Hermeneutics and the Authority of Scripture

Sep 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured Articles

It is my pleasure to be able to write on a subject where we as Catholics share so much common ground with our Reformed brothers, and even with most Evangelicals. In fact, it is no small thing that we agree upon foundational truths contra mundum in a time when even many Christians deny them.

This article intends to show that, though Protestants agree with the Catholic Church on the basic truths about Scripture and its authority, the Reformed view of Scripture errs in three respects: in its assumption about the canon of Scripture, in its view of the authority of Scripture, and in its view of the role of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church. These errors are harmful to the faith, and the truth proclaimed by the Catholic Church about its Sacred books is the perfect corrective. I will begin this examination of the authority of Sacred Scripture with our points of agreement.

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Contents:

I. Points of Agreement
II. Errors of the Reformed View
III. Correctives Provided by the Catholic View

I. Points of Agreement

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares that God is the author of Scripture, that the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error1, that Scripture cannot be rightly interpreted without the aid of the Holy Spirit, that the Old and New Testaments are both the word of God, both binding on men for all time, that the Old and New Testaments are one unity of revelation, and that, consequently, one cannot be rightly understood without the other.

To quote from the Catechism:

In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: “Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.”2

In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, “but as what it really is, the word of God.” In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.3

I know our Reformed brothers will approve of each and every one of these points, as the
Westminster Confession of Faith states the following:

Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now cease.  4

Here we stand as Reformed Christians and Catholics together claiming Sacred Scripture to be the word of God given for the salvation of the world. Together we deny that Sacred Scripture is merely a collection of historical books or the wise words of human authors.

We agree further that the Word of God recorded in Sacred Scripture has a special place in the life of the Church: as its guide, as its greatest earthly treasure, and as its greatest source of wisdom and guidance. This has been the case in the Catholic Church from her inception down to the present, as a few quotations from the Fathers and councils of the Catholic Church suffice to show:

These books are the fountains of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them: in these alone the school of piety preaches the Gospel; let no man add to or take away from them. (St. Athanasius, Festal Letters, 39.)

[H]e will find there in much greater abundance things that are to be found nowhere else, but can be learnt only in the wonderful sublimity and wonderful simplicity of the Scriptures. (St. Augustine, De Doctr. Christ., 2,42,63.)

‘As a trusty door, Scripture shuts out heretics, securing us from error…’ (St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, Joann. 58.)

Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: “For the word of God is living and active” and “it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified.” (Dei Verbum, 21, quoting Hebrews 4:12, Acts 20:32, and citing 1 Thessolonians 2:13.)

When we examine the very earliest days of the Church, through the time of the Fathers, even through the divisions of the Reformation, down to the Second Vatican Council, we see that Catholics and Reformed Christians have significant common ground in our understanding of Sacred Scripture.

Before advancing to our points of disagreement, let us pause for a moment and thank the consubstantial Trinity for preserving in us all a love and reverence for Sacred Scripture, which will surely be integral to the reunion for which we all pray.

II. Errors of the Reformed View

But advance we must, for there remain divisions between us on the nature and number of the books of Sacred Scripture, as well as the nature of its authority. Protestants view the books of Sacred Scripture as the complete revelation of God and sole arbiter of all theological disputes whereas the Catholic Church has always taught that Sacred Scripture is a part of the Deposit of faith, along with Sacred Tradition and the living Magisterium of the Church. These are some of the most fundamental issues that have divided us for centuries and will continue to do so until we can come to a common understanding.

I intend to address three of the errors in the Reformed doctrine of Sacred Scripture, and then proceed to consider how the Catholic doctrine of Scripture provides a corrective for these errors and a proper understanding of the authority of the Scriptures. The first Reformed error I will address is the deficiency of its standards for determining which books are a part of the canon of Sacred Scripture. Among the different Protestant communities there are numerous views of the way in which the canon of Sacred Scripture was established, and space does not allow for all of them to be addressed.5  I will therefore address the Reformed views which seem to be the most widely held.

How Do We Know?
The first problem is one of epistemology. For all the many attempts to prove otherwise, two of which I examine below, Protestants simply have no way to verify a canon apart from a subjective internal witness. R.C. Sproul claims that we have a “fallible collection of infallible books,”6 but on what basis can he know that each of these books is infallible? It has never been the view of the Church that the books of Sacred Scripture are anything less than an infallible and trustworthy standard.

Sproul argues that Scripture claims infallibility for itself, but that there are other fallible authorities in the world, such as the Church, that are nonetheless authoritative in spite of their fallibility. According to Sproul, on the basis of the Church as an institution founded by God acting with His authority, we can trust that the Scriptures were rightly identified by the Church.

But the claim that we have a fallible collection of infallible books does not solve the problem of how we know which books are inspired and which are not; in fact it creates more problems. His argument points to the Scriptures as evidence supporting the claim that the Scriptures are infallible. But the evidence supporting the claim that the Scriptures are infallible is unavailable unless we already know which books belong to the canon. Even beyond that problem, there is an additional question: if we can trust God to guide the Church to establish a canon of infallible books, why can we not trust her when she explains to us what these books mean? The Protestant answer is, of course, to compare the later teachings of the Church to the teachings of Scripture. But this brings us right back to square zero. If the Church can err, for example, in proclaiming that icons ought to be venerated, she can err just as easily in compiling a canon, and it would be ad hoc to allow ecclesial infallibility in establishing the canon but deny infallibility in every other ecclesial activity.

The fallibility of the canon, of course, presents its own problems. The fallible list could be excluding divinely inspired books that commend us to offer prayers for the dead, that could lead  (and have led) many into the grievous error of not praying for the souls of the faithful departed or a host of other doctrines. Furthermore, there would be no way for the Protestant Christian to know if that was the case.

Those taking Sproul’s argument will often cite the “self-authenticating” nature of the books of Sacred Scripture. John Calvin is one of the defenders of this view. In his Institutes, Calvin writes:

Nor is there any room for the cavil, that though the Church derives her first beginning from [the foundation of the writings of the Apostles and prophets], it still remains doubtful what writings are to be attributed to the Apostles and prophets, until her judgement is interposed. For if the Christian Church was founded at first on the writings of the prophets, and the preaching of the Apostles, that doctrine, wheresoever it may be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned antecedently to the Church, since, but for this, the Church herself never could have existed.7

First of all, Calvin states that “that doctrine, wheresoever it may be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned antecedently to the Church.” But the fact that people in the Church can distinguish true and false (nonapostolic) doctrine, does not entail that there was no doubt about “what writings are to be attributed to the Apostles,” nor that the interposition of the Church’s judgment was unnecessary. Certainly the Apostles’ doctrine was clearly known by the early Church, but that alone did not make it perfectly clear to later generations receiving Christian teaching amidst any number of false teachers which books contained the actual Apostolic teaching or even which had an actual connection to Christ and the Apostles.

But St. Paul seems to indicate there is more than meets the eye in this foundation of the Apostles and prophets when he calls the Church, not the Scriptures, the very pillar and ground of truth.8 The Church certainly contains the teachings of the Apostles, but the Church is not only the teachings of the Apostles. The Church’s foundation also contains the living magisterium and deposit of faith we see working already in the time of the Apostles in Acts 15. Without this foundation, we could not know the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets. We see after St. Paul’s death the importance of the divinely ordained authority of the Magisterium when multiple written works bearing the names of the Apostles and containing diverse and sometimes contradictory messages would appear. St. Paul was, at Our Lord’s command, setting up the Church as the judge and protector of doctrinal orthodoxy. Further, as I will explore below, this is not a function a book is even capable of performing, as a book cannot explain its own meaning when questions about that meaning arise.

It is interesting to note that St. Paul says that the Church is founded on “the Apostles and Prophets,”9 but Calvin renders it “the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets.” He does not allow the passage say what St. Paul actually says: the men themselves and the authority given to them by God are the foundation of the Church. This divinely appointed authority is what gives weight to their teaching and gives authority to their interpretation, and is thus more foundational to the Church  than the teaching itself. This is why St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to hold to both the written and unwritten traditions of the Apostles10. Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find the common Protestant assumption that all the essential information concerning Christ and the Apostles’ teaching would be codified in written form.

It should be noted, however, that although the authority of the Church’s Magisterium is foundational and binding, the Church still holds the Scripture in the highest place of honor and authority. The Magisterium is the servant of the Scripture, and, as the Catechism says, “with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully.”11

Next Calvin offers his understanding of the Catholic Church’s view of her own position in relation to the Scriptures which, as we will see, is directly contrary to the Church’s stated self-understanding:

Nothing therefore can be more absurd than the fiction, that the power of judging Scripture is in the Church, and that on her nod its certainty depends. When the Church receives it, and gives it the stamp of her authority, she does not make that authentic which was otherwise doubtful or controverted but, acknowledging it as the truth of God, she, as in duty bounds shows her reverence by an unhesitating assent.12

This section sets up a straw man of the Catholic position. The Catholic Church did not teach in Calvin’s time, nor has she ever taught, that her stamp of approval on a book makes it God’s Word. It is almost as if Calvin believed that the Church thought, by declaring a text to belong to the Word of God, that she makes it into the the Word of God, or that she could turn around tomorrow and declare that St. Matthew’s gospel is no longer the Word of God. The Council of Trent refers to the books the council had “received,” and Dei Verbum13 uses precisely the same language of receiving. To imply that the Church ever taught that her fiat makes the word of God authentic is misleading and incorrect. The Church’s position has always been one of recognizing the authenticity of the great treasure that has been handed down to her.

When the Church tells her members what books are Scripture, she operates in exactly the same way she does in all other matters of faith and morals. Tobit is inspired not because the Church says so; the Church says so because Tobit is inspired.  Abortion is wrong not because the Church says so; the Church says so because abortion is wrong.  We can trust her authority on these matters far more than we can trust our own intuition or reason.

Now Calvin gets to the meat of the argument, that is, that the Scriptures are so self-evidently what they are that it is plain to anyone with a conscience which books are in and which are out:

As to the question, How shall we be persuaded that it came from God without recurring to a decree of the Church? it is just the same as if it were asked, How shall we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Scripture bears upon the face of it as clear evidence of its truth, as white and black do of their colour, sweet and bitter of their taste.14

The claim that the Scriptures identify themselves is a falsifiable proposition but it is being treated as unfalsifiable by those who hold it. In his preface to the book of Revelation, Martin Luther wrote, “I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it.”  How could a person argue with Luther about what he could or could not “detect” in the text? If Calvin claims his sixty-six books identify themselves, we should be able to conduct blind “divinely-inspired-test” experiments to confirm his hypothesis. It also raises the question of why there were such disputes in the early Church about what was and was not Scripture. If it is as easy as telling black from white, then there should have been no disagreement in the early Church about the identity of canonical books. But there was manifestly such debate, and for no small period of time.

To look back centuries later and claim that the canon is self-evidently what it is denies history and falls prey to the very same mentality according to which the King James Bible fell out of Heaven whole and complete. Many of our brothers in some of the anti-intellectual forms of fundamentalism give no thought at all to the historical origin of Scripture. They have their Bible, the Spirit testifies unto their spirit that it is the Word of God, and that’s good enough for them. This claim that the identity of the canon is self-evident is in this respect exactly like the claim of the fundamentalist who ignores the historical development of the canon.

The Protestant is in agreement with the Catholic Church in the belief that the books of the canon of Scripture are the very words of God, but the Catholic has a better reason for believing so. The proposed ground of the Protestant’s epistemic certainty of the infallibility of the canon lies precisely in the books he is seeking to prove are infallible; and that certainty is primarily based on a handful of citations from St. Paul’s epistles. By contrast, the Catholic’s certainty rests in a hierarchy established by Jesus Himself that claims a call from God the Father, promises from Jesus, and the protection of the Holy Spirit over the Church in establishing and preserving true doctrine. Assuming the truth of our shared premise that God exists in a Trinity of divine Persons, the Catholic Church’s claim has a sound Trinitarian bedrock, while the Protestant claim of self-authentication trusts neither the Trinity nor the Church, but rather relies on the intellectual prowess of a handful of 16th century intellectuals, the Reformers, and their ability to discern true Scripture from false. In the worst case scenario, the Protestant claim relies on every man doing what is right in his own eyes, depending on which books the Holy Spirit testifies to his spirit are the Word of God.

In light of this, it hardly seems surprising that when the Westminster Confession of Faith lists its canon, it does so completely without commentary or substantive proof texts. This is a striking difference from the form of the rest of the Confession which goes into such incredible detail in defending from Scripture and other sources the things it claims. Not so with the canon. The Protestant canon is apparently to be accepted on its own self-evidence. But it is not in keeping with the doctrine of sola scriptura to take a doctrine as essential as this on the basis of a supposed self-authentication that is not taught in Sacred Scripture.

So we see that one problem with the Reformed view of Scripture is its inability to account for the determination of the canon of Scripture, and thus for the authority of Scripture. For if we cannot determine with certainty which books are and are not God-breathed, we have no means for discerning which teachings are true and binding on Christians and which are not.

An Unbiblical View of the Authority of Scripture

A second problem with the Reformed view is that it attributes to Sacred Scripture a functional capacity that Sacred Scripture does not claim for itself. The Protestant view attempts to ascribe to Sacred Scripture the role of final court of appeal in matters of faith and morals, citing the theory that clear passages will elucidate those that are unclear. But such notions are simply not found in Sacred Scripture.

The Westminster Confession makes this claim:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.15

But in attempting to substantiate the claim, it only produces the following proof texts:

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.16

These verses are wonderful and true, but they claim that all Scripture is useful for doctrine, reproof, etc.; not that only Scripture is useful for these purposes, or that Scripture can accomplish them in a vacuum, that is, apart from the divinely appointed teaching and interpretive authority of the Church. Scripture interpreted correctly is good for all the things St. Paul mentions. Scripture interpreted incorrectly leads to heresy, division, and the destruction of souls. What this passage fails to prove is that Sacred Scripture by itself is able to do all the things St. Paul mentions.

In interpreting these verses, we must also consider the state of the New Testament canon. Since most of the New Testament was unwritten at the time St. Paul was writing, he could only have been referring here to the Old Testament. So the Scriptures that will equip the man of God for every good work cannot be the Scriptures St. Paul is writing as he writes this, much less the ones that will be written after. And even if the written books will equip, this passage does not tell us whether or not they do so in the context of the Church’s interpretive authority. Thus, these verses do not show that Sacred Scripture is sufficient to lead the Church on its own without an interpretive authority.

The confession’s next citation is from II Thessalonians:

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.17

This verse does not show the sufficiency of Sacred Scripture as a supreme rule, especially since Sacred Scripture is not mentioned in it. St. Paul argues that the Thessalonians ought not to be shaken from the message delivered to them. This in no way implies that this message is fully contained in the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon.

So we see that the WCF’s citations do not back up its claims, but we might still wonder whether Church history would help the Protestant position. After all, the quotations at the beginning of this article made it clear that the Church Fathers had a very lofty view of Sacred Scripture. But it must be noted that the same Church Fathers whom we saw above speaking in such elevated prose about the virtues and supremacy of Sacred Scripture believed doctrines not taught explicitly or by good and necessary consequence in Sacred Scripture.

Take as an example the following quotations from each of the Fathers mentioned above, on the Catholic Church’s teachings on Mary, Jesus’ mother:

The self-same who was born of the Virgin is, in truth, King and the Lord God. And on His account, she who gave Him birth is properly and truly proclaimed Queen, Lady and Mother of God. . . . And standing now as Queen at the right hand of her Son the King of all, she is celebrated in Sacred Writ as clad around with the gilded clothing of incorruption and immortality, and surrounded with variety. . . . Let us say then again and again as we look up to Our King, Our Lord and God, and to Our Queen, Our Lady and Mother of God: The Queen stood at thy right hand, in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety. (St. Athanasius, Epist. ad Marcellin. in Interpret. Psalm, sec. 1.)

We must except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honor to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin. (St. Augustine, Nature and Grace, 36:42.)

It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the Word. True Theotokos we magnify you.  (St. John Chrysostom, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.)

We see here the same men who above reveled in the glory of Sacred Scripture espousing doctrines found in Sacred Scripture only in type or shadow. These doctrines certainly are not presented in Scripture in any sense that would satisfy the Westminster Divines.

So whatever these Fathers meant in speaking of the primacy of Scripture, it did not rule out believing doctrines not found explicitly in Scripture. These and all the other Fathers of the Church who held Scripture in incredibly high esteem also believed in the bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist and its sacrificial character, the succession of Christ’s authority in the Church through the episcopacy, the ministerial priesthood, and the Catholic understanding of the communion of the Saints, to name a few examples. St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures18 are an excellent resource for seeing all of these doctrines taught as common knowledge in the early Church.

In the Fathers we find that Scripture was used in the context of what the Church already knew to be true, that is, the deposit of faith handed down both in Sacred Scripture and the unwritten traditions of the Apostles cited above by St. Paul. Even though these doctrines concerning Our Lady are found explicitly only in Sacred Tradition, the Fathers quoted above clearly valued them just as highly as those doctrines explicitly taught in Sacred Scripture. Scripture took ultimate pride of place in the early Church, to be sure, but it did not take that place in a vacuum.

Since this was the understanding of the place of Sacred Scripture in the Church from the earliest times, the burden of proof rests on the Westminster Confession and its defenders to prove from Scripture that their view is correct. The small smattering of proof texts offered fails to meet that burden because these texts do not display the Westminster Confession’s actual position from the Scriptures, and that position is clearly not the standard held by the early Church or any stage of the Church prior to the Reformation.

What Can A Book Do?

Finally, the Reformed view also ascribes to Sacred Scripture a capacity that, on a purely practical level, a book simply cannot bear.

A book provides words that must be interpreted to be understood. A person speaking to us in person, like the Apostles speaking to the early Churches, can explain the meaning of his speech. A book cannot elucidate problem passages for us. Given the fallibility of human understanding and the diversity of perspectives regarding interpretation, especially over the span of 2,000 years of Church history, it is simply not possible that a book by its very nature could be the supreme rule of faith and doctrine. At least it cannot do this if we expect there to be a consistent understanding of this book that would work itself out into consistent faith and practice. A human, or set of humans, must make the final decision about the meaning of written texts.

The Protestant response, of course, is an appeal to perspicuity. The doctrine of the perspicuity of the Scriptures refers to the claim that the Scriptures are able, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to make the truths essential to salvation known to any reader. The WCF states:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.19

The citation given to support this claim is from the Psalmist:

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.20

Certainly the Law of the Lord brings understanding to the simple, but the Confession’s interpretation mistakenly identifies “the Law of the Lord” with the modern Protestant canon of Scripture. This verse in no way entails that the simple can “obtain a sufficient understanding” of the Scriptures without any aid or guidance.

But even if there were a case to be made from the Scriptures for the perspicuity of the Scriptures, reality tells a different story. Learned Scripture scholars and even the revered figures of various modern Reformed communities cannot agree on what “the gospel” is, much less on the meaning of the Sacraments or any number of other topics of great doctrinal importance. The Federal Vision controversy is a striking testament to this discord. This, of course, is why we see such disparate faiths and practices among our Protestant brothers, even among our Reformed brothers who hold to a common set of confessions. The Reformed have 21 denominations in Switzerland, 14 in the UK and 44 in the US, all divided because of some irreconcilable doctrinal difference.

This is also the source of continual splitting that the history of the Reformed denominations has borne out. When each individual, or even each presbytery or each denomination decides where the boundaries of orthodoxy are on the basis of its own understanding of Sacred Scripture, even with the guide of the Reformed confessions, division at least every fifty years or so is practically a design feature.21

Unless there is an arbiter of these interpretive disagreements, there will necessarily be division and disagreement about basic tenets of the Christian faith. This division is contrary to Christ’s prayer in John 17 and unacceptable for the witness of the Church to the outside world.

From these historical facts, we see that a book simply does not have the capacity in and of itself to function in the way the Westminster Confession claims it must function. A book cannot resolve an interpretive dispute about itself, decide who is right in a doctrinal controversy, or address any areas that it does not address. If Scripture were intended to do this, as Protestants claim, we would not see the history of division and infighting that we see. Indeed, the entirety of the Protestant experiment hinges on the truth of the idea that the Scriptures were intended to function as described by the Westminster Confession. The Scripture’s inability to perform the ecclesial function expected of it by the Confession is one of the more common factors provoking Protestants to consider the claims of the Catholic Church, and eventually leave their communities to seek full communion with the body that Christ founded to give us the true interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

III. Correctives Provided by the Catholic View

God be praised, the view of Scripture handed down from Christ to the Apostles and through the unbroken succession of Bishops in union with the Pope answers and corrects each of these errors in the Protestant position. In this section we will examine how each of the errors in the Reformed view is corrected by the teaching of the Catholic Church about Sacred Scripture.

The Epistemology Problem

The Catholic Church’s teaching on Scripture avoids the epistemological problems laid out above concerning the origin and authority of Scripture. An important key to understanding authority in the Church, and thus the Scripture, is the Council of Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15. This first Ecumenical Council gives us a model of the way the Apostles understood authority in the Church.

The Council was convened to answer the following question: do Gentiles have to be circumcised to become Christians? The Scriptures extant at the time did not answer the question, otherwise there would have been no need for the Council. What did the Apostles do? They called a council consisting of themselves and the presbyters they had ordained.

At this Council the Apostles and their successors debated this question, using what the Jewish Scriptures taught and what Christ had taught them in His earthly ministry. They issued a decree that was binding on all Christians. It is important to note that this was not merely a council of the Apostles, but also of the presbyters they had ordained, who took full part in the Council.  As we see in Acts 15:4-6:

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, as well as by the apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.” The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.

The assumption of the continuity of authority between the Apostles and their successors is apparent at this council. The presbyters ordained by the Apostles were present and it was these very same men, and those ordained by them that ruled over the further ecumenical councils of the Church. It is precisely the pattern of the Council of Jerusalem–of bishops gathering and proclaiming their decisions to be binding with the authority of the Holy Spirit–that the Church has followed throughout her history, from Jerusalem to Vatican II.

The same authority by which the Apostles and the presbyters whom they ordained declared that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised is the authority by which Trent declared the canon of Scripture. The pattern of the councils of the Church, clearly visible from the earliest councils, made clear that the Bishops at those councils perceived themselves to be citing the same episcopal and apostolic authority and calling on the same Holy Spirit for the same kind of binding decree.

The extent of the authority of the council is the same as well, that is to say, it was binding on every Christian. If we can reject Trent’s authority on the canon, we can reject the findings of Jerusalem, Nicea, Chalcedon, and any other finding of any Church council we please. Otherwise we need a principled reason to accept some and reject others. Again, an arbiter of some sort over the entire process is clearly needed, which is exactly how conciliar and papal authority have functioned in the Church for two thousand years. There is no other Scriptural pattern on which to base Church polity and the resolution of doctrinal disputes.

The example of the Bereans, a passage oft cited by Protestants to warrant holding the written text as the supreme interpretive authority, fails to produce that kind of pattern for two reasons. First, the Bereans were individual people exercising their consciences, no different from someone outside the Church checking the Church’s message against itself before believing. In no sense are the Bereans an example of Church polity or how the Church handles in-house disputes. The Bereans were a group of individual Jews deciding whether or not they would join the early Christians. Second, the appeal to the Bereans as a pattern falls flat for the Protestant because the Bereans checked the Apostles’ teachings against the Old Testament. Those who accepted the testimony of the Apostles held the Apostles’ teaching as a new source of revelatory truth, as all other Christians did. The example of the Bereans does nothing if not prove the superiority of oral testimony. Further, the example of the Bereans proves too much for the Protestant. Acts tells us that some of the Bereans believed the Apostles, which implies that some did not. So the example of the Bereans makes clear that individuals searching the Scriptures and determining for themselves which sources of revelation and authority to accept leaves the door wide open to error and self-deception.

Since the Catholic Church has from its inception followed this pattern of accepting the authority of the Apostles and their successors to lead her into all truth, no such epistemological quandary as we find in Protestantism is produced by Catholic doctrine. Catholic doctrine is not restricted to a “fallible collections of infallible books,” nor is there any need for temporary and unbiblical ad hoc infallibility to be attributed to the Church in determining the canon, nor any need for question-begging self-authentication. All that is needed is what Christ left for us, the sound foundation of the Church passed down from Christ to the Apostles to their successors.

The Problem of the Nature of Books

The Catholic Church’s doctrine also solves the problem of trying to use a book for a purpose a book cannot serve. The authority of Christ, given to His Apostles to call upon the Holy Spirit to lead them into truth (John 16:13) was given to the Bishops who succeeded them. (II Timothy 1:6) As we see in 2 Tim 1:6, St. Paul refers to the gift of the Spirit given to Timothy by him. Through the succession of bishops, this same authority guides how we understand the Scriptures today, and guides it perfectly. The Catholic Church does not rely on Sacred Scripture alone to make herself clear, anymore than the Apostles relied on the Hebrew Scriptures alone to make clear the full content of the gospel. They relied on the oral teachings they had received from Christ and on the power and authority of the Holy Spirit working in their midst to make the truth clear. The Catholic Church has followed this pattern for all of its history and, furthermore, no conception of perspicuity such as that proposed by Reformed theology can be found anywhere in Church history prior to the Reformation.

With confidence in the protection from error in the Church’s infallible teachings on issues of faith and morals given to the Church by the Holy Spirit through Christ’s promise (John 16:13), we can value and venerate Sacred Scripture. At the same time we are not forced to require that it interpret itself for us. Likewise, we do not have to force the Scriptures to produce a clear passage to interpret every difficult passage. This is a particularly baffling requirement of the Westminster Confession, because it leaves us once more with no arbiter to decide which passage is difficult and which corresponding clear passage explains it.

The Catholic position provides a remedy for division and disagreement, as the sure word of the Church is the dividing line between orthodoxy and heresy. Each person need not look for a burning in his bosom to distinguish truth from error. Rather, by looking at the Scriptures through the interpretive lens of the teaching of the Church, he will be led into the truth and unity Christ promised that the Spirit would bring.

The Problem of the Nature of Scripture As A Book

The Catholic understanding allows the Scriptures to exist in the role and with the authority that the Scriptures accord themselves. In the Catholic understanding, the Scriptures are the Church’s great treasure and to be highly valued, but not as a mere rule book or exhaustive source of truth. Again, going back to Acts 15, the Apostles themselves did not believe this. They cited the Scriptures in their deliberations at the Council of Jerusalem, but while they took counsel from the Scriptures, their decision was ultimately guided by the Holy Spirit. They did not come to their decision because the answer was “either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence [could] be deduced from Scripture.”22 Rather, they debated, prayed, and asked for guidance from the Holy Spirit. This guidance they received as promised and their decision was binding on all the faithful.

Over the course of the history of the Church there arose a plethora of pressing questions that the Scriptures do not address directly. With respect to such questions, the authority Christ gave to His Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, protects the Scriptures from being twisted to address a controversy they do not directly or indirectly address.

Hermeneutics

Having addressed our differences regarding the determination of the canon and authority and role of Sacred Scripture, I will also address our differences in the area of hermeneutics.

As with the authority issue, we have significant points of agreement on the principles we ought to employ in interpreting Sacred Scripture. We agree that Scripture cannot be rightly interpreted without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Its depths cannot be mined if we treat it merely as a historical text. We agree that cultural context, authorial intent, literary mode, and other similar factors must be taken into account, unlike certain anti-intellectual segments of ‘just-me-and-my-Bible’ Christianity. We also agree, to a certain extent, that Scripture must be read in light of those who came before us and interpreted Scripture before us. But in Dei Verbum, Pope Paul VI makes clear the pivotal role played by Sacred Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church:

This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.

The words of the holy fathers witness to the presence of this living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church. Through the same tradition the Church’s full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her; and thus God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of His beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (see Col. 3:16).23

But I believe the real point of disagreement is how we understand the Church’s authority in regard to how we read the Scriptures. The Catholic Church understands the Scripture’s primary place to be in the Church and interpreted by the Church, informed by her deepened understanding of Scripture throughout her history. Reformed Christians claim that they take the Church’s historical understanding of Scripture as an important factor in their reading of Sacred Scripture. Their respect for the early councils provides a basis for unity on certain fundamentals, especially on Trinitarian theology and Christology.

But if Protestants truly discerned the visible body of Christ, the Church, they would accept the later councils as well. As we have seen, the later councils were acting with the very same authority the Apostles and their brother presbyters and bishops acted with at the Council of Jerusalem, and those actions are the actions of the body of Christ. To love them is to embrace them and to seek to understand them, not to criticize them and act as their judge. Furthermore, to act as their judge is simply to draw a bullseye around the arrow one has already shot in the wall. If the councils agree with the Reformed understanding of Scripture, then they are accepted, but if not, they are deemed not to hold any authority whatsoever.

As Catholics, we accept these councils, and all subsequent Ecumenical Councils, as authoritative fundamentally because they are the words of our Holy Mother the Church to us. Our Reformed brethren generally accept the first four councils and some teachings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, but they accept them only because they have found them “biblical” according to their own interpretation of Scripture.

To be sure, all the dogmas of Mother Church are Biblical in the fullest sense of the word–there is no contradiction between any of the Councils and any teaching of Sacred Scripture. But we believe them not because we deem them Biblical according to our own interpretation of Scripture, but rather because we believe Jesus, whose Mystical Body the Church is. We believe the words of the Church because the words of the Mystical Body cannot come from anywhere but Christ the Head.

I am glad our Reformed brethren recognize the value and authority of the Fathers and the Church’s tradition in approaching Scripture; it gives us a significant basis for discussion and dialogue as we seek for unity. But for Reformed Christians, the words of Councils and Popes are not the reliable and trustworthy words of their Mother the Church and of Our Lord. Rather, they are a potentially helpful grab-bag whose contents must be treated with skepticism until one has determined whether or not they are in agreement with one’s own interpretation of Scripture.

This issue of hermeneutics is perhaps the most important epistemological obstacle between Protestants and Catholics, and the way to unity is blocked until we can find our way over it. If there is not one true Church to settle disputes and be the authoritative arbiter between heresy and orthodoxy, there can be nothing but the division and in-fighting that have plagued the last five hundred years of Christianity and which are not what our Lord and His Apostles intended when they implored Christians to unity. May we all come to love and humbly accept the words of Christ in the words of His Holy Church that we might all be one–not selectively, but completely.

  1. Providentissimus Deus, sec. 20-21 []
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101. []
  3. Id., 104. []
  4. Westminster Confession of Faith, I.1. []
  5. A future article on Called to Communion will address “the Canon Question” in greater depth. []
  6. R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, 22-23. []
  7. Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.7. []
  8. I Timothy 3:14-15. []
  9. Ephesians 2:20. []
  10. 2 Thess. 2:15 []
  11. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 86. []
  12. Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.7. []
  13. Dei Verbum, 8. []
  14. Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.7. []
  15. Westminster Confession of Faith, I.4. []
  16. II Timothy 3:15-17. []
  17. II Thessalonians 2:2. []
  18. Available here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3101.htm. []
  19. Westminster Confession of Faith, I.7. []
  20. Psalm 119:130. []
  21. A very helpful timeline charting the divisions within Presbyterianism can be found here: http://www.pragmatism.org/american/presbyterian_churches.jpg. []
  22. Westminster Confession of Faith, I.4. []
  23. Dei Verbum, Ch. 2 []
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  1. Thanks, Matt, for this helpful article.

    Hermeneutics is, as you say, a top obstacle between Protestants and Catholics. Many Protestants might describe it as a top obstacle between faith and unbelief—at least in my case, Catholicism simply wasn’t a possibility, was entirely unthinkable. When I figured out that various Protestant approaches to Scripture and interpretation could never stand up to the very meaty theories of textuality in college and university (circulating even in popular culture), I assumed it was merely a matter of time before I went fully agnostic.

    Thank God that’s not the only option, right?

    ‘God’s Word: Scripture, Tradition, Office’ was, I think, the first book God used to show me that, in fact, the Catholic Church was unthinkable for me precisely because I was so ignorant of what the Catholic Church actually teaches.

    I’m still ignorant but learning. I think it’s totally necessary to point out to our brothers and sisters that the Protestant approach is ‘textually naive’—asks a book to do what a book can’t do; on the other hand, tho, the ‘living word’ of the apostolic witness might also be ‘textually naive’. I mean, I don’t think we can present ‘a divinely appointed teaching authority’ as the alternative to Protestantism’s limitless semiosis (or ‘unprincipled’ limited semiosis). I’m not saying I think you’re doing that; I’m half-admitting that I catch myself doing that. I drive me crazy more than half the time.

    Or put it this way: Protestantism has yet to explain how in the world something like a ‘sola scriptura’ can be reconciled with what we know about how language works and what interpretation is. In my study and self-examination leading up to Confirmation last year, it became perfectly clear to me that the Protestant approach to the Scripture (as if it were THE independent source, sufficient in itself as Text to teach us what we need to know) is a clean break with 1500 years of Christian Faith and practice. Not a branch. Not a recovery of something lost. Instead, a clean break. Now Catholic, I love and trust the Holy Spirit who guides the Church, and so I have also come to love the Church in a way I never imagined possible. Still… I have no idea (or little idea) how to articulate the gritty specifics of a Catholic theory of textuality. I suspect this is a bad thing.

    I’m hoping all this makes some kind of sense because I’m asking for help, mostly. On hermeneutics, I’d like to invite you (and anyone else) to share specific book recommendations. Is there something like a Catholic alternative to a study like Thiselton’s ‘New Horizons in Hermeneutics’?

    Pax Christi,
    w

  2. Bravo, Matt on an outstanding article. This is a very important topic to ecumenical debate as its accordance with or adherence to by our Reformed and Protestant brethren can cover an ocean of doctrinal differences. Praise be to our God and Master Who by knowing our nature, has infused within the magisterium a constant Helper to protect us – the bride of His Son… so through full apostolic succession the gates of hades shall not prevail against Her.
    And it should also be addressed that the very existence of the scriptures as we know them today, are only in place by magisterial conciliarism. Even still, the councils of the Church humbly bow to Sacred Scripture opposite of claiming to take precedence as the tradition that compiled it.
    Good stuff!

  3. Calvin: “They mock the Holy Spirit when they ask: Who can convince us that these writings came from God? Who can assure us that Scripture has come down whole and intact even to our very day? Who can persuade us to receive one book in reverence but to exclude another, unless the church prescribe a sure rule for all these matters? What reverence is due Scripture and what books ought to be reckoned with its canon depend, they say, upon the determination of the church.”

    Then: “If we desire to provide in the best way for our consciences –that they may not be perpetually beset by the instability of doubt or vacillation, and that they may not also boggle at the smallest quibbles –we ought to seek our conviction in a higher place than human reasons, judgments, or conjectures, that is, in the secret testimony of the Spirit.”

    It is not what a book can do. It is the Spirit that bears witness.

    The sort of skeptical approach to knowledge that you present here eats itself and is not resolved by any ex cathedra edicts. Perhaps the Magisterium salves some Romanist anxieties and doubts, for which we can be thankful for, but the witness of God is greater. It seems you’re looking for a non-falsifiable proposition, but this is not our goal. As St. Anselm said:
    “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this I believe–that unless I believe, I should not understand.”

    We all believe the Bible is the word of God because the Holy Spirit attests to it. If you want to argue that your secondary reasonings for believing so are better than the protestant’s secondary reasons then bless your heart.

  4. Good post, good points!

  5. At the outset, the Catholic answer sounds good and tidy, but I think we can see a ‘religious fiction’ occurs in the minds of many on this area.

    The Catholic criticism of Scriptures primary authority (over the “magisterial authority”) breaks down into swampy confusion upon further examination. The common criticism is that it is chaos to have everyone “reading and interpreting the Bible on their own.” But when we look at the task of the Catholic individual or even group, we find a greater chaos looming over the entire attempt to understand truth.

    Consider, Catholics don’t just have a Bible of 66 books to interpret; they have so much more to condense into meaningful understanding: The have numerous Councils, innumerable papel encyclicals, and ordinary and extraordinary teachings and utterances.
    They must navigate both the spirit, propositions and differences between the Council of Orange and the Council of Trent (good luck); the Vatican I and Vatican II (is harmony present there?). The have a tug-of-war between ‘aggiornamento’ (“updating”) and insistence on ‘ressourcement’ (“tradition”) .

    They also have a Bible with deuterocanonical additions (6 or 7 more books plus additions to others). And the Bible is read during the Mass, though it is not referred to with definitive authority.

    They are also encouraged to read Scripture in some areas (Dei Verbum, etc), but why? Isn’t that just creating more confusion? To keep the voice of “the church” intact, would it not be better to counsel the flock to ignore Scripture and listen to “the church”. Isn’t that more simplifying?

    However, as I have shown, the voice of “the church” is lost in a miasma of complexity and confusion. Just what is “the church” saying?! Lord have mercy on any well-intentioned soul who really tries to interpret all the data.

    Oh, I forgot to mention the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There you will find 2,865 other statements and articles to “interpret” and apply. One must add those to the Catholic Bible, the Councils, the encyclicals and ordinary writings. Sounds like you have a little homework yourself, as you individually seek to distill what is being said, when to apply it and to whom.

    I think I will go to the Church that teaches us to seek God, read His word (The Scripture), while submitting to the living Word, Jesus, through His Spirit. It sounds simple (and in some ways is), but that is an event and process with which I can live.

    Here is a tradition worth preserving:

    “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

    Glad God is sovereign and in command of it all.
    Matt

  6. Matt –

    as I have shown, the voice of “the church” is lost in a miasma of complexity and confusion.

    You’ve stated that yes. But you’re a long way from having demonstrated it. It does not follow that the more information one has available, the more confused he will be. Otherwise, we should trust Marcion over the Reformers since his bible contained much fewer books. I think Tolstoy only believed in the gospels. Why isn’t he the one to follow according to your argument?

    The DC books were not additions to the Bible, they had been in the bible since the time of the apostles. The Reformers removed 7 books from the Bible and Trent later re-affirmed them (they had already been affirmed by the Church at Rome, and Carthage).

    So if by removing 7 books, the message of Christianity became clearer, why not remove 7 more to make it even more clear?

  7. Remy – you haven’t interacted with Matt Y’s arguments. Your reply is reducible to “your arguments are bad, they might help you sleep at night, but they’re bad.” If you want us to believe you, show where the arguments are flawed.

    Also, “bless your heart” is condescending. Please be careful with your tone here.

  8. @Matt- (not Yonke)

    For further evidence that the DC books were in the Bible since the time of the Apostles, as Tim touched on, note that even in St. Paul’s epistles he both directly and indirectly references this “second” canon.
    For example:
    “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
    1 Corinthians 2:16

    For what man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills?
    Wisdom 9:13

    Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
    1 Corinthians 15:29

    For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45: But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.
    2 Maccabees 12:44-45

    These are only several of many DC references in the NT. I invite you to explore further these references, and the conciliar traditions that compiled and defined the Biblical Canon: Council of Rome, Ephesus, Carthage, and even how the Reformers and Luther measured Sacred Scripture. For instance, Luther wanted the epistles of St. James, St. Jude, St. Peter, and the Apocalypse removed from NT canon.

    In the Peace of God’s Messiah,
    Steven

  9. I apologize, ignore Ephesus in the above post… got a little ahead of myself ;)

  10. Tim,

    I didn’t explicitly draw out the interaction with Matt’s post, but I can do so now. Calvin does not claim that the “sixty-six books identify themselves” as Matt states, but that if we want conviction we look to the testimony of the Spirit. My point was that we both believe the Bible is the word of God because the Spirit attests to it.

    Matt and I are friends so I really would bless his heart if he wants to argue over the back-up plan to a Spirit-attested Bible. I’m not concerned about the secondary reasons. I merely wanted to correct this one thing.

  11. Steven, I believe the quote you cite is actually from Isaiah 40:13

    http://bible.cc/isaiah/40-13.htm

    Just wanted to give that point some biblical refinement. Also, Paul quotes pagan authors in Acts, but I would not refer to those sources with authority.

    Appreciate the response. I will stay with the 66 books though. Thank you.

    Matt

  12. Dear Remy,

    Thank you for sharing the prescient quotations from John Calvin, and for your comments. I hope to touch on your points here.

    First, do you distinguish Calvin’s position, on surety of canon and doctrine of the Scriptures, from the ‘bosom burning’ of the Mormon religion that some of us have discussed on this site before? [I don't mean for the Mormon comparison to be offensively provocative.] Calvin had a skilled rhetoric as a lawyer, but when I reflect on his words, I see his test of canonicity and doctrine of Scripture as bosom burning (e.g., “we ought to seek our conviction in a higher place than human reasons, judgments, or conjectures, that is, in the secret testimony of the Spirit”).

    Then you made this comment: “It is not what a book can do. It is the Spirit that bears witness.” You later said, “We all believe the Bible is the word of God because the Holy Spirit attests to it. If you want to argue that your secondary reasonings for believing so are better than the protestant’s secondary reasons then bless your heart.” Taking these two together, I see the former point as a point of complete agreement. The question for neither of us is ‘what can the Bible do in leading us?’ Instead, an issue that divides is this: to WHOM or to what does the Spirit bear witness?

    In light of that, I disagree that the Catholic has a “sort of skeptical approach to knowledge.” The Catholic finds certainty from the Spirit working through the [visible, Catholic, Apostolic] Church; the Reformed finds certainty from the Spirit working either in each Christian’s heart, or perhaps in some collection of Christians’ hearts. We can each admit to certainty in the Scriptures. I think that, instead of the Catholic having a skeptical approach to knowledge, rather it is those Reformed who adhere to the “fallible collection of infallible books” view of canonicity that have to entertain skepticism regarding knowledge.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  13. Remy,

    Thanks for stopping by. Don’t worry, your blessings on my heart were understood in context of our longstanding back-and-forth on these topics.

    I guess, Remy, the question comes down to what the Spirit is attesting to whom. Because He’s clearly testifying one thing to you and the other Protestants, another to us Catholics, still another some groups of Orthodox and a very special American version for the Mormons.

    The only way we have of discerning which is correct is your “attesting of the Spirit” vs. mine, unless Jesus left us some objective way of discerning where His Church really is. Fortunately he did in the succession of authority He left with the Apostles accompanied by His promises that the Spirit would safeguard His Church.

    Outside of those, it’s every man for himself, no matter in what language you couch it.

  14. Matt,

    Thank you for this excellent encapsulation of the key points of similarity and difference between Protestants and Catholics on this matter.

    I was quite surprised when I first read Calvin’s arguments for how we can know the canon: I expected something far more profound and defensible, but in truth, self-authentication is the best that a Protestant can do and must do to avoid the incoherency of accepting some parts of sacred Tradition and rejecting other parts.

    I hope that more Protestants will come and interact with you on this post, as you have presented the best challenges to Protestantism’s beliefs on the canon and authority of the Scriptures.

  15. Just a more general question in light the admonition to be “good Bereans”: would the Bereans have been good if they searched the Scriptures and in their exegesis disagreed with Paul?

  16. Sorry for the spelling errors, I am quite tired after a long day, and it is always good to be humbled by submitting something without checking the spelling first, so let me try that again-a quick question: would the Bereans have been good if they searched the Scriptures and in their exegesis disagreed with Paul?

  17. @Matt-
    Well don’t be so dismissive now… There are many instances where books in the Old Testament cross over and say, simply, the same things. With a Protestant measure of the Scripture I can see how in this case, St. Paul’s quote can only be referencing Isaiah. However, as a Catholic, I see that St. Paul is also referencing Wisdom. I do apologize for having isolated Wisdom apart from Isaiah. I was wrong in doing so and thanks holding me accountable. However, do keep in mind that the goal of this site, as I understand it, is to promote unity …and rhetorical dismissal is quite the opposite.

    To differentiate between authoritative references and unauthoritative references made by St. Paul, lets consider his background as both a Jew and a Greek. When St. Paul quotes Old Testament scripture in his epistles, he is practicing the ancient Jewish tradition of Aggadah (applying scripture to personal and doctrinal circumstances). When he quotes pagans in Acts, however, he is doing something very different, and very Greek. In these cases, St. Paul is practicing a common rhetorical style where one expounds on the objectives of his opponent in order to expose heresy or to establish mutuality, so as to possibly win them over on common ground…Call to mind St. Paul at the Areopagus, when he references the “unknown god” to draw the polytheistic Greeks towards monotheism. So, there are obvious contextual differences where St. Paul is quoting something in order to apply its already established authority (i.e. Wisdom/Isaiah) and where he is quoting something in order to ultimately persuade against it.

    Also, as a Greek and as a Pharisee in the first century, Paul would have accepted the canon of the day, which was the Greek Septuagint. The Palestinian Sages later rejected the additional books in the Septuagint (while in a state of covenantal infidelity after having rejected Christ) because of how “un-jewish” they were. When, in reality, it was because of how they seemed to overtly support that “illegitimate man from Nazareth” (to use the Talmud’s verbiage). As stated above and as far as Catholicism, rather the Church, is concerned, the extra 7 books have been a part of canon since the Apostolic Era… up until a narcissistic monk and a schismatic lawyer got itchy ears.

    In the Peace of God’s Messiah,
    Steven

  18. Steven,
    The truth is, we are all “dismissive” of that with what we disagree.

    History books tell of of the Septuagint, but also the various “targums” that floated around. We really have only partial and incomplete lists from the first few centuries that acknowledge books of the canon. It wasn’t really until the 1500s and 1600s that such matters where solidly addressed by both Rome and Evangelicals. I am on the Reformation side because I wanted a more ancient and eternal tradition, avoiding “novelties” that accrued over the centuries. Nothing like a Reformation guided by a sovereign Lord, working through His broken and imperfect people. But the history books tell us more detail on that. I will go with the Proto-canonical books, again going with an older and more established tradition.

    As for your reference to Luther and Calvin; I see them both rather as a “sledge hammer” and “chisel” to break out the Church from the traditions it had become encrusted in. The work of our sovereign Lord continues. And He has tools He uses every generation as He completes the work that He began.

    Dismiss the tools of the Lord too often, and you may dismiss the builder and Craftsman Himself, not to mention His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).

    Here is another great passage from our glorious and more ancient tradition:

    “Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4

    To be sure, in our Sovereign God we will find unity in the Lord Jesus.

    Take care,
    Matt

  19. Matt,

    It wasn’t really until the 1500s and 1600s that such matters where solidly addressed by both Rome and Evangelicals.

    This is demonstrably false. The council of Rome in 382 AD canonized all 73 books of the bible as did the Council of Carthage in 397 AD. Both of these councils were ratified by the pope and so the Catholic Church has long had a set canon which included the DC books. Trent only reaffirmed the long standing tradition. You should retract your statement.

  20. Matt,

    as a student and fellow Christian, i’d very much like to know which ‘history books’ you’re referring to. (no subtext here, no insinuations or anything, just genuine curiosity)

    best,
    w

  21. W

    Fair question, but I made a general reference to general history books, plain and simple.

    Not directly related, but I personally like P. Schaff, A. McGrath., et al. I often gravitate to books on historical theology and the like, but again, my above reference above was more rhetorical and general.

    Regards,
    Matt

  22. Matt,

    Following up on Tim’s comment, you wrote: But the history books tell us more detail on that. I will go with the Proto-canonical books, again going with an older and more established tradition.

    Then you need to jettison the book of Revelation as well, for it was very contested in the Church for centuries. St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s New Testament canon around 350 AD did not include it but only the other 26 NT books. Luther’s preface to Revelation in his Bibles from 1522 to 1527 said:

    …it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic.

    For myself, I think it approximates the Fourth Book of Esdras; 8 I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it.

    Moreover he seems to me to be going much too far when he commends his own book so highly — indeed, more than any of the other sacred books do, though they are much more important — and threatens that if anyone takes away anything from it, God will take away from him, etc. Again, they are supposed to be blessed who keep what is written in this book; and yet no one knows what that is, to say nothing of keeping it. This is just the same as if we did not have the book at all. And there are many far better books available for us to keep.

    Many of the fathers also rejected this book a long time ago; 9 although St. Jerome, to be sure, refers to it in exalted terms and says that it is above all praise and that there are as many mysteries in it as words. Still, Jerome cannot prove this at all, and his praise at numerous places is too generous.

    –from the Bible-Researcher site

    This doesn’t even include the other 6 disputed books of the NT that Luther was dubious about (the “Antilegomena”). Why not also remove those books, since they were not “proto-canonical” by Luther’s reasoning and discernment?

  23. W

    Fair question, but I made a general reference to general history books, plain and simple.

    Not directly related, but I personally like P. Schaff, A. McGrath, et al. I often gravitate to books on historical theology and the like, but again, my above reference above was more rhetorical and general. I have spent time with confessions and Counciliar documents on the Catholic side. Ratzinger has actually some interesting tidbits if you are interested in reading through his writings to find a them.

    No scholar here, yet I don’t pretend to be. Scholars are found in schools writing with much more refinement and nuance than I would attempt.

    Regards,
    Matt

  24. @Matt-
    Some very true statements here and I enjoyed your illustration regarding Ephesians 2:10. Still, nothing resonates more with this verse and Hebrews 3:4 than the conciliar tradition of the Apostolic Church, in this case, Rome. And, whether you believe it or not, the historical councils that established the canon happened, and they happened in the 4th century… well before Trent and the reformation. Also, the work of God is only “encrusted” in its mystery and conveyance. Not the errors of tradition as if our Enemy would be allowed any victory over Christ’s Mystical Body (Matthew 16:17-19, Acts 15:22-35, 1 Timothy 3:15).
    You say:

    “The work of our sovereign Lord continues. And He has tools He uses every generation as He completes the work that He began.”

    Not to patronize, but this is far from orthodoxy and can be heretical. Our Lord’s work has already been completed.
    To quote the Catechism:

    In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty. (CCC, I, Ch 2, Art I, III)

    this is what I mean when I say Luther and Calvin had itchy ears (2 Timothy 4:2-4) and further in the CCC:

    “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. (CCC, I, Ch 2, Art I, III)

    His work has been completed. In His sovereignty, He has given us the promises of His Eternal Word that we would never become encrusted or defeated but rather be able to “grasp its full significance” safely by the power of the Holy Spirit. I invite you to read an article on this site: “Ecclesial Deism” as it addresses this topic quite well.

  25. Hey Matt,

    thanks, man. i know the one, will look up the other (schaff). ‘rhetorical’ or gestural citation is cool—i didn’t want to sound like the ‘citation police’ (lol!)… it’s just that the characterization of the ‘history’ you provided seems to contradict everything i’ve read. hence, my interest in knowing.

    anyway, thanks.

    w

  26. Devin,
    See, this is the thing, in case you have not yet observed it or recognized it:

    Catholics start in historical tradition somewhere in the last 2000 years. As such, their approach and apologetic is filled with historical data and discussion ad insanity. However, tradition is their presupposition.

    We on the Reformed side begin in Scripture. That is our presupposition (one can identify one’s presuppositons if he is honest and upfront in temperament).

    Anyways, you will notice how my comments in my initial post will go ignored. However, that is fine, because I won’t get entangled in your comments and questions, getting lost in ancient debates and obscure historical references. The “Catholic Spirit” is always tugging to get you to go into the “jungle” of confusion in that manner. Suddenly they posit a Pope and Magisterium/tradition that will “show you the way.”

    Well, I ain’t going there. That’s the thing, to be direct.

    Oh, if you like, interact with my original post. Please interact with every statement, element, paragraph.

    No? Why not?

    Here it is again, in its entire form:
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    At the outset, the Catholic answer sounds good and tidy, but I think we can see a ‘religious fiction’ occurs in the minds of many on this area.

    The Catholic criticism of Scriptures primary authority (over the “magisterial authority”) breaks down into swampy confusion upon further examination. The common criticism is that it is chaos to have everyone “reading and interpreting the Bible on their own.” But when we look at the task of the Catholic individual or even group, we find a greater chaos looming over the entire attempt to understand truth.

    Consider, Catholics don’t just have a Bible of 66 books to interpret; they have so much more to condense into meaningful understanding: The have numerous Councils, innumerable papel encyclicals, and ordinary and extraordinary teachings and utterances.
    They must navigate both the spirit, propositions and differences between the Council of Orange and the Council of Trent (good luck); the Vatican I and Vatican II (is harmony present there?). The have a tug-of-war between ‘aggiornamento’ (“updating”) and insistence on ‘ressourcement’ (“tradition”) .

    They also have a Bible with deuterocanonical additions (6 or 7 more books plus additions to others). And the Bible is read during the Mass, though it is not referred to with definitive authority.

    They are also encouraged to read Scripture in some areas (Dei Verbum, etc), but why? Isn’t that just creating more confusion? To keep the voice of “the church” intact, would it not be better to counsel the flock to ignore Scripture and listen to “the church”. Isn’t that more simplifying?

    However, as I have shown, the voice of “the church” is lost in a miasma of complexity and confusion. Just what is “the church” saying?! Lord have mercy on any well-intentioned soul who really tries to interpret all the data.

    Oh, I forgot to mention the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There you will find 2,865 other statements and articles to “interpret” and apply. One must add those to the Catholic Bible, the Councils, the encyclicals and ordinary writings. Sounds like you have a little homework yourself, as you individually seek to distill what is being said, when to apply it and to whom.

    I think I will go to the Church that teaches us to seek God, read His word (The Scripture), while submitting to the living Word, Jesus, through His Spirit. It sounds simple (and in some ways is), but that is an event and process with which I can live.

    Here is a tradition worth preserving:

    “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

    Glad God is sovereign and in command of it all.
    Matt

  27. Also, I do not presume that you believe the CCC when I quote it… just displaying its sound reasoning.

    The Peace Christ be with you always,
    Steven

  28. forgive me:
    *the Peace OF Christ* be with you always…. maybe I should clean my glasses.

  29. hey Matt,

    about your first post: i’d say that the ‘common criticism’ you refer to is a pretty solid (and unresolved) issue, isn’t it? i’m not speaking as a Catholic apologist or anything, just as one guy to another.

    think of the ‘criticism’ as a question, something like—”How can a verse of the Bible have a definite and stable meaning if the only interpretive rule is private judgment?” i mean, do you agree or disagree that such a question needs to be asked and answered?

    the way you deal with the ‘criticism’ is to say that Catholicism is even so much more chaotic than Protestantism… but even if i agreed with that assessment, i’d have to admit that such a response to the criticism doesn’t answer the criticism. in fact, the response almost seems to allow the criticism, which is really fascinating to me. have i misunderstood?

    best,
    w

  30. Matt – your original comments did not go unanswered. I answered it in #6. And you haven’t retracted your statement about the canon in #18 which I showed to be erroneous in #19.

    Finally, you are assuming a presuppositional approach to knowledge which Catholics generally reject. Our presupposition is not tradition; our starting point is knowledge which is reliably gained through the senses. We cannot know what to presuppose without first having learned things. We can’t even start with a trust in God without knowing by reason that God is trustworthy.

  31. Matt,

    I interacted with direct statements you made in one of your comments. Namely I will go with the Proto-canonical books, again going with an older and more established tradition. As for your reference to Luther and Calvin; I see them both rather as a “sledge hammer” and “chisel” to break out the Church from the traditions it had become encrusted in. The work of our sovereign Lord continues. And He has tools He uses every generation as He completes the work that He began.

    I responded to your statements with questions about the “sledgehammer” Luther’s views of books he didn’t consider in the “proto-canon” and listed a few other historical pieces of evidence with regard to the canon, directly responding to your claim of “going with an older and more established tradition.”

    You seemed to think I was dodging your first comment. I wasn’t. I didn’t respond to your first comment because it is a shotgun-style attack on the Catholic Church, trying to throw enough mud at her and hoping some sticks. I have answered challenges such as yours before on my own blog. If you like, click on my name, go to my blog, and search for “Swan” to read my response to a Protestant apologist’s challenge on one point which mirrors your own.

    Here is a response from my blog directly to your statement about having to “interpret” the Catechism:

    “Contrast the ambiguity of the Bible on baptism’s relationship with salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit with the supposed obscurity of the Catechism on baptism. It says that when a person is baptized he:

    * Receives the Holy Spirit
    * Is incorporated into Christ’s Church
    * Has his original sin washed clean and any actual sins forgiven as well

    None of this is unclear because each of these is formulated catechism-style to be very clear. Everyone can and does understand what the Church teaches. Now, one can choose to agree or disagree with these statements, and liberal or heterdox Catholics do just that: they disagree and thus dissent from what the Church teaches.

    As a Protestant, there was no question for me as to what exactly the Catholic Church taught. I went and bought the Catechism and read it all clearly! I totally disagreed with most of it of course, but I wasn’t confused about “which Catholic interpretation” was what the Church taught, as if there were multiple ones due to the lack of clarity of the Catechism.”

    I have now responded to two claims you have made, one in your first comment and then one in a subsequent comment. I am not obligated to refute all of your claims; I am sure you would just make more. To have dialogue, there must be give and take and mutual respect between persons. I pray you will show me respect by responding to my rebuttals and answering my questions, as I have respected you by responding to some of yours.

  32. Matt,

    i almost forgot to ask about the ‘tidbits’ in the Holy Father’s work you mention #23.

    ‘tidbits’ like what, for example? are these things you’ve read yourself or ‘tidbits’ that you’ve read other people citing in their work? any of them specifically relevant to Matt Yonke’s article?

    cheers,
    w

  33. W,
    This will be my last response on this “probing” or “looking for the opening” thing, okay?

    I have been reading theology for a good 16 or so years, so the answer is “all the above”. I have read some of Ratzinger, this, that and the other. I would have to go to the library in Jessup to get the exact names of his work, and I am not going to do that. Anyway, the references were and are as general and specific as you need.

    My turn:
    What do you read? How often do you read the Scripture and for how long the same? Have you read Calvin, or only read him through others? Have you only read quotes and summations about him? How often do you read Paul’s letters? Do you Romans chapters 3 and 4? Do you receive that promises of Ephesian chapter 1 for yourself, or do you see that as a provisional promise merely to the Ephesians in the first century?

    Salud,
    Matt

  34. W,
    Sorry, I didn’t read your first response. Missed it or something.

    Anyways, I am just showing something of the complexity of things, under the veneer of “oneness” and “singleness”, etc.

    Strange to find so many Protestants who read Scripture and “interpret it” on there own have so much general agreement. You may pick of some Protestant stuff for a few years and read it. You will see more come together with time.

    Matt

  35. First of all, thanks for all the kind words from those who liked the article. Always nice to hear!

    To Matt, from the comment above,

    Thanks for your comments on the article. I’m a bit intrigued by some of the questions in your recent comment.

    First, I’ll answer them, just to be fair. I read lots of stuff. History, theology, literature, humor, the neurological narratives of Dr. Oliver Sacks (which I highly recommend), Sacred Scripture and probably too many blogs and other websites. I’d say I probably read something from Sacred Scripture every day. It varies greatly in length. Some days it’s a marathon, some days it’s a 50 yard dash. Every day Sacred Scripture is heavily present in my prayers, though. I’ve read the Institutes and delved heavily into Calvin’s commentaries in college. They were kind of my go-to commentary for a number of years. I’ve also read various and sundry of Calvin’s other works, ditto for most of the prominent reformers. I used to read Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” once a year on principle.

    St. Paul’s letters make frequent appearances in my reading, especially in my listening since they pop up nearly every week in the Byzantine Lectionary. I read Romans 3-4 when there’s a reason to, I can’t say as I read them every day just to stay sharp or anything. And finally, I believe the promises of God in the first chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians apply exactly the way God meant them to for all time.

    Now, the first thing that intrigued me about your questions was the implicit assumption that reading Scripture more often (and perhaps reading St. Paul’s Epistles [and perhaps even particular portions of St. Paul's Epistles]) makes one a better Christian or more competent in discussing spiritual things, or just give you more street cred. Forgive me if that assumption is erroneous, but it seems like it’s there to me.

    How often do you figure the average Christian read their Bibles for the first, say, 1700 years of Church history? How often do you figure St. Peter read St. Paul’s Epistles, especially the third and fourth chapters of Romans? Did St. Augustine read Calvin?

    Now, obviously, those questions are all asked with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, but it gets to one of the main points of my article, and that is that the Scriptures have had a very different role in the life of the Catholic Church (and the life of all the Church prior to the invention of the printing press, which is most of Christian history) than they have in the reformed view. Further, the reformed see their view of the role of Scripture in the life of the believer as absolutely essential, which is what I believe your questions were trying to prove.

    So you have to ask yourself, if your view of Scripture’s role in the life of the Church excludes the vast majority of Christians who have ever breathed from having a serious spiritual life, what does that say about your view of Scripture?

    In the Peace of Christ,

    Matt

  36. Tim,
    Sorry, I missed your post as well. Fair enough, I need to read a little more on the the stated council, though I believe it to be erroneous. :-)

    I am not a Thomist, so I do recognize your epistomology and theories of knowledge. Therefore our words really will go past one another. Certainly you have to be “born again” before you understand things from Above.

    Matt

  37. Matt,

    You have made several comments toward others but haven’t responded to my posts. Perhaps you plan to, but you have not said so. I plan to respond to one of your last statements to lend evidence to my earlier refutations of one of your arguments, and if you still do not choose to engage me in dialogue, that’s fine; I will not respond to you further, since it will be apparent that you don’t want to discuss these things I have challenged you on.

    You wrote: Certainly you have to be “born again” before you understand things from Above.

    How is one “born again?”

    In comment #31, I alluded to a conversation I had with a Protestant friend where we mutually examined every verse of the New Testament regarding baptism. The first part of John 3 came up.

    How did he interpret the verses on being born again/from above by water and the Spirit? “It’s symbolic,” he said. He didn’t know exactly what it meant, but he was sure it did not mean baptism in any way.

    I responded that I interpreted it as meaning baptism, and incidentally, that’s what the early Christians believed (you can check out Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine, and Chrysostom for examples.) Also, that is what the Church has always taught.

    He disagreed, and we moved on to the next verse. Which of us has the correct interpretation of John 3?

    Contrast that with the Catechism, which as I already mentioned makes very clear what happens at baptism.

    Additionally, in your first comment, you listed several different things like Councils and the Catechism and Encyclicals and claimed that one had to interpret all of these and that it was a jungle. It sounds reasonable–there is so much stuff there in the past 2,000 years of Church history and some of it is complex, how can we know what it means–but that is the whole point of the Catechism: It summarizes clearly the teachings of the Church.

    Now, if one was desirous, he could go back and read the Councils’ decisions. Read about Arius’ condemnation at Nicaea–it is not unclear what happened, nor is the first part of the Nicene Creed formulated at that Council unclear–and continue doing that for other Councils and encyclicals. You can go back and read the Church Fathers and then the saints from 500 AD – 1500 AD (and beyond). You don’t have to, but if you do, you will see the same Catholic beliefs we have today on every page of their letters.

    However, as I have shown, the voice of “the church” is lost in a miasma of complexity and confusion. Just what is “the church” saying?! Lord have mercy on any well-intentioned soul who really tries to interpret all the data.

    So your statement here is demonstrated to be false, or at best, a gross exaggeration. Go buy a Catechism and read it like I did as a Protestant, and you will know what the Church teaches.

    Oh, if you like, interact with my original post. Please interact with every statement, element, paragraph.
    No? Why not?

    I believe now I have responded to the bulk of your arguments.

    May Christ be with you,
    Devin

  38. [...] sites over the past several months, and yesterday on Called to Communion, a Protestant interlocutor said this about the Reformation and the Protestant canon of Scripture: History books tell of of the [...]

  39. hey Matt,

    in #33 you asked me seven completely random questions in a row, after an opening line that feels a little, well, condescending. i read #33 and feel like i have your finger in my eye.

    i just want to reiterate that the few questions i’ve asked you have been entirely genuine and specifically related to assertions you’ve made. the general sweeping claims you keep making, then refuse to clarify except with additional general, sweeping claims—like the new one in #34, that somehow Protestants enjoy ‘so much general agreement’ that Catholics lack—aren’t really helpful for a conversation with former, life-long Protestants.

    i keep getting the sense that you might not realize that pretty much everyone here has been a very active, born-again, sincere Protestant most of their lives. i’m in my late 30s and have been Catholic for one whole year, which means i’ve been attending Protestant churches (in at least 5 denominations), reading Protestant books, for over 3 decades. granted, i’m not that bright a guy, so that may be 3 decades wasted on me, but i just want to make sure you understand that Protestantism isn’t a big mystery for me.

    so yes, like you, like everybody else here, i’ve always read the Bible: Why should that have changed after my conversion to Catholicism? As Matt Yonke’s article points out, “the Word of God recorded in Sacred Scripture has a special place in the life of the [Catholic] Church: as its guide, as its greatest earthly treasure, and as its greatest source of wisdom and guidance.”

    about Ephesians: Can you clarify the nature of the promise you’re referring to? i’m not sure i get the gist of your question, and I want to answer honestly, so help me better understand what precisely you’re asking.

    there’s some irony in your choice of Ephesians: as Matt Yonke’s article says, “Protestants simply have no way to verify a canon apart from a subjective internal witness,” and Ephesians is a great example of this problem. the prolegomena (in vol III) to Alford’s Greek Testament points out that Wilhelm de Wette and Ferdinand Baur rejected Paul’s authorship of Ephesians, with Baur going so far as to reject Ephesians on account of its Gnosticism and Montanism. i wonder… do you believe Ephesians really should be in the Bible?

    Pax Christi,
    w

  40. W,
    Thank you for the time you take to write. And I am sorry for doing my ‘hit-and-run’ apologetic approach. Maybe I am just trying to have a little peevish fun. My fault there. I will behave.

    The truth is, regardless of Catholic perspectives, the churches I have gone to generally agree on the canon and even the greater teachings (I was raised Lutheran, have gone to very conservative Presbyterian churches, not go to a biblically conservative ‘non-denominational’ community church).

    Now, I believe as we grow in the Lord’s grace, not “leaning on our own understanding”, etc, He shows us the Word and unity and truth and Scripture. I won’t get lost in ancient arguments in order to participate in the present grace and reality of the Lord. I won’t do it any more than I will try to figure out my great, great, great grandfather in order to accept my father’s last name. Does that make sense? I will receive what has come down to me from the church. Concerning interpretation of Scripture, we are led by grace to see the teachings in unity. I *do not* answer for every denomination any more than you answer for every American being that you are in America (or another country if you life there). Hope that is helpful and makes sense.

    With that said, while the Catholic captivation with history is really interesting and maybe impressive to some, look not for “see how historical we are”. I look for “see how much of the written Word” we can see and understand. This is life, nutrition and oxygen.

    Now, I do believe there are Christians in the Catholic church. But I believe that because the Word is somehow present, illuminating and saving, even in spite of what I am convinced is not biblical (read: not from the Lord’s revelation). I see the sunlight getting through the canopy of the trees, if you will – not *coming from the tree*.

    You will find you get away from the general tone and spirit of Scripture the more you are Catholic. You will become preoccupied with historical teachings, but never really the ‘meat’ of Scriptural proclamation – yes, especially in the letters.

    With that said, I have been in some many of these discussions, that I don’t “take the bait” of excessive historical references. Let’s get to the meat of Scripture.

    Take care,
    Matt

  41. Devin,
    Sorry, I may not have seen your post.
    How is one born again? That is a work of God. He does it (See Ephesians 2, John 1:13, 3:3, etc.) It is something God does, then we repond to Him.

    You are correct, I won’t respond to your points. I will encourage you to read the Scriptures, prayfully for a long, long period of time. “Seek, and you will find.”

    Don’t worry about your “personal interpretation.” Let us ask the Author for His interpretation. Then it is a matter of submission. To this end may we all labor.

    Thank you all for your time.

    2 Timothy 3:16
    Matt

  42. @Matt-
    Just out of curiosity, and not to condescend, how do you interpret Matthew 16:18-19? I don’t want to get into Petrine primacy here (yet), just use it for context (for the sake of time and other topics that are more crucial to the present one). I want you to particularly confront what “keys” meant to first century Jewish disciples and their Davidic implications; if you see any or otherwise. Secondly, consider the act of “binding” and “loosing”. What did this mean to first century Jews? If you see this passage as having to be interpreted another way, please indulge.*

    I would also like to respond to one of your earlier statements in #5, revisited in #26:

    And the Bible is read during the Mass, though it is not referred to with definitive authority.

    Have you ever been to a Catholic Mass? This sounds awfully inexperienced and opposite to reality. The Liturgy proceeds from scripture and is completely reverent to its definitive authority. In fact, after every reading of Sacred Scripture the Lector proclaims, “the Word of the Lord” And responsively, the congregation says, “thanks be to God!” And, when the Gospel of our Lord is read, it is dealt with an even greater amount of reverence. But I will leave that as a surprise, hoping that you will one day experience it if you have not yet.

    Furthermore, and most importantly, the homiletic portion of the Mass submits entirely to the scripture readings. The Presider/Deacon cannot stray from the portions read, and must deliver his teaching accordingly.
    In doing so, parishioners are liturgically safeguarded from sermons that may bastardize the text for the sake of a presupposed topical sermon (proof texting, etc.). There is a pleasant reversal, at least in my own experience, throughout the protestant realms – mainly the non-denominational one(s)…. I am not saying that this is always done in their services, I am just saying that it is less likely to happen in a Catholic Mass or Divine Liturgy. It is where a preacher thinks of a topical piece to teach on and then scrambles for biblical proof. Not to compartmentalize, but I have been in services as a Protestant and have heard sermons with dozens of scripture references. IMHO, this is what creates an in-definitive approach to Sacred Scripture and a “miasma of complexity”.

  43. Tim: In #19 you said:

    The council of Rome in 382 AD canonized all 73 books of the bible as did the Council of Carthage in 397 AD. Both of these councils were ratified by the pope and so the Catholic Church has long had a set canon which included the DC books. Trent only reaffirmed the long standing tradition.

    In The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible no mention is made of of a Council of Rome (382 C.E.) and they note that “At the beginning of the fifth century, councils adopted his position in drawing up the Old Testament canon. Although these councils were regional, the unanimity expressed in their lists represents Church usage in the West….Based on a time-honoured tradition, the Councils of Florence in 1442 and Trent in 1564 resolved for Catholics any doubts and uncertainties.” What the PBC seem to have said is that until Trent there was no canon strictly speaking, what authority does a regional council have? If the Council of Rome did formalise a canon why then is not more made of this in both this document and the CCC? I am not doubting what you say, I just find it odd.

  44. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your response, even if to tell me that you don’t plan to respond to my arguments. You are not obligated to do so. I appreciate your advice to read the Bible for a long time prayerfully. I will endeavor to do that.

    I want to make an observation for you to consider about delving into history. You wrote both of the following things:

    We really have only partial and incomplete lists from the first few centuries that acknowledge books of the canon. It wasn’t really until the 1500s and 1600s that such matters where solidly addressed by both Rome and Evangelicals. I am on the Reformation side because I wanted a more ancient and eternal tradition, avoiding “novelties” that accrued over the centuries. Nothing like a Reformation guided by a sovereign Lord, working through His broken and imperfect people. But the history books tell us more detail on that. I will go with the Proto-canonical books, again going with an older and more established tradition.

    and then:

    I won’t get lost in ancient arguments in order to participate in the present grace and reality of the Lord. I won’t do it any more than I will try to figure out my great, great, great grandfather in order to accept my father’s last name. Does that make sense? I will receive what has come down to me from the church.

    You have made decisions about what to believe and affirmed your beliefs from reading history books of ancient and 500 year-old events and learning about old things. You speak about the Reformation, the ancient canonical lists of books, the Reformers, the “church”, the “Proto-canonicals”, and claim that the Catholic Church throughout history added “novelties.” Fair enough.

    But then when your beliefs are challenged with their own internal consistency against history, Luther, the Reformation, the ancient canonical lists, etc., you refuse to respond because you say that “you won’t get lost in ancient arguments.” But you already have looked into the ancient arguments and history and make claims based off of them. So you are using a double-standard: You can appeal to ancient history and Reformation history to make claims but when I do to challenge them, you hit the eject button and fly away.

    Finally, you say you simply receive what has come down to you from “the church.” But with a thousand “churches” and Ecclesial Communities claiming to be “the Church” or teach “God’s truth,” this statement is begging the question. Which “church,” exactly, is the one that Christ founded? Which “church” teaches the fullness of the truth? And deciding which church is that Church involves delving into ancient and medieval history and arguments.

    That’s all I wanted to offer for your consideration. I will continue reading my Bible and praying, and I trust that you will to, and that the Lord of Truth will lead us both to the fullness of the truth.

  45. Steve,
    You may have a point on the Mass speaking about the various readings. I have been to maybe a 50 or 60 masses over the years. Have good friends that are Roman Catholic, etc.

    Will write more later if time permits, not on things ecclesiastical, but more on proclamation Gospel itself. More in the locus of Scripture than history since apostolic times.

    Enjoy the Lord’s day. Dominus vobiscum.

    Matt

  46. Dear Matt,

    As someone who spends his career analyzing data, I found your comment above confusing. You said: “consider, Catholics don’t just have a Bible of 66 books to interpret; they have so much more to condense into meaningful understanding: The have numerous Councils, innumerable papel (sic) encyclicals, and ordinary and extraordinary teachings and utterances.”

    In my academic work, more data is almost universally a good thing. When you have a small data set, you can easily create simple and shitty theories that fit the data just as well as the truth — if not better! It’s when you have a larger data set that incorrect theories are most easily refuted in comparison with the truth. The truth is usually more complicated — or at least more subtle — then shitty but simple falsehoods. We need data to be able to see that, and, generally speaking, the more data the better.

    Of course, when our data is not simply a static data set, but a resource which responds to our needs as they arise, then this is even more useful. The Catholic Magisterium can and has responded to heresies by spreading the truth; but, even better: it has responded to the inevitable over-reaction _against_ said heresies as well.

    For example, the arians denied Christ’s full divinity. As part of the over-reaction against this, other heretics denied that Christ had a specifically human nature at all. The Catholic magisterium handled both heresies admirably, by responding to the original heresy and then responding to the over-reaction against it. In this way, the Catholic Magisterium has successfully made use of its ability to offer living witness throughout its history, showing the superiority of such a witness compared to the witness of static words.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  47. The sun is down, the Sabbath is over.

    Document question (the “it is written” question):

    Okay, what does the Roman Catholic church use as its primary document? Obviously not the Bible.

    However, I am wondering about Vatican II documents or the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Can anyone give me a magisterially authoritative answer on which document has more weight?

    “Do not go beyond what is written…” – The Scriptures

    Matt

  48. Matt, Writing: “Do not go beyond what is written…” goes beyond what is written.

  49. Richard -

    Sorry for the delay in response. I thought I had already replied. I haven’t read that document but I also find it a bit odd that they didn’t mention those two important councils. But it’s not altogether unfathomable because it seems, by the introduction, that the purpose of that document was to show the importance of reading the NT along with the OT even in modern times, and discussion on the formation of the canon doesn’t seem to add much to that discussion.

    The local councils didn’t carry the certainty of authority that an ecumenical council would of course, so that accounts for the mention of Trent and Florence removing all doubts, but important dogmatic findings in ecumenical councils often find themselves preceded by local councils. The fact that these councils were ratified by the pope gives them more authority than a standard local council would have. But the main point is not that the Church had dogmatically accepted a canon by that time which included the 73 books, but that the DC books were not simply added to a 66 book canon at Trent. They were always there by general acceptance (and had even officially been accepted by Rome although not in the fullest exercise of the Church’s authority… i.e. an ecumenical council).

    Why didn’t the question of the canon come up at Nicaea or any of the other ecumenical councils? Because no one was teaching sola scriptura, they didn’t have a printing press, and it simply wasn’t as important to the pre-16th century world to have a neat and dogmatically defined canon as it is now. I think this lack of importance is even more pronounced in the East. Hope this is helpful. Thanks for bringing that up.

  50. Hi Matt,

    Okay, what does the Roman Catholic church use as its primary document? Obviously not the Bible.

    If there is any “document” that the Catholic Church uses as its “primary” one, it is the Bible. The Bible is read during the liturgy of the Word at every Mass, and the Mass is celebrated every single day in parishes all over the world.


    However, I am wondering about Vatican II documents or the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Can anyone give me a magisterially authoritative answer on which document has more weight?

    Matt, this question doesn’t make sense because, for example, writings from Vatican II appear in the Catechism! It is like asking: Which has more weight, the 1st Ecumenical Council or the Nicene Creed? Well, since the 1st Ecumenical Council was at Nicaea in 325 AD and in that Council the bishops formulated the first part of the Nicene Creed, both of them have great weight and it is nonsensical to pit them against one another.

    The Catechism is a handy book that contains the Catholic Church’s teachings, which includes teachings from sacred Tradition and the sacred Scriptures as expounded over the past 2,000 year by the twenty-one Ecumenical Councils, the writings of the saints and Doctors of the Church, etc.

    Hope this helps.

  51. Devin,
    Thank you for your response. I really was thinking about that question, though, since I have been on this site that last few days. I like your response, however: “The Bible”.

    We do have more in common than we sometimes realize.

    Hm.

    Matt

  52. Devin,
    Speaking of the primary document, the Bible, let me ask you a question.

    If you met a man or women near their end, and they didn’t know Jesus (maybe they are in a hospital or very old or with terminal sickness) what Bible verse(s) would you give them to share the Good News with them? How would you prepare them, going by the Scripture? How would you try to save them (only God can do that, but you know what I mean).

    Matt

  53. Hi Matt,

    I would take them down the “Roman Road” of course! :) (A little bit of my Evangelical Protestant background there.)

    Seriously, I would focus on the core Gospel message agreed on by Protestants and Catholics, and that would include those key verses from Romans as well as John 3:16 (if I had only one verse I could share, it would be this one). I would also share John 14:6 and speak of God’s grace and love for them, as well as their need for repentance (which the Roman Road verses talk about well).

    I think that this is an area–the sharing of the core Gospel message–that our Protestants brothers and sisters often do much better than Catholics: The explicit sharing of the Gospel via Biblical passages.

    What do you think of my answer?

  54. Addendum:

    I re-read your comment and should also add that, after they responded by God’s grace to the sharing of the Gospel, if they then wanted to know “what to do next,” I would have to ask them more questions to know things like: 1) Have they already been baptized? 2) Are they Catholic or Protestant?

    If they are Catholic and say, have already been baptized, then making a good Confession would be their next step into a return to full communion with the Church.

    If they haven’t been baptized ever, I would share with them the need for that and the Catholic Church’s teaching on the grace God gives them through it.

  55. Devin, brother…now I can recognized you in there :-)

    I actually really like and even love the verses you share, and I believe that would actually be ‘salvific’ if someone was not already saved…! I will write later if time permits and I have more to say. Of course I am on the ‘protesting’ – ahem – evangelical side with a washed and hopefully more sanctified understanding of Reformed thought (more sanctified than those who are angry and bitter about the good news among the Reformed…ironically).

    Good words, friend. You really are praying and reading your Bible. :-) I am encouraged to continue doing so as well.

    Here’s a big one from the Word:
    “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133

    Matt

  56. Interesting article.

    You said: “The Catholic Church’s teaching on Scripture avoids the epistemological problems laid out above concerning the origin and authority of Scripture.”

    To be honest, I find that the Catholic Church’s response to this epistemological “problem” simply moves the question back one step, which becomes: “How does an individual know with infallible certainty, that the Roman Catholic Church is an infallible interpreter”?

    To become aware of this ‘truth’, you must engage in private interpretation of the historical sources that would lead one to believe that the Catholic Church is infallible.

    I don’t see how this is any better than an individual having fallible certainty of the canon of the fallible Church being infallible?

  57. Ariel, you actually articulate the point and question I have (you say in more succinctly and effectively). But yes…what Ariel said.

    …in addition :-) and to refine: One could point to the collective voice of the magisterium or individual popes, and still have to “interpret” what they claim. We never can shake that sort of existential individual task of hearing, analyzing, considering, JUDGING (!!), and all, that must be done to believe anything.

    Matt

  58. Back to brother Devin,
    Yes, the entire baptism thing. I think we on the evangelical side often play down baptism. We DO apprehend (the book of Acts, etc.) that regeneration/born-again-ness occurs before the water often enough. However, there is a beautiful picture of the water washing and the Spirit descending “like a dove” on our Lord. I think of Peter in Acts saying to be baptised, wash your sins away and receive the gift of the Third Member. Such grace.
    Yet, there is something ‘sacramental’ about the water that Lutherans and Catholics have that is really distilling and grace filled. Something tangible which to touch and experience. A physical remembrance of the water in the Lord Jesus, from the inauguration of his earthly ministry until the piercing at the cross, the “washing of regeneration”, etc. I can understand something of the Catholic
    viewpoint in this manner.

    Matt

  59. Dear Ariel,

    You said: ““How does an individual know with infallible certainty, that the Roman Catholic Church is an infallible interpreter”? To become aware of this ‘truth’, you must engage in private interpretation of the historical sources that would lead one to believe that the Catholic Church is infallible. I don’t see how this is any better than an individual having fallible certainty of the canon of the fallible Church being infallible?”

    To begin with, there is one thing that Protestants and Catholics share here: we both do not reach certainty without an act of Faith. The Catholic Church does not provide a magic wand that allows you to avoid having to put faith in things in order to certainly believe them and base your life on them. But there is a big difference: the _thing_ that we put our faith in is different,very different, and this difference has consequences.

    The Catholic puts his faith in the Church, believing that Christ’s promises to that Church ensure that what that Church claims to proclaim infallibly she really does proclaim infallibly. This allows the Catholic to believe the full Catholic canon, which includes the Protestant canon as a subset.

    But in order for the Protestant to have certainty regarding the canon, the Protestant must put his faith in the decisions of the early Protestant reformers as they hashed out their respective histories of the early Church. Once we see this difference, the other differences become more clear:

    (1) I find it easier to make an act of faith in a Church that claims to be infallible than to make an act of faith in a group of men who did not claim any infallibility. In other words, the Church at least asks me to have Faith with a capital “F” in its teachings. The Protestant reformers did not ask us to have Faith with a capital “F” in their teachings. They simply asked us to believe that they had done the best human job possible; if God, by some miracle, did prevent them from erring, then so much the better — but they weren’t going to claim that.

    (2) Educated Protestants have periodically doubted and rejected the canon that has been offered to them from antiquity. This happened in the original Reformation, in which the highly-educated Martin Luther wanted to reject the epistle of James, for obvious reasons. Ultimately, most Protestants were unified on rejecting one particular set books from the Catholic canon that had been read as scripture in our liturgies for over a thousand years. But as the Reformation has progressed, later spiritual descendants have also revised the canon. Most recently, there were strong attempts to claim high authority for gnostic writings. Now, when this sort of thing happens in the Catholic Church, we have a principled way of labeling these people dissenters: they are denying the infallibility of the Church that Christ founded! But when this happens in protestant circles, there is no principled way to label the culprits dissenters. The culprits are just doing the same thing to their own protestant traditions that Martin Luther did to the Catholic Tradition when he called the epistle of James “an epistle of straw.”

    So we both make acts of Faith. But you need to make an act of Faith that God ensured the protestant canon (developed visibly through the historical analysis of a group of Catholic dissenters during a highly politicized era) happened to be the true canon — even when everything else that groups of Christians do is not worthy of faith with a capital “F.” But we make an act of Faith in a Church that claims to have infallibly spoken in several areas, including the Canon, and thus we continue to read the same scriptures in our liturgies that we did one thousand years ago — and when a Catholic tries to dissent from this, we have a principled way of labeling them a dissenter.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  60. K. Doran said it very well. I want to add some scripture here, not to complicate things but to support K’s response on the matter at hand..

    Matthew 16:18-19
    Acts 15
    1 Timothy 3:15

    In St. Matthew’s Gospel:
    Particularly, confront what “keys” meant to first century Jewish disciples and their Davidic implications; if you see any or otherwise. Secondly, consider the act of “binding” and “loosing”. What did this mean to first century Jews?

    In Acts:
    Here we see Christ’s words in Matthew acted out for the first time…

    In St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy:
    Consider the illustrations for the Church used by St. Paul in his epistle….pillar, foundation (some interpretations: bulwark)….For these to be truly fulfilled, so that the Church may house truth, some level of protection has to be available to the Church (don’t overlook that pillar, foundation, and bulwark all have protective implications). In the Catholic Church, it is infallibility…which is a gift given in certain contexts and not a constant. The Pope enjoys it fully yet conditionally (as an arbiter and ratifier at councils and when he speaks ex-cathedra; which has only been done 2 times in the Church’s history!).

    If you see these passages as having to be interpreted another way, please indulge.*

  61. hey Ariel,

    your question’s a fair one: the ‘Wilson vs. Hitchens’ article (and Episode 4 podcast) has some relevant elaboration, along with the articles entitled ‘Calvin on Self-Authentication’ and ‘Ecclesial Deism’.

    the way your question’s worded reduces the historical Catholic position and the Reformation protest to one irreducible, unattractive, and essentially Protestant position, namely, ‘all anybody has is private interpretation’, which isn’t true.

    let’s agree for the sake of discussion that the historical Christian claim (as evidenced in the Church Fathers) can be summarized as follows:

    It’s the Apostolic Witness guided by the Holy Spirit that provides the ‘authentic’ measure or rule and not the Text/Scripture (as if it were some disembodied, independent, self-elucidating thing).

    the content, significance, and implication of that position is just altogether radically different from the Protest which tries, first, to oppose the Text to any so-called ‘authentic Apostolic Witness’ and then claims that it’s the Text that makes an ‘authentic witness’ possible.

    what’s changed in the Protest?

    for one, there’s no longer any principle of unity. if the only thing anyone has is private interpretation, then there’s really no principled distinction between Marcion’s protest (c. AD 140) and Luther’s (c. AD 1520), certainly no principled difference between Marcion’s canon and Luther’s. heck, why not make your own canon? what would have been the essential difference between, say, the Ethiopian eunuch’s own interpretation of Isaiah and Philip’s interpretation in Acts 8?

    there’s no longer any foundation for the Text, except of course the Text itself, which doesn’t tell us which books should be included or what, precisely, any of the included books must mean. in the Catholic tradition, the foundation for the Text is the authentic, Spirit-filled, Apostolic Witness, “the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth,” as Paul says, the thing constituted by Christ as the Twelve-person ‘authentic’ witness with Peter himself providing the principle of unity for the Twelve who are, as a body, unified around the one Lord Jesus Christ.

    the Catholic perspective makes it possible to speak of a ‘deposit of Faith’ or ‘base memory of the Church’ (the latter phrase is from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s book entitled, like this website, Called to Communion) against which various protests can be measured, whether they’re launched in the second century, the sixteenth, or the nineteenth. Catholic ecclesiology—by any standard profound and sublime—is not nothing; by converting to Catholicism, i haven’t lost private interpretation and wasn’t hoping to. i embraced, instead, the living Apostolic Witness, the normative Christian and sacred tradition, that makes a private faith comprehensible as ‘orthodox’ and ‘authentic’ in the first place.

    best,
    w

  62. I am at least glad that Roman catholic people do get some exposure to Scripture. This is a generation that is growing up with the mass in English and the Bible read during the mass in a language accessible. Who would disparage that? I look forward to seeing where this will go in the decades to come. Vatican II was helpful in “throwing open the window” as Angelo Roncalli (John XXIII) proclaimed, referring to his ‘inspirations’. The production of Dei Verbum may help our catholic friends begin to embrace the greatest apprehension of biblical truth since the apostolic age.

    So…I encourage you all to read your Bibles prayerfully. We will have greater recognition of what you all are doing there, as you go back further into the greater traditions. Majesties are found in Scripture – Magisterial authority. For such is the power of the Revelation. Just open the Scriptures and read, as indeed, more and more catholics are doing.

    Catholics would not have even had a discussion under an article entitled “Hermeneutics and the Authority of Scripture” a hundred years ago. Few would have predicted such a development in Roman Catholicism. However, the governance of all things is under our Sovereign Lord. His sovereign and weighty hand always has its way. Let us pray that we are all “found” in the Scriptures at the day’s end. This day, is the new beginning.

    Matt

  63. Matt, you said:

    Catholics would not have even had a discussion under an article entitled “Hermeneutics and the Authority of Scripture” a hundred years ago.

    Which 19th century Catholic works have you read that led you to believe that Catholics wouldn’t/couldn’t have had this type of discussion back then?

  64. Tim,

    Can’t even remember to be honest. But I trust you will find a greater catholic interest in the Bible during the current time.

  65. Matt,

    We often trust in assumptions that have little or no basis in reality. If you read some Catholic material from that time period, or really any time period, you’ll find that the Catholic theologians have always commanded an impressive knowledge of the Scriptures. As for the laity, even with all the information so readily available today, Catholics and Protestants alike remain largely ignorant of the Scriptures.

  66. hey Matt,

    one of the things i love about this website is the invitation its authors extend to everyone, Catholic or non-Catholic, to get informed and participate in dialogue. getting informed means having the courage to step outside of loose, unsupported generalizations that are often uncharitable—sometimes even implicitly mean—and actually research the topics being discussed.

    you might have blind faith in a general ‘idea’ that Catholicism somehow only just discovered Scripture (which you have not been able to define) in the last hundred years, but blind faith in general-and-unsupportable ‘ideas’ aren’t very useful for friendly dialogue that’s intended to move people forward in their faith journey.

    you told me in #40, for example, “You will find you get away from the general tone and spirit of Scripture the more you are Catholic. You will become preoccupied with historical teachings, but never really the ‘meat’ of Scriptural proclamation.” aside from a hurtful and spectacularly arrogant verve, those sentences don’t offer much.

    i feel like you’re on the margin, tossing ugly assertions at us, and i just want to extend a sincere invitation to you to actually come in and truly participate in the discussion; sincerely (and prayerfully) evaluate the many unsupported assertions you’ve made and been challenged to evidence. is there anything i can do to help make that happen, bro?

    in #62 you seem to offer some high praise for Dei Verbum: can you explain what you meant by saying that Dei Verbum might help Catholics “begin to embrace the greatest apprehension of biblical truth since the apostolic age”? that sounds like a very big compliment to Dei Verbum, but i wasn’t sure, so i thought i’d invite you to clarify.

    Pax Christi,
    w

  67. W,
    What is your name? I don’t do well with initials. Are you hiding from something? Seriously. It is weird not to see people at least state their first real name online.

    Dei Verbum – in my layman opinion – is a good document. I haven’t read it in awhile, but I need to go back and review. I remember impressions of things I have read. As far as “documented” things to support what I say, well…I don’t have that kind of time on my hands. Not currently anyway.

    Also, are more here converts to Roman Catholicism from former Reformed or Evangelical Churches?
    I am merely wondering about the make-up in the discussion room. Former Lutherans? Presbyterians? Calvinists? Baptists? Just curious about everyone’s journey.

    Um…to others (Tim). I have read enough to speak with a strong sense of convictions on these matters. Vatican I and Vatican II, etc. You would have to agree that a particularly greater emphasis has come to the catholic church over the centuries. I don’t know what you have read, how long you have been reading, your history and particular choices in your reading. Please feel free to give an overview of your reading the last 10 years or so (however long you feel like sharing).

    I am more of a conversationalist, so I usually just see where the conversation goes, hence my manner. I don’t mean to be “hurtful” or engage in “arrogant verve”, etc. Sorry about the manner in which that comes through the internet. Maybe I also have a few issues to consider myself, in my ‘internet tone’ etc.

    Matt

  68. W,
    Sorry, I just saw that your name is Wilkens. Didn’t see that.

    Pax of the Lord,
    Matt

  69. Folks on this thread,
    I have gone back and looked over some of my statements/posts since some of the admonishments that have been given. I am very serious when I say I deserve the admonishments (given from W, etc.)
    I apologize to the list for my way of loose (arrogant also) manner of speaking on the Internet. I think if we were discussing things in person, my tone would be seen to be more gracious (it seems worse in print :-(. However, I have thrown things out without a lot of historical support. I do that because, like so many, my sense of things is from years of reading. I am not trying to be a scholar nor lawyer, so you won’t find me giving a great lot of details in line with what I am saying. However, to hold me to some textual support from various sources is fair. I will purpose to do better. If I stay active on this list, I will try to remember or find the sources/books that I am quoting (usually paraphrasing from).

    Perhaps I spent too much time in the OPC (96-98), so when I get around the apologist end of any community, it brings out my edgy side. Not that I read G. Bahsen a lot, but I was around the culture.

    Fair enough, gentlemen?

    Matt

  70. Matt, thanks and we’re glad to have you here. I think it’s always easy to come across the wrong way in comboxes and forums. We all have to be careful how we word things, not just you. You’re definitely right, in person, it is much easier to come across how you mean to come across. So, I look forward to interacting with you more in the future.

    It seems clear to me that you have a heart for God and desire to seek the truth in humility. That can only lead to good things. I strive for the same; it’s that darn humility part that’s hard. :)

  71. hey Matt, the posting guidelines (available at the ‘About’ link at top of page) ask us to pray for one another as we discuss. that’s about the coolest thing ever. very effective in my case.

    yes, as to #69, you’re being very fair and very kind too. my first interaction here was (unintentionally) uncharitable, so call me out if i seem to get out of line. i appreciate you interacting with me, man.

    (and btw, about #67/68, i often drop my name for simple “w” because i get called “williamson”, “williams”, “wilson”, “wilkson”, “wilkinson”, and so on. Ack.)

    Pax Christi,
    w

  72. Matt,
    To answer your question about affiliation, I was in the OPC from 2000-2006 and the PCA from 2006-2008. The first 5 years in the OPC were in the congregation which was formerly pastored by Greg Bahnsen prior to his passing, so to say that I am/was connected with those folks is an understatement.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  73. Gentlemen, Thank you for your grace in my repentance. Seriously.

    Tim, I hear all your words and need to. Looking a little more at this site, I see you came over from the PCA. I currently go to a community church (Bethany, here in Laurel, Maryaland), however, my beloved wife and I have been visiting some PCAs in the area. Will see where God leads us. I have some reservations (I am really evangelical while liking Calvin’s Institutes and some commentaries. However…). Maybe I can encourage them all to remember Augustine. :-) You know, take the edge off some of their rigid Westminster applications to the faith. Anyway, good to meet you here. Look forward to possible discussions.

    W, I went to the “About” link and read. Great charter. I should have gone there first. :-O
    You know, I have been recently reading Benedict J. Groeschel book again, entitled “Augustine”. He reminds me of charity and knowledge going together (Augustine was apparently big on that truth). I think that really is the only Christian epistemology that is heaven sent. And yes, we ‘must’ remember to pray for all with whom we speak, especially on religious/theological matters. Good word.

    Jonathan, wow! You were close to it all. Good to see you here. The OPC church I went to had some theonomic Rushdoony folk around. So there was sometimes speech about Bahnsen and North, etc. I actually had Rushdoony’s first two installments of his “Institutes” for awhile (interesting, but I didn’t stay with them).

    Blessings to you all. I am busy with life like many of us, but will stay around a bit and discuss if it seems profitable and I am not neglecting things on the home front. :-) However, I think my time here will be largely limited to commenting off of the comments of others (or major topical post). I say “commenting” as opposed to writing a small article. I will try to quote where I read what if it seems necessary.

    I recently read a wikipedia quote on John Paul II. He said, “the future does not begin tomorrow; it begins today”.

    I do like the late John Paul II. I read some of George Weigel’s bio on him, Witness to Hope.

    Blessings and grace to all,
    Matt

  74. Essential for understanding a contemporary expression of the Protestant position on NT canonics is Herman Ridderbos’s book, Redemptive History and The New Testament Scriptures (2nd rev. ed.; trans. H. De Jongste and rev. R. B. Gaffin, Jr.; Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1988).

  75. Rfwhite, we’ve been saying basically the same thing about the canon and the potential for certainty regarding it and no one has offered a substantial challenge to our arguments. This article is a good example. There are no standing challenges to what Matt Yonke has argued for here. If you have an objection, please raise it rather than pointing to a book. If the book has good points for the Protestant position, you should be able to summarize them. If your arguments are sound, then we may go read the book. But if you can’t make a strong argument for your case, then we don’t have any reason to read it.

  76. Jonathan, wait a second.

    Do you live and Maryland, and did you and your wife go to a PCA Church in Burtonsville, “Covenant”. I recently talked to the pastor there. He said he knew someone on this list (we were talking about theological intersections and I mentioned this list). I think he gave your name. His name is Jeremy Tuinstra. Is that a connection or acquaintance somehow?

    Don’t mean to freak you out if so. It just dawned on me when I saw your name.

    Matt (in Laurel, Maryland)

  77. This is a comment. Don’t know if it is a challenge as much as an observation of reality.

    Concerning Presbyterianism and even a local non-denominational church, there is, I submit,
    a de facto “magisterial” interpretation of Scripture found within the local church, elders and tradition itself. To be sure, this language is not used and may never be. However, we have our ‘traditions’ in our teachings. Now, are those traditions as that of the Catholic church? No, of course not. Protestant “tradition” has a great need to see all things in the Scripture. Now, this is not merely an event, this is also a process, a process that can take years, decades and – yes – even centuries. Will “Protestantism” ever have a unified voice? Well, that is like asking will Americans ever sing the same song? Perhaps the analogy breaks down, but the point is there is great diversity.

    Yet, I submit, that among all true believers there is also a unity recognized, experienced and made known. Where? Through the Lord, written in the Scripture and testified to among the faithful. The church is “an event” to be sure, to borrow an observation from Ratzinger (when he was referring to the Prostestant church). I think that was from his book “Introduction to Christianity.” I’ve read portions of a few of his works.

    Just my musings, folks.
    Matt

  78. Tim A. Troutman: I apologize for provoking you. I was not aware that comments on this site had to be framed directly as either objections to the lead post or arguments for it. I honestly thought it would be clear what my intention was. Allow me to recast my remark.

    I take it from my interaction with Bryan Cross, Andrew Presslar, and other lead commentators here that you are both serious and passionate about the topics on which you comment. For that reason, when I noticed that there was no reference to the Ridderbos book in the essay or in the endnotes (sorry if I missed it), it struck me that perhaps Matt Yonke is unaware of the work. If so, I offer a generic, garden-variety bibliographic note for him and any others who wish to be sure to read the works considered essential by Protestants for understanding the contemporary expression of their view of NT canonics. If you, Matt, and others have read it, please don’t take offense for my bringing it up. If you haven’t read it, my “modest proposal”: tolle lege. It’s a standard text in Reformed seminaries on the discussion of canon, engaging the points Matt brings up in that heading. Meanwhile, I will continue to appreciate the bibliographic references I am picking up here from you guys.

  79. rfwhite,
    I appreciate the reference. That is a book or at least author I have heard about in different circles. After your reference to Ridderbos (I’ve been hearing his name around for years), I went and looked up the book on amazon.com, etc. Looks like a great reference.

    Have you read it? If so, does it sound like it brings something to the discussion of hermeneutics not only for the layman like myself, but for our Catholic friends to consider concerning Protestant tradition and interpretation of Scripture? I actually think our Catholic friends have good questions and challenges for us, helping us to articulate or views more clearly.

    Matt

  80. Matt: Yes, I have read Ridderbos and used it in my own research, writing, and lecture preparation. The intended audience of the Ridderbos book is academy/specialist, not church/generalist. Overall, however, major portions of it do not require specialized knowledge and are accessible to a wide readership; it is a short, compact book. I agree with you that the questions and challenges being discussed here are vital to all sides.

  81. Rfwhite,
    Very good, I may have to add that book to my list. Are you a seminary professor? Or are you moving towards that?

    Peace to you,
    Matt

  82. Matt: I was a seminary prof and am now the president and a professor at a new institution associated with Ligonier.

  83. rfwhite,

    Thanks for the book recommendation–I will consider buying it because I would like to see what it says.

    Following up on Tim’s response, I also would like to see someone respond to the original article’s points and rebut some or all of them. Even taking something from that book on Protestant NT canonics and using it as an argument or answer would be great. If I or the collaborators behind Called to Communion had found a rock-solid answer for how we could accept the canon of Scripture, given the historical reality of its “distillation,” we might still be Protestant.

  84. Devin Rose: Don’t forget borrowing instead of or before buying. Libraries can save us readers money … sometimes. If I have something to add beyond bibliography, I’ll pass it on.

  85. Devin,
    If you had looked to the Protestant “sensus fidelium” you would have had it made, and would never have had to leave. :-)

    I am making a light comment, I know. But I actually think that really is the case. I do think that Catholic language gives us clues on how to view ourselves (like the way I employed “sensus fidelium”, etc.). I don’t think we Protestants are yet sophisticated enough to have a concise articulation of our position that unites all facets of Protestantism on this matter. Not definitively (though some may disagree with me). However, we will always say that the canon has been recognized by the singular Church (elect, called, faithful, etc.). Such is our tradition and teachings.

  86. rfwhite,
    That is neat. I respect R.C. Sproul’s approach to the faith. Saw him once in the D.C. area about 12 year ago.

    Matt

  87. Well, this was a good thread but I don’t think the ball was moved down the field in terms of “unity”.
    I think we all have our recognized canon still. On the Protestant side, we have the 66 books, reflecting the proto-canonical list. On the Catholic side they have the 66, with the deutero-canonical additions to the OT. Catholics say they are right, pointing ultimately to their magisterial authority. We Protestants say we are right, pointing to the Scriptures themselves, the witness of the Spirit, and our own tradition and magisterial authorities on the local level.

    Any unity would have to be of a general spirit at this point. There is also the “contra mundum” unity that is mentioned in the topic article. I do recognize Christians in the Catholic church via their confessions of many things I see in the Scripture. Catholics would recognized Christians outside of “The Church” because of better spirit of Vatican II (“separated brethren”, and general references to other ecclesial communities, etc.).

    So…no Reformation or counter-Reformation today. We all continue to read our Bibles (yes, all of us – even me :-), we keep one another in prayer (as well stated in the charter of this list). We go from there.

    Christians,
    God bless our week,
    Matt

  88. hey Matt,

    Matt Yonke says,

    “evidence supporting the claim that the Scriptures are infallible is unavailable unless we already know which books belong to the canon.”

    how do you know the 66 books you have do, in fact, belong in the canon?

    you wrote “Protestants say we are right, pointing to the Scriptures themselves, the witness of the Spirit…”

    doesn’t Matt Yonke’s article argue that the Scriptures themselves are not sufficient to make a case for a canon? an internal witness (of the Spirit) seems incoherent in practice, with Marcion arguing against canonical books in the second century, Luther in the 16th century, and Ferdinand Baur in the nineteenth.

    how do you refute Matt Yonke’s argument on this point?

    best,
    w

  89. Matt, the reason we’re not moving towards unity is because you’re not responding to the arguments. You’re saying “I’m going to believe what I’ve been taught. To hell with facts and reason.” You’ve been shown to be wrong on your thesis that the Catholic Church added 7 books to an accepted 66 book canon in 6, 19, and recapped in 30. In fact, in 36 you said:

    Fair enough, I need to read a little more on the the stated council, though I believe it to be erroneous. :-)

    But instead of reading a little more, you just keep on making false assertions. I.e. “On the Catholic side they have the 66, with the deutero-canonical additions to the OT” Are you surprised that we’re not moving towards unity? Unity happens when two parties arrive at the truth, not when two parties compromise. That is not real unity.

  90. Tim,
    I don’t assign facts and reason to “gehenna” by any means. However, if you are looking for a scholarly answer to your point, I have to tell you directly, I am no scholar (I don’t have the time to be). However, I do admit that I have not read sufficiently on the stated council. I actually appreciate you telling me about it, because I truly never heard about it (or don’t recall if I have, I should say). However, I don’t feel that reading about one council is going to persuade me that the Roman canon is the legitimate canon any more than I recognize 3 and 4 Maccabees among the Orthodox. As all orthodox Protestants, I receive and recognize the 66 books. Do I say “to the fire with facts and reason”? Not at all. The facts and reason I interact with (other than the grace of God shown in and through Scripture) are the facts and reason of my tradition or heritage. This would involve the authors and writers of the magisterial Reformation (Calvin, Luther and others in the heritage). I am convinced that during the Reformation the greater Christian church put off the Roman Yoke and went forth in the grace of God. Are you looking for a thesis or one book or one Internet posting to convince you about this? I can’t give you that, so I apologize. Have you read the book that rfwhite recommended? Maybe begin there. I hope that as time goes on I will have a more sufficient answer for you. In the mean time, we can be united in the Scriptures. Let’s be honest, we have more in common than we don’t in our respective canons. In fact, you recognized all 66 books of the Protestant canon as being legitimate. So, why don’t Catholics and Protestants begin there. I mean, isn’t that enough?

    Matt

  91. W,
    Didn’t mean to ingore your question but I think the response was covered in my response to Tim.

    I know that the Catholic position is to try to de-legitimize all things Protestant. However, do you really think you will be able to do that?!

    That is my rhetorical question of the day.

    Matt

  92. Matt,

    I’m not looking for a scholarly reply. In fact, you don’t even have to reply to my argument. I’d just ask you to quit taking shots at my Church when you’ve been shown to be wrong or at least shown that we have a good reason for believing what we do to which charge you have not been able to offer a reply.

    I will not read Dr. White’s recommended book because Dr. White himself has not demonstrated that he can make an argument for his case. I wrote a post on my personal blog called “Apologetics and Propaganda” which explains why I won’t read his book. There is, in fact, no argument that suffices to prove the Protestant case for their canon. Protestants can reply “read this book” or as Dr. Clark does when asked a question he can’t answer, “take my class,” but that isn’t an argument.

    If either you or Dr. White have a principled reason to believe in a 66 book canon, then what is it? Otherwise, he shouldn’t recommend books when they haven’t even helped him present his own case.

  93. I know that the Catholic position is to try to de-legitimize all things Protestant.

    You do not know this because as it stands, this statement is false. The Catholic Church affirms all the truth within Protestantism, we only reject the errors. We do indeed reject all things uniquely Protestant because to be unique to Protestantism is to be, by definition, a novelty.

  94. hey Matt,

    #91, no worries—i assumed your response to Tim was meant to cover my question as well. Tim’s response in #93 is spot on (thank you very much, Tim).

    if you (ie, Matt) “know that the Catholic position is to try to de-legitimize all things Protestant,” then you must necessarily “know” this from a Protestant source and not from a Catholic source.

    in other words, you don’t really know (despite all the reading you say you’ve done in key Catholic sources) what the Catholic position is.

    best,
    w

  95. Matt,

    What does it mean to be an “orthodox Protestant”? Who gets to define what is and is not “orthodox”?

  96. But the main point is not that the Church had dogmatically accepted a canon by that time which included the 73 books, but that the DC books were not simply added to a 66 book canon at Trent. They were always there by general acceptance (and had even officially been accepted by Rome although not in the fullest exercise of the Church’s authority… i.e. an ecumenical council).

    Why didn’t the question of the canon come up at Nicaea or any of the other ecumenical councils? Because no one was teaching sola scriptura, they didn’t have a printing press, and it simply wasn’t as important to the pre-16th century world to have a neat and dogmatically defined canon as it is now.

    Is anybody here aware of the fact that the 73 books of the Old Testament were consistently accepted as part of the Old Testament Canon at the Council of Rome 382, Council of Hippo 393 and Council of Carthage 397?

    They didn’t find it necessary to officially declare those 73 books of the Old Testament as well as the 27 books that were likewise accepted as part of the New Testament Canon then in ecumenical council because these already had become universally accepted; therefore, to do so would’ve been moot.

    Again, if y’all truly believe that your Protestant Old Testament is the right canon, I challenge you, for example, look in Hebrews 11, there is a place where it talks about how some of the heroes of the Faith have refused to be released and have been killed and martyred in order to obtain a better Resurrection.

    Now, you could read the Protestant Old Testament from front to back and you’ll never find that. But, where you will find it is in the Book of 2nd Macabbees, where there is a group of martyrs who are being tortured for adhering to the Jewish Faith and rather than be released, they stick to their Faith and are martyred so that they can have a better resurrection; and that’s what’s being referred to in the Book of Hebrews.

    Now, the Church Fathers, similarly, accepted the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, and that’s what shaped the Christian Canon of the Old Testament until the time of the Reformation. What happened then was Martin Luther looked around and didn’t like a lot of what he saw in the Catholic Church and there were certain doctrines in particular that he didn’t like.

    One of them was the Doctrine on Purgatory and he started talking about why he didn’t like the Doctrine on Purgatory and people were rather quick to point out that Purgatory is clearly alluded to in the book of 2nd Macabbees; and Luther’s response to that was that 2nd Macabbees must not be Scripture – because he thought that this doctrine was incompatible with the sufficiency of what Christ did for us. It’s not, but that’s what he thought.

    So, he basically adopted the Pharisee canon over the Traditional Christian one and that’s how the split developed between the Protestant and Catholic Canons of the Old Testament, where Catholics continue to accept those very books the early church had ever since.

  97. The influx of numerous questions. Tim, glad to hear some of your statements. I am glad that the Catholic Church affirms all things in Protestantism. We don’t however, affirm all things in Catholicism.

    W, I have done a fair amount of reading (don’t know if I ever stated how much?). Actually, it seems that the tone of Vatican II is different than that of Vatican I. Would any other people here agree with that? I sense in Vat I they were really trying to exalt the “Catholic Church” only position. In Vatican II it seems that better senses prevailed (“The Church subsists in the Catholic Church”). Just sounds healthier to my ears.

    Jeremy, who gets to define what Protestant orthodoxy is? The Rev. Billy Graham, of course. :-)
    Actually, I think it is defined in the collective apprehension of biblical truth by many Christians and denominations far and wide, as long as what they are saying is recognized as being authoritatively found in Scripture. Local practice will differ, among denominations, churches, individual Christians, but God has a way of keeping us all in the Body and going forward. Think “sensus fidelium” in a Protestant manner. That helps things to open up.

    W, have you read the statements of Vat I and Vat II? Worthy of reading, if you have not yet, sir. I personally like the Council of Orange (529), but that is another matter. I do believe it is a legitimate Roman Catholic Council, from what I understand, though it was not considered “Ecumenical”, like the council of Rome was not “Ecumenical.”

    Roma Victor. I encourage you to read primary sources of Luther and Calvin, if you have not already. Bondage of the Will by Luther is good. Also his commentaries on Galatians (he wrote like three of them) are also helpful. Calvin’s Institutes are very good to sit with for a long while. If you merely go to them to “pick them apart”, you will miss the entire Reformation. Try not to do that. :-)

    Gentleman, I have to go. I think you all have more time available than I do!

    Matt

  98. hey Matt,

    Tim’s comment does not say Catholicism affirms all things in Protestantism.

    i wasn’t asking you to describe your feelings about differences in tone between councils.

    i have no idea what a term like ‘orthodoxy’ could mean, given that you have no principled reason for choosing your own canon over Marcion’s.

    “God has a way of keeping us all in the body” is an appeal to ‘invisible church’ which is refuted in the article entitled ecclesial deism.

    Best,
    w

  99. Matt,

    Thanks for your response (I liked the Billy Graham joke) to my question about what exactly “Orthodox Protestantism” is, you wrote; “Actually, I think it is defined in the collective apprehension of biblical truth by many Christians and denominations far and wide.”

    Interesting point. However, the 30,000+ Protestant denominations are only united by one doctrine; that the Roman Catholic Church is wrong. There is wide disagree concerning where Rome is wrong, but we all agree on this. There is not a single doctrine other than this which unites us as Protestants (I am one by the way). Sure, some doctrines are more commonly professed than others, but we don’t even have anybody to say which doctrines are negotiable and which ones are not. Teachings which were universally taught by Protestants 100 years ago, (such as the sinfulness of birth control contraceptive, or all male clergy, cessation of gifts of the Holy Spirit), are almost universally taught as acceptable today. So…should we measure Protestant Orthodoxy by contemporary standards or historic standards?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  100. Jeremy,
    Did not know that you were Protestant. May I asked which tradition or denomination. To lay my cards on the table, I go to Bethany Community Church in Laurel, Maryland. We are looking at some PCA churches, however.

    Matt

  101. Matt,

    Tim, glad to hear some of your statements. I am glad that the Catholic Church affirms all things in Protestantism.

    Wilkins is right I didn’t say that. Deliberately misrepresenting what I said might be thought of in some parts of the world as a lie. There’s a commandment about bearing false witness. If it was an honest mistake, then you should be more careful with what you say. Neither dishonesty nor sloppiness are conducive to approaching unity in which you appeared to be mildly interested earlier.

  102. Hey Matt,

    I also live in Maryland and I recently resigned from a PCA staff position because I believe God is calling me home to the Catholic Church. For the past several weeks we have been attending St. Andrew’s by the Bay parish in Arnold, Md. I know it sounds insane I know, but I’ve been in seminary for three years now (I have a few more credits at RTS in D.C.) and I’ve come to the painful (and totally unexpected) conclusion that the Catholic Church is exactly what it claims to be; the one true Church established by Christ. My wife and I plan to enter the Church this fall.
    I think if you do a thorough investigation you will find this conclusion inescapable. For me, I accidently discovered that the Bible does not teach sola scriptura. (I was quite content in the PCA and was not looking to leave. I still love the PCA Church we just left!) I don’t know what prompted me to research this specific doctrine, but I found it to be utterly void of scriptural support. It still took me several months to really consider Catholicism. It occurred to me about a year ago, however, in a rather sobering way, that everywhere I disagreed with Rome must be an error in my own theology, rather than Rome’s. I beg you to think about this. There are only two possibilities; either the Catholic Church is wrong in the areas you believe it is wrong…or…you are wrong in the areas you believe the Catholic Church is wrong. I can promise you that if you begin to study doctrine by doctrine everything you disagree with, you will quickly become astounded with the Church.
    I have strained and lost many friends through this whole ordeal, but I really cannot tell you how excited I am to become Catholic. You don’t live too far away, we should grab coffee or something.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy Tate

  103. I also live in Maryland and I recently resigned from a PCA staff position because I believe God is calling me home to the Catholic Church. For the past several weeks we have been attending St. Andrew’s by the Bay parish in Arnold, Md. I know it sounds insane I know, but I’ve been in seminary for three years now (I have a few more credits at RTS in D.C.) and I’ve come to the painful (and totally unexpected) conclusion that the Catholic Church is exactly what it claims to be; the one true Church established by Christ. My wife and I plan to enter the Church this fall.

    Priase God! Another lost sheep has returned to the fold!

  104. Jeremy,
    Would be willing to have coffee. I will try to get you to reconsider. I think if you are still at a place of deliberation, we should meet. If you are not…well.

    Sounds like you are on the “Roman Road.” I have been around Catholic dogma for a number of years, so I am not really looking to “seek Catholicism”. My faith has been strengthened in the entire matter.

    Send me your email or phone number, if you still want to discuss.

    Beware of additions to the faith.
    Matt

  105. P.S.

    Thank you, Jeremy for being honest. For a minute I was confused and your posts seemed to go in different directions. Subtle, but present. Anyway, it is better to be open about all things.

    Matt

  106. Beware of additions to the faith.

    Apparently, subtractions are clearly permissible and laudable even.

  107. Matt,

    Thanks for your response. I believe that much less true theological inquiry happens than most of assume. Rather than actually thinking, most people learn at an early age that Catholicism is wrong (or that Protestantism is wrong). Knowledge is then filtered to support that commitment. But, that’s all it is, a commitment. I would love to get together, but I am curious to know whether you are defending a side or seeking truth? I plan to become Catholic in a few months, but until then I am open to being proven that I am wrong. I have already sat down with nearly a dozen PCA Pastors or RTS faculty members. I don’t think I am hearing anything new. I am all ears though, where does the Bible teach sola scriptura? ( which is the basis for Protestantism’s right to exist.)
    Let’s keep the conversation going. Email me. Jtate4 @ gmail . com
    Peace in Christ, Jeremy Tate

  108. Matt,

    The Church affirms whatever is true in Protestantism because that truth is also found in the Catholic Church. In fact, whatever is true within Protestantism is ONLY true because it is affirmed and taught by the Catholic Church. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you misunderstood Tim.

  109. Tom,
    Thank you for the “benefit of the doubt”. However, I don’t adhere to the assumption that Protestantism is contingent on the Roman Catholic Church, though of course they are historically related.

    Jeremy, I don’t know if what I could say would help then, if you have met with pastors and professors. I do appreciate your willingness to keep the dialogue open.

    However, we could continue this offline if you think it might help you to make your decision. Sounds like you already have, though?

    Matt

  110. Matt,

    Of course you don’t because if you did you would be in full communion with the one Church of Christ that He intended and established.

    That being said, a question I have (and Jeremy forgive me for speaking for you) does it at least give pause that someone on staff, making a living, almost nearing the end of their studies, would take that and put it to the side, not for personal gain, not for riches, but because there is a recognition of the truth, even when one does not want to accept that truth at first, or is really wanting or at least open to be convinced otherwise.

  111. I guess I could say it gives pause because literally there are pauses when thinking or responding (?).
    I really think that the Roman Catholic Church is currently bigger than his faith. I bet if he weathered the course though, he would pull through. That is my honest answer. Faith grows. It takes time.

    Matt

  112. Matt,

    You answered my question in a way that does not surprise.

    Indeed there is a sense that the Church is bigger than all our faith, as St. Augustine once remarked, that he would not believe the Gospel were it not for the Church and as is prayed in the Liturgy, “look not upon our sins, but on the faith of your Church.” Something I once heard concerning the Church (I cannot remember who said it) is apt, “The Catholic Church has made an honest man out of me.” Why? Because the historical witness for our faith is the Church, the Church ever ancient, ever new, who was there long ago to witness the empty tomb, and to speak, “He is risen, He is risen indeed!” If I am to believe the Gospel I must trust the Church. The question is, which Church was there to witness the emty tomb?

  113. Tom,
    Can’t keep going around in circles with you :-)
    However, let’s continue to look to the Risen One. There we will find the Church.

  114. Matt,

    What circles? You have not really interacted with any thoughts.

  115. Tom, I have not heard you get into Scripture nor the Gospel proclamation. Those are the “thoughts” in which I am looking to fellowship. You have not pointed to the Lord nor the Good News, but rather they Catholic Church. What is your Good News?

    Matt

  116. Jeremy,
    I am currently experiencing technical difficulties with my Yahoo email. They are changing the format and I can’t even find the “compose” function to write you an email. Hold on, please :-)

    Matt

  117. Matt,

    You have not pointed to the Lord nor the Good News, but rather they Catholic Church. What is your Good News?

    This is abstract and entirely unhelpful. The Catholic Church is not opposed to the gospel; in fact, the Catholic Church has delivered it faithfully to the entire world. That’s good news in my book.

    Do you want us to point to the gospel? To the Lord? To the Scriptures? Here’s a couple verses for you: Matthew 16:18-19

  118. Matt,

    Your charge is so silly that it is laughable. The fact is I asked you if Jeremy’s story gave you pause to consider why someone would give up the security of employment, his studies, etc… to enter into the Church. You gave a disrespectful response to my question.

    If that is how you approach conversation, then there is not much I can do about it.

  119. and Matt,

    may i just very humbly point to 1 Timothy 3:15 (again)—which is very good news indeed.

    and this, from Cardinal Schonborn (see his exceptional book entitled, Loving the Church):

    “But whatever the Church is in her innermost essence, she receives entirely from Christ. We can approach the mystery of the Church only through the door of Christmas. But the converse is also true: we can find our way to the crib, to the ‘tent of God among men’, only with our fellow travellers in the community of faith: As Saint Cyprian says, ‘no one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother’.”

    Praised be Jesus Christ!

  120. Tom,
    You can do very much. Pray for all those on this list to love the truth of the Lord Jesus. Remember the “charter” in the “About” section at the top of this page.

    Matt

    P.S. Hope that response is not laughable.

  121. Matt,

    I agree with your suggestion to pray for us all to love truth. That is the only way for us to mutually pursue the kind of unity that Christ intends for us to have as believers.

    Love of the truth is a scary idea because to truly love the truth, one must pursue it at all costs. That means entertaining the possibility that we might be wrong about things we have believed. That is, in fact, what led us all to the Catholic Church. If we didn’t love truth, we would have remained comfortable where we were. Like Jeremy said, he had to examine what he believed and see if it was true or not.

    When one examines his faith honestly as a Protestant, he will find that indeed much of what he believes is true. But a full examination can only lead to understanding that not everything Protestantism teaches can possibly be true.

    It was a Spirit inspired search for the truth that led me to the Catholic Church. It is leading Jeremy Tate there now, it led Tom Riello there, the rest of the CTC members, and thousands of others. I hope you and Jeremy get a chance to meet. Right now, you probably think he’s confused, but if you meet, I think you will find out that he has his head on straight.

  122. Your charge is so silly that it is laughable. The fact is I asked you if Jeremy’s story gave you pause to consider why someone would give up the security of employment, his studies, etc… to enter into the Church.

    Tom Riello has pointed out something that most Protestants and Catholics take for granted.

    Whereas Catholics-turned-Protestant folks I’ve known who later became Protestant ministers did so not only because Protestantism tended to allow many of those things that the Catholic Church itself forbids (such as contraception and abortion), earning such high-end pay that they’ve become affluent to the extent of living out luxurious lifestyles; Protestant ministers I’ve known who converted to Catholicism even at the expense of what was actually a thriving ministry, having benefitted financially to such remarkable affluence as well due to such, all too soon surrendered these things for the Glory of God just to become Catholic, even if it meant giving these things up (and all manner of manna) merely to become a neighborhood Wallmart greeter!

    Truly, the latter have come to accept the genuine Call of the Gospels from the Church Christ Himself established!

    These, we should pray for continuously since when they convert to become wretched papists; it is they who are painfully condemned, to the point of becoming outcasts even to their own families.

  123. W,
    You quote a good a popular verse (popular in some quarter :-)
    You see, I actually think that the Christian church is visible and the many facets of it speak the gospel to communities far and wide, through Scripture, Christmas, song, praise, Bible study, fellowship, communion and so much more in Christ. I believe that the head of the church…is Jesus, not Peter.

    “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Ephesians 5:23

    Peter was well intentioned, but not without flaws. How much more his successors? With that said, let us find “unity” in our Lord Jesus. There we will find the church. Someone told you you have to have a pope to see the visible church. Why ever did you receive that? Anyway, greater unity is found in the One who unites – our Sovereign Lord and His Word.

    Matt

  124. I believe that the head of the church…is Jesus, not Peter.

    This is a false dilemma. We do not believe Peter is the head of the Church to the exclusion of Christ being the Head of the Church. But if Christ says that He will build His Church on Peter, we are obliged to believe it.

    Peter was well intentioned, but not without flaws. How much more his successors?

    Who said anything about him or his successors being flawless? This is a straw-man fallacy. You should study what the Catholic Church actually teaches instead of relying on hearsay or whatever false source you have.

    With that said, let us find “unity” in our Lord Jesus. There we will find the church.

    We do look to our Lord to find the Church. He said He would build it on Peter and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. That’s why we believe the Petrine ministry is of the essence of the Church.

    Someone told you you have to have a pope to see the visible church. Why ever did you receive that?

    Read the article on the “visible church” and the follow up on why Protestants have no visible Church. If you disagree, then bring the comments up there, not here.

    Anyway, greater unity is found in the One who unites – our Sovereign Lord and His Word.

    Protestants, JWs, Mormons all believe in Jesus. But there is less unity, even within denominational categories like Presbyterian or Baptist than in the Catholic Church. There’s even less unity in the hierarchically organized Anglican community. The “Mere Christianity” unity that you’re advocating actually gives less unity.

    Matt, I say this as a challenge to you: you do not understand the Catholic faith or what she teaches. It takes humility to admit this and to learn. I suggest spending some time at Catholic Answers, you’ll find that they have all of your objections already answered.

    I think we need to bring this conversation back on topic or bring it to a close if you catch my drift.

  125. Matt,

    Catechism of the Catholic Church #669 states, “As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body.” Many people seem to think that the Church teaches otherwise but it is the teaching of the Church that Jesus is the Head. Peter and his successor rule as Christ’s vicar, on behalf of, not in place of.

  126. Peter was well intentioned, but not without flaws. How much more his successors?

    Yeah, look at those filthy bishops which comprised the great ecumenical councils and came up with such novelties as the Trinity. Why’d we need that invented or those bishops or even those councils in the first place?

    Someone told you you have to have a pope to see the visible church.

    “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

  127. Tom,
    I like your response more than the other ones. However, I maintain that we must keep Christ as the head at all times. When you move to “vicar” status, what is that? Can you show me a vicar in the Scriptures? I mean, I know the common passages that endorse “Petrine dominance”, but I am looking to promote Christ as the head of the Church. Not the pope.

    “And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18

    I look for the Church that has the good foundation.

    Matt

  128. Matt and everyone else. I’m cutting this conversation off. The purpose of this combox is to discuss the article Matt Yonke wrote. Further non-related comments will be deleted. Matt (not Yonke) you’ve been given a place to have your objections answered.

  129. hey Matt,

    suppose i’m going to buy a Honda, and my friend tells me that i shouldn’t buy a Honda because i should buy a car that’s fuel efficient. i scratch my head. i tell my friend that Honda is fuel efficient and show him the data. he replies that actually, he’s not an engineer, but Honda has the worst resale of any comparable car. i shake my head and reply that the resale on Honda rocks, and i pull out a list of comps to prove it. he replies that Honda routinely warns customers that their cars explode if bumped from behind—in fact, he tells me that i have a moral responsibility to consider my family’s safety and buy a car with a decent safety rating…

    wouldn’t you find it very difficult to take my friend seriously?

    wouldn’t you turn to me and say, “wilkins, this friend of yours doesn’t know anything—not even the most basic stuff—about Honda”?

    well… likewise… if you don’t know what the Catholic Church teaches about something, just ask. or better yet, please read the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is available free online from the USCCB and the Vatican. please read the articles here on Called to Communion or read some of the “suggested reading” under the Library link at the top of the page. i’m about to read the Louis Bouyer book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism—why don’t you read it with me?

    best,
    s

  130. W,
    Thank you for your kind offer. I won’t be reading that (I have so much else to read). However, if you read it I would be glad to hear your summary about such a work. As far as the Catechism, have one, and have read a good amount of it (Still in the Evangelical Communion, however :-). In fact, I like entry 2007. I think it is my favorite in the entire book. :-) (Hope you are on the Augustinian side of things at least :-D

    Later on guys, this thread/coversation is being shut down. Maybe I will bother you on another one (until we get off topic, or I get censored for quoting Scripture too much :-O

    Matt

  131. Matt,

    You’re always welcome here at Called to Communion. You aren’t getting “censored” for quoting too much scripture… In fact, you’re not getting censored at all. I’ve asked you (and everyone) to get the conversation back on topic or drop it. And this thread is wide open so long as the comment is on topic.

    This is something the contributors of CTC have decided recently that we need tighter moderation to keep the threads on topic. Its not just you being singled out, several people (including myself) were involved in the conversation. If I’m censoring you, I’m censoring myself.

  132. Fair enough. And a fair enough request to stay on topic. However, I think these forums tend to lead to broader conversations. Just saying.

    Dr. White, if you are reading, can you give the concise answer for which our friend on CTC are looking? If so, they would all return to the fold and be happy with elders and presbyters as their provisional apostolic heads.

    (Just having a little fun on that last sentence)
    Matt

  133. Matt Yonke: thank you for your well-organized thoughts in the lead post. In the “How Do We Know?” section, you raise important considerations about epistemology. At least two thoughts came to mind.

    What first came to mind as I read your comments on the Protestant view was the Westminster Confession of Faith, chap.1, par. 5. In that Protestant statement, appeal is made 1) to the testimony of the Church (which is said to move and induce people to a reverent and high esteem of Holy Scripture), to 2) certain qualities of Holy Scripture (which are said abundantly to evidence that it is the Word of God), and to 3) the inward work of the Spirit (which is said to effect the full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority of Holy Scripture). For the sake of clarification, do you affirm or deny the inward work of the Spirit in effecting full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority of Holy Scripture?

    Second, you later say, “The Church’s position has always been one of recognizing the authenticity of the great treasure that has been handed down to her.” Your choice of the word “recognizing” to describe the Church’s position was interesting to me for it is a term common among Reformed folks for describing the Church’s role in canon history. The term is helpful, it seems to me, because it arguably agrees with the NT concerns for the preservation of the apostolic-prophetic witness in and by the Church (e.g., 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:14). For instance, in that frame of reference, we can say that, broadly considered, developments in the Church concerning the canon during the 2nd through 4th centuries reflect the NT interest in preservation. The complement to the NT concern for preservation, in other words, is the Church’s post-NT recognition of the canon. Furthermore, we can say that the process of recognition—because it answers to the NT intention—reflects the intention of Christ. No one less than the exalted Christ Himself, through the Spirit of truth, is the architect of that process. What do you think?

  134. rfwhite,

    Thanks for your kind words on the post and for your questions.

    As to the first, I think I’d say that the testimony of the Holy Spirit has to do more with our acceptance of the fact of the Christian faith as a whole than with our identification of particular books as Spirit inspired. It certainly had to do with the identification of the canon in the process of Church history, but that has more to do with the Spirit’s interaction with the leaders of the Church. Just like at the Council of Jerusalem that I refer to in the article, I believe that as the leaders of the Church, in their God-given episcopal office, determined which books could and could not be read in the Liturgy, which was the test of acceptance before the idea of a canon even arose, they were guided by the Holy Spirit, and surely there was some internal witnessing of the Spirit going on there. But my basis for accepting the canon as a Catholic Christian is because the Church has determined it and the Spirit testifies to my spirit that the Church speaks with the voice of Christ.

    As to your second question, yes and amen! The work of the Church is always the work of preserving and coming to a greater knowledge of the Deposit of Faith. As to our differences as Catholics and Protestants, on issues where Protestants see Catholics as innovating rather than preserving, I would perhaps bring to mind the parable of the talents. The servants who did not make the most of what they were given, here understood as plumbing the depths of the Deposit of Faith, were chastised for their lack of initiative. To look at another parable, it might be like everyone crowding around a mustard seed and insisting that we not do anything to expand upon it rather than planting it and letting it grow, with the Spirit’s guidance, into the great creature it was meant to be.

    Not sure if that’s the road you were going down with your comments on preserving, but that’s my two cents. Thanks again for your interaction. I look forward to your further thoughts.

  135. Matt Y:

    Thanks for the interaction. Would you agree that in the church’s conflict with the 2nd C. heretics and thereafter, the issue was not the idea of canon, but the contents and limits of the canon? Here is what I have in mind.

    In the end, two factors appear to have influenced the church’s recognition or rejection of what Eusebius called “the disputed books.” First, the growing ecumenical contact of the church exposed the local and provincial character of many of the objections to particular books. Second, the larger core of “received books” had an overriding influence on the debate: above all, no book was recognized whose content was seen to contradict the witness of the larger, undisputed collection.

    In this light, would you agree that we must avoid confusing the existence of the canon with its recognition–that we must avoid confusing what is constitutive (God’s action) with what is reflexive (the church’s action)? In other words, can we agree that in recognizing the canon, the activity of the church—statements of church fathers, decrees of councils, and so forth concerning the contents of the NT—was not creating the canon?

  136. Matt Y.:

    We agree that in Eph 2.20 (cf. Matt 16.18; Rev 21.14) the apostles and prophets are foundational rocks of the church, Christ being the foundational cornerstone (Mt 21.42; 1 Cor 3.11). You say also that “[t]his divinely appointed authority [as foundational rocks] is what gives weight to their teaching and gives authority to their interpretation, and is thus more foundational to the Church than the teaching itself.” Question: Would you agree that the promise to Peter (representing the apostolate) in Matt 16.18 is not made to him in the abstract but in view of his confession based on receipt of special revelation (Matt 16.16-17)? The rock-foundation of the church is, then, confessing Peter, confessing apostles, confessing prophets, correct? In other words, confession (aka witness in the covenantal-legally binding sense in Acts) and foundational rock status belong together, correct?

    Also, as you point out in your appeal to 2 Thess 2.15, the apostolic-prophetic foundational confession was not limited to the written word: it extended to the spoken word. Thereafter, in his later New Testament correspondence, Paul instructs Timothy to guard the “paratheke”-deposit (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:14 [12?]; cf. 2:2). Here “paratheke” is similar in meaning to “paradosis”-tradition and has the same authoritative ring: Timothy is to preserve and maintain the authoritative deposit of truth. We would agree, then, that during the Biblical era, God’s people lived in an “open canon” situation by a “Scripture plus” principle of authority, and, in keeping with that principle, God employed various media to speak his extrascriptural words to them. It seems reasonable, then, to ask this question: does the church after the Biblical era still live by the “Scripture plus” principle of authority that the church during the Biblical era lived by? In other words, does the church still live in an “open canon” situation? If she does, what is the basis of such a claim?

  137. rfwhite,

    (It is Dr. White, isn’t it? I’d just as soon address you as a person rather than an internet handle :))

    In other words, can we agree that in recognizing the canon, the activity of the church—statements of church fathers, decrees of councils, and so forth concerning the contents of the NT—was not creating the canon?

    Certainly we could agree that the Church was not “creating” the canon. I believe that the whole idea of canon was a bit foreign to the very early Church. As I noted above, the question was really what books were appropriate to be read in the Liturgy, not which books belonged in a larger book of inspired literature. So, yes, the Church was recognizing what was God-breathed, not creating a list of books that were, after her recognition, to be considered Scripture.

    It seems reasonable, then, to ask this question: does the church after the Biblical era still live by the “Scripture plus” principle of authority that the church during the Biblical era lived by? In other words, does the church still live in an “open canon” situation? If she does, what is the basis of such a claim?

    It seems to me that the burden of proof lies on the Protestant to prove that we are not in a “Scripture plus,” as you put it, situation. If Sacred Scripture tells us that oral tradition is binding, why would we assume that it’s not still binding? As I noted in the article, the very Fathers of the Church who wrote such appropriate high praise for Sacred Scripture also believed doctrines that cannot be found explicitly or by good and necessary consequence in the pages of Scripture. It seems that the oral traditions of the Apostles were seen as binding from the time of the Apostles down to the present by the vast majority of Christians. I guess I don’t see why I have to prove what history seems to bear out quite clearly.

  138. Matt Yonke:

    Address me by whatever handle is memorable! I don’t mind.

    If we agree that the church was recognizing and not creating a canon, then, in my view, you’ve just conceded Calvin’s point. Perhaps I understand neither you nor Calvin.

    You say, “It seems to me that the burden of proof lies on the Protestant to prove that we are not in a “Scripture plus,” as you put it, situation.” We almost have agreement here. I would put it this way: the burden lies anyone who argues for a closed canon. To be sure this dovetails with your next point.

    You ask, “If Sacred Scripture tells us that oral tradition is binding, why would we assume that it’s not still binding?” Spoken like a good charismatic! I’m teasing. No, seriously, I would not assume that it would not be binding. I would assume it is binding, provided the sources of oral tradition are still operating. The proviso, as you’ll appreciate, is the point in question: are those sources of oral tradition still operating, and how do we know if it is so?

  139. Dr. White it is, then!

    You say that agreeing that we are recognizing, not creating the canon concedes Calvin’s point, but it’s far from the case. Calvin claims that the Reformers are recognizing the canon because it’s as plain as black and white or the nose on my face, but still disagreements remain. Whether those disagreements are those between Catholics and Protestants over the deuterocanonicals or over the status of Revelation and other books in the early Church, it’s never been a black and white issue. It’s an issue that has been hotly disputed and decided by the authority of the Church which has its roots in Christ.

    I’ll take it again back to the council of Jerusalem. Were the Apostles and their successors at that council recognizing or creating the truth that the Gentiles are not bound by the Mosaic law? Obviously they were recognizing it, but it was far from as plain as black and white. It required a council and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the context of the Episcopal authority of the Apostles and their successors.

    So it is with the canon. It cannot be left to Calvin and his compatriots and successors, laymen all, alone to decide upon a new canon. The only Scriptural pattern we have for such how such decisions can be made is by a council of those who hold the authority given to the Apostles by Christ and passed on by them.

    In your second point you ask if the sources of oral tradition are still operating, but that sidesteps the point. We as Catholics are not operating on the assumption that the sources of oral tradition are still operating. We just believe that the oral tradition delivered by the sources of oral tradition is still binding. It is up to the Protestant, who claims that all of the important oral tradition was written down, contrary to the historical record, to prove that that tradition is not still binding.

    Again, I really appreciate your interaction and especially its irenic tone. I look forward to your response!

  140. Matt Yonke:

    On the point conceded to Calvin in saying that the church does not create but only recognizes the canon, I had in mind only the intial quotation from Calvin, wherein he opines, in sum, that the canon’s existence precedes the Church’s recognition. You are quite right: the argument about the canon’s self-authentication is another thing.

    As to whether sources of oral tradition still operate, we may partly be talking past each other. By “sources” I meant to refer to those charisms through which (whom) God conveys binding teaching to His church, among which charisms I presume you would number the teaching office. You, understandably, jumped ahead in your answer to my question and related what I said about oral tradition to your later comments on the doctrines of the fathers. That is relevant to the overall topic, but it was not the point I was exploring with my question. I was intending to ask you to explain for my better understanding how you relate oral tradition to canon.

  141. Dr. White, as I try to follow your line of reasoning (as much as I can as I visit this site), I am trying to see the question you are posing. Are you asking how we can see the Catholic claim on oral tradition in Scripture, and in a manner where we all can make an individual judgment on it? Are you looking for the Catholic apologist to produce strong and revelatory passages (as opposed to oblique and “packed” passages) in Scripture to show there is a substantial body of doctrine and practice handed down orally that for some strange reason was not included in the written and authoritative Scriptures for the Church? On a side note, I think that is a great question, if that is the question you are asking. I just don’t know if that is the question, however.

    Hope I am not adding to the confusion.
    Matt

  142. Pertaining to the question of creating or recognizing the canon:

    I am wondering if, and in what sense, it is accurate to refer to the set of writings that are God-breathed, but not (yet) recognized by the Church as such, as “the canon.”

    (1) We all agree that the writings that are God-breathed exist independently of being recognized as such; i.e., recognition does not confer, but presupposes, the property of inspiration.

    (2) And we can probably agree that so long as writings that are God-breathed exist, there is, independently of ecclesial recognition, this logical set: “All of the writings that are God-breathed.”

    However, (1) and (2) do not entail the following:

    (3) The canon of sacred scripture exists prior to ecclesial recognition of the set of those writings that are, in fact, God-breathed.

    That is, (3) is not entailed by (1) and (2) unless the set of all God-breathed writings is the same category as the canon of all God-breathed writings.

    But these categories are not identical, even if the writings included in the set and in the canon are identical. The set of all God-breathed writings is a logical category. The canon of sacred scripture is an epistemological category.

    As an epistemological category, the definition of “the canon” includes the Church’s recognition of God-breathed writings. In this sense, “the canon’s existence” does not, by definition, precede “the Church’s recognition.”

  143. Just a heads up to anyone who might have read #142: I have modified this comment in an effort to make my point more clearly. Thanks.

  144. 42-43 Andrew P.: There may well be some slippage in the usage of the term If we restrict the term “canon” to the church’s action of recognition/preservation, I agree with you. If the term “canon” refers to God’s action of giving revelation, which I would argue, that which is canon precedes the church’s existence as a blueprint precedes a housebuilding project. Here, as you’ll infer, I’m drawing on the identification of “canon” as an architectural term describing God’s architectural directives for the holy task of constructing His covenant house (cf. Moses, David, Solomon, Ezekiel). In that sense, that which is canon (canonical) has a constitutive function relative to the church.

  145. “Learned Scripture scholars and even the revered figures of various modern Reformed communities cannot agree on what “the gospel” is”

    I appreciate most of your points, but can’t agree here. On the essentials Evangelical and Reformed camps display a unity despite differences. Is any Reformed dispute any more significant than those in Catholic circles like von Balthasar or JPII who suggest universalism, for example? Whether or not Whitefield agreed with Wesley on election, they both could in fact agree on what the gospel is. And whether Wright agrees with Piper, they both, I’d argue, are in more *clear* agreement with what most people recognize as the gospel than what is expressed in very hard-to-understand terms in Ratzinger’s Intro to Christianity.

  146. Joe,

    The Catholic gospel is summarized in the Nicene Creed, and told in more detail in each of the first four books of the New Testament; this is why those four books are called “the Gospels.” As an example of “learned [Protestant] Scripture scholars” disagreeing about the gospel, see here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  147. Interupting briefly before going to prayers at the parish –

    Matt Y and Tim, the podcast was excellent!
    I have a link on my blog leading directly to it. I have alot of staunchly Reformed that frequent my blog and use the material as SS instruction on what’s wrong with “our” belief :-)

    However, you all give me such hope, being strongly Reformed yourselves at one time, and still allowing the Holy Spirit to break down the wall of pride that says I am right and infallible in my thinking.

    Praying for you guys and many blessings on the work you do,
    Teri

  148. P.S. for Dr. White,

    I still think you are kind and charitable in your dialogue even in disagreeing. We will get alone famously unless you felt the need to call me “that wh*re of Babylon”. I spent way too much time being called wrongly, I might add, “defiled” in the Reformed tradition.

    May the peace of Christ be with your spirit,
    I will be praying for you all at prayers this evening,
    Teri

  149. ALONG…not alone………..so sorry…typo

  150. Teri, thank you for the kind words and for the link. Say a prayer for the Philippines if you think of it.

  151. rfwhite (#144):

    If the term “canon” refers to God’s action of giving revelation….

    I think that the applicable term in this case is “inspiration” (or, more generally, “self-disclosure”).

    Here, as you’ll infer, I’m drawing on the identification of “canon” as an architectural term describing God’s architectural directives for the holy task of constructing His covenant house (cf. Moses, David, Solomon, Ezekiel).

    God certainly gave explicit “canons” concerning the construction of the Tabernacle / Temple. It seems to me that your usage is tending towards an identification of canon and revelation. This would render one term or the other superfluous. It would also mean that we should find a word other than “canonization” to refer to the Church’s activity of definitively recognizing which writings, among all writings, are God-breathed.

  152. Andrew P.: The use to which I put the term “canon” in my comment has its currency within discussions of the theology of canon. The use of the term to which you refer has its currency especially within discussion of the history of the canon and is admittedly more common. Both have their place, as long as definitions are understood. The semantic overlap, as you’ll appreciate, is that that which is canon (canonical) is that word according to which God the Spirit builds His house, be it tabernacle, temple, or church.

  153. 148 Teri: As far as I understand it, harlotries and whoredoms are a biblical portrait of sins. Hence, if anyone is liable to that epithet, all of us are.

  154. 140 Matt Yonke: The question I was intending is somewhat difficult to formulate, in part because I don’t share your vocabulary, I fear. Let me try this: as I recall it, we would commonly cite 2 Thess 2:15 as indicating that in the Biblical era, traditions were passed on “whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Oral tradition and written tradition was in view as authoritative for the church. We agree that this is during the Biblical era. What is the rationale for the giving of tradition, oral or written? Does oral tradition continue in the post-Biblical era? Does written tradition continue in the post-Biblical era? How does tradition, oral and written, relate the canon? Is the canon closed? If so, what is the rationale for its closure?

  155. Dr. White,

    Thanks for the clarification. That helps a lot.

    We would see the entire deposit of faith as being made up of what Christ taught the Apostles and what they passed on to the first generation of Christians. Christ and His Apostles were the only sources of special revelation in the New Covenant. So, with the death of the last Apostle, the possibility of either written or oral special revelation that would be binding on all Christians was closed. So in that sense, the canon is closed because no one is left alive on earth qualified to write a canonical book.

    This is not the same thing as saying that the Church cannot interpret the deposit of faith definitively in a way that is binding on all Christians. History tells the clear tale that the bishops who were appointed by the Apostles followed the pattern of the Council of Jerusalem and, presumably by the testimony of the Apostles, held their subsequent councils to be binding in the same way as Jerusalem.

    I always find the idea of the personhood of the Holy Spirit to be a good test case for matters like this. Given the diversity of tolerated opinions before the question was decided, it seems the Apostles did not teach this particular idea in such a clear way that it was beyond dispute. So it took a subsequent council to define it in such a way that believing in the personhood of the Holy Spirit is a necessary part of being a Christian in any substantive sense of the word.

    So, is the doctrine of the personhood of the Holy Spirit an addition to the deposit of faith? We would say, no, it is an explanation of the deposit of faith, infallibly decreed by the Catholic Church and therefore binding on all men. The problem for the protestant position comes when you but heads with a Oneness Pentacostal. You say his position is absurd, he says yours is absurd, but when it comes down to it, you’re just two guys with Bibles and opinions backed to varying degrees by historical followings.

    What neither of you have inherent to your traditions is a final arbiter to decide questions like this and, as my article attempted to prove, the Scripture itself cannot function as that arbiter because a book cannot answer questions about itself.

    I hope that hits a little closer to where your line of questioning was going. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on the question!

  156. This was a really great article, Matt. I’m no scholar, so my praise doesn’t have much academic weight, but I have never heard the argument from the Council of Jerusalem put in the way that you did. It never occurred to me that presbyters were there with the Apostles to discuss the matters.

    I’d like to ask a little bit more about the Catholic Church’s solution to the canon problem that was discussed in this article and briefly touched upon in responses 56,59,60, and 134. Forgive me, I know I’ve asked about this before and that answers have already been given, but I don’t think that the problem has been solved.

    Ariel put the problem well when she asked, “How does an individual know with infallible certainty, that the Roman Catholic Church is an infallible interpreter”? in response 56. Several responses were given, but the fundamental challenge is still there. Sure, there are differences between the Protestants fallible choice of the canon and the Catholics fallible choice, as was pointed out in 59 and 60, but the point remains that both choices were fallible.

    The problem is, most Catholics (I think I’m guilty of this myself) present the canon argument as a silver bullet against Protestantism because Protestants have no certainty that they have the right canon. But this is not a strong argument, because we ourselves cannot have absolute infallible certainty that our own choice of the Catholic Church was correct. Thus, to say that the Protestant view is incorrect because they cannot be certain about the canon, but that our situation is better because we can, ignores the fact that our own certainty in the canon is based on our trust in the Church that we fallibly chose to trust.

    In other words, the “you can’t be sure!” argument is not quite the silver bullet many think it is. I believe that much better arguments come in pointing out the inconsistency of the Protestant acceptance of the canon, as Matt Yonke did when he said, “if we can trust God to guide the Church to establish a canon of infallible books, why can we not trust her when she explains to us what these books mean?”

    We can point out that they are accepting a tradition, found outside of Scripture, as BINDING on all Christians, while still claiming to follow Scripture alone. Perhaps we can point out that trust in the New Testament require trust in the early Church, which leads to the Church Fathers and the Catholic Church.

    I think framing the arguments in these terms may be more effective with Protestants who find that the epistemological certainty argument merely pushes the question back a step. But I may be misunderstanding the argument, so I’d really like to hear more on the Catholic solution to the canon issue.

  157. “All Churches are equal, but the Catholic church (known as The Church) is more equal”

    A short and simple laymen’s translation of your article:

    I. Why the Protestant Church is wrong

    1. Protestants (reformed in particular) claim Sola Scriptura (the belief that only the Bible holds final authority on stuff about God), while in reality it is their TRANSLATION of the Bible that holds final authority. Because a book alone cannot have authority. It is after all, simply a book.

    2. Since the Bible itself establishes a system of human church authority (ie Paul and Acts 15), and because humans are necessary for understanding scripture at all, then we can presume that an ecclesial body is at least on the same level of authority as scripture.

    3. Since protestants (reformed in particular) teach and believe that the Bible alone holds final authority on doctrinal issues and since that is clearly not the case (as you attempted to prove demonstrating our divisiveness and the need for human translation) then the protestants are wrong and therefore clearly NOT the best church.

    II. Why the Catholic church (The Church) is right.

    1. Because the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 set precedents of the necessity of church councils in establishing church doctrine (and because the Catholic church is The Church) then the Catholic Church holds final authority alongside scripture in establishing doctrine. Because, after all, they have church councils too.

    2. Since scripture (simply a book) alone cannot alone determine true doctrine and since the Catholic church alone carries equal authority on scriptural interpretation then therefore it goes to show that the Catholic church is the one true church (The Church)…according to what The Church says…about itself. This is evidenced by The Church via Apostolic Succession (which is what The Church teaches about itself from scripture).

    To simplify even more, the gist of the article boils down to one thing:
    The Catholic church (The Church) is more RIGHT in determining doctrine NOT because of scripture alone, but simply because they are the Catholic Church, the one true church.

    Now if THAT is not ‘shooting an arrow into a wall and then drawing a target around it,’ then I am Robin Hood!
    I appreciate your generosity to us Protestants in our shared desire to uphold scripture to a high standard and our recognition of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is good to know that, doctrinally, we share these things in common.
    I tried read your article with an open mind, because I have friends that are catholic and because I am a PCA pastor who, like you all have been drenched in reformed teachings of scripture. And I wanted to be open to the possibility that there would be some legitimacy to brothers and sisters who ‘convert,’ if I can use that word, to Catholicism. However, I found this article wholly unconvincing. There are so many statements and presuppositions within this that I found it frustrating. You do make some good points and I now have some things to chew on as I return to conversations with my catholic friends. But, really in the end your article boils down to the following statement: We are the one true church because we believe and declare ourselves to be the one true church.
    Now you may say, “well, you protestants all say the same thing as well, and yet look how many variations of you there are.” To which I would agree with you, in part. Sadly, as you know, we protestants can be just as self-righteous and self-promoting as anyone else. And this is annoying to say the least. But please resist the temptation for a moment to justify your position by holding up a mirror to us.
    There is one key difference and it happens to be something that you did put your finger on, but misrepresent. Sola Scriptura. As you say, we Reformed proclaim Sola Scriptura, but then when determining it, what do we do? We translate. So, as you say, it is not truly Sola Scriptura, but rather our Sola Interpretatio (or something like that). It is our interpretation of scripture that we baptize as Sola Scriptura, according to you. This may seem true, but it not true, nor is it what we believe (though it may, at times, be what we practice. But hey, if you are going to go in the direction of comparing our practice to our proclamation then watch out. We may have to hold that same mirror up to you as well). Rather, what we believe, and you should know this!, is that our translations even though we like them a lot are subject to error! There it is. Our authority is manifest only in as much as our translations are accurate to scripture as God had it written. Therefore, we see the church; councils, magistrates, denominations, popes, bishops, pastors, R.C. Sproul, even Piper, as fallible in their translation of scripture and not holding final authority on doctrine. Until the Lord establishes something else, scripture alone has final authority on doctrine, and a book can and does have authority especially when it is the very words of God. The church (little “c”) must place itself and its translations UNDER that authority and be subject to changing its position, dependant upon A. the guidance of the Holy Spirit and B. the ability to understand it. We do not place ourselves BESIDE scripture in authority, as you do. Which is odd anyway, because where do you yourself go to justify The Church’s relationship to scripture? Scripture. I mean, come on.

    Genuinely, thank you for your article. It is at least for me a start in understanding the differences between the church and The Church. I personally would love to see more walls broken down between us in the interest of genuine fellowship and mutual expression of our love for Jesus.

  158. Mr. Tucker,

    We f0llow the Catholic Church because the Second Person of the Trinity established her as a binding authority on all Christian faithful while He walked among us. That is not painting the bulls-eye around the arrow.

  159. Also, you said:

    Which is odd anyway, because where do you yourself go to justify The Church’s relationship to scripture? Scripture. I mean, come on.

    If you genuinely want to see more walls broken down between us, that is not the sort of tone that will get us there.

  160. “We f0llow the Catholic Church because the Second Person of the Trinity established her as a binding authority on all Christian faithful while He walked among us. That is not painting the bulls-eye around the arrow.”
    But Tim, with all due respect, who determined that Jesus established the The Catholic Church as the binding authority? The Catholic Church. That’s it. It is saying that wherever we are on doctrine is true simply because it happens to be where we are. For example: A doctrine – Jesus has set up the Catholic Church as the one true church (not to be confused with the small “c” catholic church) to establish true doctrine. It’s circular reasoning and it means that where ever you are is right because that is what you believe.

    As far as my comment below (“I mean, come on”). I was expressing my incredulity and something that seems to me incredulous. Perhaps it is was a bit too harsh. I didn’t think so, but in the interest of erring on the side of friendliness, I apologize.

  161. hey Mark,

    i don’t think your ‘simple translation’ accurately captures Yonke’s argument, but aside from that, i’m most impressed with this:

    “There is one key difference… that you… misrepresent. Sola Scriptura… what we believe… is that our translations… are subject to error! There it is… we see [everyone/everything] as fallible in their translation of scripture and not holding final authority on doctrine.”

    do you think it would be unfair if someone characterized what you’ve expressed as profoundly depressing and deeply skeptical?

    i’m asking sincerely because i’m completely confused: you believe on the one hand that Scripture doesn’t interpret itself—that every interpretation is equally fallible—while believing on the other hand that Scripture alone is the final authority on doctrine?

    does that amount to saying that Scripture has all the right answers but we have no way of knowing whether we’re reading it right?

    help me understand.

  162. Mr. Tucker,

    Actually, I changed my mind about posting that second comment about 3 seconds too late. I have a ‘shoot from the hip’ impulse and a slow wit; these two don’t mix. :) I understand where you’re coming from and I often have the same sort of inclination. I see things that I can’t consider anything but absurd in others’ beliefs (and yes, there was a time in my PCA days when I would have said the same thing of the Catholic beliefs which I considered on par with Mormons – and I wouldn’t have been as nice as you were). Anyway- no harm done – I should have kept my mouth shut.

    You said:

    But Tim, with all due respect, who determined that Jesus established the The Catholic Church as the binding authority? The Catholic Church. That’s it.

    This is true only if our appeal to the Catholic Church is based solely on the modern voice of the Catholic Church. But it’s not. We don’t say the Catholic Church is the catholic Church because she says she is; that would be circular. We say she is the Catholic Church because there is sufficient external evidence to prove it. The argument needed to disprove this is not philosophical (i.e. to show that we have circular reasoning) but historical. You would need to show that the Church that Christ founded either A) was not visible and authoritative in the way we believe it is or B) is something different than what we now call the Catholic Church.

    If you want a thorough refutation of the argument you are making, it can be found here by Dr. Mike Liccione in Part 1 and Part 2 of “Bad Arguments Against the Magisterium.”

  163. Dear Mark,
    I know your dialogue is with Tim and he is extremely knowledgeable about the PCA/Reformed as well as Catholic doctrines.

    My only question for you is the same one I asked my brother in law who is a elder in a splinter group of the PCA – -RPCUS.
    “Have you read the early source documents from the early church? Not through the lens of Calvin or even Luther, but for yourself without their critique?”

    John Calvin considered the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch to be completely spurious. I understand that most of these letters have been held up as authentic within the larger Christian community in the last ??? years. Although the Catholic Church never doubted it.

    My question to anyone is, “Can you truly read St.Ignatius of Antioch, a martyr for the gospel and not believe that there was only one church before all of the epistles and gospels had been gathered into one place? Can you read his writing and not believe that there is and was and still is only one true church that was existing and worshipping before the Canon was put into place?
    How could a divided Church have conquered the Roman Empire without ever using a sword against their enemies? Our Lord told them and us that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
    His words never change, nor His truth because He is Truth.

    May the peace of Christ be with you,
    Teri

  164. Thanks Tim,

    I didn’t feel that your apology was as necessary as mine. Thanks though. But, I am glad that, post pca, becoming catholic has brought out your softer side (OKAY OKAY! That was a joke!).

    I will check out those articles. But just so I understand, you say that you believe that the CC is what she is (final authority of true doctrine, I presume) because of EXTERNAL evidence? In other words, external of the CC, or do you mean external of scripture. What do you mean by that? External evidence.

    I agree that the argument to disprove this is not philosophical (even this article utilizes philosophy to discredit protestantism, ie epistemology), but historical. But I would add that it is more so, theological. And I agree that I would need to prove that the church that Jesus founded was not visible and authoritative and that it is not the catholic church. However, this article is designed to address the unspoken comment, “the burden of proof is upon you.” In other words, the article starts with a presupposition that the Catholic Church today is still The Church that Jesus founded.

    Now, I am sure you would the respond that the Catholic Church IS the visible and authoritative church that Jesus established. Of course, as would most any denomination about themselves. And of course, I would argue that it would be very difficult for a modern Catholic to show convincingly that the CC as it is today is the closest thing the world has to the church that Jesus established in scripture (though, going back to the article, doesn’t seem like it would matter that much since scripture, though sacred, doesn’t have final authority anyway in the CC. If I understand the article correctly.). Which goes to my other point which is that it would seem that it matters little what the Bible says that Jesus said about the church. But I am sure you would disagree because practically speaking on this issue at least, for both of us, the Bible does have final authority. It just seems like, at least we admit it.

    Besides, I CAN prove historically that the Catholic Church alone is not the visible and authoritative church that Jesus established. ME! And every other Jesus loving non-Catholic pastor (or layperson too) in history. And that IS drawing a bull’s eye around an arrow in the wall. I admit it. To me the fact that there are legit elders in the church that are not catholic is in part proof that the catholic church is NOT the sole visible and authoritative church. That’s just a start.

    In Him,
    Mark
    PS I just draw my bull’s eye a bit wider (which means a lot coming from a PCA guy).

  165. Dear Teri,

    Thanks for your encouragement. I have read early church writers, I think not through the eyes of Calvin and Luther (if that is possible for a Protestant at all), but namely because they are MY early church fathers. I believe that we share the same church fathers. And I believe that they give us much knowledge and insight into understanding scripture and guidance for the church today. Infallible, though, no. I even believe that Calvin and Luther and Hus were fallible in their teachings, writings and leadership. And there are many writings (catholic and protestant) that I believe to be extremely authentic, but not the least bit authoritative. But even if it were true that that there was one church ( I assume you mean “visible church”) before the canon I don’t see how that gets us anywhere in determining WHICH church holds final authority today on doctrine. If indeed one church were to hold that position anyway. For example, did you know that there were all kinds of varieties of churches in the early Church? Charismatics even! For all we know, the Charismatics may be the closest thing we have today to the church that Jesus established. Imagine that! It wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    In regards to your statement about “a house divided against itself” Jesus was referring to the relationships of Satan and his demons. So I am not sure how is relates exactly. But the way the church conquered Rome was clearly not because of its unity, it was deeply fractuous, but rather through the love of Christ to one man, Constantine. Although it is arguable that A. he was not a Christian after all and B. that this was a decisive blow against Jesus’s church rather than for it. Much to be debated there I know. Perhaps you would be willing to read some of Calvin and Luther’s stuff as well Or perhaps you already have.

    “His words never change, nor His truth because He is Truth.”Amen

    and may the peace of Christ be with you as well,
    Mark

  166. Mark,

    “I have read early church writers, I think not through the eyes of Calvin and Luther (if that is possible for a Protestant at all), but namely because they are MY early church fathers. I believe that we share the same church fathers. And I believe that they give us much knowledge and insight into understanding scripture and guidance for the church today.”

    In what way are the early church Fathers formative for you and the PCA in your knowledge, insight, understanding, and guidance of Holy Scripture for the church today?

  167. Dear Mark,

    I am very glad you have read those epistles for yourself and not through the lens of others. Yes, I have read Calvin. I am a former cradle Protestant, so I’m not only familiar with “The Institutes” but alot of his commentaries, as well. I’ve read biographical writings that revered John Calvin to the point of almost worship and other’s that were not so kind in reflecting on his legacy.

    I haven’t read much Luther except biographical works from Protestants, Catholics and Catholics who can even empathize with the early Luther

    As far as charismatics – The Catholic faith welcomes the Charismatic Renewal in our Church. From my understanding, the Catholic faith never said there were no more miracles or workings of the Holy Spirit since the establishment of a canon of scripture.

    As far as fractured sects and Constantine, etc., I know from what I have read that the Church believed in the Real Presence of the body and blood of Our Lord in their sacrament. They did not believe in Sola Fide, but grace alone that produces an obedience of faith through love.

    They could not believe in Sola Scriptura because the New Testament had not been put together completely and most could not read the scriptura if they even had a copy. No way were they sent home with their parchment to let the “Holy Spirit” lead them without anyone teaching them the Tradition of the faith.

    So, those alone show me that the church looks alot like my Church.

    Blessings on your journey,
    Teri

  168. In interpreting these verses, we must also consider the state of the New Testament canon. Since most of the New Testament was unwritten at the time St. Paul was writing, he could only have been referring here to the Old Testament.

    Interesting article and discussion!

    I enjoyed reading this today; and I will admit I need to go back and read it again and all the comments also.

    You cited 2 Timothy 3:15-17 before the above quote, citing the Westminster Confession of Faith proof texts. If Paul wrote 2 Timothy around 67 AD, before his martyrdom; and since that is obviously the last book he wrote; and Mark and James wrote around 48-50 AD; Matthew in 50-55; Luke in 60, Luke wrote Acts in 61 AD; and all of Paul’s epistles were written from 49 AD – 67 AD; and I Peter in 64-65 AD; then most of the NT was not unwritten at the time the apostle Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:15-17. What do you say to that? We know by historical research and the internal evidence of the text.

    What is left is John’s writings (Gospel of John, 3 epistles, Revelation), Hebrews ( which must have been written between 68-69 AD before the destruction of the temple in AD 70; Jude, and 2 Peter. That is not “most of the NT”. Peter himself wrote 2 Peter, so it was also written about the same time as 2 Timothy, before his martydom by Nero, around 67 AD.

    In 2 Timothy 3, verse 15, he does refer to the OT, but then in verse 16 he expands it to include all Scripture; so it seems to go beyond the OT. Since Paul quotes both Law (Deut. 25:4) and Gospel (Luke 10:7 and Matthew 10:10) in I Timothy 5:18 and puts them together as “Scripture” ; and I Timothy comes before 2 Timothy, then Paul is including the gospels and the law.

    Personally, I believe John also wrote all his 5 works before 70 AD, before the destruction of the temple – because of the internal evidence that shows that Nero was the Caesar at the time of the writing – Rev. 17:9-10 – “the seven hills = Rome; the 6 kings are the five Caesars before Nero, beginning with Julius Caesar and it says “one is”. Also “Neron Kasar”, written in Hebrew does come out exactly as 666. The adulterous/prostitute is Israel who has, like in the OT, “played the harlot with the Baals” and has the forehead of a prostitute. ( Rev. 17:5 and Jeremiah 3:3). It is obvious that the “great city” of Revelation 11:8 is Jerusalem, which is spiritually/mystically/symbolically called Sodom (see Isaiah 1:9-10 where God calls Israel “Sodom”) and Egypt. (Ezekiel 23:3, 8, 19, 27) Israel had become the enemy of God, “mystery Babylon”, who rode the beast of pagan Rome, controlling her and manipulating her to crucify Jesus ( we have no king but Caesar) and persecute the saints. Rev. 11:1ff seems to indicate the temple was still standing at the time.

    Anyway, it seems clear that most of the NT was written before 2 Timothy, and 2 Peter and Hebrews and Revelation were being written around the same time. Jude maybe the only book written after 70 AD – and the last book of the NT – which is why he says, “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”. (Jude maybe 80 AD)

    If these NTs were all already in existence, then they were “canon” (criterion, law, rule, principle, standard) at the time they were written; “God-breathed” quality or “inspiration” is what determines canonicity. Just because it took time for all the books to get put under “one book cover” ( so to speak) does not undermine the epistemology of how we know which books belong in the canon. The reasons why it took a while are:
    a. because the nature of the writings themselves were individual writtings written to different places, Galatia is quite far from Rome and Corinth. They were not written at the same time or by the same authors or to the same place.
    b. Persecution and burning of the Scriptures by the Romans.
    C. Difficulty and expense of writing, copying and publishing the books. no printing presses then.

  169. Athanasius sounds like he believed in an early form of “Sola Scriptura” in 367 AD – “these alone”

    Your version has “in these alone the school of piety preaches the Gospel” – this is even stronger – the gospel is alone found in the Scriptures; so traditons later added are not part of the gospel. (Mary dogmas, Papal dogmas, purgatory, indulgences, treasury of merit, etc.)

    I cut this ( below) from the http://www.ccel.org website, which from all that I can tell, is the same as the http://www.newadvent.org Roman Catholic cite that has the early church fathers, etc.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.xxv.iii.iii.xxv.html

    6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.” Matt. xxii. 29; John v. 39..’

  170. Teri,
    Hi !

    You wrote:
    They did not believe in Sola Fide, but grace alone that produces an obedience of faith through love.

    They did not believe in Sola Fide,

    [ But if Paul and Jesus and the other apostles did, (which they do seem to) then that is older than the post-apostolic church. Furthermore some writers did articulate "faith alone", because they understood it as "apart from the merit of works" in order to gain justification or salvation. Ambrosiaster ( 300s AD) several times in his writings in commenting on NT verses says "Faith alone".]

    but grace alone that produces an obedience of faith through love.

    this is the same as “justification is by faith alone; but that faith does not stay alone, rather it lives and produces an obedience of faith through love”.

  171. Some “faith alone” type statements in early church history:

    “. . . we are not justified by means of ourselves, nor by our own wisdom or understanding or godliness or works which we have done in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which the Almighty God has justified all those believing from the beginning.” I Clement 32

    The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, (Thomas Oden, general Editor of the entire series), Romans Edited by Gerald Bray, Volume VI (Romans), IVP (ICCS), 1998, p. 101, Abrosiaster’s commentary on Romans 3:24.

    “They are justified freely because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone (Latin: sola fide) they have been made holy by the gift of God.”

    Ibid, p. 112, commenting on Romans 4:5:

    “How then can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of the law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith alone (Latin: sola fide) ? Therefore there is no need of the law when the ungodly is justified before God by faith alone ( Latin: per solam fidem).”

    Gerald Bray, Ibid, Volume VII ( I and II Corinthians), comment on I Cor. 1:4, p. 6 :

    “God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works. By faith alone (Latin: sola fide) he receives the forgiveness of sins.”

  172. Here is a good article answering the issue of epistemology and the Roman Catholic apologetic of “how do you know?”

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/07/in-defense-of-sola-scriptura-part-seven-what-about-the-canon/

  173. Ken, these are some great passages from the ‘patristics’. Are you committed to a “faith alone” presentation of the Christian gospel? I am curious, as I am committed to such, and I am merely wondering if this has prompted your research (which I commend, by the way!).

    Matt

  174. Mark,

    Welcome to CTC. In #164 you wrote:

    Besides, I CAN prove historically that the Catholic Church alone is not the visible and authoritative church that Jesus established. ME! And every other Jesus loving non-Catholic pastor (or layperson too) in history. And that IS drawing a bull’s eye around an arrow in the wall. I admit it. To me the fact that there are legit elders in the church that are not catholic is in part proof that the catholic church is NOT the sole visible and authoritative church.

    A Jehovah’s Witness could say the same thing. So could any second-century gnostic. But presumably you wouldn’t grant that they are members of the Church Christ founded. Clearly then, merely pointing to yourself is not sufficient evidence that the Catholic Church is not the visible and authoritative Church that Christ established. Pointing to yourself to show the extension of the Catholic Church begs the question, by assuming precisely what is in question. So, what is needed to determine (in a non question-begging manner) the extension of the Church Christ founded is a principled way of distinguishing the Church Christ founded from the heretics and schismatics separated from her. And Christ provided a principled way to do this when He gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter. And this governing and teaching authority has been handed down by way of apostolic succession.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  175. Teri,

    On your statements: “They could not believe in Sola Scriptura because the New Testament had not been put together completely and most could not read the scriptura if they even had a copy. No way were they sent home with their parchment to let the “Holy Spirit” lead them without anyone teaching them the Tradition of the faith.”

    They could believe in Sola Scriptura in as much as they HAD of the compiled scripture, and anyway even though that was an important time we live in a time after the canon has been compiled (even though we may disagree with what it is exactly). So hypothetically, they may not have believed in Sola Scriptura, but we definitely can today. At least in a more complete sense. And yes they were sent home with people gifted to teach them the faith, just as believers are today. But with the Bible as the standard authority, as guided by the Holy Spirit.

    Perhaps your church would look a lot like it did back then, perhaps mine would to.

    in Him,
    Mark

  176. Ken, (re: #170)

    Welcome to CTC. The passages you cite from the Church Fathers do not mean “faith alone” in the sense meant by Luther (i.e. faith not informed by agape). The Fathers there are speaking of a faith that is informed by agape. We discussed that in my post titled “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  177. Thanks Bryan,

    This is a fruitful discussion. I figured I was only scratching the surface. Obviously, you all have dealt with these questions a great deal.

    I actually anticipated your following response:
    “A Jehovah’s Witness could say the same thing. So could any second-century gnostic. But presumably you wouldn’t grant that they are members of the Church Christ founded. Clearly then, merely pointing to yourself is not sufficient evidence that the Catholic Church is not the visible and authoritative Church that Christ established. Pointing to yourself to show the extension of the Catholic Church begs the question, by assuming precisely what is in question. So, what is needed to determine (in a non question-begging manner) the extension of the Church Christ founded is a principled way of distinguishing the Church Christ founded from the heretics and schismatics separated from her. And Christ provided a principled way to do this when He gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter. And this governing and teaching authority has been handed down by way of apostolic succession.”

    …which was why I added the “Jesus-loving” part. Now, we could argue all day about the parameters of “Jesus-loving,” but since I used it I will say that it is broader than The Church but narrower than Jehovah’s witnesses. So, in my understanding of scripture alone, it is anyone who has repented of their sins, acknowledged the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and committed themselves to following Him. Does that answer your question?

    Also, I said it was IN PART proof, not fool-proof. But, I agree that we need a principled method of determining the visible church, and actually I agree that scripture alone cannot determine the parameters of the visible church. People are needed (Even II Cor. 13 commands us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith). And I agree that Jesus demonstrated that the keys have been given to the apostles. But the big jump is that you assume that those keys were restricted to the Catholic Church, and still even today rest there. Even scripture speaks of God’s blessing being stripped from someone when they failed to be faithful to the responsibility by which they were called (King Saul, the Israelites that left Egypt, the church a Ephesus in Rev. 2:5 ) and began to serve themselves. I don’t mean at all to say that I believe that God has completely abandoned the Catholic Church, but I do think there is good reason to believe that they alone certainly do not carry the keys to heaven and hell as you suggest. I do believe in a modified, and I think more biblical understanding, of apostolic succession. It’s the manifestation of the gifts of the spirit (I Cor.12, Romans 12) distributed to those in the visible church (little “c”) for leadership and oversight and preaching and teaching. But just as in the Catholic Church, it is not without imperfections.

  178. Mark,

    Thanks for clarifying. In Catholic doctrine, there is a distinction between the members of the Church Christ founded, and persons in a state of grace. Here’s the distinction: Not every member of the Church Christ founded is in a state of grace, and not every non-member of the Church Christ founded is not in a state of grace. So, we don’t determine the extension of the Church Christ founded by determining the extension of those in a state of grace. (That would be quite impossible anyway, i.e to see into the hearts of men.) Anyone who loves Jesus (with agape, not merely with natural human love) is, by that very fact, in a state of grace. But such a person is not necessarily a member of the Church Christ founded. A person is incorporated into Christ’s Church, we believe, through the sacrament of baptism, not through faith alone. We recognize that a person may love Jesus prior to being baptized. In that case, that person would be in state of grace prior to being a member of Christ’s Church.

    So, I think we agree that those who love Jesus are in a state of grace. Where we disagree, perhaps, is whether anyone who is in a state of grace is, by that very fact, a member of the Church Christ founded. On account of this distinction, pointing to a person who loves Jesus and is therefore in a state of grace, but who is not a member of the Catholic Church, would not show that the Catholic Church is not the visible and authoritative Church that Christ established.

    You qualified your “loving Jesus” criterion by adding five other conditions: (1) repenting of one’s sins, (2) acknowledging the deity of Christ, (3) acknowledging the death of Christ, (4) acknowledging the resurrection of Christ, and (5) committing themselves to following Him. I agree that these are all good and important things, but it seems entirely arbitrary to make these five things (in addition to loving Jesus) the sufficient conditions for membership in the Church Christ founded.

    We agree on a quite a few things regarding Church authority. However, you pointed out: “But the big jump is that you assume that those keys were restricted to the Catholic Church, and still even today rest there.” We (Catholics) believe that Christ only has one Church, the one He speaks of in Matthew 16. He has only one Bride. So, we believe that the one Church of which we speak in the Creed: “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” is the Church with the keys. So far, I think we (you and I) are mostly agreed. The point of disagreement, so far as I can tell, turns on whether that Church retained the keys. You raise the possibility of God’s blessing being stripped from the Church, as it was from King Saul, the Israelites who left Egypt, and the church at Ephesus in Rev 2:5.

    I find that this is very common line of thought among Protestants. But it is also a very dangerous line of thought, because every heresy and schism in the history of the Church could make use of it to justify themselves. So if we find ourselves resorting to ecclesial deism to justify being separate from the Catholic Church, we have to consider the possibility that we, being no more immune from error than all the heretics of past ages, could be making the very same fundamental error that they made in assuming that the Church had gone off the rails, and that they [i.e. the heretics] were thus justified in acting against the Church’s highest magisterial authority, and remaining separate from her. If a person is wrong about this, he will be found to be fighting against God, as Gamaliel pointed out.

    But we also have good reason to believe that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church cannot fail, cannot lose the deposit of faith or fall into heresy or apostasy. Here’s why. If the Church is the Body of Christ, then the Church cannot fail, because Christ cannot fail. See my post titled, “The Indefectibility of the Church“.) God did not shed His blood on the cross only to abandon His Church such that she would fall into heresy or apostasy. The union of God with man that took place at the incarnation, and continues in His Body, the Church, entails that the Church is not like King Saul, in that respect, and not like the Israelites in that respect. The promises and benefits of the New Covenant are better than those under the Old. Regarding the Church at Ephesus in Revelation, we need to remember the distinction between the universal Church, and a particular Church. Particular Churches (e.g. Ephesus, Smyrna, etc.) can fail. But the universal Church cannot fail — the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. She is the pillar and bulwark of truth, as St. Paul says (1 Tim 3:15). And the stone on which the universal Church is built is Petros, the fisherman, to whom Christ gave the keys, and in whose line these keys are retained. The Church where Peter’s chair remains, where he spilled his blood and handed on those keys, is the Church with which all Christians (and all other particular Churches) are to be in full communion, as St. Irenaeus points out:

    Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every [particular] Church should agree with this [particular] Church [i.e. the Church at Rome], on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. (Against Heresies, III.3)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  179. Ken, the article you posted does not answer the charge of the canon. We will get into this with some more detail in an upcoming article (not the next one but the one after that). But in brief, it is a problem with consistency in one’s epistemology not the fact that one doesn’t have absolute certainty. Any apologists claiming what the author argues against is a bad apologist. I’m not saying he’s committing a straw-man fallacy; I’m sure he’s run up against that line of argument before.

    The consistency problem can be summarized in a simple line: You cannot trust the act more than the agent or the product more than the producer. His article does not deal with the consistency of the Protestant claim. Namely: whether one can trust the canon and distrust the Church who selected it. This discussion between a Protestant (Kenny) and I (starting at comment #10) deals with some of the issues he raises and shows that his second point is a form of skepticism. Also, the link in my comment above (162) refutes the “tu quoque” argument.

  180. Bryan,
    Where does the Orthodox Church fit into your argument?
    Are they recognized as being apart of the Church in a Catholic sense, but differ on key points thus dividing THE Church in doctrine?

  181. Mark,

    There are fifteen Orthodox [particular] Churches, though the Orthodox Church in America is not recognized by some of the other Orthodox Churches, so on that counting there are fourteen. These are actual particular Churches, because they maintain apostolic succession, and so have valid Orders and a valid Eucharist. (See Responsa quaestiones, 2007 ) But, from a Catholic point of view, those Orthodox Churches are in schism from the Catholic Church, because they have not maintained unity with the successor of St. Peter, and with those in communion with him. “Schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” (CCC 2089)

    Dominus Iesus provides a succinct explanation of the Catholic position:

    The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18). And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single “whole Christ”. This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).

    Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church”. Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church’s integrity — will never be lacking.

    The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ… which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth’ (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”. With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that “outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth”, that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that “they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.

    Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.

    On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.

    “The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach”. In fact, “the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities”. “Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”. (Dominus Iesus, 16-17)

    What is the meaning of the statement, “the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church”? It means that the Holy Spirit, who is the soul of the Church, is especially present and operative in these Churches, through their valid sacraments. Wherever apostolic succession has not been maintained, then the only valid sacraments are baptism and marriage. Such communities are for this reason termed ‘ecclesial communities’, not particular Churches, while the Orthodox Churches are referred to as ‘Churches’ because they have preserved apostolic succession, and thus a valid Eucharist (as well as the other sacraments). Persons in separated Churches and ecclesial communities are in some degree of communion with the Catholic Church, on account of their baptism (which is a sacrament of the Catholic Church), and insofar as they share the same faith (e.g. the Nicene Creed). But, such persons are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, insofar as they do not share the same faith, the same sacraments, and communion with the successor of St. Peter.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  182. Bryan,
    thanks for the welcome!

    I was just showing that there is historical precedence for “faith alone” and Luther was not the first. It was not a totally new concept.

    When the Bible says “no flesh will be justified before God by the works of the Law”, that is the same as “by faith alone”, or “apart from works”. It is true that Luther that did not develop what Galatians 5:6 means as much as he should have ( although he clearly wrote that a faith that is dead and does not produce any good works or fruit is not real faith); “faith working through love”; but Calvin and the rest of the Reformed tradition did. Faith alone does not mean mere intellectual accent. ( James 2:19) and one cannot claim to have faith, but have no change in their life or fruit or good works or hatred for sin, etc. ( James 2:14-26)

    So, if by “faith formed by love” ( Galatians 5:6) you mean, “a faith that does not stay alone, but produces good fruit, good works, growth, change, holiness, deeper repentance, hatred of one’s own sins, sensitivity to sin”, then the Reformed traditon agrees with that.

    The point of those patristic passages is that it shows that the phrase “sola fide” was not a completely new theological thought. There is historical precedence for justification by faith alone.

  183. Thanks Bryan,
    I am going to chew on that one.

    PS. I am not Mark, I dont think he would want to claim my comment
    even though we MIGHT be related.

  184. Matt,
    Regarding “faith alone” – yes, I beleive Luther and Calvin were right on justification
    (Romans 3:9-28; 4:1-8; Galatians 1:6-9; 2:16; 2:21; 3:6-29; 5:1-12; Philippians 3:9; many more)

    and I also believe they were right on election/predestination and man’s deadness in sin and inability to come to Christ unless God first changes the heart. (Luther’s “Bondage of the Will”) (which Augustine agreed with) (John 6:44; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Acts 16:14)

    But all must hear the gospel and the believers in Christ must go and share and live and witness the gospel to all nations. ( Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:13-15; Romans 15:20-21)

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Ken Temple

  185. Dear All,

    There is in fact a lot of historical evidence for Bryan’s (and Cardinal Ratzinger’s, and the Magisterium’s) assertion that it is necessary to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome in order to be a member in good standing of the Catholic Church. For example, see the history of the Donatist Schism (one which Saint Augustine worked mightily to end). Many historical examples of this assertion can be found in the book “The Early Papacy To the Synod of Chalcedon in 451,” by Adrian Fortescue. Pick it up from your library, or check out the preview on Google books:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=G70C9EUgEH4C&dq=Adrian+Fortescue+chalcedon&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=BllHziXT_H&sig=ayX5oGuKUAo7t1zh1kM_OnskOSQ&hl=en&ei=e5vUSuSEFdPT8AbCh7mODQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    In contrast with the Protestant claims that Sola Fide (in the Reformation sense) or Sola Scriptura (in the Reformation sense) were “taught” by the early Church Fathers and the great saints who learned from them, the Catholic claims about the papacy actually _are_ present to an overwhelming degree in the records of antiquity.

    I would note as well, that if you only count the handful of documents that are most temporally close to the writings of the apostles themselves, you should by no means expect to have a dataset large enough to “prove” any doctrine for or against any modern Christian theory. These authors didn’t write their letters in order to supply evidence for skeptical schismatics 1,900 years later — they wrote them for present concerns which were much more pressing! But, as a matter of fact, due to luck (or perhaps something greater) the very limited evidence from the earliest years (such as first clement and Ignatius’ letters) support the Catholic claims quite well. There is no reason to expect that they would contain enough data to do so. But they do. And when you get to Augustine’s time, you will find the data set large enough to very easily refute the usual protestant ecclesiological claims.

    The early Church had bishops, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and a primacy of power (not merely honor) at Rome. And they didn’t view these things as accidents, but as part and parcel of a Catholic Church that was infallible, as Saint Augustine said: “Unless the Lord dwelt in the Church, as she is now, the most careful speculation would fall into error; but of this Church is said: She is the holy temple of God.”

    Saint Augustine said this about a Catholic Church that he admitted was full of sinners. But he knew, as Saint Irenaeus knew, that “where the gifts [charismata] of the Lord are placed, there we must learn the truth, namely from those who have the succession of the Church from the apostles. . . These preserve our faith.”

    And so Saint Augustine could compose his little psalm, or ditty, begging the Donatist schismatics (who had broken from unity with the successor of Saint Peter) to come back to the fold: “You know what the Catholic Church is, and what that is cut off from the Vine; if there are any among you cautious, let them come; let them find life in the Root. Come, brethren, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine: a grief it is when we see you lying thus cut off. Number the Bishops even from the very seat of Peter: and see every succession in that line of Fathers: that is the Rock against which the proud Gates of Hell prevail not.”

    That is why we ask you to come to (or come back to!) the Catholic Church in communion with Saint Peter’s successor. Because this has been the same request that all faithful Catholics have made throughout history, including the great Saints of the early Church such as Saint Augustine. We are in company with them when we ask you to enter company with us.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  186. Matt Y,

    You wrote in your article:

    “In interpreting these verses, we must also consider the state of the New Testament canon. Since most of the New Testament was unwritten at the time St. Paul was writing, he could only have been referring here to the Old Testament.”

    Your article says that most of the NT was unwritten when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
    This cannot be correct, if Mark was written around 48-50; James 48-55; Matthew 50-55; Luke 60; Acts 61; and all of Paul’s letters before 2 Timothy – 49 AD (Galatians) – 67 AD. Most of the NT was written before 2 Timothy 3:16-17. For the rest of the books, see the details above.

    What do you (or anyone else) say to that?

    The existence of the writings at the time of the writings, since they are “God-breathed”, makes them “canon” (criterion, law, rule, standard, principle).

    Paul clearly is talking about the OT in verse 15, but he expands that to “all Scripture” in verse 16 of 2 Timothy 3; so he is including a lot of NT also – especially when he calls both OT law and Gospel “scripture” in 1 Timothy 5:18 ( Quoting Deut. 25:4; Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7).

  187. Someone above quoted Irenaeus’ famous statement on the church in Rome, in Against Heresies, book 3, chapter 3.

    This does not mean what the modern Roman Catholic says it means, reading back into it all of the development of centuries into Irenaeus’ statement.

    At the time, it just meant that the truth of the Scriptures and the tradition handed down from the apostles was still in the churches, the teaching that the OT God was the same as the NT God, the Father. Irenaeus is just showing the Gnostics that no church teaches what they teach – that God is a Demi-urge who is evil and malevolent. Protestants agree with this; there is nothing here about taking Irenaeus’ statement and extending it to include all the other man-made traditions that the Roman Catholic Church claims are part of the apostolic deposit.

    There is also debate as to what the Latin means of AH 3:3 — it could mean, “all the churches resort to the church in Rome, because being the capital, Christians from all over the empire come to Rome, and so she reflects what all the other churches teach also, because she is made up of so many others from all over the empire.

    Also, Irenaeus goes on to later explain that we should resort to the Scriptural proof as to what the true tradition is:

    Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, chapter 5:

    1. Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, John 14:6 and that no lie is in Him. As also David says, prophesying His birth from a virgin, and the resurrection from the dead, “Truth has sprung out of the earth.” The apostles, likewise, being disciples of the truth, are above all falsehood; for a lie has no fellowship with the truth, just as darkness has none with light, but the presence of the one shuts out that of the other. Our Lord, therefore, being the truth, did not speak lies; and whom He knew to have taken origin from a defect, He never would have acknowledged as God, even the God of all, the Supreme King, too, and His own Father, an imperfect being as a perfect one, an animal one as a spiritual, Him who was without the Pleroma as Him who was within it. Neither did His disciples make mention of any other God, or term any other Lord, except Him, who was truly the God and Lord of all, as these most vain sophists affirm that the apostles did with hypocrisy frame their doctrine according to the capacity of their hearers, and gave answers after the opinions of their questioners,— fabling blind things for the blind, according to their blindness; for the dull according to their dulness; for those in error according to their error. And to those who imagined that the Demiurge alone was God, they preached him; but to those who are capable of comprehending the unnameable Father, they did declare the unspeakable mystery through parables and enigmas: so that the Lord and the apostles exercised the office of teacher not to further the cause of truth, but even in hypocrisy, and as each individual was able to receive it!

  188. Al Kimel is an Anglican who converted to the Roman Catholic Church and used to have a blog called “Pontifications”. In his article on the canon, he both denies that the church “created” the canon; but then later seems to actually assert that without using those words. I did manage to preserve some of the quotes of his article.

    Al Kimel’s site appears to have been changed, because I cannot find these statement’s he made back in 2006 ( ?) in an article on the canon: (interspersed in my comments that I made on Dave Armstrong’s blog back in 2006. He took down his web-site; but others like Philip Blosser refer to it in their apologetic against Sola Scriptura. http://catholictradition.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_catholictradition_archive.html

    My main point is that Kimel also uses Presuppositionalism (the church determined the canon, and declared it so, so that makes it so; even if, as Kimel believes, Matthew did not write Matthew or John did not write Revelation or Paul Ephesians or Peter either 1 or 2 Peter and he basically says, “if the church says it’s ok to declare Pseudonymous writings “canon”, then who am I to question it?”) in his belief that the Church determined the canon. And Phil Blosser agreed with this kind of reasoning.

    For me, that is very liberal to believe that those books were not actually written by the apostles themselves. I believe Peter actually wrote 2 Peter right before he was executed and martyred. I Peter is a higher style of Greek because Silvanus wrote it for him. ( I Peter 5:12)

    Pontificator, Al Kimel, in his blog and article on the “canon of Scripture” says that the church did not “create” the canon of Scripture: (but later says things that actually contradict that.)

    “Did the Church “create” the Scripture? No, the Holy Spirit of God did–both in inspiring the biblical authors to compose the sacred texts and in inspiring the Church to recognize and authorize these texts as Scripture. The Bible cannot be divorced from the living voice of the Church. As Fr John Breck has written, “It is the work of the Spirit that enables the Church both to generate and to interpret her own canon or rule of truth.”

    But, earlier, by saying that John probably did not write the Apocalypse and that Paul did not write Ephesians or the Pastoral Epistles, and that Peter may not have written 1 and./or 2 Peter, and that Pseudominity is OK, if the church declares it scripture, then Al Kimel actually contradicts himself, in my humble opinion, and although writes, “the church did not “create” Scripture”, he actually does say it in a round about and backdoor way:

    “The anonymous author of Hebrews probably was not an Apostle. John of the Apocalypse probably was not John, son of Zebedee. And then we have to acknowledge the critical problem of pseudonymity. The Apostle Matthew may not have written the gospel attributed to him. The Apostle Paul may not have written Ephesians and the Pastorals. The Apostle Peter may not have written his two letters; etc. The question of authorship of many books of the New Testament is a hotly contested matter in scholarly circles. Surely Atwood knows all of this, but without mention.”

    “If the historical evidence leads us to conclude that God employed the convention of pseudonymity in his sacred writings, who are we to complain? who are we to judge? I stand by the Word of God as confessed by his one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

    These last two sentences actually are teaching a kind of “creating” of Scripture, while trying to escape the charge that the RCC actually teaches that the RCC “creates” Scripture.

    This just shows examples of two Roman Catholics who don’t think it is a big deal for the church to declare something “Scripture” or “canon”, because it allegedly has that power and authority to do so; even if they were written years after an apostle died, Pseudonomously, etc.

  189. Hi Mr. Temple,

    I am glad to see you that you are willing to engage in dialogue with these godly men at Called To Communion. That’s wonderful!

    They are all extremely knowledgeable regarding the doctrines of the Reformed faith – most having grown up in the faith and/or graduated from a Reformed Seminary.

    Sometimes it’s a good idea to let them answer the questions you pose or respond to your statements before you continuing posting.
    It’s aptly named “Called To Communion” because they are committed to that unity that Our Lord prayed for.

    I hope from your stopping by this blog that the gentlemen at Reformation Beggars All, Mr. White’s Alpha and Omega Ministeries, etc. are interested in a dialogue towards that unity. That would be a true answer to many prayers.

    May the peace of Christ be with your spirit,
    Teri

  190. Tim,
    I don’t see the Protestant position on the canon as a problem in epistemology. ie, “How do we know?” The internal evidence of the Scriptures along with history tells us. Relying on historical evidence and backgound is not the same as believing the church is infallible. We can easily look at Scripture and history and see the good things in the early church and discern those areas that they were wrong on. We are free to evaluate and think. How do you know the RCC is the same church Jesus started? It has changed much. It has added many things slowly over the centuries. It took a long time to declare the defining dogma of the RCC – infallibility of the Pope – 1870 AD; yet the apologetic method of RCs seems to read that back into everything from Irenaeus to Leo I and beyond. Church history is important; but our “distrust” is not of the early biblical church or early “catholic” ( little c) church of the first 5 centuries; but of the medieval and Council of Trent and modern Roman Catholic Church, that has added many things over the centuries to the original deposit and also done many sins and made many arrogant statements. ( Like Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctum – “It is necessary for salvation for every living creature to be in submission to the Roman Pontiff”; and Pius IX: “I am the tradition”)

    To me, the constant montra of Roman Catholic apologetic methods of “how do you know?” you are right” or “How do you know the canon is correct” or “how do you know your interpretation is the right one?” or “how do you know you are in the right church? are methods that one could ask of anything and go on and on in hyper-skepticism. The modern Church of Rome gives no assurance, because you ultimately have to rely on your own mind also to decide that that is the church for you. The RC apologist questions the Protestant and appeals to the humility/pride argument if have confidence in your interpretation/doctrines/church (Protestant church). They say, “you are leaning on your own understanding”, Proverbs 3:3-5 and that is arrogant, etc.

    Sensitive Protestants who don’t want to be arrogant find that argument powerful and persuasive; coupled with disillusionment of the lack of unity in Protestant circles and the lack of historical grounding and knowledge of the early church and church history; and the desire for liturgy, ceremony, ritual, art, mystery.

    If you want the Roman Catholic church to give you that feeling of security that you know you are in the right church; that’s your choice; but it seems like a method of creating doubt that could be used about anything. I think that Michael Patton’s article makes a good point that the constant questioning of “how do you know?” will drive people to act like the character in the movie, “What about Bob?”

    The protestant can be confident about his church, interpretations, knowledge, etc. without being arrogant. We can trust God and the Scriptures.

  191. Ken, (re: #182),

    Regarding whether the concept of being justified by faith alone was a “totally new concept” in the sixteenth century, we need to be careful not to equivocate, because the “alone” has a different with-respect-to-whatness in the two cases. The Fathers, as I mentioned, were speaking of living faith, i.e. faith informed by agape. We are justified (initially) not by works of the Law, but by faith-informed-by-agape, and this [i.e. faith-informed-by-agape] is the fruit of the grace we receive in baptism. But the early Protestants took the ‘alone’ [in initial justification] not only to exclude works of the Law, but also to exclude the presence of agape in us as an instrumental cause of our justification. They claimed that we are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. But the Catholic Church believes (and has always believed) that it is agape that makes faith to be living faith, and hence that we cannot be justified by faith that is not informed by agape. That is why last year Pope Benedict said, “For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love.” So to claim that these patristic passages give a precedence for “justification by faith alone” [in the Protestant sense] is to equivocate on the ‘alone’. We have discussed this issue in more detail in the “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?” post. This present thread is about hermeneutics and the authority of Scripture. So if you have thoughts or comments about sola fide, I recommend that you comment on that thread, to keep this present thread on topic.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  192. Dear Ken,

    You said: “It took a long time to declare the defining dogma of the RCC – infallibility of the Pope – 1870 AD; yet the apologetic method of RCs seems to read that back into everything from Irenaeus to Leo I and beyond. Church history is important; but our “distrust” is not of the early biblical church or early “catholic” ( little c) church of the first 5 centuries; but of the medieval and Council of Trent and modern Roman Catholic Church, that has added many things over the centuries to the original deposit and also done many sins and made many arrogant statements. ( Like Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctum – “It is necessary for salvation for every living creature to be in submission to the Roman Pontiff”; and Pius IX: “I am the tradition”)”

    Why don’t you read my comment above in #185? And then read the tiny little book that I cite there. It is a very little book. In the time it takes you to make 5 or 6 comments on this website, you could read the entire little book. I don’t think you will claim that we are “reading back into” early church history when we claim that the early church had a belief in papal power.

    As far as “sins and arrogant statements” are concerned: God knows that I have many to answer for. But I won’t answer for those of other Catholics. And I won’t accept you speaking as if either we — or the Magisterium — have to answer for the personal sins of other Catholics. Go answer for the sins of other protestants: for the sins of writing distorted histories of the Spanish inquisition, of falsifying quotes from the Fathers, and from bigoted treatment of my ancestors when they came to these shores. And if you don’t think you have to answer for these sins that you didn’t personally commit, then don’t even think about asking us to answer for the sins of some lunatic pope who — while keeping doctrines pure — made himself and all who were in his personal influence impure.

    Again:, as far as the purity of the doctrines: why not just read the evidence of early papal power and it’s acceptance North South East and West? It will take you a couple hours. It will do you some good. We’re not “reading” anything back into history. It’s there for whoever wants to see it. The early Church believed that it was necessary to be in communion with the Pope of Rome to be a full member of the Catholic Church. The Church still believes this, and still teaches it. Boniface’s statement is a badly worded combination of: (a) there is no ordinary salvation outside the Church; and (b) Ordinarily, you have to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome in order to be in the Catholic Church. Both (a) and (b) are amply supported by patristic evidence. However bad Boniface’s wording was, there was in his statement a _germ_ of truth that the early Church would never have denied.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  193. Ken, (re: #187)

    St. Irenaeus’s statement means exactly what it says: “For it is a matter of necessity that every [particular] Church should agree with this [particular] Church [i.e. the Church at Rome], on account of its preeminent authority.” It means that every Church and every Christian should agree with the Church at Rome, on account of its preeminent authority. St. Irenaeus is not saying that the reason everyone should agree with the Church at Rome is because it teaches his own interpretation of Scripture, or what he thinks is the correct interpretation of Scripture. Rather, for St. Irenaeus, the preeminent authority of that Church wherein Peter’s chair resides, is the very standard for the authoritative interpretation of Scripture and what is the Apostolic Tradition.

    In his preface to Book III, he shows that it is through the Church that we know and receive the Apostolic Tradition, writing, “you shall have from me a very copious refutation of all the heretics; and faithfully and strenuously shall you resist them in defence of the only true and life-giving faith, which the Church has received from the apostles and imparted to her sons.” For St. Irenaeus, those who reject the Church’s teachings are rejecting the Apostles. And those who reject the Apostles are rejecting Christ. And those who reject Christ are rejecting God the Father.

    In the second chapter of Book III, he writes, “But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, …” showing that the deposit of faith is preserved by means of succession from the Apostles. He says the same thing again in chapter 3, immediately before the original quotation that I cited. He writes:

    Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops.

    Again, St. Ireneaus is saying that the guarantee of the Apostolic Tradition is the succession of the bishops. The Gnostics cannot trace their lines back to the Apostles. But the particular Churches of the Catholic Church can do so. And the most important particular Church, founded by the two most glorious apostles (Peter and Paul) preserves the Apostolic faith by way of apostolic succession, because in the following paragraph St. Irenaeus lays out the succession from Peter to bishop of Rome at the time St. Ireneaus is writing:

    Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

    Here he is pointing out that the present bishop of the Church at Rome, Eleutherius, holds the inheritance of the episcopate. And by this succession from Peter to Eleutherius, the tradition from the Apostles has come down to Christians (St. Irenaeus being the bishop of Lyon, in present day France, at the time he was writing this.) And in chapter 4, he again says that the Apostolic Tradition is found in the Church, writing:

    Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. Revelation 22:17 For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?

    The Catholic Church is, he says, the entrance to life, because the Apostolic deposit is found in its fullness only in the Catholic Church. All others who claim to give us a message about what Christ taught, or what the Apostles taught, are thieves and robbers. They have not come through the Church, or been authorized by those whom the Apostles authorized, to hand on the Apostolic testimony. Even if the Apostles had not written anything down, we would still know the deposit of faith by way of apostolic succession, to follow the course of tradition handed down to those to whom they committed the Churches. And the same is true regarding the interpretation of Scripture. We ought not follow just anyone in their interpretation of Scripture, but only those having the authorization coming down from the Apostles, i.e. only those having apostolic succession.

    So when we get to this opening line in chapter five, it must not be taken out of the context of the preceding four chapters. Consider again then, what St. Irenaeus says at the beginning of chapter 5:

    Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, (John 14:6) and that no lie is in Him.

    He is not there advocating some form of solo scriptura. On the contrary, he is urging his reader to see and understand what the Apostles wrote in light of the Apostolic tradition handed down in the Apostolic Churches. And that is exactly what the Catholic Church has always believed and taught, and continues faithfully to believe and teach to this very day.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  194. Bryan said,

    “St. Irenaeus’s statement means exactly what it says: “For it is a matter of necessity that every [particular] Church should agree with this [particular] Church [i.e. the Church at Rome], on account of its preeminent authority.”

    He is not there advocating some form of solo scriptura. On the contrary, he is urging his reader to see and understand what the Apostles wrote in light of the Apostolic tradition handed down in the Apostolic Churches.

    What is so ironic is the fact that it is precisely because of fringe groups of Christians spread throughout the empire then (in what can be considered as an early application of Sola Scriptura) that made concurrence with Rome and Apostolic Succession such a vital necessity since there were so many current and newly emerging groups of Christians (as Christianity was beginning to take hold of certain vast areas in the empire as it gained momentum) who were misinterpreting Scripture with ideas all their own.

  195. Dear Mark,

    You said: “If indeed one church were to hold that position anyway. For example, did you know that there were all kinds of varieties of churches in the early Church? Charismatics even! For all we know, the Charismatics may be the closest thing we have today to the church that Jesus established. Imagine that! It wouldn’t surprise me at all. In regards to your statement about “a house divided against itself” Jesus was referring to the relationships of Satan and his demons. So I am not sure how is relates exactly. But the way the church conquered Rome was clearly not because of its unity, it was deeply fractuous, but rather through the love of Christ to one man, Constantine. ”

    Mark, the early Church was deeply connected, throughout the world, well before Constantine. When Rome condemned a heresy, it was condemned everywhere. When the Church of Rome asked for it, local councils were held everywhere simultaneously to convene on the question of Easter. Rome heard appeals. Rome issued judgments based on these appeals. Even the people who argued with Rome when they were angry with her judgments usually stayed orthodox and in her communion because they knew (and taught by their own words) that being in communion with Rome meant being in the Catholic Church. The early Christians that we know about today, whose writings and lives we revere, called themselves “Catholics.” This is because they were part of a universal Church, and this is how they distinguished themselves from ruthless and disorganized heretics — who you would not want to be associated with, trust me.

    When I started practicing my Faith again a few years ago I always assumed that I would find lots of evidence for early Protestants, and that the “development of doctrine” would need to be called upon to explain how the true Church became Catholic from its apparently protestant roots. I assumed that the only justification for this schism would be such evidence. I’m still waiting for the evidence. I can’t find the early Protestants. I see (1) Catholics, (2) moral people who were still not at all Christian in the Catholic or protestant sense, and (3) crazed immoral heretics. I can’t find the protestants, and I don’t think they existed.

    You should read again what I wrote above about the necessity of being in the one true Church. The early Church taught this necessity, and that is why we still preach it.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

    By the way, no one has answered Wilkins’ question up in #161, as far as I can tell. I thought it was important, and someone should answer it.

  196. K. Doran:

    Concerning Easter, I should point out that one of the striking examples of how Rome held prominent authority even during these days is the fact that churches in Asia held Easter right at Passover unlike churches in the West which held it on the following Sunday.

    Note that Pope Victor I needed only threaten those in the East with excommunication (in the immediate context, it meant — as it does even now — being cut off in Communion with Rome) if they should continue celebrating it in that very manner; the asian churches, of course, did conform.

  197. Matt Y., Bryan, Tim, K.Doran, and all of the CTC authors,

    You guys may need to correct me, but doesn’t the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel point to Rome? If the “Rock that is not cut by any human hand” is Our Lord and the Apostle Peter, whom He referred to as “Rock” holds these keys – it clearly shows the last Kingdom is Rome and that Our Lord established His kingdom there.

    Daniel 2
    “44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever; 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. ” RSV-CE

    Blessings,
    Teri

  198. Bryan,
    thanks for the posts on Sola Fide. Someone else mentioned the issue, so that is why I tried to show at least some evidence from early church history for it. But you are right that that is not the main subject of the article by Matt Yonke.

    Most of my other posts here are about the subject of the canon and Sola Scriptura and hermeneutics; so I will go there to ask about the meaning of “faith in charity” there.
    Ken

  199. Bryan,
    On Irenaeus’ statement in AH 3:3:2 –

    Here is the footnote 3313 to Irenaeus Against Heresies, 3:3:2 about Rome; and “a more potent principle” (capital of the Empire, powerful) and he says “every church resorts to her”. Anyway, the point is that there is scholarly debate over what Irenaeus meant.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.iv.html

    The Latin text of this difficult but important clause is, “Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam.” Both the text and meaning have here given rise to much discussion. It is impossible to say with certainty of what words in the Greek original “potiorem principalitatem” may be the translation. We are far from sure that the rendering given above is correct, but we have been unable to think of anything better. [A most extraordinary confession. It would be hard to find a worse; but take the following from a candid Roman Catholic, which is better and more literal: “For to this Church, on account of more potent principality, it is necessary that every Church (that is, those who are on every side faithful) resort; in which Church ever, by those who are on every side, has been preserved that tradition which is from the apostles.” (Berington and Kirk, vol. i. p. 252.) Here it is obvious that the faith was kept at Rome, by those who resort there from all quarters. She was a mirror of the Catholic World, owing here orthodoxy to them; not the Sun, dispensing her own light to others, but the glass bringing their rays into a focus. See note at end of book iii.] A discussion of the subject may be seen in chap. xii. of Dr. Wordsworth’s St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome.

  200. He is not there advocating some form of solo scriptura.

    That is true; but he is indicating some of primitive form of Sola Scriptura in principle; as there is no contradiction between apostolic teaching/apostolic deposit/apostolic tradition and Scripture. If the apostles taught it orally, then everything that was necessary for us to know was written down in the Scriptures. (note the difference between Solo and Sola; see Keith Matthison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura.

    On the contrary, he is urging his reader to see and understand what the Apostles wrote in light of the Apostolic tradition handed down in the Apostolic Churches.

    Again, there is no contradiction between apostolic tradition and the Scriptures. The later traditions of the Roman Catholic Church are not apostolic, they are additions and corruptions.

    And that is exactly what the Catholic Church has always believed and taught, and continues faithfully to believe and teach to this very day.

    It claims that, and claims that Marian dogmas and indulgences and purgatory and the treasury of merit and infallibility are apostolic, but they were not apostolic at all. Infant baptism was not apostolic. (see “Baptism in the Early Church, by Professors Hendrick F. Stander and Johannes P. Louw; Carey Publications, Reformation Today Trust, 2004. Two Paedo-baptist Protestants who admit that infant baptism did not become the dominant view until the 4th Century.) They were slowly developed over centuries, adding, contradicting, and corrupting the original deposit in RCC teaching.

  201. Ken, (re: #199)

    If your point is that the passage is disputed by scholars, then I do not deny it. As someone in academics myself, I’ve learned that pretty much everything in academics is now ‘disputed’ — even infanticide and bestiality are now disputed, thanks to professors like Peter Singer at Princeton. So the fact that this passage is “disputed” by certain scholars proves nothing, just as the fact that the authenticity of Scripture is disputed by many scholars proves nothing. In many cases it shows that that scholar simply doesn’t want it to be true, or has an agenda against it.

    However, the Church has always known exactly what St. Irenaeus was saying. It has never been a dispute within the Church. The contemporary dispute is just that, a contemporary one by those who have abandoned the Church’s Tradition, and so are left groping in the dark to try to understand the ‘opaque’ meaning of St. Irenaeus’s words. Jesus didn’t entrust the Church to a succession of scholars, but to a succession of bishops. And in the light given to us through the Apostolic Tradition those bishops have handed down to us, what St. Irenaeus is saying is perfectly clear.

    He is most definitely not saying that Christians outside of Rome are responsible for the orthodoxy of the Church at Rome. That would be to flip upside down precisely what he is saying. He is saying that the Church at Rome possesses the standard of orthodoxy to which all other Churches must conform, on account of her preeminent authority. In this case, the Protestant (who wrote this footnote) is revealing his bias. His theology is distorting the words of St. Irenaeus, apparently to avoid its obvious implications.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  202. Thanks Teri –

    They are all extremely knowledgeable regarding the doctrines of the Reformed faith – most having grown up in the faith and/or graduated from a Reformed Seminary.

    Yes, I can see that they are all very knowledgable and gifted and have a very formidable web-site here. They make their arguments with a good tone.

    However, Jerry Matatics, Scott Hahn, and Robert Sungenis were all former Presbyterian/Reformed guys also. I have listened to and watched all of Matatics and Sungenis debates with Dr. James White and Dr. White definitely won the debates on substance and the issues.

    Sometimes it’s a good idea to let them answer the questions you pose or respond to your statements before you continuing posting.

    You are right here! There is just too much to write in response to this issue! I am too wordy and not gifted at conciseness.

    It’s aptly named “Called To Communion” because they are committed to that unity that Our Lord prayed for.

    That is good – John 17:20-23. But the RCC itself caused the dis-unity by leaving the gospel and the Scriptures. Even Peter Kreeft admitted this. (see below)

    Unity at the expense of truth is the great concern of Protestants like me and others who see the desire for unity has caused some to abandon the truth of the Scriptures and principles like Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide and Sola Gratia (Grace alone saves and makes the dead sinner alive; the will of the unregenerate is in bondage and cannot believe until God changes the heart). True Unity only comes with agreement on the truth. The unity of the Spirit – Ephesians 4:1 ff – is a unity around the one Spirit and the one truth of the gospel.

    Peter Kreeft wrote:
    “How do I resolve the Reformation? Is it faith alone that justifies, or is it faith and good works? Very simple. No tricks. On this issue I believe Luther was simply right; and this issue is absolutely crucial. As a Catholic I feel guilt for the tragedy of Christian disunity because the church in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was failing to preach the gospel.”

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0028.html

  203. Ken, (re: #200, 202)

    It is the mark of wisdom to deliberate carefully, patiently, and in an ordered way. Sophistry, by contrast, is scattered in many places at once, entirely disordered and haphazard, and so cannot think carefully or clearly about anything, or reach the truth through deliberation. Here at CTC, we want to foster a context in which not only our tone, but our method as well, is that of wisdom, not sophistry. So while we could talk about the Marian dogmas, purgatory, indulgences, the treasury of merit, infallibility and infant baptism in a thread focused specifically on hermeneutics and the authority of Scripture, we aren’t going to do so. That would be to descend into the usual type of exchanges that take place all over the internet, are of little value, and have nothing to do with a careful, focused, charitable, sincere and mutual pursuit of the truth. The conversation would not be profitable or productive, and it would not be the way of wisdom, by which we could be led to mutual agreement. So, let me ask you to keep your comments on topic. Here we’re not interested in scoring points or ‘winning’ debates. We are pursuing unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we’re doing so by pursuing the truth together. We do not desire “unity at the expense of truth.” Here’s a line from our very first post in February, “We believe that genuine unity comes through truth and never by forsaking or compromising the truth.” (“Welcome to Called to Communion“)

    Regarding the claim by Kreeft (written in the late 80s, I believe, when he was a relatively new convert), he was mistaken in that regard, without qualifying his statement to treat only of initial justification. I have a great deal of respect for Peter Kreeft, but he is not the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. (And if I recall correctly, Kreeft has since retracted that statement, but I don’t remember where I read that.)

    One other thing, just as a matter of housekeeping/procedure. If you are quoting someone else’s comments, please put the other person’s comments in italics (or blockquoted), and leave your own comments in plain font. That’s the pattern that we’ve adopted here, and it would be helpful if we can be consistent with that pattern, for the ease of our readers, and to avoid confusion. Thanks!

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  204. Bryan,
    Thanks for letting me know about the quoting procedure; I did not know. I don’t know how to do the blockquoted (with white spacing, I am assuming) – I like that even better; it is easy on the eyes.

    I sincerely do not understand why you think mentioning some of the other RCC traditions that Protestants have trouble with (below) is off topic; or is “Sophistry”.

    So while we could talk about the Marian dogmas, purgatory, indulgences, the treasury of merit, infallibility and infant baptism in a thread focused specifically on hermeneutics and the authority of Scripture, we aren’t going to do so. . . . So, let me ask you to keep your comments on topic.

    From a Protestant perspective, when you are raising the issues of the Authority of Scripture, hermeneutics, and ask the question, “how do you know?” about the canon, and then make claims about church authority claims of the RCC; I honestly don’t see how you can say to mention those things is off limits; and I don’t understand how it is sophistry; especially when the discussion comes to Irenaeus and what he thought was the apostolic deposit or tradition. Since we both agree with each other against Gnosticism, and that is the main group of heresies that Irenaeus is speaking against, and RCC apologetics uses Ireneaus’ method of appealing to apostolic succession and the bishops and presbyters and the statement we talked about concerning the church in Rome ( “a more potent principle” or “pre-eminent authority” in AH 3:3:2).

    None of those things are taught by Irenaeus, which is the point that his argument against the Gnostics was that the doctrine of God as creator, father, and good; and in all the apostolic churches; and not like the Gnostic Demi-urge; is fully compatible with Protestantism. His rule of faith is fully compatible with Protestantism (conservative, Biblical; not talking about liberals, they don’t count.)

    His appeal to the apostolic deposit in the churches at that time is fully compatible with Protestant teaching. Irenaeus is not claiming that the church can later in history add other things; as the RCC does.

    Seems unfair to say “you cannot mention those issues”; as they are some of the very issues that are at the heart of the debate of hermeneutics and the authority of Scripture, etc. between RCC and Protestants.

    Do you deny that the RCC claims that those things are part of the unwritten apostolic deposit that came out later in the worship and piety and life of the Church?

    If the RCC claims them as apostolic, then I don’t see how you can exclude them from discussion, since they touch on the issue directly.

    If you can show me why those things are off topic; then I will stop. Help me understand.

  205. I am sure that Peter Kreeft wished he did not write that; but he did. I understand that he probably qualified it later. Still, it is fair game and I don’t see why it cannot be used as evidence of the reasons for the disunity and the break with Rome in the Protestant Reformation.

  206. hey Ken,

    i see via Google that you’ve been using that quotation from Kreeft for a long time: do you believe that Kreeft would agree with your interpretation of his quotation? do you believe it matters whether he agrees with your interpretation of his text?

    i’m wondering what connection (if any) exists between that text and your interpretation and whether (and to what extent) any such connection can be judged either authentic or inauthentic.

    one of the specific points that Matt Yonke makes in his article is that ‘text-as-final-arbiter’ is incoherent precisely because a text can’t tell us whether someone’s interpretation of it is accurate. i believe you’re Kreeft quotation demonstrates Yonke’s thesis. you’re interpreting Kreeft’s text to support your claim that Catholicism abandoned the gospel and the scriptures. because that’s such a bold claim, and because you make it with (what seems like) licensed temerity, i thought i’d ask you to explain why it is that i should believe your interpretation of the Kreeft text is accurate.

    text-as-sole-arbiter: does a position like that have some internal mechanism by which it can determine which interpretations of the text are certainly right or wrong? or are we, as Mark said above (#157), deadlocked in undecidability/aporia, everything fallible and without final authority?

  207. Ken, (re: #204,205)

    In order to reason about something effectively, it is essential to be focused and ordered. If you look at our “Note to Readers,” you will see that we are approaching these subjects according to a systematic order. And so this requires patience and a measured approach to these various doctrinal disagreements.

    A pertinent subject underlying the discussion of the other doctrines you mention is the concept of the development of doctrine, and how development is distinct both from novelty (i.e. “addition”) and corruption. But we have not covered that subject yet (that’s a bit down the road on the schedule), and so it would be premature at this point to discuss purgatory and the Marian dogmas, etc.

    You claim that St. Irenaeus’ appeal to the apostolic deposit in the churches at that time is fully compatible with Protestant teaching. But that is not true, because part of the rule of faith, for St. Irenaeus, is to keep full communion with that Church having preeminent authority, i.e. the Church at Rome. No Protestant (as Protestant) affirms that. In addition, no Protestant (as Protestant) can affirm what St. Irenaeus says below:

    Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth. And the heretics, indeed, who bring strange fire to the altar of God— namely, strange doctrines— shall be burned up by the fire from heaven, as were Nadab and Abiud. Leviticus 10:1-2 But such as rise up in opposition to the truth, and exhort others against the Church of God, [shall] remain among those in hell (apud inferos), being swallowed up by an earthquake, even as those who were with Chore, Dathan, and Abiron. Numbers 16:33 But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did. (AH IV.26)

    Why can’t Protestants (as Protestants) affirm that? Because Protestants themselves abandoned apostolic succession, denying those having the “certain gift of truth”, departing from the primitive succession and following others who were self-appointed ‘authorities’ who assemble any place whatsoever, without permission of the bishop (as St. Ignatius of Antioch in AD 107 had stated was not permitted). The first Protestants did precisely what St. Irenaeus condemns.

    And St. Irenaeus also affirmed that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, and that it is a sacrifice wherever it is offered. He affirmed baptismal regeneration. He affirmed that we can merit from God. He affirmed the need for confession of sins (to the Church, not just privately to God). These are things Protestants do not affirm. So it is just not true that St. Irenaeus’ appeal to the apostolic deposit in the churches at that time is “fully compatible with Protestant teaching.” The very opposite is true.

    As for the Kreeft statement, you wrote:

    I understand that he probably qualified it later. Still, it is fair game and I don’t see why it cannot be used as evidence of the reasons for the disunity and the break with Rome in the Protestant Reformation.

    It would be “fair game,” if we were playing a game. But we (here at CTC) are not playing a game. We are pursuing truth, and that’s an entirely different activity. A person’s statement is not ipso facto evidence that the statement is true; it is in itself evidence only that the person, at one time, believed it to be true. And no one is disputing that Kreeft at one time believed his statement to be true. So, for that reason, Kreeft’s statement is not evidence either for Catholicism or for Protestantism. That’s why using it in this discussion is engaging in sophistry, i.e. trying to “score points.” You are used to years of this stuff at other sites. We don’t do that here. So it may be very difficult for you to adjust to our approach here. You may need to step back and read through our past posts, and get a feel for how we are proceeding. I have discussed the distinction between sophistry and true philosophy (i.e. pursuit of wisdom and truth) in my post titled “On Imitations and the Gospel.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  208. Ken,

    You mentioned Saint Athanasius as a sola scriptura believer. Allow me to introduce your friend, Protestant Athanasius, to our friend: Catholic Athanasius. Catholic Athanasius, the floor is yours:

    “[H]old fast, every one, the faith we have received from the Fathers, which they who assembled at Nicaea recorded in writing, and endure not those who endeavour to innovate thereon. And however they may write phrases out of the Scripture, endure not their writings; however they may speak the language of the orthodox, yet attend not to what they say; for they speak not with an upright mind, but putting on such language like sheeps’ clothing, in their hearts they think with Arius, after the manner of the devil, who is the author of all heresies. For he too made use of the words of Scripture, but was put to silence by our Saviour. . . . Had these expositions of theirs proceeded from the orthodox, from such as the great Confessor Hosius, and Maximinus of Gaul, or his successor , or from such as Philogonius and Eustathius , Bishops of the East , or Julius and Liberius of Rome, or Cyriacus of Mœsia , or Pistus and Aristæus of Greece, or Silvester and Protogenes of Dacia, or Leontius and Eupsychius of Cappadocia, or Cæcilianus of Africa, or Eustorgius of Italy, or Capito of Sicily, or Macarius of Jerusalem, or Alexander of Constantinople, or Pæderos of Heraclea, or those great Bishops Meletius, Basil, and Longianus, and the rest from Armenia and Pontus, or Lupus and Amphion from Cilicia, or James and the rest from Mesopotamia, or our own blessed Alexander, with others of the same opinions as these—there would then have been nothing to suspect in their statements,the character of apostolical men is sincere and incapable of fraud. (Circular to Bishops of Egypt and Libya 8; NPNF 2, Vol. IV)”

    Ken, there is so much evidence that the Church fathers of the first 400 years of Christianity believed in an ecclesiastical authority that is higher than you do. At some point you need to confront that evidence. It doesn’t appear, from your debates with Dave Armstrong, that you have. And this is probably why you’re posting comments on this thread that have to do with every topic under the sun. You need to spend less time writing comments that are not directly related to the thread, and more time reading (a) the primary sources and (b) short Catholic treatises on patristics.

    The papacy is a good place to start (check out the link in comment #185). Also check out Dom John Chapman’s little essay on the first eight general councils. It’s free on google books, I can send you the link if you have trouble finding it.

    Lastly, your comment about modern Catholics “reading” our views into Leo I is humorous and silly. Leo I was more ultramontane than the post-Vatican I Church. He cooperated with imperial power to coerce 600 Fathers at Chalcedon to accept and proclaim the only words in that council’s definition of Faith that were actually important to the controversy: two natures. They didn’t want to proclaim this (they wanted to settle on “of two natures,” which the heretic monophysites could agree with). But they agreed to it because he was the head of the Church, and because the emperor and empress at the time were orthodox, and were willing to use imperial power to chastise the heterodox (whom they personally defined to be anyone who disagreed with Leo I). No, Ken, we’re not reading anything into Leo I. Or if we are, then we’re reading him as less of a unrepentant papist than he really was.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  209. Bryan wrote:

    A pertinent subject underlying the discussion of the other doctrines you mention is the concept of the development of doctrine, and how development is distinct both from novelty (i.e. “addition”) and corruption. But we have not covered that subject yet (that’s a bit down the road on the schedule), and so it would be premature at this point to discuss purgatory and the Marian dogmas, etc.

    Ok, fair enough. I read your note to the readers (which I had not before) and I see your point and that you have planned it this way. Very good. Sorry I jumped the gun.

    I didn’t mean Peter Kreeft’s quote as “playing a game”, by the phrase “fair game” – it is an expression that it is fair to use in following rules. Games have rules; but I agree with you that we are not playing games.

    Good quote from Irenaeus AH book 4, 26
    Presbyters in the church are a plurality of elders. ( Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) In principle, I agree with this that we should be submissive to our church leaders ( elders, pastors, teachers) and that at that time, as far as teaching against Gnosticism, they were all orthodox, as we Reformed Protestants are also.

    Irenaeus used that principle to fight the Gnostic heretics; we would do the same.
    Irenaeus believed at that time ( say 180-220 AD) that the succession was not corrupted and that all the apostolic churches taught the doctrines that the apostles handed down. That is true in his arguments against Gnostic heresies.

    I guess I don’t see where Irenaeus says that it is a guarantee into the future that the successors will stay on track.

    K. Doran mentions Athanasius and the herestic Monosphysites.
    We agree with the Nicean Creed, etc. and that Arius was wrong and a heretic. That he used Scripture and twisted it is no doubt, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses do today.

    Today the coptic church is monophysite and derived their episcopal authority directly from Athansius to Cyril and his successcors later rejected the Chalcedonian decree.

    They were the presybeters in the church – how did the Coptic church and the other eastern churches, both monophysite and Nestorian go wrong? (for example, for Egypt, since they had the presbyter/episcopal successsion also from Athanasius) ?? Other churches derived their episcopal succession from Antioch and Jerusalem; what happened to them?

    At the end of the Athansius quote he mentions character of the bishops and apostolic men. This is important. On the issue of infallibility, the RCC apologists seem to discount character and say “infalliblity is only about that the popes cannot formally teach heresy; it is not about their moral lives and it does not mean “impeccability”.

    Thanks K. Doran for the details about Leo I and his using state power to force the Chalcedonian Creed – I admit I need to read more about that; and that information is helpful to me – it shows me that he harshness of the “orthodox party” possibly started here that lead to the Egyptian and Syrian and other eastern churches welcoming the Muslims as liberators.

    –is that not the beginning of the harshness of the Chalcedonian Emperors ( Theodosius to Justinian and beyond) that caused the Greeks and the east to “welcome the Arab Muslims as liberators from their Chalcedonian oppressors” ??

  210. that caused the Greeks and the east to “welcome the Arab Muslims as liberators from their Chalcedonian oppressors” ??

    that is a mistake, should not have “Greeks” there, as if the Orthodox in Constantinople welcomed the Arabs, they did not.

    Probably should be something like:
    that caused the eastern churches, Coptic, Syrian/Levant in the east to “welcome the Arab Muslims as liberators from their Chalcedonian oppressors” ??

  211. Anyone -

    regarding my question and points in # 168 and # 186, which are directly related to the article and subject about 2 Timothy 3:15-17, when it was written, and Matt Yonke’s statement that “most of the NT was unwritten at the time of Paul’s writing”; no one has addressed that yet; and yet that was on subject.

  212. Ken – most of us work full time. You’re posting a lot of material and we can’t answer everything in a timely manner. Please have patience with us and also, understand that this is not a debate forum. There are other sites for that sort of thing.

  213. 168 – the canon developed as a list of books which could be read in the liturgy particularly in response to heretical lists such as Marcion’s. It was not conceived of as an idea to collect books on which to base the Christian religion. That idea would be anachronistic.

    186 – same thing. A book cannot be “canon” by definition of the word canon. Canon means list and a book is not part of a list until that list is drawn up. This is a separate question as to whether it was inspired or not; obviously the list did not make the books inspired but rather recognized the ones that were.

  214. Hi Ken,

    You said: “Today the coptic church is monophysite and derived their episcopal authority directly from Athansius to Cyril and his successcors later rejected the Chalcedonian decree. They were the presybeters in the church – how did the Coptic church and the other eastern churches, both monophysite and Nestorian go wrong? (for example, for Egypt, since they had the presbyter/episcopal successsion also from Athanasius) ?? Other churches derived their episcopal succession from Antioch and Jerusalem; what happened to them?”

    You’re right — the only individual see that has never formally taught heresy at it’s highest level is the see of Rome. The early church taught that heresy could never worm its way into this see. In Pope Leo I’s time, the way that some people worded this idea was too general, and hence could be interpreted as too extreme. For example, consider taking literally what Peter Chrysologus said in the build-up to Chalcedon: “We exhort you to attend obediently in all things to all that is written by the most blessed Pope of the city of Rome. For blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, grants the truth of the faith to those who ask him.” You will see that this is not what a modern Catholic would say, post Vatican I at least. Our modern statements of papal infallibility are less general, and hence less subject to confusion or abuse!

    You said: “that [t]he harshness of the “orthodox party” possibly started here that caused the eastern churches, Coptic, Syrian/Levant in the east to “welcome the Arab Muslims as liberators from their Chalcedonian oppressors””

    There’s a lot that could be said here, especially about the words “started,” “harshness,” and “liberators.” But this is a topic that is completely off the main discussion. If you’re interested in learning more, email me at: KBDh02 ‘at’ yahoo ‘dot’ com

    In the mean time, please attend to what Bryan and the others have written, and — I urge you — don’t bring up “gotcha” historical points, either explicitly or implicitly.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  215. Tim,
    I appreciate that; that most of you work full time and it takes time to answer in a timely manner.

    My questions are similar to the discussion between rfwhite and several of you above about “existence of the canon vs. recognition of the canon. He said it better than I could.

    I wish he would come back into the discussion.

    Also it relates to the ongoing leading of the Spirit in the church, apostolic succession, and developement of doctrine and authority to interpret the text infallibly. The RCC sees things as still open (Bible + something more, ie, infallible interpretations of the RCC Magisterium); whereas Protestants see it as closed ( Jude 3 seems to indicate this; as does Hebrews 1:1-3 and Rev. 22:18 (in principle).

    But, still what about the statement that Matt Y. made that most of the NT was unwritten at the time of Paul’s writing ? (context in the discussion is 2 Timothy 3:15-16)

    This is important because it seems Paul expands from the OT in verse 15 to all Scripture, including the New in verse 16 (even though some books have not been written yet. I Timothy 5:18 shows Matthew and Luke were already written by then. Mark surely was; all of Paul’s epistles were; Acts was written by 61 AD (internal evidence shows this). So most of the NT was written by 67 AD, when Paul wrote 2 Timothy right before his martyrdom.

    Canon later came to mean “list” , but the meaning of the word was “criterion”, “standard”, “rule”, “principle”, “law”. The standard was the apostolic authorship (or associated with an apostle); internal content/quality of doctrine/inspiration; and universal use among the churches spread throughout the empire. Right?

  216. I was sorry to see RFWhite didn’t stick around.

    The RCC sees things as still open (Bible + something more, ie, infallible interpretations of the RCC Magisterium);

    It depends on what you mean “still open.” We do not believe in new public revelation, only that God will use His Church as a protector of the deposit once delivered, not for the destruction of it. We do not believe that “infallibility”, per se, is closed.

    But, still what about the statement that Matt Y. made that most of the NT was unwritten at the time of Paul’s writing ? (context in the discussion is 2 Timothy 3:15-16)

    This seems to be a question for the academy. I would agree with you that most of the NT was written by 67 AD but, as you know, the majority of scholars would not agree. This is secondary to Matt’s point though, and it still stands. Paul wasn’t appealing to a canon as a sole authority for Christians.

    As for the etymology of the word ‘canon’, I don’t know it. I’ll take your word for how it developed. The point is that as we use the word now, canon means list. When we speak of the canon of the Scripture, “list” is what we mean – not inspiration. Those are separate terms in modern usage.

  217. Ken,

    you can also go to Google Books, put “God’s Word” in the search box, click on the book authored by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger by that title (it’s the one at top of list) and read pages 22-39 to learn a great deal about succession from the Catholic perspective.

    as for dating NT books, Tim’s right on—you’re focused like a laser beam on a date, but Yonke’s argument doesn’t stand or fall on a strict date… in other words, you’re not addressing Yonke’s argument. Yonke makes an explicit case why the approach you’re taking to the Scripture is itself unscriptural, right?

    best,
    w

  218. Ken,

    I concur with Tim about the dating of the NT and would also echo that this is secondary to Matt’s point. That being said, when you list the criteria you mention Apostolic authorship or an association with an Apostle. Now, of course, we agree that this is important. But where we differ is this and it is important; we only know this from the tradition. That is to say, the tradition tells us who the Gospel writers are (Papias and others). Thus, the criteria you use to determine what books comprise the New Testament is indebted to the tradition. It is not enough to say Matthew the Apostle wrote the Gospel of Matthew for the simple fact that we do not know that save from the tradition. Now you may respond that you do not argue against all traditions but only those that are not biblical. My response to that anticipated rebuttal would be that the authorship of the Gospels is not a biblical tradition but an extra-biblical tradition. Thus, then Cardinal Ratzinger can say in reference to the historical-critical method that it does, “not stand in some neutral area, above or outside the history of the Church; rather the faith of the Church is a form of sympathia without which the Bible remains a closed book.” I think this matter of fact, take for granted approach to Gospel authorship is problematic on many levels. The saddest is the case of the scholar Bart Ehrman, who after having graduated Moody Bible Institute, went to Princeton to continue his studies. While there his bubble was burst concerning these types of issues (there were others besides the question of authorship of the Gospels). He says, “if your faith is rooted in a belief in the Bible, in a literal understanding of the Bible, and that gets taken away from you, then what do you have left? You either have to change the way you believe or you have to give up your belief.”

  219. This seems to be a question for the academy. I would agree with you that most of the NT was written by 67 AD but, . . .

    Glad to see that you would agree here.

    as you know, the majority of scholars would not agree.

    Depends on the scholar – if they are unbelieving and liberal, in my book, they don’t count.

    Do you think it is ok to believe that 2 Peter was not really written by Peter himself before his martyrdom in 67 AD under Nero? or that John did not write Revelation and that Paul did not write Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles; and that might push the dates of these books into the 150s AD??

    This is secondary to Matt’s point though, and it still stands.

    Actually, the point about existence vs. recognition and that Paul is expanding from the OT in verse 15 to the NT also in verse 16 does directly relate to the argument. Especially when Paul quotes from Luke 10:7 and Matthew 10:10 as Scripture; this shows it includes the NT also.

    Paul wasn’t appealing to a canon as a sole authority for Christians.

    But he was appealing to the quality of inspiration or being “God-breathed”, which pointed to the criterion or standard or rule or principle by which the canon was recognized, would you not agree?

    Since only the Scriptures are God-breathed, and all of them are, then they were “canon” (standard, criterion, rule, law, principle) when they were written. So, he teaches Sola Scriptura in principle, even if some books were not written yet. ( Hebrews 68 AD – close to that time; 2 Peter in 67 AD before he was martryed by Nero; and Peter in that epistle affirms all of Paul’s letters as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:16. Jude, 80 AD ( ?) Personally, I believe there is strong evidence that all of John’s writings were written before 70 AD also.

  220. Ken,

    If you could get around to addressing the question of Gospel authorship that I asked I would appreciate it. Of course, at your convenience.

  221. Tim wrote:

    Now you may respond that you do not argue against all traditions but only those that are not biblical. My response to that anticipated rebuttal would be that the authorship of the Gospels is not a biblical tradition but an extra-biblical tradition.

    Tradition in a neutral sense, “things passed down”; Or just “history”, “historical evidence”. I see no problem here to the Protestant position. Sola Scriptura does not say it has to contain all exhaustive knowledge relevant to historical background and dating, etc. There is no good reason to doubt and be skeptical of these traditions, which the liberals and skeptics do; like Erhman, as you point out.

    Question: People say that “Kata Matheion” and “Kata Markon” and “kata Lukan” and “Kata Ioannan” were added to the Greek manuscript copies later. Do we have evidence of manuscripts without those inscriptions and how do you know for sure that they were added later, according to the tradition of Papias, Irenaeus, and Eusebius and others??

  222. Tim wrote:

    Thus, then Cardinal Ratzinger can say in reference to the historical-critical method that it does, “not stand in some neutral area, above or outside the history of the Church; rather the faith of the Church is a form of sympathia without which the Bible remains a closed book.” I think this matter of fact, take for granted approach to Gospel authorship is problematic on many levels.

    I don’t understand the quote from Ratzinger; can you explain it?

  223. I learned how to do the blockquote thing by seeing it typed out in the emails that are sent.

  224. “Depends on the scholar – if they are unbelieving and liberal, in my book, they don’t count. “

    If you stack the population of scholars in your favor, is it a wonder that their consensus agrees with you? There’s a parallel with the Protestant ecclesiological argument here. Like you, I have little to no respect of liberal scholars, but the point stands that as far as historical research goes, most scholars would agree with what Matt said even though you and I don’t.

    Since only the Scriptures are God-breathed, and all of them are, then they were “canon” (standard, criterion, rule, law, principle) when they were written.

    Let’s get on the same page about the word “canon” or just stop using it. It means ‘list’ in English and that’s the language Matt was using in his paper. Furthermore, your rebuttal still side-steps the issue. This sort of equivocation is not pursuant to unity.

  225. Ken, Thank you for your answer (#84). I like your biblical passages and the call to preach the gospel to all throughout all nations. It is good to see you here. Keep the faith, and keep honing the gospel skill a la Ephesians 6.

  226. Since only the Scriptures are God-breathed, and all of them are, then they were “canon” (standard, criterion, rule, law, principle) when they were written.

    Again, just which books?

    If you had any learning in ecclesial history, you would’ve known that depending on what province you visited, there were variously conflicting canons.

    For example, many such provinces rejected Revelations, Jude, 2nd and 3rd John, Hebrews as part of Scripture.

    You keep on resorting to “only Scriptures are God-breathed” and, yet, have not been able to fathom the fact that the 27 books you actually regard as “Scriptures” didn’t self-assemble and, in all actuality, have the benefit of hindsight.

    That very hindsight was largely due to the Magisterium (the Church’s teaching authority as manifested in her councils such as those at Councils of Rome (382 AD), Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397 AD)).

    That’s how we got the canon of Scripture for example: The Magisterium identified certain works as genuine Scripture. It is also capable of determining which Traditions are authentic and which are not.

    Without which, if one were to travel across the lands of the empire then in differing Christian communities, as I’ve mentioned once before, you would have encountered differing canons because each community regarded various books as actually being Scripture while a certain of those that ultimately comprised the final canon as a result of the Councils were ironically rejected by differing communities.

    Heck, here’s just a very small sample of books the Councils of the early church had to rummage through in order to determine the final canon then:

    The Epistle of Jude
    The Epistle to Corinth
    The Earlier Epistle to the Ephesians
    The Epistle from Laodicea to the Colossians
    The Earlier Epistle of John
    Missing Epistle of Jude
    The History of James
    The Revelation of Peter
    The Circuits and Teachings of the Apostles
    The Epistle of Barnabas
    The Acts of Paul
    The Revelation of Paul
    The Teaching of Clement
    The Teaching of Ignatius
    The Teaching of Polycarp
    The Gospel according to Barnabas
    The Gospel according to Matthias

    If you include into this list those books which made it into the final New Testament canon, would you really be able to determine simply by looking over these books which ones were actually Scripture and weren’t actually themselves God-breathed and inspired in comparison, so that you would obviously end up with precisely those books that made it into the final canon?

    Please disclose your criteria for doing so, unless of course your rather circular reasoning (i.e., “Since only the Scriptures are God-breathed, and all of them are, then they were ‘canon”’”) was really nothing more but the result of 20/20 hindsight and nothing else.

  227. <blockquote?If you had any learning in ecclesial history, you would’ve known that depending on what province you visited, there were variously conflicting canons.

    For example, many such provinces rejected Revelations, Jude, 2nd and 3rd John, Hebrews as part of Scripture.

    Yes, I am aware of that.
    Most of the other books you list I have heard of; some I have not, but may be different titles.
    Epistle to the Corinth — Do you mean I Clement ?

    Never heard of these:

    The Earlier Epistle to the Ephesians

    The Earlier Epistle of John
    Missing Epistle of Jude
    The History of James

    The Circuits and Teachings of the Apostles (Do you mean “The Didache” ? )

    The others I have heard of and seen in these discussions in the church history books dealing with canon issues; yes.

    so I am aware of the process, and that different areas had trouble with some canonical books for a while and some thought some non-canonical ones were actually canonical.

    I can see why the early church eventually rejected books like the gospel of Peter, the Revelation of Peter, and the Epistle of Barnabas; and books like Clement, Didache, Ignatius, and Polycarp are helpful to understand the church after the apostles died, but they are not apostolic obviously.

    We are free to look at the evidence, history, and see that the early church made the right recognition. There is just no need for me to go over that ground again, when there is too much agreement and history behind that.

  228. oops – I did not do the blockquote thing right. sorry.
    Why doesn’t this feature have a preview or edit function?
    Sincerely,
    Ken Temple

    If you had any learning in ecclesial history, you would’ve known that depending on what province you visited, there were variously conflicting canons.

    For example, many such provinces rejected Revelations, Jude, 2nd and 3rd John, Hebrews as part of Scripture.

  229. Ken,
    Where do we get the information regarding the identity of the authors of many books such as Matthew? They are only deemed Apostolic if you believe the Tradition which purports that they are truly written by those men, excepting of course those books where the author states his identity.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  230. roma victor:

    If you had any learning in ecclesial history, you would’ve known that…

    This is the kind of thing that we are trying to avoid. Please stick with engaging Ken Temple’s (or anyone else’s) arguments, and avoid making assumptions about anyone’s “learning.”

    Ken Temple (and Tim),

    Concerning the various uses of “canon”: rfwhite and I delved into the matter earlier in this thread, beginning with #142 and summing up with #152. I am not trying to forestall further discussion of this matter, just pointing to some thoughts that have already been shared, hoping this might help.

  231. …but they are not apostolic obviously.

    Really?

    Are you actually contending likewise that the books that came to ultimately comprise the Canon of the New Testament as being obviously apostolic? How?

    Will you kindly provide supporting evidence which would confirm precisely your outstanding claim here? I’m asking sincerely since I myself am genuinely curious.

    I mean, if the 27 books that now comprise our New Testament (due to the church councils, I might add) were so obviously apostolic, I just don’t see how various Christian communities throughout the empire could have actually ever differed in their canons concerning which books exactly were genuinely Scripture.

    In other words, if the 27 books were themselves so obviously apostolic, how is it then that there were several Christian communities (particularly in the East) who blatantly rejected many of these books and actually, for several years, venerated other books as Scripture, which were evidently rejected by the early church councils that determined/reaffirmed the final canon?

    …excepting of course those books where the author states his identity.

    There were several books (the original catalog of books that had been sifted through was quite extensive and the individual books themselves quite voluminous) where several had actually indicated the Apostles’ names as being their corresponding author.

    Could somebody, who actually believes that the Catholic Church in her earlier Councils as being nothing more but extraneous and even unnecessary, truly claim that the 27 books would have eventually become the final canon, especially given that many of the other books were not only written around the time of the Apostles but likewise carried their names, too?

    How is it that many of these were rejected and how do we really know that the ones that were ultimately selected by the early church councils were the correct ones?

    We are free to look at the evidence, history, and see that the early church made the right recognition. There is just no need for me to go over that ground again, when there is too much agreement and history behind that.

    How do you know the early church actually made the right recognition?

    Especially since that very same early church then which made the final determination consisted of a seemingly corrupt hierarchy that comprised of Pope, bishops, deacons and priests, which also firmly believed in such questionable practices like the Mass and Holy Eucharist?

  232. Andrew: Acknowledge. Thanks for the heads-up.

  233. Let’s get on the same page about the word “canon” or just stop using it. It means ‘list’ in English and that’s the language Matt was using in his paper. Furthermore, your rebuttal still side-steps the issue. This sort of equivocation is not pursuant to unity.

    Tim,
    You linked to a dictionary source that actually proves my point, in English, it also means “standard”, “criterion”, “principle”, “rule”, “law”. It became “list of books” that were considered inspired later. The root word is still in Hebrew/Aramaic, Arabic, and from Arabic is in Farsi today – “ghanoon” means “law”, “principle”. It is used in Greek in the NT in Galatians 6:16
    καὶ ὅσοι τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ στοιχήσουσιν, εἰρήνη ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἔλεος, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ.

    “And those who walk by this rule (Kanoni), peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God”

    It is also in textual variant of Philippians 3:16, “however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” ( This is why the NASB has “standard” in italics.)

    So, I don’t think it is fair for you to say I cannot use the background of the word for my argument. The reason it became “list” was because the meaning of the word before the list was made was “standard”, “criterion”, “rule”, “law”. The books had to meet certain criterion, standards, rules, laws, etc. in order for them to be recognized as “God-breathed”.

    In fact, it also used this way in the Early church fathers, “rule of faith” or “rule of our tradition” – I Clement 7:2 – “Therefore let us abandon empty and futile thoughts, and let us conform to the glorious and holy rule of our tradition”.

    Who is now wanting to go “deeper into history”?

    If the apostles ( or secretary of an apostle, etc. (amanuensis) ie – Mark for Peter for the gospel of Mark; Sylvanus (Silas) for I Peter (5:12) ; Tertius for Paul in Romans 16:22, wrote these books (and James and Jude as half-brothers of Jesus); I accept Tertullian’s theory (De Pudicitia 20) (On Modesty 20) that Barnabas wrote Hebrews (he was a Levite, and knew Paul and Timothy, is called an apostle in Acts 14:4, 14:14, and left clues as to who he is by calling his letter “a brief letter of exhortation/encouragement”, as he was known as “son of encouragement” (Heb. 13:22, Acts 4:36). These evidences show that on this issue, the early church was looking carefully at the internal evidence in the texts themselves for clues as to who wrote the epistles/books.

    I accept the Early church’s discernment and recognition of the books of the NT. The criterion was and is 1. Written by an apostle or associate of an apostle or under an apostles influence; 2. it had to have an inherent quality of being supernatural and God-breathed, but not superstitious or apocyphal or Gnostic, and mistakes would rule it out; and 3. Universal acceptance ( this one took a while).

    This is historical background, history; not some special “tradition” as if it was direct revelation to the church to recognize Mark as the author of Mark, John as the author of John, Matthew as the author of Matthew, Paul as the author of Ephesians, etc.

    I asked the question earlier, “What manuscript evidence is there extant that the Greek titles, “Kata Mattheion” were not there at the beginning?

    So, we Protestants can be deep in history, contrary to Newman’s dictum that has swayed so many in recent years.

    Sola Scriptura does not say it has to include all exhaustive historical background information in order to know which books are inspired.

  234. Tim wrote:
    “Furthermore, your rebuttal still side-steps the issue.”

    I don’t see how; it directly relates to the way Protestants understand the criterion and standard and rules for how the NT books were recognized. I think I have adequately shown this. And you even agree, that the books existed before they were recognized, so there is a difference between the quality of being God-breathed ( 2 Timothy 3:16) which God the Spirit breathed out into the text and “moved” the men to write ( 2 Peter 1:20-21); and then the historical process that took a while for all the books to be recognized under one “cover”, so to speak, like an “anthology”.

    This sort of equivocation is not pursuant to unity.

    How is it “equivocation”?

    And if we are pursuing truth, and historical truth is real truth; then you should not be seeking to avoid the historical background of the meaning of the word “canon” at the time of the NT and up to, say the time that Athanasius in 367 AD and Jerome in the 400s used the term as “list”.

    “Canon” in Greek, came from the Hebrew/Aramaic background, meaning a “rod” or “rule” or “measuring stick”; hence, “standard”, “criterion”, “rule”, “law”.

  235. You linked to a dictionary source that actually proves my point, in English, it also means “standard”, “criterion”, “principle”, “rule”, “law”.

    The word has multiple meanings. The one we’re talking about is “list.” We need to agree on the meaning of a word or start using different words. The way you’re using “canon” is not the way Matt or anyone else is using it. Hit ctrl-f, find where Matt mentions the word and replace it with your definition. You will see that his statements become unintelligible. This shows that either A) Matt is an idiot or B) Matt is using the word as it is ordinarily used (outside of canon law) to mean ‘list’.

    Ken, I can’t keep wasting my time. You need to engage the arguments or quit taking up space.

    Sola Scriptura does not say it has to include all exhaustive historical background information in order to know which books are inspired.

    No one has argued that. You should engage one of Matt’s points if you disagree with something.

    The replies to your second post should be apparent from what I’ve written here.

  236. Good Morning CTC and also to you, Mr. Temple!

    I’m going to have to go back and read because I can’t remember what the discussion is centered on.
    What comment # is the beginning?

    Mr. Temple, is your stated assertion that the early church that established the list of writings to be included in what we know today as the New Testament Canon were “Protestant” or non-Catholic?
    I don’t want anyone to repeat themselves, just wondering where this dialogue started – what comment number.

    Side note – Congratulations to CTC’s very own Taylor Marshall on the release of his book,
    The Crucified Rabbi. I’ve already ordered my copy!

    Also to K. Doran and Roma Victor – Do you guys have your own blogs/websites? Just wondering because I love reading Catholic bloggers.

    Blessings to you all,
    Teri

  237. Tim, I haven’t been following the arguments, but looking over your last post, you speak about engaging “the arguments or quit taking up space.” Be careful that you do not become arrogant and sinful. I know you like to keep an eye on the posts of others, so I am hoping you appreciate the same for your own words and conduct. Anything less would be very disappointing. Consider your tone and who you are aspiring to represent.

  238. Mr. Temple, is your stated assertion that the early church that established the list of writings to be included in what we know today as the New Testament Canon were “Protestant” or non-Catholic?

    Hi Teri,
    No; the early church was “catholic” with a little c; but it was not Roman Catholic; that developed much later. We all Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholics come from the early “catholic” (Universal) church. That is just history. We are also “catholic” with a little “c”, universal.

  239. Ken, (re: #238)

    What year do you think the Catholic Church (headed by the pope) came into existence, and why do you think it was that year?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  240. Tim,
    I am surprised at your response. It is as if you did not even read my evidence of “canon” in Galatians 6:16, Philippians 3:16; and I Clement 7:2.

    The “how do you know about the canon?” question is the first issue that Matt Y. raises in his article. I am sticking to the issue. I am showing the background for the whole “existence at the time writing” vs. “recognition” by the church, which is also what rfwhite was talking about. I don’t see how you can say I am wasting time and equivocating and avoiding the issue and argument of Matt’s article. I am amazed, and shocked even. The meaning of “canon” as “list of the 27 books of the NT” did not exist before list was made; it meant “rule”, “criterion”, “measuring rod”, “principle”, “law”, “standard”. Because they met the “standard”, they became a part of the list.

    You are really astounding me now.

    I agree that it means “the list of the 27 books of the NT” in Athanasius Festal letter 39 in 367 AD and in Jerome, when discussing the Apocrypha.

    What did it mean before Athanasius in 367 AD?

    F.F. Bruce writes, “It means the list of books contained in Scripture” . . . In this sense the word appears to have first used by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in a letter circulated in AD 367.
    . . .
    The word ‘canon’ has come into our language (through Latin) from the Greek word kanon. In Greek it meant a rod, especially a straight rod used as a rule; from this usage comes the other meaning which the word commonly bears in English – rule or standard.” ( F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, IVP, p. 17)

    This , “rule”, or “standard”, is how the Greek word is translated in Galatians 6:16, Phil. 3:16 (the textual variant) and I Clement 7:2. It is also how Novatian uses it in Latin (rule of truth, “regula veritatis”). ( ibid, Bruce, p. 179)

    The meaning of this is what lead up to the usage by Athanasius and Jerome and beyond to give us the meaning of the “list of books that belong in the Bible”.

    I am agreeing with you and Matt on the meaning from Athanasius beyond; I don’t see why you would deny me the right to use historical evidence of earlier Christian writings to show the background of the word and the criterion. I am quoting I Clement 7:2 and Novatian, early church history stuff; your territory! Your approach is strange indeed.

    After all, everyone is asking me for “criterion”; and I am giving the answers.

  241. Ken,

    Thanks for the clarification. I don’t have any time to spend commenting or blogging today, but I’ll catch up on where the dialogue began later tonight hopefully.

    So then, as I understand it, the assertion is not the early church, but much later in history. The Roman Catholic Church fell into “heresy” and the Reformers returned the true Church back to it’s original early church “small c – catholic church”, right?

    You know I’m 100% Catholic so of course I’m not in agreement, but I’m just trying to put a point in history when the the early church was restored. Since you are Reformed Baptist it wouldn’t be with Geneva and Calvin’s Reforms since they, along with most others, believed in drowning those who would not baptize their infants and those who baptized adults only. Of course that was only one means of killing.

    I’m just trying to get a point where the early church was restored from all the “heresy”.

    I pray for you and all others that comment at this site today to do so from a spirit of humility.
    Our Lord opposes the proud when they are wrong as well as when they are right.
    We have to remember while defending the faith, we should also be revealing Him and His compassion and humility.

    Blessings,
    Teri

  242. Ken,

    in the same way that

    the RCC itself caused the dis-unity by leaving the gospel and the Scriptures

    is a twisted (and uncharitable) interpretation of the Kreeft passage you cited, so too

    you should not be seeking to avoid the historical background

    misrepresents the feedback you’ve received on ‘canon’.

    as far as i can tell, no one has denied that ‘canon’ can be understood to mean ‘standard’, so your pile of random proof texts as support for something that no one denied looks odd. it feels, like so much of your interaction here (and elsewhere), too aggressive.

    what has been denied is relevance: that the Greek word in question has other meanings is not directly relevant. you obviously disagree, and i’m sure everyone can appreciate that, but it doesn’t follow that because you disagree with Tim and others, they, therefore, are trying to avoid historical background. it is, in fact, unkind for you to say so.

    Matt (#237): keep in mind that Tim has editorial authority at this cite; it’s perfectly legitimate for him to judge our comments.

  243. Bryan raised an excellent question which I hope Ken would kindly answer:

    Ken had stated:

    No; the early church was “catholic” with a little c; but it was not Roman Catholic; that developed much later.

    To which Bryan asked:

    What year do you think the Catholic Church (headed by the pope) came into existence, and why do you think it was that year?

    I’m really curious as to when exactly folks here believed the Roman Catholic Church actually came into existence, especially in light of the history (even from the Colliers secularists) of the great ecumenical councils.

  244. Ken,

    I don’t see why you would deny me the right to use historical evidence of earlier Christian writings to show the background of the word and the criterion.

    Recall what I said to begin with:

    As for the etymology of the word ‘canon’, I don’t know it. I’ll take your word for how it developed.

    The etymology is irrelevant to the discussion. I’m not arguing that the points you made about the word ‘canon’ are invalid. I’m arguing that you’re using the word in a different way than Matt is. Why is this astonishing?

  245. Matt @ 237,

    It’s always the duty of a Christian to seek the truth in love and humility. If I cross the line, I’m sure one of my fellow CTC contributors will let me know privately.

  246. Bryan wrote:

    What year do you think the Catholic Church (headed by the pope) came into existence, and why do you think it was that year?

    The claims of the papacy grew very slowly over time.

    There is just no way to put an exact date on this kind of question, which also relates to Teri’s question, because thinking Protestants who do know and study church history do not look at church history that way.

    An independent fundamentalist baptist or Pentecostal might approach church history that way – that it completely “fell away” in 150 AD or 312 with Constantine or after 451 after Chalcedon; etc. but I do not approach church history that way.

    Since I agree with the recognition of the NT canon, the doctrine of the Trinity, the first four ecumenical councils ( in their theological decisions on the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Deity of the Holy Spirit, the 2 natures of Christ); this takes us up to 451 AD. But that does not mean I cannot disagree with things like baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, penance, and other traditions that begin to appear in that same period, but are not Scriptural.

    So, it was a mixture in the early centuries, but it was still the historical church. The Roman Catholic Church did not completely apostatize until the Council of Trent condemned justification by faith alone. ( 1545-1563 ?)

    Irenaeus rebuked bishop of Rome Victor about his harshness over the 14th day of Nissan / Easter celebration. (180- 198 AD ?)

    Tertullian rebuked bishop of Rome Callistus for his claims and mocked him as “Pontifus Maximus”. (220-225 AD ?) (a term used today by the modern RCC of the Pope.)

    Cyprian, and Firmillian and 84 other bishops/leaders in N. Africa and Asia minor and the east around 255-258 AD (? exact, I am not taking time to get the exact date) rebuked bishop of Rome Stephen for his exclusive jurisdictional claims for himself as “bishop of bishops”.

    So, this shows that the exclusive Papal claims for the bishop for Rome is not true for the earliest history. Leo I seems the first to actually be able to carry out that power, but even then, he was not known as an infallible Pope over all Christendom as the 1870 dogma claims. The eastern Orthodox objected to the claims of Rome in 1054, and even earlier, I suppose. Gregory I in 601 AD rebuked the bishop of Constantinople for claiming “universal bishop”, etc.

    So, in sum, there is no way to put a specific date on when the catholic church became the Roman Catholic Church, but we see the transition from all local church bishops having the chair/faith of Peter in Cyprian in 255-258 AD to Leo I in 400 and Gregory in 601 AD. When Islam conquered the eastern Churches between 632-732 AD and then the Latins killed their orthodox brothers in Constantinople during the crusades, they further alienated the Greek/Eastern part of the church and to this day, the EO site the three main issues that divide them from Rome as a. the universal claim of Papal power in the bishop of Rome b. the treatment of them in the crusades c. the way in the which the filoque clause was authoritatively decided without consultation or humility with the eastern bishops.

  247. Again, if the apostles /associates of apostles wrote the books of the NT by 100 AD; then they were already in existence; (for the sake of argument to make it simple; see all the details above); then the meaning of “canon” between that time to 367 AD of “standard”, “rule”, “criterion” is a valid argument from a Protestant view point, because we are arguing ( as did rfwhite; and you didn’t be “mean” to him as I feel you are treating me.) The Protestant argument rests on “existence” (48-70 AD or 48-96 AD) vs. “recognition” ( 367 AD and beyond).

    You cannot just say this is irrelevant when it directly relates to the issue.

  248. Ken,

    Your point would be relevant if Matt’s argument was the contrary of what you’re saying, namely that the books were not in existence before the formation of the canon (table of contents). That’s not what he’s arguing. Everyone agrees that the books were in existence before the list was compiled and that they were inspired, sacred, and Scripture.. This is why your points about the canon have been irrelevant.

    and you didn’t be “mean” to him as I feel you are treating me.

    I’m sorry for the cold response. I don’t intend to be uncharitable or, as Matt (not Yonke) said, ‘arrogant’. I think I see what you are saying very clearly, but I don’t think you understand my objection to it.

  249. Ken,

    there is no way to put a specific date on when the catholic church became the Roman Catholic Church,

    Are you saying that the “catholic church” ceased to exist, and this man-made institution the “Roman Catholic Church” took its place, or are you saying that the catholic church that Christ founded became the Roman Catholic Church?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  250. Tim,
    Aren’t we all accountable here to one another and our conduct? That would be strange to have a different rule on that.

  251. Matt, we all need to go by the same rules for posting. One of my fellow contributors did contact me privately, it turns out, and I’ve already apologized for my tone with Ken.

  252. Dear Ken,

    You said: “Irenaeus rebuked bishop of Rome Victor about his harshness over the 14th day of Nissan / Easter celebration. (180- 198 AD ?)
    Tertullian rebuked bishop of Rome Callistus for his claims and mocked him as “Pontifus Maximus”. (220-225 AD ?) (a term used today by the modern RCC of the Pope.)
    Cyprian, and Firmillian and 84 other bishops/leaders in N. Africa and Asia minor and the east around 255-258 AD (? exact, I am not taking time to get the exact date) rebuked bishop of Rome Stephen for his exclusive jurisdictional claims for himself as “bishop of bishops”.
    So, this shows that the exclusive Papal claims for the bishop for Rome is not true for the earliest history. Leo I seems the first to actually be able to carry out that power, but even then, he was not known as an infallible Pope over all Christendom as the 1870 dogma claims. The eastern Orthodox objected to the claims of Rome in 1054, and even earlier, I suppose. Gregory I in 601 AD rebuked the bishop of Constantinople for claiming “universal bishop”, etc.”

    You need to read some good, short, Catholic histories of this time. Your points above are misleading, and sometimes simply incorrect. The papal claims were well-developed, well-defended (by popes and non-popes alike) and frequently well-accepted long before Leo I. Irenaeus never argued that the pope had no right to excommunicate entire churches of apostolic foundation — he only says that it would be a bad idea (an astounding omission if the pope’s authority was not real). Tertullian thought that the pope and the catholic church he lead were heretical because, among other reasons, they were too lenient with sinners. His objection to the Pope did not, if my memory serves me, have anything whatsoever to do with the Pope’s claims to authority. In fact, because he (and the rest of the church) recognized the Pope’s claims to authority as binding on those who called themselves catholic, Tertullian left the Church when Rome (a) came down against Tertullian’s mystical (and heretical) teacher and (b) came down in favor of being lenient to sinners.

    Why don’t you read the sections on early papal claims (first two centuries) in “Dom John Chapman’s Bishop Gore and the Catholic Claims”? It is free on Google books. There are maybe five relevant pages out of a total of about 100. So it will only take you an hour to read it carefully and mull it over.

    For the period from 250 – 430, say, you should read more about Augustine’s papal views and actions, Jerome’s papal views and actions, etc. Here is Augustine’s little psalm again, where he reminds the Donatists that they need to return to communion with the successor of saint peter in Rome:

    “You know what the Catholic Church is, and what that is cut off from the Vine; if there are any among you cautious, let them come; let them find life in the Root. Come, brethren, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine: a grief it is when we see you lying thus cut off. Number the Bishops even from the very seat of Peter: and see every succession in that line of Fathers: that is the Rock against which the proud Gates of Hell prevail not.”

    I believe in the full version he actually then uses Saint Optatus’ list of Bishops in Rome, to reemphasize the point. Saint Augustine referred his pelagian decisions with extreme humility to Rome, in order to verify whether indeed he had represented the true tradition in his own writings against pelagianism; when the next Pope said something confusing he referred that Pope to what the previous Pope had written, and to others he declared the question finished based on the fact that Rome had made its decision.

    Like Saint Peter Chrysologus, Saint Jerome taught, even at the end of his life when he lived in the Holy Land, that those who were interested in attaining the truth of the Faith should seek it from the current Pope, the Bishop of Rome.

    I encourage you to engage more fully with Catholic resources about papal history. It is easy to be mislead by people who misrepresent the reasons why someone argued with the Pope, or the orthodoxy of that person’s views on other issues, or the ultimate outcome of that person’s argument — and most of all, it is easy to be mislead by historians who conveniently leave out the very very large number of positive papal claims and acceptance of those claims — including such instances well before Constantine. Again, see the book that I link to in post #185, I believe. Most of it seems to be free on google books; it is worth a few hours of your time. For the evidence on Augustine, Jerome, etc: it is scattered and I don’t know a good Catholic book that treats it in a systematic manner (because so much of what we write must be a response to complicated mistranslations and misrepresentations by our protestant interlocutors). So email me using the email that I supplied in a comment above to get some of the sources. Really, a day or two of reading would get you up to speed quite efficiently!

    I don’t think you saw my post # 214 above (because it was long-delayed in getting approved by the moderator). Here is an important quote in that document from Saint Peter Chrysologus, in the build-up to Chalcedon:“We exhort you to attend obediently in all things to all that is written by the most blessed Pope of the city of Rome. For blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, grants the truth of the faith to those who ask him.”

    What the Chalcedon-era Church believed and proclaimed in a dangerously general (and therefore dangerously powerful) manner, the Church of Vatican I believed and proclaimed in a more specific (and therefore safer and more contained) manner. But the truth has always been the same, and was proclaimed as soon as we have Christian witnesses at all.

    Teri: No blog for me — I just contribute here, and the rest of the time I try to do my work (or at least, I better start trying!!!). I’m not sure that I have succeeded in stopping the spread of egregious anti-catholic errors, even in this little chunk of the internet. But I’m inspired by the romance of this website’s attempt to build a step-by-step case for the one true Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Maybe everything we do in this regard is doomed to failure, and the Father of Lies will have his way with those who listen to heresy. But God can work miracles if we don’t get in the way!

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  253. Bryan asks:

    Are you saying that the “catholic church” ceased to exist, and this man-made institution the “Roman Catholic Church” took its place, or are you saying that the catholic church that Christ founded became the Roman Catholic Church?

    I think it is a mixture of the two extremes you lay out. The historical church at the time of Luther and Calvin was the Roman Catholic Church – they came out of that background.

    Also, the EO was there, but separated. The east and west had already split in 1054 and the crusades (1095-1299 AD) exasperated that relationship.

    K. Doran,
    Thanks for the reference to “Bishop Gore and the Catholic Claims” by John Jay Chapman. I started reading it; but it will take me a while; and I can’t guarantee I will get through it all the way; with work and family responsibilities.

    The point of my three examples (Irenaeus, (189) Tertullian(220-225) , Cyprian (257 AD), shows the early church did not believe in a Pope over all the churches and bishops. ( all the pastors/presbyters/bishops, not just in Rome, seem to be called “papa” at an early stage, based on I Cor. 4:15 and I Timothy 1:2) especially Cyprian and the counsel of Carthage – “no calls himself bishop of bishops” –

    “For no one has set himself up to be bishop of bishops, or attempted with tyrannical dread to force his colleagues to obedience to him, since every bishop has, for the license of liberty and power, his own will, and as he cannot be judged by another, so neither can he judge another. ” (257 AD)

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xv.vi.iii.html

    These take down the papacy claims argument in one swoop; along with Honorius’ heresy. died 638 AD) shows that the universal jurisdiction claims of Rome are not valid in the early centuries. If we want to be “deep in history”, we have to go with that, even with the “Development of Doctrine” hypothesis of Newman.

    I also started going back over Irenaeus’ Against Heresies on line again. When he starts getting so detailed into all the Eaons that came from Bythus and Sige and Nous and Logos and Zoe and finally the Demi-Urge; I have given up in the past in completely reading every word in Book 1; but I am trying again, and finding I am understanding it better this time.

  254. Ken Temple post # 246:

    Since I agree with the recognition of the NT canon, the doctrine of the Trinity, the first four ecumenical councils ( in their theological decisions on the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Deity of the Holy Spirit, the 2 natures of Christ); this takes us up to 451 AD. But that does not mean I cannot disagree with things like baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, penance, and other traditions that begin to appear in that same period, but are not Scriptural

    You personally judge that some of the doctrines of the early Church are correct and that some of the doctrines of the early Church are incorrect. It seems to me, that this is really is an implicit claim that you are vested with the power of a teaching office to pass judgement on these doctrinal matters, and that implicit claim of authority goes right to the heart of Matt Yonke’s article.

    Would you please show us the Scriptures that explicitly show that you are vested with the authority to decide for yourself what constitutes the true doctrines of the Church founded by Jesus?

    And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. Isaiah 22:22

    I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:19

    For a bishop, as God’s steward, must … hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it. Titus 1:7-9

    I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17

  255. I don’t make that claim for myself as if I am relying only my own mind; but rather, looking at the Scriptural support for those issues/doctrines, they are wanting. And there are many others who agree with me, so it is not like I am claiming anything authoritatively for myself. I am a Reformed Baptist, meaning I see the most Scriptural support for the doctrines of Grace in election and predestination and justification by faith alone; and the beleiver’s/disciples/credo-baptism – baptism after initial repentence and profession of faith in Christ alone for salvation.

    Justin Martyr
    Justin Martyr apparently didn’t believe in infant baptism. He mentions infants, then contrasts them with the recipients of baptism, who have committed sin, have knowledge of Christian doctrine, and exercise choice:

    “Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.” (First Apology, 61)

  256. Ken Temple post # 255:

    I don’t make that claim for myself as if I am relying only my own mind; but rather, looking at the Scriptural support for those issues/doctrines, they are wanting. And there are many others who agree with me, so it is not like I am claiming anything authoritatively for myself. I am a Reformed Baptist, meaning I see the most Scriptural support for the doctrines of Grace in election and predestination and justification by faith alone; and the beleiver’s/disciples/credo-baptism – baptism after initial repentence and profession of faith in Christ alone for salvation.

    O.K., there are Reformed Baptists that agree with your assessment that some of the doctrines of the early Church are “scriptural” and some are not.

    Where does scripture teach that the doctrines taught by the Church that Jesus founded must have “scriptural support”? IOW, where does scripture teach sola scriptura?

    Justin Martyr apparently didn’t believe in infant baptism.

    Are you arguing that we should look to the Fathers of the Church in addition to the sixty-six books of the Protestant bible in order to know what constitutes the doctrines taught by the Church that was founded by Jesus?

    St. Paul writes that Christians must accept the doctrines that were taught to them by the Apostles. Obviously the doctrines of the Church that Jesus founded must have been known by the Church before the New Testament was written down. The earliest members of the Church could not have possibly thought that the doctrines of the Church founded by Jesus needed “scriptural support” from the New Testament.

    When did it become imperative that the doctrines taught by the Church founded by Jesus needed to be explicitly taught in the New Testament, and where are the Scriptures that support that idea?

  257. I don’t make that claim for myself as if I am relying only my own mind; but rather, looking at the Scriptural support for those issues/doctrines, they are wanting.

    Arians as well as many other heretical sects possessed very substantial scriptural support for their heresies in addition to concurrence by a body of like-minded members; thus, I do not see how your claim here can be considered all that compelling.

    Besides, when you say “scriptural support”, I assume you mean your Protestant canon of 66 books.

    That being the case, how are you so certain that that canon is actually valid?

    For example, the traditional doctrine of Purgatory happens to find scriptural support as well in a certain book of Maccabees which, apparently, your canon does not contain among many other books.

    Irenaeus rebuked bishop of Rome Victor about his harshness over the 14th day of Nissan / Easter celebration. (180- 198 AD ?)

    What is this obsession with this kind of argument?

    Paul rebuked Peter; therefore, Peter was not leader of the church and possessed no authority whatsoever. Likewise, Irenaeus rebuked Victor I; therefore, Victor I was not leader of the church and possessed no authority whatsoever.

    Whereas Irenaeus, in fact, interceded (c. 190-191) with Pope Victor I in the question of the Paschal observance, in order to preserve peace between the Church of Rome and the churches of Asia. Yet, let me remind you that when the Pope threatened excommunication upon the churches of Asia, they all faithfully complied and Easter was celebrated after the observance done in the West.

    Also, if Irenaeus didn’t believe in the Pope’s own authority, he wouldn’t have painstakingly endeavoured to have a letter carried all the way to Pope Eleutherius so that the Montanistic threat could be dealt with accordingly.

    The point of my three examples (Irenaeus, (189) Tertullian(220-225) , Cyprian (257 AD), shows the early church did not believe in a Pope over all the churches and bishops.

    I am curious — did you actually read works from these folks or are you merely citing them from a Protestant apologist cheatsheet?

    You really should read Cyprian’s De Lapsis and De Unitate Catholicae Ecclesiae and Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean and make a judgment for yourself rather than rely on what others are telling you.

    As for infant baptism, I could go on at length; however, since it is not immediately pertinent to the entry of this thread and out of respect for our CTC hosts, I’ll postpone discussion on that subject for later.

  258. Ken,

    You didn’t respond to my points at all. You didn’t respond to what I said about Irenaeus and Pope Victor. You didn’t respond to what I said about Tertullian. I didn’t bother correcting you on Cyprian, but you are wrong about Cyprian as well. If you read Chapman’s work on Cyprian in “Studies on the Early Papacy”, or indeed read Cyprian’s other statements about the papacy in his own words, you would not say that any of your examples take “down the papacy claims argument in one swoop.”

    You are not interested in actually responding to my points. I will pray for you. The judgment of God is on every Catholic or Protestant who uses sophistry to play a game and score points. If you are interested in actually learning about the early papacy, I hope you will do so. If you are interested in actually responding to what I said about your examples, I hope you will do so. But if you are not, then I will pray for you in any case. You are acting like an anti-catholic. But I will pray for you, and I forgive you. God loves you in spite of the misleading and unrepentantly sophistical way you have been arguing on this thread. If you are a Christian you will respond in an honest manner to the points that have been made against you, rather than just repeating your claims ad nauseum. I’m a professor, Ken. And your attempt at reason and discourse would not past muster in any of the classes I’ve taught. You need to actually engage with what people say. Repetition is not the same thing as engagement — if we have these standards in the academy I can think of no reason why these same standards shouldn’t be applied to internet discourse.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

    p.s. I ask the CTCers to pray for me, because I am shocked and saddened by the disrespect that Ken has showed to you, to me, and to rational argument. I will pray for you who run this website — you’re tough and brave to run this site. I certainly couldn’t do it while retaining any semblance of charity. If I’ve said anything that was uncharitable, forgive me. I need more virtue to deal with sophistry. Bryan, Matt, everyone: you’ve been doing a great job, and I will support you with prayers.

  259. Professor Doran, Maybe you’re taking this too hard. James White at AOMIN is also Reformed Baptist. And though Dr. White is certainly a very intelligent man, I believe he best exemplifies a rather “unique” way of discussing things that many Reformed Baptists seem to have in common.

    As I was in the process of joining the Catholic Church, I had what amounted to about a two year discussion with a Reformed Baptist youth minister friend of mine. I would certainly have been upset had I thought that his non-engagement of my questions/challenges was rooted in conscious disrespect. And I doubt that Ken is consciously attempting to denigrate anybody.

    Though not all of the dialogue in these comboxes necessarily passes muster, it is encouraging to witness this formidable body of reasoning be unveiled by the writers here at C2C. Your prayers and intellectual support help this website to be the great place it is.

  260. Ken (and everyone),

    We appreciate your desire to dialogue. Unfortunately, when you throw out stuff like this

    These take down the papacy claims argument in one swoop; along with Honorius’ heresy. died 638 AD) shows that the universal jurisdiction claims of Rome are not valid in the early centuries.

    you are not doing yourself, or anyone else, any favors. Not only is your main point in the above quote (dealing with Cyprian) unsupported by any careful argumentation (e.g., demonstrating that he was not simply rebelling against Papal authority), it has an entirely gratuitous further claim tacked on without further ado, i.e., the “Honorius heresy.”

    We understand that you are probably convinced that there are some really good arguments to back up some of the rather bald claims that you are making. The problem here is that you cannot, or have not, taken the trouble to make those arguments. And we will not respond overnight, and in a single combox, to these sweeping claims, each of which deserves to be, and will be, treated in its own right, and with special care. Thus, the mode of discourse that you have selected does not lead anywhere.

    Of course, the bloggers at CTC and others will be tempted to make some response to your many assertions. But I would challenge all of us not to go down that road. Let’s stick with what Matt Yonke has written in this article. His arguments presuppose some things and anticipate others. Some of these presuppositions have been dealt with in earlier articles. Some of what is anticipated or implied will be dealt with in later articles. (See this list.)

    If there is something in the current article that brings up an issue addressed in an earlier article, then the combox of that article is the place to take up any discussion along that line. If a current article anticipates something yet to be addressed (which is bound to happen), the best thing to do is to be patient until we get around to addressing that issue. At all times, we must stay on point, or we will just get stuck.

    There are thousands of things, historical, exegetical, philosophical, theological, ethical,political, knocking around in the vicinity of any single discussion that has anything to do with the divisions between Catholics and Protestants. And they are all more or less related. So we have to muster some force of focus if we want our discussions to be profitable.

    When in doubt, the best thing to do is to re-read the original article. Careful criticism of the issues addressed therein is greatly encouraged. I might also say that such stuff, whether pro or con, is greatly encouraging.

    Thanks.

  261. You really should read Cyprian’s De Lapsis and De Unitate Catholicae Ecclesiae and Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean and make a judgment for yourself rather than rely on what others are telling you.

    I did read all of Cyprian’s two works you mention several years ago (and photocopied many pages of the Unity of the Church for my own files) and really studied the famous passage (see below) and I studied the analysis of the 2 different versions of Cyprian. I have also read a lot of Against Praxes; (But not all of it, I admit.) I am reading Irenaeus over again carefully so I can really understood the whole Against Heresies. (Before I read a lot of it but I also skipping around a bit because some of the sections of lists and names of Eeons just could not hold my concentration. I will admit that I have not plumbed the depths of these guys; some of their stuff is boring ( Clement of Alexandria is extremely boring (to me) and a lot of Augustine’s City of God is boring because of the style, repetition and syntax – I am just not smart enough to grasp it all and don’t have time yet to master it all.

    part of the famous passage of Cyprian’s Unity of the Church:
    4. If any one consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter,10 saying, “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”11 And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, “Feed nay sheep.”12 And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained; “13 yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity.14 Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, “My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her.”15 Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church16 trust that he is in the Church, when moreover the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same thing, and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying, “There is one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God?

    Andrew,
    I apologize for offending you; (about the Papal claims). I don’t mean to offend or be personal. I sincerely believe that Cyprian and Honorius’ examples make the 1870 infallibility claim very very difficult to believe. Von Dollinger, Hefele, and lord Acton ( all Roman Catholics) also saw the same historical problems of those claims.

    I can admit that I may be throwing too many things out in this combox.

    I tried to stay on the subject of the canon and “how do you know?” and Tim was quite harsh at first just saying I could not make those arguments or that they are irrelevant.

  262. Graciousness Professor Doran. Give the guy more than 5 hours to respond to your deluge of Catholic WMDs. I mean some people do have lives that need to be lived and mouths that need to be fed and other blogs that need to blogged upon. And I have never heard or seen ‘prayer’ so well utilized as an insult.

    Here’s a little something I found and liked while reading some Catholic doctrine:
    Above all – Charity

    25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism:

    The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.19

  263. When I say some of the early church fathers are boring, it is not personal against them; I am just not smart enough to grasp what they are saying, I wish I could read them faster with comprehension.

    I wanted so desparately to be able to read Augustine’s The City of God, but it just seemed to be a bunch of gobbly gook to me. I love his Confessions and His anti-Pelagian writings; I could grasp them.

    Just to be fair, Jonathan Edwards is very difficult to read (and boring when the syntax is so hard to understand that I give up.) I am still on page 25 or so of his “Freedom of the Will” after starting that about 10 years ago; and obviously putting aside.

    I have to rely on John Piper (www.desiringGod.org) and others to help me understand Edwards.

  264. Ken,

    Andrew didn’t say your comments about the papacy were offensive, he said they were scattered and unsupported which they were. To whatever degree I was harsh before, I have apologized and I apologize again. But your arguments are still irrelevant for the reasons I gave above. If you disagree, then show either A) the things I said are not true (e.g. Matt is arguing that the books did not exist before the list existed) or B) your argument is relevant in spite of the truths I gave for reasons that I haven’t considered.

    Let’s focus on the issue of the canon and forget these issues about the papacy because we’re clearly not ready to discuss the papacy when we do not agree on authority and general ecclesiology. What, specifically, do you disagree with in Matt’s article and why?

  265. Alright, I just went and read the requirements for comments section of the website and I apologize for my comments to professor Doran. They were written in anger and not in charity. Charity is a good practice to abide by.

  266. Mr. Tucker,

    Prof. Doran can speak for himself but in his defense, I think he was understandably frustrated not out of impatience, but out of a lack of interaction with his post. He wasn’t waiting for Ken to reply, Ken had already replied above in #253 but had not interacted with his (Doran’s) arguments. Instead, he (Ken) merely repeated what he had said before (which were unsupported claims). This is very frustrating to spend a long time making a careful argument only to have it dismissed by someone who isn’t prepared to engage it. I do agree with you about the prayer thing though. In fact, it’s # 7 on my 10 rules of proper internet communication.

  267. Mr. Tucker, this whole thing would be a lot easier if we were all sitting around a table drinking a few pints together. Anyway, no harm done from my standpoint, but thanks for the humble spirit. Thats exactly the spirit all of us have to have before we can truly progress (eck, why do I feel dirty every time I use that word).

  268. If you disagree, then show either A) the things I said are not true (e.g. Matt is arguing that the books did not exist before the list existed) or

    very good, Tim; thanks for the apology; I agree that Matt (and you and other RCs, I assume) agree that the books existed before they were recognized.

    or B) your argument is relevant in spite of the truths I gave for reasons that I haven’t considered.

    I think my argument is relevant to the discussion.

    “in spite of the truths I gave” – I honestly don’t remember any truths you gave – you just dismissed my argument as irrelevant and not valid.

    But I admit I now need to go back and re-read some more of your comments and the article; for I honestly don’t remember any argumentation.

  269. Ken,

    It’s ok. I know the feeling about forgetting what we were arguing about in the first place. The angels are laughing at us. We got off to a bad start. Let’s just start over completely. What is that you disagree with in Matt’s article?

  270. Tim,

    Well it would definitely be more fun (are Catholics allowed to drink? Are Reformed Baptists?!). It might be a lot easier, but probably less progressive, doctrinally speaking. My mind works slow enough, even prior to a couple of pints. But I do get more and more charming. If you are ever in St. Louis, seriously let us do enjoy some good ale.

    One point of clarification that may help me to understand The Church’s position on Sola Scriptura (going back to the actual article). How does The Church distinguish between the visible and invisible church? At various points it seemed that folks were using scripture to affirm Jesus’s establishment of The Church as his bride, when in my understanding he is not referring to the visible church (whichever we, in the end, determine that to be) but rather to the INvisible church (true believers).

    For example a quote: “The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18). And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single “whole Christ”. This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).”

    Most of these passages, I understand to refer not to the Catholic Church (and not PCA, or Reformed Baptists either), but rather to the invisible church.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  271. It is late my time ( almost 1:00am ) and I am fading.

    I disagree with all three of Matt Y.s points that he and RCs think are problems for the Protestant position.
    1. The canon. How do we know for sure which books are part of the canon? I already answered that several times; Tim thinks it is irrelevant; and many of you feel that I am just repeating myself; so I am actually afraid to try and articulate that again. We accept the early church recognition of them as God’s work of providence and guiding the church, just as the doctrine of the Trinity as worked out in the early church turns out to be the correct interpretation of that. The basis is: 1. apostolic authorship (an apostle or close associate of an apostle, etc. see above) 2. Quality of God-breathed-ness, prophecy, supernatural teaching on grace, faith, Christ, etc. 3. Universal acceptance. This principle took longer to work out, but eventually the whole church agreed.

    We accept history and historical research and background (for example that Mark wrote for Peter and that John wrote Revelation and Matthew wrote Matthew and Paul actually wrote Ephesians and Timothy and Titus; without giving the early church a quality of infallibility for all other things they may have mentioned or talked about – ie, about Mary, baptismal regeneration, priests, penance, indulgences, etc.

    2. Scriptural basis for Sola Scriptura. 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21; I Cor. 4:6 ( Don’t go beyond what is written) does teach the principle, but not in explicit words, “final authority” or “sole infallible rule for faith and practice”. Sola Scriptura is not in a vacuum without a church or qualified ministers. The point of 1 Timothy 3:14-15 is that that very letter, I Timothy was written to show Timothy how to conduct/behave in the church, the local church, which is to function as the bulwark and support of the truth. The local church is to proclaim the truth and teach the truth and interpret the Scriptures. There are many good Presbyterian Churches and Baptist Churches and other Protestant churches that do this well; and obviously, we don’t require unity on every single doctrine and issue in order for us to consider each other real valid churches.

    When 2 Timothy 3:17 says, “in order that the man of God (Timothy, elders/leaders/pastors/overseers in the church) may be fully equipped, competent for every good work.” — Paul is saying that the God-breathed Scriptures are sufficient to equip the man in the local church to carry on the work of the church – preaching, teaching, exhorting, counseling, visiting, evangelizing, dealing with widows and others in need, etc.

    3. What can a book do? This relates to point no. 2 and is probably the strongest point of the three.
    We beleive in teachers/pastors/elders (Ephesians 4:11-12) who need to be qualified according to I Tim. 3 and Titus 1 and I Peter 5:1-5, so it is not like we are saying that a book can just lay there and do nothing. People have to open it up, read it and study it and talk about it and interpret it.

    From these historical facts, we see that a book simply does not have the capacity in and of itself to function in the way the Westminster Confession claims it must function.

    Then why did Paul write to the Ephesians,
    ” . . being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
    . . .
    until we all attain to the unity of the faith,
    . . .
    Speaking the truth in love . . . “

    Ephesians 4:3-15
    These were words written on paper (animal skin scrolls or papyrii) to be read to the churches. Seems he expected them to be understood clearly.

    That all I can do for now. I hope I am communicating better and meet your standards of staying on subject and being relevant to the point.

  272. this whole thing would be a lot easier if we were all sitting around a table drinking a few pints together.

    I don’t drink Beer (don’t like the taste); but I do like a good red wine with a steak and baked potato and a good salad.

  273. Professor K. Doran,
    Sorry I did not interact with your points about Victor vs. Irenaeus; Tertullian vs. Callistus; and Cyprian vs. Stephen; more than you would have liked; I meant no disrespect.

    I went back and read the record of the controversy between Victor and Irenaeus in Eusebeius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, 23-25 and it does not seem explicitly conclusive either way, 1. That Irenaeus just thought it was a bad idea, or 2. That he actually told Victor that he had no right to interfere in the Asiatic churches.

    But since Irenaeus in Eusebius does include all the history and details of Polycarp and others who observed Easter and the fasts before differently and they “agreed to disagree” in peace before; and fellowshiped and communed with one another, and at the end Eusebius says that Irenaeus was an instrument of peace:

    18. Thus Irenæus, who truly was well named, became a peacemaker in this matter, exhorting and negotiating in this way in behalf of the peace of the churches. And he conferred by letter about this mooted question, not only with Victor, but also with most of the other rulers of the churches.

    For him to be an instrument of peace, he had to have gotten them to act in same way as before; in this controversy; it does seem more likely that, although he agreed with the celebration according to the tradition in the west; he seems to have told Victor that it was not in his authority to interfere with the Asiatic churches customs; Eusebius even uses that phrase, “according to the rule of faith” (canon of faith). [there it is in 325 AD !! meaning "rule", "standard", not "list", by the way, folks! (and this is contrasted by "according to custom" from the presbyters in Rome. "rule of faith" is stronger than "custom".] see below –

    Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, 24, 6. All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith.”

    The editor/translator in a footnote says this about Victor’s excommunication: at the http://www.ccel.org cite at 5; 24;9
    9. Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate.”

    There has been considerable discussion as to whether Victor actually excommunicated the Asiatic churches or only threatened to do so. Socrates (H. E. V. 22) says directly that he excommunicated them, but many have thought that Eusebius does not say it. For my part, I cannot understand that Eusebius’ words mean anything else than that he did actually cut off communion with them. The Greek reads ἀκοινωνήτους π€ντας ἄρδην τοὺς ἐκεῖσε ἀνακηρύττων ἀδελφούς. This seems to me decisive.

    How can Irenaeus said to have brought peace, unless the alleged Pope’s excommunication was actually rebuked and changed and rescineded?

    Anyway, now I interacted with one of your points; and I have studied the Cyprian issue in depth and there are 2 versions of the famous passage in Unity of the Church that show that Cyprian himself edited his own book later and updated it for clarity that there is equal authority to all the apostles and their successors as Biblical leaders (this is well known fact, whether you agree with the way Protestants deal with it or not); showing that all the churches/bishops/presbyteries are equal, and in their local areas, if they are holding to the chair/faith of Peter, then they are valid churches. Today, Protestant churches are valid because we also hold to the faith confession of Peter, which includes the Deity of Christ and Trinity, etc. so we are just as valid as your claims, basing it on the more ancient history of Cyprian and Firmillian’s and the 84 other bishops who disagreed with Stephen. So if they hold to the faith of Peter (his confession, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”), then all local churches (presbyters/episcopais/shepherds-pastors-teachers) are equal in authoriy. Rome was only “the first among equals” as honoring the capital of the empire, the only western see that was apostolic ( Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Smyrna; Alexandria, Constantinople (not really apostolic, but claimed it from Antioch) were later over-run by monophysite and Nestorian controversies and later Islam.

  274. Last part of last sentence should be, for more clarity:

    Constantinople (not really apostolic, but claimed it from Antioch -? I am not sure about this, but I seem to recall reading this) were later over-run [better: entangled] by Monophysite (Alexandria/Egpyt/Syrian) and Nestorian (Antioch/Edessa/Mesopotamia) controversies and later conquered by Islam.

  275. Also, I realize that later, the 14 day of Nissan controversy was eventually decided on a unity in favor of the Roman position at the Council of Nicea in 325; but even Anthanasius and Jerome (and Socrates and Sozimenus’ church histories ?) report that other eastern churches were still practicing the old way in some areas.

  276. Mark, where does your quote come from?

    For example a quote: “The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18). And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single “whole Christ”. This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).”

  277. Ken Temple:

    Scriptural basis for Sola Scriptura. 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21; I Cor. 4:6 ( Don’t go beyond what is written) does teach the principle, but not in explicit words, “final authority” or “sole infallible rule for faith and practice”.

    Thank you for addressing my question and engaging in the issues raised by Matt Yonke’s article.

    What is Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura? Is it a doctrine about the authority of scripture? No, it is NOT a doctrine about the authority of scriptures. The Catholic Church has never denied that scripture speaks with authority. Matt Yonke’s begins his article with this: “Protestants agree with the Catholic Church on the basic truths about Scripture and its authority”. Matt then proceeds to quote relevant sources that substantiate that claim.

    If sola scriptura is not a doctrine about the authority of scriptures, what is it then? The impulse driving Martin Luther to create his novelty of sola scriptura was not a need to defend the authority of scripture, because the Catholic Church was not denying the authority of scriptures in Luther’s era. What makes sola scriptura a novelty is the sola in sola scriptura – it is Luther’s novel contention that scripture is the “sole infallible rule for faith and practice”. Hence, Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura is not a doctrine about the authority of scriptures, it is, instead, an all out assault on the doctrine that the bishops of the Church established by Christ are vested with the authority of a teaching office within Christ’s Church. Luther’s novelty raises up scripture to be the ONLY authority for the Church because he is attacking the authority of the teaching office of Christ’s Church with his novel doctrine.

    Let us look at the scriptures you quoted, and see if they give credence to Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura, i.e. Luther’s contention that the bishops of Christ’s Church are NOT vested with the authority of a teaching office.

    All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:15-17

    Paul is affirming that Septuagint is inspired by God, which is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches (and why the Catholic Church canonized the books of the Septuagint.) There is nothing in this passage that supports Luther’s assault on the authority of bishops to infallibly define dogma for the whole Church.

    First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21

    This scripture passage does not give any support to Luther’s assault on the teaching authority of the Magisterium. Peter is teaching that true prophecy comes not from human impulse, but from men “moved by the Holy Spirit”. Is Peter teaching here that bishops are NOT guided by the Holy Spirit when they solemnly define dogma for the whole Church at an Ecumenical Council? No. Nor is Peter undermining the teaching authority of the office he holds withing the Church with this passage! You need to address the points that Matt Yonke made in his article about the Council of Jerusalem. The New Testament does not support Luther’s novelty that the scripture ALONE is the “final authority” or “sole infallible rule for faith and practice”.

    I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 1Cor 4:6

    Paul was a bishop of the Catholic Church vested with the authority of the teaching office of Christ’s Church. Was Paul affirming Martin Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura by undermining the bishops authority to teach? Is Paul saying ONLY what is written down has authority that is binding on Christians? Not at all, because this is the same Paul that writes: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Thes 2:15

    Bottom line, none of the scriptures you have quoted support Luther’s novelty that scripture ALONE is “final authority” or “sole infallible rule for faith and practice”.

    Ken Temple:

    Sola Scriptura is not in a vacuum without a church or qualified ministers.

    Sola Scriptura is a novelty that was created by Luther out of thin air. It is true that one finds Protestant communities that accept Luther’s novelty, but their acceptance of the novelty does not give the novelty any validity.

    The point of 1 Timothy 3:14-15 is that that very letter, I Timothy was written to show Timothy how to conduct/behave in the church, the local church, which is to function as the bulwark and support of the truth. The local church is to proclaim the truth and teach the truth and interpret the Scriptures.

    Where does Paul teach that the local church has the authority to interpret scriptures apart from the interpretation promulgated by the teaching office of the Church? You are reading into Paul what does not exist. Paul never doubted his authority to reprimand a local church when they got out of line with their interpretations of scripture.

    Ken Temple:

    There are many good Presbyterian Churches and Baptist Churches and other Protestant churches that do this well; and obviously, we don’t require unity on every single doctrine and issue in order for us to consider each other real valid churches.

    Where do the Scriptures teach that local churches have an exemption from being united in the doctrine that they teach? Protestantism is a scandal to the world because it is fragmented into thousand upon thousands contentious sects that cannot agree on the doctrine that they teach. This scandal of division is in no way supported by the Scriptures!

    What is the root cause of the scandalous division within Protestantism? I contend that it is Luther’s novelty of Sola Scriptura – the doctrine of Luther that attacked the authority of the teaching office of the Church founded by Christ.

  278. How do these cherry-picked verses account for the fact that the New Testament didn’t exist when Paul wrote his letters (most of the books hadn’t even been written yet!) and that the authors of the NT were using the Septuagint?

  279. Matt or anyone,

    You wrote that Acts 15 sets the biblical precedent for an apostolic council to establish new doctrine, if I understand what you are saying:
    “At this Council the Apostles and their successors debated this question, using what the Jewish Scriptures taught and what Christ had taught them in His earthly ministry. They issued a decree that was binding on all Christians. It is important to note that this was not merely a council of the Apostles, but also of the presbyters they had ordained, who took full part in the Council. As we see in Acts 15:4-6…” and “As we have seen, the later councils were acting with the very same authority the Apostles and their brother presbyters and bishops acted with at the Council of Jerusalem, and those actions are the actions of the body of Christ.”

    So, in I Cor. 7:12 and following, Paul alone seems to establish new doctrine that is binding to Christians :
    “12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

    Assuming that you believe these words to be binding, therefore could not your same argument also be used to set the precedent that an individual, recognized as a Christian leader, alone can establish binding Christian doctrine? Could a Protestant or anyone, hypothetically, borrow your same reasoning to argue for some individual Christian leader to establish new Christian doctrine?

    Thanks for taking the time to address these questions. I understand that you, like me, have only so much free time to devote to these things. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your willingness to “sharpen iron.”

    In Him,
    Mark

  280. David Pell,
    Most of the NT was written by 67 AD when Paul wrote 2 Timothy. I proved it above and even Tim and others agreed with me. Matt Y. was wrong on that.

    Paul included the NT in the Scriptures ( I Tim. 5:18 – Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10)
    “All Scripture” includes the NT books also.

    Read more of the above discussion in the comboxes.

  281. Ken, you did not prove that Matt was wrong on that point. You expressed your opinion that he was, I agreed with your opinion because it happens to also be my opinion. To reiterate, most scholars would agree with Matt and David.

  282. Ken,

    As to your reply above, lets just address the first part. But first:

    How do we know for sure which books are part of the canon? I already answered that several times; Tim thinks it is irrelevant;

    If we’re going to have a fruitful dialogue, you can’t misrepresent what the other party says. In number 248 I explained why your point about the meaning of the word ‘canon’ was irrelevant. That is the only thing I have claimed was irrelevant from you.

    Now as to your first point, you listed three ways to know the LOB (stands for List Of Books since ‘canon’ seems to derail the conversation). But none of the three ways you mentioned are objective ways of knowing a LOB. So it doesn’t show you having any real confidence in your LOB. This demonstrates what Matt had been saying – you don’t have a solid foundation for your faith in the Protestant LOB. If you have an objective criteria for the LOB that you forgot to list, what is it? Otherwise, you should admit that your faith in the LOB is subjective.

  283. Tim or Ken:

    Would you kindly explain how that alone proves that the Catholic Epistles of Paul are actually genuinely Scripture?

    People insist on saying that such books rightly comprise Scripture without any corroborating evidence whatsoever that these are, in fact, Scripture.

    Yet, if some passage alone within these books themselves that refer to them as simply having been written by a fellow Apostle is sufficient; care to explain to me why the other books I mentioned which likewise indicated as much could not similarly be considered as Scripture, too?

    People here keep taking this point for granted and, more often than not, demonstrate the dreadful habit of falling into the dreaded fallacy of petitio principii.

  284. Roma> Exactly what do you think my position on this is? Which thing that I said are you taking issue with?

  285. Paul was a bishop of the Catholic Church . . .

    Paul was not a bishop of a local church, or a bishop of a local area, but an apostle, teacher, and preacher – I Timothy 2:7

    Most of the epistles he wrote he calls himself an apostle (except Philemon 1:1 he calls himself a prisoner; I and 2 Thess. you doesn’t say; Philippians = servants) and sometimes a servant.

    Based on his evangelism and ministry you could argue that he was an evangelist, missionary, and church -planter, also.

    I don’t recall a verse that says he was a bishop though. Can you show me one?

    Peter was a fellow-elder ( I Peter 5:1) which shows he was not a pope in the Roman Catholic sense.

  286. Tim/Ken:

    I am referring to this statement by Ken:

    Paul included the NT in the Scriptures ( I Tim. 5:18 – Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10)
    “All Scripture” includes the NT books also.

    Again, if some passage alone within these books themselves that refer to them as simply having been written by a fellow Apostle is sufficient; care to explain to me why the other books I mentioned which likewise indicated as much could not similarly be considered as Scripture also?

    Even further, “All Scripture” cannot automatically mean the 27 books that came to be our New Testament; doing so is simply illustrative of the fallacy of petitio principii.

    In other words, you and Ken are asking me to concede to your argument that it does indeed refer to these 27 books without actually making the argument that it does indeed do so!

  287. Mark, that’s a reasonable question. The difference between Paul and another leader in the Church is that Paul was an apostle and it was in virtue of his particular office, not his individuality or mere leadership role, which gave him the right to “bind and loose” as it were. Jesus explicitly gave that authority to the apostles as you know.

  288. Roma, where exactly did you get the impression that I share Ken’s belief?

  289. Hey guys,

    I am a former Roman Catholic. The tenth of eleven children, from a traditional German/Irish/French family in St. Louis MO. My wife is a former Carmalite nun. I was in the RCC for twenty-five years of my life; grade school, high school, spent some time living with some Benedictine monks. I don’t have any traumatic event which fills me with all sorts of bitter baggage from my past. Still very close with loads of RC’s. Just wanted to say I think this whole advertisment for “Unity: Right this way!” is a bit absurd. I have heard a certain brand of Catholic, accuse Protestants of anarchy and being their own pope. Fair enough, protestantism (as a ridiculously broad term) is a mess. Welcome to the messiness of life. But Rome, c’mon, I can get together in real space and real time, (please take me up on it) a parish full of RC priests, nuns, and laity who believe radically different things about the Gospel, the Church, Scripture….you name it. I can even gather a group of “conservative, Magisterium loving guys, who radically differ in their interpretations.” So before this charged is leveled toward Protestantism, there are some serious planks that need to be removed. What good is a “theoretical” unity that does not exist in relational reality? And what was the unity Jesus longed for, “Everyone agree that Liturgical dance is blasphemy?” If you are one of these new zealous converts, I suggest you spend some time with members from a large spectrum of the Catholic Church and not just the folks who interpret the faith in a similar fashion as yourself, in the heady world of the blogoshpere. Some pretty alarming bedfellows. Rome should exercise some of that infallible authority on her own rogue Bishops, universities, parishes; which She seems either unwilling or incapable of doing. Unity: right this way!, I don’t think so.

  290. Hi Jim, thanks for stopping by. Your presence is very welcome, but that sort of comment is not. It’s off topic and nothing but a jab at the Catholic Church. We have some other threads on unity. You can search for them up top if you want to talk about that. But did you have anything to say about this particular issue?

  291. To reiterate, most scholars would agree with Matt and David.

    So, does that means that Peter did not really write 2 Peter or maybe I Peter ?, and Paul did not write Ephesians, I Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, if you push the NT books beyond 67-70 AD

    If Paul and Peter really were martyred in 67 AD under Nero, then any date that pushes any of their books later than that makes the NT lying documents; and that is unacceptable.

    I would like know when exactly and by whom does Matt Y. and David think the NT books were written by and when was 2 Timothy written. Most unbelieving and liberal scholars don’t think 2 Tim. was written by Paul in 67 before his martyrdom.

    But most scholars who are believing in Lord Jesus Christ and love Him, and embrace all that He is, (virgin born, eternal, word of God, God-man, Son of God, God the Son, resurrected from the dead in space and time) believe what you and I believe.

    The liberal scholars don’t count in my book, their scholarship is unbelieving and skeptical scholarship. Whatever is not of faith is sin.

    So when does Matt and David think 2 Timothy was written? by whom?
    List the other books and their dates.

    The result is that it destroys faith, because you have to then believe in Pseudonymous writings being inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    Or does it matter to them and others? If they were written later by others, but lying (pseudonymous); are they saying that the only thing that matters is that the catholic declares them Scripture?

    That is not objective to me; that is just blind faith in the church to make something; which is back to the charge of “creating canon” by the church saying it is canon. ( I believe you that you don’t believe that; but I hope you can see my concern.)

    So, the task for those that keep throwing that issue in is — tell us when all the NT books were written and by whom; apostles or pseudonymously,

    and then the theories of

    existence (written by an apostle by AD 67 (Paul and Peter martyred) and Johns writings by 96 AD) = God-breathed, which results in true canon; later 367 AD (all of them together) recognized, discovered, witnessed to.
    vs.
    the church just says so, so it makes it so

    will be exposed more.

  292. If we’re going to have a fruitful dialogue, you can’t misrepresent what the other party says.

    I did not mean to do that; I only wrote that you still think the historical background on the word is irrelevant to the argument that Matt Y. is making, and below you confirm that. I accept that as your opinion; though I still disagree.

    In number 248 I explained why your point about the meaning of the word ‘canon’ was irrelevant. That is the only thing I have claimed was irrelevant from you.

    ok, I agree.

    Now as to your first point, you listed three ways to know the LOB (stands for List Of Books since ‘canon’ seems to derail the conversation). But none of the three ways you mentioned are objective ways of knowing a LOB.

    I think they are even more objective than, “The church says so, so it makes it so.”

    So it doesn’t show you having any real confidence in your LOB. This demonstrates what Matt had been saying – you don’t have a solid foundation for your faith in the Protestant LOB. If you have an objective criteria for the LOB that you forgot to list, what is it? Otherwise, you should admit that your faith in the LOB is subjective.

    How is yours any more objective? Those are the 3 main reasons that the early church used to make their decisions about the canon as ‘recieved” or “recognized” or “witnessed to”; right?

    If not, tell what the reasons were, or if they are only 3 of the reasons, but the early church had more reasons, then educate me; I really want to know. They just didn’t say “they are Scripture” in a vacuum”, right?

  293. Dear Mr. Temple,

    I am going to spend my Friday evening with my husband watching baseball and eating junk food :), however, I just want to ask you a truly sincere question.

    Throughout all of this continuing dialogue, do you truly want to understand what the Catholic Church teaches and why? I’m not trying to sound harsh and if you could hear my tone, you would understand that.

    I know that these men at Called To Communion want to explain the things they wrestled with as Protestants before coming into full communion with the Catholic Church. They are sincere in their efforts.

    Please prayerfully, before Our Lord, examine your motives. I believe you are a man that truly loves Jesus Christ and you would seek him wherever he led you, because He is truth.

    Prof. Doran will be back to CTC later on. He is a busy man as well that wants to explain our common faith to those who are seeking and questioning with a sincere heart.
    It is his prayer, as well as all here, that we seek to do His will.
    Our Lord’s prayer was that we may all be One. That is how the world would know us.

    Please do not grieve the Holy Spirit by deliberately trying to make this into an anti-Catholic take-over.

    I truly believe in my heart that you are different than many of your peers. That you don’t pride yourself on attacking Catholics. That is very hurtful. My own brother in law has called me and his brother “idolaters”. That means to him that we will not be with Our Lord in the end because we worship something other than God, The Father, God The Son and God The Holy Spirit. How untrue and arrogant.

    I will pray for all of you tonight to discuss and dialogue in a charitable manner.
    May His peace be upon you,
    Teri

  294. Ken,

    For us to know something objectively we need a reliable and concrete way to know what it is. Suppose you’re a factory worker and someone told you to pick out all the good widgets off the assembly line. You’re not sure what constitutes a good widget so you ask and they tell you “The big ones.” They have not given you objective instructions. Suppose they, instead, told you that “The big ones. This light will turn green when one is a good widget.” In the second scenario, they have given you an objective criteria.

    All of the criteria you mentioned as evidence for the LOB are subjective. They are akin to saying “big widgets.” But the Catholic epistemological theory, on the other hand, offers some objectivity by saying that we can be certain because the living voice of the Church has declared exactly which books are correct.

    Objectivity doesn’t mean correctness. It is possible that the green light on the assembly line is defective and will not detect properly. In fact, it may actually turn out to be a more certain guide to try and judge by your own perception in that case. But we’re not there yet, we need to get on the same page about objectivity before we can evaluate which method is more reliable to know the truth etc… The Catholic method is more objective.

  295. Tim:

    I thought you said to Ken, ” I agreed with your opinion because it happens to also be my opinion. ”

    All I’m interested in is an answer to the question I raised above for you & Ken.

    I am more than willing to give due consideration to both your arguments, but you and Ken can’t expect me to concede to your point without you and he not actually having made one in the first place.

    Kindly provide answer to my inquiry here:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/09/hermeneutics-and-the-authority-of-scripture/#comment-3452

  296. I know this probably is not irenic, but good luck arguing with Ken Temple. He will keep going on around in circles making one assertion after assertion and proclaiming his opinion on events as conclusive. Sometime i can’t tell him apart from John Bugay. (just my opinion). You guys have you hands full.

  297. Ken:

    You still haven’t made the case that the 27 books of the New Testament are genuinely Scripture, other than providing a quote from St. Paul which somehow automatically refers to those very same 27 books which came to be the New Testament (and, yet, the only reason why that came to be was because of the Church herself).

    Will you please provide answer as to why those particular set of 27 books should rightly be considered Scripture?

    If it’s because they’re, as you say, “obviously Apostolic”; then, why for heaven’s sake did many of the various early Christian communities reject many of these same books and even went so far as to include others?

    Also, for what reason should those other books be rejected when these were purportedly written by an Apostle as well as having been written exactly during their days as well?

    Paul included the NT in the Scriptures ( I Tim. 5:18 – Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10)
    “All Scripture” includes the NT books also.

    Do you really believe that when Paul mentioned “Scripture” in his writings, Paul also actually meant a bunch of letters that he and the other Apostles were writing to folks as well?

    If so, please make that case as well.

  298. Roma, I share his opinion that most of the NT was written by 67 AD (although I’m not terribly confident in that and my opinion would come with some qualifiers that I don’t think his would.. I’m thinking of Matthew’s original Aramaic for example, not the Greek translation). It’s not really something I’d take a stand on – it just happens to be my belief. As for the thing you quoted and want an answer to, I do not agree with Ken in that respect so I can’t answer for it.

  299. Tim,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    While I myself may agree with that claim (i.e., most of the NT was written by 67 AD — but with some outstanding qualifiers, too), I am still not convinced that when the word “Scripture” was used in a certain of those books, it actually included the bunch of letters being exchanged between the Apostles themselves and certain Christian communities they established as well as the tales told in the so-called Synoptic Gospels.

    One of the very reasons I doubt that highly is because there would not have been such variation amongst the canons in the variously existing early Christian communities and, indeed, they would have possessed a relatively uniform set of books had it been precisely indicated to them in the very manner Ken supposes (i.e., “All Scripture” includes the NT books also).

    Of course, that very statement he made then:

    “All Scripture” includes the NT books also.

    …is hardly an argument since it doesn’t make the argument that ‘All Scripture’ actually refers to the 27 books that came to be the New Testament but rather simply asks us to concede to his point that it does without him making an argument at all.

    This is why I deem it as nothing more than a rather flagrant example of petitio principii.

  300. Tim (and/0r Matt Y and/or anyone),

    Thanks for addressing my question about Paul’s authority to bind/loose. I am honored to have been able to ask a reasonable question. Your response was:
    “Mark, that’s a reasonable question. :) The difference between Paul and another leader in the Church is that Paul was an apostle and it was in virtue of his particular office, not his individuality or mere leadership role, which gave him the right to “bind and loose” as it were. Jesus explicitly gave that authority to the apostles as you know.”

    So then would you say that Paul was given that authority to bind/loose doctrine because of the unique office in a unique time period? And then would you say that that authority which he was given was limited, as far as individuals go? Or you would say that other individuals (not to be confused with a council) could or do also have the equivalent authority (to establish doctrine)? Keeping in mind from the RCC catechism:
    66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

    Please and thank you, humbly,
    Mark
    PS Jim…be nice

  301. David Pell:

    How do these cherry-picked verses account for the fact that the New Testament didn’t exist when Paul wrote his letters (most of the books hadn’t even been written yet!) and that the authors of the NT were using the Septuagint?

    One can use the scholarly methods of textual analysis to determine whether or not the writers of the NT quoted the Septuagint. One could also simply accept the received tradition of the Church to determine the contents of the OT canon. But the question of what books belong in the canon of scriptures and how the canon is formally defined is a moot point as far as the argument that I gave.

    Let us say for the sake of argument that the verses quoted by Ken Temple that supposedly support sola scriptura point exclusively to the Protestant canon of the OT. Does that assumption change anything at all? No, those verses would still only prove that Paul was teaching that the books of the Protestant OT are authoritative (which the Catholic Church does not dispute!) Luther is asserting much more than the idea that scriptures speak with authority; Luther is asserting that the scriptures testify that scriptures are the ONLY authority that Christians must recognize, which is a false assertion about what the scriptures teach.

    Ken Temple

    Paul included the NT in the Scriptures …

    Let us go even further in our assumptions and grant for the sake of argument that the scripture that is referred to in the verses quoted by you in your post # 271 point to the entire Protestant canon of scripture, both the OT and the NT (a rather dubious proposition, see roma’s post # 300). Even if this expanded definition of scriptures is assumed, these verses still do not support the novelty asserted by Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine, i.e. that the Protestant canon of scriptures are the ONLY authority that Christians must recognize. Even given these assumptions about what Paul means by “scripture”, the verses you quoted would only prove that Christians should believe that books in the Protestant canon of scripture speak with authority (which again, the Catholic Church would not dispute, since all the books in the Protestant canon are contained in the Catholic canon.)

    The verses you quoted cannot be used to support Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura, because Luther’s doctrine is not primarily an assertion that scripture is authoritative; the novelty of Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine is the implicit assertion that there is no teaching office established by Christ within his Church that can infallibly define doctrine that is binding on all Christians.

    There are, in fact, no scriptures that support Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura; and since there are no scriptures that support Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine, a believer in sola scriptura is put into the strange position of supporting a foundational doctrine of his faith that is not part of scriptures, but something that is outside of scriptures. Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine is a backhanded way of asserting that men no longer have the authority to teach infallible doctrine, which means that the believer in sola scriptura must believe that Luther taught infallible doctrine when Luther declared that men no longer have the authority to teach infallible doctrine!

    Ken, if you want to give scriptures that support Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine, you must give scriptures that explicitly proclaim that there is no authoritative teaching office within Christ’s Church. You cannot prove sola scriptura by merely quoting the scriptures that show that scripture is a source of authority for the Christian.

  302. Throughout all of this continuing dialogue, do you truly want to understand what the Catholic Church teaches and why?

    Yes, I have dialogued with several very articulate and intelligent and fair minded Roman Catholics – David Walz and Randy (? I forget his last name – Purify Your Bride blog) for years. I have gone over all of this stuff with Dave Armstrong (who is much more aggressive) for several years (since 2004 or 2005 ?) and I debated one of my best friends- Rod Bennett (author of Four Witnesses from 1996-2003 ?) He shocked me when he converted to Rome, in 1996, I will admit. And so, yes, I have learned a lot and all of you have forced me to think and study Church history more and understand Roman Catholicism better. I still don’t think it is biblical, in those areas that we disagree on – Sola Scriptura, Justification by faith alone;treasury of merit, indulgences, priests, purgatory, saints/statues/icons, Mary (PV, IC, BA, co-Mediator, queen of heaven, etc); but yes, I am learning a lot and all you good folks here are helping me understand better.

    I appreciate your sincerity and kindness and prayers and good thoughts and your desire for the goal of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23 for true unity so that it would be a testimony to the world.

    But we see it the same way; the Roman Catholic Church believes the way to unity is to submit to the Pope; we believe the way the true unity is to submit to the word of God, which is truth and will sanctify us; and submit to the gospel, which has at its heart, justification by faith alone.

  303. Mark Tucker

    …would you say that Paul was given that authority to bind/loose doctrine because of the unique office in a unique time period?

    The teaching authority of the office held by the Apostles was not limited to a “unique time period”. Paul was an Apostle, and as an Apostle he held the office of a bishop in the Church founded by Christ. The validly ordained bishops of our era are still vested with the power of the teaching office of Christ’s Church.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    The bishops – successors of the apostles

    861 “In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry.” [374]

    862 “Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops.” [375] Hence the Church teaches that “the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.” [376]

    Mark Tucker

    …And then would you say that that authority which he [Paul] was given was limited, as far as individuals go?

    All the Apostles were limited in what they could teach as doctrine – they could only teach doctrine that conformed to the teachings that they received from Jesus! Of course, they didn’t have to rely solely on their memories or their natural intellectual gifts when teaching church doctrine, because they had received the Holy Spirit that reminded them of all that Jesus taught them:

    The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. John 14:26

    Mark Tucker

    …Or you would say that other individuals (not to be confused with a council) could or do also have the equivalent authority (to establish doctrine)? Keeping in mind from the RCC catechism:

    66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

    CCC 66 is saying that no new public revelation can be given to the Church. Bishops teach what is contained within the public revelation as infallible dogma that is binding on the whole church in either or two ways, the ordinary manner or the extraordinary manner (dogmas promulgated by an Ecumenical Council are taught as an extraordinary exercise of the teaching office).

    Only bishops are vested with the authority of the teaching office of Christ’s Church, and hence, only bishops can promulgate doctrine that is binding on the whole Church. That is not to say that bishops can’t or won’t listen to what a layman or lay woman teaches and learn from them. The Catholic Church gives the title of Doctor of the Church to both men and women.

  304. John 17:17
    Thy word is truth; sanctify them in the truth.

  305. There is just too much to respond to since around 6:30pm today. I may come back another day for more discussion.

  306. Ken Temple quotes John 17:17 – “Thy word is truth; sanctify them in the truth.”

    Ken, I don’t know what point you were trying to make in your last post, but John 17:17 certainly does not support Luther’s sola scriptura novelty that insists that there is no authoritative teaching office within Christ’s Church.

    As far as the scripture you quoted being germane to this thread, see these quotes from the CCC and Dei Verbum that were referenced by Matt Yonke’s in the main body of his article:

    In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, “but as what it really is, the word of God.” In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.

    “For the word of God is living and active” and “it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified.”

  307. Do you really believe that when Paul mentioned “Scripture” in his writings, Paul also actually meant a bunch of letters that he and the other Apostles were writing to folks as well?

    Yes!

    This should cover all the bases in a general way, without having to re-type and go back and look at everyone’s questions and issues they raise.

    Yes, when Paul writes a letter to churches to teach them further, after he leaves them after teaching them the gospel orally; he is instructing them and teaching them to obey God. He seeks to solve the false doctrine in Galatia (the Judaizers who said the Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the laws of Moses in order to be saved); and to solve the problems of dis-unity in Corinth (and the sexual sins and other questions they wrote to him), he writes a letter and says “I have the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 7:40) and he calls his preaching and his witting “. . . things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words . . . we have the mind of Christ.” ( I Corinthians 2:13-16)

    To solve the disunity of the factions of people following different leaders, “some of Paul”, “some of Apollos”, “some of Cephas ( Peter)” and some of Christ”, ( I Cor. 1:10-13; 3:4-11; 4:1-6), he does not appeal to a “living voice”, but he writes them a letter and tells them specifically about the problem of comparing leaders – the way to solve that problem is to “not go beyond what is written” – I Cor. 4:6) He does not appeal to Peter as a Pope or bishop of bishops! If the papal doctrine was ontologically true in space and time history, Paul would have appealed to him as the arbiter of the problems and he would have written a letter to the Corinthians and it would have been the first ex cathedra letter in history. Instead, there is no such thing, evidence or appeal.

    Peter himself, in writing his second letter, ( 2 Peter 3:1; 1:12-21) – does not appeal to any “living voice” in the church through him or any successor, rather he appeals to them by his letters; “this is the second letter I am writing to you” ( 3:1) and in the first letter, he calls himself “fellow-elder” (5:1) and in 2 Peter 1:12-21, he appeals to his letter as “being diligent to remind you” and “to stir up your sincere mind by way of reminder” ( notice the similar language in 2 Peter 3:1 with 2 Peter 1:12, 13, 14, 15 – to sir you up by reminder;
    and

    “And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthy dwelling [still alive in the body] to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent [he knows he is going to be executed soon by Nero], as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these call these things to mind.”

    Notice he appeals to his letters to help them, that after he is dead, they will have something objective to read from the apostle to remind them of the truth.

    If the papal doctrines were really true in objective, ontological history from that time, Peter would have said, “follow your bishop, who I have appointed as my successor, he is your living voice in the church that will help you be reminded in the truth after I have laid aside my earthly dwelling”.

    Peter says no such thing.

    So, “the living voice” argument is not objective, (to answer Tim’s question and issue), and we Protestants have an objective written documents to look at to stir our minds to the truth – Peter affirmed all of Paul’s letters as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:16 and Paul claimed he was speaking by the Spirit of God in all of his letters, so these written documents are more objective.

    The early church got it right on the canon; I ask again what the reasons they gave for recognizing the books which they did?

    They did not appeal to a living voice at that time, rather, they gave the same reasons I am giving -
    a. apostolicity b. quality of “God-breathed” in doctrine and teaching and supernaturalness and c. universality of acceptance.

  308. Matteo wrote:

    “. . . these verses still do not support the novelty asserted by Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine, i.e. that the Protestant canon of scriptures are the ONLY authority that Christians must recognize.

    This is not Sola Scriptura. You left out a key word,

    Protestant canon of scriptures are the ONLY infallible authority that Christians must recognize.

    We believe in other authorities that help us in interpreting Scripture, but Scripture is the only infallible authority. The article did get that right and acknowledged that of classic protestants. See also Keith Matthison’s excellent book, The Shape of Sola Scriptura; Canon Press, 2001.

  309. Tim wrote:

    All of the criteria you mentioned as evidence for the LOB are subjective. They are akin to saying “big widgets.” But the Catholic epistemological theory, on the other hand, offers some objectivity by saying that we can be certain because the living voice of the Church has declared exactly which books are correct.

    I understand your illustration. “Big” is subjective; big compared to what? you might say. Now, I realize you and other RCs think the “living voice” in the church argument is objective. Ok, that is your belief.

    But see my argument in # 307 – Why did the early church recognize those books and what were the reasons they gave?

    If we have sufficient historical criterion, and no evidence to go against it (for example there is no conclusive evidence against Matthew as written by Matthew and Mark as written by Mark under Peter and 2 Peter as actually written by the apostle Peter himself before he died – (the argument from silence does not work conclusively) etc. ; then our agreement with the reasons why the early church chose those books is objective.

    You just have an extra “feeling of certainty” by the belief that the church is infallible and chose the books infallibly based on their charism or anointing of the Spirit to do so.

    But, if I recall rightly, the first ecumenical council that “decided” in favor of the current RC canon was the Council of Trent, right?

    The council of Hippo and Carthage under Augustine in 380s-390s ( ?) are provincial councils; and Jerome and Athanasius and Melito of Sardis and Origen disagreed with the apocrypha books that Augustine affirmed.

  310. Ken,

    Now, I realize you and other RCs think the “living voice” in the church argument is objective. Ok, that is your belief.

    That’s not my belief; it is a fact that is not debatable. Your subsequent arguments prove that you do not understand what the word ‘objective’ means. Please research the word, and we will continue this conversation when you admit that you were mistaken.

  311. That’s not my belief; it is a fact that is not debatable.

    It is not a fact and it is debatable; we are debating it right now and it has been debated since at least the 1200s and all the way up to Trent and after Trent to 1870 and even today. Amazing that you just unilaterally declare it “not debatable” !

    Your subsequent arguments prove that you do not understand what the word ‘objective’ means. Please research the word, and we will continue this conversation when you admit that you were mistaken.

    I don’t understand what you are getting at; you just avoid me and all my good substance without explaning what you mean. Objective is something concrete, outside of oneself, not subjective, in our discussion. When I look at the NT writings, they are objective pieces of historical evidence. I agree with the 3 reasons of the early church.

    Please answer this question, Tim:
    Are not those the 3 reasons the early church gave?

    If not, show me others or different reasons, with references.

    Also, anyone, along with Matt Y. — please show all the NT books and list them with their dates, and explain objective historical evidence for beleiving when books were written and so backs up your assertion that most of the NT was not even written by 67 AD by the apostle Paul before he was martyred by Nero.

  312. It is not a fact and it is debatable; we are debating it right now and it has been debated since at least the 1200s and all the way up to Trent and after Trent to 1870 and even today. Amazing that you just unilaterally declare it “not debatable” !

    We’re talking about two different things. I need you to go back, re-read what I wrote, and understand it before the conversation can continue.

  313. sorry for lack of clarity on that last part of the last sentence, should be:

    . . . your assertion that most of the NT was not even written by 67 AD as 2 Timothy was by the apostle Paul before he was martyred by Nero.

  314. I honestly don’t think you can deal with my arguments from I Cor. (1:10-12 ff and chapter 3 and 4:6 – Cephas and the lack of appealing to Peter as the first Pope there in objective history) and 2 Peter 1:12-21 and 3:1; therefore it seems you are avoiding it by saying, “go back and research the word” and “then we can continue”.

  315. Good morning, Mr. Temple,

    Thank you for your kind and honest answer that you really do want to understand why Catholics believe what they do.

    I’m not going to be in dialogue here today because I have a vocation called marriage and I need to attend to that first and foremost :-)

    So for clarification purposes, the Early Church that didn’t have all the books that are in our New Testament LOB, or who were reading the Septuagint for their understanding of the prophecy of Christ, were badly mixed up? They were martryed for nothing?

    What if I’m an atheist and you appeal to scripture and the NT LOB in particular to convince me that Jesus was the Christ. If you tell me that those men that followed Him and witnessed His death and His resurrection were willing to be martyred for that belief – thats how true this really was – men who died for what they witnessed as the truth, how can you prove it?

    Does the NT LOB tell me about anyone’s death except Stephen, who may or may not have seen the risen Christ and James who did? What I’m saying is, “How do I know that Peter didn’t run off and never suffered death for the name of Christ or that Paul didn’t retract under torture his confession?

    So Martin Luther who wanted to throw alot of NT LOB’s out of his German Bible and , as well as the “Apocrypha” and then declare Sola Scriptura , but instead only threw out the 7 books that the Jewish Rabbinical (Pharisees) declared after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. is infallible in his LOB, New and Old?

    So we are going with an OT LOB that took out those 7 books after Christ had risen and his apostles were preaching the good news and using the Septuagint to show the people the prophecy concerning The Messiah?

    The final collection of OT and NT LOB is infallible because Martin Luther would have it so. The Pharisees (rabbi’s) after the destruction of the Temple take these 7 books out and pronounce the “Birkat HaMinim” which was a prayer or benediction against Christians and/or Christian Jews (St. Jerome even acknowledges the “curse”). They get to establish the infallible O.T. LOB

    So we have Martin Luther and the Jews who cursed the Christians at that time infallibly establishing the sacred scriptures for Protestants?

    I think I will just stay with the earliest Christians on this one. Councils never make up something – they declare what has been known and is now being questioned by heretical groups to be defined and declared dogma.

    I pray for charity and kindness today in all things,
    Teri

  316. Ken Temple

    This is not Sola Scriptura. You left out a key word,
    Protestant canon of scriptures are the ONLY infallible authority that Christians must recognize.

    We believe in other authorities that help us in interpreting Scripture, but Scripture is the only infallible authority.

    I won’t argue against this – you are affirming Luther’s novel sola scriptura doctrine by claiming that scripture is the ONLY infallible authority that Christians must recognize. I have never denied that this novelty of “ONLY” is the crux of the matter! But you still have not addressed the fact that Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine is itself unscriptural since there is nothing in the scriptures that supports Luther’s novel doctrine! And because you have accepted Luther’s novelty as a foundational belief of your faith, you have no objective way of knowing if the canon of the Bible that you accept is infallible, since the Bible does not contain a list of the books that belong in the canon, nor do you know if you are interpreting the scriptures infallibly since the Bible cannot interpret itself, etc. etc.

    Ken Temple

    Notice he [Paul] appeals to his letters to help them, that after he is dead, they will have something objective to read from the apostle to remind them of the truth.

    Who is denying that? The fact that Paul wrote a letter that the Catholic Church later declared to be divinely inspired does not prove that there is no teaching office in the Church established by Christ! It is because there is a teaching office in Christ’s Church that can infallibly declare that Paul’s letters are divinely inspired, that we can know that these letters are, in fact, divinely inspired. Without a teaching office within Christ’s Church that is protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching errors in matters of faith, how can we infallibly know that Paul’s letters are divinely inspired? Do we have to depend on some sort of indivualistic subjective bosom-burning system of discernment to determine that Paul’s letters are divinely inspired? If a bosom-burning system is the only way of discerning the truth about matters of faith, how does that system give us the way to sort through the conflicting doctrine that is taught by the thousands upon thousands of Protestant sects that now exist? What possible reason can you give me that would convince me that your particular Protestant sect teaches infallible doctrine, and that every other Protestant sect is teaching at least some doctrines that are false?

    You can quote all the scripture you want that gives credence to the idea that the letters that Paul wrote have an authority that Christians must recognize, but that will never prove Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura. The Catholic Church won’t argue with you that Paul’s letter speak with authority – after all, the Catholic Church recognized these letters of Paul as being divinely inspired long before the Protestants were around to argue about the meaning of Paul’s letters!

    In order to show that sola scriptura is scriptural, you cannot simply develop an argument that the scriptures speak with authority that is binding upon Christians. To prove sola scriptura from scriptures you must show that Christ never gave authority to the bishops of his Church to teach infallibly, or you must show that Christ did establish a teaching office in His Church, and that that the teaching office disappeared some time in the past, only to be resurreced from the dead when the “Reformers” appeared on the face of the earth.

  317. Ken Temple

    When I look at the NT writings, they are objective pieces of historical evidence. I agree with the 3 reasons of the early church.

    Are those “3 reasons” found in the Bible? If not, as a self-confessed believer in Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine, what basis do you have for accepting ANYTHING that is not found in scriptures as a source of infallible authority?

    I believe that here you need to address the questions that roma victor posed to you in his posts #286 and #297:

    … if some passage alone within these books themselves that refer to them as simply having been written by a fellow Apostle is sufficient; care to explain to me why the other books I mentioned which likewise indicated as much could not similarly be considered as Scripture also?

    Will you please provide answer as to why those particular set of 27 books should rightly be considered Scripture? If it’s because they’re, as you say, “obviously Apostolic”; then, why for heaven’s sake did many of the various early Christian communities reject many of these same books and even went so far as to include others?

    Also, for what reason should those other books be rejected when these were purportedly written by an Apostle as well as having been written exactly during their days as well?

  318. So for clarification purposes, the Early Church that didn’t have all the books that are in our New Testament LOB, or who were reading the Septuagint for their understanding of the prophecy of Christ, were badly mixed up? They were martryed for nothing?

    Hi Teri,
    Thanks –
    When you write, “the Early Church that didn’t have all the books” do you mean they didn’t exist yet?
    “didn’t have” seems to say they did not exist yet. But, for example, Peter really wrote 2 Peter, before he was martyred in 67 under Nero, therefore some Christians had some of the NT books. Maybe some areas rejected Revelation, but they still had it (it existed – for example Irenaeus quotes from it extensively, but John Chrysostom seems to have rejected it.

    Anyway, Polycarp and Ingatius and Justin Martyr, to name 3 post apostolic martyrs, just because they don’t mention all the books in their writings; (the only extant works of these 3 is small) doesn’t mean the other books they didn’t mention or quote from didn’t exist, yet they were martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. I really don’t understand this kind of question.

  319. What if I’m an atheist and you appeal to scripture and the NT LOB in particular to convince me that Jesus was the Christ. If you tell me that those men that followed Him and witnessed His death and His resurrection were willing to be martyred for that belief – thats how true this really was – men who died for what they witnessed as the truth, how can you prove it?

    We accept a lot of history and tradition that is historical fact that is not necessarily mentioned in Scripture.

    Does the NT LOB tell me about anyone’s death except Stephen, who may or may not have seen the risen Christ and James who did? What I’m saying is, “How do I know that Peter didn’t run off and never suffered death for the name of Christ or that Paul didn’t retract under torture his confession?

    You forgot, James, the apostle, the brother of John, was martyred by Herod Agrippa in Acts 12:1-2.

    There is no reason to reject the history that both Paul and Peter were martyred under Nero in 67 AD. Sola Scriptura does not require exhaustive knowledge of subsequent historical events.

    So Martin Luther who wanted to throw alot of NT LOB’s out of his German Bible . . .

    Luther was wrong on this issue (but he still included them in the German Bible; he just said he doubted them and that, to take one example, James had lots of fine things, it was strawy compared to Galatians and Romans and Philippians, because it was mostly wisdom and ethical rather than doctrinal. He said some of them didn’t contain much doctrine about Christ Himself or about justification by faith, etc.); he was not infallible; and yes, he struggled with James and Revelation and Jude and Hebrews, I think. Fortunately, his opinion did not win. Melanchthon and Chemnitz and others helped to balance him out.

    and , as well as the “Apocrypha” and then declare Sola Scriptura , but instead only threw out the 7 books that the Jewish Rabbinical (Pharisees) declared after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. is infallible in his LOB, New and Old?
    So we are going with an OT LOB that took out those 7 books after Christ had risen and his apostles were preaching the good news and using the Septuagint to show the people the prophecy concerning The Messiah?

    Jerome and Athanasius and Origen and Melito of Sardis also rejected most, if not all, the apocrypha books. You are assuming that the apostles used the apocrypha books; they did not view them as Scripture; the Apocrypha books are never quoted in the NT by the apostles. Some of the good sayings from some of them were used by ECF, but none of them were used by the apostles as Scripture.

    The final collection of OT and NT LOB is infallible because Martin Luther would have it so.

    No, the internal character of the books, historical mistakes, prayers for the dead, and the books themselves admit they are not prophecy; and the fact that those ECF who knew Hebrew the best and or lived closer to Palestine or investigated things in Palestine recognized it rightly – Jerome, Athanasius, Origen, Melito of Sardis.

    I think I will just stay with the earliest Christians on this one. . . . Teri

    The earliest Christians did not quote or use the apocrypha – Matthew, Luke, Peter, Mark, Paul, James, John, even Jude’s two famous quotes are NOT from those books, but from other books.
    What about Jerome, Athanasius, Origen, Melito of Sardis; even Cardinal Cajetan and Gregory the Pope in 601 AD? They all agreed that all or some of them, most of these apocryphal (deuteron-canonicals) were not God-breathed and therefore did not belong in the canon. They saw them as useful for study and to know about, but not canonical.

  320. Ken, Ken, Ken…………………

    I’m holding you completely responsible for my shirking of household projects that need attending today :-)

    We are still on the authority of scripture, right? It feels like this has been going on since 318 A.D.
    Just kidding with you :-)

    Ok, I have a question about our deuterocanonical books and your apocrypha. How did Our Lord know to be at the temple in the winter to celebrate the Feast of Dedication? That was an added Feast after The Mosaic Feasts to honor the Purification of The Temple by the Maccabees?
    Why would he even go?

    Or when the Saducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead asked Jesus the question about the women who had the seven husbands who died (even Protestant commentaries like Craig Keener knows this is referring to Tobit), why did Jesus say he was the God of the living and not the dead? The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, right? They must have accepted the books of the Maccabees that specifically speak of this. Jesus knows about it too.

    You know that the “apocrypha” along with a list of “saints” was in the original 1611 King James Bible?

    Ok… I’m off..I’ll pick up my answers tomorrow. Ken, I forgot…is that you on Facebook from GA? You seem so relaxed if that is you. I’m happy for that.

    Have a blessed Lord’s Day,
    Teri

  321. Ken, I forgot…is that you on Facebook from GA? You seem so relaxed if that is you. I’m happy for that.

    I don’t know – it may be; I would need more info to confirm or deny. My Facebook photo is with my wife, Connie. I have gray hair. She has brunnette hair. I am wearing a olive green turtleneck and she is in a red sweater blouse.

  322. Ok, I have a question about our deuterocanonical books and your apocrypha. How did Our Lord know to be at the temple in the winter to celebrate the Feast of Dedication? That was an added Feast after The Mosaic Feasts to honor the Purification of The Temple by the Maccabees?
    Why would he even go?

    I don’t know. I will have to research that issue to know more about that. What is the scriptural reference on that?

    Or when the Saducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead asked Jesus the question about the women who had the seven husbands who died (even Protestant commentaries like Craig Keener knows this is referring to Tobit), why did Jesus say he was the God of the living and not the dead? The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, right? They must have accepted the books of the Maccabees that specifically speak of this. Jesus knows about it too.

    I don’t know about the Tobit reference; besides, that if that is from that, that is the Pharisees using it; that is not a problem, of course it was in existence at the time; Jesus never affirms that that is God-breathed or Scripture; but what I do know is that Jesus does not answer with a quote from Tobit, but a quote from the infallible Scriptures – Exodus 3:6 and calls this “God speaking” – “have you not read what God has spoken to you – Matthew 22:29-32

    Reading the Scriptures is hearing God speaking. Jesus held them accountable for understanding the written Scriptures, with no magisterial interpretation.

  323. that is the Pharisees using it; that is not a problem,

    OOOPPs

    I meant the Sadducees

  324. Ok, I found the feast of dedication reference (today called Hanukkah, or feast of lights) – John 10:22-23 – I even had it marked with handwritten notes years ago. ( remember now; I just could not put my finger on it fast – I am getting older. (smile)

    This is no problem for Sola Scriptura – it was a tradition of the Jews to celebrate their great victory over the Greeks and Antiochus Epiphanes (167 BC) who offered a pig in the temple.

    Not all traditions are bad or wrong! Matthew 15 and Mark 7 are teaching that Scripture is higher than all traditions and must be tested by Scripture.

    Nowhere in the text of John does it say the historical book of Maccabees is inspired or God-breathed; it only shows that that historical event was real history and the Jews celebrated their protection by God for it.

  325. Cardinal Cajetan was a contemporary of Luther and held with high regard in the Roman Catholic Church.

    “The papal legate, Cajetan, and Luther met face to face for the first time at Augsburg on 11 October. Cajetan (b. 1470) was “one of the most remarkable figures woven into the history of the Reformation on the Roman side . . . a man of erudition and blameless life” (Weizacker); he was a doctor of philosophy before he was twenty-one, at this early age filling chairs with distinction in both sciences at some of the leading universities; in humanistic studies he was so well versed as to enter the dialectic arena against Pico della Mirandola when only twenty-four. Surely no better qualified man could be detailed to adjust the theological difficulties.”
    -Catholic Encyclopedia

    Writing prior to the canon decision at the Council of Trent, Cajetan wrote:

    “Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.”
    -Cardinal Cajetan (16th century)

    Cajetan recognized that though the deuterocanonicals may be called canonical, they were not recognized as canonical in the same sense as the other Old Testament books.
    Posted by Carrie
    http://thesearewritten.blogspot.com/2007/08/cardinal-cajetan-on-biblical-canon.html

  326. Ken,
    Check out these scriptures. I haven’t looked them up myself and it may depend on what translation you use, I’m not sure.

    Also if you go to the Jewish Encyclopedia online – they “of the same O.T.” as the Protestants say that Paul or Saul of Tarsus is “just quoting from the Wisdom literature” which is not in their sacred scriptures.

    Don’t forget that the Jewish scholars that have your O.T. say none of the N.T. is sacred scripture

    Matt. 2:16 – Herod’s decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 – slaying the holy innocents.

    Matt. 6:19-20 – Jesus’ statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 – lay up your treasure.

    Matt.. 7:12 – Jesus’ golden rule “do unto others” is the converse of Tobit 4:15 – what you hate, do not do to others.

    Matt. 7:16,20 – Jesus’ statement “you will know them by their fruits” follows Sirach 27:6 – the fruit discloses the cultivation.

    Matt. 9:36 – the people were “like sheep without a shepherd” is same as Judith 11:19 – sheep without a shepherd.

    Matt. 11:25 – Jesus’ description “Lord of heaven and earth” is the same as Tobit 7:18 – Lord of heaven and earth.

    Matt. 12:42 – Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.

    Matt. 16:18 – Jesus’ reference to the “power of death” and “gates of Hades” references Wisdom 16:13.

    Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 – Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.

    Matt. 24:15 – the “desolating sacrilege” Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.

    Matt. 24:16 – let those “flee to the mountains” is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.

    Matt. 27:43 – if He is God’s Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.

    Mark 4:5,16-17 – Jesus’ description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.

    Mark 9:48 – description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.

    Luke 1:42 – Elizabeth’s declaration of Mary’s blessedness above all women follows Uzziah’s declaration in Judith 13:18.

    Luke 1:52 – Mary’s magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.

    Luke 2:29 – Simeon’s declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.

    Luke 13:29 – the Lord’s description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.

    Luke 21:24 – Jesus’ usage of “fall by the edge of the sword” follows Sirach 28:18.

    Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10 – Luke’s description of the two men in dazzling apparel reminds us of 2 Macc. 3:26.

    John 1:3 – all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1.

    John 3:13 – who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.

    John 4:48; Acts 5:12; 15:12; 2 Cor. 12:12 – Jesus’, Luke’s and Paul’s usage of “signs and wonders” follows Wisdom 8:8.

    John 5:18 – Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16.

    John 6:35-59 – Jesus’ Eucharistic discourse is foreshadowed in Sirach 24:21.

    John 10:22 – the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59.

    John 15:6 – branches that don’t bear fruit and are cut down follows Wis. 4:5 where branches are broken off.

    Acts 1:15 – Luke’s reference to the 120 may be a reference to 1 Macc. 3:55 – leaders of tens / restoration of the twelve.

    Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6 – Peter’s and Paul’s statement that God shows no partiality references Sirach 35:12.

    Acts 17:29 – description of false gods as like gold and silver made by men follows Wisdom 13:10.

    Rom 1:18-25 – Paul’s teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wis. 13:1-10.

    Rom. 1:20 – specifically, God’s existence being evident in nature follows Wis. 13:1.

    Rom. 1:23 – the sin of worshipping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wis. 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.

    Rom. 1:24-27 – this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wis. 14:12,24-27.

    Rom. 4:17 – Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19.

    Rom. 5:12 – description of death and sin entering into the world is similar to Wisdom 2:24.

    Rom. 9:21 – usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7.

    1 Cor. 2:16 – Paul’s question, “who has known the mind of the Lord?” references Wisdom 9:13.

    1 Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-26 – warning that, while all things are good, beware of gluttony, follows Sirach 36:18 and 37:28-30.

    1 Cor. 8:5-6 – Paul acknowledging many “gods” but one Lord follows Wis. 13:3.

    1 Cor. 10:1 – Paul’s description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.

    1 Cor. 10:20 – what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.

    1 Cor. 15:29 – if no expectation of resurrection, it would be foolish to be baptized on their behalf follows 2 Macc. 12:43-45.

    Eph. 1:17 – Paul’s prayer for a “spirit of wisdom” follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7.

    Eph. 6:14 – Paul describing the breastplate of righteousness is the same as Wis. 5:18. See also Isaiah 59:17 and 1Thess. 5:8.

    Eph. 6:13-17 – in fact, the whole discussion of armor, helmet, breastplate, sword, shield follows Wis. 5:17-20.

    1 Tim. 6:15 – Paul’s description of God as Sovereign and King of kings is from 2 Macc. 12:15; 13:4.

    2 Tim. 4:8 – Paul’s description of a crown of righteousness is similar to Wisdom 5:16.

    Heb. 4:12 – Paul’s description of God’s word as a sword is similar to Wisdom 18:15.

    Heb. 11:5 – Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wis 4:10 and Sir 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 & Sir 48:9 regarding Elijah.

    Heb 11:35 – Paul teaches about the martyrdom of the mother and her sons described in 2 Macc. 6:18, 7:1-42.

    Heb. 12:12 – the description “drooping hands” and “weak knees” comes from Sirach 25:23.

    James 1:19 – let every man be quick to hear and slow to respond follows Sirach 5:11.

    James 2:23 – it was reckoned to him as righteousness follows 1 Macc. 2:52 – it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

    James 3:13 – James’ instruction to perform works in meekness follows Sirach 3:17.

    James 5:3 – describing silver which rusts and laying up treasure follows Sirach 29:10-11.

    James 5:6 – condemning and killing the “righteous man” follows Wisdom 2:10-20.

    1 Peter 1:6-7 – Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Sirach 2:5.

    1 Peter 1:17 – God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Sirach 16:12 – God judges man according to his deeds.

    2 Peter 2:7 – God’s rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6.

    Rev. 1:18; Matt. 16:18 – power of life over death and gates of Hades follows Wis. 16:13.

    Rev. 2:12 – reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God’s Word in Wisdom 18:16.

    Rev. 5:7 – God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8.

    Rev. 8:3-4 – prayers of the saints presented to God by the hand of an angel follows Tobit 12:12,15.

    Rev. 8:7 – raining of hail and fire to the earth follows Wisdom 16:22 and Sirach 39:29.

    Rev. 9:3 – raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9.

    Rev. 11:19 – the vision of the ark of the covenant (Mary) in a cloud of glory was prophesied in 2 Macc. 2:7.

    Rev. 17:14 – description of God as King of kings follows 2 Macc. 13:4.

    Rev. 19:1 – the cry “Hallelujah” at the coming of the new Jerusalem follows Tobit 13:18.

    Rev. 19:11 – the description of the Lord on a white horse in the heavens follows 2 Macc. 3:25; 11:8.

    Rev. 19:16 – description of our Lord as King of kings is taken from 2 Macc. 13:4.

    Rev. 21:19 – the description of the new Jerusalem with precious stones is prophesied in Tobit 13:17.

    Exodus 23:7 – do not slay the innocent and righteous – Dan. 13:53 – do not put to death an innocent and righteous person.

    2 Tim. 3:16 – the inspired Scripture that Paul was referring to included the deuterocanonical texts that the Protestants removed. The books Baruch, Tobit, Maccabees, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom were all included in the Septuagint that Jesus and the apostles used.

    The Protestants attempt to defend their rejection of the deuterocanonicals on the ground that the early Jews rejected them. However, the Jewish councils that rejected them (e.g., council of Jamnia in 90 – 100 A.D.) were the same councils that rejected the entire New Testatment canon. Thus, Protestants who reject the Orthodox and Catholic Bible are following a Jewish council who rejected Christ and the Revelation of the New Testament!

  327. P.S. For Ken,

    If your group had just conspired with the Romans to put to death by crucifixion, Jesus, who the apostles were calling “the Messiah” – YOUR Messiah would you want this writing from the Book of Wisdom in your O.T. List of Books? No wonder it got the proverbial “boot”.

    The Book of Wisdom
    Chapter 2 -12-24

    12 Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.
    13
    He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD.
    14
    To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us,
    15
    Because his life is not like other men’s, and different are his ways.
    16
    He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father.
    17
    Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him.
    18
    For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
    19
    With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.
    20
    Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”
    21
    These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them,
    22
    And they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
    23
    For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.
    24
    But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.

  328. looks like Dave Armstrong’s compilation.
    I may have time some other day to look up all that. I don’t have a copy of the Apocrypha books myself – have to look online. It is late and I need to get our 3 kids to bed and get ready for tomorrow.

    About Facebook -
    Was my description the one you were looking at?

  329. Mark,
    I just caught your censure, and I am laughing. I couldn’t help myself. Tim, forgive me for taking that pot shot at the RCC. How do you folks maintain relationships and jobs and proper sleep, on top of arguing this stuff in circles? Of the very brief vapor we are given on this mortal coil, I wonder if the tallied up hours of Internet religion is prudent. God will judge, we’ll all be before his face soon enough. May His mercy be upon you all!

  330. Jim,

    I understand (and share, to some degree) your frustration. And I agree that Judgment is soon. But, every heretic in the history of Christianity could have appealed to the shortness of life to excuse his responsibility to seek out orthodoxy. And every faithful person in the history of Christianity could have appealed to the shortness of life to excuse his responsibility to seek out and win the lost. Both such excuses would not justify their inactivity. The solution to “arguing this stuff in circles”, is not to quit the discussion, but to argue in straight lines, in an ordered way. And usually it takes training to know how to do that, particularly, training in logic. Without that sort of training, discussions will typically go in circles or move all over the place and down every rabbit trail. That’s why a profitable discussion usually requires a trained guide or moderator, just as a profitable classroom experience requires a trained teacher. We hope soon to be changing the way we moderate our combox discussions, to improve the focus and quality of these discussions. So, please bear with us.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  331. So Martin Luther who wanted to throw alot of NT LOB’s out of his German Bible . . .

    Ken Temple responds to the above thusly: “Luther was wrong on this issue

    Ken, you assert that Luther was wrong about this issue, but give us no reason how you know that Luther was wrong about this issue. Please explain to us how you know that Luther was wrong when he wanted to jettison James and Revelation from the NT, and how you know that Luther was right when he compiled his own personal list of books that belong in the OT.

    Who gave Luther the authority to define the canon of scriptures for Christendom?

  332. Jim,
    here is a quote from an essay by Richard Neuhaus on True Devotion to Mary, I think it address your first post about the RCC not being Catholic enough.

    To which it might be added that there is a difference of ecclesial sensibility between Catholics and evangelicals, especially evangelicals in the tradition of the “believer’s church.” Catholics understand the Church as “Holy Mother Church.” Like a good mother, she tries to keep everybody in the family. She is patient and longsuffering with those who in their weakness, eccentricities, and charismatic enthusiasms sometimes deviate from the family rules, including its doctrinal rules. As firmly and persuasively and effectively as possible, she reiterates the rules in season and out; she convinces, rebukes, and exhorts, but she knows that she cannot control more than a billion children of every race and culture in their response to the gospel….

  333. Ken, you assert that Luther was wrong about this issue, but give us no reason how you know that Luther was wrong about this issue.

    Please go back and read it again; I gave several reasons (about the internal character of books, historical mistakes, even some of them say about themselves that they are not “prophetic” as prophesy stopped with Malachi (and started back with John the baptizer and the NT) and I also cited several ECF and even Cardinal Catejan (1500s, the prelate from the Pope himself, the one who interviewed Luther and was against him) and Gregory the Great ( 601) who knew the apocrypha books are not canon.

  334. the above may not be too clear

    I gave several reasons for why the apocypha was wrong; and the reasons for recieving James and Jude and Revelation and Hebrews are because they are “God-breathed” and written by apostles or associate of an apostle. I have lots of evidence that Hebrews was probably written by Barnabas ( per Tertullian) and Revelation was written by John. James and Jude were half -brothers of Jesus and were there in the gospels – and Gal. 1:19 and I Cor. 15 calls James, the brother of the Lord, “an apostle”.

    7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born

  335. Matt Y. and Tim,

    I have re-read your article and also read good portions of the blog and it has very much enlightened me on Catholic understanding of scripture and authority. I have not dialogued a great deal with Catholics, so I may misunderstand or misrepresent your position at points, so please be gracious with me but definitely do correct me as need be. My intention ss to address points made by the article itself and not Catholicism in general (by the way how DOES one attach quotes in that blocky manner?). I made statements earlier and asked a few questions that have helped me better understand your position and thanks for your thoughtful answers. So here we go:

    1. “How do we Know” – In the first few paragraphs you posit the epistemological dilemma of scripture declaring itself to be scripture. Scripture attesting to its own validity is not alone convincing, you say. I actually agree with you. If we allow for church fallibility in recognizing the canon (Sproul) then we must allow fallibility in other areas as well. This brings both Catholics and Protestants to the same place, back to zero, as you say. Then you point to the historical process (apostolic succession) and then we argue about who has the most historical proof for their canon. AND Protestants and Catholics have been doing just that for a long time. I am sure that you believe that Catholics have greater proof historically for their positions. Likewise, Protestants. Therefore, it seems that it would be helpful and necessary to draw upon other litmus tests to determine authoritative “higher ground.” More on that later.

    2. Canon – You fault Protestants in their methodology of establishing canon (and hence Sola Scriptura), but let me challenge you on that. And please correct me if I misrepresent you.
    Protestants modus operandi for determining Canon: 1. Foundation of Apostles and Prophets (proven by signs and wonders). 2. Self authentication (historic/theological/factual accuracy/it’s own words). 3. Wide acceptance. 4. Church Fathers. 5. History (“standing the test of time”). All of this guided by the Holy Spirit. With all of these established we then recognize Scripture as final authority.

    Catholic modus operandi for determining Canon: The Voice of the Living Church (the magisterium). The VOLC’s modus operandi for determining canon? I presume (perhaps wrongly): 1. Foundation of Apostles and Prophets (proven by signs and wonders). 2. Self authentication (historic/theological/factual accuracy/it’s own words). 3. Wide acceptance. 4. Church Fathers. 5. History (“standing the test of time”). All of this guided by the Holy Spirit. With all of this established you recognize The Church as final authority, and scripture as its infallible “tool.”

    If this is a correct, albeit simplified, representation of our positions then effectively your article cuts off the branch we are BOTH standing upon. Also, I should add then we do not categorically deny the VOLC, we just have a different recognition/definition of the VOLC.

    3. I am agreeing with you that it would seem that something outside of scripture itself is required in order to IDENTIFY scripture as scripture. But, if we use scripture itself to determine that WHO/WHAT it is that has the authority to identify doctrine (or scripture for that matter), then are we not placing scripture as the greater authority than the WHO/WHAT (The Church)? This is what you are doing when you point to Paul’s words in I Tim. to demonstrate the ultimate authority of the church (which I believe to be a very weak proof text of scripture especially considering that Paul is commanding Timothy to live by the words that Paul is WRITING, but that is another debate). I’ll call it the Chicken/Egg conundrum. An illustration: If I brought you a letter from your grandma that said I have get to eat all the cookies she made for you (hypothetically, of course, and no offense to your grandma). Then where does final authority to eat the cookies rest? In me or in the letter? Protestants say “the letter of course”, Catholics “Mark Tucker of course. Because the letter says so.” All that to show again that we are both in the same boat. Standing upon the same branch, which you are cutting off.

    4. You claim the higher ground by stating: “By contrast, the Catholic’s certainty rests in a hierarchy established by Jesus Himself that claims a call from God the Father, promises from Jesus, and the protection of the Holy Spirit over the Church in establishing and preserving true doctrine.” Again, back to point 2 above. Rather than prove anything objectively you simply point to Acts 15 to support (which again, is ironic considering it is in scripture) the idea that a group of men may, simply by authority of their office establish true doctrine.

    5. As you say Paul says in Ephesians 2:20 (again the chicken/egg dilemma) that the foundation for the church is built upon the Apostles and Prophets (as opposed to “The teachings of,” and I agree with you but this doesn’t prove your point still as I will show). You try to make the case that this sets a precedent for a human office as being “more foundational to the church than the teaching itself” (“MORE FOUNDATIONAL” is that really what Catholics believe?). However, read it again, in context, and consider what Paul may mean when he calls it a foundation. The options:
    a. foundation – the theological/doctrinal concepts that make up the identity of the church, b. foundation – the ones who were physically and chronologically existent earlier as God’s people? For example, I am on the FOUNDING board of a school, by which we have set up a set philosophy of education which is the FOUNDATION of our school. So, am I the foundation of the school or is the philosophy of education the foundation of the school. Well, BOTH. And a person who writes the biography of our school could refer to me in only one capacity, the physical and chronological FOUNDATION of the school. So, here with Paul.
    c. foundation – the authoritative office of the Apostles and Prophets.
    d. foundation – all of the above.

    You argue for c., Calvin argues for a., I would argue for d. Besides, I would argue that their authority/office went only as far as they taught truth, not simply because they held the office as you seem to insinuate. This is proven by the fact that Prophets were stoned as soon as they gave bad prophecies, as determined by the people of God. But, this passage can NOT be used to PROVE the primacy of an church office over (or next to) the Word of God.

    ALSO, your following statement “Nowhere in scripture do we find the common Protestant assumption that all the essential information concerning Christ and the Apostles’ teaching would be codified in written form.” This may be true depending on how you define “essential information.”
    If , by “all the Essential information” you mean
    =info. necessary for salvation. Then I am sure we both disagree with the statement, and you misrepresent yourself.
    =info. necessary for Christian living. Then I am sure we both AGREE with the statement, and your misrepresent us.

    6. Finally, and again, you claim that Catholics have the higher ground because they “the Catholic’s certainty rests in a hierarchy established by Jesus Himself that claims a call from God the Father, promises from Jesus, and the protection of the Holy Spirit over the Church in establishing and preserving true doctrine. Assuming the truth of our shared premise that God exists in a Trinity of divine Persons, the Catholic Church’s claim has a sound Trinitarian bedrock, while the Protestant claim of self-authentication trusts neither the Trinity nor the Church, but rather relies on the intellectual prowess of a handful of 16th century intellectuals, the Reformers, and their ability to discern true Scripture from false.” This draws upon at least a couple presuppositions; one that the hierarchy that Jesus Christ established (early church fathers) used methods that were different than the Reformers and the Westminster Divines (examining books widely accepted as being legit, spiritual predecessors, prayer, guidance of the Holy Spirit and their own intellectual prowess). And that the Reformers and Westminster Divines are not also in the lineage of the original hierarchy designed to draw the church back to its original moorings. Besides, if you analyze this comment, it essentially, once again, places us virtually in the same position.

    7. I agree with you that passages such as “all scripture is useful for doctrine…” doesn’t indicate that scripture ALONE has authority (although it does show that it does HAVE authority). But this passage doesn’t set up the Catholic system ANY MORE than it does the Protestant system. It simply implies that outside sources MAY be required. Doesn’t prove it, only implies it. Of course, other scripture is required to show this, and you site some…one, actually, Acts 15.

    8. The New Testament Canon and Paul. You make the argument that Paul couldn’t possibly be referring to the NT when he wrote words like this, etc. You use this to prove that Scriptura cannot be self authenticating. However, do you REALLY believe this. Do you really believe that when GOD (through Paul) says stuff like scripture is useful… he is only referring to the OT? Do you, then truly believe that scripture existed already and the Church simply recognized it? It sounds like not. Do you truly believe that Paul wrote those words under the inspiration of a timeless God. In short, are you saying that Catholics believe that Paul’s words here DON’T apply to the NT and even the very words he was writing himself?!

    9. You make a point that many early church fathers believed stuff that was not explicitly found in scripture. But my question is WHY did they believe these things? Was it not because they believed (wrongly I would argue) them to be taught in scripture in a way definitive way? I point this out only to show again, that our methods (Catholic and Protestant) are not that different, essentially. I’d like to see proof that the legit early church didn’t hold to scripture as the final authority. I am not disagreeing I would just like to see it. And if you argue that they see themselves as the final authority, this just takes us back to the Chicken/Egg conundrum (“we are the final authority because scripture says we are because we are the final authority because scripture says…”).

    I point all these things simply to show that your argumentation, thus far, is wholly unconvincing. But on many point I do agree with you, such as a weak use of scripture by the WCF and Luther/Calvin to prove some of their points. And I agree that scripture alone cannot PROOF itself to be scripture alone. There are other points that I have, but I have taken up enough space. More later. Thanks for your consideration.

    In Him,
    Mark

  336. Matt Y. and Tim,

    I have re-read your article and also read good portions of the blog and it has very much enlightened me on Catholic understanding of scripture and authority. I have not dialogued a great deal with Catholics, so I may misunderstand or misrepresent your position at points, so please be gracious with me but definitely do correct me as need be. My intention ss to address points made by the article itself and not Catholicism in general (by the way how DOES one attach quotes in that blocky manner?). I made statements earlier and asked a few questions that have helped me better understand your position and thanks for your thoughtful answers. So here we go:

    1. “How do we Know” – In the first few paragraphs you posit the epistemological dilemma of scripture declaring itself to be scripture. Scripture attesting to its own validity is not alone convincing, you say. I actually agree with you. If we allow for church fallibility in recognizing the canon (Sproul) then we must allow fallibility in other areas as well. This brings both Catholics and Protestants to the same place, back to zero, as you say. Then you point to the historical process (apostolic succession) and then we argue about who has the most historical proof for their canon. AND Protestants and Catholics have been doing just that for a long time. I am sure that you believe that Catholics have greater proof historically for their positions. Likewise, Protestants. Therefore, it seems that it would be helpful and necessary to draw upon other litmus tests to determine authoritative “higher ground.” More on that later.

    2. Canon – You fault Protestants in their methodology of establishing canon (and hence Sola Scriptura), but let me challenge you on that. And please correct me if I misrepresent you.
    Protestants modus operandi for determining Canon: 1. Foundation of Apostles and Prophets (proven by signs and wonders). 2. Self authentication (historic/theological/factual accuracy/it’s own words). 3. Wide acceptance. 4. Church Fathers. 5. History (“standing the test of time”). All of this guided by the Holy Spirit. With all of these established we then recognize Scripture as final authority.

    Catholic modus operandi for determining Canon: The Voice of the Living Church (the magisterium). The VOLC’s modus operandi for determining canon? I presume (perhaps wrongly): 1. Foundation of Apostles and Prophets (proven by signs and wonders). 2. Self authentication (historic/theological/factual accuracy/it’s own words). 3. Wide acceptance. 4. Church Fathers. 5. History (“standing the test of time”). All of this guided by the Holy Spirit. With all of this established you recognize The Church as final authority, and scripture as its infallible “tool.”

    If this is a correct, albeit simplified, representation of our positions then effectively your article cuts off the branch we are BOTH standing upon. Also, I should add then we do not categorically deny the VOLC, we just have a different recognition/definition of the VOLC.

    3. I am agreeing with you that it would seem that something outside of scripture itself is required in order to IDENTIFY scripture as scripture. But, if we use scripture itself to determine that WHO/WHAT it is that has the authority to identify doctrine (or scripture for that matter), then are we not placing scripture as the greater authority than the WHO/WHAT (The Church)? This is what you are doing when you point to Paul’s words in I Tim. to demonstrate the ultimate authority of the church (which I believe to be a very weak proof text of scripture especially considering that Paul is commanding Timothy to live by the words that Paul is WRITING, but that is another debate). I’ll call it the Chicken/Egg conundrum. An illustration: If I brought you a letter from your grandma that said I have get to eat all the cookies she made for you (hypothetically, of course, and no offense to your grandma). Then where does final authority to eat the cookies rest? In me or in the letter? Protestants say “the letter of course”, Catholics “Mark Tucker of course. Because the letter says so.” All that to show again that we are both in the same boat. Standing upon the same branch, which you are cutting off.

    4. You claim the higher ground by stating: “By contrast, the Catholic’s certainty rests in a hierarchy established by Jesus Himself that claims a call from God the Father, promises from Jesus, and the protection of the Holy Spirit over the Church in establishing and preserving true doctrine.” Again, back to point 2 above. Rather than prove anything objectively you simply point to Acts 15 to support (which again, is ironic considering it is in scripture) the idea that a group of men may, simply by authority of their office establish true doctrine.

    5. As you say Paul says in Ephesians 2:20 (again the chicken/egg dilemma) that the foundation for the church is built upon the Apostles and Prophets (as opposed to “The teachings of,” and I agree with you but this doesn’t prove your point still as I will show). You try to make the case that this sets a precedent for a human office as being “more foundational to the church than the teaching itself” (“MORE FOUNDATIONAL” is that really what Catholics believe?). However, read it again, in context, and consider what Paul may mean when he calls it a foundation. The options:
    a. foundation – the theological/doctrinal concepts that make up the identity of the church, b. foundation – the ones who were physically and chronologically existent earlier as God’s people? For example, I am on the FOUNDING board of a school, by which we have set up a set philosophy of education which is the FOUNDATION of our school. So, am I the foundation of the school or is the philosophy of education the foundation of the school. Well, BOTH. And a person who writes the biography of our school could refer to me in only one capacity, the physical and chronological FOUNDATION of the school. So, here with Paul.
    c. foundation – the authoritative office of the Apostles and Prophets.
    d. foundation – all of the above.

    You argue for c., Calvin argues for a., I would argue for d. Besides, I would argue that their authority/office went only as far as they taught truth, not simply because they held the office as you seem to insinuate. This is proven by the fact that Prophets were stoned as soon as they gave bad prophecies, as determined by the people of God. But, this passage can NOT be used to PROVE the primacy of an church office over (or next to) the Word of God.

    ALSO, your following statement “Nowhere in scripture do we find the common Protestant assumption that all the essential information concerning Christ and the Apostles’ teaching would be codified in written form.” This may be true depending on how you define “essential information.”
    If , by “all the Essential information” you mean
    =info. necessary for salvation. Then I am sure we both disagree with the statement, and you misrepresent yourself.
    =info. necessary for Christian living. Then I am sure we both AGREE with the statement, and your misrepresent us.
    more below…

  337. 6. You claim that Catholics have the higher ground because they “the Catholic’s certainty rests in a hierarchy established by Jesus Himself that claims a call from God the Father, promises from Jesus, and the protection of the Holy Spirit over the Church in establishing and preserving true doctrine. Assuming the truth of our shared premise that God exists in a Trinity of divine Persons, the Catholic Church’s claim has a sound Trinitarian bedrock, while the Protestant claim of self-authentication trusts neither the Trinity nor the Church, but rather relies on the intellectual prowess of a handful of 16th century intellectuals, the Reformers, and their ability to discern true Scripture from false.” This draws upon at least a couple presuppositions; one that the hierarchy that Jesus Christ established (early church fathers) used methods that were different than the Reformers and the Westminster Divines (examining books widely accepted as being legit, spiritual predecessors, prayer, guidance of the Holy Spirit and their own intellectual prowess). And that the Reformers and Westminster Divines are not also in the lineage of the original hierarchy designed to draw the church back to its original moorings. Besides, if you analyze this comment, it essentially, once again, places us virtually in the same position.

    7. I agree with you that passages such as “all scripture is useful for doctrine…” doesn’t indicate that scripture ALONE has authority (although it does show that it does HAVE authority). But this passage doesn’t set up the Catholic system ANY MORE than it does the Protestant system. It simply implies that outside sources MAY be required. Doesn’t prove it, only implies it. Of course, other scripture is required to show this, and you site some…one, actually, Acts 15.

    8. The New Testament Canon and Paul. You make the argument that Paul couldn’t possibly be referring to the NT when he wrote words like this, etc. You use this to prove that Scriptura cannot be self authenticating. However, do you REALLY believe this. Do you really believe that when GOD (through Paul) says stuff like scripture is useful… he is only referring to the OT? Do you, then truly believe that scripture existed already and the Church simply recognized it? It sounds like not. Do you truly believe that Paul wrote those words under the inspiration of a timeless God. In short, are you saying that Catholics believe that Paul’s words here DON’T apply to the NT and even the very words he was writing himself?!

    9. You make a point that many early church fathers believed stuff that was not explicitly found in scripture. But my question is WHY did they believe these things? Was it not because they believed (wrongly I would argue) them to be taught in scripture in a way definitive way? I point this out only to show again, that our methods (Catholic and Protestant) are not that different, essentially. I’d like to see proof that the legit early church didn’t hold to scripture as the final authority. I am not disagreeing I would just like to see it. And if you argue that they see themselves as the final authority, this just takes us back to the Chicken/Egg conundrum (“we are the final authority because scripture says we are because we are the final authority because scripture says…”).

    I point all these things simply to show that your argumentation, thus far, is wholly unconvincing. But on many point I do agree with you, such as a weak use of scripture by the WCF and Luther/Calvin to prove some of their points. And I agree that scripture alone cannot PROOF itself to be scripture alone. There are other points that I have, but I have taken up enough space. More later. Thanks for your consideration.

    In Him,
    Mark

  338. Adding on to point 8 above, I mean to say “You make the argument that Paul couldn’t possibly be referring to the NT when he wrote words like this” because he only HAD the Old Testament…

  339. Ken Taylor:

    I gave several reasons for why the apocypha was wrong; and the reasons for recieving James and Jude and Revelation and Hebrews …

    I agree that you are giving us reasons, but do any of your reasons meet the test of infallibility per your own standards of infallibility?

    You have claimed that the ONLY source of infallible truth for Christians is the Protestant canon of scripture. But since all the sources that you are quoting for your belief about what constitutes the canon of scriptures are all sources that are found outside the Protestant Bible, you cannot logically claim that the Protestant canon of scriptures is something that is known to be infallible.

    You have also not addressed the more fundamental underlying issue, and that is the issue that the Protestant Bible does contain any scriptures that explicitly affirms the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura, the very doctrine that you use to set the standard for measuring doctrine that is infallible.

    Let us imagine a dialog between Martin Luther and a Catholic Apologist to (hopefully) clarify the point of why Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine is an irrational doctrine, since there is no explicit support for that doctrine found within a Bible that has its canon defined by Martin Luther.

    Martin Luther: I declare that scriptures are an authoritative source for matters concerning faith and morals that all Christians must accept.

    Catholic Apologist: The Catholic Church teaches this also, you are not saying anything controversial as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. There are many sources within the scriptures that testify that scriptures are authoritative.

    Martin Luther: I further declare that the ONLY source of infallible authority for Christians is the Bible!

    Catholic Apologist: That is an irrational statement since the Bible does not testify that it is the ONLY source of authority for Christians. What you are really saying is that it is your OPINION that the Bible is the only source of authority for Christians, and that is a novel opinion that goes against two thousand years of belief by the vast majority of Christians.

    Why should anyone accept your opinion that the Bible ALONE is the sole infallible source of authority for Christians? Furthermore, to be logically consistent, you need to claim that it is the Bible plus your opinions that are the only infallible source of authority for Christians.

    Martin Luther: I declare that my list of books defining the contents of the Bible is the infallible truth!

    Catholic Apologist:Such hubris! Who gave YOU the authority to infallibly define the canon of scriptures for all of Christendom? You are not even consistent in your argument, because you claim that the scriptures (which you did not write) are the ONLY source of infallible authority for Christians, and there are nothing in the scriptures that define the canon! Again, you are merely giving us your OPINION about what constitutes the canon of scriptures. Can you at least give us some reasons why you are rendering your opinion on the contents of the canon of Scripture?

    Martin Luther on the inspired books of the Old Testament:

    “Job spoke not as it stands written in his book, but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probable that Solomon wrote and made this book.”…

    “Ecclesiastes ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it…Solomon did not, therefore, write this book.”…

    “The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much…”

    “The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible.”
    (O’HarePF. The Facts About Luther, 1916–1987 reprint ed., p. 202).

    Martin Luther on the authority of the Pentateuch:

    “We have no wish either to see or hear Moses”
    (Ibid, p. 202).

    Martin Luther on the Epistle to the Hebrews:

    “It need not surprise one to find here bits of wood, hay, and straw”
    (Ibid. p. 203).

    Martin Luther on the Epistle of St. James:

    St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw…for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it”
    (Luther, M. Preface to the New Testament, 1546).

    Martin Luther on the Book of Revelation:

    About this book of the Revelation of John…I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic…I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it. Moreover he seems to me to be going much too far when he commends his own book so highly-indeed, more than any of the other sacred books do, though they are much more important-and threatens that if anyone takes away anything from it, God will take away from him, etc. Again, they are supposed to be blessed who keep what is written in this book; and yet no one knows what that is, to say nothing of keeping it. This is just the same as if we did not have the book at all. And there are many far better books available for us to keep…My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it”
    (Luther, M. Preface to the Revelation of St. John, 1522).

    Martin Luther on Romans 3:28

    You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word alone in not in the text of Paul…say right out to him: ‘Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,’…I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word ‘alone’ is not in the Latin or the Greek text
    (Stoddard J. Rebuilding a Lost Faith. 1922, pp. 101-102; see also Luther M. Amic. Discussion, 1, 127).

    Martin Luther Changed and/orDiscounted 18 Books of the Bible

    Dr. Martin Luther … will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough.

    Not exactly a convincing argument …

  340. Mateo,

    You are correct if you mean to say that Protestants PRESUME Sola Scriptura based on what we see to be valid tests (scripture itself, history, signs and wonders, church fathers, wide acceptance). Just as in the same way you PRESUME the Church to have final authority based on valid tests (possibly the exact same ones as ours). For a good portion of history, we actually share the same test results.

    Thankfully, we don’t look to Luther “alone” to define our doctrinal positions, just as you don’t look to any particular Pope or Bishop or church father either. Need I go quote some of your own theologians?

    Mark
    PS We, Protestants are fully aware of the problems that come with our position. Are you fully aware of the problems that come with yours?

  341. Mark, here’s how to do blockquotes:

    (blockquote) Quoted material here (/blockquote) – replace ( ) with less than and greater than symbols.

  342. You make the argument that Paul couldn’t possibly be referring to the NT when he wrote words like this.

    When you claim that Paul was referring to the New Testament, just what “New Testament” did you have in mind?

    Do you actually believe Paul, at the time of his writing, actually considered his letters to be Scripture?

    Do you truly believe that when Paul wrote concerning Scripture, he actually meant the 27 books that ultimately became the defined Canon of the New Testament?

    If that were indeed the case, why did several Christian communities throughout the empire reject many of those very same books and even differed in their own canons?

  343. Mark, Pardon the brevity:

    1-2. We will get into more detail on the canon & sola scriptura on the next couple lead articles. But I especially recommend the previous two 1. Christ Founded a Visible Church 2. Ecclesial Deism. Those two set the foundation. This article is the first layer. The next two will be the walls and the roof respectively. The foundation assumes things which I’m sure you reject. We need to get those cleared up before debating details on the specifics of the books.

    3 – In your illustration, the final authority, if anything, is neither the letter nor the messenger, it is the grandmother. Letter and messenger are just mediums. Besides, the question about sola scriptura is not about final authority. It’s about what is infallible.

    4-9 Can mostly be answered by getting the foundation straight as mentioned in 1-2. Once the foundation is right, we can re-visit any of those issues if they’re still problems.

  344. Mark Tucker:

    You are correct if you mean to say that Protestants PRESUME Sola Scriptura based on what we see to be valid tests (scripture itself, history, signs and wonders, church fathers, wide acceptance).

    Mark Tucker:

    I agree with you that passages such as “all scripture is useful for doctrine…” doesn’t indicate that scripture ALONE has authority (although it does show that it does HAVE authority).

    It seems to me that you are affirming that Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine is unscriptural in the sense that there are no scriptures that explicitly affirm Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura. You recognize that Protestants are basing their belief in sola scriptura on something that is other than scriptures; and that is a big problem for Protestants. The Protestant that believes that Protestant Bible ALONE is the sole source of infallible doctrine for Christians can only presume that the doctrine of sola scriptura doctrine is not in error. Why not just admit that Protestants believe that scripture has infallible authority, and that there are other sources of infallible authority that Protestants should accept too?

    If the Protestant apologist can’t name an infallible source of authority that he recognizes apart from the Protestant Bible, the Protestant apologist can never claim that the canon of scriptures is a settled matter. The Protestant apologist that engages in arguments with the Protestants that want to add the Gospel of Thomas to the canon cannot ever decisively settle the issue of the canon. At best, he can only list a bunch of fallible reasons why he believes what he believes, reasons which can (and will be) endlessly disputed by the Protestants that disagree with him.

    Let us recognize that Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura is not a doctrine about the authority of scriptures. It is instead, really nothing more than a denial of the doctrine that Christ established a divine teaching office within his Church that is protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error in matters of faith and morals. From this starting point, I believe you can come to understand the Catholic position. The novelty of Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine is the “ALONE” of his doctrine, not that scriptures HAVE authority.

    Mark Tucker:

    Just as in the same way you PRESUME the Church to have final authority based on valid tests (possibly the exact same ones as ours).

    I do not presume that the teaching office of the Catholic Church has infallibly decided the contents of the canon because of any particular methodology for testing scripture. I presume that the Catholic Church has infallibly spoken about the canon of scriptures because at the Ecumenical Council of Trent the bishops of Christ’s Church have exercised the authority of their teaching office in an extraordinary manner that is binding on all Christian.

    Mark Tucker:

    Finally, and again, you claim that Catholics have the higher ground because they “the Catholic’s certainty rests in a hierarchy established by Jesus Himself that claims a call from God the Father, promises from Jesus, and the protection of the Holy Spirit over the Church in establishing and preserving true doctrine. Assuming the truth of our shared premise that God exists in a Trinity of divine Persons, the Catholic Church’s claim has a sound Trinitarian bedrock, while the Protestant claim of self-authentication trusts neither the Trinity nor the Church, but rather relies on the intellectual prowess of a handful of 16th century intellectuals, the Reformers, and their ability to discern true Scripture from false.”

    This draws upon at least a couple presuppositions; one that the hierarchy that Jesus Christ established (early church fathers) used methods that were different than the Reformers and the Westminster Divines (examining books widely accepted as being legit, spiritual predecessors, prayer, guidance of the Holy Spirit and their own intellectual prowess).

    The Catholic presupposition is not that the “Reformers” made mistakes because they were using different methods for trying to establish the canon of scriptures. The Catholic presupposition is that because the “Reformers” were not bishops in union with Christ’s Church they were not vested with the power of a divinely established teaching office – a divine office that is guaranteed by Holy Spirit to be incapable of teaching error on matters of faith and morals.

    Nor is the Catholic Church presupposing that the “Reformers” did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that enlightened their human reasoning. The “Reformers” could make mistakes because the Holy Spirit did not protect their teaching from being in error about matters of faith and morals. That is the same reason that you, the members of CTC, and I can make mistakes in our reasoning. We can make mistakes because the sovereign Lord has not chosen to give us protection from making mistakes. The protection from teaching error in matters of faith and morals is given only to a few men within the Church that Christ founded, and then only under certain circumstances. Luther and Calvin committed grave sin when they went into schism with Christ’s Church and founded their own churches in which they granted to themselves the power of a teaching office.

    Mark Tucker:

    …if we use scripture itself to determine that WHO/WHAT it is that has the authority to identify doctrine (or scripture for that matter), then are we not placing scripture as the greater authority than the WHO/WHAT (The Church)?

    Yes, we would be doing that if we looked to scriptures as being the supreme source of authority for determining doctrine. But Catholics are not doing that.

    Paul writes to the Christians that they must accept the doctrines of the Church, thus the doctrines of the Church must have been known by the Church before the New Testament was written.

    The Scriptures don’t establish the divine authority of the teaching office of Christ’s Church, the teaching office of Christ’s Church establishes the authority of Scriptures, and the teaching office of Christ’s Church infallibly defines the canon of Scriptures for the Church. Luther’s canon is nothing more than the opinion of Luther, a man that had no share of the teaching office of Christ’s Church. Luther’s opinion about the canon has little to back it up other than Luther’s high opinion of his opinion!

    Mark Tucker:

    As you say Paul says in Ephesians 2:20 (again the chicken/egg dilemma) that the foundation for the church is built upon the Apostles and Prophets (as opposed to “The teachings of,” and I agree with you but this doesn’t prove your point still as I will show). You try to make the case that this sets a precedent for a human office as being “more foundational to the church than the teaching itself” (“MORE FOUNDATIONAL” is that really what Catholics believe?). However, read it again, in context, and consider what Paul may mean when he calls it a foundation. The options:
    a. foundation – the theological/doctrinal concepts that make up the identity of the church
    b. foundation – the ones who were physically and chronologically existent earlier as God’s people? For example, I am on the FOUNDING board of a school, by which we have set up a set philosophy of education which is the FOUNDATION of our school. So, am I the foundation of the school or is the philosophy of education the foundation of the school. Well, BOTH. And a person who writes the biography of our school could refer to me in only one capacity, the physical and chronological FOUNDATION of the school. So, here with Paul.
    c. foundation – the authoritative office of the Apostles and Prophets.
    d. foundation – all of the above.

    Neither a, b, c, or d from your list of options is the foundation that Paul is talking about in Ephesians 2:19-22: “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. “

    The apostles and the prophets are part of the foundation of the Church because they partake in the divine life of the Trinity. The Apostles partake in the divine life of the Trinity through Christ from whom they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The OT prophets partook in the life of the Trinity when the Holy Spirit would rest upon them and allow them to prophesy to what the Holy Spirit was saying to the People of God. Baptized infants are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”, not because they know the doctrines of the Church, but because they have received the gratuitous gift of partaking in the divine life of the Holy Trinity through the Sacrament of Baptism. The foundation of the “whole structure” (the Church) is NOT what is taught by the Church, it is the divine life of the Holy Trinity.

    Within this “structure” that is Christ’s Church, there is a teaching office established by Christ that is not a merely a human office; it is a divine office that can be held only by the successors to the Apostles (the bishops that are validly ordained). Recognizing that all Christians in a state of grace partake in the divine life of the Holy Trinity (including “Reformers”) does not entail recognition that all Christians are bishops vested with a share of the divine teaching office of Christ’s Church.

    Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets … Are all apostles? Are all prophets? … 1 Cor 12:28-29

  345. Thank you all for your thoughtful responses so far, I will chew on them, pray about them and then render them useless. KIDDING! I really am aiming for truth and trying to be open to enlightenment. Actually, my greater hope is that in the end we will side more with each other against the atheists. (This is also a test to see if I am capable of doing blockquotes).
    In Him,
    Mark

  346. Matt, Tim, Roma, etc,

    I am curious as to whether you and the RCC agree with your brother Matteo’s answers here, in general. That way when I address these questions, I can know whether it accurately represents the article written, or simply his opinion. I desire to try to stay as close to possible to the original article. No offense intended at all, Matteo. Thanks.

    Mark

  347. Mark, I’m sure Matteo and I agree substantially. The only issue I’d take, that I can see, with what he said is this:

    Why not just admit that Protestants believe that scripture has infallible authority, and that there are other sources of infallible authority that Protestants should accept too?

    This is a non-sequitur. I agree that the bible is not the only infallible source of authority, but it does not follow from your argument that there must be another infallible source. There could potentially be a sole infallible thing. That is not a contradiction in itself.

    Matteo is correct: Only the Church founded by Christ has the authority to speak on the issue of the canon.

  348. Roma you commented

    When you claim that Paul was referring to the New Testament, just what “New Testament” did you have in mind? Do you actually believe Paul, at the time of his writing, actually considered his letters to be Scripture? Do you truly believe that when Paul wrote concerning Scripture, he actually meant the 27 books that ultimately became the defined Canon of the New Testament? If that were indeed the case, why did several Christian communities throughout the empire reject many of those very same books and even differed in their own canons?

    I am not addressing, at this time the question of who has the most valid NT, only asking whether the author of the article intentionally dismisses Paul’s comments as referring to the NT (as well as his own words), simply because he didn’t have the books compiled, or written even. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say, the Catholic NT. I can’t say for certain, what Paul had in mind, but I do believe that God had in mind the fullness of his infallible word in scripture. If we go with the argument that Matt, and others of you have espoused then much of the OT prophecies also cannot possibly apply to NT events or words because NONE OF THEM HAD BEEN WRITTEN YET EITHER. See the logic?

    So please answer my question for yourself, do you believe, as others insinuate that God’s words, through Paul, do not take apply to or take into consideration the full canon of scripture? And, again, we’ll say your own canon.

    I am not arguing right now about WHICH books should be in the canon, because I am trying to stay focused on the points in the article.

    Thanks

  349. Mark,

    You still don’t get it; you insist that when Paul wrote such things concerning Scripture, he also actually meant the New Testament as well.

    Yet, you don’t see just how obviously anachronistic this is.

    When we mention the New Testament, we obviously refer to the 27 books that ultimately became the defined canon which incidentally was the result of church councils.

    However, you keep insisting that Paul was actually referring to these as well.

    Yet, the evidence itself would seem to contradict that since:

    1. If that were actually the case, many of the Christian communities (many of which were, in fact, established by Paul himself) would not have actually rejected the very books that came to comprise our New Testament.

    2. The canon of the various Christian communities would have been much more uniform in nature since, if Paul was actually referring to a specific set of books — as you seem to be claiming, the canon of books would have been much more consistent across these Christian communities, including exactly those books that ultimately comprised our New Testament.

    3. I personally find it hard to fathom that Paul would’ve actually regarded his own letters to rise to the stature of Scripture.

    4. Just because those very things (the epistles, etc.) were actually completed by those days does not mean that Paul and these Christian communities automatically regarded these as the New Testament Scripture that we’ve come to regard them now. You keep on operating on the failed logic that since these writings were completed by then; therefore, they somehow automatically became the ‘New Testament’ as we know them now.

    Yet, you haven’t even made that case.

    In fact, you haven’t even made the case that (1) when Paul wrote such things concerning Scripture, he was actually referring to something even known as the New Testament; (2) and even if there was truly such a thing as the New Testament then, what books exactly did it comprise of; (3) or if the New Testament, as you seem to claim, referred precisely to the 27 books that we have come to know them now — just what proof do you have to corroborate such a claim; (4) if there was such a thing as the New Testament then, and if it were exactly those 27 books, how would you resolve the historical difficulties surrounding this claim since the canons amongst several Christian communities throughout the empire differed to such extent that many of them rejected even these books that were later to comprise our New Testament?

    Quite simply, you keep on making the assertion that Paul was actually referring to the ‘New Testament’ when he mentions Scripture in his own writings, but you have yet to make the case that there was actually a ‘New Testament’ to begin with.

    If that were even so, then kindly provide answer to the above questions since even the historical data itself would appear to contradict such a claim.

    And it doesn’t help merely to say that the writings themselves were completed by then.

    Just because they were doesn’t automatically mean that these were considered Scripture, as even history itself clearly demonstrates.

  350. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say, the Catholic NT.

    By the way, do you even know that what the Catholic Church defined/reaffirmed as the New Testament (i.e., the 27 books) through local church councils at Rome 382, Hippo 393 and Carthage 397, happens to be the very same set of books that Protestants continue to regard as the New Testament even now?

  351. Roma,

    Your last two comments are below the standard of charity that we expect and seek to maintain here at CTC. Comments like “Do you even know …” and “You still don’t it .. ” are rude, patronizing and uncharitable. If you wish to continue commenting here, all that sort of stuff needs to be eliminated from your comments.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  352. Bryan:

    Other than what you perceived to be wrong with my comments, will you kindly tell me if you happen to disagree with the substance of their contents? If so, point to precisely what is the matter with them?

  353. Roma,

    Because of other responsibilities, I am unable at present to take the time to address the substance of this discussion. I intend to be back next week.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  354. Bryan, Tim or whoever is moderating -Please feel free to move my comment to another place but I had to share since we are Called To Communion

    This is an awesome day! Our Lord’s prayer for Unity will be fulfilled!

    The prayers of millions have been answered and Christian history has been made on October 20, 2009. ‘May They Be One’. In an absolutely stunning announcement on the morning of October 20, 2009, the Holy See has, by Apostolic Constitution, provided the canonical vehicle for Anglican Christians to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Throughout the evening expectations rose throughout the world along with the fervent prayers of millions who have longed to see this day.

    http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=34677

  355. Mark Tucker

    I am curious as to whether you and the RCC agree with your brother Matteo’s answers here, in general. That way when I address these questions, I can know whether it accurately represents the article written, or simply his opinion. I desire to try to stay as close to possible to the original article. No offense intended at all, Matteo. Thanks.

    Mark, no offence taken. Obviously if I quote the scriptures, the CCC, or sources that I did not write, I am not giving you my opinion. If you don’t consider me to be a source of infallible authority about what Catholics must believe, your are doing the right thing. ;-)

    Tim Troutman Mark, I’m sure Matteo and I agree substantially. The only issue I’d take, that I can see, with what he said is this:

    ”Why not just admit that Protestants believe that scripture has infallible authority, and that there are other sources of infallible authority that Protestants should accept too?”

    This is a non-sequitur. I agree that the bible is not the only infallible source of authority, but it does not follow from your argument that there must be another infallible source. There could potentially be a sole infallible thing. That is not a contradiction in itself.

    Tim, I meant that as a rhetorical question, not as a logical argument. Let me clarify.

    Mark Tucker and Ken Taylor both claim to believe in sola scriptura, but they have differing opinions as to whether or not sola scriptura is itself an infallible doctrine.

    Mark Tucker is willing to admit that Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura is unscriptural in the sense that there are no scriptures in the Protestant Bible that explicitly affirm Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine. But Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine asserts that the Protestant Bible with the Luther canon is the ONLY infallible authority for Christians. Because of this, Mark Tucker is in the position of believing that a foundational belief of his faith (sola scriptura) cannot be known to be an infallible doctrine. Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine could be wrong, and Mark has no way of knowing with infallible certainty whether it is right or wrong. Hence my rhetorical question, which meant to convey this idea – why not just scrap the doctrine of sola scriptura and build up a new Protestant faith that admits that scriptures have infallible authority, and that there are other sources of infallible authority besides the Protestant Bible. Then one could at least claim that all the essential doctrines of this new Protestant faith are infallible. I personally can’t fathom why anyone would want to believe in a religion that claims that the only source of infallible authority for believers is a bible – a bible that no one knows with certainty whether or not it is missing books, or may even contain books that don’t belong in the bible. What kind of foundation is that for a religion? The Koran at least, testifies that the Koran the final revelation from God, but the Protestant Bible makes no claim like that for itself.

    In contrast to Mark Tucker, Ken Taylor is trying to assert that the Protestant Bible does, in fact, attest to Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine – and Ken is tying himself in knots trying to prove it. He argues that when Paul affirms that scriptures have authority that Paul is consciously aware of the fact that he is writing an Epistle that is part of Luther’s canon of scriptures. Perhaps I am misunderstanding Ken, but he seems to believe that when Paul writes “all scripture is useful for doctrine” that Paul is referring to books of the NT that had not yet even been written yet (e.g. Revelation).

    Ken Taylor has referenced scriptures from the Protestant Bible that he believes supports Luther’s novelty of ALONE, but the only scriptures that he has quoted testify to what Mark Tucker has said in his post # 337:

    “I agree with you that passages such as “all scripture is useful for doctrine…” doesn’t indicate that scripture ALONE has authority (although it does show that it does HAVE authority).”

    Ken Taylor has yet to give any scriptures that supports Luther’s ALONE novelty, and he can’t do that, because there aren’t any scriptures in the Protestant Bible that testify to Luther’s ALONE novelty.

    The biggest problem so far for Ken Taylor has been to justify why he believes the Protestant Bible has a canon that has been infallibly defined, and at the same time, maintain that the Protestant Bible is the ONLY source of infallible authority for Christians. In reality, Ken Taylor is in no different a position that Mark Tucker, i.e. by maintaining that the Protestant Bible is the ONLY infallible authority, Ken Taylor is put into a position of not knowing with infallible certainty if the canon of his Protestant Bible is actually correct.

  356. Matteo:

    Tim, I meant that as a rhetorical question, not as a logical argument. Let me clarify.

    I gotcha.

    Also, you keep saying Ken Taylor – are you talking about Ken Temple or is there another Ken I don’t know about?

  357. Tim Troutman

    Also, you keep saying Ken Taylor – are you talking about Ken Temple or is there another Ken I don’t know about?

    I should have said Ken Temple, not Ken Taylor. Sheesh! I feel like an idiot – I see that I have been doing that for a while too. :-( Mea Culpa! I apologize if I offended Ken Temple.

    Ken Taylor is the author of the Living Bible, although you won’t find his name printed anywhere in the Living Bible.

  358. Do you actually believe Paul, at the time of his writing, actually considered his letters to be Scripture?

    Yes

    “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” I Corinthians 14:37

    “Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
    To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. “
    I Corinthians 1:1-3

    “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were [past tense – his preaching in person when there with them] not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak [changes to present tense – now; that is, his letter to them] wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
    . . .
    For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, [present tense, the letter is speaking with apostolic authority and wisdom of the Spirit of God] not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
    I Corinthians 2:3-16
    I Corinthians 4:6
    “do not go beyond what is written”

    Galatians 1:6-11
    “As we have said before, so I say again now, [by writing this command and letter to you] if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:9)
    I Thessalonians 2:13
    “. . . you received it not as the word of men, but as the word of God . . . “

    I Thessalonians 4:1-8
    Verse 8
    “So he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”
    Colossians 4:16
    “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you for your part reach my letter that is coming from Laodicea.”
    I Timothy 4:13
    “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture [my letters and OT Scripture] to exhortation and teaching.” (implied by the “until I come”)
    I Timothy 5:18
    “For the Scripture says . . . [quotes from Deut. 25:4, possibly I Cor. 9:9, Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7, I Corinthians 9:14]
    2 Timothy 3:15-17
    Verse 15 – clearly the OT – the sacred writings you knew from childhood
    Verse 16 – he expands it to the NT with the phrase “all Scripture”
    Verse 17 – the purpose of God giving Scripture for the church – so that the leaders (men of God) will be equipped and thoroughly furnished for every good work. Scripture is sufficient for every good in the church for the qualified elder (man of God) in the church.
    Since he calls Luke (10:7) and Matthew (10:10) in I Timothy 5:18, “Scripture” as the same level as Deuteronomy, and he knew his preaching was apostolic authority from the Sprit of God; and he writes letters further explaining and clarifying the same message, and several times he says, “this is the Holy Spirit speaking”; and “I am writing the commands of the Lord”, yes, Paul knew he was writing Scripture.
    So, in 2 Timothy 3:15-17, we know that 2 Timothy is the last book written by the apostle Paul before he is executed by Nero.
    If it is his last book, then he is at least including all of his previous letters and Matthew and Luke in “all Scripture” in 2 Timothy 3:16. So, Sola Scriptura is taught in principle, even though a few of the NT books have not been written yet. Definitely, Matt Y. is wrong to say that “most of the NT is still unwritten when Paul was writing [2 Timothy].
    Most of the NT was written by the time of 2 Timothy.
    Since Mark (48-55 AD) and James (48 AD) and I Peter (64 AD) were written before then, then we can reasonable assume that he would include them also. Acts was written in 61 AD, we know from the internal evidence and abrupt ending; and so Luke was before this; so Paul knew about this book and knew Luke.
    So, we have Hebrews, written about 68-69 AD. (internal evidence shows it was written before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD)
    2 Peter – 3:16 – Peter affirms all of Paul’s writings as Scripture. Peter wrote this before his death in 67 AD under Nero also. So this is around the same time as Paul’s 2 Timothy, probably a little afterward.
    All that is left is:
    The gospel of John
    The 3 epistles of John
    Revelation
    Jude
    To me, there is strong evidence that Revelation was written also around that time, in 68-69 AD, before Nero died, because of the 6th king in Rev. 17:10 “five have fallen, one is”
    The one living now at the time of writing Revelation is Nero. His name in Hebrew comes out to 666; and the temple is still standing in Rev. 11.
    1. Julius Caesar
    2. Augustus
    3. Tiberius
    4. Caligula
    5. Claudius
    “5 have fallen” – 5 have died; from “the city on seven hills” (Rome) (Rev. 17:9)
    6. Nero – “one is”
    I will go with the conservative scholars who believe that Revelation was written before 70 AD; and therefore, the Gospel and 3 letters of John also.
    Only Jude is probably to have been written after 70 AD.
    And he says, “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”
    Since “God-breathed-ness” is what makes Scripture “canon” or “standard” / “rule” / “law” / “principle” / “criterion” and all of these books were God-breathed, therefore they were “canon” when they were written, so the issue of existence vs. recognition is important for the Protestant position.

    Do you truly believe that when Paul wrote concerning Scripture, he actually meant the 27 books that ultimately became the defined Canon of the New Testament?

    Yes, in principle, as I demonstrated above. Since he does include the OT and at least Matthew and Luke and his own letters, he teaches it by principle, even though a few books are still left to complete the canon, at the time of Paul’s writing.

  359. Dear Ken Temple,

    I used some plain language when correcting your behavior above. I apologize from my heart for losing my patience. You certainly deserved better! In fact, when I said that I would pray for you, what I was trying to say is that I recognize (in spite of myself) that you deserve to be treated as well as I treat my friends, so I would try to pray for you in the same way that I pray for them. But the way it sounded was the opposite (along the lines of: you’re an especially bad person so I will pray for you so that you might become better by miraculous intervention). I should have been clearer, but I wasn’t clear because I had lost my patience. So I apologize to all for my fault!

    Thank you for being gracious enough to start engaging the arguments that I put forth to respond to your points. Before our moderators close all discussion on the papacy and early evidence, I would recommend to you Ken (and to Catholics scandalized by your comments) that we think clearly about four things: (a) Irenaeus, (b) Cyprian, (c) the sparseness of the early evidence, and (d) the clarity and richness of later evidence.

    (a) Imagine that your boss decided to fire a fellow co-worker without good reason. Depending on the circumstances, a storm of protest would arise from your comrades. Some people would reason with him gently. Others would say “you have no right!” But no one would simply laugh him off and say: “ok, well, whatever you think, he’s still working here because you’re not actually in charge, smart guy! (chuckle) see you at the meeting” But that last response is exactly what you would say if the person threatening to fire your colleague was just a fellow co-worker, with no authority to do such a thing. Thus, it appears that Victor’s threat of excommunication evidently meant the excommunication of the Asian churches from more than merely the residents of the city of Rome. That is precisely why so many people felt reason to protest (though not everyone actually disagreed, interestingly!), and why no one seems to have merely chuckled (the only natural response to someone who has invented such an authority which no one else recognizes).

    (b) Cyprian wrote more than just De Unitate. In his letters (which, correct me if I’m wrong, have none of the same controversy about “roman” vs other versions) he affirms a type of doctrinal infallibility of Rome (though his actions show that he doesn’t think that this infallibility naturally adheres to every roman pronouncement — and guess what: neither do modern Catholics!). Here is a relevant text:

    “Post ista adhuc pseudoepiscopo sibi ab haereticis constituto nauigare audent, et ad Petri Cathedram adque ad ecclesiam principalem unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est ab schismaticis et profanis litteras ferre, nec cogitare eos esse Romanos, quorum fides Apostolo praedicante laudata est, ad quos perfidia habere non possit accessum

    (After all this, they yet in addition, having had a false bishop ordained for them by heretics, dare to set sail, and to carry letters from schismatic and profane persons to the chair of Peter, and to the principal church, whence the unity of the priesthood [sacerdotal unity] took its rise [or has its source]. They fail to reflect that those Romans are the same as those whose faith was publicly praised by the apostle, to whom unbelief [or error, heresy, perversion of faith] cannot have access. Epistle 59:14; Giles, page 60)”

    It is this kind of nuance which makes your claims about Cyprian and other early evidence demolishing the papal claims in one stroke so offensive, especially considering you’ve been arguing about this — by your own admission — for years.

    (c) You seem to have admitted in your response above that the early evidence doesn’t have all the details necessary to construct bullet proof arguments for or against the papacy. I want to run with this theme a little, because I think it is the key to many of the problems in your attempts to evangelize and to criticize others. We know very little about the first two centuries of the church. We know a fair amount of the first half of the third century, but then almost nothing from 260 to 310. When the evidence picks up again, there is near unanimity among people who are orthodox on other measures that the pope carries some kind of irreformable doctrinal primacy. There is more disagreement about his jurisdictional authority, but this is what you’d expect from an era in which canon law was still developing (largely, in the west I believe, developing by decree of the pope). You need to realize that not only is the early evidence consistent with the Catholic claims (when you abandon out-of-context proof-texting) but furthermore the early evidence is too sparse to allow us to reach conclusions as firm as the later evidence demands. Therefore, if you believe that the early Church did not have an authoritative papacy, it is not because the early data “demands” that belief. The data is too sparse to demand almost anything. Rather, you have theological and scriptural and philosophical reasons for your belief, and you are using those reasons to interpret the early evidence in your direction, finally assuming that the later unambiguous papal power was a corruption and not a development. Therefore, while there is nothing wrong with pointing out that one can construe early papal evidence from the period of sparse data in a protestant direction, you need to simultaneously admit: (1) that they could be construed in a catholic direction, and (2) that your protestant evidence comes from the sparsest period of data. Once the data is richer, the catholic claims are supported by a rich data set that allows us to test protestant interpretations and reject them. Thus, your argument really depends on theology, and you should start thinking about that: the main articles here at CTC are a good place to start.

    God bless all of you, and take care,

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  360. Ken Temple

    So, Sola Scriptura is taught in principle, even though a few of the NT books have not been written yet.

    All the scriptures you quote in your post #358 testify that the Apostle Paul believes that he holds a teaching office within the Church, and that he writes with an authority that comes from being inspired by the Holy Spirit. These scriptures support the doctrine of an authoritative teaching office within Christ’s Church. The Catholic Church does not dispute that the Epistles of Paul were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    I notice that you are backing off a little bit on your claim that the Protestant Bible ALONE is the sole source of authority for Christians. You are now claiming that sola scriptura is taught in principle, even though there isn’t anything in the scriptures that you quoted that supports this claim. Not one of these verses says anything about the Protestant Bible being the ONLY source of authority for Christians.

    The brings us to yet another problem with sola scriptura doctrine, the problem of perspicuity. Even if the Protestant Bible is the only source of infallible doctrine for Christians, how can anyone be sure that their interpretations of the Protestant Bible are infallible? There are thousands upon thousands of Protestant sects that claim that the perspicuous nature of the Protestant Bible allows them a clear understanding of Christian doctrine, and yet these thousands of bickering and contentious Protestant sects teach conflicting doctrine!

    From Matt Yonke’s article:

    … even if there were a case to be made from the Scriptures for the perspicuity of the Scriptures, reality tells a different story. Learned Scripture scholars and even the revered figures of various modern Reformed communities cannot agree on what “the gospel” is, much less on the meaning of the Sacraments or any number of other topics of great doctrinal importance. The Federal Vision controversy is a striking testament to this discord. This, of course, is why we see such disparate faiths and practices among our Protestant brothers, even among our Reformed brothers who hold to a common set of confessions. The Reformed have 21 denominations in Switzerland, 14 in the UK and 44 in the US, all divided because of some irreconcilable doctrinal difference.

    Ken, how do you explain the scandal of Protestant division, and the fact that there is no agreement about what constitutes infallible doctrine among the thousands of Protestant sects that confess belief in sola scriptura?

  361. Professor K. Doran,
    Thank you for the kind apology; accepted of course.

    I will have to read more of Cyprian’s epistle. It took me a long time to find it at http://www.ccel.org because you used the Oxford edition of 59, but at the websites it is Letter # 54.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf05.iv.iv.liv.html

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050654.htm

    I agree that the more ancient history is, the less information we have on it; this is true of many things. It seems also clear that the sparsity of information of the first 3 centuries is due to persecution and that Romans burned a lot of the Scriptures. The Christian movement did not have political power or even societal power – they had the Holy Spirit power and were killed; many of the first Christians were the poor, women, and slaves, etc. It is understandable that we don’t have that much information.

    Of course after Constantine’s time, (312-313 Edit of Toleration, 325 Nicea, etc.) after the church becomes legal, and then after Theodosius in 380 when the church and state are married, there is even more information. It was around this time – a little later (440- 461- Leo I ) that the bishop of Rome begins to really have growing power in the Christian world – did he not write the tome of Christ’s two natures? Chalcedon 451 ? .

    It is understandable how the papacy developed, considering that Rome was the capital of the Empire and the only western apostolic see, and the east fell to Islam later. The Greek east and the Latin west began to drift apart before Islam over-ran the east.

    I want to read more of that letter and then, Lord willing, make more comments later.

  362. Dear Professor Doran

    I am thrilled that you are once again sharing your knowledge and wisdom at CTC! You are an excellent teacher, as well as a godly man with a true heart for Our Lord.

    May the peace of Christ be with you,
    Teri

  363. Dear Mr. Temple,

    I am so happy to see you in dialogue with Professor Doran. Even if you may not agree, you will certainly find his recommendations of sources to be excellent reading for greater understanding of the early church.

    I’m glad to see you engaging with him.
    Blessings to you this day,
    Teri
    p.s. Yes, the picture on Facebook I saw was of you and your beautiful wife (per your description).

  364. All the scriptures you quote in your post #358 testify that the Apostle Paul believes that he holds a teaching office within the Church, and that he writes with an authority that comes from being inspired by the Holy Spirit. These scriptures support the doctrine of an authoritative teaching office within Christ’s Church. The Catholic Church does not dispute that the Epistles of Paul were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    Paul was an apostle. He wrote letters to the churches; and those letters are more than just authoritative, they are infallible and inerrant. They are still here with us to read and obey. They are the final infallible rule; they are “God speaking”. Paul assumes this by his writing, “I am saying to you now” (by writing) – Galatians 1:9 – “as we said before” [oral authoritative, infallible teaching, same as what he says in 1 Thess. 2:13 - his preaching was not the words of men, but the word of God; therefore the writings are the infallible word of God.]
    “so I also say now,[by his letter] if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed.”

    But do you believe that the current teaching office of the RCC is able to write inspired Scripture or teach something at the same level of inspiration and authority as the Scriptures?

    Of course you don’t.

    That is the point; these letters as inspired Scripture, are above the church. The church is supposed to submit to them.

    I notice that you are backing off a little bit on your claim that the Protestant Bible ALONE is the sole source of authority for Christians. You are now claiming that sola scriptura is taught in principle, even though there isn’t anything in the scriptures that you quoted that supports this claim. Not one of these verses says anything about the Protestant Bible being the ONLY source of authority for Christians.

    I have not backed off of any thing. Protestants have always said that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is taught by principle in the Scriptures; (some of which I have put forth); it has never demanded the explicit wording that you are demanding, “the Scriptures (the 27 books of the NT) are the only infallible rule of faith and practice for the church”. This is taught without having to have the exact phrasing and words that you are demanding, in the same way that the doctrine of the Trinity is taught in the Scriptures, even though the word “Tri-Unitas”, which is two Latin words, is not there in the Scriptures. The teaching is there, even though the word “homo-ousias” is not there; and also “three hypostasis”/ three persona is not there in explicit words, it is there in teaching.

    This teaching of Sola Scritpura in the Scriptures itself in principle is what I have always said.

  365. Dear Ken Temple,

    You said: “Of course after Constantine’s time, (312-313 Edit of Toleration, 325 Nicea, etc.) after the church becomes legal, and then after Theodosius in 380 when the church and state are married, there is even more information. It was around this time – a little later (440- 461- Leo I ) that the bishop of Rome begins to really have growing power in the Christian world – did he not write the tome of Christ’s two natures? Chalcedon 451 ? .”

    I am glad you’re going to read more about this. One thing that I think you will find is that Popes immediately before Leo (Damasus, Innocent, Zosimus, Celestine) claimed similar powers over doctrine and their claims were accepted by the orthodox but often rejected (with violence, torture, and intrigue) by the heterodox. This is the correlation (between christological orthodoxy and papal beliefs; between the use of the law and papal beliefs; between christological heresy, illegal violence, deceit, and anti-papal beliefs) that you will have to confront as you look at the evidence from the age of Arius forward. Finally, you need to modify the phrase “begins to really have growing power.” In order to prove this from the evidence alone, you would need less sparse evidence from the earlier period. What evidence you have from the earlier period is consistent with both protestant and Catholic interpretations of papal power, though many Catholics (and even some protestants) believe that it is much more consistent with Catholic interpretations, for some of the reasons I cited above . Thus, you need to say: “the evidence could be construed as growing papal power throughout the first 400 years of the Church, though the reason I believe so strongly that the power was growing (and not always there) is because I have theological reasons that are firmer than the sparse evidence itself.” This is fine. Then we can talk theology (or more precisely, you can talk theology with people who know it, such as the CTCers).

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

    p.s. Thank you for your extreme politeness; please don’t bother calling me professor. :) Just call me K. or K-man. or K. Doran. If, in the future, I am responsible for assigning you a grade, you can call me professor then (and bring me free food to improve your chances!).
    p.p.s. I may not be able to post much for the next week. But please take a look at Dom John Chapman’s “the first eight general councils and papal infallibility” It is available for free on google books. It is a very very quick and quite informative read. It demonstrates the correlation that I describe above, and is a good place to start (but not to finish) for confronting this correlation seriously.

  366. Regarding the scandal of Protestant denominations . . .

    The Roman Catholic Church is just a much a part of that “scandal”; you cannot claim that you are also not part of the problem historically; your church is dis unified from us (we believe we are right against you; so you are the ones in rebellion to the gospel, in our understanding of truth and the Scriptures and what the gospel is); and you have divisions within yourself. The Disunity started with the RCC itself in history by the way in which it claimed absolute authority in the Middle Ages to the time of the Reformation; and would not submit itself to Scripture.

    You are not immune in 2 ways:
    1. The fact that the RCC itself is a division from Protestantism. History – Luther /Calvin – Trent and response
    2. There are many divisions within the RCC itself – Mattatics/sedevacantism/ Traditional RCC/Tridentide/Latin mass only/pre-Vatican 2 followers/society of Pius X

    Then there are those that give lip -service to “the unity with the Pope, etc” but don’t follow it in a practical way or even disagree with some issues. Roman Catholics for women priests, homosexuality, married priests, contraception, other issues. RCC is not unified.

    Either having Scripture alone as the final authority (Sola Scriptura) or Sola Ecclesia (the church is the final authority- the way the RCC operates) does not keep people from not consistently following their own standard. Just because people rebel against the standard does not mean the standard is wrong.

    We at the 2 web-sites below, actually have a better unity around the gospel than the RCC does with the Trad/Trent/no salvation outside the church vs. post Vatican 2′s/atheists and Muslims can be saved without Christ; yet disagree in smaller matters here.
    http://www.t4g.org

    and

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/

    Most of those Presbyterian groups disagree with each other in secondary matters. (The RCC itself has secondary matters, so you cannot object to that in principle.) If they are liberal as a whole denomination, then they have actually anathematized themselves by leaving the faith itself. That is not an argument against Sola Scriptura or the perspicuity of Scripture.

  367. Roma (and others)

    Others: I hate to keep asking this question, but I feel it necessary in order to keep track with the RCC position on things as presented by the article. Is Roma’s position that Paul did not consider himself to be writing Sacred Scripture AND that God’s words, through him, do not apply to all of scripture (retro-actively at least)?

    Roma, you said

    Quite simply, you keep on making the assertion that Paul was actually referring to the ‘New Testament’ when he mentions Scripture in his own writings, but you have yet to make the case that there was actually a ‘New Testament’ to begin with.

    But, thankfully we have my very words recorded as Sola Tuckera that that is NOT what I asserted, Rather, what I said was…

    I can’t say for certain, what Paul had in mind, but I do believe that God had in mind the fullness of his infallible word in scripture. If we go with the argument that Matt, and others of you have espoused then much of the OT prophecies also cannot possibly apply to NT events or words because NONE OF THEM HAD BEEN WRITTEN YET EITHER. See the logic?

    Which means that while if I were arguing with an atheist I would concede the point, because the concept of a God who sees beyond time is ridiculous. But I am not. Rather, I am debating a fellow believer whom I thought believed that the human authors of scripture were writing under the influence of a God who foresaw the future (as well as seeing the present) and therefore the words written were applicable to all Past, Present, and Future in an infallible manner.

    I understand your point that Paul couldn’t possibly have had in mind all 27 books of the NT (and by the way I only make the distinction between the Catholic NT and the Protestant, because I wasn’t sure if the Catholics recognize our NT as being authoritative. I apologize if the distinction was offensive to your intellect). Probably you are correct. But again, that doesn’t prove the point in the article, or that others like you have made that simply because the 27 hadn’t been recognized his words don’t apply to the 27.

    So, I ask again, a third time:
    Do you believe, as others insinuate that God’s words, through Paul, do not take apply to or take into consideration the full canon of scripture?

    In Him,
    Mark

  368. Dear Ken Temple,

    My friend alerted me to the final comment in your response that I hadn’t noticed. I will respond to that in his words, and then I will have to leave for a while, coming back in a week to check in on things.

    You said: “It is understandable how the papacy developed, considering that Rome was the capital of the Empire and the only western apostolic see, and the east fell to Islam later. ”

    As my friend pointed out to me: “At the time of Pope St Leo, Rome was a burned-out mess of a town. The political center of gravity was Constantinople and had been for some time. In fact, in 476, just 25 years after the Council of Chalcedon, Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman emperor, was deposed by the Germanic general Odoacer. If it weren’t for the papacy, the Patriarch of Constantinople would have been the politically likely bishop to “emerge” as primus inter pares among Christian bishops.”

    I agree completely. The center of imperial activity was in the East throughout most of the christological controversies that exposed the Pope’s strength, from the 300′s through the end of inconoclasm in the 800s. Thus, Leo’s strength (and the strength that previous popes had borne during Ephesus, and the strength that later popes bore while Rome was in ruins) came from another source: the general recognition among christologically orthodox people that the bishop of “elder Rome” was “head of the Church.”

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  369. The political primacy of Rome began to decline when Diocletian introduced the diarchy and then the tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century. In 330, Constantine established Constantinople as the eastern capital, and Milan, not Rome, was the western capital. In 403, the western capital was moved to Ravenna by Honorius, where the last western emperor (Romulus) was deposed in 476.

  370. Mark,

    Do you believe, as others insinuate that God’s words, through Paul, do not take apply to or take into consideration the full canon of scripture?

    That’s just it — what “full canon of scripture”?

    I hope you can understand why I remain unmoved since you are basically asking me to concede to the argument that there actually was a “full canon of scripture” then when you have yet to make the case that there was to begin with.

    This is what I would regard as an example of petitio principii.

    Practically asking me to concede to your point without your first proving it is not the way to go about this.

    Now, I’m more than willing to entertain any of your arguments (since, clearly, you appear to be more than willing to engage in good-faith discussions), so long as they are reasonable arguments to begin with.

    Pace Bryan, Andrew, Doran et al., charity does not mean accepting fallacy.

    and by the way I only make the distinction between the Catholic NT and the Protestant, because I wasn’t sure if the Catholics recognize our NT as being authoritative. I apologize if the distinction was offensive to your intellect

    It appears as though you did not know that it was from the Catholic councils of Rome, Carthage and Hippo that we obtained the canon of Scripture, including the 27 books that comprise the New Testament.

    In fact, that very canon (both Old & New — which is actually the same canon Catholics continue to subscribe to even today) was long held by Christians in all of Western Christendom until the time of the Reformation.

    At that time, certain books of the once generally accepted Old Testament canon were rejected outright by certain reformers simply due to personal theological preferences since a certain of these corroborated long-held traditional Christian doctrines such as Purgatory.

    In fact, if it weren’t for Melanchthon, Luther himself would have rejected even books in the New Testament canon as well.

    This is why the Council of Trent found it necessary to define once and for all what those earlier local councils of Rome, Hippo and Carthage themselves did in earlier days; that is, the Canon of Old and New Testament which earlier councils affirmed/reaffirmed then was now via Trent concluded to be final.

  371. Greetings to all at CTC. I have been following this article for some time, but only now have the time to comment. I hope that my thoughts are within the bounds of what is considered “on topic” (I think they are!), and I hope that I am not repeating something already argued. You folks do seem to write an awful lot, so forgive me if I delve into an area which has already been covered.

    It seems to me that everyone is dancing around a very central issue — almost, but not quite stating it. So please allow me to put it as simply as I can.

    Proposal: Anyone who claims to know the content of Scripture – the “List of Books” – is claiming an infallible source for this knowledge.

    Before I am taken out of context, let me give some clarification. When I say that I know Genesis, or Acts, or Wisdom are Scripture, I am not making the claim that I am somehow infallible. But rather that my source for this knowledge – whence I learned it – is infallible. At least infallible in this specific arena. In my case it is the Catholic Church who holds this knowledge and passes it on to me.

    Why must this source be infallible? This actually transcends any argument about interpretation or exegesis. Before you can even think of saying something is or is not Biblical, you have to actually know what the true Inspired Word is! Put another way, if the content of what you call “scripture” is fallible, then you can be the best exegete in the world, but you cannot claim you know you have drawn out any conclusion from the Word of God. After all, by admitting a fallible source for knowledge of what constitutes Scripture, you acknowledge that you may actually be analyzing something other than the Word of God.

    Now I have already claimed the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as my source. Others may push this back even further and claim God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, as their infallible source. Since we all believe that the Holy Spirit is the principal author of the Scriptures, this may seem reasonable. After all, wouldn’t God be in the best position to define what is and is not His Word? If one were to then claim the Holy Spirit as their infallible source of knowledge of what is and is not Scriptural content, then I would have to follow up with the question, “Where does the Holy Spirit communicate this knowledge?” Is it through a church? If so, through which church? Is it inscribed on golden tablets? Is it placed in the heart and soul of each believer as God converts them to him? Or is it by some other means? Since there are various and competing Lists of Books, and at most, only one of those lists can be the correct one; it follows that for human beings to know the content of Scripture, the Holy Spirit must infallibly communcate that content to at least one natural agency. This can be a church, churches, an individual, multiple personalities, Tradition, etc. Of course, Protestants deny that any of these can be infallible.

    Some will try to side-step the need for some form of infallible knowledge. They will claim something akin to a fallible list of infallible books. This is generally taken to mean that while the list may be fallible, each book which made the list is truly God-breathed Scripture. Or it is the admission that some Scripture may be missing, but nothing incorrect made it on to the list. As one would imagine, I see several problems with that. Note that the Scribes’ concept of only the first five books being true Scripture meets this definition; as does the entire content of the Old Testament. If Marcion’s choice for Letter to the Laodiceans is actually Ephesians, then his canon also meets this criteria. It’s plain to see that an incomplete List of Books leads to and supports entirely incorrect conclusions which would need some form of external correction (not supercession) in order to avoid these errors. Because the fallible list of infallible books concept admits the possibility of incompleteness of the canon, it is a tacit admission of the need for this external corrective (but not supercessive) factor. As an aside, the “not-wrong-ness” of fallible collection … is extremely similar to the general concept which Catholics mean when they discuss infallibility — and Protestants deny this concept in general. How can they affirm it here?

    But the fallible list … still does not answer how that list was communicated to God’s people. How does one know that in this case “fallible” means “perhaps incomplete, but nothing incorrect included” rather than, well, for lack of a better term, “fallible,” or “possibly wrong?” Including an incorrect book to the list would be even worse than missing a book which should have been included. So we find ourselves back to the need for some agency which receives that communication from the Holy Spirit in an infallible manner just to arrive back at the “not wrong” prospect. But what agency receives that communication? It remains unanswered by our Protestant brothers and sisters – especially since they deny that an earthly agency (including Tradition) can perform this reception.

    Still others will grant the Church this limited level of infallibility in defining the List of Books. But they will posit that this charism is limited only to identifying that list and that it was turned off once the list was identified. Again, I see several problems. The first being that it grants an infallible source outside of the Scripture. The doctrine of sola Scriptura is no longer sola by definition. Second, the turning on and off charisms – blessings of the Holy Spirit – for God’s faithful is not defined in the Scripture. There is no reason, other than, “because I say so,” for this particular charism to be turned off. Third, it has been acknowledged on both sides that the process of identifying the List of Books was worked out over time. Over considerable time. So when was the process completed for the charism to be turned off? Did Luther have this charism when he defined his canon? Or had it been decided before him? By whom? By what means would the Protestant say that they (whomever may have decided the matter before Luther if it was indeed decided earlier than him) held this particular charism? How do we know that we are not still in the process of identifying Scripture, thus in an age where this limited infallibility charism is still in effect? Finally, since this concept requires a limited (in both scope and in time) infallibility to be absolutely true to be able to receive the correct Scripture, and since this limited infallibility is not defined in the Scripture, we need the doctrine which defines this limited infallibility to be infallible itself!

    Lastly, we get those who put forth the idea that the Holy Spirit infallibly communicated the content of the Scriptures to us via a historical process. Ken Temple has provided a very spirited defense of this. And over all the years I’ve interacted with Ken, this is probably the best defense I’ve seen him write of the History Got it Right concept. Ken, I congratulate you on your research and thinking this out. But I still have many more questions than the answers which you provide. My first question is actually with your third bullet where you say that universal acceptance is part of the criteria in defining what needs to be received as Scripture. This seems to be very closely aligned with the Catholic (and Orthodox) concept of Tradition. Since there were disputes which were worked out over time, neither you nor we take “universal acceptance” to mean “each and every Church father.” So how does this plank of your defense differ from an infallible Tradition used to define the content of Scripture?

    But your first 2 criteria are wide open as well. What does it take to be “an apostle or an associate of the apostles?” In 1 Thes 2:6-7 the authors of the letter are identified as “apostles.” Those authors are Paul, Silas and Timothy. Do we need to search out writings of Silas and Timothy to determine if they are Scriptural? In 1 Cor 5:9, Paul mentions a letter he had previously written the Corinthians. This letter contained authoritative direction (to avoid associations with sexually immoral people). Why is this apostolic and authoritative/directive letter not scriptural? While Barnabas seems to be a good candidate for author of Hebrews, there is sparse evidence which can definitively tie it to any author (I do not consider a single reference by Tertullian, in his heretical period, to be trustworthy). Additionally, Clement is identified as an associate of the apostles (Phil 4:3) and his Letter to the Corinthians was read by them during their worship services as late as 100 years after he wrote it! (see Eusebius, Church History IV, 30). Why is this letter, written by an associate of the apostles not considered Scriptural?

    When you say 2. Quality of God-breathed-ness, prophecy, supernatural teaching on grace, faith, Christ, etc., you are simply talking in circles. If all Scripture is God breathed, then it has the quality of God-breathed-ness. What identifying that quality is what identifying the Scripture is all about. So you are essentially saying that the Scripture has the quality of being the Scripture and that’s how we know it’s Scripture. Furthermore, your etc. means that this criteria is open-ended, and this means it’s subject to the requirements for some form of infallible communication from the Holy Spirit that binds each of the other theories.

    This of course, is a problem with all 3 of your criteria. Beyond being subject to interpretation, where is it infallibly communicated that these are the exact 3 criteria for humans to use when defining God’s Word to us? Even if the criteria were objective and easy to apply, how does one know that applying them results in discovering the correct List of Books? In short, you still need something telling you that it is an infallible rule to apply to any writing.

    The bottom line is this. No matter how you slice it, if you claim an accurate content to the Scripture, then that very list hinges on an assumption of some form of infallibility which is external to and not prescribed by the Scriptures themselves.

  372. Ken Temple:

    Paul was an apostle. He wrote letters to the churches; and those letters are more than just authoritative, they are infallible and inerrant. They are still here with us to read and obey. They are the final infallible rule; they are “God speaking”. Paul assumes this by his writing, “I am saying to you now” (by writing) – Galatians 1:9 – “as we said before” [oral authoritative, infallible teaching, same as what he says in 1 Thess. 2:13 - his preaching was not the words of men, but the word of God; therefore the writings are the infallible word of God.].

    The Catholic Church teaches that the Epistles of the Apostle Paul are authoritative, “inerrant”, “the infallible word of God”, and they “are God speaking”. The Catholic Church teaches that because the Epistles of Paul were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” [69]

    “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.” [70]

    footnotes:

    69 DV 11.
    70 DV 11; cf. Jn 20:31; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 3:15-16.

    Ken Temple:

    They [scriptures] are the final infallible rule

    Paul does not write anywhere that scriptures ALONE are “the final infallible rule” for the brethren. Indeed, Paul writes that the brethren that received “our gospel” must hold to the traditions that they received both orally and written:

    To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. 2Thes 2:14-15

    The Catholic Church affirms the above when it teaches that the apostles transmitted the Gospel, the Revelation, the “depositum fidei” to the brethren, by both Sacred Scripture and Tradition … and not by Sacred Scriptures ALONE.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    I. THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION

    75 “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.” [32]

    In the apostolic preaching. . .

    76 In keeping with the Lord’s command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:

    - orally “by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received – whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit”; [33]

    - in writing “by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing”.[34]

    82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” [44]

    84The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei), [45] contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church.

    Footnotes

    32 DV 7; cf. Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15.
    33 DV 7.
    34 DV 7.

    44 DV 9.

    45 DV 10 § 1; cf. 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:12-14 (Vulg.).

    Latin Vulgate / Douay-Rheims English translation, 2 Tim 1:12-14:

    “ob quam causam etiam haec patior sed non confundor scio enim cui credidi et certus sum quia potens est depositum meum servare in illum diem formam habe sanorum verborum quae a me audisti in fide et dilectione in Christo Iesu bonum depositum custodi per Spiritum Sanctum qui habitat in nobis”

    For which cause, I also suffer these things: but I am not ashamed. For I know whom I have believed and I am certain that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day. Hold the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me: in faith and in the love which is in Christ Jesus. Keep the good thing committed to thy trust by the Holy Ghost who dwelleth in us.

  373. Ken Temple:

    But do you believe that the current teaching office of the RCC is able to write inspired Scripture or teach something at the same level of inspiration and authority as the Scriptures?

    Of course you don’t.

    You are correct, I don’t believe that anyone can write inspired Sacred Scripture because Revelation concluded with Christ and the Apostles.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    There will be no further Revelation

    66“The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [28] Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

    Footnotes
    28 DV 4; cf. 1 Tim 6:14; Titus 2:13.

    Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig OTT

    With Christ and the Apostles General Revelation concluded. (sent. Certa.)

    Pope Pius X rejected the liberal Protestants and Modernistic doctrine of the evolution of religion through “New Revelations”. Thus he condemned the proposition that: “The Revelation, which is the object of the Catholic Faith, was not terminated with the Apostles.” D 2021 …

    I affirm with you that the Catholic Church will never be given new Revelation that is written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But that does not mean that the living Magisterium of the Catholic Church cannot infallibly teach on what is contained in Revelation. Revelation is “the object of the Catholic Faith”, and the teaching office of the Catholic Church “ guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully.” (CCC 86)

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    The dogmas of the faith

    88 The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

    Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig OTT

    The Development of Dogma

    … The ground for the immutability of dogmas lies in the Divine origin of the Truths which they express. Divine Truth is as immutable as God Himself: “The truth of the Lord remaineth forever” (Ps. 116, 2). “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my word shall not pass” (Mk. 13, 31).

    Ken Temple:

    That is the point; these letters as inspired Scripture, are above the church. The church is supposed to submit to them.

    Paul does not write anywhere that his letters are “above the church”. Indeed, Paul writes that it is the church of the living God that is “the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 Tim 3:15).

    Should I, a member of the Church founded by Christ, submit myself to the teachings of the Church’s Holy Scripture? Of course I must, as must every member of Christ’s Church. But in that submission I am not submitting myself to a book, I am submitting myself to God, the author of Sacred Scripture. The Holy Spirit protects the living Magisterium of Christ’s Church from teaching error in matters of faith and morals. I must also submit myself to the infallible teachings of the Church, because I must submit myself to the Lord Jesus, the cornerstone on which the Church is built (Eph 2:20).

    Is the living teaching office of Christ’s Church (the Magisterium) superior to the Word of God, or is the Magisterium its servant? The Magisterium is its servant:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    The Magisterium of the Church

    85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” [47] This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

    86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.” [48]

    Footnotes
    48 DV 10 para 2.
    49 Lk 10:16; cf. LG 20.

    Ken Temple:

    I have not backed off of any thing. Protestants have always said that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is taught by principle in the Scriptures; (some of which I have put forth); it has never demanded the explicit wording that you are demanding, “the Scriptures (the 27 books of the NT) are the only infallible rule of faith and practice for the church”.

    First, you have not put forth any scriptures that teach implicitly or explicitly Luther’s doctrine that the Protestant Bible ALONE is the sole source of infallible authority for Christians. Secondly, if the Protestant Bible is the sole source of infallible authority for Christians, the canon of the Protestant Bible must be explicitly defined by the Protestant Bible, or you cannot claim that you infallibly know what constitutes the canon of the Protestant Bible.

    Ken Temple:

    This [Luther’s sola scriptura] is taught without having to have the exact phrasing and words that you are demanding, in the same way that the doctrine of the Trinity is taught in the Scriptures, even though the word “Tri-Unitas”, which is two Latin words, is not there in the Scriptures.

    Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura has never been taught by the Church founded by Christ. Trinitarian dogmas, on the other hand, have been received by Christ’s Church through the extraordinary exercise of the teaching office of Christ’s Church at the Ecumenical Councils. The bishops attending these Ecumenical Councils drew upon the whole of Revelation (Writ and Tradition) when they made their solemn definitions of dogma. There is nothing whatsoever in Revelation that supports Luther’s novelty of sola scriptura because that Luther’s sola scriptura doctrine contradicts Revelation.

  374. Jamie Donald

    The bottom line is this. No matter how you slice it, if you claim an accurate content to the Scripture, then that very list hinges on an assumption of some form of infallibility which is external to and not prescribed by the Scriptures themselves.

    Exactly! If one claims that the ONLY infallible source of authority for Christians is the Protestant Bible, one cannot also claim that he infallibly knows that the canon of the Protestant Bible is correct.

    But even more fundamental than the question about the inability to infallibly determine the canon of the Bible is the fact that Luther’s sola scriptura is itself unscriptural. There are no scriptures in the Protestant Bible that either implicitly or explicitly teach that the Protestant Bible ALONE is the sole source of infallible authority for Christians. At best, the Protestant Bible only teaches that scriptures HAVE an infallible authority, it does not teach anywhere that scriptures are the ONLY infallible authority for Christians.

  375. Dear Jamie,

    Thank you for commenting. You and the group may be interested to know that our second to next “lead article” will be exclusively devoted to The Canon Question. It’s a seminal discussion, so I think it’s worthwhile that we’re covering it in a few ways, but you are more than welcome to continue stealing my thunder.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  376. Jamie wrote:

    Proposal: Anyone who claims to know the content of Scripture – the “List of Books” – is claiming an infallible source for this knowledge.
    Before I am taken out of context, let me give some clarification. When I say that I know Genesis, or Acts, or Wisdom are Scripture, I am not making the claim that I am somehow infallible.

    Or “I am not claiming that my decision is an infallible decision” – which is what RCs do by the question, “how do you know, O Protestant, that you are making the right decision about Scripture and the canon?”
    Good argument tactic; refute the answer before it is given by a straw man argument. When the RC asks “how do you know for sure that your decision to trust the canon and Scripture is an infallible decision, they are making that exact argument without saying it.

    How do we know anything about anything?

    Do I need another infallible source to tell me about the first infallible source?

    Do I need an infallible Math teacher to tell me 2 + 2 = 4 in order for me to be sure that it is right?

    I think not.

    You are stuck with the same problem. You claim this group is infallible; yet to my mind and heart and many, they are very fallible and make other mistakes in other doctrinal areas. (For example, the seeds of traditions and ideas and practices about Mary that later became the dogmas of Mary, praying to her and statues and pictures and PVM, IC, BA, etc. ) Another problem is that the early church just did not uniformly believe in most of those things; and some of them were non-existent in the early church. The people later are different than those that decided on the canon.
    Your tactic is to hopefully get the Protestant to surrender to the church as infallible in authoritatively recognizing the canon; then surrender follows on the harder stuff like Mary and indulgences and treasury of merit, apocrypha, and purgatory and transubstantiation. I cannot trust those later decisions, so I cannot see that they had that infallibility anointing in the church. Only God Himself and the Word of God/ Scripture is infallible.

    You don’t like talking about Mary and other harder stuff, it seems, at the same time as the canon; because you know it makes it harder for us to trust this argument; therefore you want to separate and conquer by philosophical argumentation about epistemology.

    Your argument is a little different but just adds another body of infallibility for us to evaluate and decide upon. This is just hiding what you are really saying. (you are not intentionally being deceptive; you are honestly making your argument what you feel is powerful and persuasive; that if one has two sources of infallibility (Scripture and Church; and the Church tells you the Scriptures are infallible and which ones belong in the list; then this is supposed to give us extra certainty. )

    Two sources of infallibility still have to be connected to the fallible minds of men. Only the Holy Spirit can convince people. Jesus did not say, “You need an infallible body to interpret the Scriptures for you”. Rather, He said, “It is written” and “Have you not read what God said to you?” (Matthew 22:29-31)

  377. By the way, thanks Jamie Donald for another nice round of friendly debate; you are always gracious.

    But rather that my source for this knowledge – whence I learned it – is infallible. At least infallible in this specific arena. In my case it is the Catholic Church who holds this knowledge and passes it on to me.

    The problem with this line of argumentation is that you are hiding the fact that you also make your decisions based on your subjective judgment of things. Having one infallible source is no different from having 2 infallible sources, if you cannot be sure of your own decisions. This skepticism of “how do you know for sure?” is the way to insanity, as C. Michael Patton shows in his articles on the canon.

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/07/in-defense-of-sola-scriptura-part-seven-what-about-the-canon/

    No. History is history; it happened; doesn’t mean it is infallible. As I said many times over at Dave Armstrong’s site: “God does not require from us the category of “infallible knowledge”. We know based on facts, truth, history, evidence. But we cannot claim “infallible knowledge” within ourselves of anything. We are human and not infallible; therefore this quality is not required of us; and it seems to be a RCC apologetic ploy to trust in an additional “infallible source”.

  378. Why must this source be infallible? This actually transcends any argument about interpretation or exegesis. Before you can even think of saying something is or is not Biblical, you have to actually know what the true Inspired Word is! Put another way, if the content of what you call “scripture” is fallible, then you can be the best exegete in the world, but you cannot claim you know you have drawn out any conclusion from the Word of God. After all, by admitting a fallible source for knowledge of what constitutes Scripture, you acknowledge that you may actually be analyzing something other than the Word of God.

    Not true for Scripture; but true for the church; the content is not fallible; the content of Scripture is infallible. The “fallible list of infallible books” is rightly and honestly acknowledging the historical process of discovery and sifting evidence and recognizing which ones were truly God-breathed.
    I don’t see how you jump to a second source of infallibility to be required in order to know that decision was correct. Your argument is, the recognition of the books to be a correct judgment demands that the body that did that be infallible (the early church); therefore, infallibly so, and therefore infallible on all other matters.

  379. My first question is actually with your third bullet where you say that universal acceptance is part of the criteria in defining what needs to be received as Scripture. This seems to be very closely aligned with the Catholic (and Orthodox) concept of Tradition. Since there were disputes which were worked out over time, neither you nor we take “universal acceptance” to mean “each and every Church father.” So how does this plank of your defense differ from an infallible Tradition used to define the content of Scripture?

    It is just history. The legal-historical method depends on documentary evidence. Historical evidence in a court of law is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The early church provided that; without any idea of infallibly declaring it or claiming an special anointing.

    But your first 2 criteria are wide open as well. What does it take to be “an apostle or an associate of the apostles?” In 1 Thes 2:6-7 the authors of the letter are identified as “apostles.” Those authors are Paul, Silas and Timothy. Do we need to search out writings of Silas and Timothy to determine if they are Scriptural?

    Since we just don’t have any evidence of and other of their writings, (except maybe that Silas/Silvanus wrote I Peter for Peter as he dictated it and put his approval of the final copy, under Peter’s direction and authority) this is a moot point. I have never seen a discussion of even any claims of any other writings from Silas and Timothy; so I don’t understand this kind of hypothetical approach.

    In 1 Cor 5:9, Paul mentions a letter he had previously written the Corinthians. This letter contained authoritative direction (to avoid associations with sexually immoral people). Why is this apostolic and authoritative/directive letter not scriptural?

    Very simply: Because it has never been found! Some scholars think it is incorporated into 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, which teaches the same thing.

  380. While Barnabas seems to be a good candidate for author of Hebrews, there is sparse evidence which can definitively tie it to any author (I do not consider a single reference by Tertullian, in his heretical period, to be trustworthy). Additionally, Clement is identified as an associate of the apostles (Phil 4:3) and his Letter to the Corinthians was read by them during their worship services as late as 100 years after he wrote it! (see Eusebius, Church History IV, 30). Why is this letter, written by an associate of the apostles not considered Scriptural?

    Barnabas was more than an associate of an apostle, he was an apostle also – Acts 14:4; 14:14. The evidence of him being a Levite, and an encourager, is pretty good evidence to me. (Acts 4:36, with Hebrews chapters 7-10, and Heb. 13:22 (this word of exhortation/encouragement). Tertullian’s insight is persuasive, and nothing contradicts this. It explains why Hebrews sounds so Pauline, yet lacks the style of Paul and Paul was never shy to identify himself.

    As for Clement, the principle is not that every associate of an apostle demands that their letter be Scripture; but it only says that all the authors should have been an apostle or under apostolic authority. Ask the early church why they ultimately decided that I Clement was not apostolic or canonical. Do any of the writers give the reasons? Beyond that, I don’t know. I do know that Clement does not mention his own name and it is coming from the “church at Rome” to the Corinthians and that he uses presbuteros and episcopos interchangeably, showing that they are one and the same office. (As Titus 1:5-7 and Acts 20:17, 28, and I Peter 5:1-5 show).

    But I Clement does have some great teaching on Justification by faith alone:

    1 Clement 32:
    Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Your seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (emphasis mine).

  381. Do I need another infallible source to tell me about the first infallible source?

    How, exactly, would you know that the source you have is indeed infallible if not for an infallible source that says so?

    Look, if you’re saying that an infallible source is not necessary in order to obtain an infallible canon, then how would you know if what you have (in our case, the canon of Scripture) is indeed infallible, let alone, even plausibly correct?

    If we truly have no such infallible source from which to obtain such canon or if you truly find such infallible source quite unnecessary, then any canon we have (including the New Testament canon) is at best highly speculative and ultimately prone to error where it may very likely be incorrect (i.e., where most, if not, all the books aren’t actually scripture).

    That is, since such canon is by decided by a fallible source, there is the high likelihood that such canon was nothing more than an erroneous determination.

    Do I need an infallible Math teacher to tell me 2 + 2 = 4 in order for me to be sure that it is right?

    Such a thing as “2+2″ can obviously be easily subjected to empirical verification whereas in the case of the Canon of Scripture, one simply cannot say that any of the differing canons that existed amongst the early Christian communities in the first three centuries was actually wrong while the one that ultimately won out at the councils of Rome, Carthage and Hippo (which includes the putative list of 27 books in the New Testament) is actually the correct one.

  382. Ok folks. This thread has run its course and CTC is moving into a new era for commenting. Look for a blog post about it soon. In short, this is not the type of discussion we’re aiming for and this type of thing will go on forever. Everyone involved in the back and forth, namely: Roma, Ken, Matteo, Jamie, Teri, and anyone I might have missed: please wrap up your argument(s) in one final summary (one post each) and we’re going to shut the comments down for a while on this thread after that.

    This is not a reprimand of anyone so please don’t take any offense.

  383. Tom Brown,

    Thanks for your kind words. However, I’ve read what you folks over here write. I doubt I could ever come close to stealing thunder from any of you.

    Tim Troutman,

    Thank you for allowing me to comment. You are correct that this discussion could go on forever. I could refute and/or further dialog with Ken Temple’s responses, but they really would be nothing more than reinforcing my original position. 1) This is not where you’d like to go, 2) Such a response would make my original thoughts a summary, and 3) Ken and I have each other’s e-mail addresses. We can continue this on our own if we so desire.

    Again, thank you for allowing me to participate (and no offense taken).

  384. Tim Troutman: This thread has run its course and CTC is moving into a new era for commenting. Look for a blog post about it soon.

    Kudos to Matt Yonke for a great article. I also thoroughly enjoyed the various discussions in the comment boxes, and I read them all. If CTC can come up with improvements that will make the follow up discussions even better, I look forward to the new era.

    (I also hope CTC can add the “preview post” and “edit post” functions to the combox because I am a hack that that struggles with HTML, and I always seem to see my grammatical and spelling errors only after I make a post. I really do know the difference between you’reand your, and their and there …)

    May God bless the great work that CTC is doing here!

    Ken Temple: Do I need another infallible source to tell me about the first infallible source?

    roma victor: How, exactly, would you know that the source you have is indeed infallible if not for an infallible source that says so?

    Good question, roma victor. Let roma’s question be my final comment on this thread!

  385. Tim,

    Absolutely no offense taken! I think that “closing time” is overdue. Thank you so much for allowing me to participate, even when I’m in the deep end of the proverbial pool wearing a life jacket.

    Thank you all for so much knowledge of church history and early church fathers, as well as the more difficult philosophy. You guys have taught me alot. At RCIA class, Fr. Tim (who did much work on St. Thomas Aquinas) was surprised at my “knowledge” :-) But then the RCIA Director said that particularly evening was a washout for the rest of the group because Fr and I went way over everyone else’s head!

    Thanks to reading you guys, I held my own….but I need to take a vow of silence for awhile! Pray for me – Sunday Mass is the Rite of Welcome for alot of baptized protestants who are so thrilled!
    Do you guys remember how unbelievable it was when you first took the Eucharist? I can hardly wait for Easter, much less Advent and Christmas!

    May the peace of Christ be with you,
    Teri

  386. Personally, I think (as a good protestant) that we can argue all day about one infallible source or two but it remains that either way we are left with having to make a FALLIBLE decision to trust it…or them. In other words, faith is required to trust God, Jesus AND Sacred Scripture, and for Catholics, The Church. We have to trust in something that by human logic is unable to be proven, scripture is counted in that. And ultimately it IS the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes to trust that (or those things) which we cannot PROVE. Does this lend itself to all kinds of mistakes and errors and heresies and denominations and religions? Yes, it does. But, we all like sheep have gone astray, and…

    11″I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

    14″I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

    I guess I will never get a straight answer from Roma, as to whether he believes, as others insinuate that God’s words, through Paul, do not apply to or take into consideration the full canon of scripture (AS IT STANDS NOW and THEN, regardless as to whether it was recognized yet)?

    But, that’s ok…life goes on,

    Peace brothers and sister, in Christ,
    Mark
    PS Look me up if you are ever in St. Louis

  387. When you say 2. Quality of God-breathed-ness, prophecy, supernatural teaching on grace, faith, Christ, etc., you are simply talking in circles.

    I don’t think so; but even if I am, that’s ok; every argument eventually ultimately rests on some presuppositions. The Triune God is real and lives and He can communicate to us; we assume He is God and real from Genesis 1:1 and everything in Scripture afterward. The process of working out our understanding of that in the councils pre-supposed that He already existed in eternity past. Even the words “Father” and “Son” presuppose the existence of the concept of that spiritual relationship even before physical beings were created and marriage and fathers and mothers and sons came into being. God chose those words for our understanding of the close spiritual relationship and personal dimension of God the Father with the Son Jesus Christ from all eternity. John 17:1-5

    If all Scripture is God breathed, then it has the quality of God-breathed-ness. What identifying that quality is what identifying the Scripture is all about.

    Another reason why we know Paul is expanding the number of books from the OT in verse 15 to at least many, if not most of the NT books (Matthew, Luke, Acts, and his epistles). The Jews already knew that the OT Tanakh was “God-breathed”. (remember his use of Deut. With Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7 as Scripture. Your argument here is with the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:15-17. He is not saying every thing written down is God-breathed, or “Scripture is Scripture”. He is saying Scripture is God’s word, because God breathed it out, in the same sense that He wrote the law (Exodus 32:16; 24:12) and inspired David and Isaiah and Job and Jonah and Solomon. He is using “Scripture” as the “Holy Scriptures”, obviously, the Old Testament, Tanakh – Luke 24:44; 25-27; 32; Luke 11:51/Matthew 23:35 (by these passage, He excluded the apocrypha books, by the way).

    So you are essentially saying that the Scripture has the quality of being the Scripture and that’s how we know it’s Scripture.

    No; not at all. It is defining “The Holy Scriptures” (the Holy Wrings) as God-breathed, sourced in God’s breathing out by His Spirit; similar to Jesus quoting “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, quoting Deut. 8:3.) Paul says the purpose of the God-breathed Scripture is to equip Timothy as the man of God (pastor, teacher) to do the work of ministry in the church. Verse 14, “continue in the things you have learned” includes all the teachings and writings that Paul has given him; the deposit that he is to guard. ( I Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; I Timothy 4:11-16)

    Furthermore, your etc. means that this criteria is open-ended, and this means it’s subject to the requirements for some form of infallible communication from the Holy Spirit that binds each of the other theories.

    No, that is just a time saving, literary device.

    This of course, is a problem with all 3 of your criteria. Beyond being subject to interpretation, where is it infallibly communicated that these are the exact 3 criteria for humans to use when defining God’s Word to us? Even if the criteria were objective and easy to apply, how does one know that applying them results in discovering the correct List of Books? In short, you still need something telling you that it is an infallible rule to apply to any writing.

    The early church used those criterion because they needed to find out what the “doctrines of the apostles were, that Jesus handed on to them”. John 17:8 is clear. Jesus received His word from the Father, Jesus gives His word to the disciples, the disciples are to take Jesus’ word to the world. The early church was using that principle and historical evidence, eye-witnesses to make sure that they only those things that Jesus had delivered to the apostles. Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Mark, James and Jude, all getting their information from Jesus and the Holy Spirit through Paul and the apostles, and James and Jude as half-brothers of the Lord.

    The bottom line is this. No matter how you slice it, if you claim an accurate content to the Scripture, then that very list hinges on an assumption of some form of infallibility which is external to and not prescribed by the Scriptures themselves.

    No, I don’t believe this is true. The rules of logic do not demand that in order to know one thing is infallible, the source of knowledge that tells us it is infallible (in this case, church history’s testimony to the early church process and decision/recognition of the canon.) has to be infallible itself also. This does not follow.

    This is a persuasive argument to you all at CTC, and many sensitive Evangelicals/Protestants who are becoming Roman Catholic, as, I think all of the “Called to Communion” folks are. It seems to be the main “linchpin” of the argument for many, such as Scott Hahn, Jerry Mattatics, Dave Armstrong, Jimmy Akin, and this whole movement.

    Your whole article by Matt Y., Jamie’s argment, Roma, and all RC argument on this issue is basically the same argument that my friend for many years, Rod Bennett ( I know this for sure, as he is a good friend (one of four groomsmen in my wedding) used with me from 1996 – 2005 (?) and we debated for those years over this issue and his book, Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words. Ignatius Press, 2002. He asked me to stop debating him and said, “Go to Dave Armstrong’s site; he likes to debate more than any one else I know and does a good job of it for the RC side.”

    Accurate does not mean infallible, in historical research. Again, God never expects infallibility in our decision making process. It does not assume some form of infallibility which is external to and not prescribed by the Scriptures themselves. It only assumes that the books themselves are infallibly from God and His Spirit for us for doctrine and ministry and life; and that we can trust the Holy Spirit that the early church got the NT write, because when we examine the evidence, there is nothing that refutes it with credibility.

  388. Tim,
    Thanks for letting us debate and discuss this issue for so long.
    Sincerely,
    Ken T.

  389. Mark,

    I guess I will never get a straight answer from Roma, as to whether he believes, as others insinuate that God’s words, through Paul, do not apply to or take into consideration the full canon of scripture (AS IT STANDS NOW and THEN, regardless as to whether it was recognized yet)?

    Let’s say that, arguendo, Paul’s usage of the word ‘Scripture’ applied to the ‘full canon of scripture’, as you yourself have supposed –

    Yet, might I ask, which ‘full canon of scripture’ do you believe Paul is referring to here?

    For example, the Old Testament canon (along with the well-known New Testament one) that was actually determined then in those early church councils (i.e., Rome 382 AD, Hippo 392 and Carthage 397) included books that Protestants have rejected in later years; specifically, at the time of the Reformation.

    That is, if you truly believe that what Paul had said in his many Epistles concerning Scripture actually pertains to the ‘full canon of scripture’, then why do you and other Protestants reject such books like 2 Maccabees, which for those early Christians (as Catholics do even today) regard as part of the ‘full canon of scripture’?

  390. Excellent discussion here, I was just referred to your site today and enjoy it.

    I always think it is important to discuss these matters with all who believe in Jesus as our risen Messiah. However, when you get right down to it, like G.K. Chesterton points out: the Bible can never be a source of Christian unity since it is, in fact, a source of Christian disunity.

    So any doctrinal argument appealing to the Bible alone as being the authoritative arbitor is flawed.

  391. Interesting article. As a protestant, I find Sproul’s arguments very weak. But that’s not the only view. I’d love for one of you guys to read Erik Wait’s Presuppositional Defense of Sola Scriptura, which is a direct response to “Not By Scripture Alone” by Sungenis. Perhaps, you could even do a review on the website, refuting it as necessary. Here’s the link: http://www.erikwait.com/index.cgi?location_id=2&subject_id=6.
    Blessings!

  392. [...] Hermeneutics and the Authority of Scripture It is my pleasure to be able to write on a subject where we as Catholics share so much common ground with our Reformed brothers, and even with most Evangelicals. In fact, it is no small thing that we agree upon foundational truths contra mundum in a time when even many Christians deny them. [...]

  393. Unless, God gave us a table of contents to the canon, any declaration that a book should or should not be a part of the canon ultimately must have recourse to tradition or the early church. The problem with Sola Scriptura is that, while it states that all teachings must be tested against the Bible, it ignores the fact that each book of the Bible was at one time tested either against tradition or the church.

  394. [...] of the apostles, who received their authority from Christ.  See the excellent post “Hermeneutics and the Authority of Scripture” at Called to Communion for a much better explanation than I can [...]

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