The Catholic Church Against the Bible?

One of the most frequent criticisms of the Catholic Church is that She teaches Her members to trust Her,
instead of the Sacred Scriptures: that the Bible and the Catholic Church sometimes disagree, and that Catholics are forced to choose the Church over the Bible. Other variations of this argument are that we take “the Church Fathers” or “tradition” over and against Scripture.

To see why these arguments are false, consider four general propositions:

  1. Scriptural Interpretation / Exegesis: “The Bible might seem to teach X, but it actually teaches Y.” 
  2. Extra-Scriptural Tradition: “The Bible is silent on whether X or Y is true, but we know from Tradition that the truth is Y.” 
  3. Church Disciplines / Practices: “The Bible leaves room for either X or Y policy, and we’re going to take Y.” 
  4. Anti-Scriptural Teachings: “The Bible teaches X, but I want to reject X in favor of Y.”
As Catholics, we believe that it is within the Magisterial authority of the Church to do (1), (2), and (3). But we don’t believe that the Church may do (4). The Magisterium of the Catholic Church has held as much, acknowledging Her own limitations, in paragraph 10 of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council’s statement of the word of God (which includes the Bible and Apostolic Tradition):

Vincent Van Gogh, Still Life with Bible (1885)
Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. (7) 
But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8) has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed. 
It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

So the Church lacks the ability to trump the word of God. But empowered by the Divine Commission, and perpetually guided by the Holy Spirit, we need not fear this conflict even as a possibility. Christ sent the Church out to teach the Gospel to the whole world (Mt. 28:19-20), and equips Her with the Holy Spirit to achieve the task He which He entrusted to Her.

Ironically, while Protestants criticize the Church for (1), (2), and (3), they end up doing each of these as well:

  1. In correcting heretical misinterpretation of Scripture, you’re engaging in (1), showing that “The Bible might seem to teach X, but it actually teaches Y.” 
  2. In saying that the (internally-anonymous) Gospel of Matthew was written by St. Matthew the Apostle, you’re engaging in (2), holding that while “The Bible is silent on whether X or Y is true, but we know from Tradition that the truth is Y.” 
  3. And in deciding to have services at a particular time on Sunday mornings (and maybe Wednesday nights, as well), you’re engaging in (3): “The Bible leaves room for either X or policy, and we’re going to take Y.” 
The only difference is that we have a coherent ecclesiology that explains why the Church has the ability to do this. Protestants tend to deny that the Church have this ability, but are forced to do it anyway.

I don’t expect that this explanation will immediately dissolve all of the arguments against the Catholic Church. But I hope that it helps to put these arguments in perspective: are you complaining that the Catholic Church is doing something the Bible forbids? Or simply that She does something that the Bible (in your view) doesn’t require? And if it is the latter, how is that an argument against the Catholic Church at all?

104 Comments

  1. Joe,

    The Bible only “says” what it says, but it can be made to “teach” just about anything.

    People leave the Roman church as they realize more and more the inconsistencies between the two.

    The issues are numerous, Why would God want us to go to priests rather than to Christ directly? Isn’t it idolatry to worship a piece of bread? Why would a church be run by homosexuals? Isn’t forbidding marriage, eating blood, and fornication all signs of a false church? Why should anybody pray to the dead? Why should anybody pray to Mary? Why would assurance of salvation be called a sin? Why would a church declare anathemas against Christian people? Why should Christians bow before statues? Why would a church have business dealings with the mafia? Why would a church call mobsters and dictators “born again” just because they got sprinkled with water as a baby? Why does a church need 100,000 pages of rules and regulations to explain its teachings? Why confess sins to a priest? Why call a religious leader “holy father”?

    Hopefully the Catholic finally realizes he has been duped by an impressive religious system designed to do one of two things, Either (1) keep the person from getting saved; or (2) keep the saved person on a dead-end street of dead works in pious religiosity.

    So the way you’ve framed the question is to seek an admission that a truly saved person can exist within Roman Catholicism. Yes, they can, since salvation is as easy as a sinner trusting Christ’s death as the payment for his sins, which faith triggers the new-birth, which can’t be undone. But the saved person is not going to enjoy being in Catholicism because the Holy Spirit inside him is going to be constantly grieved by the institutional heresies and abominations. The solution is to get out.

    Mack.

    1. My, what a morass. I start by observing that you should never, ever, ever go to law. If you do, you may find yourself standing there while your lawyer says, “My client prays the court.”

      “To pray” means “to ask” not “to worship” and therefore may be addressed to creatures as well as the Creator.

    2. As for “forbidding marriage,” let us not be absurd. The Church has not and never has forbidden marriage to anyone capable of the state. It has, indeed, insisted that those who voluntarily and of their own will elected to commit themselves to the unmarried state, that they might serve God only and not be divided between God and spouse — have indeed committed themselves.

      Do you claim the Bible teaches you can’t make binding commitments?

    3. >The Bible only “says” what it says, but it can be made to “teach” just about anything.

      The funny thing is when I read this in my RSS Reader, I thought I was reading a comment by a Catholic, responding to the cacophony of interpretative voices found in all the different Protestant communities of the world.

      > The issues are numerous, …

      This laundry list of questions all have Catholic (Scriptural) answers, many of which have been dealt with on this blog.

      > …the Catholic finally realizes he has been duped by an impressive religious system designed to…keep the person from getting saved

      You seem to assert malicious intent here. Are you saying that the Catholic Church knows itself to be false but due to Satanic motivation purposefully wishes people to be damned?

      > …faith triggers the new-birth, which can’t be undone

      It’s not once saved, always saved I’m afraid.

      > But the saved person is not going to enjoy being in Catholicism because the Holy Spirit inside him is going to be constantly grieved by the institutional heresies and abominations.

      So the only “saved” Catholic is an unhappy one? Finally, an explanation as to why Catholics look so miserable at Mass! 😉

    4. “Why would assurance of salvation be called a sin? “

      Because the Bible says so. “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?”

      Therefore, to claim that you see for yourself that you are saved is to sin against hope.

      Remember, the three things that last are faith, hope, and love, not faith, assurance, and love.

    5. “Why would God want us to go to priests rather than to Christ directly? “

      Have you never asked anyone to pray for you? Why did you go to that person instead of Christ directly?

    6. “Isn’t it idolatry to worship a piece of bread? “

      Isn’t it blasphemy to call Jesus a piece of bread, unworthy of worship? Don’t you believe Him when He says — in the Bible — that He will give us His flesh to eat, and then tells us that He has done so at the Last Supper? Don’t you believe Paul when he warns you that to eat and drink unworthily is to be guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ?

      As for its being merely symbolic, I point out that this was the only doctrinal point for which He lost followers, and that when Peter assured him that they would still follow, it was not because they realized it was symbolic, but because these are the words of eternal life.

    7. “Why would a church call mobsters and dictators “born again” just because they got sprinkled with water as a baby?”

      If you, being what you are, can call yourself a Christian, why on earth would the sins of other Christians trouble you?

      Unless of course you are not as then — in which case, what are you doing as a Christian? Didn’t you listen to Him when He said that He did not come for the well but the sick?

      I may return for more, later. Assuming, of course, that other commentators don’t make me redundant.

    8. marycatelli covered all the bases, but I’ll put my own two bits into this…

      “Why would God want us to go to priests rather than to Christ directly?”
      John 20:23. I go to priest because that is what Jesus commands us to do. That is the system that He has set up for us to use. If Jesus wanted us to do something else, he would have set up another system for us to us. As it stands, he gave the authority to forgive sins to his Twelve, and their successors (The Bishops and their priests throughout the world) carry that on to this very day.

      “Why should anybody pray to Mary?”
      The earliest Christians prayed to our Blessed Mother, and Venerated her as the highest of God’s Creatures. The Archangel Gabriel even changed her name when he addressed her: “Hail, Full of Grace…” (Luke 1:28 can be translated as changing Mary’s name) honoring her. If Mary is at a level that an Angel of God will honor her, why shouldn’t I honor Her as well?

      Why don’t you pray to her, and give Her the honor due to Her? She is the model for all Christians to follow. What She is now, we all aspire to be in the future.

      “Isn’t it idolatry to worship a piece of bread?”

      Why do you insist on calling Jesus Christ a liar? Either “…this is my body…”, in Matthew 26:26 in reference to the unleavened bread in our Lord’s Hands, is His Body, or it is not. I take Jesus at his word, and I believe he is telling the Truth when he says that, and I don’t try to complicate things further.

      “But the saved person is not going to enjoy being in Catholicism because the Holy Spirit inside him is going to be constantly grieved by the institutional heresies and abominations. The solution is to get out.”

      I used to be one that you might call “saved”, and I converted to the Catholic Church. I saw numerous “institutional heresies and abominations” in protestantism to be honest. I could not be a part of something that went against numerous passages of the Bible, the quoted words of Jesus himself.

      After a lot of reading, and prayer, I came to the conclusion that it was incredibly arrogant of myself to say “I am saved.” Am I in Heaven? No. Therefore I am not saved yet, and should not presume that I am guaranteed a spot in Heaven until I actually get there. Until you are in Heaven, you also are not “saved” and are just as capable of losing your salvation yourself. Thankfully, Our Lord gave us a way to absolve ourselves of the guilt of our sins: The Sacrament of Penance AKA: Confession.

    9. Mack,

      The Bible only “says” what it says, but it can be made to “teach” just about anything.

      As Restless Pilgrim indicated, this is a great argument against sola Scriptura. You’re right that Scripture can be perverted (intentionally or unintentionally) to “teach” something that it doesn’t really teach. Often, the apparently “plain meaning” of a passage (like Jesus’ seeming denial of Divinity in Mark 10:18) is contrary to what is actually being taught. But I don’t see how this is an argument against the need for an exegetical authority, like the Church.

      As for the rest of your claims, they seem to be handled well by Mary and Rob, so I’ll just suggest this: if you think that any of your arguments actually show that the Catholic Church goes against Scripture – in the sense of (4), above – why not lay out an actual argument?

      A valid argument should have these three elements:

      1) Scripture says X
      2) Catholics teach Y.
      3) Y contradicts X (this may be self-evident, or may require some explanation).

      I.X.,

      Joe

    10. “Why would a church declare anathemas against Christian people?”

      The Bible specifically enjoins that sometimes Christians should be treated as taxcollectors (read: collaborators and grafters) or Gntiles.

      Ironically enough, I have heard other Protestants complain about the lack of them, saying the Church needs more discipline. Arguable, but the opposite of your complaint.

    11. Marycatelli & Joe,

      Except in rare circumstances, the Roman Church forbids marriage by its ministers, and “forbidding to marry” is a doctrine of devils according to 1 Tim. 4:3 KJV. Paul never commanded anyone to follow his voluntary singleness, which wasn’t an oath since he had power to get married if he wished (1 Corinthians 9:5 KJV). To mandate celibacy is to ignore the qualifications St. Paul established for bishops and deacons when he said they ought to be married: “the husband of one wife” 1 Tim. 3:2 KJV; ” their wives be grave” 1 Tim 3:11 KJV.

      So according to Holy Scripture the celibacy rule is satanic, and it has satanic consequences: the Roman priesthood is full of hypocrites, homosexuals, fornicators, child molesters (Matthew 18:6 KJV), and unclean persons (Ephesians 5:5 KJV). What percentage of healthy male priests actually keep their chastity oaths in thought (Matthew 5:28 KJV) and deed? That means 99% of them have put themselves under condemnation of the devil by their broken oaths.

      Yes, the Bible forbids putting yourself under binding commitments you can’t keep (Zech. 5:3 KJV). For example, nuns are to be refused: “But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry… I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children” 1 Tim. 5:11-14. To break an oath is to put yourself under terrible condemnation, which is why Jesus Christ said we ought never make them: “But I say unto you, Swear not at all;” Matthew 5:34 KJV. See also James 5:12 KJV.

      But you’ll give the “nobody’s perfect” excuse and throw what the Bible says in the trash, the Catholic priesthood is full of fornicators that refuse to repent and get married, therefore all of whom must be ousted from the church: 1 Corinthians 5:13 KJV.

      Joe, you asked for a “valid argument” of where the Roman church is obviously wrong and there it is. Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16 KJV.

      Any sensible person who desires to do good and follow scripture cannot in good conscience be associated with the Roman clergy. The only ministry to maintain within Catholicism is to rebuke everyone in it because the Bible says, “thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” Lev. 19:17 KJV.

      This is not a one-on-one type sin (which is what Matthew 18:16-17 KJV is talking about), but a systemic sin that satanically infects the entire priesthood of Roman Catholicism. No, your religious system certainly is not true Christianity, and if you ever did any personal work among the lost you’d realize how the notorious scandals of Romanism, and it religion hypocrisy, and it superstitious nonsense, have poisoned people’s minds against Biblical Christianity.

      “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” 3 John 1:11 KJV.

      Rob:

      Eternal security is the very opposite of arrogance since it relies 100% on Jesus Christ. What is arrogant is to slight the work of Christ and pretend you save yourself by attending to rituals.

      – Soul Past tense: “saved” – the born-again soul sealed forever by the Holy Spirit upon trust in the gospel.
      – Body Future tense: “the hope of eternal life” – when Christ returns and transforms our bodies. You are predestinated to this hope when you are put into Jesus Christ.
      – Human spirit Present tense: “the inward man is renewed day by day” daily sanctification by God’s Spirit of our spirit.

      Restless Pilgrim:

      The pernicious intent is from the devil, whose blind agents go about deceiving people to trust in religious gimmickry instead of in the finished work of Jesus Christ. If you don’t think Catholicism is filled with unsaved pagans then just go visit a “Catholic country” like the Philippines or Mexico.

      – Mack.

    12. > …the Roman Church forbids marriage by its minister to marry…

      But you do realize that the Catholic Church isn’t just the Roman Church, right? Although smaller than the Latin Church, the Eastern Rites (which allow married priests) still have significant numbers: 4.3 million (Byzantine Ukrainian), 3.9 million (Syriac Syro-Malabar), 3.29 million (Maronite Catholic Church)…

      And what do you think Paul had in mind when he wrote 1 Tim. 4:3? The Roman-Rite of the Catholic Church…or the proto-Gnostics he was dealing with at the time?

      > What percentage of healthy male priests actually keep their chastity oaths in thought (Matthew 5:28 KJV) and deed? That means 99% of them have put themselves under condemnation of the devil by their broken oaths.

      Ah, so you know the percentage? Where did you get this 99% from?

      > the Bible forbids putting yourself under binding commitments you can’t keep

      Does this mean that I shouldn’t make a commitment to Christ?

      > The pernicious intent is from the devil, whose blind agents go about deceiving people to trust in religious gimmickry instead of in the finished work of Jesus Christ

      So that’s a yes? The Church knows the truth but is purposefully deceiving people?

      > If you don’t think Catholicism is filled with unsaved pagans then just go visit a “Catholic country” like the Philippines or Mexico

      Did I ever claim that everyone who professes to be Roman Catholic is “saved”?

    13. Mack, when responding to my comments, it would behoove you to answer what I said. I pointed out that people can voluntarily commit themselves to never marrying, and be thus bound. It is nonsense to say that they are therefore “forbidden marriage.” Being a minister of the Church is voluntary.

    14. Also, you are arrogating to yourself judgments that are forbidden even to angels. The wheat and the tares are to grow together until harvest, and angels, let alone you, are not to pluck them up before then.

    15. “What is arrogant is to slight the work of Christ and pretend you save yourself by attending to rituals.”

      Lying about the beliefs of Catholics is also pretty arrogant. Disobeying the explicit commands of Jesus in order to scorn Catholics for rituals He commanded falls in there, too.

    16. I also observe that married ministers are as likely to molest children as unmarried ones. Both are much less likely than the general population. School teachers are particularly bad; one in ten public children has been molested at school. Do you attribute this to their being unmarried?

    17. “> What percentage of healthy male priests actually keep their chastity oaths in thought (Matthew 5:28 KJV) and deed? That means 99% of them have put themselves under condemnation of the devil by their broken oaths.

      Ah, so you know the percentage? Where did you get this 99% from? “

      You must consider that he specifies “healthy” male priests. This may stem from a rather pagan belief that the gift of continence is unhealthy. . . scratch that. Make that neo-Pagan, since the pagans could and sometimes did recognize the self-mastery.

    18. “> The pernicious intent is from the devil, whose blind agents go about deceiving people to trust in religious gimmickry instead of in the finished work of Jesus Christ

      So that’s a yes? The Church knows the truth but is purposefully deceiving people?”

      What else can we expect? “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!”

    19. Any sensible person who desires to do good and follow scripture cannot in good conscience be associated with the Roman clergy.

      Mack, as you surely know, I’m preparing for the priesthood. Am I to understand your argument to be that I must therefore be (a) senseless, (b) evil [since I must not desire to do good or obey Scripture], or (c) both?

      And if this IS your argument, which of those three are you accusing me of?

      One of the consequences of your views on Scripture is that if you really believe Scripture is perspicacious on every issue, you’re virtually forced to treat anyone who disagrees with you as an idiot or an evildoer (since any good, logical Christian would see things your way). I think your latest comment shows the merit of my argument.*

      I.X.,

      Joe

      *And, of course, it should require you to arrogantly judge other Protestants, too, not just us. After all, the millions of Protestants who disagree with you are either ignorant, evil, or living disproof of your stance on the perpescuity of Scripture.

    20. “Eternal security is the very opposite of arrogance since it relies 100% on Jesus Christ.”

      It relies not at all on Jesus Christ but 100% on your own interpretation of Scripture, which exemplifies your own statement “The Bible only ‘says’ what it says, but it can be made to ‘teach’ just about anything.”

      I point out that in Acts, we are explicitly told that Simon Magus believed and was baptized — yet shortly thereafter, Peter had to sternly warn him that his request for simony would damn him without repentance.

    21. Joe:

      No, I will not make this personal. Who knows, maybe God gave you a Jehu calling that I nothing about (2 Kings 10:18 KJV)?

      But nobody needs to be a “perspicacious” scriptural genius to have sufficient light to know the obligation to reject evil. All the clever theology in the world, no matter how pious sounding, suffices to overturn that principle.

      If you could prove with 500 verses that Rome was the “one true church,” we’d still be obliged to reject it because it is evil and runs afoul of the express statement of the Holy Ghost given in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 KJV: The church is run by homosexuals who forbid marriage. If Rome ever was the “one true church” (which it wasn’t, but to humour you), one thing is certain, that as of today it is NOT the church. Otherwise, take 1 Timothy 4:1-3 KJV and rip it out of your Bible.

      You can quote Matthew 16:18 KJV all day long, but even if that verse applied to Rome at one time (it never did, but just to humour you), God would still do to Rome just what he did to Shiloh and Bethel and Jerusalem and every other “holy site” where he set up Headquarters and the sodomites later showed up – he’d burn it to the ground and go elsewhere.

      (Of course “Rome” is not in Matthew 16:18 KJV at all. The “it” in the passage applies to the “Rock” Jesus Christ who descended into hell and prevailed against its doors and rose again.)

      – Mack.

    22. You assume your conclusion, that it is not you who falls afoul of 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

      As for your claim that God would destroy Rome because the gates of Hell prevailed against it, it founders on the obvious fact that you are calling Him a liar, when His promise was that the gates of Hell would not prevail. You even quote it while claiming they prevailed.

      As for your claim about the Rock, it isn’t Jesus Christ who is consistently called the Rock throughout the Gospels and Acts.

    23. “For example, nuns are to be refused:”

      If the commandment against young widows being enrolled prohibits nuns, why did Paul explicitly say that virgins would be better of remaining unmarried? You can not be an old virgin without being a young one first.

    24. The Bible instructs me to work out my salvation in fear and trembling. You evince neither. Furthermore, you try to incite others to avoid them, despite Jesus’s warning about people who lead little ones astray. Therefore you have reason to not only worry about, but fear for, your own.

  2. You are correct as to infallible teachings within Catholicism where the Church makes no mistakes on scripture. Historically though the Catholic record is not perfect outside infallible issues. John T. Noonan Jr. ( who had written a previous book on usury) in a recent book “The Church That Can and Cannot Change” showed that in respect to the usury issue, Luke 6:35 ( “lend not hoping to receive in return” ) for centuries was used by a Pope and others later within Catholicism against any interest on a personal loan but Calvin had argued the verse was not that far reaching which became the Catholic theologian position only in the twentieth century well after Pius VIII in 1830 allowed moderate interest. Late in the 19th century Pope Leo XIII was still fervid against usury but now it is bizarrely an almost neglected topic because given the 1830 permission on moderate interest, no ne is crystal clear sure what usury is. Aquinas had also affected the issue negatively by dismissing a verse in the Old Testament wherein God had forbidden the Jews to charge interest to Jews but not to foreigners. Aquinas held that in the latter case, the Jews still sinned. This was odd but when you notice that Aquinas was determined to accept Aristotle’s dictum that money was not fertile, one understands the dismissiveness.
    Presently in a non infallible matter, the death penalty, Catholicism is swinging toward a mistake by ignoring Genesis 9:5-6 and Romans 13:4 which latter was written while Rome had inescapable life sentences in the mines. Now in Evangelium Vitae, the Romans passage (classic on the matter) is not even mentioned and stranger still, Genesis 9:5-6 is quoted twice in fragments in such a way as to leave out the death penalty injunction which is an integral part of it.
    So yes the Church in the dogmatic Council of Trent made no errors on scripture when she used it infallibly regarding the sacraments. But when John Paul II called the death penalty “cruel” in 1999 in St. Louis, he was ignoring the fact that as Avery Dulles noted in First Things…God gave about 36 death penalties in the Bible in the first person imperative. When Archbishop Chaput says we are better than the death penalty, then he must think we’re better than Romans 13:4 which the Holy Spirit inspired.

    1. The Old Testament says:

      Deuteronomy 19:21
      And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

      Jesus says:
      Matthew 5:38-39
      King James Version (KJV)
      38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

      39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

      It is Jesus who modified the command of a life for a life. The lesson is clear. It is no longer necessary to avenge crimes against one’s person in this life.
      Romans 12:19
      Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  3. On the one hand, good for the Catholic Church for making a clear statement that they can’t contradict Scripture.

    On the other hand, I think a great many Protestants – myself included – feel like the RCC has done this anyway. This can’t be dismissed simply on the grounds that, “We said we wouldn’t do that!” – there’s a need to actually address the particular issues.

    I don’t agree with mackquigley’s list in general – I think it overstates his case on a couple of points – but I do think some of what he points out are legitimate issues. I think you identify another in the exact quote you give: that the task of interpreting Scripture should be exclusively the provenance of some specific organization seems to me to be contrary to Scripture.

    1. What do you mean by “exclusively” here? Here’s what the Catechism says:

      #119 “It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God.”

      “But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me”

    2. IrkedIndeed,

      I think that thinking of the Church as “some specific organization” is the wrong premise to proceed from. The Catholic Church is “some specific organization” in the exact same sense that the early Church was.

      And so I think the better framing of the question is whether the visible Church is given unique and final authority. Let’s look at Matthew 18:15-18,

      “15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

      Can I address my brother’s faults? Yes, verse 15 says so. And so can small groups of Christians (v. 16). But to address it authoritatively, in such a way that refusal to listen results in serious penalty (being expelled or excommunicated, like a Gentile or a tax collector would have been from Judaism) belongs only to the Church. And why does this belong only to the Church? Because v. 18 explains that the Church is the One possessing binding and loosening authority. And what does Jesus mean by “Church” here? The same thing that He means by “Church” everywhere – what you would describe as “some specific organization.” He can’t mean some invisible body of the saved, known only to God: how could such a body adjudicate a dispute here and now?

      I would suggest that Acts 8:26-31 shows a parallel to Scriptural exegesis. It’s not that we just stare dumbly at the Bible until the Church explains every verse to us. Rather, it’s that while certain passages are easily understood, others are prone to serious misunderstanding, so the Church is in constant dialogue with Her members for the purpose of explanation and exegesis. Several passages show the Church possessing just this role in Scripture (Acts 15 would be another good example). None — at least, none that I know of – show the opposite: an instance in which the Church’s interpretation is wrong, and the individual’s is correct.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    3. Restless Pilgrim:

      I used “exclusive” there because it’s the same word used in the Dei Verbum quote, above: “But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8) has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”

      So maybe I can turn that question around on you: what does it mean there? Because I intended to use it the same way. My assumption was that it implied that if you’re not part of the teaching arm, you don’t get to interpret Scripture; I’d be happy to amend that if it’s inaccurate.

    4. Joe:

      The Catholic Church is “some specific organization” in the exact same sense that the early Church was.

      “The early church” is a pretty fuzzy target, though – how early? We know Paul spent more than a decade planting churches that were, in almost all respects, independent bodies – because Paul himself was effectively a free agent for at least the 14 years after his conversion. (I don’t mean to say he had no contact with other Christians, o’course, but his discussion in Galatians 1-2 makes it clear that he wasn’t really part of any organizational structure.)

      And it seems to me that that arrangement – “We are the separate churches of Christ, whose members collectively make up the Bride” – was very different from the organized, hierarchical RCC of today. There was deference to the apostles in issues of crisis, to be sure – but they seem to have been largely independent structures. (Note, for instance, that when one church is in need, Paul travels to other, effectively-separate churches to ask for their aid – there’s not an organizational superstructure.)

      So I would say rather that the early church looks like the church of today: many churches, each with their own issues, but now absent that apostolic oversight given that there are no more apostles (speaking as a Protestant).

      And so I think the better framing of the question is whether the visible Church is given unique and final authority.

      Again, it seems to me that requiring a big-C Church is reading into the text. Christ seems to me to be giving instructions for local assemblies of believers – that is, for churches. That seems like the most natural reading of “tell it to the church”: that the church is a localized group that can be told. It’s certainly also consistent with the Greek word ekklesia, with the general meaning of “assembly” and is often used to refer to individual and separate churches, i.e., Acts 13:1: “at Antioch, in the church that was there.” And in that case, “church” here absolutely does not mean the same thing as “Church” – because “church” could include assemblies of, say… Protestants.

      (Disclaimer: I am not a Greek scholar by any stretch of the imagination.)

      So if church here is “localized church,” well, then, sure, if there’s one guy and the whole church agrees that he’s in sin and won’t repent, they should kick him out. That’s pretty much the only sensible rule of governance I can think of for such a case.

      Notably, though, it doesn’t automatically mean the one guy is wrong. He very likely is! But Christ gives no guarantee that it’s not the church that’s in error. The church has authority to “treat him as a sinner”: it’s not guaranteed that he is one.

      I would suggest that Acts 8:26-31 shows a parallel to Scriptural exegesis.

      All right – but in Acts 8, it’s a man without the Spirit who can’t fathom Scripture. That’s not really an applicable point of comparison. I’m certainly not arguing that those in Christ have no need of instruction or can’t get confused – they do! they can! – but the passage actually written to Christians would seem to be, say, 1 Corinthians 2:8-10:

      “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

      “What no eye has seen,
      what no ear has heard,
      and what no human mind has conceived”—
      the things God has prepared for those who love him—
      10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.”

      While he berates Corinth for getting many of important things wrong, there’s no suggestion that they should stop trying to interpret Scripture – the flaw, rather, is that they are still struggling with surface issues when Paul wants them to be investigating the meatier truths.

    5. >My assumption was that it implied that if you’re not part of the teaching arm, you don’t get to interpret Scripture; I’d be happy to amend that if it’s inaccurate.

      Hey Irked, thanks for your comments. Let me explain by saying some of the things it does and doesn’t me. To begin with, here are a few things it doesn’t mean:

      1. The Church has infallibly defined the meaning of every passage of Scripture.
      2. Catholics aren’t allowed to read the Bible.
      3. Catholics aren’t allowed read theology books and commentary.
      4. Catholics aren’t allowed to attend a Bible study.
      5. Catholics aren’t allowed to apply the Sacred Scriptures to their lives.

      Now, these are some things it does mean:

      1. I must interpret Scripture in accordance with the guidelines of the Church, according to the Rule of Faith
      2. My interpretation of Scripture is not the last word. I must remain docile to the teaching of the Church.

      Thanks,

      David.

    6. David,

      That sounds like a good summary – thanks for expanding there. I think my usage of it in my original post can sit intact, then: that’s roughly the same interpretation I was giving it (though worded much better!).

      To your second question, no, I’m not personally familiar with Clement’s writings. Why do you ask?

    7. Glad I could help 🙂

      I asked about Clement’s letter because it shows inter-Church communication in the First Century.

      In case you’re unfamiliar with his letter, here is the background. The Corinthians had been acting up (again) and kicked out their clergy. An appeal was made to the Church in Rome and Clement sends the Corinthians a beautiful epistle in an attempt to bring an end to the dispute. Fortunately, this did the trick. We even find out later that his letter is read at the Eucharistic liturgies of the Corinthian Church.

      Even if we put aside the question as to why there was an appeal to Rome, it does demonstrate a good level of connection between congregations, even at this nascent stage of the Church.

    8. David,

      I had a chance to sit and read after that last post – interesting letter. Kind of unintentionally funny when he urges them to avoid needless wordiness (not that I’m in a position to criticize).

      I definitely wouldn’t argue that there was no communication between the churches, particularly as time passed – the mere existence of the canonical Epistles proves that there was. My point was rather that they seem to be largely functioning in parallel: “the church in Rome,” as Clement writes, and “the church in Corinth,” each with their own presbyters.

      So, for instance, when I read Clement’s letter, I’m reminded more of, say, the writings of C.S. Lewis: one member of one church urging members of other, in many ways separate churches to greater holiness. I as a Baptist can read and appreciate Lewis’s writings even though he wasn’t Baptist – because our individual assembles are linked in common cause to Christ.

      My issue with Joe’s reply, then, was his association of “church/Church” with the Roman Catholic Church specifically – or, more accurately, with the RCC doctrine to that effect that he’s relaying. That is, while I agree that the RCC may be “some specific organization” in the sense that a particular early Christian assembly could be, I disagree strongly with the idea that it is “some specific organization” in the way that the church entire was, as he argues.

      Thus, I disagree with the claim that their teaching arm can be the definitive interpreter of Scripture – because that’s just one part of just one collection of churches.

    9. Hey Irked, way to be pro-active! How gorgeous was the section on love?

      Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love bears all things, is long-suffering in all things. There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love. Love admits of no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony. By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well- pleasing to God. In love has the Lord taken us to Himself. On account of the Love he bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls…

      > “the church in Rome,” as Clement writes, and “the church in Corinth,” each with their own presbyters.

      Is this really that different to today? I mean, we use the same language. In fact, we even use the same language when referring to the different churches in the Catholic communion: the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church etc.

      > I’m reminded more of, say, the writings of C.S. Lewis: one member of one church urging members of other, in many ways separate churches to greater holiness

      That’s great, but could you imagine C.S. Lewis writing to your congregation to sort out an internal dispute within your Baptist congregation? Or could you imagine your pastor going to an Anglican bishop to try and settle the date of the celebration of Easter (the quartodecimanism controversy)?

      > Thus, I disagree with the claim that their teaching arm can be the definitive interpreter of Scripture – because that’s just one part of just one collection of churches.

      Who would you say is the definitive interpreter? Does such a thing exist? Does every congregation/pastor go it alone? Or does it boil down to the individual believer?

    10. Joe’s final challenge to me was:

      Several passages show the Church possessing just this role in Scripture (Acts 15 would be another good example). None — at least, none that I know of – show the opposite: an instance in which the Church’s interpretation is wrong, and the individual’s is correct.

      I ran out of time (and characters) to respond to this earlier, but it deserves a reply: not shockingly, I believe there are quite a few examples that show just that.

      I would note first that God’s pattern through the Old Testament is often to have one man getting it right when the assembly around him is wrong: Noah and his family, alone out of all the world; Moses, coming down from the mountain to find that all God’s people – even his brother! – have turned to idolatry; Elijah, a lone prophet of the Lord against hundreds of Israelite prophets of Baal; Jeremiah, cast into the pit by his own king.

      But okay, those are Old Testament guys – not the Spirit-dwelt church of Christ. What then?

      Again, examples of churches in sin, opposed by an individual, are easy to find – most of Paul’s letters are in large part Paul, the individual, rebuking the collected church. Clearly the assemblies of Corinth and Galatia were not infallibly correct in their judgments!

      It might be argued that the Jerusalem church was in some sense head of the early church, and that its judgments were therefore protected – but Galatians 2 shows that this is again false. The leaders of that church, including Peter, fell into sin regarding Gentile Christians – and particularly pernicious sin, in that by their actions they taught bad doctrine to other Christians, like Barnabus. Again, it fell to Paul to oppose the actions of the majority – and while they corrected themselves in response, that doesn’t negate the fact that they were, initially, in the wrong. Further, we can even find such examples outside Scripture – Paul references admonitions and corrections to churches in letters since lost.

      But it may be further argued that these are still special cases, as the speakers are apostles. Leaving out the apostles as individuals correcting churches makes this a lot harder – I could say “Martin Luther,” but we’d obviously disagree as to who was right in that conflict!

      So let’s go with examples where the RCC admits a mistake was made – like, say, Joan of Arc. Joan was tried, excommunicated, and, uh, executed – and then sainted, some decades later. When the Church said she was a heretic and Joan claimed she heard from God, who was right?

      (It may be noted that the Bishop who tried Joan was violating the Church’s own policies – which, sure, but that the church’s stated policy doesn’t guarantee its compliance to that policy is exactly my point!)

      Or, for perhaps a stronger example, consider Galileo. Set aside some of the stuff Galileo did that the church had reason to get ticked off at: we still have things like this, where heliocentrism is called “explicitly contrary to Holy Scripture.” The Church was flatly wrong, and on this point, at a minimum, Galileo was closer to the truth than they were.

      And let’s do mention Luther: while the RCC certainly never agreed with him in general, the Counter-Reformation includes a number of changes that effectively acknowledge some of Luther’s criticisms as legit.

      Why, then, would I assume that the Catholic Church must be right, and any particular individual wrong?

    11. David,

      Is this really that different to today? I mean, we use the same language. In fact, we even use the same language when referring to the different churches in the Catholic communion: the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church etc.

      Well, that’s exactly my point – except that I would list the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church, etc., as various sub-churches of the Body. Separate organizations, all with communication and communion in Christ, isn’t weird!

      That’s great, but could you imagine C.S. Lewis writing to your congregation to sort out an internal dispute within your Baptist congregation?

      Well, no, but there’s an issue of scale there: my congregation is not as prominent a feature of the modern church as, say, Corinth was of the first-century church. How’s Lewis even going to notice us?

      But I can imagine groups travelling from church to church, resolving issues where they go, even across denominations – we had one such group visit us lately. I can imagine pastors writing to churches they once led, urging them to faithfulness – I’ve had pastors do that. Charles Spurgeon was noted for writing letters to basically everyone, including the newspaper – which is maybe closer to how an epistle would work in the modern day.

      Would any of those satisfy the analogy?

      Who would you say is the definitive interpreter? Does such a thing exist?

      The Holy Spirit, who “will guide you into all truth!” – and whose leading we each follow only imperfectly. But for a human being or institution? No – we’re all flawed beings: striving toward the goal, working out or faith, stumbling badly, and occasionally landing in the truth.

    12. “Separate organizations, all with communication and communion in Christ, isn’t weird!”

      Tragic I would say. Jesus did, after all, pray that we be one. (Which can not be because of our communion with Christ, because then our unity would go without saying and there’d be no need to pray for it.)

    13. Irked,

      This has been edifying and helpful so far, so thank you for that. I am still struggling with one issue that both you and Rev. Hans mentioned, and I think it underlies a lot of the differences in how we are viewing these questions. Do you recognize any distinction between (a) the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic Churches, (b) the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and (c) the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the various Protestant denominations?

      In the first instance, we are distinct, but in total agreement on theology, and are visibly united as one Body in a total and complete way. In the second, we agree on theology, but are not visibly united to the degree we ought to be. And in the third, we lack both doctrinal agreement AND visible unity.

      But you seem to be treating these three classes of distinctions as if they were the same, as if distinct organs in the Body of Christ (which Paul praises) and schisms in the Church (we he damns) are equally good, and even the same thing.

      I suppose it just seems odd to me that you would claim to be in “full communion” with the Catholic Church, while rejecting the authority of the pope, and core Catholic teachings, including on the Eucharist (which we recognize as Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Unity). It would seem that if you entered the Catholic Church visibly, your communion with Her would be much fuller.

      Of course, I don’t mean to belittle the very real communion that you and we do enjoy. In calling you “separated brethren,” we mean both terms, even though we’re focusing more on the “separated” part here (for hopefully-obvious reasons).

      I.X.,

      Joe

    14. I don’t monitor topics as they age out, so I missed it.

      What is immediately obvious is that you have indulged in bait-and-switch. If our unity is to be one of pulling in the same direction, it obviously can not be merely one of our communion with Christ. Yet in the comment I responded to, you said nothing of unity of will.

      Anyway, your schismatic state actively aids and abets the unity you claim to be what Jesus is praying for. Especially the Protestant one, where people hie off to do as they please in a new denomination whenever they please.

    15. Joe,

      The answer here gets a little bit complicated – I’m going to try to take a page from Restless Pilgrim, above, to clarify what I’m saying and what I’m not.

      I’m not saying that there are no theological differences between these churches. I’m not saying that those differences are totally irrelevant – theology matters, and the way we understand God changes the way we understand everything else. I’m not saying that all of these organizations would agree with me on the nature of their relationships with each other – it’s very clear that Catholicism, for instance, has a different view of its connection to me than I have of my connection to it.

      But what I do believe that we are all, individually, as Christians, full members of the Body of Christ, provided we all possess saving faith in him. (Presumably many members of our various denominations don’t possess such faith – I’m restricting my discussion to those that do.) Since I view the Body as exactly identical to the invisible church, then, I’d say that all of these people are full members of the church; as the church has one head, Christ, with whom they commune, they also commune with each other.

      I don’t know whether our various denominations properly qualify as organs in the body, but it’s not clear to me that having separate churches, with separate organizational bodies, is at all a bad thing. I’m not even sure that having differing beliefs is bad, where those differences do not prevent us from first believing in Christ. (Thus, for instance, I would have issues with the LDS because I think its beliefs do generally preclude saving faith in Christ.) In particular, it’s not clear to me how we could possibly prevent such differences from appearing – and given that they do, allowing Christians who differ on side-issues to find fellowship with others of like mind seems like a good compromise. I don’t share quite your affection for Augustine, but I think his quote provides a good mindset here: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

      Now! I think our differing theology has led us into pretty terrible conflicts in the past, and I think there remains some pretty bad blood all around. And that’s awful, because our mutual love is meant to be our distinguishing mark as Christians. But I think that’s an artifact of us screwing up having multiple denominations, not a problem with having different churches per se.

      Re: the Pope, the Eucharist, etc.: well, I view those things as part of your liberty. I think you’re wrong about them, but they’re side-issues: the Pope matters immeasurably less than Christ. So far as I’m in Communion with Catholics, it’s via our mutual communion with Christ – thus, the degree to which I count as a member of that one denomination is largely irrelevant.

      I hope that this clarifies my view somewhat. I put up a blog post of my own a few days ago that might also help.

    16. Marycatelli:

      What is immediately obvious is that you have indulged in bait-and-switch. If our unity is to be one of pulling in the same direction, it obviously can not be merely one of our communion with Christ. Yet in the comment I responded to, you said nothing of unity of will.

      I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying here. Which comment is “the one I responded to?” If you mean this one, well, unity of will was not my topic – I don’t think too many implications can fairly be drawn from my failure to mention it.

      I really do feel that I need a better sense of what you mean by “communion” and “unity” before we can continue this conversation. I tried to give a working definition in my reply on the other thread – was there an issue with this definition?

      I apologize if I’m just misunderstanding you, but I’m having a hard time parsing your comment. It feels here as if you’re angry with me, and I’m not sure what I’ve done to provoke that.

      Anyway, your schismatic state actively aids and abets the unity you claim to be what Jesus is praying for. Especially the Protestant one, where people hie off to do as they please in a new denomination whenever they please.

      I could, of course, claim equally that your schismatic state actively harms unity, especially the Catholic one, where you forcefully expel anyone who tries to interpret Scripture for himself.

      I don’t think either line of comment is particularly helpful in maintaining our mutual love, though. My predecessors messed up in some bad ways; so did yours. Rather than forever hold that grudge, though, better that we should learn more of our differences, attempting to persuade each other of what we see as fuller truth, while respecting each other as equal brothers and sisters in Christ!

    17. Irked, like Joe said, thanks for this discussion, I think it had been quite productive.

      >Well, that’s exactly my point – except that I would list the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church, etc., as various sub-churches of the Body. Separate organizations, all with communication and communion in Christ, isn’t weird!

      The example I gave was of Churches who are actually in official visible and sacramental communion. Joe brought out this point in his comment when he spoke about the different unity between (i) Catholic Churches (ii) Catholic and Orthodox and (iii) Catholic and Protestant. You acknowledge there is a different between these three, right?

      >we had one such group visit us lately. I can imagine pastors writing to churches they once led…. Charles Spurgeon was noted for writing letters…Would any of those satisfy the analogy?”

      It’s not perfect, but it’s getting there. However, would you say this is commonplace in the Protestant world? From my own experience I would suggest that it is the serious exception.

      > But for a human being or institution? No…

      So there’s no authoritative interpreter of Scripture. How does this not descend into relativism?

      For example, if nobody can finally settle the case over an interpretation, can anyone ever really be “wrong”? The most you could say is “Well, I disagree with your interpretation” and then attempt to convince that person that your interpretation is true.

      It also puts the Ecumenical Councils and the creeds in an odd position. They are no longer authoritative proclamations of the Christian faith, they are simply a consensus of some bishops back in the early centuries of Christianity, fully subject to revision and fully subject to alteration.

      With such a system, I can’t see how any kind of authority can exist. Rather than coming to the Church to hear the truth about Christ, one comes to one’s own truth about Christ and then selects a congregation that has reached the same conclusions (or near enough).

      With regards to your last comment to Joe, my main question to you is: where do you draw the line? For example, you said that the issue of the Pope is a side-issue in comparison to Christ. However, you also expressed serious concerns about LDS theology. How does one objectively say what is “essential” and what is “optional”? Who decides?

    18. I have to apologize in advance – I’m in the process of moving, and currently the only internet I have is what I can borrow from McDonald’s. If I’m a bit slow in replying, Joe, David, I hope you’ll be patient with me.

      You acknowledge there is a different between these three, right?

      We’d have to narrow down what you mean by “a difference” there. They have different organizational bodies and somewhat-differing beliefs, sure. I don’t agree that I have different degrees of spiritual connection to them, though, as argued above.

      Can you expand on what you’re asking here?

      However, would you say this is commonplace in the Protestant world?

      I honestly don’t know – it probably depends on what you consider close enough. There’s a lot of blogs out there that could qualify, depending on where you finangle that line. How would we meaningfully compare frequency to, say, that of the early church?

      So there’s no authoritative interpreter of Scripture. How does this not descend into relativism?

      Let me answer by way of a metaphor. We’d agree that the universe exists, right? There really is a physical world that we both inhabit – we’re not brains in a tank, or deluded spirits, or whatever. There is, in other words, a singular truth as to what the material world is.

      Who, then, is the authoritative interpreter of the material world? Who tells us, with perfect accuracy, what that truth is?

      I’d argue that there isn’t any such person. God knows, to be sure, with perfect accuracy – but we “know in part.” We can make our best guesses, but we hallucinate, misjudge, make errors.

      So if I say, “I believe the world is like such-and-such, but I certainly can’t claim to be the final authority,” does that mean that reality only exists relative to my perception? Certainly not! Does it mean that no one is ever “wrong” about reality? No, of course not – we can be pretty sure someone who claims the room is full of pink elephants is mistaken.

      Now! Reality is confusing, and a lot of our instincts about how it works are wrong. It is a great help to have dedicated scientists to give us better theories about how the world works, and we should treat them with the respect their work entails. But scientists still get things wrong: there’s a middle ground between disregarding science as irrelevant piffle and insisting that a particular theory must be infallible and authoritative.

      So, too, the church! We have our theological scientists; we have our own understanding of Scripture. We have one step better: we have the internal witness of the Spirit, who does have authoritative access to the truth, and who ministers that truth to us, however imperfectly we receive it. We can’t claim infallible understanding, but there is much we can believe with confidence – just as we can for the physical world. (And really, if I hear a message from the RCC, I receive it as a physical artifact: a note, a video, a sound. If I interpret physical reality imperfectly – and I do – then I can still interpret that message imperfectly. There’s no getting away from an “imperfect personal interpretation” layer.)

    19. With such a system, I can’t see how any kind of authority can exist.

      Does any authority exist in scientific circles? Do people only go to scientists to have their preexistent beliefs confirmed?

      Rather than coming to the Church to hear the truth about Christ, one comes to one’s own truth about Christ and then selects a congregation that has reached the same conclusions (or near enough).

      When you choose to be part of the Catholic Church, is it not because you agree with their conclusions about Christ? How do you see this as different from a Baptist who likewise agrees with the Baptist conclusions? (I can definitely say that being Protestant does not mean you agree with or appreciate everything your pastor says!)

      How does one objectively say what is “essential” and what is “optional”? Who decides?

      Christ is essential: “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

      Exactly how much do you need to know to make that confession, to have that belief? I don’t know – judging souls on the razor-edge isn’t my department, thankfully. And much that doesn’t fit in that sentence is still important, if not essential – but that’s the line that I understand to exist.

    20. Scientists do not go to Science for disciplinary actions. They have institutions for that. And the Bible makes it very clear that the Church, in that, like those institutions; it can, for instance, render final judgment after which you may treat your brother like a taxcollector or a Gentile.

    21. “The Church,” i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, or your local assembly? I’ve made arguments on that topic upthread (here) – I stand by what I said there.

      Reading that as Christ giving instructions to assemblies of his followers, rather to a particular organizational body, then I’d agree: churches do have the authority (and the responsibility!) to put out those in unrepentant sin.

      But nothing guarantees the church is infallible in its decision to censure (or not censure) someone. The Corinthian church was cool with a guy who slept with his mother-in-law; various NT churches evidently considered kicking out Paul. I’d draw an analogy to government, which is also an authority appointed by God and has a… decidedly mixed track record in its sphere of influence. (Even government by well-meaning Christians, for that matter.) A church can kick someone out, but that no more guarantees he’s wrong than the scientific backlash against Pasteur meant that spontaneous generation was true.

      But I may still be debating in the wrong direction, here. Can you clarify what point you’re drawing from your argument?

    22. Which local assembly? The one formed by every schismatic branch of Protestants? How can you go to the local assembly when he insists that it’s the one across the street? Even on that principle, you must come to the Church.

      As for error, apparently the Bible does not care; it directs you to the Church even though it can error in punishment.

    23. Which local assembly?

      Presumably the one you attend?

      How can you go to the local assembly when he insists that it’s the one across the street? Even on that principle, you must come to the Church.

      I do not understand your point here, I’m sorry. Who is “he?” Why does this principle imply the Catholic Church exclusively?

    24. Whomever you have a dispute with, whom you must bring to the Church for final judgment before you can treat him as a tax-collector or Gentile.

      Because if you really mean the one you attend, you are arguing that there is no communion or connection between two people who attend different churches. That the union in Christ that you offer as the Real Deal is no such thing.

      If you don’t, the endless schisms of the Protestants show it is impossible to determine which one has authority, and so whoever’s right, they are wrong.

    25. I apologize – I’d not seen this.

      My point is simply that you can’t kick a man out of a church he doesn’t attend. I doubt very much that Christ has in mind that a sinning brother in Corinth should be brought before, say, the apostles in Jerusalem – why would you? Why not simply resolve an issue between members of a single church within that church?

      That has no real bearing on unity in Christ – my spiritual unity with believers across the world doesn’t mean they need to be involved in setting my church’s budget, or picking out new carpet, or etc. I [i]think[/i] – and please correct me if I’m wrong – that you’re viewing unity as requiring organizational unity, or administrative unity, or something to that effect; that is, you’re suggesting the unity exists only if we’re all plugged in to the same earthly governing body.

      If so, that’s simply not the form of unity I’m describing. Rather, I’m discussing the idea of Christians being united via their spiritual head, Christ, whether or not they’re united by overarching physical organizations. As such, Christian communion and connection isn’t damaged by handling local matters separately.

      I would again object that the choice of language here is somewhat prejudicial. What you call “the endless schisms of Protestantism” I could note simply as “the endless schisms of Christianity.”

  4. It all comes back to authority. Man wants to submit to himself so he goes to great lengths to reject the physical Church that Christ created on this earth to guide us. Rotten fruit is not submitting to Christ’s physical Church on this planet and trying to make up history and change definitions of words so that man can be in charge all by himself.

    People go to great lengths to believe falsehoods or half truths about Rome because they’re scared that Rome might be correct. How do I know that? Because I used to be someone like this. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to change to stopping falsehoods. Hard to beat the devil when he wraps up lies as truths.

  5. How can we be one with anyone who rejects the real presence in the Eucharist? That’s impossible. You might as well start throwing books of the Bible away and create a new religion with a malleable Christ.

  6. I could, of course, claim equally that your schismatic state actively harms unity

    When did we schism? Break off? Go our own way? Everyone admits that the Protestants broke off from the Catholics and not vice versa.

    Anyway, love rejoices in the truth.

    1. Okay, briefly, because this conversation seems to be kind of… unprofitable for either of us:

      The RCC excommunicated Luther and put out a dead-or-alive warrant for him. That has no bearing on whether he was right or wrong, but it has quite a lot to do with whether they had a hand in creating a second church organization. The divisions in the church today were a group effort.

      Put more briefly: you can cause a schism both by leaving and by forcing people out.

    2. Luther left under his own steam. The Church recognized that fact. This practice is, in fact, explicitly ordered by Paul for dealing with a brother who defies the Church.

    3. I do not recall Paul suggesting that the church should burn at the stake wayward brothers, nor that it should issue orders for their arrest.

      Look, all that aside, my point is not whether the Church was right to expel Luther. Even if they were, they still factually did expel the start of the Protestant churches.

      Say they were correct, and Luther was a wretched heretic! Then they did the right thing by forcing a church schism. They still forced a schism – it took two uncompromising sides to tango.

    4. Hello Irked,

      The Church is correct and Luther was a wretched heretic. But you are correct in that heresies must come. St. Paul said:

      1 Corinthians 11:19
      For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

      I’m assuming that you believe the doctrine of Scripture alone. I know that you do not believe that our doctrine of the infallibility of the Church is correct. So, let me start with Scripture.

      What does this verse mean to you?
      Ephesians 3:10
      King James Version (KJV)
      10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

      That sounds to me as though the True Church teaches the wisdom of God. The Catholic Church and a few others, teaches that it is the True Church which meets this description and teaches infallibly the Word or Wisdom of God.

      As for me, I will belong to a Church which at a minimum believes it is infallible. Even if it can’t be proven. Because this Church is at the very least, stepping in faith and believing the Word of God.

      Now, please provide the Scripture which teaches Scripture alone. As for me, I can’t find it. Therefore, by the criteria of the Word of God, I disavow any organization which claims that this is a true doctrine. Because in my opinion, that false doctrine goes directly against the clear teaching of Scripture:
      2 Thessalonians 2:15
      King James Version (KJV)
      15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

      But please, show me from Scripture the verse upon which you stand regarding the teaching of Scripture alone.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    5. De Maria,

      Re: Ephesians 3:10, I would agree that Paul teaches that the church will teach God’s wisdom. I would agree that the church continues to do so today! But it has never been the case that the church has done so flawlessly; if it had been so, there would have been no need for Paul to write admonishments to the various early churches.

      Rather, the church has always God’s wisdom imperfectly – “we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” God’s intent for the church to show his wisdom no more guarantees our infallibility than his intent for us as Christians to live holy lives guarantees our personal sinlessness.

      But please, show me from Scripture the verse upon which you stand regarding the teaching of Scripture alone.

      Burden of the proof would seem to be on the addition of sources to Scripture, here. I cannot, for instance, prove to you that we should not include fortune cookies alongside Scripture as infallible guides – but the burden of proof would rest on the person who wanted to include them.

      The same would seem to hold here. I can point to John’s warnings in Revelation against “adding to the words of this book.” I can identify the many places where the apostles put off old tradition – even formerly good traditions, like the dietary restriction. Most centrally, I can point to Christ’s condemnation of the Pharisees for nullifying the Word of God for the sake of their tradition – and as I noted in my first post in this thread, the Protestant contention is that Catholic tradition absolutely does contradict the teaching of Scripture. I think all of these support the Protestant position on the tradition/Scripture divide.

      But fundamentally, if you want to include something else with Scripture, the burden falls to you to justify its inclusion. In your citation above, certainly Paul urges people to hold to the traditions they’ve been taught. The operative question, then, is this: are the traditions towards which Paul urges them the same as those held by the RCC today? Because where we don’t know, with confidence, what those traditions were, there can be no appeal to them.

      And clearly “this is traditional in my church” is not, in itself, a sufficient guarantee of truth, because our traditions differ – and, more, over time our respective traditions change.

    6. Hi Irked,

      Thanks for responding.

      You said:
      IrkedIndeedJune 23, 2013 at 11:49 AM
      De Maria,

      Re: Ephesians 3:10, I would agree that Paul teaches that the church will teach God’s wisdom. I would agree that the church continues to do so today! But it has never been the case that the church has done so flawlessly; if it had been so, there would have been no need for Paul to write admonishments to the various early churches.

      Did you ever consider that St. Paul is a member of the Magisterium? Or else, how can anyone guarantee that what he said and wrote was the truth?

      Answer this. Did St. Paul originally write or speak when he taught the Word of God? I’ll let Scripture answer for me:
      1 Thessalonians 2:13
      King James Version (KJV)
      13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

      According to this Teaching, St. Paul and the other Apostles passed the Word of God down by word of mouth. And they expected those who heard them to receive it as the Word of God.

      The Apostles representing the Church when they so taught. They did not do it on their own.

      Rather, the church has always God’s wisdom imperfectly –

      False. Unless you don’t believe the Scripture. The Scripture says:
      1 Timothy 3:15
      But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

      The Church has always taught the Word of God, perfectly. It is the Church which wrote the New Testament without error. Even you believe this. Therefore, you are even contradicting your own belief.

      “we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” God’s intent for the church to show his wisdom no more guarantees our infallibility than his intent for us as Christians to live holy lives guarantees our personal sinlessness.

      I’m not sure what you mean there. Unless you are somehow questioning the inerrancy of Scripture. Are you?

      Burden of the proof would seem to be on the addition of sources to Scripture, here. I cannot, for instance, prove to you that we should not include fortune cookies alongside Scripture as infallible guides – but the burden of proof would rest on the person who wanted to include them.

      Wrong for a few reasons.

      1. The teaching of Sola Scriptura is the new teaching. It is not seen in Scripture or in the early Church. Therefore, since the Protestants are trying to introduce it, they must provide the proof.

      2. Scripture itself says to hold the Traditions (2 Thess 2:15), therefore, you it is your burden to prove this new doctrine and reconcile it to the Teachings in Scripture which tell us to hold Tradition, to obey our leaders (Heb 13:17) and to obey the Church (Matt 18:17).

      The same would seem to hold here. I can point to John’s warnings in Revelation against “adding to the words of this book.”

      The key word being, “this book”. It is him speaking of his own book of Revelations. The Bible was not yet put together when he wrote that “book”.

      I can identify the many places where the apostles put off old tradition – even formerly good traditions, like the dietary restriction.

      But we are Christians and we aren’t talking about holding to Jewish traditions but about holding to the Traditions of Christ. Let me ask you, did Christ write anything down?

      If He did, I’m not aware of it. But I know what He did do. He established a Church, commanded us to obey that Church and then He deposited with that Church, His Traditions and commanded that Church to pass them on. He never even commanded them to write Scripture.

      Do you deny any of this? If so, please provide the proof that any of that is false. Because I can show from Scripture that all of it is true.

      cont’d

    7. Irked also said:
      Most centrally, I can point to Christ’s condemnation of the Pharisees for nullifying the Word of God for the sake of their tradition – and as I noted in my first post in this thread, the Protestant contention is that Catholic tradition absolutely does contradict the teaching of Scripture. I think all of these support the Protestant position on the tradition/Scripture divide.

      Christ was condemning man’s tradition. If you are to follow Christ’s example, you should condemn faith alone, Scripture alone and all the alones promulgated by the Protestants. They are all false teaching which will not be found in Scripture.

      But, if you claim that Catholic Tradition is against Scripture, let us go through each, one by one. I have shown you where Scripture teaches the infallibility of the Church and you have been unable to provide a verse to support Scripture alone. The same will happen in each and every Doctrine we discuss. Where ever you disagree with Catholic Doctrine, you will be unable to provide support for your stance from Scripture. But I will provide support either implied or explicit for every Catholic Doctrine.

      Ready when you are.

      But fundamentally, if you want to include something else with Scripture, the burden falls to you to justify its inclusion.

      Scripture says to hold Tradition. Scripture says to obey the Church. Scripture says to obey our rulers in the Church. What more do you want?

      In your citation above, certainly Paul urges people to hold to the traditions they’ve been taught.

      Bingo!

      The operative question, then, is this: are the traditions towards which Paul urges them the same as those held by the RCC today?

      Yes.

      Because where we don’t know, with confidence, what those traditions were, there can be no appeal to them.

      We know because we hold the Traditions which are the basis of the New Testament. The New Testament was written on the basis of the Traditions of Jesus Christ which we hold to this day.

      And clearly “this is traditional in my church” is not, in itself, a sufficient guarantee of truth, because our traditions differ – and, more, over time our respective traditions change.

      Our Traditions do not. Yours do. But our Traditions are protected by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which keeps the Church from ever teaching error.

      Bottom line, you have no support from Scripture for your stance. As we go down the line on all they Traditions, you will find that the Catholic Church is the Bible Church.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    8. IrkedIndeed,

      a) You said that “the Protestant contention is that Catholic tradition absolutely does contradict the teaching of Scripture.” This gets back to my original post. Which Catholic teachings do you think fall into category # 4, above?

      b) Your position appears to be that all doctrines must come from Scripture. But on the doctrine of sola Scriptura, you’re not deriving this doctrine from Scripture – nor do you seriously claim to.* So on at least one doctrine (sola Scriptura itself), sola Scriptura fails as a hermeneutic. So even if there was no evidence of extra-Scriptural Tradition (and there is, see below), sola Scriptura would still be a self-refuting hermeneutic.

      c) Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. If I don’t have any evidence about whether or not you own a dog, that doesn’t prove that you do, but it also doesn’t prove that you don’t. It’s simply a lack of proof, and so I am agnostic (“without knowledge”) on that question.

      Atheists are frequently tripped up on this point: since they don’t see convincing proof for the existence of the Judeo-Christian God, they treat this as if it is positive for both His non-existence, and the non-existence of any god(s).

      I think that you’re falling into the same (or a similar) logical error. You said that the “burden of the proof would seem to be on the addition of sources to Scripture.” But for you to say that there are no other sources besides Scripture requires evidence just as much as saying that there are, just as saying that there is no God is a claim requiring evidence to the same extent as saying that there is.

      In other words, I agree with you that we should be able to provide evidence for extra-Scriptural Apostolic Tradition. And we can do that. But if you want to deny the existence of extra-Scriptural Apostolic Tradition, you should be able to provide evidence, too. And you deny that you need to do that.

      d) Apart from the issue of burden-shifting, I think that your position is demonstrably wrong. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 explicitly says that there are Teachings, in addition to Scripture, that are binding on Christians. It doesn’t say what those teachings are (or else, they would be in Scripture), but it acknowledges that they exist. So the one position that we can say is wrong is that we are left with Scripture alone.

      Let me use another example from Scripture. Luke 7:36-50 describes a woman, in the house of Simon the Pharisee, who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. An ancient tradition holds that this woman was Mary Magdalene. You could reasonably hold that the woman wasn’t Mary Magdalene. But you can’t reasonable hold that, since you don’t know who the woman was, there was no woman. You can debate the woman’s identity, but not her existence.

      Likewise, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says that there is extra-Scriptural Tradition. You can deny that a particular Catholic teaching is authentically part of the extra-Scriptural Tradition that Paul is referring to. But you can’t reasonably hold that there is no extra-Scriptural Tradition. You can debate the identity of extra-Scriptural Tradition, but not its existence.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      *The one Scriptural passage that you refer to, Revelation 22:18-19, has nothing to do with sola Scriptura. It’s about not modifying the text of that Book. John can’t be seriously understood to say, “hold no doctrines found outside the Book of Revelation.” It’s brazen proof-texting to try to make this into John saying something about only holding to doctrines found in the 66 Books of the Protestant Bible.

    9. De Maria,

      Did you ever consider that St. Paul is a member of the Magisterium? Or else, how can anyone guarantee that what he said and wrote was the truth?

      Paul’s support was that he was an Apostle, given unique revelation by Christ. His authority cannot derive from being “a member of the Magisterium” – what Magisterium is there in his time to derive authority from?

      The Church has always taught the Word of God, perfectly.

      When Paul writes to the church in Corinth, is it to commend them for their perfect theology? When Paul speaks to Peter in Galatians 2, is it to commend him for perfectly modelling Scripture?

      I’m not sure what you mean there. Unless you are somehow questioning the inerrancy of Scripture. Are you?

      Scripture is perfect. Our interpretation and extension of it isn’t. Thus, the church – composed of fallible humans – makes mistakes.

      Scripture itself says to hold the Traditions

      Scripture says to hold to certain traditions. Are these – provably – the ones taught by Catholicism today?

      But we are Christians and we aren’t talking about holding to Jewish traditions but about holding to the Traditions of Christ.

      The “Jewish traditions” are given in our own Scripture! We’re talking about Levitical law, here.

      Christ was condemning man’s tradition.

      Yes. And the central contention of Protestantism is that much of Catholic theology is man’s tradition.

      But, if you claim that Catholic Tradition is against Scripture, let us go through each, one by one.

      With respect, there’s more than enough on this table already. I’d be happy to discuss particular theology in further detail, but not until after we’ve dealt with the rest of these issues.

      Scripture says to hold Tradition. Scripture says to obey the Church. Scripture says to obey our rulers in the Church. What more do you want?

      Scripture says to hold to some traditions. Scripture says to obey Christ, and to some extent the church.

      The fundamental issue we have here is the assumption that these things must refer to the particular traditions and particular branch of the church found in Roman Catholicism. And this…

      We know because we hold the Traditions which are the basis of the New Testament.

      … is not evidence to that effect.

      It seems to me that your traditions run counter to Scripture. As such, I’m inclined to doubt that they are identical to those of the apostles. “We say they are,” is… not a compelling argument.

    10. Joe,

      This gets back to my original post. Which Catholic teachings do you think fall into category # 4, above?

      I would actually love to discuss this, but I’m (as noted above) kind of afraid of how much else is on the table at the moment. Could we clear some of the other issues first?

      b) Your position appears to be that all doctrines must come from Scripture. But on the doctrine of sola Scriptura, you’re not deriving this doctrine from Scripture – nor do you seriously claim to.*

      My position is this: Scripture is infallible. I have no particular reason to believe anything else is. Thus, things not derived from Scripture shouldn’t be treated as having infallible sources.

      That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily wrong – I think gravity is probably real, even though that theory doesn’t derive from Scripture. It does mean that they don’t get the same kind of trust.

      Now, I could be wrong that there are no additional infallible sources – that is, as you note, a fallible position, not a Scripture-explicit one. It still remains to be shown that any additional infallible sources exist – and framed in this way, there’s no self-refutation.

      c) Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.

      Sure.

      But for you to say that there are no other sources besides Scripture requires evidence

      I hope “I have seen no evidence for extrascriptural infallibility” makes it clearer what my position is here.

      But if you want to deny the existence of extra-Scriptural Apostolic Tradition, you should be able to provide evidence, too. And you deny that you need to do that.

      My evidence, in this case, is Scripture: it’s that the traditions of the church seem to me to run counter to Scripture. I recognize that we’ve deferred actually looking at that, but again, let’s deal with what we’ve got first.

      I will happily agree that my argument lives or dies on whether Scripture actually does differ with Catholicism – but it does seem to me that the default state of things is to be not considered infallible. The weight of the proof would seem to rest in showing that they are.

      So the one position that we can say is wrong is that we are left with Scripture alone.

      I haven’t claimed formal sola Scriptura, here, but I think even those who do would just argue that the important truths of the early church were subsumed into Scripture – that what was oral tradition is now chapter and verse.

      We can certainly say that some of those who actually spoke to Christ/the apostles had additional words. It doesn’t follow that those words taught things not already found in the complete New Testament, nor that (if they taught additional things) that they are still available today. Nor, for that matter, does it follow that the oral tradition was itself infallible.

      You can debate the woman’s identity, but not her existence.

      Again, I think you’re arguing against a position I’ve not taken, here.

      *The one Scriptural passage that you refer to, Revelation 22:18-19, has nothing to do with sola Scriptura. It’s about not modifying the text of that Book.

      I actually entirely agree with this and have gotten irritated with people who tried to apply it to Scripture as a whole. My point was more that John forbids counting anything additional to the book – interpretation, tradition regarding it, etc. – as being part of the book. Was short on characters and time.

    11. IrkedIndeed,

      I would actually love to discuss this, but I’m (as noted above) kind of afraid of how much else is on the table at the moment. Could we clear some of the other issues first?

      Yes, good idea.

      My position is this: Scripture is infallible. I have no particular reason to believe anything else is. Thus, things not derived from Scripture shouldn’t be treated as having infallible sources.

      It seems like you’re taking the position that Scripture is the only infallible source that you know of, but that there could be another / others. Is that an accurate formulation of your position?

      If it is, I’d challenge it only on this point: that there must be binding extra-Scriptural Tradition, because 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says there is. You responded to this argument by saying:

      I haven’t claimed formal sola Scriptura, here, but I think even those who do would just argue that the important truths of the early church were subsumed into Scripture – that what was oral tradition is now chapter and verse.

      We can certainly say that some of those who actually spoke to Christ/the apostles had additional words. It doesn’t follow that those words taught things not already found in the complete New Testament, nor that (if they taught additional things) that they are still available today.

      The position that I’m saying is self-refuting is that all binding doctrines must come from Scripture. Do you agree with me, that this claim is self-refuting, since it doesn’t come from Scripture?

      Scripture never says that all of “the important truths of the early church were subsumed into Scripture,” so this incorporation theory is either an appeal to history or Tradition, or both. And if a doctrine requires an appeal to history or Tradition, or both, to be proven, that seems to disprove sola Scriptura.

      Because at the end of the day, if your position is “X position isn’t taught in the Bible, but we know it to be true from history / Tradition,” you aren’t going off of sola Scriptura, and it doesn’t particularly matter if “X position” is “the Assumption of Mary” or “Psalm 151 is not canonical” or “the important truths of the early church were subsumed into Scripture”? Both of these seem to be off-limits to someone who believes in the doctrine of sola Scriptura.

      Nor, for that matter, does it follow that the oral tradition was itself infallible.
      St. Paul describes oral Apostolic Tradition as binding on Christians. As far as I can tell, this requires it to be infallible. How could an Apostle bind us to obey something erroneous / heretical?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    12. Hello Irked, you said,

      Paul’s support was that he was an Apostle, given unique revelation by Christ. His authority cannot derive from being “a member of the Magisterium” – what Magisterium is there in his time to derive authority from?

      The Church. St. Paul was not teaching in opposition to nor independently of the Church. Jesus Christ appointed a Magisterium, a teaching Church, and when He appeared to St. Paul, St. Paul took a few years before he joined the Apostles (Galatians 1:16-19) but eventually began to obey Jesus’ command and preached Christ together with (1 Corinthians 4:9) and in submission to the Apostles (Acts 15:22).

      When Paul writes to the church in Corinth, is it to commend them for their perfect theology?

      It is as a representative of the Magisterium that he writes to all the local congregations, the local churches.

      When Paul speaks to Peter in Galatians 2,

      This is a very interesting side issue which could be a topic all itself. I’ve written something about it here.

      Suffice to say, without derailing the thread, it is as a man under stress that St. Paul admonishes St. Peter for the very same sins, if they are sins at all, which he applies as virtues to himself (1 Cor 9:22).

      Have you never noticed that it is St. Paul who says, “1 Corinthians 8:13
      Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

      Did you not also read in Scripture that it is St. Paul who circumcised St. Timothy because of the Judaizers (Acts 16:3)?

      St. Paul was obviously under duress since it appeared that he was teaching against the Apostles and therefore went to visit St. Peter in order to ensure that he was not running in vain (Gal 2:2). It is in this context that he confronted St. Peter and was indeed fortunate that the Prince of the Apostles humbly ignored his commentary, for it is to him that Jesus gave authority over all His Flock (John 21:17).

      is it to commend him for perfectly modelling Scripture?

      It is to justify his teachings to the Galatians. St. Paul somehow feels that St. James teachings contradict his. He also feels that the other Apostles support St. James. But this goes to the fallibility of the individual men who compose the infallible Magisterium. It is not by man’s power that the Scriptures are without error. It is not by man’s power that the Church is infallible. It is by the power of God.

      Scripture is perfect.

      Who wrote it? God or man? I’ll give you the answer from Scripture:
      2 Peter 1:21
      King James Version (KJV)
      21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

      Men wrote the Scriptures based upon what they first preached by the inspiration of God. Therefore, by the inspiration of God, men are capable of teaching and writing without error.

      Our interpretation and extension of it isn’t.

      What good is it then if you can’t understand it or apply it correctly?

      Thus, the church – composed of fallible humans – makes mistakes.

      Individual men make mistakes. But the Church is guided by God and He doesn’t make mistakes.

      Scripture says to hold to certain traditions. Are these – provably – the ones taught by Catholicism today?

      Yes.

      The “Jewish traditions” are given in our own Scripture! We’re talking about Levitical law, here.

      Then you certainly don’t understand the New Testament.
      Hebrews 8:13
      In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

      cont’d

    13. irked also said:
      Yes. And the central contention of Protestantism is that much of Catholic theology is man’s tradition.

      But, in fact, it is the reverse. As I have provided the Scriptural basis for keeping Tradition. But you have not provided any basis for holding to Scripture alone.

      Scripture says to hold to some traditions. Scripture says to obey Christ, and to some extent the church.

      To some extent? Where does Scripture say you have a right not to obey the Church? So far you’ve been ignoring the verses I posted. But here is one of them again:
      Hebrews 13:17
      King James Version (KJV)
      17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

      What does that mean to you? To me, it means we must obey our leaders in the Church.

      The fundamental issue we have here is the assumption that these things must refer to the particular traditions and particular branch of the church found in Roman Catholicism. And this…… is not evidence to that effect.

      It seems to me that your traditions run counter to Scripture. As such, I’m inclined to doubt that they are identical to those of the apostles. “We say they are,” is… not a compelling argument.

      First. We have discussed Sola Scriptura and you can’t prove it is in Scripture.
      Second, but you have admitted that Scripture tells us to keep the Traditions of Christ.

      Right there, we have proved one Catholic Tradition true.

      As for the others, you don’t want to set them on the table one by one because it would add too much to our discussion. Therefore, in this discussion, we will not be able to prove that all those which oppose Catholic Teaching are anti-biblical. You will continue to teach based upon your opinion rather that the Word of God in Scripture.

      The bottom line is that you and other Protestants can not believe what the Scriptures plainly teach.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    14. It seems like you’re taking the position that Scripture is the only infallible source that you know of, but that there could be another / others. Is that an accurate formulation of your position?

      It is, yes.

      If it is, I’d challenge it only on this point: that there must be binding extra-Scriptural Tradition, because 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says there is.

      There must have been binding extra-Scriptural tradition. This makes perfect sense, because there were points when Christianity was only oral tradition. This doesn’t imply, however, that binding tradition was still extra-Scriptural after the New Testament was assembled.

      Thus, it’s not clear to me that your claim is necessarily true after, say, 100 AD.

      The position that I’m saying is self-refuting is that all binding doctrines must come from Scripture. Do you agree with me, that this claim is self-refuting, since it doesn’t come from Scripture?

      Hm. We’re shifting slightly, here. I haven’t argued that Scripture is necessarily the only infallible source, but I think there is a much stronger case to be made for its sufficiency: that is, that Scripture contains enough information to allow us to live holy lives. So, for instance, I would have issue with an outside claim that we must always wear green in order to be holy, because that implies that Scripture doesn’t give us enough information to know what the right thing to do is.

      So it rather depends on what you mean by “binding doctrines,” I think. I don’t believe Scripture teaches that it contains all spiritual truth; as one example, we know via John that many of the specific teachings of Christ were not preserved. I do believe that it teaches that no additional information is necessary for righteous living – and so I would not call the claim that all essential moral principles are found in Scripture self-refuting.

      Scripture never says that all of “the important truths of the early church were subsumed into Scripture,” so this incorporation theory is either an appeal to history or Tradition, or both.

      Again, I’m not defending sola Scriptura as such, but it seems to me that this is again rather an appeal to sufficiency: Scripture is sufficient, thus, if the truths were important, they ended up in it.

      St. Paul describes oral Apostolic Tradition as binding on Christians. As far as I can tell, this requires it to be infallible. How could an Apostle bind us to obey something erroneous / heretical?

      Catholicism fairly regularly distinguishes between teachings that are authoritative (and to be obeyed) and those that are infallible, doesn’t it? I think it is at least not unreasonable to read Paul as putting tradition in the first category here – particularly given his instruction elsewhere to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” Paul plainly doesn’t presume his own perfection – thus, we have precedent for him to hold up imperfect things as models that are still big improvements on where people are now.

      I feel as though I’ve primarily been responding to questions, here, and I’d like to turn that about a bit: you’ve agreed that the RCC’s claim to preserve infallible extra-Scriptural tradition needs to be defended. So: why should I believe that they have such a thing?

    15. (That last one was to Joe.)

      De Maria:

      The Church. St. Paul was not teaching in opposition to nor independently of the Church. Jesus Christ appointed a Magisterium, a teaching Church, and when He appeared to St. Paul, St. Paul took a few years before he joined the Apostles

      Where, in Scripture, does Christ announce the appointment of “a Magisterium?” It seems to me throughout here that you’re assuming your conclusion, when that conclusion (in this case, the Magisterium as the source of authority) is in fact the thing that needs to be proven.

      Paul actually makes quite a big deal in Galatians 1 about how he spent 14 years working independently of the church – that’s the entire thrust of his argument. As he says in v. 16-17: “[M]y immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was…”

      Further, while Paul makes many appeals to justify his authority – his being the first missionary to an area (2 Corinthians 10:14); his knowledge (2 Corinthians 11:6); his genealogy, service and punishment (2 Corinthians 11:22-27); his visions (2 Corinthians 12:1); his miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12); his status as an apostle and his sending by God (Galatians 1:1 and others) – one thing he doesn’t do is appeal to any organizational body as the source of his authority.

      This claim really seems quite extraordinary and entirely counter to several of Paul’s points – what Scriptural support can you offer for it?

      he writes to all the local congregations, the local churches.

      The local churches, who are teaching false doctrine, yes. Because the epistles could in large part be summed up as “Oh, honey, no”: they’re the church, time and again, straying into error and teaching false doctrine and needing to be corrected. Even apostles – even Peter! – are documented as falling into this trap.

      The claim that the church has always taught perfectly, then, seems again to be utterly remarkable and, indeed, contrary to Scripture.

      it is as a man under stress that St. Paul admonishes St. Peter for the very same sins, if they are sins at all, which he applies as virtues to himself

      I’d like to make sure that I understand you correctly, here: your interpretation is that Paul was in error when he rebukes Peter?

      What good is it then if you can’t understand it or apply it correctly?

      Must truth be perfectly understood to be of value?

      But the Church is guided by God and He doesn’t make mistakes.

      As Christians, we are guided by God. Are we therefore free of mistakes? If not, why would we be in aggregate?

      Then you certainly don’t understand the New Testament.

      Which part of my claim are you denying?

      Where does Scripture say you have a right not to obey the Church?

      Scripture does not discuss “the Church” – or if it does, that’s yet to be shown. It does talk quite a bit about advice to local churches – would you like to reframe the discussion to be about them?

      First. We have discussed Sola Scriptura and you can’t prove it is in Scripture.
      Second, but you have admitted that Scripture tells us to keep the Traditions of Christ.

      Right there, we have proved one Catholic Tradition true.

      This simply does not follow.

      I do not have the sense that you are arguing in good faith on this subject. You have, repeatedly, asserted that Catholic tradition must be the same tradition as that spoken of in Scripture; that the organizations of the Catholic church must be the source of authority throughout church history; that any discussion of the church must refer uniquely to the Roman Catholic Church as an institution; that, evidently, some of the things Paul writes in Galatians are wrong – and you have, thus far, not corroborated any of these claims.

      I would be happy to continue this, but it’s going to be fruitless as long as you answer my questions with unsupported assertions and false implications.

    16. IrkedIndeed,

      I hope you don’t mind if I reorder a couple of your responses, to make my response more coherent:

      I haven’t argued that Scripture is necessarily the only infallible source, but I think there is a much stronger case to be made for its sufficiency: that is, that Scripture contains enough information to allow us to live holy lives. So, for instance, I would have issue with an outside claim that we must always wear green in order to be holy, because that implies that Scripture doesn’t give us enough information to know what the right thing to do is.

      So it rather depends on what you mean by “binding doctrines,” I think. I don’t believe Scripture teaches that it contains all spiritual truth; as one example, we know via John that many of the specific teachings of Christ were not preserved. I do believe that it teaches that no additional information is necessary for righteous living – and so I would not call the claim that all essential moral principles are found in Scripture self-refuting. [….]

      Again, I’m not defending sola Scriptura as such, but it seems to me that this is again rather an appeal to sufficiency: Scripture is sufficient, thus, if the truths were important, they ended up in it.

      Thanks for clarifying your position on this point. Two responses:

      1) I would challenge the premise of this whole way of looking at Scripture. If your goal is to find the bare minimum necessary “to allow us to live holy lives,” I think you could hack off several of the Books of the Bible – perhaps even most of them. Would you agree with this assessment?

      If so, I think that this shows a serious deficiency with that hermeneutic as the lens through which to understand the canon of Scripture… since it would destroy the canon of Scripture.

      2) I still think that this position is self-refuting. You say that “if the truths were important, they ended up in [Scripture].” But that’s a truth-claim not found in Scripture. And it’s a critically important truth claim, since it’s apparently the wellspring of your “essential moral principles.”

      This is what I meant about incorporation theory being self-refuting. Scripture doesn’t teach it. And more than that, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 speaks as if incorporation isn’t true. So you have to nullify the explicit word of God by postulating an extra-Scriptural tradition about what happened with the incorporation of Scripture. That’s in direct contradiction to the whole principle of Scriptural sufficiency.

      3) Likewise, this whole notion of “Scriptural sufficiency” isn’t a doctrine taught by Scripture. Nor could it have been, since it would have rendered Apostolic preaching (and all of the subsequent Biblical Books) irrelevant.

      There must have been binding extra-Scriptural tradition. This makes perfect sense, because there were points when Christianity was only oral tradition. This doesn’t imply, however, that binding tradition was still extra-Scriptural after the New Testament was assembled.

      Thus, it’s not clear to me that your claim is necessarily true after, say, 100 AD.

      I think that I covered this above. The notion that 2 Thessalonians 2:15 has an expiration date of c. 100 A.D. isn’t found in Scripture.

      To lay it out plainly:
      — Scripture says that we’re to look to Scripture and Tradition.
      — You claim that we can look only to Scripture.
      — You claim, not on the basis of Scripture, that when Scripture says that we’re to look to Scripture and Tradition, this part no longer applies.

      You’re trumping Scripture with some extra-Scriptural. That seems to not only violate sola Scriptura, but violate Scripture. Look back to the original four categories I mentioned in the post. That claim falls squarely within (4). Ironically, it is the only tradition anyone’s mentioned so far to do so.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    17. Turning the tables, you asked:
      [Y]ou’ve agreed that the RCC’s claim to preserve infallible extra-Scriptural tradition needs to be defended. So: why should I believe that they have such a thing?

      Well, we know that binding extra-Scriptural Tradition exists (this is the main discussion that we’ve been having). That leaves the question: what are these Traditions?

      Here’s how the Baltimore Catechism, No. 2, approaches the topic:
      23i. What is Divine Tradition?
      Divine Tradition is the unwritten word of God – that is, truths revealed by God, though not written in the Bible, and given to the Church through word of mouth by Jesus Christ or by the apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
      23j. Has Divine Tradition ever been committed to writing?
      Divine Tradition has been committed to writing, especially by saintly writers called Fathers, who lived in the early centuries but were not inspired, as were those who wrote the Bible.”
      In other words, it’s not as if the Catholic Church just says one day, “Oh, by the way, you have to wear green to be holy.” There are certain teachings which were passed down from the early Church Fathers. If you want to verify whether a particular Catholic teaching is an authentic Tradition, look to see whether it is consistent with what was taught by the Fathers.

      Protestants tend to be unaware of it, but they have absorbed, and accepted as true, innumerable Catholic Traditions. Consider, for example, claims about the authorship of the New Testament, about which Books belong in the Bible, about the role that the Old Testament plays in Christianity, about which day of the week Christians are to worship on, when to celebrate Easter, etc. These are disputes settled by appealing, not to Scripture itself, but to what the early Church, and the Church Fathers, said on the topic.

      That’s the short answer. I can go into more depth on any specific Traditions, but I think your idea to delay that until we’ve finished the more immediate question on Scriptural sufficiency is well-advised. So let’s table that for now.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    18. Hello Irked,

      You said:

      De Maria:

      Where, in Scripture, does Christ announce the appointment of “a Magisterium?” It seems to me throughout here that you’re assuming your conclusion, when that conclusion (in this case, the Magisterium as the source of authority) is in fact the thing that needs to be proven.

      Jesus Christ gave the Church the assignment to teach His commands throughout the world. Have you not heard of the Great Commission? (Matt 28:19-20)

      IMatthew 28:19-20
      King James Version (KJV)
      19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

      Paul actually makes quite a big deal in Galatians 1 about how he spent 14 years working independently of the church – that’s the entire thrust of his argument.

      That is your spin on the verse. But I notice that you didn’t quote the actual words. Here they are so that you can see what he said:
      Galatians 2:1-3
      King James Version (KJV)
      1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

      2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

      Clearly, he had gone to accomplish a mission to which he had been appointed by the Church. And in a time of primitive methods of communication and travel, he needed to come back to the Church and ensure that he was not “running in vain”. That is to say, to ensure that he was not teaching false doctrine.

      As he says in v. 16-17: “[M]y immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was…”

      Are you confusing the verses on purpose? He is here explaining that he took three years to begin preaching:

      Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

      16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

      17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

      18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

      Further, while Paul makes many appeals to justify his authority – his being the first missionary to an area (2 Corinthians 10:14); his knowledge (2 Corinthians 11:6); his genealogy, service and punishment (2 Corinthians 11:22-27); his visions (2 Corinthians 12:1); his miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12); his status as an apostle and his sending by God (Galatians 1:1 and others) – one thing he doesn’t do is appeal to any organizational body as the source of his authority.

      Funny then that he describes the Church, even more than the other Apostles, as the infallible Teacher of the Word of God (Eph 3:10 and 1 Tim 3:15).

      This claim really seems quite extraordinary and entirely counter to several of Paul’s points – what Scriptural support can you offer for it?

      You keep saying things like that but providing no support. St. Paul explicitly teaches the infallibility of the Church.

      cont’d

    19. Irked also said:
      The local churches, who are teaching false doctrine, yes. Because the epistles could in large part be summed up as “Oh, honey, no”: they’re the church, time and again, straying into error and teaching false doctrine and needing to be corrected. Even apostles – even Peter! – are documented as falling into this trap.

      1. Not true. St. Peter merely acted the same as St. Paul. Or do you deny what St. Paul teaches?

      2. But it is besides the point anyway. Even if St. Peter acted in a manner which was not in accordance with the Word of God, he still taught the Word of God without error.

      3. St. Paul did not correct anything which St. Peter taught. He claimed to correct St. Peter’s action. An action which turns out to be in complete accordance with St. Paul’s preaching.

      The claim that the church has always taught perfectly, then, seems again to be utterly remarkable and, indeed, contrary to Scripture.

      Your remark shows that you are ignorant of the meaning of the word, infallible. The Church has never claimed to be “impeccable”. But Scripture teaches that the Church is the Teacher of the Wisdom of God and the Wisdom of God is certainly infallible. Therefore the Church, by definition, is infallible when it teaches the Wisdom of God.

      I’d like to make sure that I understand you correctly, here: your interpretation is that Paul was in error when he rebukes Peter?

      I see where you are going with that. Was David in error when he besought Bathsheba? Was Peter in error when he denied Christ?

      The Scripture records the errors of men. But that does not mean that the Scriptures are in error.
      The error of that man was perfectly recorded. Yes. St. Paul rebuked St. Peter in error.

      Must truth be perfectly understood to be of value?

      You didn’t answer my question. I asked, what good is truth if you CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT OR APPLY IT CORRECTLY?

      As for truth which is partly understood and partly not, how can you be sure which part is truth and which isn’t? If you don’t have the whole truth, you have nothing.

      As Christians, we are guided by God.

      Not necessarily.

      Are we therefore free of mistakes?

      If you are truly guided by God, yes.
      If not, if you are being confused by the devil, no. (2 Cor 11:14).

      If not, why would we be in aggregate?

      If you are truly part of the aggregate which forms the one Body of Christ, then you are assured of guidance by the Holy Spirit when you submit to and obey the Teachings of the Church which Jesus Christ built.

      If you are not, then you are not even part of the aggregate. As Jesus put it:
      Matthew 12:30
      King James Version (KJV)
      30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

      Which part of my claim are you denying?

      All of it. The Catholic Church teaches that which Christ commanded. Christ did not command the teaching of the Levitical law because he fulfilled it and supplanted it with the Priesthood of Melchizedek.

      Scripture does not discuss “the Church” – or if it does, that’s yet to be shown.

      Its been shown over and over but you simply deny it. Eph 3:10 says the Church is the teacher of the Wisdom of God. 1 Tim 3:10 says the Church is the Pillar of Truth. Jesus says, in Matt 18:17 that everyone must obey the Church or be cast out as a heathen. Your denials notwithstanding.

      cont’d

    20. Irked also said:
      It does talk quite a bit about advice to local churches – would you like to reframe the discussion to be about them?

      It is the Magisterium which is infallible. Not the local Churches.

      I gladly admit that the local Churches are not infallible. The Catholic Church does not hold the position that the local Churches are infallible. Is that your contention?

      But the universal, Catholic Church, the Magisterium is infallible when teaching the Doctrines of Jesus Christ in union with the Pope.

      This simply does not follow.

      Yes, it does.

      I do not have the sense that you are arguing in good faith on this subject. You have, repeatedly, asserted that Catholic tradition must be the same tradition as that spoken of in Scripture; that the organizations of the Catholic church must be the source of authority throughout church history; that any discussion of the church must refer uniquely to the Roman Catholic Church as an institution; that, evidently, some of the things Paul writes in Galatians are wrong

      Paul’s preaching was not wrong. He simply described his own selfish behavior.

      – and you have, thus far, not corroborated any of these claims.

      I’ve correlated them all and you simply deny it. Whereas, you’ve proven none of the doctrines you claim are in Scripture.

      I would be happy to continue this, but it’s going to be fruitless as long as you answer my questions with unsupported assertions and false implications.

      I’ll let the reader decide who is supporting his assertions with Scripture and who is not.

      I have provided certain verses in support of Tradition (2 Thess 2:15; 1 Thess 2:13). I have provided certain verses in support of the infallibility of the Church (1 Tim 3:15; Eph 3:10). I’ve provided Matt 18:17 as support for the authority of the Church and Matt 28:20 as the institution of the Teaching Church or Magisterium.

      What have you provided in support of the doctrine known as Scripture alone? I haven’t seen anything.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    21. Joe,

      Let me try for a general reply on a couple of places that I think we’re missing each other.

      First, there’s a difference between claiming the sufficiency of something and claiming the minimality of that thing. In other words, teaching that “Everything strictly necessary is in Scripture” is not the same as teaching “Everything in Scripture is strictly necessary.”

      As an example, a math textbook may contain many example problems worked out for students. These problems may not be essential – with sufficient work, the students could be able to follow the instructions provided earlier. They may, however, be useful – they may make confusing points clearer or prevent argument, since people interpret hard texts (like math books) rather poorly.

      In the same way, Scripture may contain teaching that, while not strictly essential given existing writings, makes the truth easier to reach. Thus, even if one agreed with your argument that some writings could be cut, these passages can be valuable aids – they’re certainly not “irrelevant.”

      It seems to me that your points (1) and (3) are largely arguing against minimality rather than sufficiency.

      Second, you seem to be discussing beliefs as if they were an all-or-nothing affair: as if one either holds a thing as infallible or considers it totally untrustworthy. On the other hand, I’m trying to argue for levels of trust in propositions: some considered infallible, some generally believed but held fallible, etc. I tried to allude to this in my last post with the Catholic distinction between infallible and authoritative teaching.

      As such, it’s too reductive to say that Scripture says we should “look to” itself and tradition, and that I say we shouldn’t “look to” tradition. Scripture says we should regard some traditions with some level of authoritativeness. I agree! My objection is specifically against giving tradition the weight of infallibility – that’s far different from saying that we shouldn’t look to it at all.

      Likewise, in your point (2), you seem to be treating my extra-Scriptural truth-claims (whichever those may be – I would still argue sufficiency is implicit in Scripture) as if I held them as themselves infallible. I don’t, and it’s in this way that they avoid self-contradiction.

      In other words, I’ve made claims specifically about claims held to be infallible. If my claims are not, themselves, held to be infallible, then they don’t self-refer! If I say, “I am convinced that there are no infallible truths outside [what I hold to be] Scripture, but I am not infallible and so may be mistaken,” then my claim does not self-refer and so can’t self-contradict.

      Furthermore, my truth-claims must begin with a fallible argument. The claim “The evidence is sufficient to accept Scripture as true,” is itself fallible, despite being “a critically important truth claim.” It logically must be, given that I, a fallible being, am making it. If it’s fallible, statements about infallible claims don’t apply to it.

      Applying the above to your conclusion:

      — Scripture says that we’re to look to Scripture and Tradition.
      — You claim that we can look only to Scripture.
      — You claim, not on the basis of Scripture, that when Scripture says that we’re to look to Scripture and Tradition, this part no longer applies.

      Scripture doesn’t say that we’re to consider tradition infallible. Scripture doesn’t say that what was tradition at the time of its writing remained extrascriptural tradition. 2 Thessalonians 2 gives us no information in this regard: neither “It was incorporated later” nor “It remained separate” are entailed.

      It appears to me that your central claim is “There still remains infallible, extrascriptural tradition” – to what, then, do you appeal for the truth of this?

    22. Re: whether the RCC can reliably claim to preserve the apostles’ traditions:

      This would seem to return to my original issue with your article: your response to “Why should I believe the RCC on this subject?” looks like “Because the RCC says you should.” That I need to be convinced to believe them is itself the problem!

    23. De Maria:

      Yes. St. Paul rebuked St. Peter in error.

      Respectfully, if your position is that Paul erred when he rebuked Peter, our fundamental readings of Scripture are too far divergent for us to make any profitable headway here. Paul notes in Galatians 2:11 that Peter, by his actions, “stood condemned.” He says in v. 14 that Peter and the others were not acting “in line with the truth of the Gospel.” Further, his description in Galatians 2 is the root of his attack on the Galatian Judaizers in chapter 3.

      To say that Paul erred in his critique of Peter, then, implies that he’s also in error in his statements throughout chapters 2 and 3 – that is, it implies that Scripture provides commands directed at the reader that are, themselves, in error. As I rest much of my argument on the inerrancy of Scripture, I don’t see how we can reasonably proceed from this point of divergence.

      I’d also question whether this is a standard or generally-acceptable Catholic reading of this passage.

    24. Hi Irked,

      You said:

      IrkedIndeedJune 26, 2013 at 8:36 PM
      De Maria:

      Respectfully, if your position is that Paul erred when he rebuked Peter, our fundamental readings of Scripture are too far divergent for us to make any profitable headway here. Paul notes in Galatians 2:11 that Peter, by his actions, “stood condemned.”

      By whom and for what? St. Paul tells us:

      12 For prior to the coming of certain men from [j]James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing [k]the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

      Essentially, then, the crime for which St. Paul “condemns” St. Peter is hypocrisy.

      Yet, in another Scripture, St Paul promotes the idea that one should not offend one’s brother:

      Romans 14:21
      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
      21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.

      So, when the Apostles, including St. Peter, withdrew from eating with the Gentiles in order that their Jewish brethren would not stumble, St. Paul accuses them of hypocrisy. Yet, he endorses this form of hypocrisy, elsewhere?

      Also, if it is because they acted in “fear of the part of the circumcision” that is to say, the Jews, then is it not he who circumcised St. Timothy for fear of the Jews?

      Acts 16:3
      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
      3 Paul wanted this man to [a]go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

      So, I stand by my words.

      He says in v. 14 that Peter and the others were not acting “in line with the truth of the Gospel.”

      14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

      Ok, now show me where St. Peter ever compelled the Gentiles to live like the Jews? Isn’t it St. Peter who said;
      Acts 15:7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that [d]in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

      Therefore it is St. Peter who said that the Gentiles should not be compelled to act like Jews.

      cont’d

    25. Irked also said:

      Further, his description in Galatians 2 is the root of his attack on the Galatian Judaizers in chapter 3.

      To say that Paul erred in his critique of Peter,

      He did.

      then, implies that he’s also in error in his statements throughout chapters 2 and 3

      Not so. He is right in his critique of the Judaizers.

      – that is, it implies that Scripture provides commands directed at the reader that are, themselves, in error.

      No, it doesn’t.

      What is in error is St. Paul’s personal view on the matter.

      Let me explain with another example:
      1 Corinthians 7:12
      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
      12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not [a]divorce her.

      Who erred here? Scripture or St. Paul? The Scripture is inerrant. Therefore, St. Paul erred in saying that the Lord did not speak in this Scripture, since Scripture is the Word of God and the Lord spoke in that Scripture.

      There is no error in Scripture. But Scripture does describe the errors of men. It is easy to see here, if one has read the rest of St. Paul’s epistles, that St. Paul contradicted himself in many teachings.

      And it is also easy to see why. But that discussion would divert from the main thrust of this discussion.

      As I rest much of my argument on the inerrancy of Scripture,

      I also believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.

      I don’t see how we can reasonably proceed from this point of divergence.

      Well, we can drop that and continue with this.
      I have provided certain verses in support of Tradition (2 Thess 2:15; 1 Thess 2:13). I have provided certain verses in support of the infallibility of the Church (1 Tim 3:15; Eph 3:10). I’ve provided Matt 18:17 as support for the authority of the Church and Matt 28:20 as the institution of the Teaching Church or Magisterium.

      What have you provided in support of the doctrine known as Scripture alone? I haven’t seen anything.

      I’d also question whether this is a standard or generally-acceptable Catholic reading of this passage.

      I’m not sure what that means. The Catholic Church, as far as I know, has not issued a statement on this verse and I am free to speculate upon it. However, if any one can provide a Catholic Church statement regarding this statement which opposes my understanding, I will immediately drop mine and accept the Church’s.

      Meantime, I am still waiting for you to provide any support for Scripture alone from Scripture.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    26. De Maria,

      The fundamental difference between Paul’s behavior and Peter’s is, pretty plainly: Paul inconveniences himself (and, likewise, his protege Timothy inconveniences himself) so that, no matter what happens, no one will reject the gospel because of him. That is, he increases his own burden – paying for Nazirites, eating in accordance with Jewish legal codes, etc. – in order to prevent offense. As he explains in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”

      Notably absent as an explanation in this passage: Paul being motivated by political fear.

      Peter, on the other hand, started treating his Gentile Christian brothers as if they were second-class citizens because they didn’t follow a particular set of traditional trappings. That is, out of fear of what men would think, he put an implicit burden on other Christians: “If you want to be treated like a member, keep these extra traditions.” That’s the key difference: Paul and Timothy made things harder on themselves, and Peter made things harder on others.

      Paul, in that moment and in Galatians 2, calls that out as disgraceful behavior. It was. Implications for the present may be drawn as applicable.

      Therefore it is St. Peter who said that the Gentiles should not be compelled to act like Jews.

      Yes. That Peter does not actually believe it’s morally necessary to live like a Jew – that he’s acting against his conscience, out of fear of what the Judaizers will think – is what makes him a hypocrite.

      What is in error is St. Paul’s personal view on the matter.

      If your position is that the beliefs Paul espouses as truth in his epistles are in error, then again, we are way, way too divergent to have a productive conversation here.

      Who erred here?

      No one!

    27. IrkedIndeedJune 27, 2013 at 4:00 PM
      De Maria,

      The fundamental difference between Paul’s behavior and Peter’s is, pretty plainly: Paul inconveniences himself (and, likewise, his protege Timothy inconveniences himself) so that, no matter what happens, no one will reject the gospel because of him…..Notably absent as an explanation in this passage: Paul being motivated by political fear.

      Why did St. Paul circumcise St. Timothy? Here is what Scripture says:
      Acts 16:3
      King James Version (KJV)
      3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

      That sounds like political fear to me. What does it sound like to you?

      Peter, on the other hand, started treating his Gentile Christian brothers as if they were second-class citizens because they didn’t follow a particular set of traditional trappings.

      You are reading that into the Scripture. St. Paul merely says that St. Peter withdrew and separated himself, “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself,”

      Then he says something utterly confounding, “15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,”

      There is no indication that St. Peter is compelling anyone to act in any way but in his own words, St. Paul describes the Gentiles as “second citizens”, to use your terminology.

      In addition, we find that it is St. Peter who commands that the Gentiles not be compelled to act like Jews (Acts 15:7-11).

      That is, out of fear of what men would think, he put an implicit burden on other Christians: “If you want to be treated like a member, keep these extra traditions.” That’s the key difference: Paul and Timothy made things harder on themselves, and Peter made things harder on others.

      Where is that? I want to see it in the Word of God. I see St. Peter absolving the Gentiles of this added burden (Acts 15:7-11).

      Where does St. Peter add anything to the Gentiles?

      Paul, in that moment and in Galatians 2, calls that out as disgraceful behavior.

      True. Behaviour which in himself he tolerates.

      To get back to the subject of infallibility here, what does the Church teach about infallibility?

      Is it that the Pope and the Church teach infallibly?

      or that the Pope and other Church leaders act infallibly?

      It was. Implications for the present may be drawn as applicable.

      True. Implications which include all the writings of Scripture. As St. Paul wrote:
      1 Corinthians 2:15
      But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

      St. Paul’s actions are contradicting his teaching. His actions are not infallible. His teaching is.

      cont’d

    28. Irked also said:
      Yes. That Peter does not actually believe it’s morally necessary to live like a Jew –

      You agree, good.

      that he’s acting against his conscience, out of fear of what the Judaizers will think – is what makes him a hypocrite.

      Again, his actions, St. Peter’s in this case, are not infallible. His teaching is.

      If your position is that the beliefs Paul espouses as truth in his epistles are in error, then again, we are way, way too divergent to have a productive conversation here.

      Not his beliefs. His beliefs are perfectly orthodox. His actions contradict his teachings.

      This is what is being highlighted in this episode. St. Paul’s actions contradict his teachings.

      No one!

      So, is the Lord speaking in this verse or not? This isn’t one of those things that can be read both ways.

      1 Corinthians 7:12
      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
      12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord,

      Is this inspired Scripture? Does the Lord speak in this verse or not?

      If this is inspired Scripture, then the Lord has spoken in this verse and St. Paul has erred. He erred because he did not know that his words were inspired by God. But Scripture records accurately that St. Paul was not aware that he was writing inspired Scripture.

      But since you don’t believe that St. Paul erred in that verse, please answer my questions and produce your explanation for the strange idea that the Lord does not say that which Scripture records.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    29. De Maria:

      I think you and I are done here. I have no more plain arguments to make than I have made on the subject of Galatians 2; if those are unpersuasive, we’re not going to have a productive further conversation.

    30. De Maria,

      For what it’s worth, I agree with IrkedIndeed on this issue of Galatians 2, and know of no Church Father who takes your position. As he tried to show you, Scripture is on the side of both Paul’s trying to be all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19-22) and his rebuke of St. Peter at Galatia.

      You see these as somehow in tension, but they’re not. You’re looking at it from the perspective that, in both cases, we’re dealing with Christians bending over backwards to avoid offending the Jews that they’re trying to evangelize. That’s true. But here’s the critical difference: in Peter’s case, he does it by treating the Gentile Christians like second-class Christians.

      Christians are called to be all things to all people: if your attempts at conciliation towards one group involve subjugating another, you’re doing it wrong.

      In any case, I think there’s no use debating your personal interpretation of this, without any Patristic support. The Fathers, at least as far as I am aware, are pretty clear in their exegesis on Galatians 2.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    31. Irked Indeed,

      I appreciate the distinction that you draw between “Everything strictly necessary is in Scripture” and “Everything in Scripture is strictly necessary.” And I realize that you argue for the first of these, not the second.

      My point was that I disagree with this whole way of looking at Scripture. Even if it is true that “Everything strictly necessary is in Scripture,” that doesn’t discount the possibility of binding extra-Scriptural Tradition for two reasons. First, it may contain teachings that are binding on Christians, but not strictly necessary for everyone’s salvation (in that one could be ignorant of them, and still go to Heaven). Second, as you said:

      In the same way, Scripture may contain teaching that, while not strictly essential given existing writings, makes the truth easier to reach. Thus, even if one agreed with your argument that some writings could be cut, these passages can be valuable aids – they’re certainly not ‘irrelevant.’

      Likewise, Tradition explicitly draws out things that are implicit in Scripture. I think that the emphasis on what is and isn’t “strictly necessary” reduces to minimalism quickly: and I think that the recent history of American Evangelicalism bears this point out, as doctrines have been jettisoned towards some imagined “Mere Christianity”. So even if it is true that sufficiency doesn’t logically require minimality, that’s where it seems to result, practically, and a logical connection exists between the two.

      I also don’t see the Apostles focus on how much is “strictly necessary” for salvation. You argue that “sufficiency is implicit in Scripture”

      In response to this argument,

      — Scripture says that we’re to look to Scripture and Tradition.
      — You claim that we can look only to Scripture.
      — You claim, not on the basis of Scripture, that when Scripture says that we’re to look to Scripture and Tradition, this part no longer applies.

      You replied, “Scripture doesn’t say that Tradition is infallible.” But it does say that it is “binding” on all Christians (which I think logically required infallibility, in a way that St. Paul holding himself up as a model of Christian behavior doesn’t). So, in a sense, we can set the whole infallibility debate aside for a second, and just ask it this way: are you bound by Scripture and Tradition, or Scripture alone? Scripture says both. You say “just Scripture.” I don’t see a non-contradictory way for you to arrive by that (since any answer seems to involve using a man-made tradition, like Incorporation Theory, to trump the plain text of Scripture).

      Finally, you said:
      Scripture doesn’t say that what was tradition at the time of its writing remained extrascriptural tradition. 2 Thessalonians 2 gives us no information in this regard: neither “It was incorporated later” nor “It remained separate” are entailed.

      Your position is that 2 Thessalonians 2 gives us “no information” about the ongoing status of Scripture and Tradition? I’m surprised by this argument. Would you use this same position on any other passage of the New Testament? For example, should we take St. Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality to be applicable today, or only in the first century? He doesn’t explicitly tell us, but surely you wouldn’t seriously characterize his statements as therefore giving us “no information” on the subject, right?

      I would think that in every other context, we would treat Scripture as continuing to be in effect, unless we had some specific reason to treat it otherwise, right? So I don’t think that your response really answers the weight of the Scriptural evidence. We’re still left with the problem that the only texts from Scripture dealing with sola Scriptura or the incorporation of Scripture deny these doctrines.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    32. Joe HeschmeyerJune 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM
      De Maria,

      For what it’s worth, I agree with IrkedIndeed on this issue of Galatians 2,

      No problem.

      and know of no Church Father who takes your position.

      Do you have a Church Father who opposes that position? I’m very interested in reading it.

      As he tried to show you,

      Irked? I’m more interested in what you have to say on the matter since Irked comes from a Sola Scriptura perspective and you don’t.

      Scripture is on the side of both Paul’s trying to be all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19-22) and his rebuke of St. Peter at Galatia.

      I don’t agree.

      You see these as somehow in tension, but they’re not.

      If you mean that I see St. Paul acting hypocritically in this instance, you are correct.

      You’re looking at it from the perspective that, in both cases, we’re dealing with Christians bending over backwards to avoid offending the Jews that they’re trying to evangelize. That’s true.

      Ok.

      cont’d

    33. Joe also said:
      But here’s the critical difference: in Peter’s case, he does it by treating the Gentile Christians like second-class Christians.

      How does he treat the Gentiles like second class citizens?

      What I see is his doing his best not to offend the Jewish Christians any further. Which is completely in line with that which St. Paul teaches.

      Furthermore, there are some underlying aspects to this which I don’t think either you or Irked are taking into account.

      Christians are called to be all things to all people: if your attempts at conciliation towards one group involve subjugating another, you’re doing it wrong.

      Since it is St. Peter who first treats the Gentiles with respect and includes them in the Church (Acts 10 and 11). And it is he who first opposes the Jewish Christians who want to force the Gentiles to conform to the Old laws (Acts 15:7-11), I think you and Irked are both reading into that Scripture something which is not there. Or at least, something which contradicts the nature of St. Peter which is revealed in other parts of Scripture.

      In any case, I think there’s no use debating your personal interpretation of this, without any Patristic support. The Fathers, at least as far as I am aware, are pretty clear in their exegesis on Galatians 2.

      Lets take some examples. St. Thomas Aquinas. Here is the reason he gives for St. Peter withdrawing from the Gentiles:

      ….What Peter did Paul now shows, saying that when he was with the Jews, he withdrew from the company of the faithful who had been converted from the Gentiles and adhered to the Jews alone and mingled among them. Therefore he says, but when they were come, namely, from Judea, Peter withdrew from the converted Gentiles and separated himself from them. This hedid because he was fearing them who were of the circumcision, i.e., the Jews, not with a human or worldly fear but a fear inspired by charity, namely, lest they be scandalized, as is said in a Gloss. Hence he became to the Jews as a Jew, pretending that he felt the same as they did in their weakness. Yet he feared unreasonably, because the truth must never be set aside through fear of scandal…..

      And St. Jerome St. Jerome, who says almost the same thing:
      ….Paul does not go straight to the point, but is like a man walking in secret passages: his object is to exhibit Peter as doing what was expedient for the people of the circumcision committed to him, since, if a too sudden revolt took place from their ancient mode of life, they might be offended and not believe in the Cross; he wished, moreover, to show, inasmuch as the evangelisation of the Gentiles had been entrusted to himself that he had justice on his side in defending as true that which another only pretended was a dispensation….

      Now, let us compare to that which St. Paul taught:
      Romans 14:21
      It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

      So, then, it appears to me that according to Sts. Thomas and Jerome’s description, St. Peter was acting completely in accordance with St. Paul’s teaching. Yet St. Paul admonished him for it. Who was being the hypocrite?

      In both cases, St. Jerome and St. Thomas oppose you and Irked’s view that St. Peter was treating the Gentiles as second citizens.

      But if you prefer, we can drop this part of the discussion.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    34. IrkedIndeedJune 27, 2013 at 10:15 PM
      De Maria:

      I think you and I are done here. I have no more plain arguments to make than I have made on the subject of Galatians 2; if those are unpersuasive, we’re not going to have a productive further conversation.

      There is much more to talk about than Gal 2. I have yet to see you produce any substantiation for the doctrine of Scripture alone from Scripture. However, I understand why you dropped that subject matter so quickly. Scripture alone is indefensible as there is no support for it in Scripture.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    35. De Maria:

      I’d refer you to my discussion with Joe, above, re: the degree to which I do and don’t agree with sola Scriptura. You’re asking me to defend positions I have not actually taken.

      Otherwise, I stand by my statement above. Given how differently we understand Scripture to work, as evidenced in Galatians 2 and your comments on Paul, I don’t think we’re likely to have much more productive investigation of theology together. Thanks for the conversation!

    36. Joe:

      Thanks for the reply!

      irst, it may contain teachings that are binding on Christians, but not strictly necessary for everyone’s salvation (in that one could be ignorant of them, and still go to Heaven).

      Hm. We run to definitions, here: I’m including morally necessary as well as necessary for salvation. So if there’s something that’s needed, as 2 Timothy 3:17 says, to be “equipped for every good deed,” it should be described in Scripture. Again, issues with “And also, the Bible doesn’t mention it, but you’re sinning if you don’t wear a green t-shirt.”

      And certainly under that definition of “necessary” there would be an issue with binding (that is, morally necessary?) commands on Christians not found in Scripture.

      Likewise, Tradition explicitly draws out things that are implicit in Scripture.

      Sure. I have no issue with saying, for instance, “The Trinity is implicit in Scripture; it is explicit in church traditions. It’s useful to have tradition so we don’t have to reinvent that doctrine from scratch every time.”

      I would just say that, where tradition is working from Scripture, we should be able to re-trace the truths back to Scripture – that is, it should be possible to show the truth of a claim against alternatives even without appeal to tradition, even if it’s somewhat inconvenient to do so every single time. Would we agree on that point?

      So even if it is true that sufficiency doesn’t logically require minimality, that’s where it seems to result, practically, and a logical connection exists between the two.

      There may be some practical confusion on the issue, but I’m not willing to abandon the position on the grounds that people screw it up. All positions can be pretty easily criticized by looking at unfortunate misuses of ’em, I think

      I also don’t see the Apostles focus on how much is “strictly necessary” for salvation.

      Well, we have a clear statement of what seems like a pretty strict minimum in Romans 10:9, backstopped with an explanation of what is insufficient for salvation in James 2:19. But again, I’m arguing that Scripture contains what is necessary – the apostles are free to (and do!) teach way beyond the minimum. This, again, seems like an argument against minimalism, and I have no defense of that position.

      (I also wonder if you may be misunderstanding the idea of “mere Christianity,” from the way you use the phrase here? In particular, Lewis is emphatic from the get-go that you don’t want to believe merely in mere Christianity.)

      You replied, “Scripture doesn’t say that Tradition is infallible.” But it does say that it is “binding” on all Christians (which I think logically required infallibility, in a way that St. Paul holding himself up as a model of Christian behavior doesn’t).

      Interesting. What difference do you see between “Do what I do” and “Do what I said to do” in terms of the degrees of infallibility implied?

    37. So, in a sense, we can set the whole infallibility debate aside for a second, and just ask it this way: are you bound by Scripture and Tradition, or Scripture alone? Scripture says both. You say “just Scripture.” I don’t see a non-contradictory way for you to arrive by that (since any answer seems to involve using a man-made tradition, like Incorporation Theory, to trump the plain text of Scripture).

      I’d ask you to unpack the word “bound” before I can give that a fair answer. I also think the answer depends in part on my reply to your next bit, here:

      Your position is that 2 Thessalonians 2 gives us “no information” about the ongoing status of Scripture and Tradition?

      The capital T, I think, implies links here that don’t necessarily correspond to the concepts I was referencing – and again, I think “the ongoing status of Scripture and Tradition” is a pretty broad concept for me to attack or defend.

      So let’s boil that down a little. We agree that, at the time of Paul’s writing, there is some bundle of books recognized as Scripture and some bundle of things that are, at present, only oral tradition, right? At that time, some of the things that were once only oral tradition have already been codified in new Scripture (as, for instance, in Paul’s own writings). Other things that Paul is referencing as part of the oral tradition almost certainly are later codified in Scripture, in later letters by Paul and Peter and others.

      Would we agree to this point?

      Now, when Paul says, “Obey the traditions,” he doesn’t mean “tradition in general,” right? He has in mind some specific bundle of beliefs – call that bundle T1. So Paul’s point is “Obey T1” – whether infallibly or authoritatively, we can debate, but to some degree, clearly, yield to this. As noted above, some subset of these beliefs (say, T2) are later codified in Scripture. The remaining question, then, is, “Is there anything morally necessary left in T1 – T2, that is, the bits of T1 not later codified?” And I see no way we an derive an answer to that question from Paul’s instruction there alone.

      (I’m writing here in set notation, because that’s my background. If that’s unclear, please stop me and I’ll try to rephrase. In particular, T1 – T2 is “those things in T1 not also in T2.”)

      So when you say…

      Would you use this same position on any other passage of the New Testament? For example, should we take St. Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality to be applicable today, or only in the first century?

      … today, absolutely! Likewise, I think Paul’s instructions to keep to T1 are as much an imperative on us today as they ever were. My response, though, would be, “I believe I am obeying Paul on this subject, because I believe that hewing to the totality of Scripture includes hewing to T1.”

      Does that make sense? Your primary contention seems to be that full Scripture does not include some morally necessary parts of T1, and in particular that the RCC preserves some of these morally necessary pieces of T1. If you are correct on this point, then certainly the Protestant churches are disregarding Paul’s instructions. If you’re mistaken, then the RCC is, Pharisee-like, awarding the weight of Scripture to its own artificial traditions.

    38. Your onus is Paul. Our onus is Jesus. And you focus upon Paul as though he were teaching something separate from that which Jesus passed down.

      Jesus taught, T1, the infallibility of the Pope (Matt 16:18-19).
      Jesus taught, T1, obedience to the Church (Matt 18:17).
      Jesus taught, T1, the Traditions which He commanded the Church to pass down (Matt 28:19-20).
      Jesus taught, T1, the necessity of Baptism (Mark 16:16).
      Jesus taught, T1, the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist (Mark 14:22; John 6:51).
      The Gosples teach, T!, reverence for the Holy Mother of God (Luke 1:28:43, 48).

      All these are T1 Traditions which you ASSUME were not passed down by St. Paul. But they were:
      1 Corinthians 11:1
      Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

      1 Corinthians 11:23
      For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, ….

      As for the minimalist idea of believing only in Christ being sufficient for salvation. It is Christ who gives the minimum:
      Matthew 7:21
      King James Version (KJV)
      21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

      And this is the will of the Father:
      Hebrews 5:9
      And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

  7. Mary –

    Exactly! Ps rejected Catholicism, not the other way around. There was no “reformation” of Rome, in fact, there was a deformation of Rome and a new form of Christianity created out of thin air. There can be no unity if the real presence in the Eucharist is rejected.

    The Reformation is and always be about money (no more priestly tax), power/control (man as his own interpreter and church) and sex (new ways to divorce a spouse) and nationalism (Rome vs. State). People want Christ on their terms, not his. The beauty of Pism is that you submit to nothing except your own interpretation of scritpture (or if you like, reject parts of scripture as not being scripture (ex. 66 vs. 73 books)).

  8. Irked,

    You said to Joe,

    IrkedIndeedJune 26, 2013 at 8:27 PM
    Re: whether the RCC can reliably claim to preserve the apostles’ traditions:

    This would seem to return to my original issue with your article: your response to “Why should I believe the RCC on this subject?” looks like “Because the RCC says you should.” That I need to be convinced to believe them is itself the problem!

    I personally don’t see the problem. It is the Church’s Great Commission assigned by Jesus Christ that she should go into the world to convince people of the truth of the Gospel. That is called the handing down of Tradition and is the reason why she is called the Magisterium or the Teaching Church. It immediately contradicts the idea of Scripture alone. Jesus sent the Church to convince people of the Truth by handing down His Traditions.

    For us, you are not a problem. You are an opportunity to obey the command which Jesus assigned to the Church. Note that Jesus did not command the Church to hand down Scripture alone. Jesus said:
    Matthew 28:19-20
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    19 [a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [b]always, even to the end of the age.”

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  9. IrkedIndeedJune 28, 2013 at 8:20 PM
    De Maria:

    I’d refer you to my discussion with Joe, above, re: the degree to which I do and don’t agree with sola Scriptura.

    So…., you don’t actually believe in Sola Scriptura? Yet, aren’t you defending it?

    You’re asking me to defend positions I have not actually taken.

    That isn’t true. You denied that the Church is infallible. You denied that we are to hold Tradition. You denied that God appointed the Church as Teacher to pass on a proper understanding of the Word of God (i.e. you denied the doctrine of the Magisterium). You took those three positions and could provide no justification from Scripture for your opinions. Nor could you support your claim that we are to keep to Scripture alone.

    Then you claimed that I had no support from Scriopture for my arguments. But I have provided much more than you.

    Otherwise, I stand by my statement above. Given how differently we understand Scripture to work, as evidenced in Galatians 2 and your comments on Paul, I don’t think we’re likely to have much more productive investigation of theology together.

    No problem. It is you who brought up Gal 2 and keeps coming back to Gal 2. I am simply defending my understanding. And I have more support from Scripture for that as well.

    Thanks for the conversation!

    You’re welcome.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

  10. TRUTH AND AUTHORITY?

    Where should Christians look for God’s authoritative truth? Should it be the Bible? Should it be the church of your choice or the church you belong to by chance?

    The Bible was completed in 95 A.D. when the apostle John wrote Revelation. Who wrote the Bible? Was it God or was it the church?

    John 14:24-26 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent me. (THE WORDS JESUS SPOKE WERE FROM GOD THE FATHER) 25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all the I said to you.

    The words of Jesus were from God the Father and He said that The Father would send the apostles the Holy Spirit so they could remember all that He said. The words of the apostles were God’s word, their words were Scripture, their words were the Bible.

    In, John 14:24-26, Jesus was not talking to the Pope, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, Joesph Smith Jr, Mary Baker Eddy, cardinals, bishops, elders, so-called modern day apostles, preachers, pastors, nor any one claiming to speak for God. If the church or theses men as individuals, were speaking for God by new revelation, then, we would have added books to the Bible. There would the books of the Popes, the book of John Calvin, the book of Billy Graham, the books of elders, the books of churches, the book of Joesph Smith Jr. etc.

    THE BIBLE IS THE AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH.
    THE CHURCH HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO CHANGE OR OVERRULE THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE. THE CHURCH CANNOT ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM SCRIPTURE!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Google search>>> steve finnell a christian view

  11. Joe, what do you say about the objection to catholicism to the censorship of books in general, like the index of prohibited books? Some say that there is a lot for people to learn from books that were on the list (like Descartes, Kant, etc.) and that the Church reversed itself by abolishing the list. Its hard for me to know how to respond to that. What do you say?

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