Pope Pius XI Addresses the Federal Vision Controversy

May 19th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Pope Pius XI Addresses the Federal Vision Controversy. Alright, not exactly, but His Holiness comes pretty close in his 1928 theological defense (in Mortalium Animos) of the one and only Church Christ founded. In paragraph six, he explains why the Church of Christ must be a visible and united communion and that it cannot be invisible or a mere “federation.”

His Holiness Pope Pius XI
Visible Vicar of Christ
in the Visible Church of Christ

I find it noteworthy that His Holiness speaks against a kind of ecclesiology that identifies itself a “federation” since the Latin foedus is often translated “covenant” as in “covenant community” – a phrase commonly employed by Presbyterian to describe the Church of Christ. Catholics don’t deny that the Catholic Church is a “covenant community” but it’s 100 times more than that! It’s also noteworthy, that so-called “high-church” Presbyterians have to lean on terms like “federal vision” since they have a faulty ecclesiology but a willingness to say that it’s more than a mere voluntary association.

Enough rambling. Here’s the meat of Pope Pius’ argument. I hope that you’ll also notice and respect the biblical theology montage that the Holy Father paints for us regarding the visibility of the one and only true Church of Jesus Christ:

Further, We believe that those who call themselves Christians can do no other than believe that a Church, and that Church one, was established by Christ; but if it is further inquired of what nature according to the will of its Author it must be, then all do not agree. A good number of them, for example, deny that the Church of Christ must be visible and apparent, at least to such a degree that it appears as one body of faithful, agreeing in one and the same doctrine under one teaching authority and government; but, on the contrary, they understand a visible Church as nothing else than a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines, which may even be incompatible one with another.

Instead, Christ our Lord instituted His Church as a perfect society, external of its nature and perceptible to the senses, which should carry on in the future the work of the salvation of the human race, under the leadership of one head,[4] with an authority teaching by word of mouth,[5] and by the ministry of the sacraments, the founts of heavenly grace;[6] for which reason He attested by comparison the similarity of the Church to a kingdom,[7] to a house,[8] to a sheepfold,[9] and to a flock.[10]

This Church, after being so wonderfully instituted, could not, on the removal by death of its Founder and of the Apostles who were the pioneers in propagating it, be entirely extinguished and cease to be, for to it was given the commandment to lead all men, without distinction of time or place, to eternal salvation: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations.”[11]

In the continual carrying out of this task, will any element of strength and efficiency be wanting to the Church, when Christ Himself is perpetually present to it, according to His solemn promise: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world?”[12] It follows then that the Church of Christ not only exists to-day and always, but is also exactly the same as it was in the time of the Apostles, unless we were to say, which God forbid, either that Christ our Lord could not effect His purpose, or that He erred when He asserted that the gates of hell should never prevail against it.

5. Mark xvi, 15.

6. John iii, 5; vi, 48-59; xx, 22 seq; cf. Matt. xviii, 18, etc.

7. Matt. xiii.

8. cf. Matt. xvi, 18.

9. John x, 16.

10. John xxi, 15-17.

11. Matt. xxviii, 19.

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  1. Taylor,
    I found the Pope’s statements to be terrible misunderstandings and in typical fashion aimed at anabaptists, whn attacking Reformed thinking.

    “a mere voluntary association.”
    The Church of Scotland teaches a previously unchurched pagan, that entry into the Covenant of Grace (COG) is by profession but any spouse, household servant or children are brought into that covenant whether they believe or not. It is not an absolute voluntary community. There are also national covenants that bind subsequent generations whether they voluntarily believe or wish to obey.

    ” A good number of them, for example, deny that the Church of Christ must be visible and apparent, at least to such a degree that it appears as one body of faithful, agreeing in one and the same doctrine under one teaching authority and government; but, on the contrary, they understand a visible Church as nothing else than a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines, which may even be incompatible one with another. ”

    This is the position of Roger Williams and the anabaptists that Rutherford refutes in Free Disputation. The Pope’s statements here are upside down.

    “He attested by comparison the similarity of the Church to a kingdom,[7] to a house,[8] to a sheepfold,[9] and to a flock.[10] ”

    He also described it as tares and wheat. Mat 13:24-43 Both visible but the whaether one is wheat or tare is something invisible in this life. He described it as a net full of fish, some are good some are bad, again the good’s visiblity is something hidden from us. John 15:1-6 describes it as a vine. These texts prove that the union to Christ is two fold. 1. One a living union that brings forth fruit and the other a dead or external union that brings forth no fruit yet is still in union with Christ; 2.A dragnet of fish, some for keeping and others to be cast away; 3.A single field with both wheat and tares. The significance of this distinction is elaborated by Bannerman,

    “grant that the outward and visible Church is the source from which the inward and invisible is derived, – and you open up the way for some of the worst and most characteristic errors of Popery. That single admission with respect to the fundamental idea of the Christian society, prepares the way for making communion with an outward Church takes the place of a spiritual reality, and substituting the external charm of priestly arts and sacramental grace”[1]

  2. Taylor
    “It follows then that the Church of Christ not only exists to-day and always, but is also exactly the same as it was in the time of the Apostles, unless we were to say, which God forbid, either that Christ our Lord could not effect His purpose, or that He erred when He asserted that the gates of hell should never prevail against it.”

    Calvin says,

    “First, I ask them why they do not quote Africa, and Egypt, and all Asia, just because in all those regions there was a cessation of that sacred succession, by the aid of which they vaunt of having continued churches. They therefore fall back on the assertion, that they have the true Church, because ever since it began to exist it was never destitute of bishops, because they succeeded each other in an unbroken series. But what if I bring Greece before them? Therefore, I again ask them, Why they say that the Church perished among the Greeks, among whom there never was any interruption in the succession of bishops—a succession, in their opinion, the only guardian and preserver of the Church? They make the Greeks schismatics. Why? because, by revolting from the Apostolic See, they lost their privilege. What? Do not those who revolt from Christ much more deserve to lose it?… [Section]3. In the present day, therefore, the presence of the Romanists is just the same as that which appears to have been formerly used by the Jews, when the Prophets of the Lord charged them with blindness, impiety, and idolatry. For as the Jews proudly vaunted of their temple, ceremonies, and priesthood, by which, with strong reason, as they supposed, they measured the Church, so, instead of the Church, we are presented by the Romanists with certain external masks, which often are far from being connected with the Church, and without which the Church can perfectly exist. Wherefore, we need no other argument to refute them than that with which Jeremiah opposed the foolish confidence of the Jews—namely, “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord are these” (Jer. 7:4)… ”

    Institutes 4.2.2-10

    Secondly, the Mat 16 passage does not say gates of hell in the original greek. It says Hades. this is the realm of the dead in ancient greek thought. Mat 16 is saying the same thing as Paul in 1 Cor 15:55 about death not overcoming the elect. The gates of death are not being victorious over his elect. The Roman view is nowhere to be found in this verse. This is yet another reason why immortality is given only to the elect and Maximus the confessor is wrong in his infusing of immortality at the level of nature for every single man. 2 Tim 1:15 Paul complains that all asia forsook him. Acts 20 Paul says that those ELDERS, VISIBLE CHURCH LANGUAGE, and disciples that he trained were going to apostasize and tech false doctrine. That is major apostasy in the first century. 1 Tim 4 says much the same.

  3. Drake:

    I found the Pope’s statements to be terrible misunderstandings and in typical fashion aimed at anabaptists, whn attacking Reformed thinking.

    But the Pope does not appear to have been explicitly attacking Reformed thinking. In fact, he barely mentions the Reformed in the encyclical, and its purpose was not to attack but rather to to call for Christian unity.

  4. Fred,

    The first paragraph of this post in introductory fashion and the title mention presbyterians and the title mentions federal vision, a teaching in presbyterian churches. Are you suggesting that the writer of this post was not contrasting the pope’s comments with Reformed theology.

  5. Drake,

    Would you say that Anabaptists are not part of the visible Church? If they are not, then which bodies in your view are? If you say they are part of the visible Church, then the Pope’s critiscism sticks to your Reformed view.
    For the sake of argument, I will assume you believe the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) to be part of the Church. Well, the Pope’s statement fits for your Reformed view then. The simple fact is that the Reformed believe the Church is “a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines, which may even be incompatible one with another.”
    So, again, are Anabaptists part of the Church?

    Peace,

    David Meyer

  6. Secondly, the Mat 16 passage does not say gates of hell in the original greek. It says Hades. this is the realm of the dead in ancient greek thought. Mat 16 is saying the same thing as Paul in 1 Cor 15:55 about death not overcoming the elect. The gates of death are not being victorious over his elect.

    The text actually does not mention the elect. Jesus uses the word “church”.

    Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    This is the TNIV. It uses the phrase “gates of death” that you feel is right. I am not sure how your point follows. If anything it can be used to argue that the petrine office will continue after Peter’s death. Saying this blessing died with Peter is essentially saying the gates of death prevailed back then.

  7. David,

    Doesn’t Vatican 2 mention Christians outside of the communion of the Roman Church? Yet doesn’t Cyprian clearly teach no Christians outside of the communion the Roman Church? Methinks there is an ambiguity in the way you are using “Visible Church” that you are using to catch me in some inconsistency.

    UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO
    Intro
    “1. The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ;”

    Chapter 1.3
    “The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body,(21) and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.(22)”

    You see,here, Visible Church means everyone who professes faith in Christ. Yet in other places, it means the administration of the Bishop of Rome.

  8. I am not answering the question: “So, again, are Anabaptists part of the Church?” Until you tell me what Church or Visible Church means.

  9. The Visible Church means “the Catholic Church.” If you are in the Catholic Church, you can be saved. If you are not in the Catholic Church, you cannot be saved. The Catholic Church is Noah’s Ark. Outside the Ark, everyone perishes.

    However, this must be clarified. A baby validly baptized* in the PCA is in the Catholic Church since there is only “one baptism” and “one Church.” When the baby grows up to formally hold the heresies espoused by the PCA (e.g. rejection of transubstantiation or rejection of papacy), then he ceases to be a Catholic Christian. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains this in ST, IIIa, Q. 68, A. 9, ad 1 and ST, IIIa, Q. 69, A. 6, ad 3.

    If the child holds error materially with invincible ignorance, he remains in the bosom of the Catholic Church. If he holds the heresies formally, then he has lost the Catholic Faith without which no one can please God.

    * I once witnessed a PCA infant baptism that was invalid. The valid form for Catholic baptism is: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” There is only one name because there is only one ousia.

    However, this PCA minister baptized the infant invalidly because he said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father…and in the name of the Son…and in the name of the Holy Spirit.”

    This child would have to be properly baptized in order to enter the Catholic Church.

    Anabaptists, by rebaptizing, do explicit violence against the sacrament.

  10. Posted this over on the Wilson article — thought it would be useful to post it here as well.

    I would like to quote from THE MEANING OF THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD by Ratzinger, which I find to be helpful in moving the discussion forward.

    The dogmatic position is that the objective presentation of the vicarious saving act of Jeus Christ can be preformed by the one Church only, that is (according to Catholic belief), the Catholic Church which is gathered around the successor of Peter……………If we move now from the level of dogma to that of concrete human relationships, we can see from what we have said that the immediate brotherly community is made up of the communicants. Hence all those who are separated from the communion, in this case Protestants, do not belong to it. They have their own brotherhood, their own community. This is the nature of the divisions in the Church; some are no longer in communion with others, and thus sharing in the brotherhood of the Church (which was to be only one, according to the will of the Lord) is made impossible. And so, if the immediate narrow fraternal community is made up only of the believers of the one Church, we can ask at least that the two communities — Catholic and Protestant — regard each other as “sisters in the Lord”. This is an idea which goes beyond Scripture and the Fathers ( here, as we have seen there is only the sisterliness of the Catholic communities), but which seems justified by the new situation of separated Christians. Both communities, as bearers of faith in and unbelieving world, can and should regard themselves as sisters, and individual Christians on bother sides are “brothers” to each other in a far more fundamental sense than are non-Christians. Admittedly, this brotherhood between Catholics and Protestants includes the fact that both belong to a different fraternal community — includes, too, the separation, and the pain of this separation, and thus presents a constant challenge to overcome it. Indeed, it is important not to ignore the element of separation which is inevitably part of this brotherhood and gives to it its particular quality: to ignore it is ultimately to become reconciled to it, and that is just what we must not do. “Separated brethren”, which as become such a glib phrase, can thus acquire an exact and valuable meaning. It expresses the unity that remains as well as the tragedy of division. The phrase should be a comfort, and also a spur — a spur that does not let us rest until there is “one flock, one shepherd”. (John 10:16)

    **Note: The use of the term “sisters in the Lord” is due to the Church being female — thus when speaking of relationships between communities, feminine terms are used. The phrase should not be understood as something different than “brothers in the Lord” which is used to refer to the relationship between individuals, where masculine terms are used.

  11. Drake,

    1. I believe David Meyer was asking you “in your view” whether Anabaptists are a part of the Church. Anyone else’s definition of the Church is not required for you to answer the question.

    2. A little off topic, but you mentioned your disagreement with Maximos the Confessor regarding all men being granted immortality at the level of nature. Are you propounding the annihilation of the reprobate?

    – dp

  12. Very nice, Taylor. I appreciate someone actually defending EENS and being willing to say hard things correctly. It seems that the Pope here would be saying to the FV folks, “Yeah, you’re right, but you’re not right enough, and that makes you very wrong since you are wrong about the nature of the Church.”
    I must admit that the FV is what brought me to the Catholic Faith. The Auburn Four did the trick, especially Steve Wilkens. Those who oppose the FV folks because it leads to Romanism are right. If you follow the logic, it ends up right here.

  13. Taylor (re:#9),

    Having just returned to the Catholic Church last year, after several years in Protestantism (Calvinist and otherwise), I’d deeply appreciate a bit of clarity on your above comment. What is the difference between the material holding of heresy and the formal holding of heresy?

    When I left the Catholic Church and (eventually, over a period of years) became a fervently anti-Catholic Protestant, this process was due to various factors, but they can be summed up in a.) my ceasing to believe, at that time, the Catholic Church’s distinctive claims about herself and her authority, and b.) my misinformed belief that the Church teaches doctrines and practices which are “contrary to Scripture.” I thought, with both my mind and my heart, that I was serving God and the Gospel, by leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a Protestant. According to the Church’s teaching, was I utterly outside of the Church, and thus not saved, at that point?

  14. Christopher Lake,

    Welcome home! What a blessing to have access to the Christ’s gifts to us: His Mother, the sacraments, the Holy Mass, and the true faith.

    We know by divine revelation that there will be people who confessed Christ as Lord, earnestly believed they were “serving the Lord,” and “doing ministry,” and and yet they will be damned by mouth of our Merciful Lord:

    “Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. ” (Matthew 7:22–23, D-R)

    Being convinced that one is among the elect is not a sign of being in a state of grace. This is the danger of the sin of presumption that Calvinism fosters. St Thomas Aquinas discusses presumption at ST II-II q. 130.

    Pray for me a sinner. It’s a fearful thing to say these things, and then fail to correspond to the graces received.

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor

  15. Christoper, having receive the objective grace in the Sacraments, and having had the infused theological virtues (I assume— if you didn’t have those, you would have been outside the Church anyway), you committed mortal sin by publicly defecting from the Faith. Objectively, you were outside the Church when you did that and continued in Protestantism. You were given Faith and for a time rejected it. But, Deo gratias, you have returned. Having known the truth and received (I assume) the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Penance), the possibility of invincible ignorance is next to nothing. Further, the fact that nearly every Protestant denom (if not all) teaches in some cases what is contrary to Natural Law (regarding contraception or homosexuality, etc.), is damning. The law written on our hearts would condemn a Protestant. Protestantism cannot be true because it have developed into a religion that violates the Natural Law, in which case it violates Eternal Law. While I can only speak generally concerning your experience (only God truly knows your heart condition at the time), it seems that for a time you were outside of the Church, and, God forbid, had you died you would have been lost. (Again, only God knows, but the principles the Church has given us can help us to assess, provisionally, circumstances.)

  16. Taylor (re:#13),

    As a Calvinist Baptist, I was not necessarily *convinced* that I was among the elect. I would have said that I had a certain *sort of* assurance of my salvation, but *only* to the extent that I continued to exhibit signs of belonging to the elect, such as trusting in Christ and showing fruits of the Spirit (good works and such). Would this still fall under the sin of presumption?

    In regard to Protestants who are formally outside the Church (in terms of formally holding to heresy) not being saved, in #838 and #846, respectively, the Catechism states:

    838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.”322 Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.”

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm#III

    Taylor, when I left the Church, I had been validly baptized in the Church, and yet, I was not in a place of (to quote the above passage from the Catechism) “knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ.” I had once *believed* this about the Church, but as a result of poor catechesis (from my own priest and others) and challenges to my faith from Protestant friends, I reached a point of no longer knowing if the Catholic Church was, indeed, what she claimed to be. I no longer knew what I believed about many, many things, including the existence of God Himself. Simply put, that is why I left the Catholic Church. I could not continue to profess that which I no longer believed.

    This break with the Church (i.e. leaving for what turned out to be years of existential nihilism) was the first step in a journey which later led to my *formal* acceptance of Protestant theology, but even that formal acceptance was still in the context of not “knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ .” I knew that the Church *taught* this about herself, but I did not know that it was *true*. In that light, in your understanding of the Church’s teaching, was I still outside of the Church, and thus, not saved?

  17. Wow… sorry for the typos and subject-verb disagreements… my goodness. I blame my six kids running around while I am trying to think… ;)

  18. Drake,
    Yes I do think I found an inconsistency in your statement, that is why I asked for some clarification as to whether you catgorize Anabaptists as being part of the Church. Your statement was:

    I found the Pope’s statements to be terrible misunderstandings and in typical fashion aimed at anabaptists, whn attacking Reformed thinking.

    As far as I can tell from my knowledge of Reformed theology, you would put Anabaptists within what you call “the Church”. Therefore the Pope’s critiscism of your view of the church is spot on. But I wanted you to be able to clarify if I am misreading you. To put it another way, the Pope characterized your view as:

    …they understand a visible Church as nothing else than a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines, which may even be incompatible one with another.

    If you think there is even one Anabaptist out there that is part of what you call the visible church, then the Pope is “aimed” at you and the Anabaptist. So again, in your view, are Anabaptists part of what you conceive of as being the visible Church?

    Thanks for the discussion,

    David Meyer

  19. Credo (re:#14),

    For a more at-length description of the state of my thinking when I left the Church (including a bit about what helped to lead me to that thinking), see comment #15.

  20. Christopher, you cannot reduce the Faith to a set of propositions. It is primarily a relationship, and one that you had objectively participated in which you later rejected because you decided that it wasn’t based on Truth. That you followed what you thought was true would not condemn you, or anyone who leaves the Church for that reason. The steps that lead you to make that denial would. The final and public declaration of heresy only confirms publicly what has previously occurred in the heart privately.
    I think it would be good for you to read what the Church teaches about Faith (St. Thomas’ question on Faith in the Summa is a most excellent place to start). There is a very Protestant flavor to how you are speaking about faith, assent and The Faith. Furthermore, the infused virtue of Charity is required for salvation, for without it you cannot please God since you cannot love Him or neighbor in the supernatural way He has demanded. If you were in the Church at one point, that means you had the infused virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. That is what is necessary for you to attain and continue in salvation. Your departure from the Catholic Church (for whatever reason) entails a sin against Charity (against God), a mortal sin, thus the loss of sanctifying grace. Maybe Taylor has some other sources. I found St. Thomas most helpful. Dietrich von Hildebrand is also very good on this, but a title fails to come to mind. Cardinal Newman is great as well in his sermon on faith.

  21. Credo (re:#19) and others,

    I know well that the Faith cannot be reduced to a list of propositions. I had a relationship with God when I was originally in the Church, through the Church. My life as a Catholic was not one of mere mental assent to a list of propositions. I left the Church, when again, due largely to poor catechesis from my parish priest and from other priests, I ceased to believe the Church’s claims about herself and her teaching authority. The Faith is not a mere list of propositions, but it is not less than that. A relationship is based, at least partially, upon what one knows and believes about the other (or Other), and by the time that I had been through parish catechesis and fully absorbed the implications of the “teaching,” I was not sure of *what* I knew or believed about God and the Catholic Church anymore. It was quite a traumatic experience. My relationship with God was devastated. I returned to a relationship with God through the Calvinistic Baptist theological tradition (not knowing and understanding that I had rejected Christ’s Church), and I was fervent in that faith, to the point of seeking to evangelise Catholics, whom I feared (poor catechesis again) did not truly know Christ, in terms of having a saving relationship (faith and works) with Him.

    I’m still curious about the Catechism’s statement that “they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” When I left the Church, I did not *know*, at that time, that the Church was founded by God through Christ. My priest had taught me a largely Protestant conception of the Church, one which left me very confused after reading some of what the Catechism taught about the Church. I went to another priest (a famous, notorious dissident Jesuit, but I didn’t really understand that very well at the time) and was told by him that the Catholic books I had been reading (from Ignatius Press) “represented the very best of pre-Vatican II Catholicism”– the implied meaning being that I was trying to hold onto a conception of the Church (the orthodox Catholic one, I now know) that was outmoded. This was in the mid-90s, and my home parish was quite “Protestantised” at the time.

    In the process of coming back to the Church, I discovered (really for the first time) the truths of apostolic authority and the Divine nature of the Church in the writings of the Fathers. When I realized that these realities were, indeed, “realities,” I returned Home to the Church.

    It’s interesting that, at the very same website which played such an important role in my return to the Church last year, it is being strongly implied by Catholics who were former Protestants themselves, not so long ago, that when I was a Protestant, I was likely not a Christian with a true relationship with God. Stronger statements are being made here, in these comboxes, than seem to be made in the Catechism itself, about those who are (according to the Catechism) outside of the Church but still imperfectly joined to her and justified through baptism, faith in the Trinitarian God, and works– including, it would seem, Catholics who left the Church, after *poor and/or heretical faith formation*, and became Protestants.

  22. “I returned to a relationship with God through the Calvinistic Baptist theological tradition…”
    You see that is impossible, for a Catholic. Without faith it is impossible to please God, says St. Paul. The faith is found only in the Catholic Church. Again, I would urge a reading of Thomas Aquinas on this matter of Faith.

    “I’m still curious about the Catechism’s statement that “they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”
    I am not denying that. That statement is so obvious that it is barely worth stating. It’s one of those 2+2=4 statements in the Catechism- the “no duh” moments. But that isn’t an exhaustive statement of the only way people may not be saved. The whole Tradition of the Church states that there are many other ways that one may not be saved finally… through mortal sin that has not been confessed for example. The Catechism never states absolutely that there are people who are outside the Catholic Church but are joined to Her imperfectly who can be saved, but holds out the possibility of such a situation. Granted, it seems to hold out the possibility to the point of almost assuming it, but the teaching of the Church has always been that one MUST be a member of Holy Mother Church to be saved and the union must be perfect. The hope (not the theological virtue) is that those who have an imperfect bond via baptism will come into the fullness of the faith. But if they do not possess that fullness at their death, if the bond is imperfect, they will be lost. This is not controversial. This is the deposit of Faith. The problem lies in trying to make particular judgments about particular circumstances in something more than a provisional fashion. If any goes to heaven, it is because they are Catholic. It is possible (no matter how unlikely) that a Protestant in name could go to heaven, but it is only because he was a Catholic at the moment of his death and in spite of his Protestant life, which necessarily leads to spiritual death. No man can have two masters. He who hears you, hears Me and the One Who sent Me. There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one Church.

    That you had bad/heretical teachers may be a mitigating factor in your culpability for leaving when you did, but the responsibility for finally leaving is still on you. We are only thrilled that our wondrous Lady brought you back. Let us rejoice in this!
    Have a glorious Sunday!

  23. Credo: Christoper, having receive the objective grace in the Sacraments, and having had the infused theological virtues (I assume— if you didn’t have those, you would have been outside the Church anyway), you committed mortal sin by publicly defecting from the Faith.

    I would be more precise to say that going into schism with the Catholic Church is a sin that involves grave matter. Whether or not that sin is mortal in any particular instance, is a question about culpability, a culpability that only God knows with certainty. God judges our sins subjectively not objectively and God takes into account things that limit culpability for what is objectively grave matter. For example, coercion and ignorance can limit culpability.

    Christopher: I knew that the Church *taught* this about herself, but I did not know that it was *true*. In that light, in your understanding of the Church’s teaching, was I still outside of the Church, and thus, not saved?

    This is a question that no man can answer, as God alone knows the degree to which anyone is culpable for going into schism with the true church. But that said, one can certainly know that the Catholic Church objectively teaches that schism is a sin that involve involves grave matter. Once one realizes that it was wrong to go into schism with the true church, the proper response to that objective knowledge would be to go to confession . A valid reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation would reconcile one with the true church, and the validity of that Sacrament is not dependent upon knowing one’s degree of culpability, it is dependent upon one’s repentance and contrition.

  24. Credo, (re: #22)

    You wrote:

    You see that is impossible, for a Catholic. Without faith it is impossible to please God, says St. Paul. The faith is found only in the Catholic Church.

    We need to distinguish between faith in its objective sense (i.e. the articles of faith), and faith in its subjective sense (i.e. the supernatural virtue of faith informed by agape). A person can have the supernatural virtue of faith, even if he does not have all the articles of faith. And that’s the sense in which Christopher could return to faith in God in a Protestant context, given what he says in #21 about having left her through ignorance, not willful rejection of Christ’s Church. The faith in its objective sense is found in its fullness only in the Catholic Church. But the supernatural virtues of faith and agape can also be found in persons who are in [material] heresy and [material] schism. Otherwise there would be no difference between material heresy and formal heresy; both would be equally damning. Accidentally getting one’s theology wrong would entail damnation; that’s precisely the position Doug Wilson takes in his video condemning orthodox Catholics (see here); and I argue that that is *not* the Catholic position — see the comments here. If only those who affirmed all the Catholic doctrines (and allegiance to the pope) could be saved, then invincible ignorance would entail damnation (see comment #38 in the Doug Wilson thread).

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  25. It’s worth noting that when the Catholic Church calls non-Catholic Christians “separated brethren,” this does not entail that they are in a state of grace or will be saved. In fact, being a Catholic does not even entail that one is in a state of grace or will be finally saved.

    I’m a Catholic “brother,” but this doesn’t necessitate that I am (pray God) in a state of grace. It is Catholic doctrine that one can fall from grace and be restored to grace.

    Being a “brother” (separted or not) does not mean “in a state of grace.” Sometimes, people make that leap, but the Catholic Church does not.

    For example, by baptism Bill Clinton is my “separated brother.” The Greek Orthodox friend next door is also my “separated brother.” Joel Osteen is my “separated brother.” Even Nancy Pelosi is my “sister in the Lord.” My Methodist student is my “separated sister.” All these people are baptized and all of them claim to be Christians and love Jesus Christ. Their status as brethren is not doubted or denied. The Popes and Vatican II claim that there is no salvation outside the Church. This does not contradict the teaching on “separated brethren.”

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor Marshall

  26. Bryan,

    Thank you for making that important distinction.

    Godspeed,
    Taylor

  27. Bryan, I made the distinction between the articles of faith and faith, though not in that explicit terminology, when I said that one cannot reduce faith to propositions, but that it is primarily a relationship. Of course, one could get theology wrong but still be “ok” if he did not know that the Church taught otherwise. However, one must always be in the position of being willing to believe “all the truths which the Catholic Church teaches, because Thou [God} hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.” (The Act of Faith.)
    Another problem seems to be that we are vacillating between kinds of people here. Chris was a Catholic who apostatized but then returned. We cannot apply the conditions for a non-Catholic who came into the Church later (like me) to Chris. Chris knew Christ in a qualitatively different way than non-Catholic can hope to know Him… in the Eucharist. He received sanctifying grace ex opere operato. He was in Christ’s bosom. It is odd that I am accused of making doctrinal awareness the standard for salvation when that is exactly what Bryan and Chris are doing. Chris didn’t know the right doctrines, therefore he’s innocent. Whether he had right doctrine or not is of less concern than his objective reception of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and subsequent rejection of that. It is a Protestant conception of Sacraments to assume that *that* reception does not do something to the person. If it does, then Christopher’s problem wasn’t doctrinal, it was first relational. He quit believing in that grace that was saving him.
    But again, thanks be to God, he has returned.
    Pax.

  28. Credo, (re: #27)

    You seem to be assuming that if a Catholic has received the Eucharist, then necessarily if he leaves the Catholic Church and becomes a Protestant, he commits a mortal sin in doing so, and is therefore in a state of damnation until he repents and comes back to the Catholic Church. But the Church nowhere teaches that conditional. Rather, that is an assumption you are making. Of course a person who, knowing that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded as necessary for salvation (CCC #846), leaves it with “full knowledge and complete consent” (CCC 1859), commits a mortal sin. But just because a Catholic has received the Eucharist, it does not follow (nor does the Church teach) that necessarily, if he leaves the Catholic Church he must be doing so with “full knowledge and complete consent,” such that necessarily he has committed a mortal sin in doing so.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  29. The CCC doesn’t say all there is to say about this topic. As I said before, that is one of those 2+2=4 moments in the CCC where it states something so obvious that it is hardly worth stating. The Church has stated so many times that I can’t believe it’s up for question here, that if a Catholic leaves the Church, for whatever reason, he commits mortal sins again Faith, Hope and Charity and thus is outside of grace and salvation. Of course if someone knows the Truth and willfully rejects it they are lost! That goes without saying. But you are acting like that is the only condition for one to be damned. It isn’t. Read St. Thomas Aquinas. Read the Roman Catechism (of Trent). In fact, reading the Romans Catechism alongside the CCC is very helpful. Think along the lines of Pope Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of continuity. Read the whole Church, not just the last few years. This is part of all the Church’s teaching. The last few years must be read in continuity with the past, not rupture… not as if the one condition stated in the CCC that is recalled here is the only word on the grave topic.
    Pax.

  30. Credo, (re: #22)

    You wrote:

    Granted, it seems to hold out the possibility to the point of almost assuming it, but the teaching of the Church has always been that one MUST be a member of Holy Mother Church to be saved and the union must be perfect.

    I respectfully disagree. The Catechism says:

    For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament. (CCC #1259)

    And yet, we know from Mystici Corporis Christi that baptism is a necessary condition for perfect union with the Church:

    Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. (Mystici Corporis Christi, 22)

    Therefore, because baptism is a necessary condition for perfect membership in the Church, and because Catechumens who die prior to baptism can be saved, it follows that it is not true that membership in the Church must be perfect for salvation.

    We can see this likewise in Acts 10:44-48:

    While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:44-48)

    Given that baptism is a necessary condition for perfect membership in the Church, we see in Scripture a New Covenant situation in which persons not yet having perfect membership in the Church already have the Holy Spirit.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  31. Credo, (re: #29)

    I’m fully in agreement with you regarding the hermeneutic of continuity; that’s not the point of disagreement here. I’m claiming that the Church has never taught that leaving the Catholic Church can only be done with “full knowledge and complete consent.” Wherever the Church has taught that a Catholic who leaves the Church commits a mortal sin, she is referring to situations in which the persons are doing so with “full knowledge and complete consent.” But the Church has never taught that, for example, if a Catholic has received the Eucharist then necessarily, if he leaves the Catholic Church he must be doing so with “full knowledge and complete consent.” If you disagree, please feel free to cite references to Church documents or patristic references showing otherwise.

    Of course if someone knows the Truth and willfully rejects it they are lost! That goes without saying. But you are acting like that is the only condition for one to be damned.

    For those who have reached the age of reason, the only way to be lost is to commit a mortal sin by rejecting the sufficient grace God gives to each man. But since “full knowledge and complete consent” is necessary in order to commit a mortal sin, therefore, for those who have reached the age of reason, only those who with full consent reject the truth they know, and who die in that state of mortal sin, are damned.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  32. I fail to see how the Catechism quote is a defeater. Nowhere does the Church teach that the union can be imperfect and you can still be saved. In fact, because of this necessity of perfect union for salvation, we see here the CCC telling us that the explicit desire for baptism by catechumens suffices for water baptism; that is to say, it unites him to Christ in the way water baptism does. The quote you offered assumes my thesis.

    My comments concerning the Eucharist are not being read in the context of my whole argument here. My whole point is that if a Catholic has received the Eucharist he has received objective grace, the grace of salvation, or he is being damned if taken unworthily, as St. Paul tells us. There is no middle ground in which the Eucharist is received and the recipient is neither brought closer to salvation or damnation. It is one or the other, else the grace is not contained in the Sacrament. I assume that Christopher was in a state of grace and possessed salvation before he fell away. Whether he knew that he was receiving that or not due to bad/heretical catechesis is immaterial. He was and that infinite grace was sufficient to save him and prompt him to serve God. For whatever reason, he rejected those inner promptings and thus rejected Christ by extension.

    I don’t think this will be worked out here. But I am enjoying it!
    Pax.

  33. Credo, (re: #32)

    You’re going to have to define your terms. You claimed in #22 that perfect union is necessary for salvation, and then in #32 you allowed explicit desire for baptism to count as perfect union. So, what exactly do you mean by “perfect union”? If you grant that even implicit desire counts as perfect union, then what you’re claiming is fully compatible with what Christopher said. But if you claim that implicit desire does not count as perfect union, then on what principled basis are you allowing explicit desire to count as perfect union while denying that implicit desire counts as perfect union?

    My whole point is that if a Catholic has received the Eucharist he has received objective grace, the grace of salvation, or he is being damned if taken unworthily, as St. Paul tells us. There is no middle ground in which the Eucharist is received and the recipient is neither brought closer to salvation or damnation. It is one or the other, else the grace is not contained in the Sacrament.

    True, but that’s fully compatible with everything I said, and everything Christopher said.

    I assume that Christopher was in a state of grace and possessed salvation before he fell away.

    Ok.

    Whether he knew that he was receiving that or not due to bad/heretical catechesis is immaterial. He was and that infinite grace was sufficient to save him and prompt him to serve God.

    Ok.

    For whatever reason, he rejected those inner promptings and thus rejected Christ by extension.

    That’s a non sequitur. Just because he was receiving inner promptings to serve Christ, from the grace He was receiving in the Eucharist, it does not follow that in leaving the Catholic Church he rejected Christ or committed a mortal sin. If you want to make the case that Christopher committed a mortal sin in leaving the Catholic Church, then you’ll have to make a better argument than what you’ve made so far.

    I should say that in no way am I seeking to diminish the gravity of the error of separating from the Church Christ founded. Rather, I am pointing out that your claim that Christopher committed a mortal sin, as when you said in #20, “Your departure from the Catholic Church (for whatever reason) entails a sin against Charity (against God), a mortal sin, thus the loss of sanctifying grace,” is unjustified. Leaving the Church is objectively a grave sin, but as mateo pointed out in #23, culpability is not based on the objective aspect of the sin, but on the subjective aspect. Hence though we know that this act was objectively a grave sin, we do not know that it was a mortal sin, because we do not know that it was committed with “full knowledge and complete consent,” which conditions are necessary for a sin to be mortal, and thus for it to dispel grace and charity from the soul.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  34. It seems that you think it is very difficult to commit a mortal sin. Maybe this is the sticking point. What I have tried (not very well obviously) to add to the mix is the relational part of the equation and move away from the propositional portion, which is what you seem to want to dwell on; at least that’s the feeling I get. Being united to Christ infuses the soul with Faith, Hope and Charity. These can only be had in the Catholic Church. To leave that singular source is to leave behind those virtues. They are inseparable. If Christopher continued in those virtues, then he never left the Church. Now it may be possible (which I have stated before) that he did continue in the Church, but not *because* he became a baptist, but only in spite of that. This is very unlikely, but is completely possible. However, as a matter of prudence, Christopher would have confessed upon returning to the Church the grave sin of separating himself from Her. Is this really too disturbing?

    (btw, typing on an ipad is hell)
    You’re an analytic philosophy student, aren’t you. I have a feeling that we may be talking past each other. My best friend is in the analytic tradition and it happens to us all the time. He has his own definitions and I have mine (which are the right ones, of course) and we fight for hours before realizing we’re saying the same thing, or are at least much closer than we thought. That and methodology drives me nuts…. thus I assume you’re studying in the analytic tradition. ;)

    Honestly thanks for the back and forth.
    Pax!

  35. Credo,
    No one is writing about the difficulty with which someone can commit a sin of any level of gravity. Instead, the fact is that we are open to the fact that God can save people even after a defection from Catholicism, or even if they never become Catholic. Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium are clear about this. This is not an iron clad law that all people are free of guilt for not becoming Catholic, just as much as it is not an iron clad law that they are guilty for not becoming/staying Catholic, as you would put it. What if Christopher was treated horribly by the hierarchs whom he knew? The writings of Vatican 2 are especially clear about the fact that sometimes life isn’t clear, due to the sins we commit. Ultimately, Christ is the judge, not us. We are to show the sources of life and urge all to enter therein. There’s nothing analytical about this thinking, it’s about love and knowing that we are not God, and that the Church can unite people to Herself who are imperfectly united. For my part, I am imperfectly united not canonically, but with the fervor and passion of my own heart in living that out. I would rather focus on that flaw than my neighbor’s flaw, in terms of ironing out the conditions under which hell is a certainty, etc.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

  36. J. Andrew Deane,
    Thanks. I think a perusal of all that is written here will calm your fears that I am making a judgment about the state of Christopher’s soul except in a provisional way based on the information given by him and the principles laid down by Holy Mother Church throughout the centuries. Christopher asked if he was outside salvation when he left… that’s the only reason this is being discussed. He asked and I answered, again provisionally. You’re right that, as I have already stated, only God knows for certain.
    One cannot interpret Vatican II in isolation.
    I am afraid you misunderstood what is meant by analytical.
    The Church cannot unite people who are imperfectly united unless that person wills to be united.
    I don’t know what you meant when you said you are “imperfectly united not canonically” etc.

  37. Credo (re:#34) Taylor, Bryan, and all in this discussion,

    Thank you to all who are commenting in this dialogue about my years in Protestantism. Credo, you write that after leaving the Church, I may have continued in the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, but that if I did so, it was actually *in spite* of my becoming a Baptist and not *because* of it. Perhaps one (or both) of us is just misunderstanding what the other is saying here, but if so, I’d like to continue for the purpose of greater clarity.

    To be clear, I was not born and raised in the Church. I was raised with a somewhat nominal Baptist background and fell away completely from Christ before my teenage years. In college, I experienced a conversion to Christ. I then began a search for which church I should join. Ater visiting different Protestant ecclesial communities, for a time, I decided to look into the Catholic Church, as she *seemed* to be the Church which was closest, chronologically speaking, to the original apostles. However, I didn’t do a great amount of study in the process of reaching this conclusion. It was more like a bit of study combined with intuition. I read almost nothing of the Church Fathers at the time, as I was largely unaware of them. I bought a Catechism and read parts of it, here and there, but looking back, I’m not sure how much of it I truly understood. I read enough though to develop a deep hope that maybe my intuition really was true– that the Catholic Church truly was Christ’s Church.

    When I began RCIA though, fairly quickly, I noticed discrepancies between what I was reading in the Catechism and what I was hearing in the classes (and what my priest was telling me in one-on-one conversation). As I stated above, in a previous comment, I also went to another priest and heard things which appeared to contradict the Catechism. It is very clear to me, now, with the benefit of many years’ worth of hindsight and growth in understanding, that at the very least, I should have continued to hold to the Catechism and not allowed these priests to “get to me”– but in retrospect, I think that what I heard from them did plant seeds of confusion and doubt in my mind, which were amplified when non-Catholic friends began to challenge me about joining the Church. At the time, it seemed that I had almost no people in my actual, physical Catholic circles who stood for, and held to, the teachings of the Catechism (to the extent that I even understood them at the time, which was, at best, in a very partial, immature way).

    I doggedly “hung in there” and was baptized, with, in retrospect, an understanding of the Faith which had *some* elements of orthodox Catholicism– but which also, in crucial ways, was still undermined by Protestant thinking from my own own upbringing, and, ironically, from my own priest, and by challenges from non-Catholic friends. I wish that I had understood this more about myself at the time. Regrets, serious regrets…

    After less than a year and half in the Church, I left, ravaged by confusion and doubts, and not receiving much help from the priest whom I visited for counsel. When I left, it was not, initially, for any sect of Protestantism. I was so confused, at the time, that I didn’t know where to go, church-wise, so I just tried to follow God, for a about a year “on my own.” This was the degree to which I had become confused and disheartened, at this point, about God revealing Himself in any kind of visible, identifiable ecclesial way.

    After experiencing two deeply personal, and wholly unexpected, losses of loved ones in less than than two years, I began to question the very existence of a personal, loving God at all. I fell into what can only be described as a time of existential despair and an open rebellion against the God whom I wasn’t even sure existed anymore. This time lasted for years.

    When I (slowly) began to be open, again, to God (both his justice in judging my sin and His mercy in offering me His love and forgiveness), it was through the outreach of Protestant friends who had many misunderstandings about the Catholic faith. I had more than a few misunderstandings, myself, about the Church at the time, so I wasn’t exactly in the place to correct my friends– but it was through them that I began to become open again to God. I began attending an “Arminian” Baptist body with them. In time, as I studied more of the Bible, I developed Calvinist convictions and eventually joined a fairly well-known “five-point Calvinist” Baptist body in Washington, D.C. With my increasing Calvinistic and Baptistic convictions also came an increasing anti-Catholicism.

    However, at the time, I truly *did not know* that I was hating (and persecuting with my words and my “evangelistic” outreach to Catholics) Christ’s One True Church. If I had known this, I would have been horrified– and I later *was* horrified when I realized it, after years of being a “Reformed Baptist.” However, at the time, I had a passionate love for the Trinitarian God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, and it was my honest desire to love and serve Him. (I assure you, my defection from the Catholic Church, and my slanders of it, have since all been repented of, and confessed, and thanks be to God, I have received absolution from a priest of the Church.)

    Credo, this is my question to you, as you have been the person in this discussion who has stated, clearly, that I lost my salvation when I defected from the Church– do you truly believe that I was no more a Christian, with an active, saving relationship with God, as a Reformed Baptist, than I was in my years of existential despair/rebellion, after leaving the Church (but before becoming a conscious Protestant)? This would seem to be the implication of much of what you have written here– that I simply lost my salvation when I left the Church, and that all of my years as a Protestant were utterly lost, reprobate years for me, spiritually, and that I only came back to God, at all, when I returned to the Church. Is this truly what you believe? More to the point, though, even, is it what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about those who refuse either to enter or to remain in the Church, while *not knowing* that she is, indeed, the Church that Christ founded, as necessary by God for salvation?

  38. Christopher,

    Thank you for sharing your story. We are encouraged by the authentic work of God in the protestant sects. While the Holy Spirit may not have a vested interested in the long-term flourishing of a particular sect (or federation of sects), Our Lord will always be concerned for anyone who calls upon His name. He is a Good Shepherd and waits eagerly for his sons and daughters who leave the Church (or who are born outside her walls at no fault of their own).

    My first shot at RCIA, I was told by a laicized priest that if I couldn’t find Jesus here (CC), go find Him somewhere. My mouth half open (and my wife’s arms crossed), we were aghast that the catechist was setting up a kind of protestant dilemma. I was at the Catholic Church to give up that search, to finally be home, to undo the confusion. Those words kept my wife and I out of the Church for probably an extra 9 months (my wife simply couldn’t digest the whole Catholic thing after that experience–and rightfully so).

    Imagine if I would have had no knowledge of Catholic theology? What if I came into the Church under the pretenses that upon not “finding Jesus here”, I could “find him elsewhere”? Considering your circumstances, I’m certain that our Lord had great pity and mercy upon you during your time of despair. You coming home to the Church only evidences the work of His Mighty Hand. But, as to those who planted the seeds of confusion…

    Ave Maria!

  39. David Meyer,
    “Would you say that Anabaptists are not part of the visible Church? ”

    >>>NO. I would also deny the Lutherans to be a part of the visible Church. The WCF defines the Visible Church: 25. II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children.

    Now this group of people is more or less visible at certain times. Sometimes it is almost non-existent and left to only a few people in the world. Matthew Pool says,
    “Moreover, I find in Scripture, several instances of such times when the Church was as much obscured, and invisible, as ever our Church was; as when Israel was in Egypt, so oft-times under the Judges, Judg. 2.3, and so under divers of the Rings, as Ahab, when Elijah complained he was left alone, and the 7000 which were reserved, though known to God, were invisible to the prophet ; and under Ahaz and Manasseh and so in the Babylonian Captivity: and so under Antiochus; read ay thy desire, 2 Chron. 15.3 28.24.29. 6,7.33. 3,4. So in the New testament, how obscure, and in a manner invisible wad the Christian Church for a season? Nay, let me add. This perpetual visibility and splendor is so far from being a note of the true Church, that on the contrary, it is rather a sign that yours is not the true Church, as appears thus: Christ hath foretold the obscurity and smallness of his Church in some after ages; he tells us that there shall be a general Apostasy and Defection from the Faith, 2 Thess 2.1. 1 Tim. 4. I read of a Woman, Revel. 12, and she is forced to flees into the Wilderness and I am told your own Expositors agree with us, that this is the church which flees from Antichrist into the wilderness, and secret places, withdrawing herself from persecution. ..pg. 39-40 Pool emphasized Rev 13:8 where the vast majority worship the beast except for a few chosen invisible types in obscurity.

    A Dialogue Between a Popish Priest and an English Protestant, by Mattew Pool (London, Cockeril at the Atlas in Cornhill, 1676)

  40. David P. (re: #11),

    “2. A little off topic, but you mentioned your disagreement with Maximos the Confessor regarding all men being granted immortality at the level of nature. Are you propounding the annihilation of the reprobate?”

    Not at all. I simply reject that sin sucks men down into nonexistence. Whatever “existence” means. I define Immortality as justifying life, not ever being, whatever ‘being’ means.

  41. Drake,

    You write:
    “this group of people is more or less visible at certain times. Sometimes it is almost non-existent and left to only a few people in the world.”

    Are you claiming that in the year AD 1215, there were five or six Calvinists on earth that believed the content of the Westminster Confession of Faith?

    These are the kind of Reformed claims that led me to abandon Calvinism. At best, it’s a fairy-tale version of Church History. At worst, it’s Gnosticism.

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor

  42. Taylor,
    “Are you claiming that in the year AD 1215, there were five or six Calvinists on earth that believed the content of the Westminster Confession of Faith?”

    Pool in his Dialogue quoted above quotes Gilbert Genebrard’s Chronology l [That’s a lower-case L not number 1].3.c.16 where Genebrard is criticizing the Waldenses “This sect is the most pernicious of all others, for three causes; 1. Because it is of long continuance, some say, that it hath endured from the time of Sylvester; others from the time of the Apostles. The second is, because it is more general, for there is almost no Land in which this Sect doth not creep. 3. That whereas all others by the insanity (?) of their blasphemies against God, do make men abhor them, these have a great shew of godliness because they do live justly before men, and believe all things well of God, and all the Articles which are contained in the Creed, only the Church of Rome they do blaspheme and hate.”

    Pool continues “Behold here out of your own mouths a plain Confutation of your objection, and a testimony of the perpetuity, amplitude, visibility, and sanctity of our Church; for it is sufficiently known that our Church and Doctrine is for substance the same with theirs.”

    Genebrard is a 16th century writer so I’ll leave you with the admission of one of your own that you can consider at your own horror. How many there were I do not know or really care to know; I just clearly showed that the Westminster position on the visible church is something catholic/universal NOT a localized federation. I thought that was the point of this thread. Moreover, are you getting your views of Ecclesiology from the Scripture or from that satanic deceiver Dionysius the Areopagite’s Hierarchies? He was a liar and a Neo-Platonic pagan who was paraphrasing Proclus and Plotinus. Valla pointed this out to the world and I have found nothing scholarly to even contest it.

  43. Drake,

    Would you please clarify for us?

    Are you claiming that the Waldensians believed the theology expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith?

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor

  44. Taylor,

    Pool says that “in substance” the Waldenses held the same faith as the puritans. I cannot say first hand because I have never directly read a waldensian theologian.

    You are still avoiding the major point of this thread. Will you admit that the position of the WCF is not the position that the Pope here describes? Is it to horrifying to acknowledge that the Pope made a mistake?

    As above so below right Taylor?

  45. Taylor,
    If you are going to make me demonstrate groups that believed everything exact as I do, then the definition of the true religion, would embarrass you far more. Could you exlapin to me why Aquinas forbids the use of instruments in worship but every catholic church I know of uses instruments? (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.SS_Q91_A2.html?highlight=musical,instruments#highlight

    Where is the organ in the first 9 centuries of Christianity? Where are holy days practiced besides Easter in the first 2 centuries of the Church? Where are non inspired hymns being sung in public worship before the latter parts of the 4th century?

  46. Drake.

    Before you claim the Waldensians on behalf of Reformed Presbyterianism, know that they are already spoken for by the “Restored Church of God.”

    See here.

  47. Taylor,

    I am curious as to why you changed from demanding to demonstrate the history of calvinists to the Westminster confession. Thought that was pretty sneaky.

  48. Every major Reformer I know of traced back to the Waldenses. This has been done for centuries. Sean you are doing nothing but entertaining me.

  49. Drake (45) -

    I also know Mormons who claim them.

    So, yeah, a heretical sect claiming that some other past heretical sect was actually the ‘true church’ is nothing new. I was not intending to give you credit for coming up with the notion.

  50. Drake,

    The Waldensians repudiated infant baptism, vows, and were pacifists. They were primordial Anabaptists. They would have been condemned by the Westminster divines.

    The problem with your position is that it is essentially that of the Mormons who believe that true doctrine evaporated from earth and then required a true Reformer to reinstitute true belief on earth.

    You’re grasping at straws if you hope to connect the Apostolic Church and the Protestant Reformation with the heterodox Waldensians.

    The only true Faith is the one instituted directly by Jesus Christ that has remained, unaltered, for the last 2,000 years. This is the Holy Catholic Faith, without which it is impossible to please God.

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor

  51. Using instruments does not fall under faith and morals.

  52. I don’t understanding your point here. Can you clarify?

  53. So Luther and Calvin taught infant baptism, but the Waldensians repudiated infant baptism. So how then did Luther and Calvin arise from these Waldensian heretics?

    It’s grasping at straws – trying to make Protestantism look historic when it is novel and late.

  54. I am waiting for an admission that the view of Ecclesiology taught by the WCF is not the view of the Pope here. Will this forum have the integrity to admit it.

    Sean,

    “I also know Mormons who claim them.”
    I know Anabaptists who claim Chalcedon and Nicaea.

    “So, yeah, a heretical sect claiming that some other past heretical sect was actually the ‘true church’ is nothing new.”

    Depends on the definition of church which I have clearly defined and you have completely avoided as it is the issue of this thread.

    Taylor,

    “The problem with your position is that it is essentially that of the Mormons who believe that true doctrine evaporated from earth and then required a true Reformer to reinstitute true belief on earth.”
    But isn’t that what Elijah said? When Matthew Pool addressed this issue with Roman Priests in the 17th century he said, “I read of a Woman, Revel. 12, and she is forced to flee into the Wilderness and I am told your own Expositors agree with us, that this is the church which flees from Antichrist into the wilderness, and secret places, withdrawing herself from persecution. Is it true?

    Pop. I must confess our Authors do take it so.” pg. 39-40

    The Roman Priests at his day admitted it. Are you now saying that they were wrong?

    “The only true Faith is the one instituted directly by Jesus Christ that has remained, unaltered”
    Do you guys even read what I write? I just showed you 4 major alterations in worship. There are many more and Bishop Joseph Hall in his Serious Dissuasives from Popery showed over 300 different doctrinal controversies and contradictions in your own Church just in the 17th century. Now with Vat 2, and the sedevecantist movement there are scores of more. I suggest you read his book.
    Like I said, I have not read the Waldensians directly and I will reserve judgment on that point until I do. I just don’t think that someone like Matthew Pool, who for ten years wrote his Synopsis Criticorum where he details every commentary ever written on every passage in the Bible, would just say something flippantly off the cuff like that after having examined the history of Christian Interpretation for 10 hours a day for a decade. He is not here to defend himself and I am not qualified to speak on that period of history. I have asked Easterners and Roman Catholics to provide scripture that proves that all true doctrine has to be visibly preserved and openly available in a visible institution at all time periods. It is not there. I have looked for it. This is the novel idea of your churches who got this stuff from Neo-Platonism’s doctrines of ‘As Above So Below’ that you inherited from Pseudo Dionysius’s writings on the Hierarchies.

    Taylor,

    “Using instruments does not fall under faith and morals.”

    Assertion. So public worship is not an issue of faith and morals? Wow. The Two trumpets in the
    Tabernacle required a command (Num 10:1-10) and the instruments played in the Temple required a command 2 Chron 29:25. Sounds like it falls under the second commandment (In the Protestant canon) to me. That would be moral and an issue of faith.

  55. I would also like to point out by way of the Neo-Platonism accusation that the doctrine of simplicity that you have in Aquinas and Augustine was a novelty as were the necessary inferences drawn from it, namely, analogical predication, that knowledge of God is modulated and created, filioque, a view of saving faith that included more than accent to a proposition [which is straight from Plotinus' divine vision of the One, the Monad The Perfect Simple One] seeing the divine nature instead of the Father as the principle of unity in the Trinity, ergo positing a quaternity which comes up later in Gilbert de la Porree and the Synod of Rheims (1148), and I am still trying to find someone post canonical writings and pre Augustine who teaches inherited guilt; not just solidarity with Adam but inherited guilt, i.e. original sin. I believe in original sin but that’s because the scriptures are my authority not historical succession.

  56. I thought I made some posts here.

  57. Drake.

    Just note – your comments are here just up in the thread (all the ones I see).

    Sometimes when we get a backlog of comments they pop up in order they are submitted which is not necessarily the order in which they are approved.

  58. So just in case anyone thinks I am misusing WCF 25. Robert Shaw’s confession mentions this issue explicitly. Robert Shaw in his commentary on the passage of the Confession says,

    “2. There is a universal visible Church, consisting of the whole body of professing Christians, dispersed throughout all parts of the world. This is denied by the Independents, who confine the idea of a visible Church to a single congregation, which ordinarily assembles in one place for public worship. But, in various places of the New Testament, the word Church (as applied to the visible Church) cannot be restricted to any particular congregational Church. When we are told that “Saul made havoc of the Church” (Acts viii. 3), and that “he persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it” (Gal i. 13), it cannot be supposed that it was only a single congregation that was exposed to his fury. ”

    What is the most entertaining point to me is that he clearly acknowledges the position that Taylor is attributing to the Presbyterians as the Congregational and Independent view. Your Pope was wrong sir. Be a man and admit it.

  59. Robert Shaw’s comments can be referenced here: http://www.reformed.org/documents/shaw/

  60. Drake,
    With respect to the change of the Church in the use of musical instruments and your claim that this is a violation of uniformity of doctrine in the Church regarding faith and morals, maybe it would be helpful to see the worship of the Church in an almost Aristotelian way (mind you I am not the philosopher you are so please bear with me as I use very poor terminology or am imprecise) in that the substance of worship and the essential character of the liturgy is not exactly precisely the words itself nor the manner of saying the words itself, but rather the Eucharist and the transubstantiation of the bread to the Body and the wine to the blood. This is the essential character of the divine liturgy, of the mass, and whether the words of consecration are said in chant or simply read, or whether there is a mass out in the open or inside an ugly church or a beautiful church, none of those things effect the substance of the mass, but are rather the accidents or non-essential things that are part of the mass. Now I’m not saying that those ‘accidents’ per se are not important, but they are not essential to the character of the sacrifice of the mass, just as the height or the weight or the health of a giraffe doesn’t take away the character of a giraffe so that we can no longer call it a giraffe.

    Now I’ve read some of your comments earlier that you don’t like some of Aristotelian metaphysics, and it would be way above my head to discuss those things with you, however perhaps this at least gives you a means of understanding with us that though it was important to Catholic piety in the earlier centuries to not have musical instruments at the mass it would not be so detrimental so as to cause there to be no Eucharist given at that mass (or so it seems).

    I lend you my humble opinion and I hope everybody else can help to answer some of your questions (most of which I do not understand at all).

    God bless,
    Steven Reyes

  61. Drake,
    In addition to the comments I just made about faith and morals and about musical instruments, it is perhaps something that falls under the faith and morals of discipline and not dogma, and in this way the bishops and the Popes had not decreed that it was acceptable to use musical instruments in the mass, and so it was part of the discipline of the Church, and thereby would become a sin of disobeying the Church to play instruments at the mass though not necessarily something inherently sinful.

    Though I’m going largely on intuition here, I don’t think it’s fair to blame the Scholastics or St. Augustine of positing a quaternity instead of a Trinity, though this is an assertion based on my readings at another blog about Bl. John Duns Scotus (and other Scholastics) called ‘The Smithy”, where they seem to have a large amount of contact with another blog called “Energetic Processions” (a blog run by very intelligent Orthodox Christians who sometimes intereact at this blog) about Triadology.

    Perhaps it might be best not to assert too many objections in one thread unless they are tied in to the subject of the thread, since I think this blog is aiming at bringing the Reformed and Catholics together again as Jesus prayed for us to be one, and putting too many different objections and subjects in to one of these threads might take away from our ability to discuss the issues at hand.

    God bless,
    -Steven Reyes

  62. “it would be helpful to see the worship of the Church in an almost Aristotelian way (mind you I am not the philosopher you are so please bear with me as I use very poor terminology or am imprecise) in that the substance of worship and the essential character of the liturgy is not exactly precisely the words itself nor the manner of saying the words itself, but rather the Eucharist and the transubstantiation of the bread to the Body and the wine to the blood.”

    >>>I do not have a problem with Aristotle’s substance/accident distinction, that is just plain logic. There are predicates essential to something and accidental. That’s plain reason. The puritans used the distinction between elements and circumstances. It’s the same distinction. That is very reasonable . Are you then saying that the instruments are then circumstantial? If so, here is your problem: they had to be commanded in the Old testament as I demonstrated above in Num 10:1-10 and 2 Chron 29:25. This is why they cannot be circumstantial. What was Aquinas’ argument?
    Aquinas understood that the instruments were ceremonial and Jewish. This is not disciplinary. They pertained to the ceremonial law which were symbols of the realities made manifest in the NT. That IS the Puritan argument. They are not circumstantial they are ceremonial and therefore contradict the substance of the Christian religion.

    “Though I’m going largely on intuition here, I don’t think it’s fair to blame the Scholastics or St. Augustine of positing a quaternity instead of a Trinity, though this is an assertion based on my readings at another blog about Bl. John Duns Scotus (and other Scholastics) called ‘The Smithy”, where they seem to have a large amount of contact with another blog called “Energetic Processions” (a blog run by very intelligent Orthodox Christians who sometimes intereact at this blog) about Triadology.”

    >>I was not trying to make this a Triadological debate. I was simply pointing out that seeing the nature as the principal of unity instead of the Father was an innovation in Church History.
    “I think this blog is aiming at bringing the Reformed and Catholics together again as Jesus prayed for us to be one, and putting too many different objections and subjects in to one of these threads might take away from our ability to discuss the issues at hand.”

    >>But you guys will never admit when you’re wrong. I have shown Taylor on this blog to be wrong as clear any error need be made clear and he will not admit it. That is a major problem with believing that your Church is infallible. What comes across loud and clear is that the purpose of this blog is to agree with you implicitly. “Called to Agree With Us.” That should be the name of this blog.

  63. Last post was in reply to steve reyes.

  64. Drake (#58):

    Your Pope was wrong sir. Be a man and admit it.

    Considering that the Pope doesn’t mention the terms “Reformed” or “Presbyterian” in the encyclical, there’s nothing to admit…except maybe that I’m a bit bewildered as to why you think there is anything to admit. :-)

    The word “reformers” appears, but not in reference to a description any specific Protestant group’s erroneous ecclesiology.

    The word “Protestantism” appears, but not in reference to ecclesiology.

    So it seems that you are mistaken in supposing that the Pope was wrong in criticizing any specifically Reformed ecclesiological views, since he does not appear to have been doing that.

  65. Taylor said,

    “I find it noteworthy that His Holiness speaks against a kind of ecclesiology that identifies itself a “federation” since the Latin foedus is often translated “covenant” as in “covenant community” – a phrase commonly employed by **************Presbyterian************* to describe the Church of Christ. Catholics don’t deny that the Catholic Church is a “covenant community” but it’s 100 times more than that! It’s also noteworthy, that so-called “high-church” **********Presbyterians******** have to lean on terms like “federal vision” since they have a faulty ecclesiology but a willingness to say that it’s more than a mere voluntary association.”

    Taylor’s introductory remarks contrasts the Pope’s teaching against Presbyterianism, explicitly mentioned twice.

  66. Drake.

    #65

    You are asserting that the Pope was wrong and we won’t admit it (not that the Pope cannot be wrong in certain contexts). Can you demonstrate the Pope was wrong?

    It seems to me that your issue is you don’t like Taylor’s very brief and not all encompassing description of Presbyterian ecclesiology. Your beef is with one sentence from Taylor that does not even purport to be giving a full treatise on Presbyterian ecclesiology.

    Yet, we do know that Presbyterian ecclesiology, irrespective of the differing views on this from Presbyterian sources, does not have the Catholic view of the visible church. No big surprise here.

    By the way, you are probably the only Presbyterian I have ever encountered who argues that Lutherans or Anabaptists are excluded from the visible church and I have encountered thousands of Presbyterians.

  67. Drake (#65):

    Personally, I thought it was pretty clear from what he said in the post that Taylor was applying the encyclical to the Reformed, not claiming that it was written specifically in opposition to Reformed views. So of course the post refers to Presbyterian views. It doesn’t follow, though, that the encyclical necessarily is about them also, and since (as I pointed out in #64) the encyclical barely mentions Protestants and doesn’t mention Presbyterians, it seems pretty obvious that it isn’t about them at all.

    Of course, Taylor can with perfectly good reason apply the encyclical’s teaching to the Reformed. That’s different. :-)

  68. Drake (#62):

    But you guys will never admit when you’re wrong.

    The fact that CtC’s authors are converts to the Catholic Church shows that they are in fact quite willing to admit when they are wrong, or they would never have converted. The same goes for many of the commenters, who are also converts. Including me. :-)

  69. Once again, will the Forum admit that the Presbyterian position as described in WCF 25 is not what the Pope describes as “a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines”, but is something universal and denies that this church holds to different doctrines. That was the whole point it was written to deny and Robert Shaw points it out very clearly that this is the Congregational and Independent view that your thread here is criticizing.

    Sean I also know of no PCA members who believe that the Pope is the antichrist. Which is a prima facie denial of what a protestant is . You guys were never protestants. The PCA with very few exceptions is a confused anglican communion. Covenantors are Protestants and the Covenantors know what the visible church is because they believed in defending national covenants in the past which strictly held all its local churches to one true religion. PCA, ARP and OPC ministers often criticize covenantors because we often separate ourselves from their churches. WE are often criticized for leaving the visible church because of their confused ideas of what that word means, which is another reason these groups often find their members in the Roman Church after a few years. Ergo, the Called to Agree With Us blog here.

    Hate to bring this up but Presbyterianism is Protestant. Saying that the Pope criticizes Protestant but not Presbyterian is kind of silly yeah?

    Fred,
    “Personally, I thought it was pretty clear from what he said in the post that Taylor was applying the encyclical to the Reformed”

    So will you at least admit that Taylor was wrong?

  70. Drake.

    I think you are looking for a more in depth analysis of what the Westminster Confession of Faith says about the nature of the ‘visible/invisible’ church and how it compares to Catholic ecclesiology (and why the WCF is wrong). That was not the purpose of this discussion.

    A more detailed look at this issue can be found in Christ Founded a Visible Church.

  71. Sean,

    If you think WCF 25 is wrong, fine, but that is not the point of this thread. The point of this thread was to commit Protestants/Reformed/Presbyterians to a view of Ecclesiology that the WCF denies. Until you admit that either Taylor’s application of the Pope’s teaching was wrong or the Pope himself was wrong, you are going to have to choose one or the other. One of them is wrong.

  72. Drake

    The point of this thread was to commit Protestants/Reformed/Presbyterians to a view of Ecclesiology that the WCF denies.

    Part of the problem here is that there no single ‘Protestant/Reformed/Presbtyerian’ view of Ecclesiology.

    Neither the Pope nor Taylor said anything about the WCF.

    You raised it as saying something somewhat different than what the Pope was addressing – fine. Let’s move on. I think your application is flawed because the WCF still gives room for doctrinal differences when it says that true visible churches ‘more or less’ teach the true doctrine.

  73. Sean,
    “Part of the problem here is that there no single ‘Protestant/Reformed/Presbtyerian’ view of Ecclesiology.”

    Since Taylor mentioned Presbyterianism , and the Westminster Confession is the Presbyterian Confession, it matters not what other communions believe,. They have their own confessions.

    IV. This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible.[8] And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.[9]

  74. Sean,

    “Neither the Pope nor Taylor said anything about the WCF. ”

    He said Presbyterian. That is implied Westminster Confession. Even the Federval Vision Church here in Louisville, Ky admits that their Church is under the Westmionster Confession.

    “You raised it as saying something somewhat different than what the Pope was addressing – fine. Let’s move on.”

    “I think your application is flawed because the WCF still gives room for doctrinal differences when it says that true visible churches ‘more or less’ teach the true doctrine.”

    Let’s read the context of that passage: “IV. This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible.[8] And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are MORE OR LESS PURE according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.[9]”

    You can profess the truth, which gives you membership in the visible Church but secretly be a hypocrite and unpure. The whole point is that the Profession gives one covenant and visible status, not the inward work of what you are professing. That is the Baptist error. So the point is the more or less pure is not speaking about the outward profession of doctrine but the secret and localized

  75. I kepp hitting the eneter button accidently and it posts my comments before I am ready.

    Continuing my thought.

    So the point is the more or less pure is not speaking about the outward profession of doctrine but the secret and localized practice and faithfulness to that true doctrine that is professed.

  76. Plus, please don’t get me started on how many hundreds of examples I could give displaying the outright nonsense that goes on in Roman Churches these days. Nymph Masses, Clown Masses. Thanks SSPX.

    Drake

  77. Drake,

    The WCF was written in the context of the Solemn League and Covenant as a federation between the Scottish Covenanters and the puritan leaders of the English Parliament.

    Moreover, those denominations who uphold the WCF, such as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) belong to the NAPARC (North American Presbyterian And Reformed Council) which is EXACTLY what the Pope is speaking about here.

    I would add incidentally, that the so-called “Solemn League and Covenant” is thoroughly heretical since it assumes an ecclesiastical “covenant” established AFTER the New and Everlasting Covenant instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. This is terrible covenantal theology and it is at the very source and root of WCF Presbyterianism.

    This sort of the ecclesiology is condemned by this Pope, all the Popes, and the Sacred Scriptures.

    Jesus only mentioned the word “covenant” once and that in the context of the Holy Eucharist. If you don’t have the Holy Eucharist, you’re not covenantal. You’re anti-covenantal.

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor

  78. Taylor,

    “Moreover, those denominations who uphold the WCF, such as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) belong to the NAPARC (North American Presbyterian And Reformed Council) which is EXACTLY what the Pope is speaking about here.”

    Hold on, Sean and Fred have been telling me now for a while that the Pope is not addressing Presbyterians.

    “I would add incidentally, that the so-called “Solemn League and Covenant” is thoroughly heretical since it assumes an ecclesiastical “covenant” established AFTER the New and Everlasting Covenant instituted by Christ at the Last Supper.”

    Your understanding of Covenant Theology is elementary at best. The ministry of Jesus Christ is the last ADMINISTRATION of the same Covenant of Grace made with Adam. In that Covenant there is another made. Samuel Rutherford states in Free Disputation Chapter 2,

    “Answ. The covenant written and sealed in Nehemiah’s time was a secondary rule of faith, and a rule even so far as it agreed with the Law of Moses, for they enter in a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, not to give their sons and daughters in marriage to the heathen, not to buy victuals from the heathen on the Sabbath, to charge themselves to give money to maintain the service of God, Nehe.9.38. chap.10. 1, 2, 3, 29, 30, 31, 32. Which written Covenant was not Scripture; and Act. 15. the decrees of the Synod was not formally Scripture, yet to be observed as a secondary rule. ”

    “This is terrible covenantal theology and it is at the very source and root of WCF Presbyterianism.”

    LOL!

  79. Yes Drake – try to get all your thoughts in one comment : )

    Makes for a neater conversation.

  80. Samuel Rutherford wrote a whole book, defending the Covenants made in Scotland. It was called Free Disputation. Did you read that book Taylor?

  81. Hold on, Sean and Fred have been telling me now for a while that the Pope is not addressing Presbyterians.

    I think you need to read a little more before posting. All that was said was that the Pope did not single out the WCF or Presbyterianism. However, his criticism applies because of the very fact that all of these Presby churches that disagree on points of doctrine (even though they all purport to submit to the WCF) are not the visible church that Christ founded.

    PS – Samual Rutherford? Is he the final word on covenant theology?

  82. Rutherford was the most influential and he was the primary Theologian of the Covenants. That’s like saying, “Is Maximus the Confessor the final word of Monothelitism?”

  83. Drake.

    Presbyterians don’t have a monopoly on the theology of the covenants. That’s all I am saying. You quote Rutherford and “LOL” as if his ruling ends the conversation.

  84. “I think you need to read a little more before posting. All that was said was that the Pope did not single out the WCF or Presbyterianism.”

    >>>Fred said in comment 67 “the encyclical barely mentions Protestants and doesn’t mention Presbyterians, it seems pretty obvious that it isn’t about them at all.”

    Fred, “Isn’t about them at all.”

    Sean, “All that was said was that the Pope did not single out the WCF or Presbyterianism”

    Taylor, “Moreover, those denominations who uphold the WCF, such as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) belong to the NAPARC (North American Presbyterian And Reformed Council) which is EXACTLY what the Pope is speaking about here.”

    Sounds like you guys can’t get your ducks in a row.

    “However, his criticism applies because of the very fact that all of these Presby churches that disagree on points of doctrine (even though they all purport to submit to the WCF) are not the visible church that Christ founded.”

    >>>>This is the exact point I was making earlier about the more or less pure passage. These other groups profess some system of doctrine but they are not faithful to it. Just like in Roman Catholic Churches, the members hold to all kinds of stuff. I knew a Roman Catholic in Greenville, Sc http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ who asked me if she could give me a Tarot reading or read my horoscope, one of the two. Or like many Roman Catholics who do not believe in the selling of indulgences. And there are plenty of them.

  85. Sean,
    “Presbyterians don’t have a monopoly on the theology of the covenants. ”

    I am talking about the Covenants in Scotland. The National Covenants. Sorry I did not make that clear, I was going along int he context of Taylor’s mention of ” Solemn League and Covenant as a federation between the Scottish Covenanters and the puritan leaders of the English Parliament”.

  86. Drake, if you or Taylor care to demonstrate that the Pope was talking about Presbyterians or the Reformed specifically, I will happily withdraw what I said and concede to you both that I was mistaken.

  87. Drake.

    If I am reading you right your are saying that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) and other churches that belong to NAPARC are not part of the visible church???

    Maybe it would help if you would lay your cards on the table as to where the church is currently located? Which churches are members of the visible church? Your definition and application is almost certainly different than that of most Reformed Presbyterians.

    Lastly, the existence of Catholics who are heterodox is not the same thing as entire churches in open schism and not in communion with one another. The Catholic church formally condemns tarot readings and the selling of indulgences.

  88. Drake (#39): ” I would also deny the Lutherans to be a part of the visible Church. The WCF defines the Visible Church: 25. II.”

    !! :-) !! I must express my shock at this. But I give you credit for a certain type of consistency. The criticism I was trying to make stick has rolled off your back like water off a duck, so congrats. But the price is that you have made your self proffesedly fallible sect the entirety of the “visible church”, which is just laughable to other Prots. (Lutherans and PCA types in Particular here)

    As far as the WCF on the Visible Catholic Church, you are a conservative sounding adherent of a quite liberal and incoherent statement. Lets take a look: (I will bold the parts that make no coherent sense when part of the same dogma, and italic some comments)

    25:1 The catholic or universal Church which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph_1:10, Eph_1:22, Eph_1:23; Eph_5:23, Eph_5:27, Eph_5:32; Col_1:18).
    25:2 The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion[...]; and of their children [...]and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ [...]the house and family of God [...] out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation [...].

    the Catholic Church is visible. But I can see why a group of men with no authorization from the apostles would want it to be quite invisible, so as to be able to claim membership without being questioned. But their dualism (shown particularly by comparing 25:1 and 25:2) is clearly seen and rejected by the Catholic Church.

    25:3 Unto this catholic visible Church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto [...].
    25:4 This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible [...]…
    so the Catholic Church is invisible as to elect members, visible as to profession (but only when that profession agrees with the West. Divines) so it’s visible, just only when people agree with us, otherwise it is a lot less, or perhaps not at all visible, or whatever dude…. BUT it has the “oracles and ordinances of God”.

    Drake said: “Sean I also know of no PCA members who believe that the Pope is the antichrist.”

    I was one, and I knew many in the PCA who did. So if you had met me, you would have met one. I’m not sure if the illusive TurretinFan is a PCA guy, but he takes NO exceptions to the WCF, which means he believes the Pope to be the antichrist. What is the point anyway? Is that a dogma of your conception of the church to believe that?

    “Covenantors are Protestants and the Covenantors know what the visible church is because they believed in defending national covenants in the past which strictly held all its local churches to one true religion.”

    So we determine the identity of the visible chruch by determining which claimant does a good enough job “defending national covenants in the past which strictly held all its local churches to one true religion.”? That definition is solid as quicksand. “True” religion? By what authority? Do I take your word for it I guess? I can get conflicting versions of that “true religion” from countless corners of Protestantism, including the Protestant between my ears if I choose to ignore the teaching of the apostles through the Church.

    -David M.

  89. David,
    The confession is merely distinguishing between the visible and invisible Church. Shaw deals with this. The invisible is a part of the visible.

    ” was one, and I knew many in the PCA who did. ”

    Fair enough. All the guys in the PCA I have met are Preterists. Would you admit that Preterism is a Jesuit founded eschatology? I’ll quit this issue after you respond.

    “So we determine the identity of the visible chruch by determining which claimant does a good enough job “defending national covenants in the past which strictly held all its local churches to one true religion.”? ”

    I was simply giving historical background to the definition of visible Church in the confession lest someone think I was mis-using it.

    ““True” religion? By what authority?”
    Priesthood of the believer friend. Let me ask you, are you saying that I have to go through hierarchies and intermediaries to get to the One? I think you guys need to do some serious study into the Ecclesiastical Hierarchies of Pseudo Dionysius. He brought Neoplatonism into the Christian Church and fooled it into believing he was a first century disciple of Paul. This guy is probably the biggest disaster that ever happened to Christianity and he is my historical explanation of why things went the direction they did for so many centuries.

    Matthew Pool takes up your position on authority in his Dialogue pg. 27 Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communicants often use the argument that a visible and established Authority is required to understand and interpret the Bible. This is the position of the unbelieving Jews at Christ’s time. The Jewish Chief priests and elders said to Jesus,

    Mat 21:25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?

    This is an interesting question because the Pharisees probed John’s authority to act in an ecclesiastical manner as well in John 1:25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

    They could not tell. I ask you the same question sir: Was John the Baptists Baptism from heaven or from men? If it was from heaven what empirical proof did John offer? None. Where did John get the authority to do these things? Obviously it was not from the Jewish Magisterium.

    In Acts 4:7 Peter is asked of his healing of the impotent man “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” His answer is the name of Jesus of Nazareth. No ecclesiastical or Magisterial reference here. No empirical proof.

    David your criticisms require a conversion to the Jewish Religion. If your views of authority were true, 1. The apostles and Jesus did not speak the truth because they did not go through the hierarchies and intermediaries at their time. They had no ecclesiastical authority. That was the major argument of the Jews. 2. If your argument holds that we can only take the sense of the Bible from the institution/organization that gave it to us, then we must take the sense of the Old testament from the Jews.

    Your views of authority backfire.

  90. Drake.

    I’ll let David answer for himself but I see the argument that we should all become Jewish because we believe that Christ built His Church and we must submit to the teaching of the church as a non argument.

    Its like saying that you are forced to become Jewish because you believe in the inspired word of God and so did the Jews. Or because the Jews tried to argue their beliefs from scripture and you try to argue your beliefs from scripture that you are somehow forced to become Jewish.

    It also glosses over the fact that Jesus did chose apostles and those apostles were given the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

  91. Drake, as a Reformed Protestant I am completely convinced that one huge mistake the reformers made was to equate the Pharisees/Jewish authorities of Jesus’ day with the Catholic Church of their own day. They then took every saying of Jesus against the Pharisees and lobbed it at the Catholic Church. Just my $.02

    Shalom,

    Aaron G.

  92. “Would you admit that Preterism is a Jesuit founded eschatology? I’ll quit this issue after you respond. “

    As a Reformed guy, I could have cared less if it came from Jesuits, but if so, proves nothing, and is an argument of “guilt by association” or some such. If Preterism is true, (or more corectly partial-Preterism as most postmils, formerly including me, would call it) …if partial-Preterism is true, what does it matter who articulated the idea first? I want the truth, and I don’t care who declares it. Honest to God, I have never heard that Preterism came from Jesuits. Mine came from R.C. Sproul, Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Doug Wilson, etc. And there is no conflict with a Preterist believing the Pope to be (the/a) antichrist, and being a partial-preterist. This seems all off topic anyway.

    “I was simply giving historical background to the definition of visible Church in the confession lest someone think I was mis-using it. “

    Fair enough, and you seem to be tracking with what it says. So I suppose you are faithful to the WCF. Then what? My point is that you are faithful to a man made, anachronistic, and self serving definition of how we identify the Church, in part that is what Pope Pius XI was criticising.

    “Let me ask you, are you saying that I have to go through hierarchies and intermediaries to get to the One?”

    As with most Catholic answers, of course, and of course not. But lets be clear, the Sacraments come through the Church. So the normative way we have access to God is through the Church He established. This is nothing new, and is even in the WCF in a sense. Even Jesus says “the one who hears you hears Me.” to the men He chose. I could go into the epistles as well, but you know the verses I bet.

    He brought Neoplatonism into the Christian Church and fooled it into believing he was a first century disciple of Paul.

    No man has ever “fooled” the Church. The Church is not able to fail, and has never done so.

    Was John the Baptists Baptism from heaven or from men? If it was from heaven what empirical proof did John offer? None. Where did John get the authority to do these things? Obviously it was not from the Jewish Magisterium.

    Ditto to Sean in #89. Further I would add that you have missed a basic fact about the “Jewish magisterium”. Jesus was greater in authority than them. You say John offered no proof, “none” you said, yet he pointed to God himself and said “behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” and then baptizes God. If you do not think that that is proof of his authority, then no proof will suffice for you. The pharisees were condemed as hypocrites, not for rejecting John or false teachings. “do what they say, not what they do.” Jesus said.

    In Acts 4:7 Peter is asked of his healing of the impotent man “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” His answer is the name of Jesus of Nazareth. No ecclesiastical or Magisterial reference here. No empirical proof.

    You did notice that it is Peter in this verse, right? It is the chief apostle, the one to whom Jesus gave the power to bind and lose “whatsoever” on earth and in heaven? So your claim there is “no ecclesiastical or Magisterial reference here” just makes me speechless. The entire verse is such a reference.

    You seem to be saying that your claimed membership in the “priesthood of believers” means that you (or the individual Christian) have direct, magisterial authority before God without going “through hierarchies and intermediaries”. I would simply offer the Protestant experiment as an example of the total, sustained, and ever-increasing failure of your interpretation of what that priesthood is. Not theory, but real world, Look-Around-And-See fact. If you want to claim your corner of Protestantism is immune to the criticism because you have the “True Religion”, as you said, you need to give some reason we should listen to you other than you agree with the WCF, or that you declare you are right. By what authority do you say these things? Do you claim the authority of a direct priestly relationship with God as the basis for all your claims here? Jesus bid us listen to His apostles. His apostles bid us listen to their successors (2Tim. 2:2). As for me I will stick with that line of successors.

    Peace,

    David M.

  93. You did notice that it is Peter in this verse, right? It is the chief apostle, the one to whom Jesus gave the power to bind and lose “whatsoever” on earth and in heaven? So your claim there is “no ecclesiastical or Magisterial reference here” just makes me speechless. The entire verse is such a reference.

    You did notice that nowhere does Peter refer to any supposed magisterial authority he had. Nowhere does he say, “By the authority given me as chief apostle and head of the church by Jesus Christ”. And nowhere does he refer to his power to bind and loose. Instead, he skips the whole magisterial authority and appeals directly to Christ. You’re reading into the passage your Catholic position. No wonder you are speechless :)

  94. No man has ever “fooled” the Church.

    Sure the church has been fooled. One has only to look at all the relics of questionable provenance in many Catholic churches to see that. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that it’s impossible to verify many/most of these relics and that many have been and should be quietly retired. And that’s just one example.

    Just look at the papal use of the forged Donation of Constantine. Any number of popes relied upon a forged document to support various papal claims. Popes were fooled, and the church with them.

    The Church is not able to fail, and has never done so.

    Sure it has. As an institution compose of fallible humans it fails all the time. One has only to read the headlines. You claim too much. Even if you believe in papal infallibility, that’s not the same as a claim to perfection.

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