoritative tradition.

            I’m not sure what you are asking.

            I’m asking, suppose we find out tomorrow beyond all reasonable doubt that the Tanakh – the Jewish Old Testament, which exactly matches the Protestant Old Testament – does in fact date to ~100 BC. There’s already some evidence that’s true; the old theory that it dated to a council of ~90 AD is not in great shape, and the issue seems to be settled well before Josephus writes about it around that time.

            Suppose we find that out. Does that mean the RCC must be wrong about its canon, or (as I ask above), are you adjusting your claim that a pre-Christianity Jewish council would be authoritative?

            How did Christians know which books were inspired?

            That’s not what I asked. I asked how a first-century BC Jew was to judge which books were inspired, if there were no authoritative councils. What, in other words, was God’s plan to preserve the truth of His Word? What was the standard they were to apply?

            What denomination are you? If you don’t mind me asking.

            I’m a flavor of Baptist – mostly Southern, but with chunks of Reformed and the American Baptist Association.

          12. Irked-ultimately I would defer to the Church, but I would want to understand why she did not accept a binding Jewish accord prior to 33AD.

            Well, now, hang on. You said to me just a post ago:

            my standard is there was no authoritative Jewish body that settled the issue. They left it open. Had they done this before Jesus it would have been settled.

            It sounds like you’re adjusting that – are you? Is your standard that it doesn’t ultimately matter whether there was such an authoritative Jewish body, because the RCC is correct regardless?

            Me-ultimately yes the RCC is correct regardless as it relates to doctrine. If the Church is binding us in error then there is nothing we can trust with 100% assurance. Then you end up where Protestants are. Every generation has to reinvent the wheel and create new religions to fit their interpretation of a book they just know is inspired because, well they just know….

            So my consistency is I follow Church teaching which is historical. What is yours?

            Irked-Because if so, I return to my original point: that’s an inconsistent treatment of the idea of an authoritative tradition.

            Me-irked I am consistent. If I come to a different conclusion to what the Church formerly teaches then I know I’m in error. The irony you fail to see is that your approach consistently assures inconsistency because your interpretation the truth. You just pick and choose what you like. Ironically That’s not biblical

            Irked-I’m not sure what you are asking.

            Irked-I’m asking, suppose we find out tomorrow beyond all reasonable doubt that the Tanakh – the Jewish Old Testament, which exactly matches the Protestant Old Testament – does in fact date to ~100 BC. There’s already some evidence that’s true; the old theory that it dated to a council of ~90 AD is not in great shape, and the issue seems to be settled well before Josephus writes about it around that time.

            Me-I don’t like all these hypotheticals but I’ll bite. So tell me which Jewish (denomination?) Had the historical authority to do this? The council you mentioned as you noted has long been debunked. It was someone misrepresenting facts to prove Protestantism right. Isn’t it strange how educated men continue to misrepresent Catholicism to win an argument? Truth needs no help.

            Irked-Suppose we find that out. Does that mean the RCC must be wrong about its canon, or (as I ask above), are you adjusting your claim that a pre-Christianity Jewish council would be authoritative?

            Me-suppose the letters written by Paul where not written by Paul. Would you adjust your opinion on the inspiration of the Bible? Or what if the Church got the New Testament wrong? They got other things wrong.

            Irked-How did Christians know which books were inspired?

            That’s not what I asked. I asked how a first-century BC Jew was to judge which books were inspired, if there were no authoritative councils. What, in other words, was God’s plan to preserve the truth of His Word? What was the standard they were to apply?

            Me-they were to follow the teaching of the one that sat on the chair of Moses

            Irked-What denomination are you? If you don’t mind me asking.

            I’m a flavor of Baptist – mostly Southern, but with chunks of Reformed and the American Baptist Association.

            Me-this will help me understand you. pick and choose all your favorite flavors 🙂

          13. Hi CK,

            ultimately yes the RCC is correct regardless as it relates to doctrine.

            Okay. So when you said this…

            my standard is there was no authoritative Jewish body that settled the issue. They left it open. Had they done this before Jesus it would have been settled.

            … you were mistaken, then. You do not actually believe the Jewish traditions were authoritative at any point, because clearly if they contradict the RCC, they’re mistaken. That’s fine.

            Except that you turn around and say this:

            they were to follow the teaching of the one that sat on the chair of Moses

            But you just said that the chair of Moses could have been wrong about the Scriptures – that it’s consistent with your faith that they could have defined the Tanakh in ~100 BC, and that if they did, they defined it wrongly.

            So if that’s accurate, then I, as a good 50 BC Jew – I should have followed this authoritative tradition of Moses, even though it was wrong? Even though it was turning me away from the very Word of God, found in the Deuterocanonicals? God’s desired plan for me was that good Jews should be unable to recognize His Word, because their authoritative tradition was totally mistaken on that most basic subject?

            That seems kind of like a problem!

            So my consistency is I follow Church teaching which is historical. What is yours?

            … Scripture.

            suppose the letters written by Paul where not written by Paul. Would you adjust your opinion on the inspiration of the Bible?

            It would change my opinion on the inspiration of those books, ayup.

          14. Irked-ultimately yes the RCC is correct regardless as it relates to doctrine.

            Okay. So when you said this…

            my standard is there was no authoritative Jewish body that settled the issue. They left it open. Had they done this before Jesus it would have been settled.

            Me-yes that is MY standard which does not go against Church teaching. In the end MY standard does not trump Church teaching.

            Irked-… you were mistaken, then. You do not actually believe the Jewish traditions were authoritative at any point, because clearly if they contradict the RCC, they’re mistaken. That’s fine.

            Except that you turn around and say this:

            they were to follow the teaching of the one that sat on the chair of Moses

            But you just said that the chair of Moses could have been wrong about the Scriptures – that it’s consistent with your faith that they could have defined the Tanakh in ~100 BC, and that if they did, they defined it wrongly.

            Me-again you keep saying that “they” could have defined the Tanakh and only the Tanakh as OT writing. Well that’s like arguing with a non Christian that keeps arguing that the Bible “may not” be inspired. If it had happened there would be some kind of Jewish traditions saying such a thing. It’s also strange that you have to keep going to Protestant Christians to get this theory.

            Please point to me where it was agreed to (before Christianity) that the deuterocanonical books were not inspired? Maybe, could of doesn’t count…or point to me where someone who sat on the chair of Moses made such a pronouncement to bind all Jews.

            Irked-So if that’s accurate, then I, as a good 50 BC Jew – I should have followed this authoritative tradition of Moses, even though it was wrong? Even though it was turning me away from the very Word of God, found in the Deuterocanonicals? God’s desired plan for me was that good Jews should be unable to recognize His Word, because their authoritative tradition was totally mistaken on that most basic subject?

            Me-well God did allow Moses to teach that divorce was ok even though it was against God’s plan because they were not ready.

            Also in your view God protected the Church when they identified the NT books but allowed the same group of men to say (wrongly) the deuterocanonical were inspired.

            Irked-That seems kind of like a problem!

            Me-yes indeed. Now you could say Luther was infallible when he removed the 7 books, but then you ignore him on other things. You just pick and choose and come up with unprovable theories to support your Doctrine.

            Irked-So my consistency is I follow Church teaching which is historical. What is yours?

            … Scripture.

            Me- you mean your interpretation of Scripture which is written in a language that did not exist at the time of it’s writing.

            Irked-suppose the letters written by Paul where not written by Paul. Would you adjust your opinion on the inspiration of the Bible?

            It would change my opinion on the inspiration of those books, ayup.

            Me-and there your have it. Your faith is as strong as the next archeological discovery. Are you one of those that think Mark 16:16 is not inspired?

            So Paul is inspired because he was an Apostle, Luke is inspired because???? Oh yeah someone told you it was…

          15. Irked

            The apocrypha were not always rejected. Tobit it approved by Jesus and Paul quotes Wisdom of Solomon. Rabbinic sources debate whether ecclesiastes, ecclesiasticus, and esther are scripture.

            Even as a protestant i rejected protty canon myths.

          16. Hi Craig,

            The apocrypha were not always rejected.

            I mean, the Tanakh is a thing that exists, and that apparently existed at least by the time of Josephus. The Jews appear to have rejected the Deuterocanonicals by about the time of the composition of the New Testament, and possibly a hundred years or more earlier. That’s history; is there a point there where we disagree, or…?

            I guess I’m not sure what you’re replying to, here. I don’t think I asserted that all the apocrypha were always universally rejected by everyone.

            Tobit it approved by Jesus and Paul quotes Wisdom of Solomon.

            You’d have to narrow these for me before I could really reply to ’em. Which passages specifically are you referencing?

          17. Irked – The Jews appear to have rejected the Deuterocanonicals by about the time of the composition of the New Testament, and possibly a hundred years or more earlier.

            Me- appear, possibly. Again why do you go with them instead of Christians? The early Christians (which were Jewish) knew the answer then you have no idea 2000 years later. Again and again Protestants continue to reinvent the wheel. Nothing is ever settled. Early Christians already resolved the issue.

          18. Please point to me where it was agreed to (before Christianity) that the deuterocanonical books were not inspired?

            In the Tanakh. Scholarship dates the Tanakh to somewhere between 140 BC and about 90 AD, when Josephus references it.

            Do we know for a fact that this places its compilation prior to Christ? Nah, though it’s certainly plausible. So I asked you – suppose it was before, as seems possible; would that be a problem for you? Do you need the Tanakh to be defined post-Christ? You said, no, in that case the Jewish authorities would have been wrong, because the RCC is prima facie correct.

            So I said, okay, then how would a good Jew know which books were canonical? And you said, by what the Jewish authorities defined.

            So which is it? Is the seat of Moses authoritative, so that the Jews could recognize Scripture by what it said? Because if so, it can’t very well contradict the RCC, can it – you’d have to say that such a contradiction is impossible. Right?

            Or is the seat of Moses merely a fallible human judgment, so that the traditional Jewish assessment of which books were canon and which weren’t was just their best guess? In which case, why would you direct a pre-Christ Jew to them as the source of the canon?

            Which is it? It feels, from your reply, like we’re not connecting as to what my critique is, here, and I’m not sure how to convey it more clearly. Maybe you could restate what you understand me to be saying?

            Now you could say Luther was infallible

            But I don’t say this. I’d like to be judged based on the positions I have actually espoused.

            you mean your interpretation of Scripture which is written in a language that did not exist at the time of it’s writing.

            Sure. In the same sense that you mean “my interpretation of church teaching, much of which was made in Latin.”

          19. Irked,

            First, the Apocrypha were not universally rejected by Jews in the first century, you have no source on this.

            Second, in Mark 12:18-23 the Sadducees are referencing Tob 3:8-17 to discredit both the doctrine of the resurrection and the book that the episode of 7 dead husbands is from. They discredit both with the rhetorical question, “Who’s wife shall she be?” Keep in mind that the Sadducees had only a 5 book Canon, the Torah.

            Jesus’ response is telling: “Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mark 12:24-25).

            He discredits both their rhetorical question AND their view of Canon (“you know neither the SCRIPTURES.”

            Third, Paul in Rom 1 and 9 cites Wisdom of Solomon to make doctrinal points. For more info see https://orthodoxchristiantheology.com/2016/04/11/overview-of-the-deuterocanon-tobit-through-wisdom/

            Sorry I am being so frank. G2G

            God bless,
            Craig

          20. Hi Craig,

            First, the Apocrypha were not universally rejected by Jews in the first century, you have no source on this.

            “Universally” in the sense that “no Jew anywhere held to the apocrypha,” no, of course not. By that standard, though, no one would ever have a canon.

            But that they were generally rejected by the Jews? Yeah, we absolutely do have a source on that; no less an authority than Josephus says, “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times.” Twenty-two undercounts the current thirty-nine, largely because the Jews viewed all the minor prophets as a single book – but it doesn’t include any of the deuterocanonicals.

            Like… I don’t think this is even a particularly Protestant argument; I think it’s just history. Even Wikipedia suggests the canon plausibly dates back as far as 140 BC.

            Second, in Mark 12:18-23 the Sadducees are referencing Tob 3:8-17 to discredit both the doctrine of the resurrection and the book that the episode of 7 dead husbands is from. They discredit both with the rhetorical question, “Who’s wife shall she be?” Keep in mind that the Sadducees had only a 5 book Canon, the Torah.

            Jesus’ response is telling: “Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mark 12:24-25).

            He discredits both their rhetorical question AND their view of Canon (“you know neither the SCRIPTURES.”

            So I’m looking at the passage, and… Christ does not affirm Tobit, here. He says they don’t know the Scriptures, yes; in particular, that they don’t know the Torah, which he quotes. It’s a divine put-down: you don’t even know the things you accept as Scripture.

            For your reading, we have to assume (1) that the Sadducees are consciously referencing Tobit, (2) that they intend this as an attack on Tobit, and (3) that Christ is defending Tobit, which he doesn’t mention, rather than just the resurrection, which he does. Tobit doesn’t even pose this dilemma, for Christ to have to defend it: Sarah marries Tobiah, an eighth husband.

            There’s just nothing here.

            Third, Paul in Rom 1 and 9 cites Wisdom of Solomon to make doctrinal points.

            … Where? I’m looking at your link, and I see… a bunch of vaguely similar topics, with different wordings. Paul has, for instance, a list of sins; I don’t think it’s too shocking that his list overlaps with the list another Jew composed, but, I mean, they aren’t the same lists.

            I mean, I’m happy to believe Paul read these books, because he was a well-educated dude. But there’s no citation here. There’s no appeal – no “as it is written.” There’s not even really a quote, just kind of a literary reference.

            And Paul loves his literary references. He probably doesn’t intend us to take Epimenides or Menander as inspired Scripture, and he for darn sure doesn’t want us to view the Hymn to Zeus that way, but he’s not above quoting ’em to make a point.

            Moreover, Paul contradicts WoS. That text says God did not create death; Paul says death is God’s judgment. WoS says death enters through the devil’s envy; Paul says it enters through a man, Adam. Wisdom says that Israel will not sin, because they are accounted God’s; Paul says that all have sinned, that there is no one righteous, and that Israel has no special claim. Even the metaphor of the potter, which your site mentions – in WoS, the potter is an idolater. In Paul, he’s God Himself.

            Sure, there’s some riffing, there – but it’s a riffing that repudiates rather than affirming.

          21. Irked,

            ““Universally” in the sense that “no Jew anywhere held to the apocrypha,” no, of course not. By that standard, though, no one would ever have a canon.

            Other than the Catholics, their Canon is infallibly defined. Yours and mine Canons are not, so we have to be much more guarded in our claims. We can only speak of degrees of certainty when it pertains to Canon, not absolute certainty.

            “So I’m looking at the passage, and… Christ does not affirm Tobit, here.”

            He does when He says, “You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” He calls into question their criticism of the even in Tobit 3 and their interpretation of it.

            “He says they don’t know the Scriptures, yes; in particular, that they don’t know the Torah, which he quotes. It’s a divine put-down: you don’t even know the things you accept as Scripture.”

            I disagree. Mark 12:26 states, “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses…” This means that Christ already addressed the issue of Scripture before addressing the citation from the Torah, hence “and as for,” a reading preserved in the original Greek. So when Christ said you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God, He was not citing the Torah in Mark 12:24-25. In Mar 12:26 He moves along to a second argument, “and as for the dead being raised have you not read the book of Moses,” criticizing them further for not accepting right teaching from the few books they do accept in their Canon.

            Hence, Christ’s rejoinder is a double whammy, while in your reading it is a single whammy. Have you ever read the Book of Tobit? If you have not you would have never picked up on this (just like those who never read the Old Testament can never understand Revelation.) I have read Tobit a few times. When someone here pointed this out, I instantly understood what Christ was citing. I am sure Jesus’ audience did as well.

            “For your reading, we have to assume (1) that the Sadducees are consciously referencing Tobit,”

            Safe assumption, too coincidental they ere referring to another woman with 7 dead husbands when there was a famous example in Jewish lore.

            ” (2) that they intend this as an attack on Tobit,”

            Jesus certainly took it as an attack, hence His response that they did not know the Scriptures.

            ” and (3) that Christ is defending Tobit,”

            Which He implicitly does by making His response to their question and then adding an additional response, which means He addresses that matter of Scripture before ever citing the Torah.

            “Tobit doesn’t even pose this dilemma, for Christ to have to defend it: Sarah marries Tobiah, an eighth husband.”

            Correct. I think this is a good argument, but in the story Sarah was doomed not to have another husband apart from miracles, so the Saducees speculating her having only 7 husbands would be like us saying, “I wonder what happened in Jericho as in Mark 10:46 all it says is, “They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho…” It is a speculation that one familiar with the text would recognize, an interesting hypothetical.

            ” Where?”

            I suggest you look at Wisdom of Solomon more carefully. Even James White concedes this. Look at Wisdom 11:15-16, 13:1-5, 15:7 and 12:12. Pau literally paraphrases the same ideas and points. The “sin list,” a popular convention in Paul’s writings, is a convention lifted from WoS. If he is citing specific passages and copying its conventions, he is doing everything other than saying, “The Scripture says–”

            “And Paul loves his literary references. He probably doesn’t intend us to take Epimenides or Menander as inspired Scripture”

            Sure, but he does not cite them with the same frequency. Romans cites WoS probably 4th most out of all the Scriptures (Psalms, Isaiah, Genesis, WoS). Does he quote Menander at that frequency? Does he use Menander to prove God’s predestination, man’s denial of the natural law, or any matter of such huge importance to the whole argument of an epistle?

            “Moreover, Paul contradicts WoS. That text says God did not create death; Paul says death is God’s judgment.”

            Citations, I think you misunderstand WoS.

            ” WoS says death enters through the devil’s envy; Paul says it enters through a man, Adam.”

            ANd Paul says it was not man who was deceived, but woman. So, Paul is not excluding the other. In fact, the way Paul mirrors WoS shows that e was elaborating upon WoS’s point.

            ” Wisdom says that Israel will not sin, because they are accounted God’s; Paul says that all have sinned, that there is no one righteous, and that Israel has no special claim.”

            WoS also says Israel sins, it is making a promise about God’s elect, jsut like John says that Christians do not sin in his epistle, but we know from 1 John 1:8 that this is not categorical. You are obviously reading WoS in the worst possible light, the exact opposite of how Paul was using it.

            “Even the metaphor of the potter, which your site mentions – in WoS, the potter is an idolater. In Paul, he’s God Himself.”

            The potter in verse 7 is not the same as the men in verse 8. The potter is not God in WoS, he is just a potter making a pot for his own purposes, that WoS then compares to idol-makers. Paul, in an interesting twist, then shows how God is also like the same potter. What men often do for evil with their designs, God does for good.

            “Sure, there’s some riffing, there – but it’s a riffing that repudiates rather than affirming.”

            Nothing you wrote shows repudiation nor does Paul ever phrase it as such.

            The last word is yours my friend.

            God bless,
            Craig

          22. Hi Craig,

            Other than the Catholics, their Canon is infallibly defined.

            Well, and, arguably, other than the Jews. Again, the Tanakh is a specific defined thing; by CK’s own argument, the “seat of Moses” gave authoritative definition to what was and wasn’t Scripture.

            I’m trying to engage his argument on his own terms, if that makes sense. If he says (and he does, apparently!) that there’s an authoritative source for the Jews that defines Scripture in the way the Magisterium does today – well, great, but then let’s explain why its answer appears to differ from his. If he says there’s no such authoritative source, then I’d still like an answer as to how an early Jew knew what was Scripture and what wasn’t.

            Does that make sense? Like, I don’t have a dog in this fight; it doesn’t matter to me whether the Jews had an authoritative source or not, because I don’t accept their councils as infallible any more than I do the Catholics – my own answer is always, as you say, based on my understanding of the evidence: a “fallible canon of infallible books.” But I think this is a problem for people who argue as CK does, and I’d like to get to the bottom of that.

            Maybe that explains some of our disconnect here?

            He does when He says, “You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” He calls into question their criticism of the even in Tobit 3 and their interpretation of it.

            I don’t think he does, no. “The Scriptures” there references “the book of Moses,” i.e., the Torah, which he cites. Again, there’s a lot of assumption necessary to say that’s a defense of Tobit – and it seems somewhat circular to say, “Tobit is Scripture, because Christ approves of Tobit, because when Christ says ‘Scripture’ that includes Tobit.”

            I disagree. Mark 12:26 states, “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses…” This means that Christ already addressed the issue of Scripture before addressing the citation from the Torah, hence “and as for,” a reading preserved in the original Greek.

            It certainly says that he’s addressed their objection: “Look, guys, you’re wrong, and here’s why: resurrection works like this. And as for belief in resurrection…” I don’t argue that it’s a topic change – only with the argument that the previous topic is defending Tobit, when the only thing Christ actually says is “Here’s what heaven is like.” Or let me reword: do you think Christ’s reply is inconsistent with him just addressing the hypothethical, without defending Tobit? Do you think something more would be required, for it to just be about the hypothetical?

            But like, let’s set all that aside. You say…

            Safe assumption, too coincidental they ere referring to another woman with 7 dead husbands when there was a famous example in Jewish lore.

            Is it, though? The scenario the Sadducees describe doesn’t even match Tobit! They have a lady with seven husbands, and then dies; Sarah, in Tobit, has eight. Their lady’s husbands were all brothers; Sarah’s husbands were not all siblings. Again, this grounds their complaint back in the Torah, which is what they actually say – it’s a “gotcha” of, “Well, Moses told us to marry our brother’s wife if he died, but if the resurrection is true, how’s that supposed to work? Must not be any resurrection, then!”

            Given how often the Jews use “seven” as the number completion, I don’t see that any further connection is implied here. Plus, Tobit makes a really awful “gotcha,” here, because the answer to the question “Whose wife is [Sarah]?” is pretty clearly “Tobiah.” I’m not sure I can overstate the significance of that: it is actively destructive to their point – the thing we are told is their point, the resurrection of the dead – to make this a referendum on Tobit.

            This just has to be read into the text. Even Matthew, who is quite willing to ground everything in some Scripture or another, doesn’t try to link the two.

            Jesus certainly took it as an attack, hence His response that they did not know the Scriptures.

            See, again, that’s circular. We know Tobit was accepted, because Christ defended it, because when he said ‘Scriptures’ he was including Tobit, because Tobit was accepted. There’s a clear alternative reading one sentence later that doesn’t require any of this assumption.

            Correct. I think this is a good argument, but in the story Sarah was doomed not to have another husband apart from miracles, so the Saducees speculating her having only 7 husbands would be like us saying, “I wonder what happened in Jericho as in Mark 10:46 all it says is, “They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho…” It is a speculation that one familiar with the text would recognize, an interesting hypothetical.

            It’d also require us to hypothesize, “I wonder if all the disciples were brothers,” though, and that starts to get rather less implausible. Plus, again, Tobit makes a really bad test case for their point.

            Like, play that conversation out. The Sadducees say, “So there was this lady in Tobit – whose wife is she?” And Christ could answer, “Have you not read Tobit in the Scriptures? She had an eighth husband, Tobiah – she’s his wife.”

            “Yes, yes,” they reply, “but suppose Tobiah didn’t exist – what then?” ”

            “Have you not read the Tobit in the Scriptures?” replies Christ. “None of those marriages were consummated. She’s none of their husbands.”

            “Okay, fine,” say the Sadducees, “but suppose they were. And also suppose they were all brothers, for some reason.”

            I’m being a little bit silly – but these are the obvious rejoinders. Tobit actively works against the point that the Gospels say they were trying to make: that Moses disproves resurrection.

            I suggest you look at Wisdom of Solomon more carefully. Even James White concedes this.

            For all I enjoy White, I don’t think he’s authoritative, either – but I would enjoy hearing his thoughts on it. Could I get a link on this?

            Pau literally paraphrases the same ideas and points. The “sin list,” a popular convention in Paul’s writings, is a convention lifted from WoS. If he is citing specific passages and copying its conventions, he is doing everything other than saying, “The Scripture says–”

            Or he’s writing the way well-educated first-century Jews wrote, which included “emulate the style of the great works of the past.” I steal from the Socratic method when I talk theology, sometimes, because that’s a really effective form; that doesn’t mean I think Socrates is Scripture.

            Sure, but he does not cite them with the same frequency.

            We’re now weighing actual citations against approximate parallels in idea and structure. Even calling those “citations” seems like overstating the point.

            Does he quote Menander at that frequency?

            Is “frequency” our judge, here? When did that happen? If the positions were reversed – if he paralleled Menander, and quoted Wisdom of Solomon – you could simply turn the argument around: “Well, sure, he follows the structure of this clearly-uninspired thing, but what does that matter next to him actually quoting Menander?” What’s the underlying hermeneutical principle here?

            Citations, I think you misunderstand WoS.

            Sure. Wisdom 1:13-14: “Because God did not make death,
            nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
            For he fashioned all things that they might have being,
            and the creatures of the world are wholesome;
            There is not a destructive drug among them
            nor any domain of Hades on earth.”

            Contrast, say, Romans 5, on death as God’s active and righteous judgment, or Romans 7:24: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”

            ANd Paul says it was not man who was deceived, but woman. So, Paul is not excluding the other.

            But sin doesn’t enter the world through Eve, but through Adam. Paul’s pretty explicit, here – this is exclusive. Through one man!

            The potter in verse 7 is not the same as the men in verse 8. The potter is not God in WoS, he is just a potter making a pot for his own purposes, that WoS then compares to idol-makers.

            That is unsustainable. Here’s the passage: “For the potter, tempering soft earth, fashioneth every vessel with much labour for our service: yea, of the same clay he maketh both the vessels that serve for clean uses, and likewise also all such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of either sort, the potter himself is the judge. And employing his labours lewdly, he maketh a vain god of the same clay..”

            There is no subject change. There is no other object for “he,” which is used in both verses. The guy in verse 8 is clearly a potter. Verse 13 continues to speak of him as a potter: “For this man, that of earthly matter maketh brittle vessels and graven images, knoweth himself to offend above all others.”

            You are obviously reading WoS in the worst possible light, the exact opposite of how Paul was using it… Paul, in an interesting twist, then shows how God is also like the same potter. What men often do for evil with their designs, God does for good.

            It’s odd how, when there’s a positive parallel between Wisdom and Paul, it’s clearly a sign of his affirmation of the book, but when there’s a parallel where Paul contradicts Wisdom, that tells us nothing at all.

            You say I’m being uncharitable – well, yes, burden of proof is on showing the book should be in. But I don’t see, under the standards you’re presenting, how there could be even theoretical evidence against your conclusion. What would it take, for us to say, “We are not entirely persuaded that Paul affirms Wisdom as Scripture?” What would we have to find in Paul – or in Christ, above? If the answer is, “He’d have to say straight-out that he repudiates the book” – then that’s an unsustainable standard of proof, and there’s no real point in trying to look at the evidence.

            Thanks for the conversation!

          23. Hi Craig,

            Rereading, I see some clear typos in my response – swapped plausible and implausible at one point, said “Menander” when I meant “WoS,” and so on. Hope it’s still intelligible – my kingdom for an edit feature.

            (I would still be really interested in a White link, there.)

            Thanks again!

    3. Irked says: “it may very well be true that Mary can hear and understand me, now that she’s dead, but that there’s no particular spiritual need to be much concerned with her afterlife existence”

      Mark 12:26-27
      have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

      As for being “concerned with [Mary’s] afterlife existence, one reason – perhaps the main reason – we seek to accept and understand the Marian dogmas is because of our love for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

      Think about this for a moment…when you first fell in love with your husband, wife or current “significant other”, weren’t you completely fascinated by him or her? Didn’t you want to know all the details you could possibly learn about him or her?

      Where she grew up? What kind of music he liked to listen to? Favorite restaurants, foods, books? Didn’t you want to know where (s)he went to school or where (s)he worked, lived and hung out on the weekends?

      Didn’t you want to know what he/she thought about politics, religion and the local sports teams? Did you want to learn about his or her family background?

      Loving Jesus is a lot like that. We study the scriptures to learn what He said. We read commentaries to get background information on the geography of Israel and the religious climate of the day. What and where are the Sheep Gate and Pool of Siloam? Why were the Romans in Jerusalem? Who were the Sadducees and what made them different from the Pharisees? What was life like for Jesus growing up, and what may have happened during those silent years before his public ministry began? We want to know these things because we love.

      We look at Mary because we love her son, and we want to know everything we can about Him. Mary loves Him, too, and by her excellent example, she leads us right back to Him: “Do whatever He tells you.”

      And then, of course, there is the fact that Mary continues to be concerned about YOUR afterlife existence.

      Just sayin’.

      1. Mark 12:26-27

        Oh, come now. I’m not saying we don’t know whether there’s life after death. I’m saying we don’t know that there’s omniscience after death; not to put too fine a point on it, but the last we know of Mary, she didn’t speak English.

        Loving Jesus is a lot like that. We study the scriptures to learn what He said.

        It seems like we’re missing each other on this point, because I affirm everything you’re saying here. Let me try again, a little bit more plainly: it might well be fascinating to know exactly what “life” is like for those who have passed on. I would love to know more about that, and I look forward to learning more of the unrevealed mysteries in heaven.

        But the only thing we’re given as God’s very breath – the only fully reliable source that’s ever identified for us today – is Scripture. When we accept something as doctrine – as necessary for right practice and saving faith – we’d better be darned sure God said it. (After all, He’s had some pretty strong things to say about people who add to that list.)

        That’s sola Scriptura. The rest is interesting, but only that truth is essential.

        And then, of course, there is the fact that Mary continues to be concerned about YOUR afterlife existence.

        Eh, God’s never given us any reason to believe that’s true.

        But more importantly: I have the attention of God Himself, and the personal loving intercession of His Son on my behalf. My name is written in the palms of His hands. S’kind of hard to weight anybody else as mattering next to that.

        1. Good morning, Irked,

          Some of your statements have me flummoxed. You write, “…we don’t know that there’s omniscience after death;” and “…the last we know of Mary, she didn’t speak English.”

          Mary first: Do you suggest that carrying Jesus in her womb, giving virgin birth, carries no more weight than her language? Do you deny the ability of the Holy Spirit (whose presence is always where Jesus is), to communicate? Does the Holy Spirit need language? Does the Holy Spirit not know all languages? How, then do you interpret Pentecost? Audacious, dude.

          Omniscience? If one’s name is written in the palm of His hands, how is it possible that God or his mother wouldn’t know that?

          1. Hi Margo,

            As always, I’m not denying God’s ability to communicate anything He wants to anyone. It’s possible that those who die in Christ are now omnipresent, all-observing, and polylingual.

            And it’s possible they aren’t. We don’t know; we aren’t told, and in cases where we aren’t told, we in humility have to just say, “I don’t know.” As you said to me the other day, there are places where we have to find beauty in the mysteries – in the limits of our knowledge, in the questions yet to be answered “when we see face to face.”

            If one’s name is written in the palm of His hands, how is it possible that God or his mother wouldn’t know that?

            To be sure, God certainly knows; that’s exactly my point. I have no particular reason to think much of anything about what Mary does or doesn’t know.

          2. If there is no (Mary) knowing after death, then which of these (or another) represents your knowing belief: a) Jesus is not eternal, b) Jesus is not omniscient, c) the Holy Spirit is not operative in the Blessed Virgin Mary, d) Mary was only an instrument of a moment or a brief period of time and now is cast aside? Not worthy of eternal life? If Mary is in eternal life, how would it be possible that God would not know her or she not know Him?

          3. In contemplating the mystery in the presence of the Holy spirit, in prayer, with guidance by learned or holy men, we can find truth. Truth involves reason.

            If one is with God, why would they not share his characteristics? He came to share his life, so of course that would involve his spirit. If we but assent.

          4. One more note, then I’m off.

            In contemplating things (everything or one) we don’t understand, may I suggest that you look at Mary in scripture, at the annunciation. She does not understand how it is to be that she could bear a child as it seems to defy logic and nature. But still she accepts God’s will. That’s an assent of faith. Fiat.

            With prayers that we come to know His will.

        2. Hi Margo,

          If there is no (Mary) knowing after death, then which of these (or another) represents your knowing belief: a) Jesus is not eternal, b) Jesus is not omniscient, c) the Holy Spirit is not operative in the Blessed Virgin Mary, d) Mary was only an instrument of a moment or a brief period of time and now is cast aside?

          None of ’em. I think Mary’s state in heaven is exactly the same as any other dead believer. I just don’t think we know all that much about what heaven is currently like for the believing dead – we don’t know, for instance, if they can see all of creation spread out at once, or if they’re still limited to a human-scale vantage point (i.e., seeing one thing at one time). We don’t know how often they observe us at all, as opposed to how much of the time their thoughts are purely on God. We don’t really know what time is like for them right now, when you get right down to it – Scripture is relatively quiet on these details.

          So I don’t think we can confidently say that, for instance, Mary knows and cares deeply about you personally. It’s certainly possible! But possibilities are lousy things to build doctrines on.

          I think that’s kind of my response to this chain of comments in general.. It seems like some of the rest of these comments are of the form we’ve discussed before: “Wouldn’t it make sense that…” And sure, it’s possible that your hypothesis is correct. Lots of things are possible, from our limited vantage point; most of ’em aren’t true.

          I understand that you accept that particular things are true on the strength of the RCC’s testimony. But that doesn’t… reach, if that makes sense? It doesn’t work as an argument except within your denomination; you have to establish that the testimony is reliable before you can appeal to it as a reason why one possibility among many is correct.

      2. Randy – Spot on!

        Hail Mary, full of grace. Mediatrix of all Grace. She tells us to listen to Him–her final words in scripture, right? As he listened to her, even though his hour had not yet come at the wedding of Cana. She most definitely is interested in our afterlife.

        I confess I have had trouble with the Assumption. Prayer and reading its theology have convinced me of its truth and its beauty and its good for me.

      3. “What was life like for Jesus growing up, and what may have happened during those silent years before his public ministry began? We want to know these things because we love.”

        Yes, but it’s even more than this. The more we know about Christ, everything He did, said, and everyone He associated with…the more our understanding and faith in Him grows stronger, and our unity with Him, closer. We essentially grow closer to the “Way the Truth and the Life”. And this is not just a casual byproduct of our spiritual life, but an essential part of our lives that leads to ‘eternal life’. The deep knowledge of Jesus Christ in every aspect of His life, including His intimate relationship with His holy mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, bring us to closer to the Kingdom of Heaven and Eternal Life.

        And this is because Jesus taught that understanding and knowledge of Him were to be the primary focus of our lives. He taught, “If any man keepeth my word, he will not see death for ever”. And, “Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

        So, this is proof that everything concerning the life of Christ, His mother, His apostles, and all of the people He associated with as told in the Gospels…all are important elements leading us to knowledge of God, and Jesus Christ, and thus it leads us to eternal life.

    4. @ awlms
      About the whole thing with womens’ intelligence:
      1) Your claims are actually illogical – in what way is “rhetoric” the opposite of “logic”? Rhetoric means the tactic of presenting arguments in a speech; it is not at all the same as “emotion” – even I, as one of these emotionally driven woman, know this 😉 If you present illogical arguments with good rhetoric, they’re still illogical, that is, bad arguments; rhetoric is only good insofar as it serves the presenting of logic (just as pretty plates are useless if you have poisoned food in them). Are you saying that all women are capable of is empty, but at least eloquent appeals to emotions?
      2) Interesting – you are basing your observations about the intelligence of women on the number of comments you observe on a few of your favorite blogs? Not on, say, statictics about women graduating from college or university, for example?
      3) Your biological observations don’t actually confirm your claims, by the way. Surely one needs logic for hunting or warfare (a very logical enterprise where you are debating your opponents all the time!), but not for raising kids, and one doesn’t need emotion and intuition for hunting or warfare, but with the education thing, it’s all emotion and intuition. Surely. You can deduct that directly. (By the way, if you want to talk about *animals*, neither the males nor the females possess reason. They are *animals*. They possess instincts. And the females, say lionesses, for example, do a lot of hunting too. Not to speak of the fact that by appealing to animals you could very easily justify polygamy, general promiscuity, and a lot of other stuff we don’t really want to have, too.)
      4) Concerning tolerance and political correctness: surely you can believe us women to be less intelligent than you men. I guess I’m *sort of* offended by these kinds of subtle efforts to keep us women out of discussions in the first place (by the way, my guess about all those – according to your observations – non-participating American traditional Catholic women in American traditional Catholic internet comboxes is rather that perhaps a) they have already been fed too much of this belief that they are just emotional and intuitive and not really up to that whole thinking thing, but that that’s totally all right, it’s supposed to be like that!, or b) maybe they are just not the type to jump into internet discussions all the time as you, or, sometimes, I, are) ; but not offended enough to want to simply shut them up, no reason to worry 😉 Free speech and stuff. Your claims are just not true, that’s the problem.

      PS: By the way, I’m Catholic, too (yes, a “real Catholic”, not one of those pro-women priests people), and the Church does not teach anything like this. Actually, it sometimes almost seems to me that this kind of idea about what exactly makes up the differences between men and women (logic vs. emotion) is a more or less specifically American idea that you don’t hear so often in other countries (such as mine).

      PPS: I’m happy to discuss all this, but in the Catholic – Protestant controversy, maybe we should come back to the actual topic at hand – whether the Holy Scriptures attest to a belief in Sola Scriptura.

      PPPS: My apologies if there should be any mistakes in my English.

      1. Dear Crescentia, Irked, Awlms, et al.,

        Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Jesus Christ is risen today.

        As the person who mentioned weak feminine logic, I hope to address this topic. I was not and am not offended in the least by Awlms’ response. In essence, Awlms extended a warm and generous compliment. He said that ‘feminine’ rhetoric matched the style of much of scripture so my understanding was a good match at understanding and commenting on it. In other words, I saw this as “Women are Welcome Here.”

        It seems that we all, as you say in your last paragraph, are wildly sidetracked. May the Resurrected Lord help us to overlook unintended injury, to keep us civil in our discussion of rational issues, and to keep us far away from the demon’s work of inciting division where none did exist.

        1. Dear Crescentia,

          I strive to make myself understood. I mentioned my “feminine logic.” Awlms replied with reassurance. I explained Awlms’ reassurance to me as a full frontal welcome sign. Again I see how weak is my logic. May God bless us all.

      2. Hi Crescentia,

        I’m defining Logic, or ‘dialectic’, as it was used in world history, especially in the Greek Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. These were classical studies for all leaders of the Roman empire back in the first 4 centuries of early Roman/Greek civilization , which also impacted the entire history of Christianity in a big way.

        It is common knowledge that the masculine sex has millennia of experience in fighting wars with swords, arrows, spears, catapults, naval ships, canons, and all types of other weapons ( as quickly as they could invent them…up until this very day). For this, both valor and courage were prerequisites for the last 5000 years of warfare. This lead to very advanced strategic planning, and weapon design, necessary for the very survival of almost any tribe, kingdom or nation. And all of this was effected by the masculine sex.

        Logic is a dominant part of militaristic planning, and only the most logical generals would win wars, which is why the Romans built, and expanded, their Empire as they did.

        To sum up, the entire history of western civilization is my proof for my statement. If women were gifted in logic and dialects to a greater degree then men, then it would have been noticed and utilized in all of the major battles fought over the last 50 centuries. But this is not the case, and we don’t see this in world history.

        So, this is a proof that men have historically been known for their logical thinking…and women more so for their ‘rhetorical, or emotion orientated, thinking. It is all part of the natural law.

        If you have any statistics from the history of world civilizations, please give them.

        1. This is a copy of my response to Crescentia about 40 comments back.

          Crescentia,

          In using the terms Rhetoric and dialectic, I was using them in a general sense and this is why I said “Rhetorical or logic/dialectical THINKING. Here is a short explanation that generally gets the point across to the differences between the two, and then I generally apply it to thinking processes predominant in men and women….at least as I have observed in my life thus far. The expressions ‘rhetorical thinking and dialectical thinking might not be perfect, but it’s the best I can find to describe what I have observed :

          “What makes rhetoric different from dialectic?

          As opposed to rhetoric which is a unilateral process, wherein one party engages in a lengthy and impassioned speech to bring others to consent to his way of thinking or to accept truth as he envisages it, dialectic is a bilateral process wherein two people or parties, engage in a philosophical argument to reach a consensus of truth through dialogue and debate, refuting and rebutting each other’s propositions.
          Rhetoric is also referred to as a practical art which uses bombastic language, ornamental words and cynical sophistication. Dialectic is more sober, practical and persuasive technique of argument which is deliberative and logical.
          Dialectic influences one person at a time whereas; rhetoric has in its power to sway large audiences to mindless submission. Great speakers have used rhetoric to influence masses over periods of time.
          Rhetoric is usually delivered in public spaces like assemblies, stadiums, political rallies and other large gatherings. The audience is usually so swayed by the words of the speaker that they stop thinking for themselves and are transported to the utopia promised by the speaker, transported to a future time and space which promises the sky. Dialectic, however, is more of a private place dispensation and has very few people listening in and participating in the deliberation. The speaker has much less power to convince the listener as he is constantly stopped by questions and arguments against his proposition.
          Rhetoric is a one way street, whereas dialectic is a two way street. What this means is that rhetoric proceeds in a flow and speech is continuous, while dialectic is fractured frequently by questions and answers.
          Rhetoric is more applicable in matters of the state or public, but dialectic can apply to any common matter.
          Rhetoric assumes that the audience has limited intelligence and will accept any bombastic discourse. Dialectic thrives on two way intelligent argument.
          Dialectic is argumentative and rhetoric is non- argumentative.

          Read more: The Difference Between Rhetoric And Dialectic | Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.net/language/the-difference-between-rhetoric-and-dialectic/#ixzz4eWao6D9w

          1. I might add that problems between people, even husbands and wives, can be inflamed when one person is arguing in a rhetorical style, and the other is trying to turn the dispute to a dialectical style. For instance, Donald Trump can be speaking generally about wiretapping for instance…but rally meaning all types of surveillance. So, he want’s people to understand that his generalization is spoken rhetorically. But, his opponents will look at the statement in a dialectical way, and insinuating that he means that ‘physical wire tapping took place’…as in the 1950’s definition of it. So the opponents can claim Trump is lying because no wire tapping occurred. but they fail to add that all the info. was derived from ‘the cloud’. So, this is how understanding can be confused depending on how you are defining statements. Rhetoric is meant to be loosely understood, but dialectics more literal, requiring precise highly accurate definitions.

            You can see the interplay, and purposeful misunderstandings between these two types of disputes/conversations/political statements on almost any news channel these days. Especially since Trumps election.

          2. @ Margo: I did not want to be uncivil, and I certainly don’t want to create divisions – as you’ll notice, I wasn’t accusing anyone who thinks less of women’s intelligence of heresy. But I still think it’s a wrong, harmful, and rather condescending opinion. (You’re all not that smart, but you don’t have to be all that smart, that’s okay!) Now, people aren’t worth less if they are less smart (just as worth doesn’t depend on good looks or riches), but still – one should just ask whether all these people in general *are* really not all that smart before claiming it. Look at the facts. And I don’t see why we shouldn’t have a discussion about that (I just meant that we shouldn’t make it look like as if this somehow were a difference between Catholics and Protestants).

            @ awlms:

            I am aware of what “logic” and “dialectic” mean. What exactly are you answering here?

            Concerning warfare:

            First, as, I guess, you know, men are physically stronger than women and don’t undergo things like pregnancy, which is why they have been the fighters for most of history (with a few exceptions, such as the conscription of young women as well as young men in Israel today – something I would not favor). Thus they have also been the strategic planners in the armies. By the way, I would not completely agree with your statement that success in war is mainly a thing of strategic thinking – simple luck, number of soldiers (which is depending on the number of all the inhabitants of your country), commitment of soldiers, previous training of soldiers, number and quality of weapons; all these things play a role, too. Actually I would even argue that in war rhetoric is more important than dialectic. The generals don’t just have to plan their battles, they also have to convince the soldiers to fight with all their might, they have to convince the public that the war is just and the enemy is a great threat, etc. But yes, you also need logical thinking for fighting a war – as well as for planting the right crops on your farm, or trading textiles, or building a house. Why exactly did you take warfare as a primary example? It’s something that’s only done (at least, that should only be done) if it’s necessary to defend yourself against some attacker; it’s not a “normal” work like producing food, housing, clothing, furniture, books, instrument, knowledge… whatever. It’s also not something that was the main occupation of most men in any place in world history. That main occupation was producing food. You mentioned that you have in mind the ancient Greek philosophers when talking about dialectic. So why not talk about intellectuals throughout history rather than army leaders?

            Second, there is a very easy answer to why women have been a lot less influential in the public life in the history of the western world: tradition and education. Okay, let’s just look at Greek and Roman antiquity. Girls who are educated to spin and cook and raise babies and believe that they are intellectually inferior to men and are married of at fourteen will not become politicians or physicians – just as boys who grow up in some remote village doing slave labor all their life will not become these kinds of things. Traditions are very long-lived when they are not questioned and when they are also upheld by, in this case, the women themselves (who are often educating their daughters the same way they were educated).
            It’s a question of opportunity. On the other hand, nowadays, when women have all these opportunities: Where do you see evidence that women are worse physicians, attorneys at law, teachers, biologists, journalists…?
            Yes, in former times sometimes some women got more education than was common for their time (some consecrated virgins in Antiquity, or nuns like Hildegard von Bingen in the Middle Ages, for example). But for them also it was simply considered improper or was even impossible to, for example, attend universities, work in certain professions, or to mingle too much in philosophical or political disputes. Let’s take an example I’ve heard of: St. Thomas Morus (one of my favorite saints) gave all his daughters as well as his son an excellent education, and his daughter Margaret was a very bright girl. However, while wanting her to be well-educated, her father did not think it proper for her to actually publish something. So that was it; this far and not farther.
            So let’s talk about the situation *today* where we do have statistics (no so easy for “world history”!) and equal opportunities. A hundred and fifty years ago people thought that women were uncapable of being physicians or judges; now they are; have they proven uncapable?

            Reposting here what I posted above in answer to your second comment that I saw first there above (sorry for all the confusion with the multiple threads; let’s continue this conversation down here, okay?) :

            Well, going with these definitions of rhetoric and dialectic: how exactly does all that apply to the difference between men and women?
            Just speaking of the practical part, for a lot of history, (mostly) men have been both the speakers – and the listerners – in the marketplace and the debating philosophers and students at the universities, and nowadays (and sometime at certain times and places in the past, too), women are doing both things as well, rhetoric and dialectic.
            But you are not speaking of the practical part here, but of the thinking processes, okay. So what exactly are you saying: Men – in general – more often weigh different arguments before coming to a conclusion, while women – in general – more often are swayed by buzzwords without thinking a thing through, at least according to your experience?

          3. @ awlms:
            Interesting take on Trump. I’m not following American politics that closely (so I’m not familiar with what exactly he claimed in that case), but from what I see, it seems like your president *could* use a bit more dialectic instead of rhetoric at times – and like sometimes, too, as you say, the media shouldn’t take all his rhetoric too seriously.

            @ Margo:
            PS: Why should it be necessary to say “Women are welcome here” at all? This blog is not a men’s blog. The Catholic Church is not a men’s church. If a guest visits your home, you say “welcome, nice you’re here, feel at home!”. If, however, your sister comes home from school, you don’t warmly welcome her and tell her to feel at home in the house. There is no reason why women should not be welcome here. This is not a men’s world where women need to be invited in. Are we women saying in the comments to some blog post here “Oh, by the way, men are welcome here”?

          4. Hi Crescentia,

            I first broached the issue of feminine logic. I have no patience to counter assertions to my posts which basically ask one to consider and pray about some point. I owned my lack of patience, a weakness, or intellectual vulnerability, and Awlms responded to that perceived lack with generosity and reassurance.

            Peace. Curiosity pushes me to ask what is your country or culture.

          5. Hi Crescentia,

            Yes, Trump could probably use more dialectic in his communication skills. But, rhetoric is what has worked for him, for better or worse, and so I doubt that he will change.

            I brought up the military example only because it has been a major part of human culture for thousands of years. And has been a mainly male occupation. And, in this sense it seems to parallel the natural law that we find in the animal kingdom where the male gender is often occupied with physical contests for mates, defense of territory, and family or clan leadership. As dialectic is described as a ‘closed fist’ argument, and Rhetoric as an ‘open hand’ argument…dialectic seems to pertain more to male leadership characteristics, as being physically stronger than females. Historically, men have made most of the great decisions in world history, and often by ‘close fisted’ arguments, imperialism, tyranny, etc…

            On the contrary, rhetorical thinking, which would argue from a point of ‘persuasiveness’ seems more suited to women, as being the smaller size physically ( as you note) of the two genders, women would have more practice in this skill of rhetorical persuasiveness…at least in the home environment.
            Moreover, we note that women try to be persuasive even by the attire that they wear, and this is very evident in our modern age. Men are often happy to be complete physical slobs, and to rely on their intellect, strength or skills rather on their physical beauty.

            So, these are also ‘small’ proofs, or hints, that women think ‘more rhetorically’ then men, as it is demonstrated by their desire to gain attention, advantage, or maybe even sympathy, by their physical beauty. A man can be as ugly as Socrates and not be bothered by it at all.

            I’m going to continue reading Aristotles ‘Rhetoric’ to get some more ideas on this topic and will comment further in the future..if the opportunity rises. I find the study interesting in light of world politics today, even as we note with Trump and his Democratic opponents. It’s fascinating to see them condemn each other’s actions and words using both rhetoric and dialectic…and switching styles whenever it suits them. The democrats seem to focus on dialectic these days, but just recently Obama was filled to the brim with rhetorical based politics.

            However, this is too big of a topic to discuss at the present…it would take too many comments on an almost expired thread. But, hopefully it will come up again, and maybe I will have more convincing examples to offer.

            Best to you.

            – Al

          6. @ Margo: Okay, you’re right, you brought the topic up, so no actual reason to complain there. 🙂
            I’m from Germany (specifically, from Bavaria, a traditionally rather Catholic region in the south, next to the border to Austria). (Since you said you were curious about it, from what I observe on the Internet – a very incomplete picture, I’m sure – I do tend to sometimes notice these kinds of differences between committed American Catholics and committed German Catholics, such as the one I mentioned; other examples are perhaps: modesty isn’t talked about much around here (when I first heard, for example, that there were Christians in the world who actually think that women shouldn’t wear trousers, I thought it was a joke), and social market economy is pretty much taken for granted as the best implementation of Catholic Social Teaching. On the other hand, you in America have a more active pro-life-movement whereas ours is indeed growing, but still rather small (around 7000 people and 4 or 5 bishops at the March for Life in Berlin last time, and that was considered a lot – just compare that to Washington D. C.)), and you Americans have a lot of great theologians and philosophers at the moment (say, Scott Hahn or Peter Kreeft, for example), whereas our great living theologians and philosophers are mostly the age of Pope emeritus Benedikt XVI. (apart from the Pope emeritus, we have Jörg Splett or Robert Spaemann, for example). Here we don’t have much trouble with fundamentalist Protestants considerung us idol-worshipping non-Christians, but more with liberal Lutherans considering “ecumenism” to mean “Catholics becoming more liberal-Protestant-y”. Also, converts are a real exception; it is not at all common to change one’s church. Okay, so, that was a lot of babbling now.)
            God bless, and sorry if I’ve appeared impolite in this conversation – I guess I sometimes do, but I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.
            – Crescentia.

            @ Awlms
            Thanks for your answer.
            I would disagree someway with your classification of “closed fist” and “open hand” arguments. There are different kinds of rhetoric, I’d say – one is the style of Trump or, say, the Turkish president Erdogan, the more “manly” style of ranting against your enemies and rallying your people around you – this I would call “closed fist” (unless I misunderstood the phrase?). This can have to do, as you said, with imperialism, populism, dictatorship. Then there is the more “persuasive”, as you called it, style, which is indeed more typically feminine – one could call these two styles the “macho style” and the “nice first-grade teacher style”. The one is more often employed by men, the other more often by women. (You are right, of course, with the thing about physical appearance.)
            But dialectic is different from both styles of rhetoric. It does not work with either a closed fist or an open hand. It is like the blindfolded, impartial Justitia – presenting and refuting arguments from either side with honesty und without too much passion or any prejudice.
            (Of course, again, there is not a totally sharp line between dialectic and rhetoric of any style. One can still present good, logical arguments in either rhetorical style.)
            Yes, it must certainly be interesting to observe politics with this in mind!
            Looking forward to eventual further discussion 🙂 (And I want to apologize to you too, if I’ve been impolite in our discussion.)

            God bless,
            Crescentia.

  2. I believe this article misses the mark.

    Historic sola scriptura is not solo scriptuta. Scripture is not read divorced from tradition in sola scriptura. Rather scripture (other than the oral teachings of the apostles) is tthe only infallible rule of faith and properly understood addrrsses all necessary religious matters. So there is a role for tradition but tradition does not meet the criteria of infallibility.

    None of this means that Protestantism is correctly applying exegesis from what they claim sila scriptura is but it is important we confront what their theologians believe.

    The seed-tradition theory in catholicism is similar but it invests infallibility in the Church. The independent oral tradition view in Catholicism is at odds with this and is not born out by the whole issue of the Bereans.

    Last comment. The Bereans were not reading the Scripture in isolation. This is anachronistic. Each synagogue had its own set and they were read corporately. The Bereans were praiseworthy in theit submission to the apostle paul in hearing him exegete the old testement scriptures.

    God bless
    Craig

    1. If it’s not to be read apart from tradition, at what point is it a Christian’s duty to conclude that his interpretation of a passage is simply wrong?

      1. Being that God gave teachers to the Church and only by grace we can do His will, it is incumbent upon us to re-evaluate personal readings that do not follow the historical consensus.

    2. Hi Craig,

      I submit to you that there is no principled difference between sola and solo scriptura, as this excerpt from calledtocommunion.com shows.

      IV. Why There Is No Principled Difference Between Sola Scriptura and Solo Scriptura

      A. Direct and Indirect Ultimate Interpretive Authority

      What makes the solo scriptura position problematic, according to Mathison, is not its high view of Scripture, but its presumption that the individual has higher interpretive authority than does the Church. Solo scriptura treats the individual as having the ultimate or final interpretive authority regarding whatever matters he or she considers to be theologically essential or important. That is precisely why solo scriptura leads to the situations Mathison describes in his book. Robert Reymond can reject one line of the Creed because he sees himself as having at least equal interpretive and magisterial (i.e. teaching) authority to the bishops who gathered at Nicea in AD 325 to formulate the Creed. If Reymond believed that those bishops had greater interpretive and magisterial authority than himself, he would treat the Creed as a corrective to his own interpretation and position, in whatever areas his interpretation and position were at odds with that of the Creed.

      But there are two ways to make oneself one’s own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority. One is a direct way and the other is an indirect way. The direct way is to subject all theological questions directly to the final verdict of one’s own interpretation of Scripture. That is the solo scriptura position. Because it is direct, the nature of the position is quite transparent; we can see clearly in such a case that the individual is acting as his own ultimate interpretive authority.

      The indirect way of making oneself one’s own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority is more complicated and subtle. In this case the individual, based upon his own interpretation of Scripture, either establishes or chooses an ecclesial community that conforms to his own interpretation in matters he considers to be essential or important. Then, he ‘submits’ to this institution so long as it continues to speak and act in accordance with his own interpretation of Scripture. If it deviates from his own interpretation of Scripture in matters he deems important, he repeats the process of either establishing or choosing an institution or congregation that conforms to his own interpretation in matters he considers to be essential or important.

      In both the direct and indirect ways, the individual is acting as his own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority. But his doing so is more difficult to see in the indirect case because he appears to be submitting to the interpretive authority of a body of persons other than himself. Yet, because he has established or selected this body of persons on the basis of their conformity to his own interpretation of Scripture, and because he ‘submits’ to them only so long as they agree with his interpretation on matters he considers to be essential or important, therefore in actuality his ‘submission’ to this body is in fact ‘submission’ to himself. To submit to others only when one agrees with them, is to submit to oneself. But submission to oneself is an oxymoron, because it is indistinguishable from not submitting at all, from doing whatever one wants. Yet because this indirect way of being one’s own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority maintains the appearance of being in submission to another body of persons, it allows those who practice it to believe falsely that they are genuinely submitting to another body of persons, and not acting as their own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority. Accumulating for themselves this body of persons to whom they ‘submit’ allows them to remain under a delusion that they are submitting to the Church.45

      Solo scriptura is the direct way of acting as one’s own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority. But as we show below, the indirect way of acting as one’s own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority is precisely the methodology entailed by sola scriptura. Here’s why. In Mathison’s account of sola scriptura, Scripture must be interpreted “in and by the church.” He even says that we must turn to the Church for the true interpretation of Scripture, “for it is in the Church that the gospel is found.”46 Notice that Mathison claims that it is in the Church that the gospel is found.

      But how does he determine what is the Church? Being Reformed, he defines ‘Church’ as wherever the gospel is found, because the early Protestants defined the marks of the Church as including “the gospel,” where the gospel was determined by their own private interpretation of Scripture. So he claims that it is in the Church that the gospel is found, but he defines the Church in terms of the gospel. This is what we call a tautology. It is a form of circular reasoning that allows anyone to claim to be the Church and have the gospel. One can read the Bible and formulate one’s own understanding of the gospel, then make this “gospel” a necessary mark of the Church, and then say that it is in the Church that the gospel is found. Because one has defined the Church in terms of the gospel [as arrived at by one’s own interpretation of Scripture], telling us that the gospel is found “in the Church” tells us nothing other than “people who share my own interpretation of Scripture about what is the gospel are referred to by me as ‘the Church.’” This kind of circular reasoning allows falsehood to remain hidden.

      The Catholic position does not suffer from this circularity, because ‘Church’ is not defined in terms of “gospel,” but in terms of apostolic succession, involving an unbroken line of authorizations extending down from the Apostles. Just as Christ authorized and sent the Apostles to preach and teach in His Name, and govern His Church, so the Apostles, by the laying on of their hands, appointed bishops as their successors, and by this mystery handed on to them the divine authority to preach and teach and govern the Church. And these men also, in the same way authorized other men to succeed them to preach and teach the gospel and govern Christ’s Church. Only those having the succession from the Apostles are divinely authorized to preach and teach and govern Christ’s Church. For that reason, the Church is defined not by the gospel (as determined by one’s own interpretation of Scripture). Rather, the content of the gospel is specified by the Church, and the Church is located by the succession from the Apostles. This is why apostolicity is one of the four marks of the Church taught in the Creed: “we believe one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” But given Mathison’s account, what counts as ‘church’ is always and ultimately up to each individual to decide on the basis of his or her own determination of the gospel, on the basis of his or her own interpretation of Scripture. So on Mathison’s account, no one has any more authority than anyone else to say definitively what is the Church and where is the Church, and what is her doctrine and what is not her doctrine.

      That can be seen in the very events of the Protestant Reformation. The first Protestants did not submit their interpretations of Scripture to the judgment of the Catholic Church in which they had each been baptized and raised. Rather, the first Protestants appealed to their own interpretation of Scripture to judge the Church to be apostate, and thus justify separating from her. They did this by redefining the marks of the Church. The first generation of Protestants, without any authorization from their bishops, appealed to their own interpretation of Scripture to determine three (or two) new “marks of the Church,” beyond the four marks given twelve hundred years earlier in the Nicene Creed. These new marks consisted of: (1) the preaching of the gospel (or ‘sound doctrine’), where what counts as ‘gospel’ and ‘sound doctrine’ was determined according to their own interpretation of Scripture, (2) the proper administration of the sacraments, where what counts as a sacrament and what is its proper administration were determined again by their own interpretation of Scripture, and (3) the right exercise of church discipline, again, as determined by their own interpretation of Scripture.47 By these new marks derived from their own interpretation of Scripture, they determined that the Catholic Church governed by the successor of the Apostle Peter had become apostate, and thus that the Catholic bishops under whose authority they lived, had no ecclesial authority, and that they themselves [i.e. these first Protestants] were the continuation of the Church.

      In this way they could seem to affirm devoutly the prohibition against spurning the authority of the Church, as Calvin did when he wrote:

      However it may be, where the preaching of the gospel is reverently heard and the sacraments are not neglected, there for the time being no deceitful or ambiguous form of the church is seen; and no one is permitted to spurn its authority, flout its warnings, resist its counsels, or make light of its chastisements — much less to desert it and break its unity. For the Lord esteems the communion of his church so highly that he counts as a traitor and apostate from Christianity anyone who arrogantly leaves any Christian society, provided it cherishes the true meaning of Word and sacraments.48

      How did Calvin, who was baptized in the Catholic Church as an infant, and yet lived the last thirty or so years of his life in separation from the Catholic Church, avoid believing that he was spurning the authority of the Church? Simply by redefining the Church as “wherever the preaching of the gospel [as determined by Calvin’s own interpretation of Scripture] is heard and the sacraments [as determined by Calvin’s own interpretation of Scripture] are not neglected.”

      The early Protestants appealed to their own interpretation of Scripture to make sola fide the sine qua non of the gospel, and appealed to their own interpretation of Scripture to make “the gospel” a new mark of the Church. In thus stipulating that sola fide was a now a mark of the Church, based on their own interpretation of Scripture and without any authorization from their bishops, the Reformers ‘avoided rebelling’ against their Catholic bishops simply by redefining ‘Church’ to match their own interpretation of Scripture, so that, by this redefinition of the ‘Church,’ their Catholic bishops were no longer even members of the Church. In doing so, these first Protestants placed their own interpretive authority above that of their bishops. For this reason, the assumption that final interpretive and teaching authority belongs to oneself is intrinsic to Protestantism, because to subordinate the individual’s interpretive and teaching authority to that of the Church would undermine the act by which the first Protestants separated from the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, and thus undermine the very legitimacy of Protestantism as such.

      Our point here is not to show which side was right and which side was wrong in the sixteenth century schism. Our point is to show that implicit within the claim by proponents of sola scriptura to be submitting to the Church, is always a prior judgment concerning which body of persons count as the Church, and a theological assumption about how that judgment is to be made. Mathison cannot say, “All Christians should submit to the Church’s determination of the marks of the Church,” because such a claim would beg the question, i.e. presume the very thing in question, by presuming the identity of the Church in determining the identity of the Church. At most he can say that all Christians should accept the three Protestant marks of the Church, on the ground that according to his [Mathison’s] own interpretation of Scripture, these three are the marks of the Church. Mathison’s position does not allow the Church to have the definitive and authoritative interpretation and teaching of Scripture regarding the marks of the Church. Mathison’s position entails that the authoritative determination of the marks of the Church ultimately and perpetually rests with the individual.

      1. Ty

        “The indirect way of making oneself one’s own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority is more complicated and subtle. In this case the individual, based upon his own interpretation of Scripture, either establishes or chooses an ecclesial community that conforms to his own interpretation in matters he considers to be essential or important. Then, he ‘submits’ to this institution so long as it continues to speak and act in accordance with his own interpretation of Scripture.”

        This is where I found myself. I had to stop.

      2. Our point is to show that implicit within the claim by proponents of sola scriptura to be submitting to the Church, is always a prior judgment concerning which body of persons count as the Church, and a theological assumption about how that judgment is to be made

        Respectfully, we all do this. No one among us, regardless of denomination, does not make a judgment as to which body actually constitutes the church of God. Even the judgment that Christianity, as opposed to Islam, or Mormonism, or a variety of others, constitutes that church – even that is, itself, the sort of judgment derided here. There is no escaping that step. Nobody has an a priori claim that yes, clearly everyone can tell that they’re objectively the ones speaking for God. To argue that Catholics don’t make such a judgment (as the author here seems to imply?) is… well, a little silly.

        And, frankly, a little difficult to unify with Galatians. Paul says that the Galatians are to reject any new gospel, even if it comes from him, or from an angel from heaven. Does the Magisterium teach the same of itself? If not, that seems like a direct contradiction of Paul – and if so, doesn’t that require the individual’s right to judge and reject church authorities as straying from revealed truth?

        1. An excerpt from The Tu Quoque at calledtocommunion.com. I recommend the whole article.

          Q4. But isn’t the person who becomes Catholic using his own private judgment just like the Protestant?

          A. We cannot but use our own intellect and will in interpreting evidence, drawing conclusions, discovering truths, and making decisions. In that respect, inquirers who eventually become Protestant or Catholic start in the same epistemic situation, using their own intellect and will to find the truth through the evidence available to them. Using our intellect and will in coming to believe something is not what makes the Protestant confession to be without divine authority, nor is it what makes the Catholic’s faith in the Catholic Church not subject to the tu quoque objection. What makes a Protestant confession to be without authority is that it is a product of merely human minds, minds without divine authorization, as they sought to interpret and explain the Scriptures. The Catholic Church, by contrast, is not the product of men-lacking-divine authorization. The Catholic Church was founded by Christ Himself, who is God. The Catholic Church’s divine authority was handed down to us from Christ by the Apostles whom He authorized, and then by bishops whom they authorized, down to this present day. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the inquirer who uses his intellect and will to examine history, tradition and Scripture, discovers this divinely founded entity bearing divine authority, and at that point submits to it. His own interpretation has no divine authority. But he discovers something beyond his own interpretation, something to which his own interpretation points, and which does have divine authority. He discovers the Church. The Protestant can understand this in some sense, because in discovering Scripture the Protestant too has discovered something having divine authority, even while using his own intellect and will.

          Q5. What about the person who becomes Catholic because the Catholic Church teaches his own interpretation of Scripture? How is such a person not in the same epistemic situation as the Protestant?

          A. He is in the same epistemic situation as the Protestant. If a person becomes a Catholic on the basis that (and hence condition that) the Catholic Church shares his own interpretation of Scripture, he is not truly a Catholic at heart; he is still a Protestant at heart. One does not rightly become a Catholic on the ground that one happens to believe at present all the doctrines that the Church teaches. That approach is a form of rationalism, not fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding). One rightly becomes a Catholic by an act of faith in which one believes all that the Catholic Church teaches, even if not fully understanding it, on the ground of the apostolic authority of the Church’s magisterium.15 When we are received into the Catholic Church, we say before the bishop, “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” We are not saying that we just happen to believe Catholic doctrines. We are not merely reporting our present mental state viz-a-viz Catholic doctrine. We are making a confession of faith, an act of the will whereby we are submitting to the apostolic authority of the Church regarding what it is that she “believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God” on the ground of her magisterial authority in succession from the Apostles whom Christ Himself appointed and sent. We believe in Christ through believing those sent and authorized by Him and His Apostles, as they teach and explain the deposit of faith entrusted to them by Christ. “Faith seeking understanding” is possible only where submission is required, but submission is not required wherever the identity and nature of the Church is determined and defined by one’s own interpretation of Scripture.16

          1. Ah, excellent! Your article says:

            With the help of the Holy Spirit, the inquirer who uses his intellect and will to examine history, tradition and Scripture, discovers this divinely founded entity bearing divine authority, and at that point submits to it.

            And to that I reply: so, using my intellect and will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I find that Scripture is trustworthy, and the Catholic Church is not. Therefore, clearly Protestantism is correct, and Catholicism is not.

            I’m being flippant, but c’mon, this cuts both ways. I don’t know anything about the site you’re quoting, here, but at least in this case, it’s just not offering persuasive argumentation. I can fairly literally word-swap “Protestant” and “Catholic,” and “Scripture” and “Church,” and quote-unquote “prove” the problem with Catholicism. You can’t just say, “Well, your beliefs are just ‘the product of human minds,’ but our beliefs are a submission to divine inspiration.” We can make that claim as easily as you; your article even acknowledges this.

            We both start with a personal judgment. There is no way to start that is not a personal judgment. That you guys started by judging which church to trust, and we started by judging which Scripture to trust, does not somehow mean that you aren’t making a choice, and sticking paragraphs of text on either side of the claim doesn’t change that.

          2. Irked, the article agrees that private judgement is where it starts. But when one becomes Catholic, thats when private judgement stops. It never stops in Protestantism.

            I know of no Protestant who does not agree that the Church that Christ founded had the power to bind and loose consciences. And that that Church, Jesus said would last into perpetuity. That Church must exist somewhere. You can word swap all you want, but at the end of the day, even if you don’t believe the claims of Catholicism, do you believe the church you attend every Sunday, that it’s leaders have the power to bind your conscience, even if you disagree? And will you submit to their decision, even if you disagree? If not, then the church you attend is clearly not the Church Christ founded.

          3. Hi Duane,

            Irked, the article agrees that private judgement is where it starts. But when one becomes Catholic, thats when private judgement stops.

            I’d like to return to our original point of contention: your article criticized Protestants on the grounds that

            “implicit within the claim by proponents of sola scriptura to be submitting to the Church, is always a prior judgment concerning which body of persons count as the Church, and a theological assumption about how that judgment is to be made”

            From what you’ve just said, we agree that this is true of Catholics as well: there’s a prior judgment concerning which body of persons counts as the church. That was my original point, and given that we agree on it, I don’t see how the argument in IV.A. is to be sustained; the charge it lays against sola scriptura actually applies to all believers, and indeed to all humans.

            There’s more I could say here, but I think that’s the relevant point: there are no grounds here for attacking sola scriptura Christians.

        2. Does the Magisterium teach the same of itself? Yes. Just as it would be impossible for Christ to sin, so it is impossible for the Magisterium to teach a new Gospel. From the same article mentioned above.

          Q6. If tomorrow the magisterium of the Catholic Church definitively proclaimed that Jesus was actually a mere prophet, not the Son of God, and did not die on a cross, you would not believe those teachings or submit to them. Doesn’t this show that you too only submit when you agree, and that therefore, you are your own interpretive authority, just like the Protestant?

          A. The question presupposes that the magisterium of the Church could do such a thing. But part of the dogma of the Catholic Church is precisely that the magisterium of the Church cannot possibly do such a thing, cannot overturn or oppose any dogma of the faith. So the question presupposes the falsity of that Catholic dogma, and in that respect is question-begging, just as the question “If Jesus had sinned, would you still follow Him?” is a question-begging question for Christians, because Christians believe that the Son of God cannot possibly sin. Individual bishops can and do fall into heresy and schism. But Catholic faith includes the belief that the magisterium of the universal Church cannot do so. Orthodoxy and heresy are determined objectively by the magisterium of the universal Church, not ultimately by the individual’s interpretation. The authority of the magisterium in infallibly defining doctrines preserves those doctrines until Christ returns, because the Church has no authority to reverse or overturn what she has already defined with her full authority. So if a particular bishop were to teach contrary to what the magisterium of the Church has infallibly defined, the Catholic faithful should in that case remain true to the magisterium, and not follow the heretical bishop. That is not making oneself a higher authority than the bishop; it is remaining faithful to the still more authoritative visible magisterium of the universal Church.

          1. Just as it would be impossible for Christ to sin, so it is impossible for the Magisterium to teach a new Gospel.

            So, to be clear: Paul warns us to test apostles and angels, to see whether they conform to the gospel. Would Paul tell us to test the Magisterium, to see whether it conforms to the gospel, or not?

          2. Irked-So, to be clear: Paul warns us to test apostles and angels, to see whether they conform to the gospel. Would Paul tell us to test the Magisterium, to see whether it conforms to the gospel, or not?

            Me-if one tested Paul and one disagreed with his interpretation then what? The Protestant answer is to start a new church. The Catholic answer is that I must be wrong and try to understand what Paul is teaching.

            In Acts we are shown how disagreements are settled and every Christian was expected to submit regardless of their view. Irked do you submit to any teaching you disagree with or don’t understand?

          3. CK, the Ebionite Christians tested Paul’s gospel in the year 63, and rejected all his letters. You’re right, what then? If I do not accept the Church, why should I accept these writings that she said are inspired?

          4. if one tested Paul and one disagreed with his interpretation then what?

            If a person found Paul’s claim to authority lacking, that person should reject Paul. They’d reject Paul in error, and there would be errors in their judgment leading up to that point – but then the conversation would be about those errors, and not how they had no right to evaluate Paul according to the Scriptures. The right to evaluate doesn’t imply infallibility.

            Having answered your question, I’d like to return to mine: “Paul warns us to test apostles and angels, to see whether they conform to the gospel. Would Paul tell us to test the Magisterium, to see whether it conforms to the gospel, or not?”

          5. Irked,

            You asked: “Paul warns us to test apostles and angels, to see whether they conform to the gospel. Would Paul tell us to test the Magisterium, to see whether it conforms to the gospel, or not?”

            Paul actually doesn’t say to “test the Apostles to see whether they conform to the gospel.” The closest that you have to that is 1 Thessalonians 5:21. But even there, Paul tells us to “hold fast to that which is good.” Not “hold fast to what you think is good based on your private interpretation of scripture.” However, it is the Apostles themselves that were commissioned directly to preach the gospel. Their mission was confirmed by signs and wonders. The first protestants had no such mandate and they had no signs and wonders to confirm that their ministry was from God.

            As for testing the Magisterium, here’s the way to do it. Let’s compare the Catholic and protestant interpretative paradigms. The protestant paradigm of private interpretation and “semper reformanda” reduces all Church doctrines to mere human opinions. They exert no binding authority on anyone’s conscience and every one is free to reject them if their conscience disagrees. Ultimately, the faith is a completely subjective exercise; subject to the very fallible individual conscience.

            The Catholic paradigm, if true, takes things out of the subjective realm and gives objective certainty that her doctrines are the doctrines of God and not the doctrines of demons. We would still have someone who could speak with the voice of God in our midst and bring clarity on issues and settle disputes. The protestant paradigm leaves to people who are dead set on believing the other is wrong at an unsolvable impasse where schism is the only result. That pattern has been playing on repeat for the last 500 years.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          6. Hi Matthewp,

            Paul actually doesn’t say to “test the Apostles to see whether they conform to the gospel.” The closest that you have to that is 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

            I think I can come rather closer than that. In Galatians 1, Paul says,

            “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

            There’s a clear argument there: Why are you turning to another gospel? You aren’t supposed to turn to another gospel. It doesn’t matter who says it, don’t turn to another gospel. This is the theme of the whole book – unambiguously! Unarguably! Paul writes in a later chapter that he is “perplexed” by this change; of all his letters, this is the harshest, the one with nothing positive to say. This is, quite literally, the theme of an entire book of the Bible.

            There is no way to read this passage that I can see without seeing a clear call that the Galatians are to test incoming “truth” to see if it conforms to the gospel originally preached to them. And so, again, my question: if they are to judge the teaching of apostles against this gospel, rejecting it if it falls short; if they are to evaluate the teaching of angels against the truth entrusted them, and deny even the angels if they don’t measure up…

            … well, then, are they to do the same to the teaching of the Magisterium, or not?

          7. Irked,

            If you’ll notice, Paul actually tells the Galatians to judge a false gospel by the one Paul preached to them, not by their own private interpretations of scripture (Galatians 1:8). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe most protestants think that all of Paul’s thought is accessible through his letters. Not only is there no hard evidence of that but even if that were true now, it certainly wasn’t the case for the 1st century Galatians. Paul is actually appealing the his authoritative preaching (ie oral tradition) over and against the judaizers. Fundamentally, the Galatians’ problem was that of authority. They believed the judaizers over the authority of Paul. Paul reminds them on how God confirmed his ministry through mighty works, signs, and wonders (Galatians 3:2-5). The Galatians were not free to use their own private interpretation of scripture in deciding what the Gospel is. Rather, they were told to stick with Paul because he was divinely authorized as he explains throughout Galatians 1 and 2.

            You said: “And so, again, my question: if they are to judge the teaching of apostles against this gospel, rejecting it if it falls short; if they are to evaluate the teaching of angels against the truth entrusted them, and deny even the angels if they don’t measure up…”

            Did Paul teach you the gospel directly? Don’t give me “well I read and understand his letters” because you are fallible in your understanding. You have to admit that your understanding of Paul could be mistaken and the Catholic perspective could be correct. Do you think there is still an oral tradition to compare new teachings to? If so, welcome to the Catholic Church! lol. This is what was done when the first protestants began teaching their innovations.

            The Catholic Church said along with St. Athanasius in his 59th letter: “It is enough merely to answer such things as follows: we are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the fathers hold this.”

            That’s what the Galatians should have done to the judaizers. Instead, they needed a smack down courtesy of Paul lol. But you didn’t address my point about comparing the Catholic and protestant paradigms. I assume you agree with it then since it has gone unchallenged?

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          8. Hi Matthewp,

            If you’ll notice, Paul actually tells the Galatians to judge a false gospel by the one Paul preached to them, not by their own private interpretations of scripture (Galatians 1:8).

            Yes. And how are they to do that? Does Paul’s gospel perfectly self-interpret? Does it require no level of thought or consideration on the part of the recipient?

            Well, surely not – literally nothing works that way. There’s always the “What do I understand this to say?” step. And that’s exactly what’s meant by “private interpretation of Scripture” – it’s entirely unavoidable in judging something according to the gospel Paul preached.

            You say, “The Galatians were not free to use their own private interpretation of scripture in deciding what the Gospel is.” But one can’t hear Paul without using private interpretation. There’s no such thing as a statement that you haven’t personally interpreted and tried to make sense of. If the Galatians are going to apply Paul’s teachings, they’re – of absolute, unalterable necessity – going to have to apply what they understand those teachings to mean. That’s all that “private interpretation” is.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe most protestants think that all of Paul’s thought is accessible through his letters.

            You are mistaken, yes. Protestants believe that those components of Paul’s thought necessary for salvation and right practice are currently found in his letters. There’s some further discussion of this distinction upthread.

            Did Paul teach you the gospel directly?

            With respect, I’ve done my best to answer several of your questions now. I would like an answer to my question before I respond any further; this’ll be the fourth time it’s been asked, and I’m honestly not seeing where anyone has provided anything like an answer to it. Here it is again:

            Paul warns us to test apostles and angels, to see whether they conform to the gospel. Would Paul tell us to test the Magisterium, to see whether it conforms to the gospel, or not?

  3. It seems clear that the primary mission of the Apostles of Christ was to be focused on the Western Roman Empire, as Jesus said, “For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west: so shall the coming of the Son of man be.” [Matt.24:27] And this is actually what took place as we read in Eusebius’ Church History.

    And also, the ‘lingua franca’ of the Roman Empire at this time was Greek, as all educated Roman citizens were to understand it to some degree, and especially those who were studying politics or philosophy to any degree (i.e.. the ruling class of the Empire). So, considering these cultural facts of the time, it is only common sense that the Apostles and their successors would utilize the ‘septuagint’ version of scriptures in their preaching and teaching, as this was already the text among the people they were trying to convert to Christianity. The Scriptures were already translated into language that they were familiar with, so in all practicality it would have been ludicrous to tell these people that their version of sacred scripture was not the correct one.

    So, it is easy to understand how the Bereans would have used the septuagint version (with the deuterocanonical additions) of scriptures, as they lived only about 300 miles from Athens, which was still the educational epicenter of the western world for philosophy and politics at the time of the Apostles.

    Moreover we have ample proof from the writings of the early Church Fathers regarding the importance of the Septuagint and deuterocanonical versions in the early Church:

    “The early acceptance of the deuterocanonicals was carried down through Church history. The Protestant patristics scholar J. N. D. Kelly writes: “It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive than the [Protestant Old Testament] . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deuterocanonical books. The reason for this is that the Old Testament which passed in the first instance into the hands of Christians was . . . the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. . . . most of the Scriptural quotations found in the New Testament are based upon it rather than the Hebrew.. . . In the first two centuries . . . the Church seems to have accept all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture.

    Quotations from Wisdom, for example, occur in 1 Clement and Barnabas. . . Polycarp cites Tobit, and the Didache [cites] Ecclesiasticus. Irenaeus refers to Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon [i.e., the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel], and Baruch. The use made of the Apocrypha by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria is too frequent for detailed references to be necessary” (Early Christian Doctrines, 53-54).

    The recognition of the deuterocanonicals as part of the Bible that was given by individual Fathers was also given by the Fathers as a whole, when they met in Church councils. The results of councils are especially useful because they do not represent the views of only one person, but what was accepted by the Church leaders of whole regions.” (citation: https://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/DEUTEROS.HTM )

    1. “Western Roman Empire” above, should mean…”Roman Empire west of Israel”. But it doesn’t mean that other parts of the Empire were completely neglected, just that the epicenter of the Empire was centered in Italy, Greece and Asia Minor.

  4. The Bereans and the Virgin Mary

    When Paul preached the gospel to the Bereans, scripture records that “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). It can be argued that the Bereans did not practice sola scriptura as did the Thessalonians who actually rejected the gospel, but for the purposes of this discussion, the point will be conceded.

    The Bereans searched the scriptures, but they would have searched forever without finding the name of Jesus of Nazareth connected in any way with the messiah whose advent was foretold in the Old Testament prophecies. In order to help the Bereans understand his gospel message, Paul referenced and interpreted the Old Testament passages which supported his teaching and made the necessary connection between the prophecies and the actual events in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul’s authoritative interpretation of the scriptures was required in order for the Bereans to correctly understand that Jesus was the messiah foretold in the Old Testament.

    In light of this, is it really so different when the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches that Mary was assumed into heaven or that she is the Queen of Heaven? Like the Bereans, we can search in vain for explicit references to these things, and yet the Church, by virtue of its Apostolic Authority, has infallibly defined the doctrine of the Assumption by interpreting scripture. The verse, of course, is Revelation 12:1 which reads: “A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” Here, the Church finds a clear reference to Mary, her bodily Assumption and her position as Queen of Heaven.

    It is the authoritative Apostolic interpretation of the Catholic Church which helps us to see the truths in scripture that we, like the Bereans, may not find if left to our own devices.

    1. That ‘crown of twelve stars on her head’ that you reference above also signifies Mary’s relationship with the apostles, their number being twelve. And since she has a crown, this of course signifies the Queenship that you relate, but also that the twelve apostles under her are intimately related to her, and have some share in her royal authority. And it is this divine and royal authority, derived from Jesus Christ… the King ( or ‘Prince’ under the Father) of the same kingdom, that gives the twelve the power to judge rightly and spread the same kingdom by their effective ministries here on Earth. And the same power was extended to the Apostle’s successors, in the same way that every kingdom extends authority, through ‘coronations’, and in the case of the Church, ‘ordinations’. But the model and typology is the same….that of monarchical structure…the typology of ‘kingdom’. That is to say, a kingdom is never to last only as long as it’s first king. And a further elaboration of your quote, from the Book of Revelations, points not merely to the Church as a kingdom, but magnifies it even further, to an ’empire’…and an empire of ‘priests’:

      “….And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth, who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us a KINGDOM, and PRIESTS to God and his Father, to him be glory and EMPIRE for ever and ever. Amen.” ( From the very first paragraph of the Book of Rev. 1!)

      So, in view of this ‘Kingdom’ typology inherent in the Church, it is only common sense that the members of the kingdom existing today, which is the present magisterium of the Church ( Christ’s kingdom), exert this same power of priestly governance and judgement in the Church, and are given the power to decide on issues concerning doctrine and morality which are pertinent to our modern age….ie.. on subjects such as human cloning, birth control, gene manipulation, nuclear war, chemical abortions, euthanasia, etc…

      Needless to say, you made as excellent comment Randy, and one full of interesting and profound Christological/Mariological symbolism.

    2. Randy,
      Again, spot on. Bl. Fulton Sheen, writing of Mary, tells of the manifestation of evil which revealed the need for these dogmas, and the Holy Spirit urged our Catholic Church to proclaim them. He writes that within five years of the Immaculate conception definition, and within six months of Lourdes, Darwin wrote the Origin of species, Marx (religion as opiate of people), J.S.Mill. For the assumption, there was Freud and Sartre. Sex and Love, Death and Life. Our church responded to the needs of the time. And she will do so in the future, praise God.

  5. To Irked, Craig, Awlms, CK, et al.

    I accept the complete canon which Catholicism has offered from its founding but wanted to understand why Calvin and Luther deleted certain books. It was suggested that I turn to Wikipedia! I don’t know whether you guys know, but I have it on good authority that virtually anyone can provide virtually any material to Wikipedia at virtually any time. “Use at your peril!”

    Instead, I found a Catholic saint, Francis de Sales who lived from 1567-1622. A scholar, a preacher, a holy man, and ordained Jesuit priest, he explained and converted about 75,000 Calvinists to Catholicism.

    St. Francis’ refutes claims that deletions were backed by good reason and argued the evil consequences of their deletion. He cites as sources Jerome, Augustine, Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzen, Councils. His reasoning is spectacularly brilliant.

    Fellows, you could learn something here. May you find Good News in his words. The specific chapter is 2.1: The Protestant Violation of Scripture.

    http://goodcatholicbooks.org/francis/catholic-controversy.html

    1. This is a fantastic source you provide! I think Irked should take a good look at it.

      Thanks Margo. I’ll copy it all and distribute various portions to friends at my parish an beyond.

      1. Hi Al,

        Glad you like it and hope it’s useful.

        “The Catholic Controversy” began as pamphlets which de Sales slid under doors, posted about town, or handed out. Each chapter deals with clearly delineated topics. Their brevity and clarity should suit our postmodern people with short attention spans.

        1. Hi Margo,

          From my experience, many common Protestants that I meet in places like Farmers Markets, have no idea who Martin Luther is. They think I’m referring to Martin Luther King Jr. And, if you google ‘Martin Luther’, this is also the case….very few hits on the ‘Reformer’ and multitudes on Martin Luther King Jr. 🙂 He doesn’t seem to be too popular these days.

          Moreover, these same people seem to have no idea that their faith is lacking in any way. They only know enough to avoid Catholics as if we’re un-Christian. They’ve been fed this disparaging doctrine so long that it is second nature to doubt anything a Catholic says.

          However, when I tell these same people that they can go to the internet and study a Church history written in 300 AD..’Eusebius Church History’ and fid out for themselves what early Christianity taught…they are alsmost always intrigued. You can see by the expression on their faces that they would like to have some of these mysteries of faith solved. the idea that they can research themselves seems to not have occurred to them.

          So, this is my main job in evangelization and apologetics…to get all of these people doing their own homework.

          Best to you.

          1. Correction above…”If you YOU TUBE, not google, ‘Martin Luther”…most videos past the first 15 are for ‘Martin Luther King Jr. I was surprised with this when trying to find movies to watch on Martin Luther.

    2. I have a more charitable view of the Protestant Canon, even when I criticize it:

      https://orthodoxchristiantheology.com/2016/02/04/protestant-myths-about-the-deuterocanon/

      In short, more than a few Early Church Fathers had 66 book Canons or Canons that excluded the vast majority of the Deuterocanon, and even excluded parts of the “Hebrew Canon,” such as Esther.

      Further, the Reformation happened during the Renaissance. A big intellectual movement during the Renaissance was to “return to the original languages” with the idea these preserved ancient wisdom and superior renderings. The Protestants, and some Catholics of note before Trent, looked at the Masoretic text and saw no Deuterocanon. Ignorantly assuming the superiority of the Masoretic text, they rejected the Deuterocanon. Obviously, we have manuscript evidence today that shows this is wrong–but they didn’t so it is not fair to criticize them in this regard.

      Lastly, Aerial Toll Houses, Purgatory, and Prayers for the Dead were all taught before I can find any reference to someone citing 2 Macc 12:38-42 as approval for the practice for such prayers. This may be because the passage actually mitigates against the practice, or at the very least, is not meant as a proof text in favor of it (https://orthodoxchristiantheology.com/2016/11/10/does-2-maccabees-approve-of-prayers-for-the-dead-no/).

      Rather, we have James 5 (“The prayers of a righteous man availeth much”), 2 Tim 1 (the prayer for Onesiphorous), and Rev 6 (the prayer of the martyrs) which are Biblical proof for the practice, and the existence of such commemorations in copies of all the early liturgies. I think 2 Macc only became an argument much later when people started rejecting the practice.

      God bless,
      Craig

    3. Hi Margo,

      Just wanted to apologize: I missed this post entirely in that big brouhaha. I don’t always think to check down at the bottom, especially as things start stretching out – thanks for the link!

      I’m pretty familiar with Wikipedia’s virtues and shortcomings. It’s definitely not a good final court of appeal, but what it does pretty usefully is summarize (and link to!) the primary sources on a topic. So, for instance, if you don’t have a copy of “A Lexical Study of the Septuagint” or some of the other books it cites handy (I definitely don’t), it’s not a bad starting point. The “anyone can curate” thing works out fairly well in practice – some statistical inquiries have found it to be about as accurate as a traditional encyclopedia. Which is to say: by no means perfect, but valuable!

      Anyway, all that to say: the de Sales link is interesting! I don’t think I can do justice in a post of any reasonable size to respond to the five+ pages he has there. If there’s some point in particular you’d like to discuss, though, I’d certainly be open to a conversation.

  6. ABS has a serious question-

    Irked is not interested in what the Catholic Church teaches and so why do y’all continue to respond to such an obvious troll?

    He has his own beliefs and he rejects the authority of the Christ-Confected Church and the New Testament says to mark such a one as a heretic and avoid him after a few attempts.

    Father-to-be Joe writes some beautiful and useful posts and then the trolls arrive to divert everyone’s attention with their Look, there’s a squirrel comments

    1. Hi ABS,

      Great Question!

      Bl. Fulton Sheen says: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

      God wants all to be saved. We are instruments His hands. I hope my time here is as a work of spiritual mercy (counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, forgive injuries, pray for others). Some of those works are for me; i.e., I learn a lot so I instruct my own ignorance. Prudence suggests when I do more harm than good or when my words are wasted.

      Are we to consider those born into other faith as heretics? That’s another thing I hope to learn!

      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07256b.htm

    2. Hi ABS,

      So, if the “obvious troll” can say a few words in his defense: I understood from reactions in the last few posts that people were interested in a dialogue on some of these topics. I certainly am! I learn a lot about Catholicism from poking at Catholic positions and seeing what answers come back, and come to understand my own beliefs better as well. I hope the converse is true, as well, and I thought a number of comments had been made to that effect.

      That said, if this is not meant to be a space for inter-denominational dialogue – if Joe would rather it was a Catholic- or seeker-only space – that’s certainly fine! It’s his blog, and I’ll play by his rules here; if that means shutting up, I’m capable of that. I am not, in full disclosure, questioning my understanding of Christ’s teaching or in any real likelihood of crossing the Tiber. Likewise, if I’m straying over the line into personal critique or irrelevant digression, by all means correct me on it – if Protestants are welcome, but my particular behavior is bad, please point it out.

      But it’s your last comment that baffles me a little here. Whatever fair critiques can be leveled, I don’t think they include trying to, as you say, “divert everyone’s attention” from Joe’s posts. That’s been the point where I’ve tried to start each of my post chains: “This interesting thing that’s been said – is that thing true?” I can’t predict where the conversation goes from there – I wouldn’t have guessed that the Bereans would lead to a discussion of Tobit, say – but at that point the conversation’s a team sport.

      I mean, many of Joe’s posts here are addressed to Protestants! “Why You Can’t Have Jesus Without The Church” – the first post I replied to here – seems to be an apologetic written to people like me. “Why Must Catholic Clergy…?” and this very post include critiques of Protestantism literally in their first paragraphs. Is it off-topic for me to reply to that?

      1. Hi Irked,

        In my opinion you are a very valuable commenter here, and I’m pretty sure Joe probably would agree with this assessment. In this I don’t think you even need to defend yourself. Actually, I should probably be reprimanded before you, in that I can go off on a theological tangent all to easily, and only then try to work back to the original theme of the post.

        But in all of the conversation here, I think there is a benefit for all, when there are a variety of opinions available. For instance, when Craig was commenting here regularly over the last 3-4 years, he brought up many and various historical resources that I had never studied before. And in forcing my own research into the subject matter, I was greatly benefitted by the necessity of the extra sand focused study. So, Craig actually helped me greatly in my knowledge of Church history.

        That said, I think others can also benefit at any competent argument that you might raise here. If they are agitated, they can go and study the subject and try to refute it, laborious as it might be. And you also, might need to study various items and concepts that we raise.

        Anyway, that’s how I see it.

        Best to you,

        – Al

        1. Al,

          That’s good to hear – thanks! I’ve enjoyed the conversations so far, and I look forward to more. I definitely have had cause for fresh study in some of the recent discussions.

        2. As usual, I agree with Al. I think people lob the names when the force of the argument is not on their side for the moment. I will say, in full disclosure, there was a sort of arrogance that I had as a Protestant to be convinced that a billion-person strong institution that is headed by men with years of education would simply be so uninformed about pertinent topics. I don’t think Irked comes across this way, but I must have because I know where my heart was.

          It was I who was misinformed. Not from wanting of study, but the lack of the proper context around much of what I was reading. I continuously pray to Gd for Him to give me wisdom and address my spiritual blindness. When close Protestant friends have recently taken me to task, I tell them, “Is God unfaithful? Why has He led me here if I prayed for humility, wisdom, and to worship Him in truth?”

          Protestantism has a certain level of self-assurance. To steal from Huey Long, “Every man’s a Pope, but no one wears a crown.”

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. Hi Craig,

            You note the billion-strong institution…and I know that you love Church history. There is one area of Church history that has been completely neglected on this blog, but which I have been reading up on lately….the history of the Church the Britons and Anglo-Saxons.

            Most people researching early Church history focus only on the ‘eastern’ Roman Empire and neglect Brittany and the England. But it’s really something that shouldn’t be overlooked, it adds a lot to the understanding of the early Church in the Roman Empire. For instance, here’s a quote from Bede’s history written in about 700 AD, regarding the Pope in Rome (from CCEL):

            CHAP. IV. How Lucius, king of Britain, writing to Pope Eleutherus, desired to be made a Christian.
            In the year of our Lord 156, Marcus Antoninus Verus, the fourteenth from Augustus, was made emperor, together with his brother, Aurelius Commodus. [Editor’s note: Marcus Antoninus Verus, commonly called Marcus Aurelius, succeeded in 161 A.D. His colleague in the empire was his adopted brother, Lucius Verus, whose full adoptive name was Lucius Aurelius Antoninus Verus Commodus. He died in 169. (Eleutherus became Pope between 171 and 177. Bede’s chronology is therefore wrong.) In their time, whilst the holy Eleutherus presided over the Roman Church, Lucius, king of Britain, sent a letter to him, entreating that by a mandate from him he might be made a Christian. He soon obtained his pious request, and the Britons preserved the faith, which they had received, uncorrupted and entire, in peace and tranquillity until the time of the Emperor Diocletian.

            And here is the site for further reading, if interested. :

            https://www.ccel.org/ccel/bede/history.v.i.iv.html

            Best to you,

            -Al

  7. I’m always keen to point out to a Protestant who uses the Bereans as an example of Sola Scriptura that they first had the hear the word being preached in order to understand who Christ was. They were never given the bible alone and wished good luck but had delivered to them the preaching of Paul, which is the preaching of the Church which accompanies the scripture in all times and ages. Without Paul, the Bereans would not have become Christians, they would have remained Jews never knowing who Jesus of Nazareth was.

    1. In the early Church, and even now, they call this first proclamation of Christ “the Kerygma”, and after that, comes Catechesis. You can google it for more info.

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