The Witness of the “Lost Christianities”

May 26th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Most Americans probably think of Christianity as either Protestant or Latin Rite Roman Catholic. They may have a vague understanding of “Orthodoxy,” which they identify with the Greeks, Russians, or other Eastern Europeans. But, by and large, “Christianity” means the Latin West or, to a lesser extent, the Greek (and Cyrillic) East. As generalizations go, this one is not terribly far from the mark. Out of the estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the world, the vast majority are Roman Catholic (1.1 billion), Protestant (800 million) or Orthodox (200 million). Most of the Orthodox are Russian (150 million) or Greek (25 million.)

Nestorian Priestst
Nestorian Priests in China

The problem with this view is that it obscures the importance of other groups in Christian history. At one time, Christianity spread widely across Asia Minor, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Coptic, Syriac, Persian and Arabic were more important to many Christians than Latin or Greek. Around the year 800, for example, about one quarter of the world’s Christians looked to the Syriac/Arabic speaking Catholicos (Patriarch) of Bagdad as their spiritual leader. Coptic Christianity was the majority religion in Egypt until the 10th century, and had wide influence in Ethiopia, Syria, and even into India.

Some of these Churches broke off from the Catholic Church, but not all. The Maronites of Lebanon and Syria provide an outstanding example of fidelity to the Pope. In 517, the Monastery of St. Maron could address Pope Hormisdas as “Hormisdas, the most holy and blessed patriarch of the whole world, the holder of the See of Peter, the leader of the apostles.” During the 11th century, at the same time that Constantinople was rebuffing Rome, the Maronites reaffirmed their unity with the Holy See. Pope Pascal II gave crown and staff to the Maronite Patriarch Youseff Al Jirjisi in 1100 A.D. Innocent III likewise recognized the authority of their Patriarchate, and a Maronite bishop was present at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215.

Even those groups that broke away from the Pope were very important in the development of Catholic doctrine. Alexandria (Egypt) gave us the Church’s first systematic theologians and their influence was widely felt at the council of Nicaea. Egyptian monks were strong supporters of Nicene orthodoxy and their example of monasticism spread throughout the world. Syriac Christians have transmitted some of the greatest hymns and liturgies in the Church. We are indebted to all these Christians for the development of devotion to the Mother of God.

The rise of Islam caused great damage to these Christian communities. They no longer have anything like the numerical significance they once did. But their witness remains important for many reasons. One reason is that they witness to the principle of tradition, even when they broke fellowship with the Pope. If you compare the “Lost Christianities” to modern, “Bible-alone” Protestantism, you find stark differences. All the ancient Christian communities (even the non-Catholic ones) acknowledge the authority of priests, bishops, and patriarchs. They believe in apostolic succession. They practice a liturgical, Eucharistic spirituality. They pray for the dead. They venerate the saints.

These communities also witness to the importance of the Papacy even when they had previously broken with the Pope. In 2008, some Assyrian Christians sought reunion with the Pope because of their own liturgical and canonical tradition. Their Bishop Mar Bawai Soro said he was impressed with the prominent role ascribed to St. Peter and the Church of Rome in the history of the Assyrian Church.

Finally, these Churches are important because they demonstrate that Tradition alone is no more effective than Scripture alone in achieving Church unity. When these ancient communities broke fellowship with the wider Christian world, they did so in the name of tradition and antiquity. But some of them forgot that Catholicity is also a mark of the true Church. The Church is a visible unity spread across the globe. The true church cannot be simply the Church of the East, or the Church of the Copts, or the Russians, or the Lutherans or the Calvinists. Nor is it simply an ethereal, invisible, “spiritual” community of believers. As St. Augustine once said, the verdict of the whole world is conclusive! And this verdict can only be realized when there is a visible center of unity. For this reason, we need not only Scripture and tradition, but also the living Magisterium of the Church.

Non-Catholic historian Philip Jenkins has written an enjoyable book on these ancient Christian communities: The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia–and How It Died. Dominican theologian Aidan Nichols also treats them in his book Rome and the Eastern Churches.

289 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. What a shame then that the Roman Catholic Church broke away from the Orthodox.
    http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/church_history/michael_theschism.htm

  2. This is definitely something that had a great impact on me when I was trying to decide if the Protestant narrative or the Catholic/Orthodox narriative of Christianity were true.

    It’s possible to argue that the writings of the Church Fathers refer only to views of the privileged few Christians that were literate and were in favour with the few literate Christians who had the means to present a certain view of Christianity and all other views either weren’t recorded or didn’t survive for one reason or another. It’s a not far fetched scenario. Anyone familiar with history often constrast lived history (gained by diaries, correspondences, etc) from official history and notice that there is often a discrepency. You only need to talk to a WWI vet long enough to see the difference (not necessarily intentional or malicious), or look into the textual history of the Quran to official redaction of the Quran and the suras (unlike the Biblical texts).

    While this may appear to be arguing from silence, it’s an implicit assumption Protestant scholars who are learned in the Church have that allows them to accept some of what the Church Fathers say but not others but still not maintain mass apostacy of the early Christians. It’s also an argument that Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholics regularly make about the reliability of the Old Testament. If Jews didn’t exist today, one could claim that Christians simply modified the Old Testament to support Chrisitian theology. But since Jews still exist today and they agree on 99% of the texts, we can safely assume that no such Christian redaction took place.

    So given the commonality between the Orthodox and Catholic narrative and the historic antagonism after the Great Schism, it’s safe to assume that if the Protestant narrative was true, that narrative must have disappeared before the Great Schism. Given that Nestorian, Miaphysite, and early non-Nicene Christians that survive have nearly the same narrative and the historic antagonism and geographic diversity of these churches, it’s safe to assume that if the Protestant narrative was true that narrative must have disappeared before the Bible and Nicene Creed emerged. For all intents and purposes, that means we have no clue what Christianity really is given Jesus’s promise that the gates of Hell would not prevail, it’s more likely that Christianity was false than that it was always there in the common lives of Christians.

    Since Jesus is God without a doubt, the only question remained, which non-Protestant Christianity was *the true Christianity*?

  3. David,
    Thanks for the post. This is a similar thought I had been thinking through with Brandon Addison in his post on the historic evidences for Roman lineage of the Popes. His premise basically is that their isn’t enough evidence in the historic record of texts and histories for a line establishing Romans singular bishops. I found the actual arguments he made reasonable from a skeptical perspective. My main problem with the conclusion is that we have more than one apostolic lineage. Such as the sees of St. Mark’s see in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, St Andrew’s see in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, St. Peter’s see of Antioch in the Patriarch of Antioch, St. James’ see in the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. These sees had name by name bishops which follow the leadership of the others to this day and to the importance of Reformed protestants beyond the council of Nicaea at least. My point was that these sees are part of witnessing a tradition of keeping up with the names of overseers/bishops. Basically setting a president for showing the importance of apostolic succession which would show that Rome would kept up with its list of bishops as a matter of Apostolic tradition rather than by innovation as asserted by Brandon Addison. I found this argument quite substantial and I guess I see its basic tenets in your post.

    The one weak point I find in my own argument is that I was not there in the early days to witness the possibly earlier false developments asserted by others who are skeptics of Catholic positions. Other than the fideistic assertions of the Biblical witness of the Holy Spirit’s protection of the Church established by Christ in the Apostles and then their appointed replacements there doesn’t seem to be much argumentation that is substantial. It seems possible God would provide some more substantial biblical witness for our separated brethren. I realize God does what He wills for his own reasons and He has done enough for me to see the truth of the Church’s faithful witness. For that I am most grateful! I just hope to help in doing more for others. What ideas do you have in this area?

  4. Around the year 800, for example, about one quarter of the world’s Christians looked to the Syriac/Arabic speaking Catholicos (Patriarch) of Bagdad as their spiritual leader.

    They were called the “Nestorians” (and heretics) by the west (Rome) and Constanstinople (later – Eastern Orthodoxy) – the Assyrian Church of the East. They spoke in Syriac – and today this language survives in modern Assyrian. (the closest language to the ancient Aramaic of Jesus’ day.) Eventually, they had to speak Arabic also, because Islam forced it on them after they conquered Persia. The New Testament was not fully translated into Persian/Farsi until the Protestant Reformed missionary Henry Martyn went to Persia and worked on it in the early 1800s. He died in 1812 in eastern Turkey, on his way to England. There were pieces of NT verses and some Psalms translated into Persian, but Persians had to go to the Assyrians and learn Assyrian/Syriac in order to hear the Gospel. The Assyrian church of the east did great outreach along the northern parts of Persia to Central Asia and into China (along the silk road trading routes), but, later, the Mongolian invasions and Muslims together pretty much wiped all those churches out. When Islam came in the 600s -900s AD, they were cut off linguistically and culturally. The Nestorian/Assyian churches were forced by Islamic law to do no evangelism or outreach; and the church leadership compromised and agreed.

    Nestorius was exiled as a heretic at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. He emphasized the 2 natures of Jesus to such an extent that it seemed to teach 2 persons. He objected to the phrase “Mother of God” for Mary because of the mis-understandings that phrase communicates. And he was right in that respect. The whole Muslim World still mis-understands these things because of the over-exaltation of Mary and icons and statues and praying to Mary and praising her in dulia and hyper-dulia. The Muslims see idolatry, even though officially, the Roman Catholic Church distinquishes between Latria (worship due to God alone) and “dulia” (honor and veneration to dead saints and hyper-dulia to Mary as “Queen of Heaven”.) What kind of a witness is that?

    The Coptic Church adopted Monophysitism or Miaphysitism, thinking they were defending Cyril of Alexandria’s doctrine at the Council of Ephesus in 431; the Coptic Church rejected the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. It seems they believe that Jesus’ divine nature swallows up His human nature and so He only has “one nature” – “mono” = one; “phusis” = nature. The Jacobite Syrian and Armenian churches also became Mono-physite (they prefer Mia-physite), from another Greek word, mia/ μια for “one”.

    It seems that the harshness of policies of Emperor’s such as Justinian (Emperor: 527-565 AD) and Hericlius (610-641 AD) in trying to force the heretics (Monophysites – Copts, Syrian-Jacobites, Armenians) – sending troops to the areas to fight the heretics; and branding the Nestorian Assyrians (in Mesopotamia [today: Iraq] as part of the Persian Empire) as heretics, resulted in these groups “welcoming the Arab Muslims in the 600s and 700s as liberators from their Chalcedonian/Byzantine oppressors”. Many historians have written this. This is a sad testimony, that those who had the sound and Biblical doctrines of the Trinity and the correct doctrine of the 2 natures of Christ in one person (Chalcedon, 451 AD) had “left their first love” (Revelation 2:4-5) and lacked mercy, love, and evangelism to the Arabs – this created a vacuum that Islam, a false religion, filled. When the blessings of the gospel are not passed on in evangelism, missions, and being a light to the nations, then God in His sovereignty brings the nations to judge and discipline His people. (Exodus 19:5-6; 2 Kings 17, 2 Kings 23-24; Revelation 2:4-5) The lamp stands were removed in judgment and discipline. (Revelation 2:5) The Goths and Vandals were the first, bringing the false doctrines of Arianism back to North Africa. After the Vandals conquered N. Africa, after the 430s AD, they became Arian in theology. Since they had already denied the Deity of Christ for some 200 years, by the time Islam came in the 600s, “another generation had grown up that did not know the Lord” (book of Judges); and since Islam also denies the Deity of Christ, they N. Africans submitted to Islam easily. The Coptic Church survived because they had a stronger doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ from Athanasius and the New Testament. Islam was allowed to conquer because of the sins of the early church in adding unbiblical doctrines and man made traditions and for not being a holy people who shined the true light of the gospel of Christ.

  5. I forgot one other point I wanted to make, that Nestorius in exile, agreed with Leo I (bishop of Rome) and the Council of Chalcedon of 451 AD; but all through history, the churches in the west did not know this, and continued to call them heretics; until the late 1800s when Nestorius’ work, the “Bazaar of Hercleides” was found, in which Nestorius agreed to the doctrine that Jesus is one divine person with 2 natures. I remember speaking to Assyrians from Iran, who told me that they had taught the correct doctrine all along on the 2 natures of Christ, but language and culture and politics and the boundaries and threats of Islam had separated them for centuries and resulted in mis-understanding. They agreed with Chalcedon, but they don’t agree that the Pope in Rome is the bishop over all the other bishops.

  6. As I understand it –
    Some of the Assyrians in today’s Iraq, parts of Turkey and Iran, who eventually unified with Rome in the 1500s, are called “Chaldeans”, but that name is a misnomer in that it does not mean exactly “Babylonian” in the OT ethnic sense. Babylonians and Assyrians together survive in the ethnic Assyrian and Chaldean churches. They took that name only to disquinquish themselves from the Assyrian Nestorian church; as I understand the situation and history.

  7. David,

    Thanks for the article. When you mention those specific churches that fell away due to Tradition, it reminded me of debates I have had with many Protestants (Lutherans specifically) regarding the fallible doctrine of sola scriptura. Not only did I ask them where in Sacred Scripture could you point to me the doctrine of “Scripture Alone,” but also where in any tradition/writings of early Church Fathers/Doctors and/or throughout the first 1500+ within the Catholic Church/Eastern Orth Church itself. I would get names such as Wycliffe and Huss, as spurious as those men were, but not one person could point to me where the doctrine of sola scriptura was even imagined upon up until Luther in 1534AD. I would suppose maybe that the sola scriptura (among others) doctrine was just as invisible for 1500 years as that “invisible church” was and is for 2000 years.

    It’s so ironic how, many Protestants hold such contempt for Sacred Tradition and Apostolic Succession, but yet all they can really do is hold on to their reformed traditions (and reformed succession) such as holding on to the tradition of sola scriptura, as it is not found anywhere the bible, but rather it was and is a fallible idea that has been handed down through word of mouth and by letter for the last 500 years and only for the last 500 years. What’s even more ironic is that they claim that the Pope, Bishops, Councils etc. of the Catholic Church arrogate themselves above God’s written Word (when in fact they really do not!); when it is Protestants themselves arrogating themselves above God’s written word as sola scriptura is not in Scripture and is not in Tradition!

    For me, all it comes down to for the majority of Protestant pastors and laymen is their handed down contempt for the Catholic Church and Her representatives of Christ. I would suppose it is also out handed down envy for the Magisterium and the right to proper interpretation of the written Word of God that the Catholic Church herself has composed and preserved for all those centuries before the printing press!

    So, I would say, Protestants hold more onto “tradition alone” than “scripture alone” as the doctrines they have, are nothing but handed down traditions (through divided, broken succession) not found in Scripture, but from a few disgruntled men who out of contempt and envy of Christ delegating representatives (Popes, Bishops etc.) successfully throughout two thousand years, via sacrament. Luther and Calvin wanted to be and have what those first Apostles had, the Holy Spirit literally breathed into them and Luther and Calvin wanted to be apart of laying the foundation for Christ’s Church. Too bad, so sad for those guys and THEIR “successors.”

    God Bless you David,

    Eric

  8. Thanks for the article. Another accessible book would be Robert Louis Wilken’s “The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity” (Yale University Press) http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300198386

  9. I also forgot to include the Ethiopian Orthodox Church among the Mia-physites ( Mono-physites). They had that heretical doctrine that Jesus has only one nature (Deity), and the ancient churches in Yemen and Najran were from this theology. Islam eventually wiped them out and forced all Christians in Najran and Yemen to leave the Arabian peninsula – after the Pact of Omar II (Omar Ibin Abdul Aziz) , 717-720 AD, which was based on and developed out of Hadith traditions (“no two religions are allowed in the Arabian peninsula” and arguably, the Qur’an – 9:28-30) and the Assurance of Omar Ibin Khattab, the second Caliph, around 638 AD, when he and the first wave of Arab Muslims conquered Palestine-Syria-Lebanon-Persia (Mesopotamia and Iran) and North Africa into the 700s and Spain by 732 AD.

    The Christianity that Muhammad and the Arabs were exposed to was heretical, nominal, political, military-oriented, giving false witness by the appearance of worshiping Mary, and having lack of love in evangelism and missions.

  10. All the ancient Christian communities (even the non-Catholic ones) acknowledge the authority of priests, bishops, and patriarchs. They believe in apostolic succession. They practice a liturgical, Eucharistic spirituality. They pray for the dead. They venerate the saints.

    These are the earliest non-Biblical and man-made traditions, along with baptismal regeneration and later, infant baptism; that were allowed in, unfortunately. A big mistake was the worship and sacrifice language from the OT and priesthood was carried over into the New Testament, but all Christians were priests – 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10; and it seems Latin especially developed the word “priest” from presbyter, but combined ideas of sacerdotal (other word for one who makes sacrifices) aspects.

    Apostolic succession could be right, when the successors stick to the Scriptures and the “rule of faith” which was an outline of correct doctrine, that functioned as doctrinal points in evengelism for baptismal candidates. (Irenaeus – Against Heresies, 1:10:1-2; 1:22:1; 3:4:2; Tertullian- Presciption Against Heretics, 13, Against Praxeas 2:1-2; Origen- “On First Principles”, preface, 2-8; Athanasius “To Serapion: On the Holy Spirit against the Tropici heretics”, Book 1, 28-30 – Athanasius defends the Trinity and Deity of the Holy Spirit based on Matthew 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14 and other texts. ). But it was no guarantee of infallibility. The elders/overseers/pastors still had to cling to the Scriptures, which gave all the doctrines necessary for “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3. Irenaeus and Tertullian, Origen, and Athanasius used the argument of the rule of faith, the faith, the preaching, the tradition, against Gnostics and other heretics who denied the OT, the Father as creator of all physical matter, the goodness of matter and the body, etc. Protestantism agrees with that, and there is nothing in the lists that they give in those contexts that are the traditions that the RCC or EO later add to the Scriptures. They talk about other things / ideas in other contexts, but not in those specific contexts. Like Mary as the New Eve is mentioned in other places in their writings, but not within context of the rule of faith.

  11. […] of pon­tif­i­ca­tors. But a reader directed my atten­tion to Pr. Ken Temple’s mus­ings on this arti­cle at Called to Com­mu­nion; and for­give me, I am only human, but I could not resist. […]

  12. Hi Ken,

    I think you raise some valid and interesting points.

    However, am I correct in in believing that you are saying any body of Christians that have departed from what you term “…true light of the gospel of Christ…” are ‘up for the jump’ as they say and God’s hand of protection is removed?

  13. Scott Alt has pointed out a mistake in one of my statements at his blog, here
    http://scottericalt.com/calvinist-pr-ken-temple-says-bible-contains-mistakes/comment-page-1/#comment-1033

    and I wish to clarify:
    I wrote at his blog:
    Hi Scott,
    Thanks for your com­ments on my com­ments at Called to Com­mu­nion. I made a mis­take in that sen­tence that you have focused on, and I appre­ci­ate you point­ing it out.
    I did not mean that the NT has mis­takes in it by some­times refer­ring to the sac­ri­fi­cial lan­guage of the OT. For exam­ple, Jesus in Matthew 5:21 – 26 uses the tem­ple and sac­ri­fi­cial lan­guage to speak about mak­ing things right with peo­ple before you come and worship.
    I should have writ­ten, “A big mis­take was the wor­ship and sac­ri­fice lan­guage from the OT and priest­hood was car­ried over in church his­tory after the NT was writ­ten, into the inter­pre­ta­tion of the New Tes­ta­ment forms of gov­ern­ment and brought wrongly into early church his­tory to jus­tify the NT office of priest­hood as a church office, and sac­ri­fi­cial lan­guage of pas­sages like Malachi 1:11 being applied to the Lord’s sup­per as a sac­ri­fice, but all Chris­tians were priests – 1 Peter 2:4 – 10; Rev­e­la­tion 1:5 – 6; 5:10; and it seems Latin espe­cially devel­oped the word “priest” from pres­byter, but com­bined ideas of sac­er­do­tal (other word for one who makes sac­ri­fices) aspects.
    I hope that helps clar­ify what I meant. I in no way was try­ing to say any­thing against the inspi­ra­tion of Scrip­ture. Thanks for point­ing out my error in con­struct­ing my sen­tence.
    Sin­cerely,
    Ken Tem­ple

  14. However, am I correct in in believing that you are saying any body of Christians that have departed from what you term “…true light of the gospel of Christ…” are ‘up for the jump’ as they say and God’s hand of protection is removed?

    Thanks James for your comment and question!

    I don’t know about the phrase “up for the jump”; but . . .

    It seems that way. The Lord warned Israel in Leviticus 18 that the land would vomit them out, if they compromised and followed the practices of the pagan Canaanites and Egyptians.

    2 Kings 17 describes the Assyian invasion and captivity of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.
    It says “the Lord removed them from His sight” – 2 Kings 17:18 and 2 Kings 17:23. Because of their disobedience, and lack of being a holy people (Exodus 19:5-6), a light to the nations (Psalm 67, 96:3, Isaiah 49:6; 42:6), a kingdom of priests among the nations (Exodus 19:5-6), God disciplined and judged them.

    2 Kings chapters 23, 24, and 25 describes the Babylonian invasions and captivity and destruction of the temple in 586 BC. “The Lord removed Judah from His sight” (see 2 Kings 23:27; 24:3; 24:12, 14, 24:20)

    Later, the Persians conquer Babylon and let the Jews go back to the land and rebuilt the temple. (books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, Zechariah 1:1 (Darius the Great, the Persian ruler), Haggai 1:1, etc.)

    the OT closes

    Later, the Greeks conquer Persia. (Alexander of Macedonia, 330 BC) OT translated into Greek.

    Later, the Romans conquer Greece. 63 BC

    Jesus was born in the fulness of time. Galatians 4:4

    Jesus ministers to people from other ethnic backgrounds in Israel as a result of centuries of these other peoples invading Israel. (Persian Magi come in Matthew 2 because of Daniel’s prophesy in Daniel 9:24-27; Romans, Samaritans, Greeks in John 12) Samaritans were the result from the inter-marriage with the Assyrians in the Northern Kingdom of 2 Kings 17.

    Jesus warns the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5 – that He is coming and will remove their lamp stand.

    The Barbarians invade the Christians in the early centuries and conquered many parts, especially in 400s AD – Vandals in 430 in North Africa. Goths, Visi-Goths, Huns, Franks, Britons, etc. Ulfilas was a missionary to the Goths, but too Arian false doctrine to them, to the Vandals and Goths. When they conquered N. Africa in the 400s, they brought Arian false doctrine. When Islam came in the 600s, they were a new generation that “did not know the Lord” (book of Judges). They secumbed to Islam because they already denied the Deity of Christ and the Trinity and not longer had the gospel. The Coptic Church survived because of strong doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ from Athanasius.

    The Vikings invaded Europe from Scandanavia in the 800s AD and forward because of failure to reach out in evangelism and missions.

    So, yes, it does seem like a pattern in both Biblical history and church history – ‘When the blessings of the gospel are not shared with other nations in Evangelism and missions and Biblical truth; then God brings the nations to judge and discipline His people.”

  15. but too Arian false doctrine to them,

    Should have been:
    but took Arian false doctrine to them,

    Sorry for typos

  16. Hey Ken,

    I appreciate the response. Give me a little time to mull over what you have said and I will likewise get back!

  17. Hi Ken,

    So to just get this clear, do you subscribe to the notion that Sacred Scripture is the ‘sole’ authority for Christians?

  18. So to just get this clear, do you subscribe to the notion that Sacred Scripture is the ‘sole’ authority for Christians?

    No. Scripture is the sole infallible rule; it is the final court of appeals and judge; but there are secondary authorities and sources – creeds, doctrinal statements, scholars, pastors, elders, good theologians in history, etc.

  19. I guess what I’m getting at is where do you peg this exact time and place where everything went wrong?

  20. Ken,

    I haven’t seen you since Dave Armstong’s discussion on Penal Substitutionary Atonement with Adomnan a few years back. I hope you are well.

    Scripture is the sole infallible rule

    Great. Where is this concept *asserted* in the whole of Scripture? To review, where does the Holy Writ *assert* the *concept* that the Scriptures are the “sole infallable rule of faith?”

    I contend that this concept is *not* asserted in the Bible.

    I would, of course, be more willing to “buy” material sufficiency… you know… if that is what you were selling… ;)

    IC XC
    Christopher

  21. Also, what denomination are you? Just so I can get a better idea of where your coming from.

  22. Are you Calvinist in polity?

  23. David Anders: From your original blog post:

    If you compare the “Lost Christianities” to modern, “Bible-alone” Protestantism, you find stark differences. All the ancient Christian communities (even the non-Catholic ones) acknowledge the authority of priests, bishops, and patriarchs. They believe in apostolic succession.

    This is entirely not accurate. Samuel Hugh Moffett, writing in A History of Christianity in Asia, Volume 1 (Second revised and corrected edition, © 1998, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books) relates:

    There is very little reliable evidence of a developed episcopate in Persia until much before the year 300. It is apparent from the evidence in other parts of the Persian border regions, notably Edessa and Arbela (Adiabene), that ever since about the end of the second century the church had slowly been moving in the direction of greater centralization of authority and that in the third and fourth centuries the process accelerated. What had once been a collection of congregations and preaching points, each apparently independent but knit together by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ [and certainly reflecting an evangelical and congregational governmental structure – jb], became in the first half of the fourth century a nationwide community, with no single head but with graded church structures (bishops, priests, and deacons) separated geographically but in communication with each other (117, emphasis added).

    He is very clear about this: No document dating to before the year 200 mentions a bishop. “Later historians, however, labored to fill the gaps with unbroken lines of episcopal succession back to the apostles”. In a footnote, Moffett lists numerous documents from that region, dating to that time, and none of them mentions either a “bishop” or an episcopal office.

    This process mirrors the process that Brandon Addison outlined in his article on the early “bishops” of Rome. In the late second and early third centuries, there was an apologetic effort to shore up the notion of “apostolic succession”, even though, especially in this part of the world, it was not a consideration before Irenaeus wrote about it.

    Moffett continues to relate other, later documentation which affirms that this is how the process worked:

    The years of relative toleration under the late Parthians and early Sassanid emperors would have furnished opportunity for visible, organized Christian leadership to emerge. However, though the evidence is more reliable in the third century, it is difficult to prove the existence of bishops in eastern Syrian and Mesopotamia before the year 300. Even in Edessa the first bishop in the Chronicle of Edessa (c. 550) is Qona, who is reported to have begun the building of the great Cathedral there in 313. The important center of Nisibis [a center of Christian education] had no bishop before 301, and the first bishop mentioned by name there, James of Nisibis or perhaps Babu (it is uncertain which was first), was not a metropolitan and therefore had authority only in his own congregation (118 emphasis added).

    In fact, there are records (though disputed) of the first ordination of both “bishop” and “priest” in the capital city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (near modern day Baghdad).

    It was not tradition but pragmatic and sometimes sordid ecclesiastical and political developments that eventually elevated the bishop of the Persian capital, Seleucia-Ctesiphon, to headship over all the church of the East (later called the Nestorian church). As late as 270 the small group of Christians in the capital had no bishop, much less a catholicos (or patriarch). In that year, according to the disputed account in the History of the Church of Adiabene), the Christians of Seleucia-Ctesiphon begged Shaklupa, “bishop” of Arbela, who was visiting them, to choose and ordain their first priest, which he did. About 20 years later, perhaps between 280 and 290, the two bishops of Arbela and Susa, deciding that it was now fitting that the capital city should have its own bishop, elevated its priest, Papa bar-Aggai, to the rank of bishop (120).

    The concept of priest took more than 200 years to make it to this eastern church, in the capital city of a neighboring empire, even though the “churches of the east” claim apostolic foundation (Thaddeus). Moffett relates that of the late first/early second century hymnbook the Odes of Solomon contains a list of “church officers” of that period, which includes “interpreters”, “narrators”, “confessors”, “preachers”, and “teachers”, noting that this “points to an order much more loosely defined than the bishop-presbyter-deacon formula found in Edessa in the third century” (55).

    I think the deeper you look into the history of these churches, the more you’ll find that “episcopacy” is a late “development” that was not a part of the thinking of the earliest Christians there. All of this shows first of all, a reflection of the history of how “apostolic succession” “developed” and further, it enables one to see the truly provincial are the later claims of the Roman church that it somehow, ever, had any sort of jurisdiction over this part of the world.

  24. I guess what I’m getting at is where do you peg this exact time and place where everything went wrong?

    James,
    There is no set date of an exact time; it was a slow process. It was not all at once. But it is worse after Augustine died (430 AD) and after the Council of Orange (529 AD). The problems of exalting Mary too much slowly began from calling her “Mother of God” and the Council of Ephesis in 431 AD. Originally, it was meant to communicate that Jesus was God in the womb of Mary and pre-existed, but the title and prayers and praises and icons and statues of her and lack of proper doctrine and outreach to the Arabs eventually created a situation where God allowed Islam to arise and attack the churches. From 632 AD, death of Muhammad, to the conquering of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks – 1453 – God in His sovereignty allowed [the Goths, Vandals(400-600s)], and Islam to judge the churches for “leaving their first love” (Ephesians 2:4-5) From 600 AD onward is the exelleration of the doctrine of Purgatory, indulgences, Transubstantiation from 800s to 1215, – until Wycliffe (1300s), Hus (1400s), and Luther (1517 – 1546) started rightly objecting to the problems.

    I am a Calvinistic Baptist, Southern Baptist, college of elder rule for each independent local church. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-6) Similar theology and church government doctrine as James White, John Piper, Al Mohler (Southern Seminary), John McArthur, Mark Dever, if you want some names of well known Reformed Baptists.

  25. Christopher: (# 20)
    Greetings. Yes, I stayed away from Dave Armstrong’s blog for a while, but have been back “at it” recently with Adomnan again. Even this is talking up too much time; but this subject here and the connections to the history of Islam is a very interesting one for me.

    Great. Where is this concept *asserted* in the whole of Scripture? To review, where does the Holy Writ *assert* the *concept* that the Scriptures are the “sole infallable rule of faith?”

    I contend that this concept is *not* asserted in the Bible.

    We already debated that issue a lot with each other as I recall; and there are some threads here at Called to Communtion that go into the 300s, 500s, and 1,000 comments on Sola Scriptura, Canon, Hermeneutics, and related issues. (since 2009) It’s all too much for me to read and keep up with totally, though I have commented here before on some of these when my comments were allowed.

    As I recall, and still maintain, the words “The Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith” is not in those exact words in Scripture, just as the doctrine of the Trinity as “One God in three co-eternal persons” or “One God in substance, three persons/hypostasis/persona” is not there is those words. But, Protestantism has always maintained that the concept is there in general form by passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (whatever is God-breathed is Sacred Scripture, therefore it is infallible, therefore it is “canon” (standard) when written(48-96 AD); and 1 Cor. 4:6 (“do not go beyond what is written”) and that all traditions must be subject to Scripture (Matthew 15, Mark 7). The writings are what “the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation chapters 2-3). I think Athanasius taught Sola Scriptura in a seed form, a general principle, though not in the exact wording of what Luther and Calvin taught.
    Even Irenaeus and Tertullian, with “the rule of faith”, is combatible with Sola Scriptura, since they are doctrinal statements structured around Matthew 28:19 and the three persons of the Trinity, that became the Apostles Creed and Nicean Creed later; because there is nothing in the rule of faith when it is explicated, that has those other man-made traditions that were not Biblical. (all the ones Protestants have trouble with)

  26. John,

    “No document dating to before the year 200 mentions a bishop.”

    Is not the term overseer synonymous with that of bishop?

    Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. – Acts 20:28 (DRA)

    A faithful saying: if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. – 1 Timothy 3:1 (DRA)

  27. Ken,

    I’m quite curious as to how you would take this passage when dealing with God’s written Word being the “sole norm or rule of faith.”

    “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 3:15 (NIV*)

    I used the protestant translation of bulwark (safeguard) to foundation as you see in the above passage just for arguments sake.

  28. Ken,

    Thanks for the reply? Where are you “back at it” with Adomnan? I would be interested in reading the discussion.

    “As I recall, and still maintain, the words ‘The Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith’ is not in those exact words in Scripture, just as the doctrine of the Trinity as ‘One God in three co-eternal persons’ or ‘One God in substance, three persons/hypostasis/persona’ is not there is those words.”

    I asked merely for where the *concept* was asserted in Scripture, not the wording. I used the quotes around “sole infallible rule of faith” to make sure you know that I had a decent, basic, understandingg of what Protestants of your ilk mean with they say “Sola Scriptura.”

    None of the Scriptures you quoted to me make me want to buy that the Bible asserts the concept that that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith… perhaps it’s just not perspicacious enough for someone whom might have his mind darkened? ;)

    I would love to know more about your current Adomnan discussion, but… I think our Sola Scriptura discussion is at an impasse.

    IC XC
    Christopher

  29. I apologize for all my typos; I hope that everyone can tell what I meant.

    taking up too much time,
    instead of “talking too much time”

    communion, not “communtion”

    acceleration, not “excelleration”

  30. Gentlemen,

    Just a reminder. The focus of this post is the history of “The Lost Christianities.”
    Let’s stay on topic, or move the discussion to a post that addresses your concerns.

    -David

  31. John Bugay has provided good material from Samuel Moffat’s book.

    Moffat’s book is a much better and more scholarly, and detailed book than Philip Jenkin’s book. I have both. I was disappointed in Philip Jenkin’s seemingly political correctness attitude toward Islam (p. 43, 99-101; 109; 242 – says the harshness against Christians and Jews is not inherent in Islam) and the Dhimmi policies against the minority Christian communities. He mentions this, but avoids grounding Dhimmitude in the Qur’an and Hadith and does not hardly mention Omar ibn Al Khattab and Omar ibn Abudul Aziz. Some details are helpful, but Jenkin’s also is positive toward Gnostics, Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, and Karen King and Karen Armstrong. I was very disappointed in his approach of always couching the violence and persection of Islam with “But Christians did it too” and proceed to focus on that.

    Eric,
    I think the moderators (see David Ander’s exhortation) want us to stick to the subject, and I don’t think my take on 1 Tim. 3:14-15 would be seen as relevant to the subject. ( ?) Basically, Paul exhorts Timothy to follow the writings – “I write this so that . . . ” The wrting tells them how to do church. The local church is to guard the truth, uphold the truth, proclaim the truth. (bulwark and pillar) Many local churches failed and drifted and left the faith. (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation chapters 2-3 – all were conquered by Islam – Colossea also.)

    Christopher,
    You can easily find my recent discussions with Adomnan over at Dave Armstrong’s blog. Look for my 3 part review of my friend Rod Bennett’s book. (at Beggar’s All) Then, Dave critiqued my review of Rod’s book at his blog.

  32. Is not the term overseer synonymous with that of bishop?

    Eric,
    John may comment himself, but I am quite sure he means no extra-biblical document after the NT was written, about a mono-episcopate, about the eastern churches discussed in this article and these 2 aforementioned books. I checked the page no. 117-118 and sure enough, Moffat talks about the fact that presbyter and overseer are the same office in the NT after the quote John provided on p. 117, and goes on to write, “No document so far found dating to before 200 mentions a bishop.” (top of p. 118, Moffet) So, he means after the NT Scriptures.

  33. Also, don’t forget, the exhortation to Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:14-15 was while he was pastoring in Ephesus. It was Ephesus especially that served as an example of Jesus coming in judgement and taking away their lamp stand. The local church is a lamp stand – suppossed to hold up the light and be a light and shine the light. Today, no Christianity is in Ephesus. The Goths destroyed it in 263 AD; then the Seljuk Turks before the Crusades, then the Ottoman Turks after the Crusades. They left their first love. Revelation 2:4-5. This is also the root cause of all Protestant churches that were once vibrant in England, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Scottland, USA – New England Puritanism. Liberal theology and compromise was also “leaving their first love”. Today, the compromises with same sex marriage and other liberal issues will cause those churches to apostatize also.

  34. Ken,

    The reason I was asking you the bullet point questions was to discern where your coming from. The glaring problem with your supposition (again I am assuming much) is that you believe and take on faith that your interpretation of Sacred Scripture (and history) is free of error; ergo the 1.6 billion Catholics are wrong, the 200 million strong Eastern Orthodox is wrong, and the vast majority of your 800 million strong Protestant kin are also wrong.

    I won’t pursue this line as per David’s request (sorry David!). That being said (although I have not read much of your blog) I do admire that burning Protestant desire to seek out Truth.

  35. One last thing! Ken by your logic, wouldn’t the Catholic Church have been done away with by now? It’s been 2000 years after all…

  36. James –
    I hope the moderators will allow me to answer you; for they may not think this is on the subject.
    In a sense, it is on the general subject of “lost Christianities”, but with a different meaning that Jenkins’ book.

    I don’t accept your premise that the early “catholic” church is the same as the modern Roman Catholic Church that this site is doing apologetics for; and I don’t accept your premise that it has been around for 2000 years.

    The Roman Catholic Church, in its current form, has only been around since – one could argue, it seems to me –

    since the 500s-600s – growth of Purgatory and related issues, exaltation of Mary, bishop of Rome becoming more powerful, rituals and sacraments overshadowing Augustine’s theology of grace, etc.

    or

    since
    1054 – split from EO
    or
    1215 –
    or
    Trent (1545-1563) (condemning the biblical doctrine of Justification by faith alone)

    or Vatican 2 (1963-69) – The Traditionalists, and Sede-Vecantists argue that there was a fundamental change from “no salvation outside the church” to “separated brethren” and atheists may be saved (CCC # 847) and Muslims worship the same God as we do ( CCC # 841)

    So, no, I don’t accept your premise that the Roman Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years. You call her “Catholic”, but they are actually 2 different entities/ realities.

  37. Anil Wang and Ken,

    Anil:

    While this may appear to be arguing from silence, it’s an implicit assumption Protestant scholars who are learned in the Church have that allows them to accept some of what the Church Fathers say but not others but still not maintain mass apostacy of the early Christians.

    This is exactly what I’ve been saying all along on this site. Catholics all too quickly rush to present our case as a false dichotomy. But the early Church didn’t go into apostasy. I suppose it’s possible some dissented and created their own churches that got suppressed and erased from history, but I think the more likely explanation is that the Spirit-filled Christians and priests bit their tongues while accretions and the institution emerged in the 3rd century. I suppose this would lead me to conclude God did not consider various accretions to be apostasy, otherwise the gates of hades really would have prevailed.

    Nevertheless, Catholics err in believing that just because God allows something, doesn’t mean He approves or endorses it. He allows sin and error up to a certain point. When things got so out of control that the Popes began testing God how far they could go in sin and error before being cut off from God’s protective hand, they found out with the Reformation. (And to a lesser extent loosing the Eastern Christians during a wicked time of the RCC – Read how prevalent sodomy in the hierarchy was by Peter Damian).

    God took away their temporal power grab error and smacked their sin down by raising up common men disgusted with the heirarchy’s lack of morals.

    God may have held his patience with accretions because the alternative was far worse: get gobbled up by the pagan armies. But once that was no longer a threat, the Spirit began departing from the RCC and into many of the Godly true followers of Christ in the Reformation, as He does to this day.

    The question in recent ages is whether Catholics should remain in the RCC.

    I think there can be Spirit-filled Christians in it but it seems only inspite of the RCC, not because of it. They must first accept the Lord into their hearts as their personal Savior and truly look to Him and no other for salvation. If they do this, the accretions might be able to be managed and a healthy skepticism of the Magisterium exist.

    The majority of Protestants believe the same essentials, just as perhaps a majority of Roman Catholics follow their magisterium’s teachings. Neither has perfection, both have uncertainties.
    Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the one true church.

  38. Hi David,

    One thing that interests me about your comment is the implicit assumption that we can easily determine which historical movements count as divine judgment on sin/apostasy and which ones count as benign toleration of error. Also, I’m interested in your claim that God allowed the Reformation in response to sin and temporal ambition. (Calvin sometimes speaks of the Papacy in terms of a power grab, but Luther and Calvin both denied that they were primarily interested in a Reformation of morals.)

    Do you really think we are in a position to evaluate schism in this way, without some “inside information” on the divine will?

    To illustrate, both the monophysite and the Nestorian schisms could plausibly be interpreted the same way. (and, heck, why not the Arians, too?) The Jacobite Church, for example, was very large and important in its day. They saw themselves as heirs to an ancient, apostolic tradition of the Alexandrian Church. They opposed the “temporal power grab” of the Byzantine, Chalcedonian, Imperial Church. How do you know that this schism was not the divine smack down you speak of?

    On the other hand, there were many other “righteous remnants” that popped up in the Catholic Middle Ages. Radical Franciscans, Waldensians, and others. Some of the 12th century “heresies” were soteriologically must closer to the 2nd century church than to the Reformation. Do you see my point?

    Your historiography, your historical hermeneutic is highly theological. Apart from revelation or some divine authority, how can it avoid also being unwarranted and tendentious?

    -David

  39. David (#37)

    I think there can be Spirit-filled Christians in it but it seems only inspite of the RCC, not because of it. They must first accept the Lord into their hearts as their personal Savior and truly look to Him and no other for salvation. If they do this, the accretions might be able to be managed and a healthy skepticism of the Magisterium exist.

    This is quite interesting, David. So does this mean that people like myself, who converted to the Catholic Church, not in spite of the Church and its teachings, but because of it and its teachings; who hold not to any scepticism of the Magisterium, but quite the contrary, that we believe the Magisterium is ordained of God and cannot err – that such people as I am cannot be Spirit-filled (and perhaps cannot be saved)?

    I have interacted with you in another post. There I had the impression that your view was simply that the Catholic Church ought to ease off in its anathemas. Now it appears that it may be that if I wholeheartedly agree with the Church, and am a Catholic precisely because of those things that you think are accretions, that by that fact my salvation may be in danger.

    What exactly is your view of the Church. Can a person who is a Catholic wholeheartedly be saved whilst remaining a wholehearted papistical Catholic?

    jj

  40. Hi Ken,

    I believe (and can prove) your picking and choosing what and what is not, and who and who is not apostate holds water only within your own personal take on history and how it has played out.

    Okay so you contend that the current Roman Catholic Church is NOT in any way linked to the historic Church established by Christ. Right.

    Pray tell Ken, when Charles Martel sent the Islamic conquerors packing in the 730’s and is widely recognized as the savior of Western Christianity; who’s side was God on, the Christian Franks or the Islamic conquerors?

  41. Ken (re: #36),

    The Roman Catholic Church, in its current form, has only been around since – one could argue, it seems to me – since the 500s-600s – growth of Purgatory and related issues, exaltation of Mary, bishop of Rome becoming more powerful, rituals and sacraments overshadowing Augustine’s theology of grace, etc.

    This assertion betrays the assumption that the early Church cannot be identified with the current Catholic Church since the latter affirms doctrines that were refined/developed (and précised) after the Apostles died. However, that assumption would also imply that the early Church could not be the same as the Church that affirmed Chalcedonian Christology, since the appropriate categories and distinctions were not laid out in the 1st century (at least not in any extant writings). If one responds that the essentials of the Trinity are clear in Scripture, then a RC may similarly respond that the essentials of “Purgatory and related issues” (even if in seed form) are present in Scripture and Tradition.

    So, no, I don’t accept your premise that the Roman Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years. You call her “Catholic”, but they are actually 2 different entities/ realities.

    To show that they are “2 different entities”, one would have to do more than point to distinctions/developments made in doctrine over time. A tall oak tree can still be properly identified with its previous shorter stature, and a grown man can still be properly identified with youthful self, even in the presence of manifest differences.

    Peace,
    John D.

  42. Greetings David Anders and JJ,

    David A,
    I think it’s safe to say when people stray from the Truth, God withdraws His divine hand of protection. One way to determine if divine judgment was invoked is to look at what was being taught and what sorts of fruit the area was bearing. I think you could perhaps entertain the very real possibility that because the Eastern territories were heavily Monophysite, that God withdrew His protection there. I am less comfortable doing this though since I cannot test the fruits of the monophysites. I can, however, do this with Protestants, and because there is much good fruit from the Reformation (passion to evangelize, zeal for the Word, doctrinal clarity, morality, God-fearing preaching, many healing miracles, focus on the Gospel and Jesus Christ as the only Mediator, countless shelters and assistance for the needy, a very real and full presence of the Holy Spirit…and the like).

    Because I know these to be real, I can say with confidence that the Reformation was divinely guided.

    Also both Calvin and Luther vividly speak out against the degenerate morals of the hierarchy.

    You mention the Waldensians. This is a very important period in the history of God’s Church. I think the Waldensians may be compared to the early Christians in Rome – a sort of prelude to a new birth on the horizon. They’re blood will always speak loudly as a testament to how Rome veered off course. In a way, they were like John the Baptist, and their story should make all Roman Catholics stop and think very carefully.

    JJ,
    Far be it from me to comment on the salvation of Roman Catholics who truly buy into everything their Magisterium instructs them in. I tend to see them like Saul prior to becoming Paul. I believe I probably would be executed by them in the Middle Ages.

    I think their zeal is misplaced. But Jesus always honors faith and knows our hearts. He is the Way, the Truth and Life. If these Roman Catholics truly believe in Jesus Christ as their personal and only Savoir, I think if they are honest with themselves, they will have some doubts about some of their Magisterium’s teachings.

    I believe God works on an individual basis. He might be calling such a Roman Catholic to leave the RCC. I see the RCC as a grand protective tent that served its primary purpose until the Gospel conquered paganism. About this time it lost its first love, as did one of the original seven churches (Rev. 2:4) and rather than turning back to a more primitive type of Church, it sought to expand and so fell in love with the world, like most institutions so often do when they outlive their primary purpose and forget their calling.

    Nevertheless, God works with individuals and I believe will honor sincere hearts sprinkled clean and made new (Ezekiel 36:25). And such a person with this type of clean heart that still can only see the RCC as God’s only true way, I believe He has ways of still keeping even this type of person, who has misguided zeal, from buying into all the accretions, despite their remaining within the church that breathes with only one lung. This would be the Roman Catholic back in the Middle Ages who’s eyes were opened and said, “No, we shouldn’t be burning Jan Huss, Waldensians and Protestants.” The Holy Spirit will work on this person his whole life, showing him what he should really focus on.

  43. David @37
    Good to see you back.

    As John asked above, in a previous post, you were criticizing our emphasis on the mutual exclusivity of Protestantism and Catholicism, our stating that if the Protestant perspective is true, Catholicism is, while not necessarily THE “Anti-Christ”, it is opposed to Christ, being antichrist. But now you state that a Catholic can be a spirit-filled Christian, just so long as he is actually a Protestant in spirit, and not a Catholic in actuality.

    NB: I am defining fervent and spirit-filled as one seeking to conform themselves to the will of God in all things, and displaying the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and not enthusiasm, for if enthusiasm was the criterion for Truth or the working of the Holy Spirit, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Communists would have, lamentably, most of us beat by their enthusiasm. Remember Matthew 7:15-23, “Lord, Lord, Did we not…”

    With this definition in mind, according to your thesis, those who are quasi-Catholics would be conspicuous in displaying the work of God in their lives, while those who are fully obedient to the Magisterium and Heirarchy, who practice “True Devotion to Mary”, who have a sacramentally-centered devotional life around the Eucharist and Confession, etc; these Catholics would be stand out for their laxity and tepidity in the Lord.

    But we see it entirely the other way around. It is those Catholics who pray the Rosary, who go to daily Mass and adoration, who are submissive to ecclesiastical authority, these Catholics are the ones on the front lines of the pro-life movement, who care for the poor (such as Mother Teresa), who stand up for the Commandments of God, etc.

    The miasma which, as you have correctly observed, hangs in the air of Western Catholicism like unholy incense (or as Pope Paul VI said, the Smoke of Satan) comes precisely from the neglect of the Eucharist, from the cooling of Marian Devotion, and from a skepticism of the Magisterium.

    In another post, I think, I linked to various lives of the modern saints. Particularly I would suggest looking to St. Maximilian Kolbe, because his spirituality, which could be described as ecstatically Eucharistic and entirely Marian, exemplifies that these “accretions” don’t separate us from Christ, but are the means He has given us to speed us towards, not just faith in, but union with Him.

    Finally, I would suggest that the thesis that the “accretions” were present, perhaps in seed form in some cases such as Marian Devotion, or perhaps simply not recorded until later (St. Basil explicitly said there were some things that were only passed on by word of mouth, and not entrusted to writing). Also, in the manuscript evidence being discussed above, from my understanding, terms may not emerge till later documents, but we don’t see them emerging with contention and controversy. My point is that, speaking from the Catholic paradigm, what I am seeing is Protestants decrying certain elements of Catholicism doctrine and practice as accretions similar to how a hand may separate itself from the body and then call the nose, legs, and feet of the body accretions.

    To put it in a list:
    1. Pristine Christianity was much like modern Protestantism
    2. Records from early on show Christian practice and doctrine as being more consistent to modern Catholicism / Orthodoxy than Protestantism.
    3. Therefore, a slow process of accretions took place and disfigured the simple truth of the Gospel during the first centuries after Christ.

    But I would suggest:
    1. Jesus Christ founded a visible and distinct institution. This has been undergoing an organic development (without contradiction), much like an acorn growing into a tree. This same Church is the modern Catholic Church.
    2. Various groups have separated from Her throughout the centuries. Some are still with us, some have died off. One particular group, Protestantism, accepted some parts of Catholicism but rejected others.
    3. These rejected elements have been and now are decried by them as accretions.

    I hate to constantly refer to my own experience, but I say this as someone who had strongly held the “Accretions” theory in the past–to the point that I could have been writing, albeit with less facility and charity, the same things you are–my suggestion is that what appear as accretions are actually elements of the “Full Gospel” that were alienated from Protesantism, and I would argue that the example of the saints and devout Catholics today are evidence that those alienated elements are not a wall separating us from Christ, but the road leading to Him.

  44. Also, several here have commented that the Reformation could have of been allowed by God in response to the sins of the late medieval Church/Society. As a Catholic, I am fine with that understanding. It isn’t a popular notion today, but God can allow things to happen to wake us up. Consider the history of the Old Testament and the Jews: fall away, disaster, repent, repeat.

    However, what I wouldn’t agree with is that this is a good thing, also, it is a poor guessing game to try and figure out whose sins caused which evil, as Our Lord reminded us in the Gospels. Whether its a plague, a war, or a schism, evil permitted as chastisement is not a good thing.

    And even when the Israelites turned to idols, they were called back by God. God didn’t choose another people when the Isrealites worshiped the Golden Calf (yes, He threatened to, and Moses interceded with the result being God *changed* His mind, but we know that prayer is only effective if it is in line with the will of God and God cannot *change his mind*).

    So, sure, the Reformation could have of been in response to a falling away by many. But that doesn’t make it a good thing, nor does it mean it was the direct will of God, It woke the Church up, and brought us the Counter-reformation with the Jesuits, St. Francis de Sales, the reforms of Sts. Teresa and John of the Cross, etc.

  45. A comment about ‘anti-Christ’ – it appears that several – possibly David and Fra Charles – take the prefix ‘anti-‘ in its ordinary English meaning of ‘opposed to; against.’ I did not mean it in that way when I said that the Catholic Church, given its claims to be Christ’s official Voice in the world, is, if not what it claims, then it is anti-Christ. I meant by that what I understand the New Testament to mean when it uses the term: a false substitute for Christ. The anti-Christs in Scripture are what Jesus is referring to when He says “many will come in my Name” – and means that He has not sent them.

    Protestant churches do not claim to be His official Voice. They claim only to understand Him and to be telling of Him. They say that the only official Voice of Christ in the world is Scripture.

    The Catholic Church is not satisfied with that. It claims that it – and it only – is authorised and commanded by Christ to authoritatively be His vicegerent in the world. That claim is almost unique – I think the Mormons make it, and possibly Jehovah’s witnesses.

    If the Church is wrong about that, then it may still be absolutely right about many of the things it teaches. It could, in principle, even by right about everything it teaches. It would still be anti-Christ. It would be giving itself out as Christ’s official representative – as sent “in His Name.”

    This does actually seem relevant to the subject of the ‘lost Christianities.’ Those that do not accept the office of the Catholic Church have, tacitly, at least, labelled it anti-Christ.

    Anyway, I wanted to make clear that that is what I meant by saying that the Church, if not what it claims, is anti-Christ – not that you need to assume it is running around trying to oppose Christ, and nor, as David seems to have assumed, that I am talking about apostasy.

    jj

  46. David (#42)

    I think their zeal is misplaced. But Jesus always honors faith and knows our hearts. He is the Way, the Truth and Life. If these Roman Catholics truly believe in Jesus Christ as their personal and only Savoir, I think if they are honest with themselves, they will have some doubts about some of their Magisterium’s teachings.

    I must, alas, then be being dishonest with myself (my Protestant friends have said I was “wilfully self-deceived”). To have doubts about any of the Magisterium’s teachings, I would have to have doubts about the Church being what it claims; I have never, in the now nearly twenty years since I made my decision, had the slightest trace of a doubt. Like Newman, I can think of no more horrifying thought than again to be a Protestant.

    jj

  47. David (re:#42),

    Because the subject you have been raising on this thread (supposedly unBiblical “accretions” in the Catholic Church) is off-topic for this post, I propose that we should move the discussion of your concerns over to the comment boxes for the “Ecclesial Deism” article. That piece speaks much more to your concerns than does “The Witness of the Lost Christianities. I will respond to you over at “Ecclesial Deism,” and I hope that you will join me there. Thanks, and God bless! http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/07/ecclesial-deism/

  48. Michael #3,

    Since you mentioned my article, I only want to clarify something and then I’ll allow the conversation to move forward. If you’d like to discuss anything else about my article, we can feel free to take the discussion over to that thread. You said,

    His premise basically is that their isn’t enough evidence in the historic record of texts and histories for a line establishing Romans singular bishops.

    This is not accurate. My argument is significantly stronger than that, namely, that every piece of evidence that we do possess speaks to plurality and not to monarchical episcopacy. All of the evidence points in one direction, or, in other words, the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction from the idea that Jesus founded the RCC. We have plenty of evidence; it is just that it supports my position (“presbyterian” polity) and not CtC’s (that Jesus established the episcopate).

  49. Hello Fra Charles, @43

    With this definition in mind, according to your thesis, those who are quasi-Catholics would be conspicuous in displaying the work of God in their lives, while those who are fully obedient to the Magisterium and Heirarchy, who practice “True Devotion to Mary”, who have a sacramentally-centered devotional life around the Eucharist and Confession, etc; these Catholics would be stand out for their laxity and tepidity in the Lord.

    But we see it entirely the other way around. It is those Catholics who pray the Rosary, who go to daily Mass and adoration, who are submissive to ecclesiastical authority, these Catholics are the ones on the front lines of the pro-life movement, who care for the poor (such as Mother Teresa), who stand up for the Commandments of God, etc.

    Not so. Simply being a “quasi-Catholic” doesn’t equate to Spirit-filled (and yes I approve of your definition clarifying this is not to be confused with enthusiasm). I am contending that Catholics that truly make Jesus Christ their one and only Lord and Savior, will be the ones that develop a healthy skepticism of the Magisterium and live Spirit-filled lives. But ultimately I believe these will eventually be led to see how their Church has erred on some important things. This is an important distinction. Your example of “quasi-Catholics” are nothing more than lukewarm Christians, and I agree with you that these types do not live Spirit-filled lives.

    Now it is possible that Roman Catholics who are zealous for their Church will display the qualities you hold up, however I would say the same thing about Saul prior to his conversion. Saul was second to none in devotion. The comparison is imperfect since Judaism rejects Christ and so is even further removed from grace, but to an extent I think this illustrates the point. Because the RCC has not fallen into apostasy, even its “Sauls” are in a better state than Saul himself was before his eyes were opened. The RCC is very large and organized so has an edge on the Protestant churches when it comes to pro-life movement demonstrations. I believe things like this are why God still blesses the RCC. Despite its accretions, He still uses it for good. Just because the RCC is off on some key things (or even one) does not mean God will completely abandon it (or that it is intentionally anti-Christ). But His tolerating accretions for a long time also doesn’t mean He is happy with or approves them.

    But what about all the RCC saints, you say. Here too we must be careful not to almost-deify anyone. No one except Jesus Christ alone is righteous (Romans 3:10), not even those the RCC has officially labelled “saints”. I believe some that made Rome’s list were saints, but others likely were not. For a long time I have admired Augustine’s mother, St. Monica, and I believe she is a saint, just as you and I could be if we persist to the end as saints (Romans 1:7). Indeed we are all called to be such.

    I am very suspicious of the medieval notion of the “dark night of the soul” especially when it lasts a very long time. I am aware Mother Teresa and some other RCC labeled saints experienced this. I recently acquired the book that includes Mother Teresa’s letters confessing she felt far away from Jesus for many years. I do not think God operates like this. Her very long darknight experience, like similar others which Rome awarded with the official saint title, may partly be sad but revealing lessons where misplaced zeal produces fruits yet from starved hearts feeding on blurred Gospel marred by accretions. Even if life be tortuous, I believe the man and woman who has a right belief in and relationship with Christ will always be able to feel His presence (Psalm 23) and will not hunger or thirst (John 6:35).

    Finally to your lists:
    The second seems nicer according to man’s wishes and thoughts. But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). God tolerated a lot of accretions with the ancient Israelites and even promted schism between Israel and Juda. He works in mysterious ways, and for Him, truth and doing right is more important than unity and valid oblations (Isaiah 1:11-17).

    Spirit-filled Christians are pilgrims in this life. We don’t need grand buildings and towering theology. Christ alone. Scripture first. Treasure in Heaven (Mathew 6:20).

    David

  50. David:

    My “spirit filled life” led me into the Roman Catholic Church. I’m a much better Christian for it. For example, I no longer believe that objectively immoral behaviors are acceptable. Ironically, I now agree more with Calvin and Luther on some points.

    St. James said the prayer of the righteous man avails much. Somebody righteous must have been praying for me.

    Peace

  51. David (#49)

    I am contending that Catholics that truly make Jesus Christ their one and only Lord and Savior, will be the ones that develop a healthy skepticism of the Magisterium and live Spirit-filled lives.

    David, how will you know which ones truly make Jesus Christ their one and only Lord and Saviour? Will it be by seeing which ones develop a healthy scepticism of the Magisterium? If so, it seems circular. I seek daily and moment by moment to make Jesus Christ my one and only Lord and Saviour – and have absolute confidence in the Magisterium. Indeed, I believe that it is precisely my seeking to make Jesus Christ my one and only Lord and Saviour and gives me that absolute confidence in the Magisterium.

    jj

  52. David (and Ken for that matter, if you are still reading)

    In Scripture, we have a strong motif of persecution. On your scheme, is there a way of telling which are the churches shrinking due to their apostasy and abandonment by God, and which are the churches shrinking because of their being persecuted for the sake of righteousness?

  53. Brent,
    The article you linked simply showed how RCC’s steep natural law worldview affected even the early Reformers (who didn’t surface out of a vacuum). Contraception/sin of Onan…worse than adultery? Please.

    JJ,
    Re-read my post to you in #42.

    Alec,
    It’s not about quantifying results. Not a science, no hard fast rule. The Spirit blows where He wills (John 3:8) and we must follow. There are indicators though: Matthew 7:16. God has ensured the Reformation kept the essential salvation message (the most important part of the Gospel that by then had become clouded). The Spirit is alive in a myriad of expressions of the Faith, blossoming like leafy branches on a mighty oak tree.

    Word of God first,
    David

  54. I wish I could keep up with all the growing comments. I read them once by email, unless really long and complicated, but I don’t have much time to keep interacting.

    I would just re-iterate that it was the persecution of the doctrinally sound Chalcedonian Trinitarians (but wrong on government unification with the church and punishing heretics, etc.) against the Nestorians (Mesopotamia, Syria) and Monophysites (Syria, Palestine, Egypt – Coptic Church, Armenians) that created the bitterness and resentments of those communities and so, they welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators (from the Byzantine-Chalcedonian armies and policies) at first, generally speaking. The Muslims deceived them, established the Dhimmi principles, and did not allow new church buildings or evangelism; and they have been persecuted ever since; especially under the Ottomans and more recently with the resurrgence of Islamic Jihadism and throwing off of dictator regimes that grew out of the era of Colonialism and the abolishment of the Caliphate in 1924 by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk. The Muslim Brotherhood was started as a response to the abolishment of the Caliphate and the influence of western morality and ideas into Muslim society. Those minority Christian groups have been shrinking over the centuries because of the general nature of Islam to just be the way it is – it is by nature poltical and militaristic and seeks to conquer and dominate and wipe out.

    Persecution – the church of the Trinity and Deity of Christ (Nicea and Chalcedon – all good on doctrinal matters, but from 400s to 600s – trying to enforce Chalcedon by armies and troops into Syria and Egypt was wrong) later became the persecutors – too harsh on Nestorius, Monosphysites, then later, things like the persecution against the Waldensians, the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, burning of Hus, condeming Wycliff, condemning Luther, those that were killed under Bloody Mary,etc.

    We Protestants hold Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, etc. in high esteem for their faithfulness in persecution and Athanasius as he endured 5 times exile; and Chrysostom for being exiled by the queen.

  55. This is an interesting and helpful post for me personally. My mom’s family is from Lebanon and they attended in a Maronite Catholic parish in Massachusetts. She raised me in Protestant churches, but we have both found our way back to the Catholic Church (very much in spite of the way I perceived the cultural nominal Catholicism I was exposed to growing up) . In my journey, it was tremendously helpful to go back and look at the eastern traditions which have remained faithful to the see of Peter and to realize that it’s not just a “Latin” church but is truly universal.

  56. David (#53)

    JJ,
    Re-read my post to you in #42.

    Did. I’m not sure what your point is. It still says:

    I think if they are honest with themselves, they will have some doubts about some of their Magisterium’s teachings.

    Thus I conclude that I am not being honest with myself. Why did you tell me to re-read your comment?

    jj

  57. PS – I mean that I have no doubts about the Magisterium’s teaching. I thus conclude that, if you are correct, I am not being honest with myself..

    Kind of a tricky situation to be in, since I do actually believe I am being honest with myself – but if I am being dishonest, then wouldn’t I think that?

    I guess I am doomed.

    jj

  58. Hi Rose,

    Excellent News! I too was called out of what is lacking (i.e. Protestantism). I wish you all the best in your continued journey.

    David (and to an extent Ken)

    It comes across as highly convenient to state that God allows the literal wiping out of whom you deign ‘apostate’ in some areas; and yet when this paradigm utterly fails (i.e. Charles Martel’s saving of Catholic Christianity) it’s all of a sudden “Well you know…the Holy Spirit is mysterious and does what He wants…errr..umm”.

    It should be noted that I am in no way saying the Holy Spirit is NOT mysterious and works in ways we can not understand.

    Ken,

    I await your reply regarding Charles Martel.

  59. Pray tell Ken, when Charles Martel sent the Islamic conquerors packing in the 730′s and is widely recognized as the savior of Western Christianity; who’s side was God on, the Christian Franks or the Islamic conquerors?

    Hi James,
    Yes, I am grateful for the stopping of the Islamic Jihadism by Charles Martel. “savior of western Christianity” – yes; for a while. Self-defense and just war principle is a good Biblical principle – Romans 13:1-8, etc. It is difficult to judge other things though – like Vietnam, the Iraq War, etc. – the winner does not always mean they were morally right. Personally, I think USA was right in Vietnam and the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, although sometimes our side has done specific things that were not good or not wise or just wrong. But hard to fault the brave men in the heat of the battle.

    God was on Charles Martel’s side in order to keep Europe/Christiandom going and provide the atmosphere that created the reactions of latter times, until Wycliff (1300s), Hus (1400s), Luther (1500s) and Calvin, etc.

    But God allowing liberal theology to conquer Europe, even Catholic France, Spain, and Italy are very secular and pagan. It is not just a Protestant liberal problem. The “living voice” does not seem to be able to help, even in Italy, and yet the Pope is right there close by.

    Nominalism, infant baptistm, external organizational unity, etc. is no guarantee of spiritual life or the working of the working of the Holy Spirit.

  60. The Crusades (1095-1299) – the aspect of the Crusades that was right was a self-defense/just war aspect. The problem was the indulgences and pentitential theology (motivating guilty sinners and criminals that if they go kill Muslims, they get an indulgence and time lessened in purgatory – Wow! ) behind it that motivated people and the evil actions of killing Jews along the way and the bloody sacking of Constantinople from the Greeks – that was really bad. It appears God allowed Islam to win in those areas, because of the wickedness of a lot of the actions of the Crusaders, even though the self-defense/just war principle/help the Byzantine Greeks aspect was right. The Greeks called on the west and the Pope to help – they went to help defend against the Seljuk Turks, who had just defeated them in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikurt near Lake Van (Armenia at the time, near the Turkish-Iran border today). If they had been more righteous in the way they carried it out, maybe the outcome would have been different. But, come on, everybody recognizes that the Latin Crusaders turning against the Byzantines and slaughtering them was wrong.

  61. For anyone still reading the comments of this post, I wanted to point out that, contra John and Ken, bishops are known in the writings of the Fathers before 200 AD: http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2011/10/on-authority-of-bishops-from-st.html. Thus far St. Ignatius of Antioch. I’m surprised this wasn’t mentioned anywhere here (that I saw).

    Also, if there are early historical cases of under-developed Church structure in certain geographical areas, need we take that as proof that authoritative Church structure was not handed on as willed by God? I know of nothing from my historical studies that would not make the following a plausible explanation: the basic gospel message, transmitted through various means of intentional and accidental evangelization, preceded organization. How can it be otherwise? As the gospel spread by means of apostolic activity, conscious development of established churches followed.

  62. It doesn’t seem as if anyone directly answered “Irish Presbyterian” who was the first comment in reply to this article.

    It seems to me that a partial response from the Catholic perspective would have to be:

    (a.) The witness of the “Lost Christianities” demonstrates that, whatever the Church is, it is a visible hierarchical organization with bishops and Apostolic Succession, the Eucharist as sacrifice, aural confession, prayer for the dead, asking the saints for intercession, etc., …i.e., something a lot more like either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy than like Irish Presbyterianism;

    (b.) To determine who has entered schism and who has stayed with the Church requires that there be a principled way to distinguish, between two groups, which one is the Church. But the belief that the other group is in doctrinal error does not provide a principled way to make that distinction. If one believes in a visible Church, only an objective and visible (and thus historically-traceable) criterion can be used to make such a distinction. And there is no historically plausible candidate for that criterion except for the question, “Which group of bishops has remained in communion with the successor of Peter?”

  63. Ken,
    I am unaware that an indulgence was ever offered for “killing Muslims”. Could you show us your sources pleas?

    Oh, for sure, I am well aware of the Crusades and the indulgences offered for recapturing the Holy Land from the Turks. Had I been alive in those days and fit enough, I would have joined Kings Louis and Richard in that noble effort. I would have wanted the indulgence too.

    You also wrote,
    “God was on Charles Martel’s side in order to keep Europe/Christiandom going and provide the atmosphere that created the reactions of latter times, until Wycliff (1300s), Hus (1400s), Luther (1500s) and Calvin, etc.”

    In your opinion, was God on the side of the Christians at Lepanto too when the Turks were defeated by the sword and the Rosary together?

  64. RE: Comment 23:

    John Bugay: Do you have any evidence from influential primary sources during the first 200 years that show the early church was NOT apostolic (ie. succession through bishops)?

  65. regarding # 61 –
    Dear Telemachus,
    Yes, both John Bugay and I are aware that Ignatius of Antioch, around 107-117 AD, wrote letters and speaks of the bishop over a church – the beginning of the Mono-episcopate = One bishop/overseer over the council of elders. However, earlier, in Titus 1:5-7; Acts 14:23; 1 Peter 5:1-5; Acts 20:17, 28; Philippians 1:1; and non-Canonical 1 Clement 44 (96 AD), also Didache – these earlier texts show that presbuteroi (elders) and episcopoi (bishops/overseers) were the same office in the early church. Ignatius made an innovation and first time practice that stuck and was developed after that. Thanks for your comment.

  66. Regarding # 64
    Dan,
    If I may venture a response, even though you addressed it to John Bugay. All Bible believing Protestants believe that the early church was to appoint elders/overseers/pastors who would replace those who either died or stopped serving as elders/overseers/pastors for some reason. Appointing new leadership is Biblical and we respect many of the early church elders/bishops. What we don’t believe in is that they were infallible or could not err in teaching. Only God and His word are infallible. That is an innovation/heresy – that elders / bishops/ pastors are infallible. We can hold to what they taught that was Biblical and judge what they taught as wrong if they taught an un-Biblical doctrine. For example, Augustine was right on election, grace, and salvation; but wrong on baptismal regeneration. Jerome was right on the Apocrypha not being inspired or canonical; but Jerome was wrong on the perpetural virginity of Mary. Irenaeus was right against Gnostics, but wrong on Jesus’ age. Tertullian was right to question infant baptism, and he was right that Joseph and Mary had a normal sexual marriage after Jesus was born, but he was wrong on venial and mortal sins and merit, etc. Cyprian was right in his rebuke of Stephen, bishop of Rome, but wrong on infant baptism and priests. Some aspects of the early church were following apostolic doctrine and practice, but they introduced innovations and heresies also, that were later developed into the heretical Roman Catholic Church, especially from Gregory 1, 600 AD and onwards.

  67. Regarding # 63

    Hi Jim,
    It is more common knowledge, and what is important is that the Crusaders took the Pope’s promise of indulgences and “ran with it”. Shows the fallibility and corruption of the Pope – if he was infallible he would have known that sinful humans would slaughter Jews and Eastern Orthodox also, because the motivation of promise of full indulgence was evil and unBiblical. If it had been communicated properly – a “just war” and that is all, without any promise of forgiveness, etc. (same way that USA was motivated to fight evil Nazis in WW2 and against Al Qaedah Islamic terrorists, etc.), maybe God would have blessed the outcome. But God judged western world by the sins of the indulgence false doctrine system and allowed Islam to win. Maybe you have the exact official Papal documents. Jonathan Riley Smith (A Roman Catholic scholar of the Crusades) called the Crusades “Pennitential Wars”. (I read some of his material years ago, don’t have the exact references in front of me; but he admitted the penance/indulgence aspect of it as the primary motivating force.

    The Just War aspect was right, but the indulgence theology of motivating people was wrong. The Crusades began on November 25, 1095, with the Papal edict of Pope Urban II calling for a “holy war” against the Turks (the dominant Muslim empire), which he referred to as “an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God,” which he aimed to “exterminate this vile race from our lands.” By “our lands” the Italian Urban was referring to the Byzantine Empire (essentially modern Turkey, Syria etc.) and most specifically to the Biblical Holy Lands and, most specifically to Jerusalem, which had been passed from the Roman Empire to the Roman Christian Empire and then fallen to Arab-Muslim control in 638.
    Urban II offered full indulgence to any Christian participating in the Crusade. This meant quite simply that any and all sins would be forgiven and the Crusader would lessen time in purgatory and enter heaven. As you can imagine, this only encouraged Crusaders to engage in the worst types of sin — rape, robbery, murder — during the Crusades. (since they could get forgiveness later. This is a big problem with Roman Catholic theology – the indulgence system that lasted and dominated from Crusade period until Luther protested. ) By the time of the Crusades, indulgences were already granted by the Church to Christians for various reasons — a pilgrimage to Jerusalem could already buy one partial or full remission of sins, and those who died during the pilgrimage were believed to go directly to heaven, regardless of previous sins.

  68. # 63
    I don’t believe the Rosary had any power or effect on the battle’s outcome. they are empty words and beads and Mary cannot hear those prayers. Prayers to Mary is blasphemy and wrong. Pray to the Father through Jesus Christ, the one mediator. ( 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; Romans 8:32-34) Those verses prove Roman Catholic prayers to Mary and saints is totally wrong.

  69. Ken Temple #65,

    Your hypothesis both presumes and ignores a lot. First of all, why would Ignatius think he has the authority to invent a new form of church government? An innovation like that would require apostolic authority, would it not? Second, this ignores the fact that Ignatius takes it as a given that episcopal polity is already widespread. He writes to bishops well outside his sphere of ecclesiastical authority in Syria. So all these bishops from Asia Minor would have to be in on the promotion of his supposed innovations. Would they suppose that the older laity (who would still be able to remember the prior presbyterial form of the church) would be unaware of these radical changes to church governance? Your theory turns a saint into a destructive innovator, which is shameful. Third, there is already a threefold office in the NT period: apostles, presbyters and deacons. Originally, only the apostles could ordain presbyters for the churches. This shifts from apostles to apostolic delegates like Timothy and Titus as the apostles die off; the apostolic delegates were assigned to ordain bishops in their place. This leaves us with the structure of bishops, presbyters and deacons well before the end of the first century. Fourth, the first established church with apostolic ties was the church in Jerusalem, and it had a threefold office of James (the bishop), who oversaw a group of presbyters in the city, with the assistance of the deacons. Gradually, this form of church government spread outwards with the growth of the Christian mission outside Jerusalem until already by the beginning of the second century it could be taken as a given.

  70. I might add, that the fact that apostolic delegates like Timothy and Titus were appointed to ordain bishops tells us that this is what the apostles were already doing in preparation for their departure. The delegates obviously were appointed to do what the apostles were already doing, in those places where the apostles had yet to establish localized episcopal seats and could not travel to.

  71. Ken,

    Regarding Comment #66
    “All Bible believing Protestants believe…”

    I’m looking at this from the perspective of a 1st-Century Christian — and asking a question they might ask if they were brought into the 20th century:

    “What’s a ‘Bible’?”

  72. Don Carollo #71:

    I’m looking at this from the perspective of a 1st-Century Christian — and asking a question they might ask if they were brought into the 20th century:

    “What’s a ‘Bible’?”

    This is a good question, and since my good friend Ken has taken the time to respond on my behalf in this thread, I’ll return the favor.

    As I said, this is a good question — and a good approach. The way to approach these things is to try to understand, within the context of the times, what is meant when a certain word or phrase or concept is used. In understanding history (and theology), it’s very important to understand “what they knew and when they knew it”,

    So, in Ken’s phrase, the word “Bible” is anachronistically applied to first-century Christians. And of course, we all know that “anachronism” is both a logical and historical fallacy, to be called out when it is employed, and to be avoided in our thinking. For example, it would be an anachronism to say that the Medieval knights also employed a kind of Southern (US ante-bellum) chivalry. That would be taking a concept from one era, and applying it to an era when it did not exist.

    But while Ken’s use of “Bible” was anachronistic, the concept he tried to convey, the fact that there were “Scriptures” in the first century, is perfectly true and valid.

    Jesus referred on many occasions to the Hebrew Scriptures (“the Scriptures cannot be broken”, “not one jot nor tittle of the law shall pass away”, etc.). And even from a canonical perspective, he knew of “canon” in implying that he could identify each “jot” and each “tittle” that would never pass away.

    As well, he held his disciples responsible for knowing and understanding this canon. In Luke 24, for example: .

    44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

    45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

    They were reminded of this as if they should know it. It is possible for disciples to know and be held accountable to a canon of Scripture.

    Later, Peter refers to Paul’s letters as “Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Paul’s letters were collected and revered as “Scriptures”, even within his own lifetime. The general principle that distinguishes “canon” and “Scriptures” from that which is “not Scripture” is known to Jesus and his earliest disciples (i.e., in the “1st Century”, as you say).

  73. Hi Paul Owen,
    Good argumentation for the mono-episcopate and three fold church government. I respect Ignatius greatly and it seems to me that Jerome’s statement (see below – in Jerome’s commentary on Titus) is correct about the issue, that elders and bishops are the same, but because of custom/practice, and to ensure unity and get rid of the seeds of disunity, one of the elder/bishops who was more gifted in leadership and preaching/teaching naturally rose to the top. It was a practical development. Jerome calls it “a custom, not by divine appointment” – a practical decision, not commanded by God in Scripture. The problem is not so much with the way Ignatius or even Cyprian (250 AD) applied it, the problem was later with the claims of Rome of “bishop over all bishops” (Stephen and beyond – 258 AD and Gregory 1 (601 AD and beyond). At least Cyprian and 85 other bishops from all over the empire knew that Stephen was wrong in his arrogant claims. As a practical matter, modern pastors write letters and make decisions for the whole church after consulting with the elders and function as the “one leader” up front/ main teaching elder, but I think the plurality of elders is important to hold on to the principle of accountability to other elders, and guard against pride and arrogance and acting as a “dictator” in the local church.

    Clement of Rome ( 96 AD) – Presbyters and Bishops are the same office – I Clement 44, confirming Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; I Peter 5:1-4. Clement, with the Biblical passages, along with Philippians 1:1 (bishops and deacons), along with the Didache (15) (bishops and deacons), and with Jerome’s statement that a “A presbyter, therefore, is the same as a bishop” and that the bishops being appointed above the presbyters was “a custom, not by divine appointment” (Commentary on Titus, PL 26:562-563, cited by James White in Perspectives on Church Government, Five Views of Church Polity, Broadman and Holman, 2004, p. 251-252) shows that the deepest and oldest history is that local churches had two offices 1. elders (overseers, who teach and shepherd the flock or do the work of pastors) and 2. deacons (servants, ministers); and that it was later that the office of bishop (episcopos/overseer) was separated out from and made above the college of plurality of elders for each church.

  74. Thanks John!
    I fully agree with what you have written. (# 72)

  75. Ken,

    Paul is of course free to respond as he will, but I want to point out that the question of the polity of the early church (and the position of St. Jerome on the same), has been addressed in the article, “The Bishops of History and the Catholic Faith,” on the front page of this website. See section II, sub-sections 2 and 3.

    Andrew

  76. Ken #73,

    Though I would differ with your understanding of some of the NT texts, I personally don’t deny that there are some places where the terms bishop(s) and presbyter(s) are used interchangeably, both in apostolic and post-apostolic literature. That does not mean there was no reservation of apostolic episcopal authority to designated men (something that does not require a distinct title). Since all ministers are ordained as priests, whether or not they have the additional authority to ordain, it should not surprise us if there is some fluidity of terminology in the earliest recorded history.

    As to Jerome, as I’ve mentioned in other threads, I’m not sure he gets you very far. He thinks originally that bishops and presbyters were the same; the same that is, in the earliest apostolic period. But the shift to episcopal government, with the power to ordain reserved for bishops in distinction from ordinary presbyters, took place in the first century when associates of the apostles like Mark were still alive, as Jerome makes clear in his letter to Evangelus. It is true that Jerome does attribute the consolidation of episcopal authority to the “custom” of the church in his commentary on Titus 1:5, but this is only because there was no “ordinance of the Lord” to that effect; meaning either that Jesus never commanded it, or God never gave this as an explicit instruction to the apostles. But Jerome most certainly did not see this as a second century development as most Presbyterians and Baptists do. He saw it as a change that took place when at least some of the apostles were still alive.

  77. Hi Paul Owen –
    you wrote in # 76 –
    “Since all ministers are ordained as priests, ”

    No; there is no such thing as a New Testament “priest” as a church office. All believers are priests – 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10. Jesus is high priest in the book of Hebrews.

    Mark being still alive at the time of Ignatius does not seem like a strong point, in relation to Jerome’s point. So what? You would have to show some sort of relationship to the discussion of presbyters/bishops issue from Mark’s writings (is Mark quoted in the letter you reference by Jerome? if not, it is just a strained argument from silence) It was a practical decision, not a divine command or principle from Scripture.

  78. there is no such thing as a New Testament “priest” as a church office.

    Hi Ken,

    In the English language, the meaning of the word “priest” depends on context. When talking about the office of “priest” in the Catholic Church, the word “priest” in that context is shorthand for the Latin word “presbyter”, which comes from the Greek word “presbyteros”, which is commonly translated as “elder” in most bibles. If you search the etymology of the word “priest”, you’ll see how this happened.

    It’s very confusing.

    This table is useful:

    Bishop = “episkopos” = overseer
    Priest = “presbyteros” = elder
    Deacon = “diakonos” = servant

  79. The problem is that the Latin term carried concepts of a mediator and offering pagan sacrifices – sacerdotalism. Elder/Presbuteros carried no such connotation. This shows the danger of what happened when the Early church drifted from Greek into Latin as the main ecclesiastical language. The centuries of Christianity got locked into unBiblical traditions/bad translations (penance, iustification), especially from 400 AD to Luther, because of not sticking closely to the Greek.

  80. Hi Ken,

    The concept of mediation and sacrifice are not uniquely pagan. They are also Hebraic. “Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices.” (Hebrews 8:3) The baptismal priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9) shares in that work of offering praise to God. The idea of sacrifice is essential to biblical worship.

    I think what the Reformers objected to was the idea of a ministerial priesthood distinct from the baptismal priesthood. They also objected to the idea of Eucharistic sacrifice.

    I must confess puzzlement over your claim that the Catholic doctrine on Priesthood has anything to do with Latin as opposed to Greek.
    The anaphora of St. James – the oldest Eucharistic liturgy in the Church, preserved in Syriac and in Greek, reads as follows:

    Reject not, O my Lord, the service of this bloodless sacrifice for we rely not on our righteousness, but on Your mercy. Let not this Mystery, which was instituted for our salvation, be for our condemnation, but for the remission of our sins and for the rendering of thanks to You and to Your Only-begotten Son and to Your all holy, good, adorable, life-giving and consubstantial Spirit, now, always and forever.

    The concept of Eucharistic sacrifice and priesthood are not Latin innovations. If anything, the Rubrics of Byzantine worship would seem to bring this out even more clearly.

    Where did you get the idea that Latin became the “main” ecclesiastical language? Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Coptic, and Greek were far more significant world wide than Latin – which held sway only in the West. The theological developments you object to were worked out in the first 4 centuries and reflected in councils and liturgies that were non-Latin.

    Finally, I’m sure you know that Protestant scholars like Joachim Jeremias also find sacrifice in the Eucharistic words of Jesus. I’ll direct you to his exegesis, which is extensive, in his book on the subject.

    As to whether or not any of these traditions were unbiblical, I’d happily admit that some ancient Christian traditions are not reflected in Scripture. Especially liturgical traditions. But that just raises a question – which came first, the Scripture or the liturgy? Jesus never said, “read this in memory of me,” nor did he say, “Write this in memory of me.” But Paul did say of the liturgy, “The tradition I received from the Lord I hand on to you.” “Unbiblical” is no threat to Catholic tradition. But “untraditional” poses serious Problems to Protestant hermeneutics.

    — However, Penance is a perfectly biblical idea: 2 Sam. 12; 2 Sam. 24 – forgiveness and satisfaction are distinguished.

    As to whether Luther stuck closely to the Greek text, I rather doubt that. He imported a number of assumptions that do not emerge from the texts themselves – simul iustus et peccator, alien righteousness, the law/gospel hermeneutic, etc. All of these were novel inferences.

    -David

  81. Ken (re: #79)

    In addition to what David just said, the list of early Church Fathers (see the “Proof of Sacrificial Priesthood” section of our “Holy Orders” article) who taught the sacrificial character of the Eucharist does not seem to be any more Latin than Greek. If this were the result of some strange translation problem on the part of the Latins, there would have been a very serious controversy between the Latins and Greeks regarding this doctrine. But this has never been a disputed doctrine between Greeks and Latins, which indicates that it was not a Latin innovation, but something present from the beginning.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  82. Where did you get the idea that Latin became the “main” ecclesiastical language? Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Coptic, and Greek were far more significant world wide than Latin – which held sway only in the West.

    Thanks David Anders for your response, and Bryan Cross also –

    I am working on responding to your responses, (later) but just a quick note on David’s comment on Persian and Arabic. The Arabic Bible was not translated until the 900s AD. That is quite a long time after the early church of say the first 500 years. This is well documented. I will have to get the exact date later – Robert Louis Wilken , who is a scholar and convert to Roman Catholicism, similar to you gentlemen here at Called to Communion, mentions it in his book, The Land Called Holy. I will seek to track that down later.

    Henry Martyn in 1812 made the first NT translation into Persian in history. There were only pieces of the gospels and some Psalms that were translated into Persian (Farsi) before that time. The Assyrian church (called the Nestorian Church by Rome and Constantinople) was in Mesopotamia mostly (today’s Iraq) and at the time part of the greater Persian Empire. The Assyrian Church spoke Assyrian or Syriac, related to ancient Aramaic, the language of the Peshitta. Farsi/Persian was not used much, so I don’t know where you get the idea that it was very widespread in early Christian history. Most of the ethnic Persians were not touched by the gospel, the “Persian church” of the earliest centuries is more accurately “The Assyrian Church”, which was a minority language of the greater Persian Empire. Most Persians were Zoroastrians before Islam invaded in the mid 600s AD into the 900s.

    Syriac, Coptic, Greek – agreed. (for the east)

  83. Hi Ken,

    I’m no expert on Arabic and Persian translations of the Scriptures. I suspect you may be correct about this. If so, it demonstrates how vernacular translation of Scripture and liturgical language can diverge for quite a while across Christian traditions. I know that many of my Arabic-speaking Christian friends continue to worship in Syriac or Coptic. The vernacular Malayalam was not used in the Syro-Malabar rite until 1962. Some rites use Old Church Slavonic to this day.

    Just to be clear, I didn’t say that Persian was more widespread than Latin. I said that non-Latin Churches (collectively) were more prevalent in the first 1,000 years. Jenkins makes the claim, however, that perhaps 25% of world Christianity was at one time in submission to the Patriarch of Baghdad.

    In all of these traditions – regardless of liturgical language – we find priests and a sacrificial understanding of the Eucharist. Moreover, I think that the leveling tendencies of Protestantism (devaluing the ministerial priesthood) is something that emerges primarily in the Latin Church, not the eastern. We see it in the radical movements of the late middle ages – Lollards, Hussites, Wycliffites, radical Franciscans, Waldensians, etc. Far from being the source of “sacerdotalism,” the Latin Church seems to be the source of anticlericalism.

    -David

  84. Ken:

    Regarding Comment #77
    “No; there is no such thing as a New Testament “priest” as a church office. All believers are priests – 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10. Jesus is high priest in the book of Hebrews. ”

    There was no such thing as a “New Testament” in the first couple centuries, either. In fact, both books you cite from (Revelation and Hebrews) were in dispute and came into the established canon quite late.

    The church’s liturgy preceded the written word — and not everything down in the liturgy of the early church was written down in Scripture. Even Paul himself alludes to church tradition that is oral vs. written down (See 2 Thessalonians 2:15)

    You also have the Eastern Orthodox Church, which also shares in the understanding of priesthood, and both the E.O. and the R.C.C. have a far greater claim to the historical continuity of Church tradition (it’s liturgy, church offices, sacraments, etc.) than does Protestantism. It seems to me that if both of these ancient traditions got it wrong for the first 15 centuries, then there is an awfully high burden of proof on the Protestant framework to prove its own universality and antiquity.

    Can you name one Protestant tradition today that does so?

  85. Ken,
    The common priesthood that Peter quotes isn’t a new concept as it’s origin is in the OT as I’m sure you know. But Israel also had a ministerial priesthood. Does the bible claim that the latter became functionally extinct or has no parallel in the NT? Actually, you can find several parallels that relate the Old to the New.

    There were also those in the OT times that claimed that the royal priesthood gave equal authority to all.
    However, God had the last word on that. Refer to Korah, Dathan and Abiram challenging the authority of Moses and Aaron (the high priest) in Numbers 16. They didn’t fare very well with their claims.

    Then move forward to the Epistle of Jude. Jude makes it clear by comparison with Korah that the same claims were being made in New Testament times:

    Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

    Jude condemns these folks in no uncertain terms – they perish by participating in Korah’s rebellion.

  86. There was no such thing as a “New Testament” in the first couple centuries, either. In fact, both books you cite from (Revelation and Hebrews) were in dispute and came into the established canon quite late.

    Technically true; but misleading, since all the NT books existed individually as scrolls. It is obvious that Hebrews was written before 70 AD, and Revelation was either written in 95-96 or pre-70 AD. The NT books existed, they just weren’t connected and gathered together under one “book cover”. They were individual scrolls. The codex form did not even exist until 150 Ad – 200 AD. Codex later became current book form that we have today where one can add flat pages. Scrolls could not be added to. So it is misleading to communicate it the way you do.

  87. “I have written to you more boldly on some points because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest of God’s good news. My purpose is that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:15-16).

  88. Ken,

    You wrote:

    Technically true; but misleading

    I’m not sure this is misleading. The existence of a manuscript is not the same thing as the manuscript being recognized as an inspired document, belonging to the Church’s canon. The issue of canonicity has nothing to do with codices and book binding, but with the process by which Christians came to recognize a certain collection as inspired, and to exclude other texts as uninspired.

    Dan’s comment, if I understand it, shows that a concept (such as the canonical new testament) need not be found in the texts of Scripture in order for it to have normative status in the Christian community.

    You cannot object to Catholic priesthood on the grounds that it is invisible in the New Testament without implicitly yielding to another unbiblical concept: viz., the normative status of these 27 books.

    No biblical authority – in fact, no divine authority of any sort – has ever indicated that Christian faith must be defined exclusively in terms of the 27 books of the Canonical NT + Hebrew OT.

    -David

  89. Ken: Regarding COmment #86

    “So it is misleading to communicate it the way you do. ”

    I don’t think so.
    NOT ALL of the churches wouldn’t have had access or known about all of these books.
    As I understand it – -the various epistles were distributed piece-meal. The early Christians weren’t carrying NT Scrolls around.

    There wasn’t a “Main Street Bible Church” in the first centuries — they’re teachings were handed down by the Apostles, bishops, etc.

  90. Just to add in a little, if I may, epistles are letters sent out to the followers to give them instructions, words of encouragements and so on. Just purely my assertion though but I don’t think St Paul would even intend those letters to be made into scriptures later on, let alone a bible….

    Peace,

    John Tan

  91. Regarding # 87

    Hi Paul,
    You quoted Romans 15:15-16 –

    “I have written to you more boldly on some points because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest of God’s good news. My purpose is that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:15-16).

    The verses are true; but it has nothing do with the an office of priest as a mediator of the re-presentation of Christ’s once for all death in the Eurcharist or Transubstantiation Mass. The apostle Paul is talking about evangelism and missions and discipleship of nations / Gentiles / non-Jews. When a new nation/people group comes to know the Lord after they are evagelized and discipled and churches started, those new believers in a newly reached people group are an offering of worship to the Lord, because now they are worshiping the true God, whereas before they were not worshiping God nor giving Him glory. They have become an offering of worship because now they worship the true God. It has nothing to do with an office called “priest” or mediating a sacrificial ceremony. (Lord’s supper / Eucharist / Mass / Transubstantiation)

  92. # 83 David Anders wrote:

    I’m no expert on Arabic and Persian translations of the Scriptures. I suspect you may be correct about this.

    Thank you for that, David.

    Just to be clear, I didn’t say that Persian was more widespread than Latin. I said that non-Latin Churches (collectively) were more prevalent in the first 1,000 years. Jenkins makes the claim, however, that perhaps 25% of world Christianity was at one time in submission to the Patriarch of Baghdad.

    I have Jenkin’s book. could you give the page number on that stat? Though it has a lot of good information, there are many problems with Jenkins book, “The Lost History of Christianity”. The Patriarch of Baghdad, in the era that Jenkins is talking about, was the Assyrian Church of the east (called the Nestorian Church by Rome and Constantinople), and they spoke Syriac – today it is called “Assyrian”, as I wrote before. (Persian or “Parsi”/Farsi, was not spoken in Mesopotamia at all, and still is not in Iraq.) (The Arab Muslim conquerors could not pronounce “P”, so they called “Parsi” Farsi.) The Assyrians are minority populations in Iraq and Iran. It was from that group that Mel Gibson hired the people of that language group to articulate the languge of ancient Aramaic for the film, “The Passion of the Christ”. These are also some of the people that the harsh Islamic group, ISIS (or as Iranians call it, Daesh, د.ا.ع.ش ) is mercilessly killing. Very sad and horrible. It shows the true nature of original Islam. (Surah 9:29 – “fight the people of the book until they submit, being brought low, and pay the Jiziye tax.” ) Jenkins was too soft and poltically correct on Islam, and failed to tie their conquering motivations to the texts in the Qur’an and Hadith.

  93. I don’t think we can read transubstantiation or some kind of re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ into the early writings. They were using “sacrifice” as worship, as in Matthew 5:21-27 and Malachi 1:11. The Lord’s supper was part of the ceremony of worship, and in the sense that it was a memorial and remembrance of the once for all sacrifice of Christ, yes; but it seems that later Church history took the early usage of Malachi 1:11 too far in using it to say that the Eucharist was a sacrifice. It is a symbol and memorial and remembrance of the final sacrifice, yes.
    The thing that convinces me that the RC understanding of that is wrong is that Jesus is in His incarnational body there at the Lord’s supper when He holds up the bread and cup and says, “this is My body”, “this is My blood” – He obviously meant, “this symbolizes My body and blood/death”. “do this” does not mean “re-present Me again as a sacrifice”, it just means “eat/partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of My death on the cross for your sins”.

    Malachi 1:11 and Matthew 5:21-26 – It is OT sacrificial language of the temple and worship, but should be understood that after Christ made the final sacrifice at the cross, the idea after that was a general idea of worshipping the Lord in church. (singing, praying, reading Scripture, listening to teaching)

  94. Bryan (# 81)
    thanks for the link to your article. It will take me a while to work through all it, along with the response to Brandon Addison’s article, and I need to read Brandon’s again! Church history and historical theology is very interesting, but it requires a lot of time to grasp it. I wish my own seminary had had a 4th year of just more church history, patristics, historical theology and development of doctrine type classes.

    One think that I have thought about before is the early use of Malachi 1:10-11 in the Didache and, if I recall rightly, in other early writings, maybe Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martry, Tertullian, and Irenaeus. (one or some of them also seemed to use Malachi 1:10-11 in the same way.)

    You wrote:

    The Didache, one of the earliest Christian texts outside of the New Testament, says:

    And on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. And let no man, having his dispute with his fellow, join your assembly until they have been reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be defiled; for this sacrifice it is that was spoken of by the Lord; {In every place and at every time offer Me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great king, saith the Lord and My name is wonderful among the nations.}162 (Didache quotes from Malachi 1:11)

    It seems to me the writer of the Didache is also using Matthew 5:21-26 and the idea of reconciliation and confession of sin before presenting the offering. So he is combining principles from Matthew 5:21-26 and Malachi 1:11 together. At the time Jesus teaches this, the temple ministry and sacrifices are still going on. So, it is wrong to take that and then say that the Lord’s supper or Eucharist has to mean “sacrifice” or “re-presentation of the sacrifice”. Does this indicate that the Didache was also written pre-70 AD? Or is he just using the OT language of sacrifice for the NT context of worship and confession before partaking of the Lord’s supper? Paul also teaches the concept of examining oneself first and confession of sin and reconciling with others before partaking of the Lord’s supper, but does not call it a sacrifice. (1 Corinthians 11)

  95. Hi Bryan,
    From your article on the priesthood that you linked to. (Proof of Sacrificial Priesthood)

    Moreover the objection can be independently refuted by considering three counter points. First, while the term is not used specifically and directly to refer to a priest, there are passages showing presbyters carrying out priestly duties,189 and the same word in a different form is used to describe Paul’s own priestly ministry 190.

    Note 189 is to Revelation 5:8 – those 24 elders are in heaven, they are not elders in a local church, so, your point there is incredibly weak. Also it is about the prayers of the saints, which shows that prayers of all of God’s people are means by which people get saved (verse 9 – some from all nations are redeemed/bought by the blood of the lamb). This has nothing to do with presbyters in a local church or the Eucharist.

    Note # 190 is linked to Romans 15:16 – this also has nothing to do with sacrificies or elders or the Lord’s supper. It is about successful evangelism and discipleship into a new people group/nation/Gentiles – when they come to know the true God and begin to worship Him, they are like an offering of worship. I answered that to Paul Owen’s comment also on that verse.

    Also, the translation of the quote from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History about John wearing a mitre is not correct. The Greek word does not mean mitre, but the plate of the high priest, upon which was written “holy to the Lord”. From Exodus 28:36 LXX.

    Below is the footnote from the ccel.org entry of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Volume 3, 31.

    862 The Greek word is πέταγον, which occurs in the LXX. as the technical term for the plate or diadem of the high priest (cr. Ex. xxviii. 36, &c.). What is meant by the word in the present connection is uncertain. Epiphanius (Hær. LXXVII. 14) says the same thing of James, the brother of the Lord. But neither James nor John was a Jewish priest, and therefore the words can be taken literally in neither case. Valesius and others have thought that John and James, and perhaps others of the apostles, actually wore something resembling the diadem of the high priest; but this is not at all probable. The words are either to be taken in a purely figurative sense, as meaning that John bore the character of a priest,—i.e. the high priest of Christ as his most beloved disciple,—or, as Hefele suggests, the report is to be regarded as a mythical tradition which arose after the second Jewish war. See Kraus’ Real-Encyclopædie der christlichen Alterthümer, Band II. p. 212 sq.

    The miter hat for bishops was not used until the 11 Century. According to this wikipedia (granted, wikipedia is not always the best scholarly material, but I would be interested in something that proves it wrong in this case) article, “Worn by a bishop, the mitre is depicted for the first time in two miniatures of the beginning of the eleventh century. The first written mention of it is found in a Bull of Pope Leo IX in the year 1049. By 1150 the use had spread to bishops throughout the West; by the 14th century the tiara was decorated with three crowns.”

    I find it particularly anachronistic to see paintings and icons of Augustine with a mitre hat. The earliest painting of Augustine from the 6th Century depicts him without a hat at all. (you can google that and see – Augustine of Hippo – oldest portrait) I take that as better evidence than the anachronistic paintings of later centuries. The more one digs deeper into history, the more the Roman Catholic arguments fall apart.

    Overall, that makes your argument incredibly weak.

  96. Ken, you said in #77 that “there is no such thing as a New Testament priest as a church office.” Surely you can see that a reasonable student of Scripture might view Romans 15:15-16 as evidence to the contrary. I’m not trying to use the verse as a club, just as a consideration that might support a different point of view. It seems pretty clear to me that Paul is using priestly imagery to describe his church office as a minister of the gospel. The “grace” given to him is the grace that qualifies him for his specific calling of ministry, not grace in the more general sense of calling to salvation in the priestly body of Christ.

  97. Ken, (re: #95)

    To be clear, I’m not the author of that article. Tim Troutman authored that article.

    You wrote:

    Note 189 is to Revelation 5:8 – those 24 elders are in heaven, they are not elders in a local church, so, your point there is incredibly weak.

    If even in heaven the elders are performing priestly duties, this puts the onus on the objector to show that elders in local churches must not do so. Merely asserting that the point is “weak” does not resolve the problem for the objector, namely, that an Apostle describes elders doing a priestly task, and therefore there is no principled reason that elders cannot (let alone must not) do priestly tasks, whether on earth or in heaven. Only by an ad hoc stipulation could the argument from the Protestant that after Christ there is no more priestly work to be done be limited in scope to those presently on earth.

    This has nothing to do with presbyters in a local church or the Eucharist.

    That too is a mere assertion. It would be ad hoc to claim that the activity of local church elders in the liturgy should have nothing to do with the activity of the elders in heaven. Again, the onus is on the objector, and a mere assertion is not evidence or argumentation. Moreover, the Eucharist is the central prayer of the Church, in which we offer all our prayers, labors, and sufferings to the Father, and has always been understood to be such. To disconnect prayer from the Eucharist, is to go against the Tradition. And that if what you must do, in order to make the verse fit your paradigm, then this opposition to the Tradition detracts from your ability to deny that sola scriptura avoids the biblicism of “solo scriptura,” without presupposing the ecclesial deism by which all of these early practices and beliefs (including the early belief in the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist) are corruptions rather than faithful expressions of the Apostolic faith.

    Note # 190 is linked to Romans 15:16 – this also has nothing to do with sacrificies or elders or the Lord’s supper.

    Except that he says “in the priestly service [ἱερουργοῦντα] of the Gospel.” If the entire priestly work had already been accomplished by Christ, and the zero-sum non-participation paradigm you are using were true, there would be no priestly service remaining to be done.

    Also, the translation of the quote from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History about John wearing a mitre is not correct. The Greek word does not mean mitre, but the plate of the high priest, upon which was written “holy to the Lord”.

    St. Polycrates, the second century bishop of Ephesus whom Eusebius quotes twice, (III.31 and V.24) says that “John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate.” And according to St. Epiphanius, drawing from St. Hegesippus and St. Clement, says that St. James also wore the sacerdotal tablet. A few lines later he says:

    For his throne endures, of his kingdom there shall be no end, and he is seated on the throne of David and has transferred David’s kingship and granted it, together with the high priesthood, to his own servants, the high priests of the catholic church.

    This is the patristic understanding, that Christ has not abolished kingship or priesthood or the prophetic office, but has elevated them in the New Covenant Kingdom, which, in its present form on earth, is the Church. By His choice, His ordained ministers in His Church participate in His possession and fulfillment of these three offices. Whether it was a mitre or a sacerdotal plate, the problem is that this doesn’t fit your paradigm. That’s why making hay of it being a sacerdotal plate rather than a mitre, misses the point. (And then to go on to claim that it cannot be taken literally anyway, makes it seem that your objection to translating the term as ‘mitre’ rather than sacerdotal plate is more about forensic appearances than authentic dialogue aimed at resolving what still divides us.)

    You quoted the following:

    The Greek word is πέταγον, which occurs in the LXX. as the technical term for the plate or diadem of the high priest (cr. Ex. xxviii. 36, &c.). What is meant by the word in the present connection is uncertain. Epiphanius (Hær. LXXVII. 14) says the same thing of James, the brother of the Lord. But neither James nor John was a Jewish priest, and therefore the words can be taken literally in neither case.

    That last line is a good example of forcing the data to fit the paradigm. Because the patristic testimony doesn’t fit the Protestant paradigm, the author make the ancient authors out to be speaking in metaphors or figuratively, even though nothing of the genre suggests that this is figurative speech. If, however, the Apostles saw themselves as priests of the New Covenant, their wearing sacerdotal items would make perfect sense.

    The more one digs deeper into history, the more the Roman Catholic arguments fall apart.

    That would first need to be shown. Anything can be asserted.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  98. Ken,

    “do this” does not mean “re-present Me again as a sacrifice”, it just means “eat/partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of My death on the cross for your sins”.

    I recommend you look at Jeremias’s extensive study of the eucharistic words of Jesus. Jeremias, a Protestant, notes, “Jesus . . . added the words which referred the broken bread and the red wine to his atoning death for many. When immediately afterwards he gives the same bread and wine to his disciples to eat and drink, the meaning is that by eating and drinking he gives them a share in the atoning power of his death. We can state this all the more confidently when we remember that to orientals the idea that divine gifts are communicated by eating and drinking is very familiar.”

    And,

    “The command ‘do this’ . . . can be seen from comparison with [OT passages, as] an established expression for the repetition of a rite.”

    Keep in mind that “remembrance” in this text in others (Acts 10:31; Genesis 9:16/LXX) also has an OT, cultic significance, of God remembering, being clement, showing mercy, honoring the covenant. It’s not about us simply remembering or thinking about what Jesus did.

    -David

  99. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians:

    Take care, then, to partake of one Eucharist; for, one is the Flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with His Blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow servants. Thus you will conform in all your actions to the will of God. (paragraph 4)

    Clement of Rome:

    Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices.”

    Justin Martyr:

    “God has therefore announced in advance that all the sacrifices offered in His name, which Jesus Christ offered, that is, in the Eucharist of the Bread and of the Chalice, which are offered by us Christians in every part of the world, are pleasing to Him.”

  100. Thanks David and Bryan and others for your interaction and responses.

    Bryan,
    I sincerely don’t see how you connect Rev. 5:8 and Romans 15:16 to the Eucharist or Roman Catholic priestly office. They don’t connect it to that at all. I didn’t deny prayer during the celebration of the Lord’s supper. Rev. 5:8 is about the 24 elders in heaven, not the presbyters in local churches, and Rom. 15:16 is about evangelism/discipleship/conversion of the nations to Christ, not about the Eucharist or RC priests. Your argumentation is not convincing or cogent at all. My point about the mitre hat and “the deeper one digs into the specifics of church history, the more the Roman Catholic arguments fail” still stands.

    David Anders,
    That argumentation is not convincing at all about “do this in remembrance of Me”. You and others are just reading too much into the words, especially simple words like “do” and “this”. One could make almost anything out of those words, the way the RC makes it into sacrifice.

    Thanks for more quotes from early church writings, fathers.

    I used to thing baptismal regeneration was the first mistake the early church made, now I see it is the second. The first mistake was using the words “sacrifice” and sacrificial language for the Lord’s supper, which the 27 NT canonical letters/books of the NT don’t use. (except when referring to the OT temple sacrifices, as in Matthew 5:21-26, which were still going on in the time of Jesus.)

    The first three big mistakes of the early church that were later developed into full blown false doctrines:
    1. The language of sacrifice for the Eucharist/Lord’s supper.
    2. Baptismal regeneration.
    3. Exalting one of the presbyter-overseers out from the college of presbyters and making him a mono-episcopate.

  101. Ken,

    That argumentation is not convincing at all about “do this in remembrance of Me”. You and others are just reading too much into the words, especially simple words like “do” and “this”.

    How do you know that “Do this” and “remembrance” don’t actually signify the things that early Christians said they signified?

    One could make almost anything out of those words,

    I could say that Dog=hamburger, but this would be silly unless people who knew me and the context I spoke in understood my words in this sense. What evidence do you have that Jesus intended the Eucharist only as a symbolic action for calling to mind the work of Christ?

    The first mistake was using the words “sacrifice” and sacrificial language for the Lord’s supper, which the 27 NT canonical letters/books of the NT don’t use.

    Actually, the NT does use sacrificial language to describe the Eucharist, as the Protestant J. Jeremias has demonstrated, and as we see in analogies like that in 1 Corinthians 10. But even if you were correct, it would not prove that Jesus did not intend the Eucharist as a sacrifice. It would only demonstrate that the canonical gospels fail to use this language. In order to infer Jesus’ intent from the absence of sacrificial language in the canonical gospels, we would need a further premise: “everything Jesus intended can be inferred directly from the text of the canonical gospels.” This premise, however, is contradicted by the the words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 11) and by Jesus himself (Matt. 28) If 2nd century Christians understood the Eucharist as a sacrifice, you cannot show them to be in error unless you can show that this contradicts the intent of Jesus and the apostles delivered either orally or in writing.

    -David

  102. Ken:

    Jesus is our paschal sacrifice. He is sacrifice. In the Last Supper, He institutes a new paschal meal where He asks us to eat the New Lamb – Himself. Just like the Jews partook of the sacrificed lamb in the old covenant, we partake of the Sacrificed Lamb in the new covenant.

    (source) In the New Testament accounts, we find reference to the First Cup, also known as the Cup of Blessing (Luke 22:17); to the breaking of the matzoh (Luke 22:19); to the Third Cup, the Cup of Redemption (Luke 22:20); to reclining (Luke 22:14); to the charoseth or the maror (Matthew 26:23), and to the Hallel (Matthew 26:30).

    In particular, the matzoh and the Third Cup are given special significance by Jesus :

    And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20)

    When Jesus speaks of the Eucharist He speaks in the language of Passover – the sacrificial meal. The first century Christians were not acting rogue but were following His teaching. You can find the Scriptures that reference this here. I also recommend Dr. Pitre’s book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist (here).

    Peace,

    Brent

  103. Ken:

    You assert,

    The first three big mistakes of the early church that were later developed into full blown false doctrines:
    1. The language of sacrifice for the Eucharist/Lord’s supper.
    2. Baptismal regeneration.
    3. Exalting one of the presbyter-overseers out from the college of presbyters and making him a mono-episcopate.

    …but such assertions ought not come out of nowhere. They ought to be demonstrated to be consistent with early evidence.

    Now when it comes to the Early Church encountering new ideas which alter or reverse the teachings they’d learned from the apostles, we observe regular pattern of behavior: A huge uproar of denunciations typically resulted, complete with name-calling. What we might now call “letter writing campaigns” would emerge, in which outraged partisans of one view would argue their cases to anyone they could contact by letter. (I believe it was the heretic Marcion who was called “firstborn of Satan” by Polycarp, wasn’t it?) I suppose St. Paul’s remark about the Judaizers (that he wished they’d “go the whole way and cut the whole thing off”) kind of set the tone.

    My point is: When, in the Early Church, a controversy arose, it was not the habit of the early Christians to shrug it off and stay mum about it. They did not, as a rule, react to alterations of the apostles’ doctrines with a genteel smile and a vague hope that the truth would win out. Quite the contrary: Verbal and Written (and sometimes Physical) combat was waged. And this naturally produced documentary evidence of the conflicts. We have copies of some such documents; of others, we have only reports and references from later authors who were aware of them.

    So…,

    If you believe that Jesus taught the Apostles, and the Apostles taught their successors, that the Eucharist was NOT a Sacrifice, and that later on, some other Christians changed this and began saying that the Eucharist WAS a Sacrifice, it follows from historical precedent that we should expect such a reversal, on such a central matter, to have produced a truly explosive controversy.

    So where is it? Where is the documentary evidence that one would expect, showing the proponents of these two ideas clashing, with (in your view) the wrong side eventually winning out?

    I don’t think there is any. There should be, but there isn’t.

    Likewise, you hold that Jesus taught the Apostles, and the Apostles their successors, that baptism was merely symbolical, not sacramentally regenerative. Now the Biblical evidence can go both ways — personally I think it’s far stronger on the regenerative side — but let’s assume you’re correct for the sake of argument. But then suddenly Christians were teaching baptismal regeneration. In both the East and the West. So, if your view is right, then — for some reason — a change was introduced, quite early, in different geographical locations.

    Where is the outraged reaction? Where is the evidence that the orthodox Christians (who, in your view, did NOT believe in baptismal regeneration) encountered this new teaching and began their usual practice of denouncing the heretics and defending what they’d learned from the Apostles?

    And, again, where is the outraged reaction about some presbyters asserting a higher degree of authority or ordination than others? If, as you believe, this is a change from what the Apostles themselves taught, then it is a change which happened very early: John the Apostle could not have been in his grave for more than 15 years when Ignatius of Antioch wrote as if it were the accepted and uncontroversial norm. And of course Clement of Rome was sending legates to Corinth to see that his instructions (!) to the church in Corinth (!!) were being followed, even while John the Apostle yet lived.

    If the assumptions behind such assertions of episcopal authority or bishop-of-Rome authority were new, we can assume they would be hotly challenged. The (in your view) orthodox Christians would have railed against such new innovations in doctrine.

    So, surely, Ignatius of Antioch, in spite of his martyrdom, became a suspicious or derided figure among the early Christians on account of his heretical innovations…right? Surely the Church at Corinth rejected the words of Clement, tossed his letter unceremoniously in the wastepaper basket, and called him out for being a pushy busybody from the distant city of Rome who was interfering unasked in the internal affairs of their church, which was none of his business.

    Surely that’s how it went down…isn’t it?

    If it isn’t, then we have another case of “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time,” as in the old Conan Doyle story:

    Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
    Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

    If these three items you list — which everyone agrees are taught very early, within the lifetime of the Apostles or of their immediate successors, or their successors’ successors — are indeed reversals of the real Christian doctrine delivered by Jesus to the Apostles, and by the Apostles to those first successors, we would expect a record of the controversy. But the “dog did nothing.”

    Instead, it seems the whole Christian world was nodding at these “innovations” as if they were old news. The persons saying them seem not to be arguing them but mentioning them as things the readers (if they are Christians) already know, or ought to.

    What’s your solution to this, Ken?

    Do you believe that the very persons whom we trust to transmit the books of the New Testament canon to us, cannot be trusted to transmit basic doctrines also?

    To me, it seems more likely that the correct interpretation of Scriptures which can be read two ways is the interpretation which is taken by those readers who are closest to the original authors in time and culture and geography…especially when (a.) these readers report that this interpretation is an unbroken tradition coming to them from the preaching of the original authors of the text; and (b.) I am forced, anyway, to rely upon these same readers to even obtain the text itself.

    And when I find that there are passages which can be viewed one of two ways, but no early witness seems to support one of those views, or to bother contradicting the other view when it is widely taught? In such cases, it seems to me more probable that the other view was, among those early witnesses, the only known view.

  104. Ken
    hat argumentation is not convincing at all about “do this in remembrance of Me”. You and others are just reading too much into the words, especially simple words like “do” and “this”. One could make almost anything out of those words, the way the RC makes it into sacrifice.

    Your making the Churches point . From a Catholic point of view “make almost anything of those words” is what Protestants have been doing for the last 500 years. I think Brent has it right. If you want to understand Christ’s words as the Apostles did you have to drop the point of view of a 21st century evangelical and adopt the point of view of a 1st century Jew.

  105. RC – # 103
    It will take me a while to respond to that. You make some excellent points. I disagree, but it will take me some time to write up something on how to respond to your points.

    Andy,
    # 104
    I think Protestants try to go back to the original audience and historical background better than Roman Catholic exegetes do, for Roman interpretations have to be done through the filter of the development of it’s doctrines throughout history. The lastest understandings are the more authoritative. For example Post Vatican 2 theology teaches that Protestantsa are “separated brethren” and Muslims “adore the same God as we do” and atheists and other unbelievers may make it to heaven, through living by their conscience, etc. – this is in direct contradiction to everything before Vatican 2, ie, the tradition that “there is no salvation outside of the [Roman Catholic] Church.”

    But, yes, I can see a first century Jew, who wrote the book of Hebrews, saying “the sacrifice was once for all”, so the Lord’s supper or Eucharist, is a symbol and remembrance of the once for all sacrifice and that Jesus is truly present for believers, who confess their sins and examine themselves and reconcile with others first, then partake in faith and repentance. (Matthew 5:21-26; I Cor. 11:22-32) The first century Jew would see the temple sacrifices as fulfilled, and not pour Transubstantiation terminology of 800s – 1215 and Aquinas’ defense of it using Aristotilian terminology back into it.

  106. Brent – # 102
    I don’t see anything there that contradicts the way Protestants celebrate the Lord’s supper/Eucharist. It is a thanksgiving for and remembrance of the once for all sacrifice – yes, like the Passover meal. There is also nothing in anything you wrote that is particularly Roman Catholic – Transubstantiation and ex opere operato priestly powers, etc. – not there; and those RC particulars are not in the Scriptures.

    Real presence of the early centuries is valid for believers who examine themselves first, confess their sins, and reconcile with others in the body before they partake. Then there is a deeper spiritual communion with the Lord, spiritually. That is what 1 Cor. 10-11, Luke 22, Matthew 26, Mark 14 all teach. Remembering His sacrifice and death.

  107. Ken # 105

    “I think Protestants try to go back to the original audience and historical background better than Roman Catholic exegetes do, for Roman interpretations have to be done through the filter of the development of it’s doctrines throughout history.”

    And Protestantism have not had “development of doctrine”? and WHICH group of Protestants?
    In fact the development/changes of Protestant doctrine have been more radical and numerous in the last 500 years than the last 2000 years of the Catholic Church. There have been many innovations in Protestantism since that have no precedent either in Scripture itself or the history of the church: Denying infant baptism (the anabaptists), seeing the Eucharist as merely symbolic (Zwingli), double predestination (Calvin), sola scriptura (Luther), the later reformed idea of “imputed forensic righteousness” — not to mention modern evangelicalism, which has done away with ALL sacraments and liturgy to an extent that I think both Luther and Calvin would have been shocked to see.

    In addition, it is helpful to compare with the Orthodox Church — who has arguably an equally strong claim to the historical continuity going back to the earliest church — and essentially hold to almost the same set of core beliefs (the mass, the sacraments, baptism, apostolic succession, Sacred Tradition, etc.)

    For example:
    http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith

    NOTE: I’m not Orthodox myself, but did explore the Orthodox tradition before coming into the Catholic Church. I still learn a lot from them.

  108. Ken #105

    Digging further into your comment here:
    “I think Protestants try to go back to the original audience and historical background better than Roman Catholic exegetes do, for Roman interpretations have to be done through the filter of the development of it’s doctrines throughout history. ”

    Again – I have to ask: WHICH Protestants? Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist,, modern evangelical?

    Catholic exegetes rely on the same criteria as well (audience, historical background, etc.). But even modern scholars can disagree on the interpretation of the historical background.

    What is the tie-breaker when you have two apparently compelling, but contradictory scholarly interpretations?

    That’s what the living tradition of the Church is for (Sacred Tradition + the Church’s own interpretative authority). The Church herself forms that living conversation of interpretation that goes back to the earliest church fathers, and to the apostles themselves. The Church also understands that its liturgy and authority preceeded the N.T. Canon of Scriptures — not vice versa.

    See Saint Vincent De Lerins (writing in the 5th century):

    “”Here, it may be, someone will ask: ‘Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and is in itself abundantly sufficient, what need is there to join to it the interpretation of the Church?’
    The answer is that because of the profundity itself of Scripture, all men do not place the same interpretation upon it. The statements of the same writer are explained by different men in different ways, so much so that it seems almost possible to extract from it as many opinions as there are men.
    Novatian expounds in one way, Sabellius in another, Donatus in another, Arius, Eunomius and Macedonius in another, Photinus, Apollinaris and Priscillian in another, Jovinian, Pelagius and Caelestius in another, and latterly Nestorius in another.
    Therefore, because of the intricacies of error, which is so multiform, there is great need for the laying down of a rule for the exposition of Prophets and Apostles in accordance with the standard of the interpretation of the Catholic Church. “

  109. Ken,

    Just to be clear, the Catholic Church still affirms “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” This is affirmed in the catechism starting at CCC 846.

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? 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.

    847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

    Members are incorporated into the Church in extraordinary ways through baptism, or the desire for baptism, or the implicit desire for baptism, as shown in CCC 1213, 1259, and 1260.

    1. CCC 1213 “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”

    2. CCC 1259 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.

    3. CCC 1260 Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery. Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

    Note that the Church doesn’t say it’s “easy” for someone to be saved without knowledge of Christ and His Church. However, we have hope for salvation for all because of the sufficient grace which Christ merited for all.

  110. What is the tie-breaker when you have two apparently compelling, but contradictory scholarly interpretations?

    Who says we need a “tie-breaker” ??
    State churches and marrying Church and State, as Theodosius did in 380-392 AD was a mistake. The harshness of emperors Justinian and Heraclius in trying to be the forceful tie-breaker did not work.

    When those that tried to enforce the Chalcedonian Creed on the Monophysites in Egypt, Syria, and Armenia, the result was disasterous.

    Everyone is free to decide and go to what they think is the most Biblical and consistent theologically church.
    thank God for that aspect of the first Amendment and freedom!

    For me, that is a Reformed Baptist kind of church. (But I love Presbyterians and other Protestants, I just disagree with infant baptism – it did a lot toward creating nominalism in Europe and the west.)

  111. I am not learned as are most of you on this panel but I have not seen any objection to Ken’s thesis that the accretions of Catholicism was the cause of the rise of Islam? If only Protestantism was more widespread we might have had examples of Islam conquering Protestant lands? But are we not seeing this today in Protestant England?

    If the battle of Tours set the stage for Protestant reformers, did not Protestant reformers set the stage for religious warring across Europe? Did they not set the stage for Nationalism and the world wars? Did the Southern Baptist founders not set the stage for the KKK? Did not mainline Protestants of the 20th century set the stage for the decline of marriage and the rise of secularism? Did not the English reformers not set the stage for religious persecution?

  112. My comments above don’t mean I don’t see the need for unity in the church – John 17, Ephesians 4. I just think that there is also time for when truth is more important than unity, and that happened at the Council of Trent when the Roman Catholic Church anathematized the Reformers doctrine of justification by faith alone and made dogmas other things like the Apocrypha and re-affirmed the dogmas of transubstantiation and initial justification at baptism.

    I also don’t agree with the violence of persecution of heretics; (which I think the Baptist movement was the correct return to the early church of the first 3-4 centuries – until Theodosius made it the state religion in 380-392 AD. )

    and I don’t think Protestantism points to “ecclesial Deism” as Bryan Cross asserts. God is involved in history, and was guiding the situation, and history, and the church, allowing sin and heresies and false doctrines to occur; so that the Reformers were shown to be correct on the main issues of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria – but they are still wrestling with other lesser doctrines such as baptism modes and subjects, spiritual gifts, eschatology, local church government, etc. That is ok with me; we can debate and be friends and live in peace and not do violence against one another.

  113. R.C. – # 103
    Your question as to why there is not much or any evidence of any protests from anyone concerning
    1. calling the Eucharist a sacrifice, 2. baptismal regeneration, and 3. mono-episcopate were deviations from Scripture –

    Thanks for that very good question.
    There seems to me to be a clear change in emphasis right from the time of the ending of the Canonical texts into the non-canonical texts. That should be expected from God-breathed documents compared to merely human writings. For example, the Didache, one of the earliest, if not the earliest extra-canonical document, exhorts people not to fast on certain days but do fast on other days. That is a very odd rule, that smacks of legalism. It seems to be a violation of the spirit of the NT.
    “But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week. Rather, fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). ” Didache 8 Seems to violate Colossians 21:15-23 and the book of Galatians.
    I can see why the early church discerned that this document was not inspired, but it has good things in it, like early evidence for Matthew 28:19 and the baptism formula in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is against the Modalists claims that this is a later insertion.

    On the language of sacrifice, I can see your point on that. But just calling the Eucharist or Lord’s supper “sacrifice” did not mean “a re-presentation” or re-sacrifice of Christ; I think everybody took that for granted. It is such a subtle change that I can understand why there was no protest about the sacrifice language – because in the NT we have a transition period between when the sacrifices are still being performed in the temple – Matthew 5:21-26, book of Acts, and that Malachi 1:11 was taken as a prophesy of the gospel into the nations/Gentiles, and they applied the word “sacrifice” to the Eucharist based on these texts.
    “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 1:11
    I can see where the early church applied that to the Lord’s supper and the gospel going to the Gentile nations as a fulfillment of prophesy, but it doesn’t mean that eating the supper is a re-sacrifice of Jesus. But it happened slowly, then in the 800s and 900s, Radhbertus and other developed it into Transubstantiation to 1215 AD and then Aquinas used Aristotelian logic and terms to defend it. 800 years is a long time!! It was slow, and by it was not questioned because it was so slow and subtle.

    Regarding baptismal regeneration, it is easy to see why humans started believing something physical was going to “get them in” and give them assurance. It is something they can feel and touch. (like relics, statues, visiting graves, using beads, icons, etc.) But that was later combined with infant baptism (early objection to that was Tertullian) and ex opere operato priestly powers – later, Optatus against the Donatists, Augustine (300s early 400s), and beyond. Once it took off, people were blinded to see how far they had drifted from Scripture until later. Because while I firmly believe that faith alone justifies, a person who is unwilling to be baptized and join a local church (baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ, water baptism symbolizes that, and is the external rite of entering into church membership – 1 Corinthians 12:13) shows that they are really not justified in the first place; that is, they didn’t have real repentance and true faith in Christ. A true believer wants to be baptized and it naturally came right after repentance and faith – Acts 2:38. It was important in following the Lord in obedience and being a disciple. (Matthew 28:19, Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21 – an appeal to God for a clean conscience = repentance) It was so closely tied to repentance (Matthew 3, Luke 3- John’s baptism) that is it easy to see why it was not questioned. Baptism was the external way that one showed they were a follower of Jesus, not praying the sinner’s prayer or raising one’s hand with eyes closed, nor going forward in an altar call. It took Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, and Calvin and others to ask questions about faith and justification, and that led later, to the baptist movement also questioning infant baptism.

    On the mono-episcopate: Ignatius and later changes to the church government, it is easy to see how pragmatism and custom took over. You cannot get much done when you have to wait on unanimous decisions with the rest of the elders. If you have one man in charge who can make decisions, it is more practical and you can make decisions quicker and easier and accomplish things. Equality of elders slows things down. There was not much protest on this because it was a practical and good management decision. But even Jerome admitted this, that is was based on pragmatic concerns and custom, and not Scripture.

  114. sorry, should have been Colossians 2:15-23; but I will include verses 13-14 also. (NOT 21)

    13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

    16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

    20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  115. Morrie – # 111
    Good points! All of those problems and sins in churches are the results of “leaving your first love” – Ephesians 2:4-5 – liberalism and apostasy taking over once good Protestantism – same goes for them.

    But you have to look at the areas of Ephesus and around it – Constantinople, all the seven churches of Rev. 2-3, Middle East, Egypt, N. Africa – conquered by Islam.

    I don’t think it is Roman Catholicism per say in the 500s-700s, but the church at that time (which later became both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism later), including the EO and Oriental Orthodox (Coptic church, Syrian Jacobite, Armenian) and the Nestorian churches (in some differing issues) – that exalted Mary too much and was praying to her and having icons and statues definitely gave the Muslims the wrong impression about what the doctrines of the Trinity and “Son of God” and “Mother of God” was. (see Qur’an 5:72-75; 5:116; 112; 19:88-92; 6:101) Also drifting from the Bible and neglecting the doctrine of justification by faith alone and replacing it with rituals and baptismal regeneration.

  116. Ken:

    Thank you for your reply; I’m happy you took the time to consider my question seriously.

    I’m going to read the content of your reply and consider the fullness of it, as a united expression of your views, at a later time.

    For the moment, though, I am short on time, so I only want to address one particular concern: An anachronism you’ve (accidentally) attributed to me.

    You said I was asking, “…why there is not much or any evidence of any protests from anyone concerning… 1. calling the Eucharist a sacrifice, 2. baptismal regeneration, and 3. mono-episcopate …were deviations from Scripture.”

    Just to ensure we’re communicating clearly, let me point out that THAT isn’t quite what I asked.

    I did NOT ask why there weren’t protests about early deviations (if that’s what they were) “from Scripture.”

    I asked why there weren’t protests about early deviations (if that’s what they were) from the Apostolic Teaching.

    That’s not quite the same thing.

    After all, the term “Scripture” in the period 33 AD (the Ascension) to 107 AD (the writings of Ignatius of Antioch) could be applied with certainty only to the pre-Messianic books (what we now call the Old Testament).

    Yes, the 27 Apostolic Era (what we now call the New Testament) books had been written by the year 100, but nobody yet described them as “the New Testament.” (That term was used, if ever, for the Eucharist, which Christ had called “the new testament in My blood.”) Probably few churches had copies of all 27 of the books we now include in our New Testament, and we know that many churches had copies of other books like The Didache and The Shepherd and The Letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians and often read from these works in the liturgy.

    So if a Christian of this era were to tell you he was going to check to see whether Doctrinal Position XYZ was a deviation “from Scripture,” he wouldn’t mean by this that he was about to examine the text of 2nd Peter or James or Jude or Hebrews or Revelation or the Epistles of John or Paul’s Letter to Philemon.

    He might have copies of few of those particular books, or none. If he had them, he might have some uncertainty about their doctrinal authority until he was sure that Text X was really from an Apostle (not pseudoepigraphical). And he might, in spite of his respect for the Apostle Paul, have looked at you funny if you claimed that Philemon had higher doctrinal authority than The Didache, when the latter was a widely-circulated liturgical-norms and doctrinal-exhortation document read under the title of “The Teaching of the Apostles,” whereas the former was obviously a personal letter to an individual Paul happened to know!

    No, if a Christian of this era were to tell you he was going to check to see whether Doctrinal Position XYZ was a deviation “from Scripture,” he would be opening up his Septuagint. Those were the “Scriptures” which the Christians in the Greek town of Berea “searched” to see “if these things were so.”

    And the Bereans were certainly not searching “the Scriptures” to find out whether Christian liturgical practices were true sacraments, or what Christian behavioral norms were. They were searching “the Scriptures” to see if Jesus really fit the criteria for being the Messiah (for example, whether it was plausible that the big Messianic Suffering-Servant prophecy in Wisdom 2:12-20 was fulfilled in Jesus).

    They could not be searching “the Scriptures” to find out about Christian sacramentalism (Baptisms, the Eucharist, Laying-On-Of-Hands, etc.) because such topics couldn’t possibly be explained plainly in any document written prior to the coming of the Messiah Himself.

    And as for Christian behavioral norms…! If they searched the Old Testament for clues about that, they would see it plainly spelled out that circumcision was required for membership in the People of God, full stop.

    But that is not the right method for learning Christian behavioral norms, which is why the Apostles’ decision in Acts 15 flatly dissolved this Old Covenant practice. The Apostles’ decision about this was not decided by “searching the Scriptures” and if it had been it would have gone the opposite way! Rather, they exerted the authority Christ had given them: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”

    So I most definitely was NOT asking whether the early Christians would have protested about a teaching that deviated from “what was in Scripture.” If they took THAT approach to discerning orthodoxy from heterodoxy, the very first thing they’d have protested was the decision of the Protocouncil of Jerusalem in Acts 15 regarding circumcision.

    Instead, I was asking why the early Christians had not loudly protested about deviations from the Apostolic Teaching, as they had received it. For they had received it mostly by word-of-mouth, together with whichever Apostolic-Era writings they might have acquired…a category which for them would have included the gospels, but might not have included all the Pauline, Petrine, and Johannine letters, and often included The Didache or The Shepherd or, especially in Corinth, the Letter of Clement.

    Don’t mistake me: Apostolic Era books (those we do and don’t count canonical today) were surely cited and read from the pulpit — much as a pastor might quote Mere Christianity or My Utmost For His Highest today. But they might not have been included in a lectionary of planned readings yet. Their first planned lectionary would have been, in all likelihood, that which the Jews were already using in their Synagogues.

    I therefore do not want our discussion to import an anachronistic notion of how Christians could discern between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. They had been taught Christianity; the minority of them who could read had surely NOT “read their way into it.”

    Likewise in 2 Timothy 3, when Paul describes the Septuagint as being “god-breathed,” he is not telling Timothy that the Old Testament alone will allow Timothy to discern between Christian orthodoxy and heterodoxy. That level of information would require Timothy to have Apostolic Era knowledge, not merely Old Testament knowledge.

    Fortunately the Apostolic Faith was already taught to Timothy by Paul, so Paul tells him to “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it…,” and incidentally comments that Timothy’s knowledge of the Old Testament “from infancy” will also be very useful for instruction, rebuke, et cetera. Coupling this OT wisdom together with Timothy’s existing knowledge of the Apostolic Tradition he received from Paul will sufficiently make Timothy “equipped for every good work.”

    But at the time Paul wrote that, of course, the 27 books of our New Testament were still mostly unwritten, and wouldn’t be officially canonized for a minimum of another 300 years.

    So…

    IF you’d told Timothy that “baptism saves you” or that Matthias was the successor to the episcopate of Judas, or that Jesus’ flesh and blood is truly present on the Christian altars so that the Christian who attends the liturgy is experiencing a sort of time-warp, standing at the foot of the cross, literally in the physical presence of the body and blood of Jesus atoning for humanity in His once-for-all sacrifice…

    …IF you’d told Timothy all that, he would not have said, “Gee, let me go thumb through my copy of the Torah, or the Neviim, or the Ketuvim, to see if that’s right.”

    No, Timothy would have compared what you were saying to the Apostolic Tradition which Paul had taught to him “whether by word-of-mouth or letter.” (Mostly word-of-mouth.)

    And if what you said wasn’t compatible with what Timothy knew of Christianity, Timothy would not have said, “Hey, that’s not in the Scriptures!” (If he had, you could quite reasonably answer him, “Who’s talking about the Tanakh? I’m talking about what we Followers of the Way believe, which the Tanakh vaguely prefigures, but certainly doesn’t explain in detail.”)

    No, if you said something was Christian orthodoxy and Timothy disagreed, he would have said something like, “I learned how to follow The Way from the Apostle Paul, who learned it from Jesus Christ, who is the Messiah. From whom are you getting these ideas, which are news to me?”

    Of course, I think that “baptism now saves you” and the sacrificial Eucharist and Apostolic Succession ARE orthodox, and ARE among the things Paul taught Timothy. So, I think if you described these beliefs to Timothy, Timothy would have said, “Oh, sure, I know all that…you’ve been listening to my friend Paul, haven’t you?”

    But whatever he used for discerning heterodoxy from orthodoxy, it wasn’t a book collection that was as-yet half-written and was three centuries from being standardized.

  117. Ken,

    You wrote:

    the church at that time (which later became both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism later), including the EO and Oriental Orthodox (Coptic church, Syrian Jacobite, Armenian) and the Nestorian churches (in some differing issues) – that exalted Mary

    I appreciate this comment. It reiterates a major part of the thesis for the article. ALL of the ancient Christian Churches – not just Catholic, but orthodox – Byzantine, Oriental, and Assyrian – all of them venerated the saints, adored the Eucharist as the Body of Christ, celebrated the Liturgy as a sacrifice, and believed in apostolic succession.

    The witness of the entire Christian world for 1500 years – hence, the title of the post “The witness of the lost Christianities.”

    Thanks again,

    david

  118. R.C.
    You wrote:
    I asked why there weren’t protests about early deviations (if that’s what they were) from the Apostolic Teaching.
    That’s not quite the same thing.
    [as Scripture]

    You are right! I went back and read your comment # 103 again, and that is right, you talked about why they didn’t protest against what the apostles taught.

    But we (Protestants) say the only way we know what the apostles taught is by the 27 NT books.

    So, I assumed that they are the same, as has been standard Protestant teaching. Sorry I did not catch that distinction. You didn’t say Scripture, true; you said “apostolic teachings”. By that, you are implying there are other oral teachings that the apostles taught that were not written down, but were passed down to the next generation.

    Can you dogmatically and uniquivacally demonstrate any of them- that is, did Ignatius or Clement or Polycarp or Papias or Tertullian or Justin Martyr or Irenaeus actually quote or teach any other non-Scriptural oral tradition that Jesus or the apostles said? That is, did they say, “Jesus or Peter or Paul or John or Matthew or Bartholomew or Thomas or James or Simon the Zealot, or Andrew, or Philip, said “such and such” and now we report this oral tradition as apostolic now, but it was not written down in the Scriptures? And did they say “such and such” was taught to the Thessalonians and is included in what Paul means in 2 Thess. 2:15 or 3:6 or did Jesus teach purgatory or indulgences, or transubstantiation or that His mother is sinless or Perpetual virgin or immaculately conceived or that there is a future Papal office that was meant in “the other things that Jesus taught that were not written down” in John 21:25?

  119. David Anders, # 117

    You’re welcome! Yes, those things are part of the reason for God’s judgment when the church left its first love. Revelation 2:4-5

    False doctrines
    Exalting Mary too much
    Venerating saints in icons and statues and praying to them
    Praising Mary in prayer
    bowing down adoring and worshiping the consecrated host (bread and wine)
    priests
    other false doctrines and practices

    but calling the Eucharist a sacrifice, if it meant a remembrance of looking back at the one sacrifice, is ok, properly understood.
    Apostolic succession, if properly understood as teaching the doctrines of the apostles and being qualified to be elders/teachers/pastors/overseers in local churches – but not infallible (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7; I Tim. 3, I Peter 5:1-4) – those are good.

  120. R. C. wrote:
    “But at the time Paul wrote that, of course, the 27 books of our New Testament were still mostly unwritten, . . . “

    I disagree, most of the 27 books were written by 67 AD (if you mean 2 Timothy). Hebrews was probably 68 AD.
    All Paul’s letters were written before then, and all the Synoptic gospels and I Peter. 2 Peter around the same time before Nero killed both Peter and Paul sometime in 67 AD.

    Most conservative scholars believe John’s gospel, 3 letters, and Rev. were written between 80-96 AD, but there are some who also hold to pre-70 AD for even those.

    I agree that the apostles were preaching and teaching, but I also believe that Paul was orally teaching the content of Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, etc. in the churches that he did not write those letters to and the other disciples/apostles were doing the same thing. The Holy Spirit was bringing to their remembrance everything Jesus said (John 14, 16) and leading them into all the truth and they taught new converts the rule of faith based on the outline of the Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in Matthew 28:19 for those who wanted to be baptized. This later became creeds like apostles creed, Nicean Creed, Chalcedonian Creed, Athanasian Creed.

  121. Ken,

    It’s good to see that we agree that Catholic faith and practice were the norm for Christianity the world over until the Reformation. You see this as a reason for “divine judgment.” I see this as evidence that Protestantism is innovative and unhistorical. The one is a theological judgment; the other is an objective/historical judgment.

    -David

  122. David,
    The innovations were those unbiblical traditions (Matthew 15, Mark 7) that the early church started slowly adding – like exalting Mary too much, praying to Mary and other dead saints, relics, visiting graves and thinking one gets grace from touching things and praying to those dead people, baptismal regeneration, priests, penance instead of repentance, purgatory(400s and beyond), indulgences (later), mono-episcopate, Mary’s perpetual virginity (contradiction to Matthew 1:18, 25 (until) and Matthew 12:46; 13:55-56), neglecting justification in Romans and Galatians, etc. The Reformation was a return to the Scriptures and “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), and proper understanding of justification by faith in Romans and Galatians, John, Acts, Ephesians 2:8-10, etc.

  123. I disagree, most of the 27 books were written by 67 AD (if you mean 2 Timothy). Hebrews was probably 68 AD.
    All Paul’s letters were written before then, and all the Synoptic gospels and I Peter. 2 Peter around the same time before Nero killed both Peter and Paul sometime in 67 AD.

    Most conservative scholars believe John’s gospel, 3 letters, and Rev. were written between 80-96 AD, but there are some who also hold to pre-70 AD for even those.

    Hi Ken,

    In the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, Scott Hahn argues for earlier dates similar to what you have stated here.

  124. Hi Ken,

    As I remarked earlier, I’m glad that you and I see eye to eye on one thing. World Christianity – whether Latin Rite Catholic, Eastern rite Catholic, Byzantine, Coptic, Assyrian, Syriac – looks nothing like Protestantism. It Knows nothing of “Bible alone” Christianity. Knows nothing of Luther’s innovative reading of Romans. Knows no devotion without the saints, no eucharist without sacrifice, no authority without episcopacy and apostolic succession.

    You see this as a deformation, because it does not agree with your interpretation of Scripture, and does not agree with the interpretation of Scripture asserted by a very small minority of very late Western Christians in Saxony, France, England, and Switzerland.”

    I see this as evidence that the idiosyncratic reading of Scripture (and in fact the view of Scripture) offered by these Christians is highly innovative and unhistorical.

    -David

  125. Hi David, – # 124

    It seems you think larger numbers and majority opinion makes it right.

    And you left out Holland and Scandanavia and then later USA/Canada/Australia and other places where Protestantism grew and flourished and all the Protestant Evangelical missions efforts of the past 200 years that actually do evangelism and discipleship and church planting in areas where the Roman Catholics and those other groups don’t try – they are inward and don’t reach out to Muslims especially. (some of that is understandable, given the violent nature of Islam and historic persecution, and recent troubles).

  126. Hi Ken,

    I don’t think numbers make truth. But I do think that the absence of anything like Protestantism from 1500 years of Christian history is strong evidence that Protestantism does not emerge naturally from the pages of Scripture. The witness of history belies the Protestant doctrine of perspecuity.

    In fact, I note that Luther’s hermeneutic requires that Scripture be read in a very nuanced and very selective way. Luther felt the force of this objection himself, and remarked that it was hard for him not to see Christ as a “lawgiver.” The truth is that Protestantism only emerges in places where it has been planted by missionaries or polemicists. It requires reading the Bible “the correct” way, a way with many qualifications that can only be learned from Protestant tradition.

    I’m well aware of the Dutch/Scandanavian/American history of Protestantism. I privilege England, France, Switzerland, and Germany because these countries provided the doctrinal bedrock, if you will.

    But that subsequent history of Protestantism does nothing to undercut my thesis: history does not support a Protestant reading of Scripture. To deal with history, the Protestant polemicist must advance ahistorical theories of purity, corruption, divine judgment, apocalypse, antichrist, or what-have-you.

    -David

  127. Ken, regarding your comment in #112 about the Apocrypha (deuterocanonical books), as well as #66.

    The Greek Septuagint contained the deuterocanonical books –The same O.T. canon used by the apostles, and quoted and affirmed in early Christian writings (Shepard of Hermas, etc.) and by the early church fathers.

    The list of the deuterocanonical books was also affirmed by the Apostolic Church at the Synod of Rome in A.D. 382, the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397, 419). St. Augustine lists the canon of these books as well. It is the same canon preserved today by the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Church, and even many in the Anglican tradition.

    Finally, protestant historian J.N.D. Kelly writes: “It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive than the [Protestants Old Testament] . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deutero-canonical books.. . . the Church seems to have accept all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture. Quotations from Wisdom, for example, occur in 1 Clement and Barnabas. . . Polycarp cites Tobit, and the Didache [cites] Ecclesiasticus. Irenaeus refers to Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon [i.e., the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel], and Baruch. The use made of the Apocrypha by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria is too frequent for detailed references to be necessary” (Early Christian Doctrines, 53-54).

    Even if St. Jermone questioned the divine inspiration of these books — In the end, we go with what the Church has defined in her creeds, councils, the union of bishops, etc., not with individual bishops or individual early church fathers may have taught.

    Interestingly, Martin Luther questioned whether the Epistle of James belonged in the N.T. Canon, and yet modern Protestants as a whole affirm it.

  128. Hi David, (# 126)
    We are just going to have to disagree. The early church was the early church, neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant nor EO. The key thing is which one is closer to the correct interpretation of canonical Scripture.

    I do think the Protestant view of the Scriptures and Justification by Faith alone is closer to the Bible and apostles doctrine, and that Protestantism in general was a return to the emphases of early Christianity, especially the first 4 Centuries. The marriage of the state government with the church was a big mistake, from Theodosius (380-392 AD) onward until the Baptist movement of separation of the church from government.

    Anyway, I re-read your testimony at the Coming Home Network
    http://chnetwork.org/2012/02/a-protestant-historian-discovers-the-catholic-church-conversion-story-of-a-david-anders-ph-d

    In that, you wrote:
    Augustine taught that we literally “merit” eternal life when our lives are transformed by grace.

    Can you point to some specific references on that in Augustine’s writings?

  129. Dan, (# 127)
    Those that new Hebrew the best and the Jewish view of the Apocryphal books did not have the view that you espouse. Not only Jerome, but Origen, Athanasius, and Melito of Sardis, and it seems Cyril of Jerusalem.

    The Roman Catholic Church actually did not formally proclaim as dogma those Apocrypha books until the Council of Trent in the 1500s – the Councils influenced by Augustine in 390s – early 400s – Hippo and Carthage, were provincial councils. His lack of knowledge of Hebrew, he admits.

    Athanasius also does not include the Apocrypha books in the canon of the OT. (except, it seems, the letter of Jeremiah and Baruch, and he leaves out Esther.) Festal Letter 39:4 (but there is some dispute over the “and” the letter, so it could mean, “Lamentations, the letter”. the footnote says the “and” is disputed by the Benedictine editors – see ccel.org at Athanasius 39 Festal Letter, 4.)

    After Athanasius lists the 27 books of the NT, he says:

    6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone [this points to Sola Scriptura in principle] is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.” Festal Letter 39:6

    Luther did question James and when he compared it to Romans and Galatians, and other NT books, called it an “epistle of straw”, because it didn’t talk about doctrine and who Jesus very much, compared to others, but he never got rid of it, and preached from it and used it and treated it as canonical. He was just saying that compared to Romans, Galatians, John, Acts, Ephesians, and I Peter, it was less doctrinal and theological and more practical on behavior. I recommend you read James Swan’s articles on this.

    especially here:
    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2008/06/luthers-epistle-of-straw-comment.html

  130. “Those that new Hebrew best . . . ”

    sorry about that

    obviously, I meant, “Those that knew Hebrew best . . . “

  131. Hi Ken,

    We are just going to have to disagree.

    I think we can do a lot better than “agree to disagree.” We can elucidate our differences, understand one another’s presuppositions and assumptions, explore our theological methods. We can also find areas of agreement. I, for one, find it highly significant that we agree on the basic shape of world Christianity prior to the Reformation.

    I do think the Protestant view of the Scriptures and Justification by Faith alone is closer to the Bible and apostles doctrine, and that Protestantism in general was a return to the emphases of early Christianity, especially the first 4 Centuries.

    That’s an interesting claim. In my own case, it was study of the first 4 centuries that led me ineluctably away from Protestantism. I couldn’t find the doctrine of imputed righteousness anywhere in the tradition, to say nothing of baptist ecclesiology.

    The marriage of the state government with the church was a big mistake,

    Agreed. This was an innovation of the Reformation and something that Catholic Church has always opposed.

    Can you point to some specific references on that in Augustine’s writings?

    Sure. In the Tractate on John, Augustine explains that the grace of God makes us just by pouring the love of God into our hearts, not by imputation:

    What is this, God’s righteousness and man’s righteousness? God’s righteousness here means, not that wherein God is righteous, but that which God bestows on man, that man may be righteous through God. But again, what was the righteousness of those Jews? A righteousness wrought of their own strength on which they presumed, and so declared themselves as if they were fulfillers of the law by their own virtue. But no man fulfills the law but he whom grace assists, that is, whom the bread that comes down from heaven assists. For the fulfilling of the law, as the apostle says in brief, is charity. Romans 13:10 Charity, that is, love, not of money, but of God; love, not of earth nor of heaven, but of Him who made Heaven and earth. Whence can man have that love? Let us hear the same: The love of God, says he, is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us. Romans 5:5

    Elsewhere, he explains that we merit reward through God’s grace working in us:

    “We are commanded to live righteously, and the reward is set before us of our meriting to live happily in eternity. But who is able to live righteously and do good works unless he has been justified by faith?” (Various Questions to Simplician 1:2:21 [A.D. 396]).

    “He bestowed forgiveness; the crown he will pay out. Of forgiveness he is the donor; of the crown, he is the debtor. Why debtor? Did he receive something? . . . The Lord made himself a debtor not by receiving something but by promising something. One does not say to him, ‘Pay for what you received,’ but ‘Pay what you promised’” (Explanations of the Psalms 83:16 [A.D. 405]).

    “What merits of his own has the saved to boast of when, if he were dealt with according to his merits, he would be nothing if not damned? Have the just then no merits at all? Of course they do, for they are the just. But they had no merits by which they were made just” (Letters 194:3:6 [A.D. 412]).

    “What merit, then, does a man have before grace, by which he might receive grace, when our every good merit is produced in us only by grace and when God, crowning our merits, crowns nothing else but his own gifts to us?” (ibid., 194:5:19).

    Furthermore, in his Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed, Augustine explains the article “On the remission of sins” completely in light of the Church’s sacramental and liturgical tradition:

    You have [this article of] the Creed perfectly in you when you receive Baptism . . . When you have been baptized, hold fast a good life in the commandments of God, that you may guard your Baptism even unto the end. . . For the sake of all sins was Baptism provided; for the sake of light sins, without which we cannot be, was prayer provided. . . Only, do not commit those things for which you must needs be separated from Christ’s body: which be far from you! For those whom you have seen doing penance, have committed heinous things, either adulteries or some enormous crimes: for these they do penance. Because if theirs had been light sins, to blot out these daily prayer would suffice. In three ways then are sins remitted in the Church; by Baptism, by prayer, by the greater humility of penance.

    When Augustine does expound the meaning of justification, he does so in a way fully consistent with this tradition. He insists that faith alone does not save, and that those in the church who commit gross sins must “wash it away in penitence,” or “redeem it by almsgiving.”

    See his work, de fide et operibus.

  132. Also, consider the following:

    De spiritu et littera, 15: “It is by God’s gift, through the help of the Spirit, that a man is justified . . . It is not, therefore, by the law, nor is it by their own will, that they are justified; but they are justified freely by His grace — not that it is wrought without our will; but our will is by the law shown to be weak, that grace may heal its infirmity; and that our healed will may fulfill the law.”
    (De spiritu et lit, 45): “For what else does the phrase being justified signify than being made righteous—by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead?”

    (To Simplician 1.13): “Grace justifies so that he who is justified may live justly. Grace, therefore, comes first, then good works.” The translation is that of John H. S. Burleigh, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Edinburgh and was published in Augustine: Earlier Writings, Volume VI of the Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953.)

    (On grace and free will, 6.13): “Thus, it is necessary for a man that he should be not only justified when unrighteous by the grace of God—that is, be changed from unholiness to righteousness—when he is requited with good for his evil; but that, even after he has become justified by faith, grace should accompany him on his way, and he should lean upon it, lest he fall.

    (On grace and Free will, 6.15): “If, indeed, they so understand our merits as to acknowledge them, too, to be the gifts of God, then their opinion would not deserve reprobation . . . It is His own gifts that God crowns, not your merits,— if, at least, your merits are of your own self, not of Him. If, indeed, they are such, they are evil; and God does not crown them; but if they are good, they are God’s gifts . . . then, your good merits are God’s gifts, God does not crown your merits as your merits, but as His own gifts.” [↩]

  133. Ken:

    I’m short on time at the moment but wanted to point out that you’re quite right about the timing of the letters to Timothy; most though not all of the NT was written by that time. I was thinking, I believe, of the letters to the Thessalonians (drat those T-names!) instead, when I was saying that most of the other NT books had not been written by the time of authorship.

    Still, not all had been written; and of course no standard canon, or schedule of readings, was yet present. I think the larger point I was making is unaffected; still, I wanted to acknowledge you were correct that the letters to Timothy were later, not earlier, Pauline writings and thus it is not correct to say that most of the NT books hadn’t been written yet.

  134. David,
    Thanks for all the quotes from Augustine. Most of those, (maybe all), a Protestant would agree with, as long as the rewards are the result of the foundation/grounds of justification by faith alone – the merits of Christ and His righteousness. They point to the distinction between justification and sanctification. We believe in sanctification as you know, a practical righteousness; but it is not part of justification by faith alone, as in Romans 3, 4, and 5. But I want to study all of those quotes more in depth as time allows.

    The marriage of church and state was a big mistake –
    Agreed. This was an innovation of the Reformation and something that Catholic Church has always opposed.

    Really? What about Theodosius (380-392 AD), Justinian (527-565 AD) and beyond, through the Popes of the Middle Ages and calling for Crusade Wars and the Spanish Inquisition and tortures and the burning of Hus and persecuation of Wycliffe and his followers, the Cathars, and the Waldensians? It seems that Christian history had the marriage of church and state all the way from Theodosius to the Enlightenment era and then a real application of that separation in the USA separation of church and state.

    Lutheranism (state churches based on infant baptism records) and Calvin (Geneva) were wrong on that, but they seemed to inherit it from the Roman Catholic era. Infant baptism was one of the biggest mistakes also (contra Tertullian’s good advice in On Baptism, 18 “And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children . . . Let them come, then, while they grow up, while they learn, while they are taught to whom to come; let them become Christians when they will have been able to know Christ! ” ) ; but I don’t have a big problem with the way conservative Presbyterians and other Protestants define it, as long as it is taught that it does not save or regenerate, which again, is one of the first mistakes of the early church.

  135. You welcome ken.

    I’m glad to know that you think positively regarding Augustine’s doctrine of justification. Your qualification, however, “as long as the rewards are the result of the foundation/grounds of justification by faith alone” is, of course, in flat contradiction to Augustine, who holds that God rewards our good works enabled by grace – not the righteousness of Christ imputed.

    The Catholic view on Church/State is that the Church is not a department of the state. Calvin was more Catholic in this as well, insofar as he reserved the power of excommunication to the pastors and not the civil government.

    Your remarks on baptism and regeneration are beyond the scope of this thread, but have been addressed elsewhere on the site. See, for example, the article on “The Church Fathers on baptismal regeneration.”

    -David

  136. The distinction between justification by faith alone as a point in time of conversion (repentance and faith in Christ) and the process of sanctification – growing in holiness – was clear in the Scriptures, and sometimes articulated by some early church fathers (but some of them were inconsistent also), but it was also more unclear in the centuries before Luther, because it was eclipsed by the emphasis of so many other things. (rituals, works, emphasis on Mary, priests, baptism, church authority) See below for more on that.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2012/08/historical-developments-that-led-to.html

  137. justification by faith alone gets us peace with God and eternal life, heaven. (John 5:24, 3:15-16, Romans 10:9-10; 3:28; 4:-16; 5:1, Philippians 3:9, Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 16:31; 13:47-48; Galatians 2:16, 21)

    but rewards for good works are in addition to heaven and eternal life, and they only happen after justification by faith at conversion first lays the foundation.

  138. You didn’t explain the unity of the government with the church from Theodosius, Justinian, the Middle Ages Popes and Crusades against heretics, inquisitions, the Crusades against Muslims, Jews, and the Eastern Orthodox, etc.

    Yeah, I totally disagree with Calvin on that aspect of church and state and punishments of heretics, etc.

  139. Hi Ken,

    justification by faith alone gets us peace with God and eternal life,

    That’s not what Scripture says:
    Romans 2:13: “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” (Romans 2:13);
    James 2:24: “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”
    Romans 13:8: “whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
    1 John 3:7: “The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
    Psalm 24: 3: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
    The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.”

    I do agree (to some extent) with this statement:

    it (sola fide) was also more unclear in the centuries before Luther, because it was eclipsed by the emphasis of so many other things.

    You are correct that sola fide was not clearly taught in the centuries before Luther. I don’t agree with the metaphor of an “eclipse” which suggests that sola fide was out there in circulation, just covered up. I’ve seen no evidence that any of the Church fathers believed in sola-fide-as-the-imputation-of-Christ’s-Righteousness, and quite a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    Which brings us back to the theme of this post:

    You and I agree, more or less, that before the Reformation no Christian body anywhere in the world articulated the Christian faith like Luther (or Calvin, or the baptist John Smith, or Edwards, or Wesley, or Cranmer, or Billy Graham, . . . )

    Again – you see this as evidence that God left the Church in darkness (more or less) until the Baptists got it figured out 1600 years later. I see this as evidence that historic Christianity does not support a Baptist interpretation of Scripture.

    You didn’t explain the unity of the government with the church from Theodosius, Justinian, the Middle Ages Popes and Crusades against heretics, inquisitions, the Crusades against Muslims, Jews, and the Eastern Orthodox, etc.

    Well, you’ve identified an enormous data set that we have, in truth, addressed in other posts.

    But, none of the data you adduce says anything about the church being a department of state or the state a department of the Church.

  140. Ken, regarding comment #129:

    How do you know the 26 books of the N.T. should be accepted as inspired canon?
    There is no scripture that tells us. In other words, you rely on Sacred Tradition and Church authority (given to it by the Holy Spirit).

    BTW: The same “provincial councils” affirmed the books of the N.T., and yet you probably accept these without reservation.

  141. “How do you know the 26 books ” I meant 27 books

  142. Ken Temple: “Luther did question James and when he compared it to Romans and Galatians, and other NT books, called it an “epistle of straw”

    Perhaps there is another reason that Luther did not like James.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 “Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of our own, but by a gift from God, not by anything you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.” Jerusalem Bible

    James 2:14-15 “Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? …
    James 2:17 “Faith is like that; if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.” Jerusalem Bible

    I don’t believe that “not by works” from Ephesians is referencing what James is writing about. Rather in the early parts of his letters, Paul is writing to the Jews in the local churches. He is writing at a time when the Judaizers want the “works of righteousness” such as circumcision promulgated. There is a party that wants people to go to Jesus through Moses. What Paul is writing about is circumcision and other works of righteousness, not feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.

    If Luther had any recognition of thatconsideration, I did not manage to find it.

    Romans 4 “Apply this to Abraham, the ancestor from whom we are all descended. [This part must be to the Jews in Rome because it certainly does not apply to the Gentile Christians who did not descend from Abraham by the flesh.] If Abraham was justified as a reward for doing something, he would really have had something to boast about, though not in God’s sight because scripture says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this faith was considered as justifying him.” Jerusalem Bible

    Of note, Paul goes on to recognize that Abraham was justified before circumcision, and circumcision is one of the works of righteousness, not one of the works of mercy.

    James 2:21-23: You surely know that Abraham our father was justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar? There you see it: faith and deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified;” Jerusalem Bible

    So might it be understood that the works of righteousness do nothing good or bad with regard to salvation and are therefore unnecessary, but that Jesus’ direction to us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, etc must be taken seriously?

  143. Hi David, ( # 139)

    Romans 5:1 – “Thereforefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God . . . ”

    We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, and have eternal life and peace with God (Romans 5:1, 3:28; 4:1-16, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:16; John 5:24; 3:15-16; Acts 16:31; 13:47-48, Philippians 3:9),

    but true faith in Christ does not stay alone, it necessarily results in change, good works, fruit, deeper levels of repentance, growth in holiness. (James 2:14-26, Ephesians 2:10; Hebrews 12:14)

  144. In the above list, I meant Acts 13:38-39, not 13:47-48.

    “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed (Greek: justified = δικαιουται) from all things, from which you could not be freed (Greek: justified = δικαιωθηναι) through the Law of Moses. ” Acts 13:38-39

    γνωστὸν οὖν ἔστω ὑμῖν, ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί, ὅτι διὰ τούτου ὑμῖν ἄφεσις ἁμαρτιῶν καταγγέλλεται

    39 ἀπὸ πάντων ὧν οὐκ ἠδυνήθητε ἐν νόμῳ Μωϋσέως δικαιωθῆναι ἐν τούτῳ πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων δικαιοῦται.

  145. Hi Ken,

    As a Catholic, I affirm and believe every verse you have cited. Romans 5:1 in particular – Justification brings peace with God. But this is not in question between us. Nor are we in dispute about faith being the vehicle rather than “works of the law.” The dispute is about what happens in justification, how it is that justification brings peace with God. What Catholics (and all of ancient Christianity) reject, is the notion that justification brings about the imputation of Christ’s righteousness such that we are “simultaneously just and sinful.”

    -David

  146. Ken:

    In reply to my making a distinction between the Apostolic Teaching and the Content of the New Testament, you say: “…we (Protestants) say the only way we know what the apostles taught is by the 27 NT books.”

    …and, you continue,

    “[By making the distinction], you are implying there are other oral teachings that the apostles taught that were not written down, but were passed down to the next generation.”

    Well…yes and no.

    I don’t hold to the sort of “partim-partim” idea, in which there are some teachings utterly absent from Scripture and only passed down via oral tradition.

    But, I do hold that there are many things mentioned only vaguely or in passing in Scripture…mentioned in a fashion which allows for lots of plausible misinterpretations even by well-educated godfearing-and-spirit-led scholars. And I hold that, oddly, it is often the most basic things which are treated in this fashion, because the author is writing to a Christian audience who (a.) already ought to know all the basics, (b.) who can go and ask their local clergy if they need a refresher on the basics, and (c.) who have as-yet encountered no disputes or misunderstandings about certain basic topics, such that it does not yet occur to the inspired author to reiterate them.

    But this means that, for all its inspiration and inerrancy, there is one thing which the New Testament definitely is NOT: It is not a Time Capsule Catechism. It is not a document written with the purpose of explicitly and comprehensively mentioning and explaining the doctrines of the faith with the intent of ensuring that not-yet-catechized persons in a distant land many centuries later could reconstruct it without error.

    I hold, therefore, that the New Testament canon, by itself, is not sufficient in practice to reconstruct all the doctrines and practices of the apostolic faith. If the Holy Spirit had intended Scripture to be used that way, He would have inspired someone to write it that way. But we know by the best empirical evidence (500 years of attempting to achieve doctrinal unity through sola scriptura) that He did not, in fact, do so.

    That’s not what we have.

    What we have, instead, is a text where, if you already know the doctrines (at least as well as the leaders of the early Christian churches knew them), you can see them referenced at various points (sometimes pretty explicitly, sometimes vaguely or in offhanded and easily-misunderstood ways). But if you don’t already know the doctrines, and attempt a reconstruction from the text alone, your reconstruction will naturally differ from everyone else’s…and none of you will know which reconstruction is correct.

    That’s my view. (And I think it’s pretty well supported by the last 500 years of history.)

    So, Ken, when you say, “Can you dogmatically and uniquivacally [sic] demonstrate any of them- that is, did Ignatius or Clement or Polycarp or Papias or Tertullian or Justin Martyr or Irenaeus actually quote or teach any other non-Scriptural oral tradition that Jesus or the apostles said?” …my answer is: Yes and No.

    What I mean is: You might see one of their teachings as “non-Scriptural” because, lacking the correct starting assumptions for understanding the text, you don’t detect that teaching anywhere in the text. But they would not call it “non-Scriptural.” Such a designation would be anachronistic, for them. These guys, themselves, were NOT “reconstructors.” They knew the faith, whether they happened to have a copy of any of the Apostolic Era writings or not.

    Every time these guys said, “Hey, here is the faith we practice; here is what Christians believe,” they were, in their own view, teaching an oral tradition. Being literate (unlike many Christians of that era) and having access to copies of most of the Apostolic Era writings, they would naturally quote Matthew or Paul or John or the author of Hebrews when they could, if it would help illustrate a point they were making. But if they couldn’t think of a quote, they would have made the point anyway, because it was part of the faith they’d learned. They were not sitting there attempting to learn the doctrines of an ancient faith by examining old texts in a foreign language. Instead, they were reporting what they’d been taught by an apostle, or by a guy who’d heard it from an apostle.

    It would usually not have occurred to these guys to NOTICE whether a doctrine was referenced explicitly in an Apostolic Era writing or not. Why should they? They knew the faith; they knew they’d received it through a reliable path of witnesses. So when Paul quotes the Old Testament saying, “There is no-one who is righteous, no not one,” they would not have seen this and said, “Waitaminute! I always thought that Christianity considered Jesus and Mary not to have sinned, but this verse means they must have!” No, they’d have said, “Well, I know that neither Jesus nor His mother are supposed to have sinned; I know this from Polycarp who received it from John…who certainly ought to know! So, I suppose that’s not the correct way to interpret this verse, and I should look for another.”

    In a sense, then, the Apostolic Fathers did not (by modern standards) do “exegesis”; they did “eisegesis.” Knowing the faith from the apostles themselves, they “read these assumptions into the text.” But for them, it was safe and right to do this: They were not reconstructors detached from a tradition, but the recipients of the Apostolic Faith who also happened to have texts written by the previous generation of recipients. They were able to properly understand these texts when they read them, because they already knew the assumptions underlying them.

    So: I distinguish between Apostolic Tradition (the faith received from the apostles by those of their immediate successors whom the apostles thought worthy of being elevated to positions of leadership in the Early Church) and “Scripture” not because I think there is a teaching which was part of their faith but which cannot be found anywhere at all in the New Testament writings, even as an unstated assumption or a vague allusion.

    Rather, I make the distinction because…

    (a.) to attempt to reconstruct the faith from Scripture alone is anachronistic and utterly absent from the mindset of the early Christians; and,

    (b.) the only plausible way to know whether a teaching is “in Scripture” — given the possibility of being tripped up by unstated assumptions or vague allusions which we moderns might miss — is to come to the text already knowing the basics of Christianity as learned by those who first received it from the Apostles. (Just like the intended audience!)

    And the only way for us moderns to reconstruct THAT, if we don’t yet accept the doctrine that the Catholic Magisterium teaches infallibly, is to prefer the Apostolic Fathers’ interpretations and assumptions over our own: To learn what we can of the “Apostolic Tradition” first.

    And that, by the way, is one reason I can no longer (as I once did, for I was raised in Baptist churches) endorse something you said: “…we (Protestants) say the only way we know what the apostles taught is by the 27 NT books.”

    I once would have agreed with that. But now, reflecting on history, I am unable to avoid concluding that this is not, after all, a way that one can “know what the apostles taught.” It is only a way that one can make a very iffy kind of guess about what the apostles taught…and that’s why every man who attempts this methodology seems to come up with a different result. Any time the sacred authors thought a topic was already sufficiently well-known by their audience that they needn’t explain it fully, those of us who aren’t first-century Jewish or Godfearing-Gentile converts (taught the faith by an apostle or one of the apostles’ protégés) will likely err when we try to reconstruct the early Christians’ beliefs about that topic. The last 500 years’ history of ever-multiplying divisions (on what ought to be fundamental doctrines!) proves this problem is very real.

    Make sense?

  147. Ken:

    Since I finally have time, I am now returning to the meat of your earlier reply (#113, which was originally in reply to my #103). But please first see my most recent reply (#146) since some of it overlaps with what follows:

    You say, “There seems to me to be a clear change in emphasis right from the time of the ending of the Canonical texts into the non-canonical texts. That should be expected from God-breathed documents compared to merely human writings.”

    I can easily believe that there seems to you to be a “clear change.”

    The first-century Christians, however, seem not to have detected such a clear difference: Some of them read Clement of Rome’s Letter to the Corinthians, and occasionally The Didache or The Shepherd, in the liturgy, alongside the writings we now hold canonical. And even when these were eventually excluded from the canon they were widely lauded as orthodox and “suitable for private devotional reading,” even though they had been thought not-quite-worthy of the highest place of honor; namely, being read in the liturgy. And a sharp distinction existed between these “orthodox, but suited for devotional use” books and the gnostic pretender-gospels (e.g. Marcion’s remix of Luke) which arose later, to which the Fathers typically reacted with either a sniff of disdain or furious indignation.

    This is evidence that when the earliest recipients of the New Testament books read the words of Paul or Matthew or John, the meaning they derived from those texts was not at odds with these particular writings. Yet these earliest recipients are, after all, the intended audience of the New Testament books. Who is the more reliable interpreter? The intended audience, or a crowd of Europeans and Americans more than 1500 years later, separated from the original audience by vast cultural and technological changes?

    What we each “take away” from the New Testament is surely colored by our familiarity with the passages and how we’ve heard them interpreted and commented-upon. It is difficult for us not to see them through the “colored lenses” of the traditions in which we first encountered them, be they Baptist or Presbyterian or Methodist or Seventh-Day Adventist…or Catholic. Catholics open up the Bible and feel that they are reading a deeply and obviously Catholic book. Presumably Seventh-Day Adventists feel similarly. I know that Baptists feel this way because I used to be one. Whatever our theology, our soteriology, our ecclesiology, we feel like the Bible is our “home turf.”

    Oh, sure, we each can identify a handful of “blip verses”: Things like Paul referring to “baptism for the dead,” or stating that he completes in his body what is “lacking” in the afflictions of Christ (!!!). We aren’t overly concerned with these, though: Normally we shrug and assume that, in Heaven, we’ll finally figure out “what that was all about.” Sometimes a preacher will offer an interpretation which sounds plausible, and we’ll dutifully write these down in the margins of our Bibles.

    Yet, notice: We’re able to feel that way, despite disagreeing with one another. That should be unsettling: We can’t all be right, but we all feel right. We all feel comfortable that we’re right, but we can’t all be right because our notions are mutually-exclusive.

    Our feelings offer no sure guidance, then.

    How, then, shall we objectively sort out plausible interpretations from implausible ones?

    For example, how may we respond objectively — not relying on our own favorite exegesis, on what feels plausible to us, but on some criterion outside ourselves — to the folks who hold that David and Jonathan were gay lovers and that the Bible is okay with this? (And, correspondingly, that Paul is opposed to ephebophilia but is unfamiliar with the idea of long-term faithful gay relationships and would not oppose these…or even that John’s self-labeling as “the disciple Jesus loved” has sexual connotations?)

    We can sift lexicons and strain at usages as much as we like, but the heterodox will always find a new spin to offer on these and other passages, supporting their own notions. We will be going in circles, until and unless we step outside the text and ask, “Okay. Supposing their interpretation was true, what would we expect to find in the historical record? What controversies would have arisen? What opposing views? What defenses would have been levied against the opposing views, and by whom? Does this interpretation have historicity on its side?”

    Now those are questions which can be answered objectively. And as soon as you begin to ask them, the whole argument of the pro-same-sex-mutual-masturbation crowd is shown to be demonstrably silly.

    That’s good news: We can, it seems, use historicity and the interpretative opinions of the early fathers as a first-line-of-defense for orthodoxy.

    But, Ken, that is what you seem determined not to do: You have your comfortable notions about what the New Testament “really means” — no fault in that, we all do! — but when the earliest Christian authorities say things which are incompatible with your own interpretation, what do you do?

    It looks as if you state that, wherever these earlier Christian authorities differ from you, they have drifted into error, but you are interpreting the text as the author intended.

    Is that really probable?

    Remember who “they” are: Men trained in Christianity by the Apostles, or by disciples of the Apostles. Men of the same century as the sacred authors, in the same community as the sacred authors, speaking the language of the sacred authors in the same era as the sacred authors. Often the apostles or their successors actually selected these folks (e.g. Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch) for leadership positions in the Messianic community…something they presumably would not have done had these persons been of dubious orthodoxy!

    And, remember who you (and I!) are: We are men of the twenty-first century, continents away in geography, but much further in language and culture and the shape of our thoughts. Our view of creation is desacralized, family and children are of radically diminished importance. We are “WEIRD”: That wonderful acronym which stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. We are experientially and philosophically cut off from most of the lives of all our ancestors.

    To remind yourself that, after all, the writings of the Early Church Fathers are not guaranteed to be error-free in the same way as the writings of St. Paul is really not sufficient. For we are not measuring his writing against Scripture, but the assumptions he received in his Christian upbringing against the assumptions we received in our own. It on the basis of those different assumptions that he, and we, read the same Scriptures while coming to different conclusions. But whose assumptions are likely to be better? And whose conclusions are likely to be better as a consequence?

    Clement of Rome’s writing is not inspired-inerrant. Let us stipulate that Clement of Rome believed, in error, that the reports he’d heard about a dying-and-rising bird in a distant land called “phoenix” were true. He made an error regarding the animal kingdom. We can see that we (through our superior technology) are in a position to know better than he, on that score.

    But is there any reason to think that we know better than he, on matters of ecclesiology? Especially given who he was pals with? Or Ignatius of Antioch, given who he hung around with? Or Polycarp and his disciple Irenaeus, given who Polycarp knew?

    What, really, are the odds that the community of first-century Christians were mistaken about what the Apostles meant, but we, after all this time, have discovered it?

    I think that, broadly, is my response to your comments on how you feel the early Christian authors went astray regarding baptism, or the authority of the Stewards of the Messianic King, et cetera. (I am carefully not saying “mono-episcopate” because, while there are certain ideas like Apostolic Succession which the Church affirms as part of the Church from the beginning, there are matters of parish administration which need not have been, but are lumped together under the same term.)

    Given the separation between your own view and that of the Apostolic Fathers, you obviously must either abandon your view or offer a plausible narrative which might explain how they came to hold a wrong view. And that is, I admit, what I asked you to do: To offer a narrative, to answer, “How could it be that…?”

    But please remember that there are two options. You can either offer a narrative…or you can consider whether they might be right after all. To me, it seemed more plausible that the Apostolic Fathers knew better than Luther, or Calvin, or Dallas Theological Seminary. And as soon as I had concluded that I knew that, whatever I eventually became, I could no longer remain “Protestant.” It just didn’t bear up under close scrutiny any more.

    One more thing: I notice, in what you say about the Eucharist (as understood by Catholics), that you seem to think Christ is being (in the Catholic view) re-sacrificed, repeatedly. That is not so.

    The Lamb was slain “before the foundation of the earth” …and, also, and not incompatibly, the Lamb was slain in 30-ish AD. And the Lamb who is on the throne looks, right now and forever, as if He has been slain. All of these statements are true: It is not either/or, but both/and. When God dies, it is an act of eternal love intended and in a sense enacted from before there was time — hence “before the foundation of the earth” — but it is only one event, even though for God, “all times are now” and thus that deed mysteriously “touches” every moment of history, past, present, and future.

    It was that single event which I personally attended last week at Mass, and the week before, and the week before that. It is a little bit like being a Time Traveller who hops into his time capsule again and again, returning to Calvary to re-witness the most important moments in the history of the universe.

    If a strange fancy can help you grasp what it is like, you can imagine that it is not only by the kind graciousness of God that I do not have to detect that what I swallow is blood and flesh, but it is also by the kind graciousness of God that I do not stumble on the rock of Golgotha while going forward to receive…or bump into earlier versions of myself who made the time-journey earlier!

    But if that sounds too sci-fi for you, you may skip over it. My main point is to correct your misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine: The sacrifice of the Mass is not Christ being sacrificed again, as if He could be grabbed and tied down again. It is the sacrifice of Christ, in which He is both the offering and the priest who offers. This is, consequently, the only sacrifice in history that can be called a “pure offering,” without qualification.

    And thus Malachi’s prophetic word is fulfilled in the Mass, which happens all over the world, among the Gentiles, all day, from East to West, from the sun’s rising to its setting. This was doubtless one of the primary apologetics which led to the conversion of those Jews who were converted: That through Jesus, finally, the Messianic prophecy was fulfilled that not only had the Gentiles finally abandoned paganism in favor of worshiping the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, but they were actually offering (!) a pure (!!) sacrifice (!!!) daily, all around the world.

  148. David, ( # 145)
    I understand the RC understanding of justification as a life long process until death, and even then, after death, there is Purgatory and satis passio. And baptism to an infant suppossedly justifies them, sanctifies them, regenerates them, causes them to be born again, YET they do not repent or believe in Christ – they cannot. Called “initial justification” at the Council of Trent and beyond – there is simply nothing about that in the Bible at all.

    The problem is that the Roman Catholic System guts all of these verses about justification of any meaning.

    Romans 5:1, 3:28; 4:1-16, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:16; John 5:24; 3:15-16; Acts 16:31; 13:38-39, Philippians 3:9

    These verses treat possession of justification and peace and eternal life and forgiveness of sins as a point in time, not a process. I know you know this, but it bears repeating, – The process of becoming holy and growing is called sanctification and perseverance and these are fruits and results of being justified, not conditions for being justified in the future. We believe in that process of becoming more like Jesus and becoming more holy also, but that is the not the basis of our justification. Sanctification, holiness, perseverance are the results and fruits of a real justification at a point in time. (real conversion) The person who has no good works or fruit or change or hatred of sin, was not truly justified. One can claim to have faith, but if there is no change or fruit or good works, that faith is not real. That is what James 2:14-26 is about.

    You don’t really have an objective peace, assurance, etneral life, because actually experiencing justification depends on IF you keep doing all the works of the rituals, sacramental system of loosing justification by mortal sin and gaining it back through the penances, confessions, Transubstantiation, Hail Mary’s, alms to the poor, pilgrimages, relics, indulgences, treasury of merit, etc. (all unBiblical man-made traditions)

  149. Ken,

    Whoops, I need to clarify something in my last post. I said:

    “To remind yourself that, after all, the writings of the Early Church Fathers are not guaranteed to be error-free in the same way as the writings of St. Paul is really not sufficient. For we are not measuring his writing against Scripture, but the assumptions he received in his Christian upbringing against the assumptions we received in our own.”

    The way I meant to phrase this was:

    “To remind yourself that, after all, the writings of the Early Church Fathers are not guaranteed to be error-free in the same way as the writings of St. Paul is really not sufficient. For we are not measuring the writing of Church Father XYZ against Scripture, but the assumptions Church Father XYZ received in his Christian upbringing against the assumptions we received in our own.”

    In short, the “his” in the second sentence was not intended to refer to St. Paul, but refers instead to any given Church Father whose writings we are using to assist us in reconstructing how the Apostles’ teaching was understood by the original hearers.

  150. Hi Ken,

    I’m puzzled by your statement that Catholic theology guts these verses of meaning.
    Take Romans 5:1, for example. What is meaningless about the claim that justification brings peace with God? I believe this as a Catholic.

    I think you misunderstand the Catholic doctrine of salvation. For Catholics, justification does take place at a point of time, and brings assurance and hope. Through it we “gain access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

    To say that the life of grace is a process does not mean that it does not have a definite beginning. Nor does it mean that Catholics have no objective basis for assurance because they depend on the sacramental system. Aren’t sacraments objective signs? This in contrast to Protestant assurance, which is grounded in the subjective experience of “faith.” It seems to me that Catholics are the ones with objective assurances and Protestants depend on interior signs of “true faith.”

    But, again, these things are really not at issue between us. The major difference between Protestant and Catholic regards what happens in justification. Protestants, following Luther, hold that justification brings about the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Catholics, following the witness of ancient Christianity, know no such doctrine but confess, instead, that grace brings “a participation in the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4.

    The subject of this thread is “The Witness of the Lost Christianities.” My major thesis is that ancient Christianity – even in its non-Catholic expression – knows nothing of Protestant doctrine. This is especially true of the sola fide doctrine and imputation.
    I have treated this also in my article Tradition I and Sola Fide

    -David

  151. David, (# 150)

    I think you misunderstand the Catholic doctrine of salvation. For Catholics, justification does take place at a point of time, and brings assurance and hope. Through it we “gain access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

    To say that the life of grace is a process does not mean that it does not have a definite beginning. Nor does it mean that Catholics have no objective basis for assurance because they depend on the sacramental system.

    Roman Catholicism, by calling baptism “initial justification” and mostly done to infants (ok, so it has a beginning), have set up an entire system of sacramentalism, and “works righteousness”/salvation by morality and faith and sacraments and the church and submission to the Pope. The infant always (? maybe you think sometimes they don’t ? – a person never commits a mortal sin later in life? only venial sins?) looses intitial justification, and then has to do good works to get it back. (Sometime later) That whole emphasis in RC just seems so oppossed to the Bible and spirit of the NT that it seems obvious that it guts all those verses of any meaning.

    I look forward to reading your article on Tradition I and Sola Fide and interaction with Keith Matthison. I had not seen that article before. (There is a lot I have missed here at CtC – I participated more in 2009-2010 on the Sola Scriptura and Canon and Heremeneutics – 3 articles. )

    The subject of Tertullian, Cyprian and post baptismal sin, church discipline, repentance, how penace started are interesting, for that I think is another big difference between us. This is going to take some time for me, as I like to slowly digest the information and go to the sources in the footnotes, etc. But I sincerely appreciate that article. That is an area that I wish there was more books on the subject from a Reformed view. Do you know of Reformed books that do an indepth analysis of those issues?

    But I am constantly amused at the anachronistic paintings that Roman Catholics have -“The Doctors of the Church” painting – painting Augustine, Jerome, and Pope Gregory in 13th – 15 Century garb! The painting is dated at 1437.

    You guys and most Roman Catholic apologists (it seems to me) like to see yourselves as the masters and owners of Church History, yet, it seems to me, in all honesty, you also have a lot of the most anachronistic stuff in the paintings and statues of saints and Popes, etc. of the earlier generations/centuries. Calling the bishops of Rome in the first centuries “Pope” is also anachronistic.

    Amazing.

  152. Hi Ken,

    Your appeal to the “Spirit of the NT” is not evidence for the Protestant interpretation of Scripture. It is an appeal to how you feel about the NT.
    Furthermore, your discussion of the sacramental system is not entirely accurate. Catholics do not “do good works” to get back into the state of justification. Rather, they repent in contrition for past sins and receive absolution. If this counts as a “work,” then I suppose Jesus advocated “works” when he said of the tax collector in Luke 18, ““I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.” However, I don’t think this is what St. Paul had in mind in Romans 3-4 when he said that “works of the law” do not justify.

    I’m glad you are looking forward to the Sola Fide article.

    As far as a Reformed or Evangelical reading of the early Church texts on salvation, there are three I can think of.
    First, T.F. Torrance wrote a thesis on The doctrine of Grace in the apostolic fathers.
    J.N.D. Kelly (Anglican) wrote Early Christian Doctrine.
    Mcgrath (Anglican/Evangelical) wrote the 2 vol. history of Justificaiton: Iustitia Dei.

    You might also look at volume 1 of Pelikans Christian Tradition, written when he was still a Lutheran. Or Seeberg’s Textbook on the History of Doctrines.

    I’d like to know where you think I have painted Augustine or Jerome in 13th century garb.
    I’d also like to know where you think Augustine and the 13 century theologians disagree.
    Documentation, please.

    Thanks,

    David

  153. David, ( # 152)
    I will work on your other comments later.
    I have read a lot of 2 of those works you mentioned – Kelly, Torrence – I don’t remember much discussion of penance, Tertullian, and Cyprian, church discipline, etc.

    Maybe McGrath goes into that issue more. I have only looked a little bit at McGrath’s 2 Volume work, need to check it out from library again, if that is one that has lots of references to actually sources in Cyprian and Tertullian, etc.

    I’d like to know where you think I have painted Augustine or Jerome in 13th century garb.

    The painting of the Doctors of the church that is at your article on “Tradition 1 and Sola Fide” – the mitre hats were not used until the 9th – 11th Centuries and the painting is from 1437.

    The earliest painting of bishop Gregory 1 of Rome is a much smaller cap – not the middle ages one in the painting. (Google it and see)

    The earliest painting of Augustine – from the 6th Century – is more credible.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Augustine_Lateran.jpg

  154. You personally didn’t paint the painting, just using it at your article. Sorry if I was unclear on that.

  155. Earliest painting of Bishop of Rome, Gregory 1 (around 600 AD) – the hat is a lot smaller and modest than what the 11-15 Century paintings depict them as.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_the_Papal_Tiara#mediaviewer/File:Pope_Gregory_I.jpg

  156. Ken, just some additional footnotes you might consider on the Reformed Protestant vs. Catholic view of Justification…

    This understanding of justification being part of the TOTAL life of a person lived in Christ (through the power of the Holy Spirit) — and it is not strictly a Roman Catholic view. The Eastern Orthodox view is quite similar. And there are several Protestant scholars today (N.T. Wright, Alister McGrath, E. P. Sanders, etc.) who have questioned the long-held Reformed view of Justification by one-time, forensic “imputation”

    You raised the question about our “assurance of salvation”. Our assurance comes down to God’s faithfulness and his holiness, which is poured into our hearts as we open ourselves to him. Justification is not a “cover up” job – it’s an “inside job” — in which God is literally transforming us and saving us. He will bring us to completion — IF we remain in him (John 17). And yet — there remains that possibility that someone can cut themselves off from God’s grace through continual, persistent and unrepentant sin.

    Some notable quotes:

    Alister Mcgrath:
    “The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo salutis, the essential point is that a notional distinction is made where none had been acknowledged before in the history of Christian doctrine. A fundamental discontinuity was introduced into western theological tradition where none had ever existed, or ever been contemplated, before. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification—as opposed to its mode—must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum.”
    — (Alister Mcgrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, the Beginnings to the Reformation (Cambridge University Press, 1993), Vol. 1, p. 184-5).

    Interview with N.T. Wright (and see his book: “God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision”), whose understanding of Justification is strikingly similar to the Catholic view (as Wright even admits in his book)
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2009/01/13/interview-with-nt-wright-responding-to-piper-on-justification/

    “for Piper justification through Christ alone is the same in the future (on the last day) as in the present, whereas for Paul, whom I am following very closely at this point, the future justification is given on the basis of the Spirit-generated life that the justified-by-faith-in-the-present person then lives. In fact, the omission of the Spirit from many contemporary Reformed statements of justification is one of their major weaknesses.”

    —————-

    See also:

    Canons of the Council of Orange, 529 A.D. (in response to Semipelagianism). See: http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/ORANGE.htm

    CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

    And the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself:
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a2.htm

    “Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:36 [God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.37
    1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

    1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

    1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.”

    Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (by the Lutheran World Federationand the Catholic Church)
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

    “12.The justified live by faith that comes from the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17) and is active through love (Gal 5:6), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22f). But since the justified are assailed from within and without by powers and desires (Rom 8:35-39; Gal 5:16-21) and fall into sin (1 Jn 1:8,10), they must constantly hear God’s promises anew, confess their sins (1 Jn 1:9), participate in Christ’s body and blood, and be exhorted to live righteously in accord with the will of God. That is why the Apostle says to the justified: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12f). But the good news remains: “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1), and in whom Christ lives (Gal 2:20). Christ’s “act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all” (Rom 5:18).”

    You also might find this statement by “Evangelical and Catholics Together” rather insightful:
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/1994/05/evangelicals–catholics-together-the-christian-mission-in-the-third-millennium-2

  157. Dan Carollo (153), if you were to read further in the McGrath quote that you cited in his more recent volume (3rd edition), you’d see that McGrath’s takeaway is precisely opposite to the way you’ve presented it.

  158. Hi John,

    I’ve not seen the most recent edition of McGrath. Would you care to summarize what you take to be his conclusion and how Dan has misrepresented him?

    -David

  159. Hi Ken,

    I’m laughing at myself for misunderstanding your comment. When you said we “paint the fathers in 13th century garb,” I thought you were speaking metaphorically. I thought you were accusing us of misrepresenting the fathers. I see now you meant literal painting.

    Yes, that is an amusing anachronism, isn’t it? I once saw Hamlet set in 19th century Prussia, Macbeth in WWII. I find some of these anachronism quaint. Others bug me, like the milquetoast, soft, glowing portrait of the uber-white European Jesus with the perfect hair.

    Have a great day.

    David

  160. John Burgay, #127:

    Not sure what you mean. How does McGrath come to the opposite conclusion?
    N.T. Wright also quotes McGrath’s passage — with the same understanding of what he means by it.

    Also, see these quotes earlier on in McGrath’s book…

    Page 213:

    “In effect, Luther must be regarded as a transitional figure, standing at the junction of two rival understandings of the nature of justification. As we demonstrated earlier, the medieval theological tradition was unanimous in its understanding of justification as both an act and a processs, by which both the status of humans coram Deo and their essential nature underweant alternation.”

    THen later on…
    “For what reasons did the Reformers abandon the catholic consensus on the nature of justification? We shall discuss the matter in what follows…”

  161. Dan Carollo #160, and David Anders #150:

    You may not be familiar with McGrath’s work outside of this quote. McGrath has frequently re-written his books as new scholarship becomes available. You cited his 1st. edition; I’m citing his 3rd edition.

    The section he is citing is entitled “Forerunners of the Reformation Doctrines of Reformation”. And the quote that you give is accurate, and still found on pg 217 of vol 3.

    But you have ignored the context.

    And you have done so in two ways. First, the immediate context: The immediate context is that this “novum” had to do with the apologetic of the day (time of the Reformation. McGrath notes (pg 211 — under the same header):

    The question of the historical continuity between the teaching of the churches of the Reformation and that of earlier periods in relation to justification thus became acutely pressing. For the Roman Catholic opponents of the Reformation, such teachings represented theological inovations. For Bossuet, the Reformers had significantly altered the common teaching of the catholic church upon this central doctrine and, by doing so had forfeited their claims to orthodoxy and catholicity:

    (Citing Bossuet) The Church’s doctine is always the same…the Gospel is never different from what it was before. Hence, if at any time someone says that the faith includes something which yesterday was not said to be of the faith, it is always heterodoxy, which is any doctrine different from orthodoxy. There is no difficulty about recognising false doctrine. There is no argument about it: it is recognised at once, whenever it appears, merely because it is new.

    This was such a serious charge that the theologians of the Reformation were obliged to meet it, which they did in two manners…

    I’ll let you follow up with that. It was a big deal at the time, but not at other times. But the payoff for McGrath in the theological novum department was this:

    [This “novum”] … has little theological significance today, given current thinking on the nature of the development of doctrine, which renders Bossuet’s static model, on which he based his critique of Protestantism, obsolete… (pg 218).

    But that’s just the immediate issue, in the immediate historical and apologetical context.

    The larger issue shows that the Reformers were, well, “justified” in their view of “justification”, in that they were correcting an error that had been made earlier still, one which had become so much embedded in the “medieval tradition”.

    If youhad bothered to read McGrath more thoroughly, you would have seen some of what follows. In fact, “justification” was a hallmark of Jewish understanding of their relationship with God. Beginning with some of the earliest use of the Hebrew root phrase, sdq, McGrath goes on to say (“Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification”, Third edition, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, ©2005):

    The oldest meaning of sedaqa, as judged by its use in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31), appears to be ‘victory’. This meaning appears to be retained in some later texts, such as 1 Samuel 12:7 and Micah 6:5, although it is clear that the nuances associated with the term have altered. In this early passage, which contains many unusual grammatical forms and rare words, God is understood to have acted in ‘righteousness’ by defending Israel when its existence was threatened by an outside agency. This use of the term allows us to appreciate that the term ‘righteousness’ can possess both retributive and salvific aspects, without being reduced to, or exclusively identified with, either concept. Thus God’s act of judgement is retributive with regard to Israel’s enemies, but salvific with regard to God’s covenant people.

    Underlying this understanding of iustitia Dei (“the righteousness of God”) is the conceptual framework of the covenant: when God and Israel mutually fulfil their covenant obligations to each other, a state of righteousness can be said to exist – that is, things are saddiq, ‘as they should be’. There is no doubt that much of the Old Testament thinking about righteousness is linked with the notion of a covenant between God and Israel, demanding fidelity on the part of both parties of a state of ‘righteousness’ is to pertain. The close connection between the themes of creation and covenant in the Old Testament points to a linking of the moral and salvific orders.

    Similar understandings of ‘righteousness’ were common elsewhere in the ancient world…. Thus Israel’s triumphant victories over her enemies were seen as proofs of the sidqot ’adonay Judges 5:11) – the iustitia Dei of the [Latin] Vulgate. Even where the specific term ‘righteousness’ is not found, it seems that a clear connection is understood to exist between God’s activity as a judge and Israel’s victory over its neighbours (as at Judges 11:27, and possibly also 2 Samuel 18:31).

    At this stage in the history of Israel, the ‘righteousness’ of the covenant does not appear to have been considered to have been under threat from within Israel itself, but merely from external agencies….

    A particularly significant illustration of this may be found in the Old Testament attitude to the poor, needy and destitute. As we have noted sedaqa refers to the ‘right order of affairs’ which is violated, at least in part, by the very existence of such unfortunates. God’s sedaqa is such that God must deliver them from their plight – and it is this aspect of the Hebrew concept of sedaqa which has proved so intractable to those who attempted to interpret it solely as iustitia distributiva [‘giving persons their due’] – recall the comparative Latin concept of quod in se est that Luther struggled with, the purely medieval conception of humans being rewarded with grace for “doing what is in themselves”. It is clear that this aspect of the Hebraic understanding of ‘righteousness’ cannot be understood in terms of an impartial judge who administers justice according to whichever party has broken a universally accepted law (10-12).

    In other words, God has bound himself by covenant to ‘make things right’ for his people, and to do so by acting unilaterally on their behalf. It’s true, the “range of meaning” of the word sedaqa incorporates other meanings, but this meaning is particularly stressed in the Old Testament.

    The strongly soteriological overtones of the term sedaqa can be illustrated from a number of passages in which ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ are practically equated, particularly in many passages within [Isaiah]:

    I will bring my sedaqa near, it is not far away, And my salvation will not be delayed. (Isaiah 46:13)

    A similar theme recurs throughout many Psalms, which stress and proclaim ‘the reliable, foundational event of the covenant and the continuous salvific faithfulness of Yahweh in history and worship’. This is not, it must be emphasized, to say that ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ are treated as being synonymous; rather, they are being inextricably linked on account of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Semantic and theological considerations combine to give the Old Testament concept of ‘the righteousness of God’ such strongly soteriological overtones, which the western concept of iustitia distributive cannot convey (12).

    Look at that Latin phrase iustitia distributiva. It means ‘giving persons their due’ – and this is not the meaning that the Old Testament understood when it said sedaqa.

    Nevertheless, there were “translation” issues – Hebrew was translated into Greek (in the form of the Septuagint, or the LXX), which was later translated into Latin. And here is where Augustine confused the issue, and where Roman Catholics miss the boat. McGrath studies the tracking of two related Hebrew words through these translations:

    ‘righteousness’: sedaqa –> dikaiosyne –> iustitia
    ‘to justify’: hasdiq –> dikaioun –> iustificare

    The considerable influence of Greek philosophy and culture upon Christian thought in its formative period has been well documented. This influence is also mediated through the LXX, whose origins date from the beginning o the third century BC. The term dikaiosyne had by then acquired a generally Aristotelian sense, so that by dikaiosyne we may understand something very similar to iustitia distributive – the notion of ‘giving persons their due’…. It is evident that Aristotle’s understanding of ‘righteousness’ is quite different from that signified by the Hebrew word sedaqa. In particular, dikaiosyne is now a fundamentally secular concept incapable of assuming the soteriological overtones associated with the Hebrew term. While the translators of the LXX appear to have attempted consistency in this translation of Hebrew terms, they were unable to accommodate the meaning of sedaqa by the simple substation of dikaiosyne in every case (14-15)

    McGrath goes on to note that, in the majority of cases, “the soteriological connotations of sedaqa were so strong that it could not be translated by dikaiosyne, the translators being forced to use eleemosyne – in other words, ‘mercy’. This would be expected to have at l east one very significant consequence for Greek readers of the Old Testament, unfamiliar with its Hebrew original; here they might incounter a reference to God’s dikaiosyne, there to God’s eleemosyne – yet the same Hebrew word, sedaqa, lies behind both. A reader who was unaware that the same Hebrew word was being ‘translated’ in each case might thus conceivably set God’s ‘righteousness’ and ‘mercy’ in opposition, where no such tension is warranted on the basis of the text itself” (16). Similarly:

    In turning to consider the Hebrew term hasdiq, usually translated ‘to justify’, it is essential to note that it never, at any point in the canonical books of the Old Testament, bears the negative sense ‘to condemn’ or ‘to punish’, its primary sense apparently being ‘to vindicate’, ‘to acquit’, or ‘to declare to be in the right’. The difficulty faced by the LXX translators was that the corresponding Greek verb dikaioun differed from hasdiq in two important respects.

    1. In its classical usage, dikaioun with a personal object almost invariably seems to be applied to someone whose cause is unjust, and thus bears the meaning of ‘to do justice to’ – that is, ‘to punish’…. It is therefore clear that the Septuagintal usage of the term represents a significant shift away from the classical meaning of the term towards that of the corresponding Hebrew term – a shift which might prove stultifying to a Greek reader of the Old Testament, not familiar with the Hebrew original….

    2. In classical Greek, dikaioun with a personal object applied to a person whose cause is unjust invariably assumes the negative meaning ‘to punish’. [But] the Septuagintal use of the verb in an identical context demands that it assume a positive meaning – that is, ‘to justify’, to declare to be in the right’, or ‘to acquit’. For example, Isaiah 5:22-3 (LXX) follows the wording of the Hebrew Massoretic text very closely. The substance of the complaint is that certain people are, for the sake of financial considerations, ‘justifying the wicked’. This complaint does not make sense if the classical sense of dikaioun is presumed to apply; if the unjust are punished – that is, ‘have ‘justice done to them’ – there can be no cause for complaint. The complaint does, however, make sense if the term is presumed to have a Hebraic background, in that the substance of the complaint is then that certain people have been bribed to declare the guilty to be innocent. It is clear that the term dikaioun, although of classical and Greek provenance, has assumed a Hebraic meaning as a consequence of its being used to translate the sdq words. The Greek reader of the Old Testament, unfamiliar with the Hebraic background to such material, would find passages such as the above highly perplexing.

    The locus classicus for the secular Greek use of the verb is Book V of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. If the classical Aristotelian understanding of the concept is applied to the Septuagintal translation of Isaiah 43:26, an apparent absurdity results. Israel is there invited to confess her sins, ‘so that she may be justified’. It is not clear why this should move Israel to confess her sins, since, in the classical sense of the verb, her punishment will follow as a matter of course. Of course, if it is assumed that the Greek verb dikaioun has here taken on the meaning of hasdiq, rather than conforming to secular Greek usage, the meaning becomes clear and comprehensible: Israel is invited to confess her sins, in order that she may be acquitted of them. A similar conclusion must be drawn in the case of Micah 6:11 (LXX), in which it is clear that the rhetorical question expects an answer in the negative – in other words, assuming a Hebrew rather than Greek, meaning of the term.

    It is therefore clear that, under the influence of the Hebrew original, the Septuagintal verb dikaioun came to assume a meaning quite distinct from its secular Greek origins.

    So that describes the interplay of the “different semantic fields” of the Hebrew and Greek terms that become translated “righteousness” and “to justify”. To be understood properly, the Greek translations of the LXX had to reflect the Hebrew words they were translating. If you retain the Hebrew understanding of the terms, things are understood properly. But it was possible, as well, to read “classical” Greek meanings into the terms. In that case, the result was a misunderstanding. But that is only one part of the equation.

    It was really Augustine who locked in a mutant understanding of this.

    In some cases, Augustine knew some Greek. But he didn’t know any Hebrew. And thus, when it came time to begin to work with some of these terms in Latin, he relied not on the Hebrew concepts underpinning them, but the “classical Greek”. And Augustine’s mistake, given his stature, was destined to affect “the Church’s” understanding (or misunderstanding) of “justification” for 1000 years. And in fact, Rome codified Augustine’s “goof” at Trent, anathematizing the true Gospel and forever writing [yet another outright] error into its “infallible” dogmatic understanding.

    A difficulty of a quite different nature arose in the translation of terms such as hasdiq or dikaioun into Latin. The verb iustificare (‘to justify’), employed for this purpose, was post-classical, and thus required interpretation. The general tendency among Latin-speaking theologians was to follow Augustine of Hippo in interpreting iustificare (‘to justify’) as iustum facere (‘to make righteous’)….

    As we begin our study of the development of the Christian doctrine of justification, it is necessary to observe that the early theologians of the western church were dependent upon Latin versions of the Bible, and approached their texts and their subject with a set of presuppositions which, it could be argued, owe at least as much to the specifics and peculiarities of Latin language and culture as to Christianity itself.

    The initial transference of a Hebrew concept to a Greek, and subsequently to a Latin, context points to a fundamental alteration in the concepts of ‘justification’ and ‘righteousness’ as the gospel spread from its Palestinian source to the western world. The most significant such development, as we shall see, was the widespread assumption that the all-important theological notion of the ‘righteousness of God’ – which, for Paul, lay at the heart of the Christian gospel – was about God giving each person their due.

    So just to recap: Roman Catholics think that Martin Luther’s “discovery” of “justification” and “the righteousness of God” was a “theological novum”. They take glee in this. But really, Martin Luther’s “discovery” was really a “rediscovery” of the proper, biblical meaning of these terms. Rome had gotten it wrong, had had it wrong for 1000 years, and at Trent, they dogmatized the mistaken view, so that now they are committed to being perpetually wrong about it.

  162. John

    I don’t think anyone is trying to make the case that Alister McGrath became Catholic when he wrote this book. or that he’s defending the Catholic view of justification. From what I have read, they are simply stating that the Reformation view of justification was a theological novum and not a restoration of orthodox doctrine from an earlier pristine church era.
    Luther’s “discovery” had little to do with academics as with McGrath’s defense, but more as a practical way to get relief from his inner demons.

  163. John, (re: #161)

    You wrote:

    In some cases, Augustine knew some Greek. But he didn’t know any Hebrew. And thus, when it came time to begin to work with some of these terms in Latin, he relied not on the Hebrew concepts underpinning them, but the “classical Greek”. And Augustine’s mistake, given his stature, was destined to affect “the Church’s” understanding (or misunderstanding) of “justification” for 1000 years.

    You then conclude:

    But really, Martin Luther’s “discovery” was really a “rediscovery” of the proper, biblical meaning of these terms. Rome had gotten it wrong, had had it wrong for 1000 years, and at Trent, they dogmatized the mistaken view, so that now they are committed to being perpetually wrong about it.

    What remains to be shown is that St. Augustine made a “mistake” in his teaching on justification. Merely claiming that he made a mistake does not show that he made a mistake. (Anything can be claimed to be a mistake.) And we have discussed some implications of this claim in another thread (cf. #262, 274, 328, 330, 332, 337 in the Ecclesial Deism thread).

    But another problem for your thesis, besides being entirely unsubstantiated, is that no Church Father prior to (or after) St. Augustine, including those who spoke Greek, taught an extra nos conception of justification. They all taught that in justification one is truly made righteous internally, by the circumcision that is of the heart, accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of baptism.

    Here’s just one example of earlier Christian thought on justification, by the Greek-speaking Origen in his commentary on the book of Romans, written 149 years before St. Augustine was made a bishop in Hippo:

    Now you should not imagine that if someone has such faith, by which, having been justified, he may have a boast before God, that he would be able at the same time to have unrighteousness with it as well. For there is no common ground between faith and infidelity; there is no communion of righteousness with wickedness, just as light can have no fellowship with darkness. For if “he who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 Jn. 5:1) and “he who has been born of God does not sin,” (1 Jn. 3:9; 5:18), it is plain that he who believes in Jesus Christ does not sin; and that if he sins, it is certain that he does not believe in him. Therefore the proof of true faith is that sin is not being committed, just as, on the contrary, where sin is being committed, there you have proof of unbelief. (Commentary on Romans, Book 4, Chapter 1.)

    Origen’s teaching does not fit with Luther’s notion of simul iustus et peccator. So claiming that the “goof” (as you put it in the Ecclesial Deism thread) on justification started with St. Augustine does not fit with the evidence, because the “goof” is already present in the third century.

    Moreover, as I showed in “St. Irenaeus on Justification,” the same “goof” is already present in the second century, because he held a Catholic (not a Protestant) understanding of justification. So you’ll need to push back your introduction of the “goof” even earlier than St. Irenaeus, whom in other areas you’re already willing to charge with making up a “fictive construction.”

    We could go back to St. Clement of Rome, who lived toward the end of the first century. He taught that it is love that unites us to God, and that we are blessed if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love, so that through love our sins may be forgiven. That too is not compatible with Luther’s teaching. But you yourself have already gone back to St. Clement, calling him “a Pelagian before Pelagius.” (comment #322 in the Joshua Lim thread) So for you the “goof” has already begun by the time of St. Clement.

    That pushes you, with the Mormons, back to positing an apostasy regarding justification some time between the time of the Apostles and the late first century. On the one hand you don’t want to come out and own your ecclesial deism (as your response in relation to Clark makes clear in the comments under the Ecclesial Deism thread), but on the other hand, when you attempt to appeal to the Fathers on any distinctively Protestant aspect of justification, they always turn out to hold a position incompatible with, if not contrary to, that of the Reformers, as shown above, and, for example, in “Ligon Duncan’s “Did the Fathers Know the Gospel?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  164. Bryan, in the beginning of that that quote by Origen he says by faith, having been justified. He then says in that quote you can’t claim to have saving faith if it does not result in Godly behavior. He who is born of God does not sin. He is referring to a pattern of sin. He couldn’t be saying that if you commit a sin you don’t believe because he would be rejecting 1 John 1:9 which says if you say you have no sin you make God a liar and His truth is not in you. Read Romans 7 and Paul as a believer ( which was also Augustine’s final position on Romans 7) was in a constant struggle with the flesh, and lost battles. Does that mean he wasn’t a believer according to Qrigen? No. Believers don’t practice sin, but we sin allot. In fact Isaiah, when he saw the glory of God, said oh I am a man of unclean lips. The closer we get to God, the more we see our sinfulness. This was Paul in Romans 7, a mature believer. This quote of Origen’s is completely consistent with the reformed position. He says right away, ” by faith, having been justified.” 5:1

  165. Kevin, (re: #164)

    He is referring to a pattern of sin.

    No, he is not. Have you read Origen’s commentary on Romans?

    He couldn’t be saying that if you commit a sin you don’t believe because he would be rejecting 1 John 1:9 which says if you say you have no sin you make God a liar and His truth is not in you.

    This is an example of imposing your own (contemporary) assumption on both Origen and the text of Scripture, so as to reach a conclusion. You assume (implicitly) that there is no distinction between mortal and venial sin, and then impose that assumption on the text in order to deduce that it must be about a “pattern” of sin. The patristic way of understanding this, however, distinguishes between mortal and venial sin. Origen is speaking about sin proper, i.e. mortal sin, not about “patterns” of sin.

    Believers don’t practice sin, but we sin allot.

    And you would have us believe that all those sins are so random that there are no patterns. The merely semantic and unprincipled distinction between practice/pattern of sin on the one hand, and “allot” of sinning on the other hand, is a Protestant invention, not a patristic teaching.

    Because of its list-paradigm approach to righteousness, Reformed theology has no way of distinguishing between mortal and venial sin, as I have explained here.

    This quote of Origen’s is completely consistent with the reformed position. He says right away, ” by faith, having been justified.” 5:1

    The problematic part for Reformed theology is not the “by faith, having been justified,” which we all affirm. The problematic part is what he teaches about the relation between justifying faith and sin, and its utter incompatibility with simul iustus et peccator.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  166. Bryan 163:

    What remains to be shown is that St. Augustine made a “mistake” in his teaching on justification.

    It seems as if you are claiming here that, in spite of the analysis that McGrath provided — that Augustine’s use of terms and concepts borrowed from Aristotle instead of the Old Testament, that the doctrine of “justification” that he articulated, which was picked up in the Medieval years, and ratified by the Council of Trent, was correct?

    McGrath certainly “shows” the process. It is not a mere “claim”. And McGrath’s analysis, that Augustine relied on a mistranslation, is ratified and affirmed by David Wright of Edinburgh, when he says “I know of no evidence that Augustine ever questioned the accuracy of justifico and its cognates as translations of the original Greek (and Hebrew)” (from David Wright, “Augustine and Justification” in Bruce L. McCormack, ed., “Justification in Perspective: Historical Developments and Contemporary Challenges”, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, (c) 2006).

    That seems to be the implication you are drawing: that Augustine’s doctrine ended up being correct even though he relied on a mistranslation. Is that what you are saying?

  167. Hi Kevin,

    Are you familiar with the 2nd century controversy over the 2nd repentance? (see footnotes attached to link.) Early fathers like Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Hermas, Tertullian, and Pope Callixtus contended over whether and how any forgiveness could be extended to Christians for post-baptismal sin. The hardline position was “no.” The middle road was, “Yes, once.” And the ‘liberal’ position was, “Yes, after penance and absolution.” There was a strain of perfectionism in early Christianity completely alien to the attitude of modern Catholics and Protestants alike. This is the context in which Origen of Alexandria wrote. Whether or not Origen contradicted 1 John 1:9 (as you understand it), really has no bearing on what he “could” or “couldn’t” be saying about justification. But understanding the moral and ascetical attitudes of 2nd century Alexandrian Christians does elucidate what was considered viable exegesis at the time.

    To illustrate, Clement of Alexandria, who taught in the Catechetical school of Alexandria ahead of Origen wrote in “Who is the Rich man who will be saved”:

    Forgiveness of past sins, then, God gives; but of future, each one gives to himself. And this is to repent, to condemn the past deeds, and beg oblivion of them from the Father, who only of all is able to undo what is done, by mercy proceeding from Him, and to blot out former sins by the dew of the Spirit. “For by the state in which I find you will I judge,” also, is what in each case the end of all cries aloud. So that even in the case of one who has done the greatest good deeds in his life, but at the end has run headlong into wickedness, all his former pains are profitless to him, since at the catastrophe of the drama he has given up his part;

    -David

  168. Hi John (#161),

    I can’t speak for Dan because I don’t know how much McGrath he has read, but, for myself, I don’t think I’ve made the oversight you suggest. I’ve looked at McGrath several times (I can’t recall which editions), and I’m familiar with his claims about Augustine, about Hebrew and Greek exegesis, his distinction between the doctrine and the concept of justification, and the like.

    But the exegetical question aside, I (and others on the site) have invoked McGrath to support the claim that early, post-apostolic Christianity (including Augustine) knew nothing of extra nos imputation. Whether or not Augustine knew Hebrew or koine greek may have some bearing on the quality of his exegesis, but has little bearing on the point at issue. Did Augustine teach extra nos imputation, simul iustus et peccator, sola fide, etc.? Did any of the fathers? Now maybe (for the sake of argument) Augustine got it wrong. Maybe all of ante-nicene Christianity got it wrong. But, relying on McGrath, we could still claim that ‘ancient (post-apostolic) Christianity does not support a Protestant interpretation of Scripture’ regarding the nature and meaning of justification.

    But perhaps I’ve misunderstood your point.

    God bless,

    David

    -David

  169. John, (re: #166)

    What I am saying is that I see no argument (or else a non sequitur) here for the claim that St. Augustine’s concept of justification is false. If you disagree, then from what premises, precisely, do you think it follows that St. Augustine’s concept of justification is false?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  170. John (#166),

    I can’t speak for Bryan, but I think your comment concedes at least one major point: Augustine did not hold to the Reformation doctrine of justification. Whether or not Augustine was correct, he cannot be invoked to support the Reformed doctrine of Justification. Nor can the Nicene or ante-nicene Church at large.

    But even if Augustine’s Pauline exegesis were faulty, it would not follow that the general shape of his soteriology was misguided. As I argued in the “Tradition I and Sola Fide” article, Augustine’s soteriology falls within a context much broader than Pauline exegesis, and has to be read against the canonical, disciplinary, and liturgical tradition of the first 3 centuries. Furthermore, even if McGrath’s charges against Augustine were true, this does not translate automatically into a Reformed view of Paul. As I am sure you know, some of Augustine’s most strident contemporary Protestant critics (N.T. Wright, Krister Stendhal), nevertheless propose an exegesis of Paul that many find much more congenial to Catholic than to Reformed soteriology.

    Thanks,

    David

  171. Bryan 166:

    Major: If you build a doctrine on an error, it will contain at least one error.

    Minor: Augustine built his doctrine of justification upon a translation error.

    Conclusion: Augustine’s doctrine of justification contains at least one error.

    Further:

    Augustine’s doctrine of justification contains at least one error.

    The Council of Trent based its doctrine of justification on Augustine’s doctrine of justification.

    Therefore, the Council of Trent’s doctrine of Justification contains at least one error.

  172. All,
    I have not had time to digest all of this adequately to make many comments until now; and follow all the links, or make comments, as you can see.

    Overall, I think John Bugay makes excellent points from the updated version of McGrath’s famous work on justification. I see I need to invest in that work.

    When I read Piper’s book on Justification, The Future of Justification: A response to N. T. Wright, Piper makes sense to me, N.T. Wright does not. I have not read much of Wright, the whole New Perspectivism on Paul is daunting to get a handle on. (D. A. Carson, Mark Seifrid, and another scholar ( ?) “Justification and Variated Nomism” (2 volumes) I opened both of them at a local seminary library a few years ago and spend about 30 minutes trying to understand, and gave up) -even the title was a major psychological downer for me, not even knowing what “Variegated Nomism” is. I had to decide to rely on Piper’s book and it made sense to me. When I read in Piper’s book, that N. T. Wright wrote, “the gospel is not a system of how people get saved.” (p. 81-82, The Future of Justification, quoting Wright, What St. Paul really Said”), I was very tempted to just dismiss N. T. Wright completely. Ever since then, I just rely on Piper as a great response to Wright and the case was closed for me, pretty much.

    Bryan Cross, as usual – you have lots of material and high level intellect and many links to other articles and they are overwhelming to try and get a handle on – I have not been keeping up with all that has been going on here since the earlier articles of Sola vs. Solo Scriptura, the Canon Issue, and Hermeneutics articles in 2009-2010. I wish I had your learning and scholarship and knowledge of material, without the RC way of interpreting everything.

    I am interested in studying the issues of a second repentance after baptism, venial vs. mortal sin, etc. – I think that and the controversies of those issues (with issues of church discipline, the lapsed, Tertullian, Cyrpian, etc. and their disagreements with bishops of Rome) – those are controversies that shows the early church was struggling with the meaning of justification vs. sanctification and perseverance in the faith.

    I think Kevin Failoni (# 164)’s comments are closer to my understanding of 1 John 3:6-9 with 1 John 1:5-9 and other passages on justification. It is difficult for me to trust Origen, who, is discredited in my opinion in so many areas – 1. allegorical interpretations – is he not known as “the father of the allegorical method of interpretation”? This gave rise to all sorts of bad interpretations in the history of the church 2. castrating himself – what a nut! 3. believing in eventual universal salvation for all people and that even the devil will eventually repent. 4. He is deemed a heretic even by the Roman Catholic Church. Some things that Origen wrote are good, but those things make it hard for me to want to spend too much time in him and his writings. And since Origen’s commentary on Romans is not a part of the standard work on the early church fathers – ccel.org or new advent, it is not even accessible to read online.

    I think the key to 1 John 3:6-9 is the present continuous tense of the verbs, “does not constantly continue in sin” seems to be a better way of understanding it, along with so much of the rest of the NT, and as Kevin Failoni ( # 164) righly pointed out about the constant struggle with sin in Romans 7:14-25, etc. Overall, that still makes the most sense. Justification is much bigger than just verses that specifically use the words justify and imputed, counted. Union with Christ is part of this doctrine also. If we are “in Christ”, we are new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17) We believe in being made more holy righteous also, but it is based on Christ and His righteousness – and “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin”, as we constantly repent and confess our sins and walk with Him in the light (being honest and exposed and confessing) – 1 John 1:5-10. No one who is born of God continues to constantly live or practice sin without that pattern being broken with conviction, hatred of sin, confession, repentance, and cleansing. “if any one sins, we have an advocate at the right hand of the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” – I John 2:1-2 – the once for all atonement is our propitiation – satisfaction and appeasement of the wrath of God. Luther, Zwingly, Calvin, Turretin, Owen, Edwards, Hodge, Sproul, Piper, McArthur are right on this.

    I will continue to try and read a lot of these articles and especially the links that David Anders and Bryan Cross refer to, because they are interesting. And John Bugay’s many responses in the comboxes of many of those links are also very interesting, and I think he is right about those issues.

    One question I have, when you guys (mainly Bryan Cross) talk about being justified in being formed with love/agape – do you mean God’s love for us being poured out into our hearts so that we can then love, or do you mean our love for God?

  173. Sorry I messed up on the blockquote function.
    David wrote: ( # 167)

    Are you familiar with the 2nd century controversy over the 2nd repentance? (see footnotes attached to link.) Early fathers like Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Hermas, Tertullian, and Pope Callixtus contended over whether and how any forgiveness could be extended to Christians for post-baptismal sin.

    In church history class in 1984, in seminary at Columbia Biblical Seminary (now CIU, Columbia, SC); I remember thinking, “wow, these guys are nuts on this issue” (Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian). It just seemed like a very shallow understanding of Hebrews 6:4-6. Tertullian was great on some things (1. using the words Trinitas Unitas, hupostasis for the doctrine of the Trinity; 2. Questioning infant baptism, 3. Understanding that Joseph and Mary had a normal sexual marriage after the birth of Jesus and that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were His younger half brothers and sisters from Joseph and Mary; 4. Anti-Marcion writings 5. on the canon and rule of faith; but on second repentance after baptism, justification and sanctification and legalistic things, Montantism, like this kind of stuff, he was strange. Didn’t he say to remarry after death of a spouse was adultery? on that, he was a nutter.

  174. Ken Temple (#173)
    I have been lurking through most of this – as much for lack both of time and competence to contribute as anything – but I must confess I don’t see how you are able to read Tertullian’s writings and know that he was ‘great on some things’ but on others ‘a nutter.’ How do you know that he was right when he said (if he said; I don’t know enough of Tertullian’s writings to know whether he said such a thing) that Mary and Joseph had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus, but that he was wrong when he said (if, again, he did say it) that to remarry after the death of a spouse was adultery? What’s your criterion for making these judgements?

    And if it’s ‘the Bible,’ what Bible verses tell you:

    – Mary and Joseph had sexual relations (at any time)
    – remarriage after the death of a spouse is not adultery

    Note that I am not arguing one way or another about either of these points; I am asking how you know the one is true and the other false.

    jj

  175. Bryan, maybe you can address how Origen says” faith, by which having been justified” You conveniently left that out in your retort to me. You accuse me of assumption, but you are the one making an assumption by using this quote as justification for the process of justification when Origen says at the beginning of the quote faith, BY WHICH, HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED” When you take off your Roman glasses Bryan you can see this isn’t about justification. Yes we know that sin is incompatible with our justification, thats why Mr blameless of the law Paul wanted to be found in Him with a righteousness that comes from God thru faith. So as blameless as Paul was to the Law he didn’t want to be found in it, but in Christ’s righteousness. Bryan, lets go back to an earlier father, Paul, he portrays the struggle with sin in Romans 7 for the believer. He even says the very thing he wants to do he does not do. Now you can say that believers have no sin, but you would be inconsistent with scripture. You can’t pick and choose. Yes believers don’t make a practice of sin because the Spirit has two functions in scripture, to lead us in all righteousness, and to convict us of our sin. But what do you think Christ is doing with his sacrifice in heaven , just sitting there because we have no sin. No he is interceding for us constantly applying his perfect one time sacrifice for us. If you say that we have no sin you make God a liar Bryan and his truth is not in you 1 John 1:9, Romans 7. What Origen is saying is you can’t say you can’t boast about your faith and keep you wickedness, your unrighteouness with you. Yu have to give up your sin, your lifestyle to come to Christ. Christians don’t make a practice of sin. But this needs to be understood in the context of what true saving faith produces and not justification because he says at the beginning we have been justified by faith. Incidentally Tim Kauffman on his site “out go his mouth” is exposing your position on baptism ex opere operato and your support from the fathers as doing just this turning it around. And i think you will find it interesting how he destroys your position with what the fathers say. Thx for the exchange as always Bryan, ill wait for your response.

    Bran, lets put your wrong assumption from this quote in context with what Origen really said about justification, so your readers can understand. Origen ” For God is just, and therefore He could not justify the unjust. Therefore He requires the intervention of a Propitiator, so by having FAITH in Him those who could not be justified by their own works might be justified.” Origen ” A man is justified by faith. The works of the law can make no contribution to this. Where there is no faith which might justify the believer, even if there are no works of the law these are not based on the foundation of faith. Even if they are good in themselves they cannot justify the one who does them, because faith is lacking, and faith is the mark of those who are justified by God” Paul said the righteous shall live by faith. John says by our faith we have overcome the world. Faith is the beginning middle and end of salvation. Why? Because it is the only thing that can receive our justification. Christ’s perfect righteousness. In Him we are just, blameless before God, not by anything wrought in us, but by receiving the righteousness that comes by faith. Justification can’t mean the process of getting better. It is the source of our sanctification, not the outcome. You are striving for God’s approval and we are living out an approval we already have. Origen is completely right that there should be a decrease in sin as we pursue holiness in our sanctification. But this will always be incomplete in this life and we have been guaranteed salvation thru faith in Christ, Romans 4:16.

  176. John (re: #171)

    Major: If you build a doctrine on an error, it will contain at least one error.
    Minor: Augustine built his doctrine of justification upon a translation error.
    Conclusion: Augustine’s doctrine of justification contains at least one error.

    Thanks. I guess I wasn’t clear. What I don’t see in your comments above is an argument having the “minor” as its conclusion. (Hence the minor seems to be undemonstrated, and only assumed.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  177. Does McGrath, in his book on Justification (Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 3rd Edition, 2005), address the issues of the early church before Augustine, repentance after baptism, penance, venial vs. mortal sins, moralisms, church discipline, in the early church ? as in the article by David Anders, “Tradition 1 and Sola Fide” ?

    with quotes from Hermas, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Justin Martyr, etc. ?

    From what I remember, he mostly starts with Augustine, and only briefly has a few pages and some general comments about justification before Augustine.

    David Ander’s article, “Tradition I and Sola Fide”, goes into details into these guys and issues before Augustine. I want to find a good Protestant scholar on the same issues.

  178. Hi David, ( # 152)

    Furthermore, your discussion of the sacramental system is not entirely accurate. Catholics do not “do good works” to get back into the state of justification. Rather, they repent in contrition for past sins and receive absolution. If this counts as a “work,” then I suppose Jesus advocated “works” when he said of the tax collector in Luke 18, ““I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.” However, I don’t think this is what St. Paul had in mind in Romans 3-4 when he said that “works of the law” do not justify.

    Roman Catholics have had to historically (at times, for centuries, it seems) do some kind of good works as the final step of satisfaction in the process of penance. Confession to the priest and contrition, but also satisfaction.

    Why did in most of history of the RC system of penances and indulgences, did they have to do works like do pilgrimages to Rome, climb the steps of St. Peter’s, say 100 hail Mary’s, give money to the poor, fast, whip their backs with a leather strap, etc. ?

    Luke 18:9-14 is an important passage. One of the keys is the Greek word group for “have mercy on me” that is part of the hilasmos word group for propitiation. “be propitious toward me” – notice the context is going into the temple to pray, probably before or after making sacrifice.

    I wrote an article on this passage a while back, refuting a Muslim on it.
    http://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/refuting-paul-bilal-williams-on-luke-18-and-the-doctrine-of-justification/

    The law of God in the OT includes the moral law, not just Jewish ceremonial or ritual law. It seems like Roman Catholics try to limit Galatians and Romans to “Jewish rituals and ceremonies like circumcision”, etc. No, in includes obedience to all the moral law also. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, not on the basis of good works. Ephesians 2:8-9

  179. ὁ θεός, ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ.  (The Greek text of the most pertinent phrase in Luke 18:13)
    “O God, be propitious toward me, the sinner!”
 from Luke 18:13

    Usually, this is translated “O God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”  But Luke uses a very technical and specific term here that is a different word than the usual concepts of mercy.  The mercy here is based on propitiation or the “satisfaction” or “appeasement of justice” or the “quenching of wrath”.

    The same root words from “hilasmos” (propitiation) are also used in Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:5 – where it is used of the place of the atonement, the mercy seat in the holy of holies inside the temple in the OT, where the blood of the sacrificed lambs were to be sprinkled onto.  See also at the end where propitiation is used in Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, and 1 John 4:10.

  180. Dave Anders said Augustine didnt hold to the Reformed poasition of justification. Augustine ” and how was Abraham justified, what does the Apostle say ( about how Araham was justified), Abraham was justified by faith. Paul and James dont contradict each other, good works follow justification. ” sounds Reformed to me.

  181. What I don’t see in your comments above is an argument having the “minor” as its conclusion.

    That’s McGrath, pgs 38-54. Would you like me to type that up and paste it here?

  182. David, yes I’m familiar with the second repentance of the second century. For me the verse in Hebrews where we are told that He perfected by one offering those who are being sanctified. This is an interesting verse. Because those who are in the process of being sanctified are perfected by christ’s sacrifice. Of course we are told that we have been reconciled by His blood, and we have been justified by faith. And we are told Christ loses none the father gives Him. We are also told that we have an inheritance that will never fade away, reserved in heaven for you. . Also Paul refers to the rag tag Corinthians in his opening to the them Saints, who have been sanctified past tense. I think scripture is clear that we don’t merit our continuance in grace or in justice. On Augustine, he said ” How was Abraham justified, what does the Apostle say ( about how Abraham was justified), Abraham was justified by faith, Paul and James don’t contradict each other good works follow justification.” Rome should have followed Him instead of Aquinas IMHO. God Bless.

  183. I was always taught at Reformed university and seminary that the Reformation was about the conflict between Augustine’s view of justification (which the Reformers agreed with) and his view of the Church (which the Catholics supported). So we’re the Reformers wrong in relying upon Augustine as well or is it only when the Catholics do that it’s wrong?

  184. Kevin,

    I think the problem is that you don’t recognize the distinction between mortal and venial sin. Believer’s should not be committing any mortal sins. I get the impression you only object to habitual mortal sin.
    Venial sins do not cause a loss of justification and pretty much flow out of concupiscence. They are of a completely different species of sin than mortal sin.

  185. Kevin (re: #180)

    Two things. First, please do not change the name you use within a discussion, because that leads to confusion when trying to have an authentic conversation. Other persons are misled into thinking that there are distinct persons commenting. Second, as explained in our comment guidelines, please do not refer to participating persons in the third person. Thank you.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  186. John (re: #181)

    That’s McGrath, pgs 38-54. Would you like me to type that up and paste it here?

    I’ve read it before, and just re-read that section again today, but I don’t see an argument there showing that St. Augustine built his doctrine of justification upon a translation error. What are the premises of the argument you think has this conclusion?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  187. Kevin, (re: #175)

    I don’t have time for an extended interchange, so I’ll say only a few things.

    Bryan, maybe you can address how Origen says” faith, by which having been justified” You conveniently left that out in your retort to me.

    Let’s leave off the loaded language of “conveniently,” which implicitly attributes some less than honest motive on my part. This is a forum for charitable dialogue. I left that out precisely because I didn’t assume you would hold a strawman version of Catholicism in which there is no such thing as “having been justified,” prior to the Day of Judgment. Regarding the Catholic doctrine affirming both justification-as-transfer, and justification-as-increase, see here.

    Now you can say that believers have no sin, but you would be inconsistent with scripture. You can’t pick and choose.

    I’ve explained this in the link in comment #165.

    Incidentally Tim Kauffman on his site “out go his mouth” is exposing your position on baptism ex opere operato and your support from the fathers as doing just this turning it around. And i think you will find it interesting how he destroys your position with what the fathers say.

    I’ll take a look when I get a chance, but that would be discussion for the Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration thread.

    For God is just, and therefore He could not justify the unjust. Therefore He requires the intervention of a Propitiator, so by having FAITH in Him those who could not be justified by their own works might be justified.” Origen ” A man is justified by faith. The works of the law can make no contribution to this. Where there is no faith which might justify the believer, even if there are no works of the law these are not based on the foundation of faith. Even if they are good in themselves they cannot justify the one who does them, because faith is lacking, and faith is the mark of those who are justified by God” Paul said the righteous shall live by faith. John says by our faith we have overcome the world. Faith is the beginning middle and end of salvation. Why? Because it is the only thing that can receive our justification. Christ’s perfect righteousness. In Him we are just, blameless before God, not by anything wrought in us, but by receiving the righteousness that comes by faith.

    I mostly agree with all that.

    Justification can’t mean the process of getting better.

    That’s an assertion that would need an argument to support it.

    It is the source of our sanctification, not the outcome.

    Again, CTC is not a forum for question-begging assertions, as I’ve explained to you before. If you would like to participate here, you have to learn to construct arguments, rather than simply pound the table with assertions. Disagreements cannot be resolved simply by trading assertions. So your repeated use of mere assertions suggests that you’re not prepared to enter into rational dialogue, which isn’t merely exchanging assertions, but is rather giving and receiving reasons for the claims we make and the positions we hold, with a commitment to avoiding fallacies, including a commitment to avoid begging the question.

    You are striving for God’s approval and we are living out an approval we already have.

    Again, this is a question-begging assertion.

    Origen is completely right that there should be a decrease in sin as we pursue holiness in our sanctification.

    Except that’s not what he says. He says something much stronger than that.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  188. Bryan 186:

    I’ve read it before, and just re-read that section again today, but I don’t see an argument there showing that St. Augustine built his doctrine of justification upon a translation error. What are the premises of the argument you think has this conclusion?

    Augustine’s errors are at several levels:

    1. His failure to understand the Hebrew behind sdq and related Hebrew concepts for “justice” and “righteousness” in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

    2. This word group is then translated into the Greek; the original meanings are contained in the translated terms, but the terms in Greek culture acquire new meanings.

    3. Augustine relies on the equivocated Greek meanings (extant in later Greek culture, but not found in the original Hebrew) in his writings rather than the original (Hebrew) concepts.

    4. By the time these verses are translated into the Latin, they have meanings that are entirely different from what they originally meant in Hebrew.

    5. Thus, the Latin-speaking world is treated, via Augustine, to a concept of “justification” that simply is not derived from the knowledge of the Old Testament God.

    That’s a pretty serious error.

  189. Ken (177) — In the work by Bruce L. McCormack, ed., “Justification in Perspective: Historical Developments and Contemporary Challenges”, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, (c) 2006), there are two articles, one by Nick Needham on “Justification in the Early Church Fathers”, and the one I cited, David Wright, “Augustine and Justification”.

    Needham also points to Martin Chemnitz’s “Examination of the Council of Trent (1), in which Chemnitz cites a number of earlier writers. Thomas Oden’s “Justification Reader” also is a book-length treatment on early writers who hold to doctrines of justification similar to that of the Reformers.

    Finally, in his Commentary on Romans, Joseph Fitzmyer lists the number of early writers who used the phrase “justification by faith alone” in Romans 3:28.

    Of course, what the early fathers have to say (or not say) is far less important than the Biblical doctrine of justification, and it is far less serious than the equivocation that Augustine incorporates into his doctrine of justification (which later became imported at Trent as THE Roman Catholic doctrine of justification).

  190. David Anders (170):

    I think your comment concedes at least one major point: Augustine did not hold to the Reformation doctrine of justification. Whether or not Augustine was correct, he cannot be invoked to support the Reformed doctrine of Justification.

    I would agree with you on this. Although Calvin cites him extensively on his related doctrines of grace. Augustine was a thinker who relied heavily on Scripture, but on this one issue (which was a big issue), he relied on equivocated terms to arrive at his understanding of “justification” (which he then passed along to the Medieval church, because he was Augustine).

    Nor can the Nicene or ante-nicene Church at large.

    Nor can the Roman Catholic church, with its reliance on Augustine’s “goof”.

    But as I related to Ken, that’s less important than the Biblical doctrine of justification (which relies on the Old Testament concepts that Augustine missed, for which he substituted the equivocated meaning from Greek culture).

    But even if Augustine’s Pauline exegesis were faulty, it would not follow that the general shape of his soteriology was misguided. As I argued in the “Tradition I and Sola Fide” article, Augustine’s soteriology falls within a context much broader than Pauline exegesis, and has to be read against the canonical, disciplinary, and liturgical tradition of the first 3 centuries.

    Augustine’s treatment of Paul is faulty, based on his failure to understand the Hebrew concepts. This is all the more clear given the reliance of the New Testament writers on Old Testament language and allusions, as noted by G.K. Beale (and others) and as I’ve reported it here, for example.

    According to G.K. Beale (“Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation”, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, ©2012), “One writer has counted 295 separate quotations of the OT in the NT (including quotations with and without formulas). These make up about 4.5% of the entire NT, about 354 verses. Thus 1 out of 22.5 verses in the NT incorporates a quotation.”

    But aside from “direct quotation”, there are also innumerable “allusions” to the Old Testament in the New.

    An “allusion” may simply be defined as a brief expression consciously intended by an author to be dependent on an OT passage. In contrast to a quotation of the OT, which is a direct reference, allusions are indirect references (the OT wording is not reproduced directly as in a quotation).

    The key to discerning an allusion, he says, “is that of recognizing an incomparable or unique parallel in wording, syntax, concept, or cluster of motifs in the same order or structure.

    By standards that Beale relates, there may be more than 4,000 “allusions” or “echoes” of the Old Testament found within the New. Given that there are 7956 verses in the New Testament, more than half the New Testament can be seen as bearing at least some form of “echo of” or “allusion to” some Old Testament concept or idea.

    Thus, when a New Testament writer talks of “tradition” “handed down (παρέδοσαν) to him by “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word”, which in Luke 1:2 is a clear reference to the apostles, the “content” of that “tradition” was oozing with Old Testament words and concepts.

    Furthermore, even if McGrath’s charges against Augustine were true, this does not translate automatically into a Reformed view of Paul.

    McGrath doesn’t make “charges against” Augustine. He traces the language across the translations, and in doing so, he locates the equivocation.

    Still, the “Reformed view of Paul” doesn’t appear out of nowhere.

    And Calvin, as you know, feels quite free to cite Augustine on other matters (grace, free will, etc.)

    As I am sure you know, some of Augustine’s most strident contemporary Protestant critics (N.T. Wright, Krister Stendhal), nevertheless propose an exegesis of Paul that many find much more congenial to Catholic than to Reformed soteriology.

    It’s fascinating to me how you can isolate a “theological novum” from the 16th century, and just in citing it, assume it’s bad. But enough analysis has been done on N.T. Wright to find that he himself is quite the “wildcard” in his own work; and yet you Roman Catholics cite him as if he were the finest in New Testament scholarship.

    In fact, the whole “New Perspective on Paul” has been dealt with thoroughly by Carson et. al, to the point that even one of the “New Perspectivers”, James Dunn, concedes that initial accounts by Sanders “Sanders overreacted in his polemical response to the traditional Christian portrayal of rabbinic Judaism”. In fact, as I note there. “Carson, O’Brien and Siefrid did not rely on some kind of “interpretive paradigm” to overturn what Sanders was saying. They simply did a better job using the same method that Sanders used.”

  191. John Bugay:

    Thanks for your interaction here. I have enjoyed following this discussion.

    Above, David Anders wrote:

    I think [John Bugay’s] comment concedes at least one major point: Augustine did not hold to the Reformation doctrine of justification.

    You responded:

    I would agree with you on this.

    Augustine’s treatment of Paul is faulty . . .

    . . . the Biblical doctrine of justification ([] relies on the Old Testament concepts that Augustine missed . . . )

    When David Anders extended this concession beyond Augustine to the Nicene and ante-Nicene Church, you did not disagree, but responded that the Catholic Church relies upon what you call,

    Augustine’s “goof.”

    Finally, and strikingly, in response to charges that the Reformed view of justification constitutes a 16th-century novum, you seem to simply ask why that’s a bad thing.

    I have several questions here.

    First, would you characterize your “concession” as common among Protestants? If not, I wish it were. If I had a dollar for every person who told me that the “early church” (particularly Augustine) held to sola fide . . . . I think it would help our dialogue move forward if it were universally recognized that neither Augustine nor the ante-Nicene Church held sola fide, allowing us to then discuss whether that fact is indeed a bad thing.

    Second, you seem to suggest that Augustine is a reliable source for some discrete observations (doctrines of grace, etc.), but that he is an unreliable source for others. By what standard do you determine his reliability? Under this view, is it not possible that the current Protestant interpretation is yet another “goof?”

    Third and finally, I would ask you to put the shoe on the other foot. If it is true that the Reformed doctrine of justification is a 16th-century novum, and if that is not a bad thing (but simply the result of people finally reading the “clear” message of scripture), what keeps someone in year 3,000 (1500 years after the Reformation) from asserting yet another theological novum, speaking of “Calvin’s ‘goof'”? Is there ever a point when we can know that a matter is settled? If/when a brand new theory arrives in year 3,000, would you not look back at the prior three millennia and ask, “what makes you whippersnappers think that you know more about Christ or Calvin than we do,” or more importantly, “where was the Holy Spirit that Christ promised would lead us into all Truth?”

  192. John (re: #188)

    1. His failure to understand the Hebrew behind sdq and related Hebrew concepts for “justice” and “righteousness” in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

    2. This word group is then translated into the Greek; the original meanings are contained in the translated terms, but the terms in Greek culture acquire new meanings.

    3. Augustine relies on the equivocated Greek meanings (extant in later Greek culture, but not found in the original Hebrew) in his writings rather than the original (Hebrew) concepts.

    4. By the time these verses are translated into the Latin, they have meanings that are entirely different from what they originally meant in Hebrew.

    5. Thus, the Latin-speaking world is treated, via Augustine, to a concept of “justification” that simply is not derived from the knowledge of the Old Testament God.

    The fifth premise does not follow from the first four. Just because one does not know Hebrew, it does not follow that one has no knowledge of the “Old Testament God.” So that argument is a non sequitur.

    But more importantly, the argument you are trying to construct presupposes that the only way to know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification is by knowing Hebrew. If, for example, (speaking hypothetically) there was a direct chain of reliable oral transmission from the Apostles to St. Augustine, concerning the doctrine of justification, then even if St. Augustine did not know Hebrew, he would know the Apostolic doctrine of justification. So the hidden premise doing all the work in your argument is a premise claiming that the only way to know the Apostles’ doctrine of justification is by knowing the Old Testament in Hebrew. And that’s not only a question-begging premise (for reasons laid out in “The Tradition or the Lexicon“) but one that is problematic as well, because it would imply that in order for the Apostles to teach their doctrine of justification to the first generation of Christians, they would first have had to teach all these early Christians to read the Old Testament in Hebrew. It would entail that *all* the Greek-speaking Christians who preceded St. Augustine and who did not know Hebrew (from the first century to the fourth century), did not know the truth about justification, and could not have known the truth about justification until learning Hebrew. It would thus entail a massive automatic apostasy (inasmuch as the doctrine of justification is the doctrine on which the Church stands or falls) in the first century as soon as the gospel reached persons who did not speak Hebrew and did not learn Hebrew. In this way your presupposition makes learning Hebrew a prerequisite for becoming Christian (and for catechizing one’s children into the Christian faith), more so than even Arabic is thought to be necessary for becoming Islam, and limits the spread of Christianity only to persons who know Hebrew. Your argument thus imposes the lexical paradigm on St. Augustine, and in this way begs the question by presupposing (a) the non-existence of a community passing on the Tradition, and (b) that a necessary condition for coming to know the truth about the Apostles’ doctrine of justification (and thus about the gospel) is by way of exegeting the Hebrew Old Testament.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  193. Jim, the scripture is very clear, nothing created can separate a believer from the love of God Romans 8. And the man in Corintians 5 Paul says was worse than all the gentiles, he had his father’s wife, and Paul delivered his flesh over to satan that his soul would be saved. Christ loses none of his. He who began a good wory WILL perfect it ntil the day of Christ?!

  194. Bryan, im sorry, I didnt notice the auto filled my wifes name in..

  195. Marketsquire (#191), I appreciate your enjoyment!

    I have just a couple of questions here.

    would you characterize your “concession” as common among Protestants?

    I don’t know. I wish it were too. McGrath’s work has been out for several decades now (in various forms), and I found out about this from a footnote in James White’s “The God Who Justifies”.

    If I had a dollar for every person who told me that the “early church” (particularly Augustine) held to sola fide . . . . I think it would help our dialogue move forward if it were universally recognized that neither Augustine nor the ante-Nicene Church held sola fide, allowing us to then discuss whether that fact is indeed a bad thing.

    I think such things will become more widely known as the dissemination of (this admittedly arcane piece of) information over the Internet becomes more commonplace, even to casual readers.

    Second, you seem to suggest that Augustine is a reliable source for some discrete observations (doctrines of grace, etc.), but that he is an unreliable source for others. By what standard do you determine his reliability?

    I think each topic needs to be investigated individually. But again, conservative Protestant New Testament scholarship is turning toward the early church (see Michael Kruger’s work “Canon Revisited”, for example. Kruger is working with other scholars to investigate the 2nd century church. It’s only a matter of time before they move forward to Augustine).

    Third and finally, I would ask you to put the shoe on the other foot. If it is true that the Reformed doctrine of justification is a 16th-century novum, and if that is not a bad thing (but simply the result of people finally reading the “clear” message of scripture), what keeps someone in year 3,000 (1500 years after the Reformation) from asserting yet another theological novum, speaking of “Calvin’s ‘goof’”?

    It’s not “not bad” because it was a “novum”. It was “not bad” because it was correct.

    This one was found because 20th century writers had the ability to do the intensive Hebrew study of the OT necessary to compare it with Augustine’s works. While that sort of thing was big in the 16th century, I think that our methods of Biblical scholarship are past the “hyper-critical” era, and people are simply looking for “what actually happened?” They’re consciously looking for “what’s the right thing?”

    Check out these couple of blog posts:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/search?q=critical+biblicism

  196. John, Much of this can be traced back to Jerome and his sloppy translation. He was tormented with dreams of having God angry with him. His knowledge of Hebrew and Greek wasnt good. Erasmus admitted to Luther Jerome mistranslated dikaiou justificare.

  197. Hi John,

    I don’t understand this claim:

    Nor can the Roman Catholic church, with its reliance on Augustine’s “goof”.

    My point was that Christian antiquity did not support the Reformation doctrine of justification. If you concede that Trent relied on Augustine (and the pre-Augustinian tradition), why can’t Rome claim Christian antiquity in favor of its soteriology?

    Still, the “Reformed view of Paul” doesn’t appear out of nowhere.

    No, it doesn’t. It relies on Luther who made idiosyncratic use of 15th century Scholasticism, mysticism, and renaissance textual criticism to construct a theory of justification in light of his personal experience of penance and “anfechtung.”

    It’s fascinating to me how you can isolate a “theological novum” from the 16th century, and just in citing it, assume it’s bad.

    I don’t assume it’s bad. I conclude that it is novel. And, not just novel, but in flat contradiction to tradition. Infusion and imputation are opposed principles. (This is why McGrath’s claim for ‘development’ is specious.) Being both novel and incompatible, I conclude that it is not the faith of the Church. From here, I conclude that either ecclesial deism is true (God does not preserve the faith within the Church) or that solafideism is not part of the deposit of faith. The two horns of this dilemma force me to reconsider my earlier, Reformed exegesis of St. Paul.

    But enough analysis has been done on N.T. Wright to find that he himself is quite the “wildcard” in his own work; and yet you Roman Catholics cite him as if he were the finest in New Testament scholarship.

    No, I didn’t cite him as the finest in NT Scholarship. I cited him as evidence that rejecting Augustine does not lead immediately to the Reformed view of Paul.

    In fact, the whole “New Perspective on Paul” has been dealt with thoroughly by Carson et. al

    To analyze something is not to prove it wrong.

    Finally, everything you have said about Augustine’s knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, NT allusions, and so forth, does nothing to show that God accepts us by faith alone because of the imputed righteousness of Christ. Long before the NPP, ‘Reformed’ exegete Moses Stuart (1854) rejected the doctrine of imputation on exegetical grounds alone, with no nod to Catholicism. Anglican Bishop Bull did the same. I’m sure we could multiply examples.

    As you know, McGrath argues (like Wright) at length that there is an equivocation between the Pauline and Tridentine use of the term “justification.” He distinguishes the biblical concept from the Christian doctrine. (You seem to support this reading.) If that is the case, one cannot refute the Tridentine doctrine of justification simply by arguing that it doesn’t follow Paul’s usage. One would need to thoroughly disambiguate the terms. One might argue that Trent made an infelicitous choice of language (a debatable point), but then again, infallibility doesn’t protect against inopportune prose.

    -David

  198. Hi John Thayer Jensen, (# 174)
    You wrote:

    What’s your criterion for making these judgements?

    And if it’s ‘the Bible,’ what Bible verses tell you:

    – Mary and Joseph had sexual relations (at any time)
    – remarriage after the death of a spouse is not adultery

    Note that I am not arguing one way or another about either of these points; I am asking how you know the one is true and the other false.

    John,
    Well, I understand where you are going with this question and point – you are indicating that you and I need an infallible interpreter (Church, Pope, Magisterium) to decide between us, if I say I am using my mind and read the evidence in Scripture and Tertullian’s words, and I have the Holy Spirit. You can say the same thing and you will say we need a “tie-breaker” or “umpire” or infallible guide to settle the issue between the two of us. The fact that you don’t seem to even be aware of Tertullian’s view may indicate you have not thought about it much and just “trust the Church” (The Roman Catholic Church). If I say I can read Scripture and interpret it for myself; you will likely say some thing like, “you are leaning on your own understanding, violating Proverbs 3:5-6. You need to lean on the history of tradition and interpretation of the Church down through the centuries.” etc. I understand that point. We are to love God with all our minds also, and I too have the Holy Spirit of God, and He gives illumination and guidance also. 1 Cor. 2:16 says believers have the mind of Christ, and I John 2:20 and 27 teach us that all believers in Christ have an anointing from the Holy Spirit that teaches us and we do not have the need of human teachers to teach us. Since other places affirm the need for human teachers in the church, (Ephesians 4:11-12; I Tim. 3, Titus 1, 1 Cor. 12), it cannot mean we have no need of any teachers at all. So it has to mean that the teachers in the church are not infallible, and that every Christian and layman has the Holy Spirit and can think for themselves. However, they also cannot just claim something that is contrary to Scripture and say “the Holy Spirit told me”. There has to be credible evidence for one’s claim. Of course, I don’t accept the RC or Popes as any authority over me, nor do I accept the claim of infallibility. They are clearly not infallible and that has already been proven in history multiple times. You may accuse me of pride and leaning on my own understanding and not submitting to the history of tradition or the church or the Pope. I don’t see it that way, since I am submitted to a local church with elders/pastors over me. Or you may accuse me of subjectivism – “the Holy Spirit tells me”. If I didn’t have clear Scripture (below) along with evidence from Tertullian, Hegessipus, Eusebius, and others (Irenaeus also), then that may be a good point, but I am not alone.

    When I read the passages in Tertullian and the Scriptures on these issues, and being careful to pray and submit to the Holy Spirit, we can see that Tertullian and the Scriptures are correct and the “Perpetual Virginity of Mary” idea was wrong, and it was not ancient, but started later, and was mostly defended by Jerome (around 400 AD), and this was adopted as the view after that point, but it was a mistake.

    Tertullian didn’t believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. He writes that Jesus’ brothers were “really” his brothers, his “blood-relationship”. He is arguing against docetism and Marcion – physicality and sex within marriage is not sin. (Against Marcion, 4:19).
    Also, “On Monogamy”, 8 – Tertullian mentions Mary as the model of virginity and self-control before Christ’s birth and then afterward, a model of marriage and monogamy.
    Tertullian says that Mary is representative of both ideals, monogamy and self-control. She represented virginity for a while, then represented monogamy within marriage. The latter seems to replace the former, as something distinct from it, which is a denial of the perpetual virginity doctrine.
    Also, Tertullian “On the Flesh of Christ”, 7.

    Scripture:
    Matthew 1:18 – “before they came together”
    Matthew 1:25 – Joseph kept her a virgin until (Greek: heos hou ‘εως ου ) she gave birth to Jesus.
    Matthew 12:46-47; 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; John 7:3-5
    That Greek distinguishes between cousin (ανεψιος, Colossians 4:10, Hegessipus, Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3:22; calls Jude, the brother of the Lord according to the flesh,) relative (συγγενις, Luke 1:36) and brother (αδελφος):
    Colossians 4:10; Luke 1:36

    Re-marriage after death of a spouse:
    Romans 7:1-3;
    I Timothy 5:14  

  199. Dave said, ” My point is that Christian antiquity didn’t support the the Reform doctrine of justification.” It depends on what glasses you have on. It certainly didn’t support the medieval sacramental system of increasing justification by one’s works of Roman Catholicism. I have 30 quotes from the Fathers in my hand that say we are justified by faith apart for works. Clavin said if we weighed up all the evidence of the fathers it would fall overwhelmingly on our side. You said that conclude that Luther’s view is novel. But why don’t you have problems with the novelty of Roman Catholicism, like the assumption? In fact traditionalism is our problem with RC. its novel invention. N.T. Wright has pretty much been disqualified with the NPP. Dave you read my post on your testimony? Are you going to post it, or will it just be all raving reviews? God Bless

  200. John – # 189 –

    thanks, yes, I have McCormack and Oden, I need to review those books and issues again. And James Swan provided an article on the excellent study of Fitzmeyer on “sola Fide” before Luther.

    In the work by Bruce L. McCormack, ed., “Justification in Perspective: Historical Developments and Contemporary Challenges”, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, (c) 2006), there are two articles, one by Nick Needham on “Justification in the Early Church Fathers”, and the one I cited, David Wright, “Augustine and Justification”.

    But I don’t remember any details on Hermas, Tertullian, Cyprian, etc. and the issues of sinning after baptism, penance, venial vs. mortal sins, apostacy, church discipline, etc.

  201. Kevin,

    I have 30 quotes from the Fathers in my hand that say we are justified by faith apart for works

    I am perfectly willing to concede that we are “justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28) I’m right there with you on all your patristic quotes.

    Clavin said if we weighed up all the evidence of the fathers it would fall overwhelmingly on our side.

    Yes, I know he said that.

    But why don’t you have problems with the novelty of Roman Catholicism, like the assumption?

    Novelty, per se, is not bad. But to assess that, we need a non-circular means for distinguishing authentic development from flat contradiction. I believe that means is the Church’s magisterium, established by Christ.

    Dave you read my post on your testimony?

    I don’t know. I think I’ve approved every comment. I certainly haven’t blocked any on purpose. If you don’t see your comments here, please repost. Where did you post these comments?

    -David

  202. In addition to what John Bugay has provided from McGrath on the Hebrew Sedeqa צדקה – From what I have read also, Augustine used the Latin, “to make righteous/just”, iustificare, (ficare = to make, to produce, to work; English derives “factory” from this) whereas the Hebrew, especially Genesis 15:6 חשב (Khashav – to count) and Greek δικαισυνη and δικαιοω carries the meaning of “count”, “considered”, “declared”, “imputed”, along with logizomai / λογιζομαι .

  203. Dave, thanks for your response. You are a stand up guy as is Bryan. One question, could Paul have ever meant be dikaiow the process of doing better? When you were an evangelical you were taught God gives grace and we do. Why did you trade that for the RC model, you do and God gives grace. Paul is not ambiguous that all of salvation is by faith and not of works. Even righteous deeds arent meritorious. “Not that of yourselves” not of works” does not allow the smuggling of our character into God’s work of Grace. Iow sacramental efficacy cant take the place of the atonement. Your thoughts?

  204. Moreover, presupposed in the notion that the meaning of the Greek (and Latin) terms for justification, must not differ from the meaning of the Hebrew term as used in the Old Testament, and insofar as they do differ, there is a *theological* error, is the assumption that the New Covenant cannot go beyond the Old Covenant, that the new wine must be poured into old wineskins. This deeper assumption (i.e. that the New Covenant cannot go beyond the Old) is in essence the error of the Judaizers described in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, in that by denying that the New Covenant can go beyond the Old, it implicitly denies that the one who purportedly made the New Covenant is greater than Moses, capable of being the mediator of “a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises” (Heb 8:6), and in that way it denies the incarnation of Christ, as Matt Yonke has explained in “Too catholic to be Catholic.”

  205. Hi Kevin,

    I can’t do justice to this reply in a combox. It would take a book chapter, at least. But, in brief, Paul does say we are not justified by works of the law. He also says we are justified/declared righteous by the dikaiomata tou nomou – the “righteous requirements of the law.” (Romans 2:25-29). He says those who obey the law will be declared righteous. (Romans 2:13) And he says that Love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8) So what does he mean when he says “the works of the law” don’t justify?

    As I’m sure you know, early commentators like Ambrosiaster held that “Works of the law” are things like circumcision, new moons, sabbath days. Basically, those things that differentiate Jew from Gentile. That’s my view as well. And Paul teaches explicitly that faith brings the gift of the spirit, the circumcised heart, by which we fulfill the law’s “righteous requirements” if not its mosaic letter.

    Protestants read that fulfillment in light of “the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.” But I don’t find this concept anywhere in Scripture.

    -David

  206. Dave, Romans 8:3-4 says that He condemned sin in the flesh so that the RROTL might be fulfilled in us, not by us, the verb is passive. Even Catholic Apologists admit that it is Christ who fulfills all righteousness. No way could Paul ever meant by daikow , the process of being, doing better. He certainly had the ending adzo at his use but used ow. Dave Paul says in Eph.2:8 “not that of yourselves” not of works” What must you as an RC do with that verse to hurdle the complete elimination of anything coming from ourselves being meritorious in salvation? Its definitive.

  207. John, regarding comment #195,
    (NOTE: Context of your argument: that the reformers “discovered” the correct view of justification as “imputation of righteousness”)

    “It’s not “not bad” because it was a “novum”. It was “not bad” because it was correct.

    This one was found because 20th century writers had the ability to do the intensive Hebrew study of the OT necessary to compare it with Augustine’s works. While that sort of thing was big in the 16th century, I think that our methods of Biblical scholarship are past the “hyper-critical” era, and people are simply looking for “what actually happened?” They’re consciously looking for “what’s the right thing?” ”

    And yet, that is precisely what even some non-Catholic scholars such as N.T. Wright have done — reading Scripture in light of it’s Jewishness — and have come to quite a different conclusion. (see “Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision”, where he faults John Piper, his main critic, for not taking the Jewish background seriously enough) .

  208. Sorry for the side interjection here — but how do you put other’s quotes in a WHITE box? (I’m sure there are instructions somewhere, but if someone could help — that would be great!)

  209. Dave, every time Paul uses works of the law he means the whole law. Sometimes he uses law, sometime works, sometimes works of the law. He says thru the law comes the knowledge of sin in Romans 3. The knowledge of sin does not come thru dietary laws or circumcision. We dont boast about dietary laws. When Paul says if they received circumcision they were guilty of the WHOLE law. Its a lump. Galatians 3:10 says cursed is anyone who does not abide in all things of the law. Its a reference to Deut. The moral law. In fact the law isnt the real issue for Paul in Galatians as much as the antithesis between works and hearing by faith. In the RC the conflate 2 covenants into a gracious law making Jesus into a kinder Moses with a softer law, as if loving God with heart soul and mind werent hard enough. The law was natural, the gospel is unatural and came from heaven. For the RC the gospel enabled people to be righteous by their obedience and the make up fot their lack, faling to understand it requires perfect obedience. To mix gospel and law has always corrupted Christianity and to confalte them is to corrupt faith at its core, Thanks Dave.

  210. Hi Kevin,

    Yes, he certainly does say that. And if our old man is crucified with Christ and done away with (Rom. 6:6) when God “condemns sin in the flesh,” and if “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,” (Rom. 5:5) then it follows that the RROTL are fully met in us – as Bryan has shown here.

    The fact that we are recipients of God’s sovereign work in our heart does not entail that we are accounted righteous by imputation.
    Indeed, Paul says the exact opposite. Those circumcised in heart keep the law’s RROTL, receiving praise from God. (Romans 2: 25-30)

    -David

  211. What must you as an RC do with that verse to hurdle the complete elimination of anything coming from ourselves being meritorious in salvation?

    Paul doesn’t say that nothing meritorious comes from us ever. He says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” We do not receive Grace because we merit it, and certainly not because we have kept the “works of the law.”

  212. Dave, every time Paul uses works of the law he means the whole law.

    Yes, the whole Mosaic Law. We are not justified by keeping the whole Mosaic Law.

    We are justified by keeping the RROTL through the circumcision of the heart, and not the flesh.

    -David

  213. Kevin,

    In #193 you quote from Romans 8:35 about the various things that cannot separate us from Christ ( danger of persecution, shipwreck, famine, etc ). You seem to disregard the many passages that say SIN can separate us from Christ.

    In #196 you say to John,
    ” Much of this can be traced back to Jerome and his sloppy translation. He was tormented with dreams of having God angry with him. His knowledge of Hebrew and Greek wasnt good. Erasmus admitted to Luther Jerome mistranslated dikaiou justificare.”

    How is it you are qualified to determine the caliber of Jerome’s translating? We would need to know your own credentials in order to make a judgement.
    As for the charge that Jerome was tormented by dream of God’s anger, the same can most definitely be said of Luther. We have discussed elsewhere how Luther’s scrupulosity was behind his “discovery” of JBFA.
    Finally, Erasmus speaks only for himself. Remember, he laid the egg that Luther hatched.

  214. Kevin,
    OOPS! I forgot this,

    “But why don’t you have problems with the novelty of Roman Catholicism, like the assumption?”

    You are asserting as fact what you need to prove. Mary’s Assumption is a fact, not a novelty.

  215. Dave said ” we don’t receive grace because we merit it” I want to challenge this. ” as a reward to their merits and good works” ” converted to their own justification” ” to the one who works well to the end ” who truly merit” Dave if God gave grace as a response to action or ability it wouldn’t be a gift but a reward. God says salvation is a free gift. You do your level best and god gives you grace. Romans 10:4 says Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to those who believe. In Rome Christ is the beginning of the law for righteousness …” Paul is clear in Philippians 3:9 he wanted to be found not in his righteousness, but Christ’s. He was the law stud, blameless, yet he wanted to be found not in his righteous but one that comes from God thru faith. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says Christ became, past tense, to us righteous, sanctification, redemption. And Romans5:12-19 says that by hereditary right all men are sinners and die. And thru the obedience of another men are appointed just. The word made there has the meaning of being constituted or appointed. By one man all die and by one man all are justified. It can’t be inherent righteousness. 2 corinthians 5:21 says we become, not righteous in Him, but the righteousness of God. Dave you have been an evangelical and Catholic. I ask you to take off your Roman glasses to see the gospel of free grace. God bless. I’ll wait for your thoughts.

  216. Dave, I also wanted to mention that nowhere in Scripture does it ever say we are justified by love. IOW there isn’t a virtue attached to faith that merits the acceptance of God. Luther said Rome can not rob from faith and give to love what He intended for faith. Faith justifies because it receives Christ and brings him to the heart. Love is always second in natural order and stretches out, to neighbor. Hebrews says without faith it is impossible to please God. In Rome love is just a starter thing but for Paul it was trust that covered the life of a believer. There are only 4 verses in all the Epistles on the Lord’s supper yet Rome calls it “the work of the people” Sacramental efficacy replacing the atonement and faith is nowhere in scripture. Faith has always been the entry point into this holistic salvation and covers it all. ” The righteous shall live by faith” He calls us righteous and says simply live by faith. I submit to you Dave in agreement with the writer of Hebrews that the Roman sacramental system is a lack of faith.

  217. That should read that in Rome faith is a starter thing…. Sorry Dave

  218. Kevin,

    Dave, I also wanted to mention that nowhere in Scripture does it ever say we are justified by love.”

    No, but Scripture does say that those obedient to the law are declared righteous (Rom. 2:13), that Love fulfills the law (Rom. 13:8), that love is the gift of the Spirit, and that those circumcised in heart keep the Law’s righteous requirements. (Rom. 2:25-29). I won’t quibble. If you want to say that we are pleasing to God by keeping the RROTL (the chief of which is love), I would agree.

    IOW there isn’t a virtue attached to faith that merits the acceptance of God.

    Did I say otherwise?

    Luther said Rome can not rob from faith and give to love what He intended for faith.

    He may have asserted that.

    Faith justifies because it receives Christ and brings him to the heart.

    Catholics would agree to that.

    Love is always second in natural order and stretches out, to neighbor.

    If you mean that love accompanies faith, or is poured out in our hearts as we are justified by faith, then I agree.

    Hebrews says without faith it is impossible to please God.

    Yes it does.

    In Rome love is just a starter thing but for Paul it was trust that covered the life of a believer.

    I don’t understand this statement.

    There are only 4 verses in all the Epistles on the Lord’s supper yet Rome calls it “the work of the people” Sacramental efficacy replacing the atonement and faith is nowhere in scripture.

    Rome does not say that the Lord’s Supper replaces the atonement. Nor does it teach that faith is nowhere in Scripture. These are unfounded assertions.

    Faith has always been the entry point into this holistic salvation and covers it all.

    Yes, faith is the entry point. Don’t know what you mean by “covers it all.” And, yes, the righteous live by faith.

    He calls us righteous and says simply live by faith.

    No, Scripture actually tells us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

    I submit to you Dave in agreement with the writer of Hebrews that the Roman sacramental system is a lack of faith.

    The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews never says the sacraments imply a lack of faith. He says (6:1-2) that they are foundational and basic teachings about Jesus.

  219. David or Byran or other Roman Catholics:
    Is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6) in the Roman Catholic system and meaning, the human beings love for God, or God’s love for the human?

  220. The discussion above suggests that the Roman Catholic Church has consistently taught an erroneous understanding of justification because the early church (particularly Augustine) misunderstood Hebrew and Jewish concepts (justice, righteousness, etc.).

    First, in a strange way, this is a compliment to the Church. If you put the tape in reverse, you will consistently find the Catholic Church’s (allegedly erroneous) understanding of justification all the way back to the ante-Nicene church (without seeing sola fide anywhere). While I understand that a novum isn’t automatically bad, this calls out for an explanation why the Reformed understanding does not appear or occur to anyone in the early church.

    Second, a thought experiment is in order. A rabbi walks into the local coffeeshop and finds a Catholic priest arguing with a Reformed minister about whether the early church (particularly Augustine) correctly interpreted Paul by sufficiently understanding Hebrew/Jewish concepts. The rabbi steps in, greets his friends, and says, “I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re both wrong. It is pointless to discuss whether Augustine sufficiently understood Hebrew/Jewish concepts to correctly interpret Paul . . . because Paul himself misunderstood and misinterpreted the Old Testament.” The Catholic priest responds that the same Holy Spirit that inspired Paul’s writings has walked with the Church for two millennia, evidenced by a single consistent understanding of justification. The Reformed minister says . . . opens the OT and proceeds from a sola scriptura perspective?

  221. Dave, Romans 2 is of the utmost importance to understand correctly. If you get a chance to go to Tim Kauffman”s blog and read his response to Jason Stellman on Romans 2. I believe it is the correct interoperation. Would love to know your thoughts?

  222. Dave, were we elected to salvation before there was ever any infused love in us? Romans 9 says Jacob I loved Esau I hated before they had done anything bad or good. Nowhere in scripture does it say we are justified by faith as it is activated by our loving, doing, being. Thanks

  223. Dave faith covers all of salvation is what I mean Romans 1:17 “for the righteousness of god is revealed from “faith to faith.” ” But the righteous shall live by faith” He calls us righteous and simply says live by faith. Verse 16 says ” I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power unto salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:9-10 says If you confess with you mouth Jesus christ as Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. Here is the Eschatological reality ” for with the heart one believes RESULTING in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses RESULTING in salvation. No works there Dave. The result of confessing and believing is righteousness and salvation. Again we see no Roman church delving out salvation thru sacraments by one’s cooperation. The word became flesh, we didn’t. We cannot take from Him was is only His, namely His incarnation and His atonement. We aren’t helping Him finish His incarnation and His atonement. This happened at the consummation of the ages and it perfected all those for whom He died. It is a blanket across history. The church cannot usurp the position of the Spirit or the natural body of Christ. Jesus said the Spirit blows where and how He wills to bring salvation to someone. God Bless.

  224. Summarize Kauffman for me.

  225. Hi Kevin,

    Again – none of the texts you cite is incompatible with the Catholic understanding of salvation. Being part of the Catholic canon of Scripture, I naturally affirm them all. And, Catholics also believe in election/predestination. Thomists, following Augustine, affirm predestination without regard to foreseen merits.

    The point at issue is not whether faith or works justify. It is how and why faith justifies. The Catholic doctrine is that faith justifies through the pouring out of God’s love into our hearts, causing us to fulfill the RROTL. Protestants generally affirm the theory of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, which is nowhere taught in Scripture.

    Thanks,

    David

  226. Dave, I would except i can’t do it justice, no pun intended. Go to ” Out of His mouth” whitehorseblog Tim Kauffman. Click on justification and read” Why should we read Romans jealousy” i would love to know your thoughts. K

  227. Kevin,

    I have been reading some of the material at Tim Kauffman’s blog on Romans II. Do you know of anyone who has used the “jealously narrative” to make these Scriptures make sense within a “sola fide” paradigm in the history of Christianity? If not, can you tell me how we can decide between a typical Cathoiic exegesis of Romans II and the “jealousy narrative” interpretation if I don’t find the argument Tim makes to be compelling exegetically nor logically…?

    Dr. Anders,

    The jealously narrative says that when St. Paul uses language like, “the doers of the Law will be justified” he is really trying to goad the Jews into feeling jealous, at least from what I can tell… anything that seems to say “works justify” is only used for the purposes of making “the Jews jealous that they may be saved.” As anything else would contradict a Reformed reading of St. Paul, which, to Tim and Kevin is the same as St. Paul.

    IC XC

  228. Dr. Anders,

    Here is a link to what Kevin is speaking about:

    http://www.whitehorseblog.com/2014/03/02/romans-213-and-the-jealousy-narrative/

    IC XC

  229. Both and more, it is also our love for each other. It is the living out of the Great commandment. To love God with all your heart mind and soul and the second to love your neighbor as yourself. All the while understanding that all love (as well as everything else apart from evil) has it’s source in God. I can not love whether, God or another person, except that God loved me first. Everything is gift. I don’t think most Protestant understand how all pervasive Catholic’s view God’s grace is.

  230. Sorry I was responding to Ken is 219

  231. Dave , curious how do you interpret Colossians 2:10? Thanks

  232. Jim, lets go thru your reasoning. Mary’s assumption is a fact? Can you show me that in scripture? And Luther’s exegeting Justification for the first time in the church has no biblical support. I think the opposite is true? Your thoughts

  233. Jim, Roman8 says nor any other created thing. Sin cannot separate a believer from the love of God. ” He who began a good work in you WILL perfect it til the day of Christ” Christ loses none that the father has given Him. We persevere because God perseveres. And He is 100 %. But your salvation is partly dependent on you Jim. Colossians 2:10 tells me I have been made complete in Christ and can have the assurance that Romans 5:1, 8:1, 8:38-39, John 5:24, and 1 John 5:13 offer me. You can’t have that Jim because your on justification on the installment plan. The scripture never teaches that. Justification is something we always look back on with true shalom, those trusting in Christ alone for their salvation. Salvation isn’t piecemeal, it is complete. Christ didn’t come to make salvation possible, He saved us, reconciled us Romans 5:9 and redeemed us 1 corinthians 1;30. We are justified by a righteousness that comes form God thru faith for Christ is the END of the law for righteousness to all who believe. God bless Jim

  234. David,

    “He says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” We do not receive Grace because we merit it”

    I think you need to qualify this a bit. While it’s true you can’t merit the principle of grace (i.e. initial justification as your Scriptural citation refers to) – I would think you would agree that within the state of grace, you can then merit further grace/growth in holiness.

    CCC
    2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”

  235. Christopher, Actually I don’t know of anyone who has used the jealousy narrative. It gave me pause to consider. Tim Kauffman has never gone to Seminary and I consider him one of the great theologians of our day. He is a former Roman Catholic and more steeped in the History of the church, biblical exegesis, and Roman Catholicism than anyone I’ve read. He is brilliant. Christopher, no I can’t tell you how to make that decision. Maybe take your RC glasses and give him a fair read. We both have a fallible judgment informed by the Spirit . Your’s tells you to put your faith in a church, mine tells me put my faith in the Word, but a church can’t save you only the Word. I found the jealousy concept compelling the breadth thru scripture, including Jesus ministry and Paul’s where they employ the same thing.

  236. Kevin,
    You wrote,

    “Dave, I also wanted to mention that nowhere in Scripture does it ever say we are justified by love. IOW there isn’t a virtue attached to faith that merits the acceptance of God. Luther said Rome can not rob from faith and give to love what He intended for faith. Faith justifies because it receives Christ and brings him to the heart. Love is always second in natural order and stretches out, to neighbor. Hebrews says without faith it is impossible to please God…”

    Faith is imperfect and will fall away. In heaven we will not have faith or hope. The Charity we have in this life will blossom in heaven. Paul says Charity is greater than Faith.
    As for a virtue being attached to faith, Faith is a virtue itself.
    Faith without love does not bring Christ into the heart. Faith is an intellectual virtue. Charity is the virtue of the will/heart. Charityis the imprint of the Holy Spirit in our soul. The same Love in the Trinity indwells and sanctifies us. In a sense, when we have the Holy Spirit ( and therefore the Father and the Son), we are already in heaven.
    Faith can indeed exist w/o Charity. But it cannot justify. It is dead without Charity just as a body without a soul is dead ( James ).

  237. Dave said” the write of Hebrews never says the sacraments display a lack of faith” Follow me Dave Not all of the first Jewish converts who left Judaism were steadfast in their decision. Some began to consider going back to Judaism and OT sacrifices. The letter of Hebrews was written to help these wavering Jewish Christians Hebrews 12:12. The book reminds the readers that Christians have no need for further sacrifice. ” We have been sanctified thru the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.” 10:10. It encourages doubting Christians to ” hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” 10:23 It exhorts them to not “throw away” their confidence 10:35 to have “endurance” 10:36 “live by faith” 10:38. The writer expresses they will ” have faith to the persevering of the soul” He describes faith as “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things NOT seen.” 11:1. Hebrews is a solemn warning ” Take care brethren unless there should be in anyone of you an evil an unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God”3:12. He warns them not to “shrink back to destruction going back to the sacrifices of Judaism. The Sacrifices of the temple would be an act of unbelief. It would be a rejection of Christ and His finished work on the cross. This Dave is the warning to Rome that you must heed. God Bless. Ill wait for your retort.

  238. Kevin,

    Please note: “Maybe take your RC glasses and give him a fair read” is an ad hominem. You are presuming – without argument – that Christopher is unable to fairly read and evaluate a text. This does nothing to advance your own argument. In the future, please avoid this kind of language and stick to our posting guidelines.

  239. Kevin et al.

    I looked at Kaufman’s article on “the jealousy narrative.” There was much in the text I agree with. I find the major thesis (that there is a jealousy narrative) unobjectionable. However, I think things get more difficult when Kaufman tries to move to his conclusions about the meaning of justification. The fact that Paul seeks to excite Jewish jealousy does nothing to advance the claim that faith justifies by means of the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    Paul argues that “it is not those who hear the law, but those who obey” who will be declared righteous. Mere possession of the mosaic law, mere “Jewishness,” does not guarantee interior righteousness, the love that is the fulfillment of the law.

    By contrast, Paul says in 2:25-29 that those with circumcised hearts (gentile Christians) are fulfilling the dikaiomata tou noumou (RROTL), even though they lack the letter of the Mosaic legislation. Paul says not a word about imputation here. In fact, he says the exact opposite. He says that circumcision of the heart brings about obedience to the RROTL. Kaufman, however, overlooks the agape paradigm and simply assumes the doctrine of imputation here. He assumes that the fulfillment Paul speaks of (RROTL) comes by way of imputed righteousness, even though Paul never says that.

    One reason for his oversight, I believe, is that Kaufman assumes the “obedience to the law” in view in 2:13 is the same as “Works of the law” (ergon nomou) in Romans 3 and 4. But Paul distinguishes “Works of the law (ergon nomou) from the RROTL (dikaiomata tou nomou). The one fails to justify. The other does justify, does “receive praise from God,” (Rom. 2:25-29) when fulfilled through the circumcised heart via the spirit.

    That there is a difference between “works of the law” and “RROTl” is evident in that the one distinguishes Jew from Gentile and is uniquely Jewish (Rom. 3:29), while the other characterizes the moral life of righteous Gentiles who lack the mosaic legislation.

    –David

    -David

  240. Dave, No not at all. Did you read Christopher’s post to me. He asked me that question. I gave him a fair response. I am enjoying our conversation and you guys have been charitable. I think I have returned in kind. But i will watch what I say. God Bless

  241. Dave, In reference to you saying that we are justified ” when fulfilling thru the circumcised heart via the Spirit” Romans 10:4 says Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to those who believe. Are you saying Christ is the beginning of the Law for righteousness to those who believe? Romans7:6 says ” but now we have been released from the law, having died to that to which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” 2 corinthians 5:7 says we walk by faith and not by sight. Galatians 5:1-4 Paul say of “those trying to be justified by law” you are severed from Christ and fallen from grace. The first verse said it was for freedom you have been set free. Much of this Dave has to do with the view that the incarnation is still being carried on thru the acts of the Roman church. We say that you make Him an eternal victim and won’t let him off the cross to be Lord and Savior. He said it is finished and Paul said he was never to die again. Romans 5:9 says we have been reconciled by His blood and 5:1 says we have been justified by faith. The bible mentions no further installments of justification based on the lede lived. Thanks

  242. Hi Kevin,

    Every one of the verses you cite is consistent with (and in fact supports) the reading of Paul that I and the church fathers suggest. Is God the God of Jews only? No! Of Gentiles, too. Thus, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for those who believe.

    -David

  243. Kevin,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Christopher, Actually I don’t know of anyone who has used the jealousy narrative. It gave me pause to consider.

    I had never heard of this either. It gives me pause because, from what I can tell, he (Tim) seems to being forcing the “jealously narrative” to “harmonize” what St. Paul seems to be saying clearly in Romans II, with a Reformed understanding of St. Paul overall.

    Tim Kauffman has never gone to Seminary and I consider him one of the great theologians of our day. He is a former Roman Catholic and more steeped in the History of the church, biblical exegesis, and Roman Catholicism than anyone I’ve read. He is brilliant.

    I don’t doubt that there is an intelligence there, but I am having trouble with the idea that, if the Scriptures are as perspicuous as many Reformed say, then I don’t see why I have never seen sola fide and the “jealously narravtive” to make sense of St. Paul’s cryptic words about works before.

    It could be you, like some Reformed I have spoken to, believe that my mind has been “darkened.” I take this to mean that God Himself has made me unable to see the truths of Scripture, yet calls for my repentance and obedience, etc. If that be the case, and I am not saying you’re saying this, but… what would be the point of such a conversation?

    “Christopher, no I can’t tell you how to make that decision. Maybe take your RC glasses and give him a fair read. We both have a fallible judgment informed by the Spirit . Your’s tells you to put your faith in a church, mine tells me put my faith in the Word, but a church can’t save you only the Word.

    I don’t think I read him unfairly. I just think it strange that he has offered this as a harmonization of a general Reformed understanding of St. Paul where the texts sound more “Catholic,” and, even though the Scriputres are regarded as so “perspicuous” by so many Reformed… no one spoke about this before. It gives me quite a bit of pause too.

    As far as my Catholic glasses go… you seem to be saying that, though we are both faiible, one of us is guided by a spirit that tells them to trust “a church,” and the other is guided by a Spirit that tells them to trust the word.

    Your’s tells you to put your faith in a church, mine tells me put my faith in the Word, but a church can’t save you only the Word.

    Did I misunderstand you? If so, I take it to mean that you have the Holy Spirit of Almighty God helping you to understand the Holy Writ, and I have some other “spirit” (i.e. not God’s) telling me to trust the Church. If I am unable to see these things without the Holy Spirit of God removing my “Catholic glasses,” I am not sure how much sense it makes to explain things to me. Am I missing your meaning?

    You also seem to equivocate between “Word” meaning the Bible and “Word” meaning Savior (i.e. Jesus). I don’t regard the Written Word and the Word Incarnate as the same thing. You also seem to suggest that I have the Church’s interpretation of what the Bible says, and you just have what the Bible says… sans interpretation? From where I sit, I don’t see why I should doubt the Church’s understanding the Holy Writ. I believe in the Bible because of the Church, not vice-versa…

    Be well!

    IC XC
    Christopher

  244. Dave, Thanks for your response. The only one you haven’t answered is the Colossians verse 2:10 ” and in Him you have been made complete.” How does a Roman Catholic interpret this verse? And secondly would you agree there is a difference in a gospel that says by faith alone in Christ alone one is forgiven for sins and guilt past, present and future and one that says that His incarnation continues in the acts of the church thru which one merits their continuance in grace? Can you see why we see God delving out grace and justice thru doing sacraments is a violation of faith which Paul says alone justifies, and the atonement and the finished work of our Lord? Do you understand how we see the insertion of our character into God’s work of grace, our sacrificing ourselves for our sin, our using grace as a means of exchange on a merit system of salvation is foreign to scripture? And finally Dave, and I will wait for your response which incidentally you have been most charitable, listen to 2 Corinthians 5: 15 ” and He died for all, so that they might live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself thru Christ” Dave I submit to you that this is consistent with Romans 5:9 which says we have been reconciled by His blood. It is a done deal Dave, and now He is applying His perfect sacrifice on our behalf. And because He is the author and perfecter of our faith, and because He loses none, and because He saves to the uttermost those of faith, and because He says His one time sacrifice at the consummation of the ages which is a blanket across history perfected us, and because we are told we have an inheritance reserved in heaven for us which can never fade away, and because He has seated us in the heavenly places with Him and sealed us in the Spirit, and because He perseveres so do we, and because He said after obtaining eternal redemption He sat down at the right hand of the father, and because He said we have been made complete in Him, and because He said we become ” the righteousness of God in him, and because He said we are justified past tense by faith, and because He said there are no more sacrifices for sin and it is finished, we must reject the ecclesiastical machinery that came form the Roman church which was mostly human in origin and content. Thank you for indulging me Dave Anders and may God bless you and your family. K

  245. Hi Kevin,

    The full context of the colossians text:

    For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    It seems to me to be describing the same dynamic of Romans 6, Romans 8, and 2 Peter 1:4. In Christ, the believer comes to share in the divine nature, to receive everything necessary for life and godliness.

    would you agree there is a difference in a gospel that says by faith alone in Christ alone one is forgiven for sins and guilt past, present and future and one that says that His incarnation continues in the acts of the church thru which one merits their continuance in grace?

    Sure there is a difference, except that you misrepresent the Catholic doctrine here. The Catholic Church does not teach that we merit “continuance in grace.” Perseverance in the faith is wholly attributed to grace, not to our merits. What our gracious participation can gain is not perseverance, but an ever deeper, more grace filled, and holier life. Two men receive grace and forgiveness. One progresses farther than the other in the spiritual life, to greater holiness and charity. Our willing participation in the life of faith, our prayers, our attention, our acts of charity, are not irrelevant to our progress in charity. That willing participation proceeds from grace, but it is still willed on our part.

    I would add, also, that Scripture never says our future sins are forgiven in the present such that we need not fear that future sin could cut us off from the life of grace. 1 Cor. 5 and 2 Cor. 2, for instance, show that Paul took a very dim view of the present sin of Christians, warning that they should be “handed over to Satan,” and “expelled,” so that they might be saved on the last day. This is consistent with his teaching in Galatians 5, that those who persist in immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God, whether or not they were previously filled with the Spirit. Then, in 2 Cor. 2, Paul forgives the offender who has repented “in the sight of Christ.”

    There is no encouragement from Paul here that the offender need not fear for his soul, sins his sins present and future were forgiven. Nothing like Luther’s “Sin boldly.” Instead, there is a warning, followed by penance and absolution.

    All the text you cite about our reconciliation with God are fully consistent with the Catholic understanding of grace and forgiveness, nor have you offered an argument to the contrary.

    -David

  246. Ken Temple #202

    In addition to what John Bugay has provided from McGrath on the Hebrew Sedeqa צדקה – From what I have read also, Augustine used the Latin, “to make righteous/just”, iustificare, (ficare = to make, to produce, to work; English derives “factory” from this) whereas the Hebrew, especially Genesis 15:6 חשב (Khashav – to count) and Greek δικαισυνη and δικαιοω carries the meaning of “count”, “considered”, “declared”, “imputed”, along with logizomai / λογιζομαι .

    It is ironic that you bring up logizomai, since there is no unambiguous support in all of scripture, including the OT, in which it is equal to ‘imputed’ in the Reformed sense or as an extrinsic transfer. This has long been an issue for Calvinists who to my knowledge have never made a comprehensive case for logizomai meaning X = not X based on etymology or context of either the Greek word or its Hebrew equivalent.

    Arminian scholars challenged the Reformed assumption and were met with either admissions or a few verses where the context wasn’t quite as clear, but could still be shown to be consistent with a non-imputational understanding along with all of the other many uses (40 in the NT and well over 100 in the OT).
    Of those who admitted that logizomai does not carry the sense of imputed, a few were tried for heresy, (not necessarily based solely on their admission) while the majority appealed to other places in scripture where they thought Paul’s message demanded a new interpretation in Romans 4 (primarily 2Cor 5:21 which doesn’t use logizomai and is more thoroughly explained in its Rom 8:3-4 parallel).

    Another problem with this is that in Romans 4, where the term is used the most in the NT (10 times I believe), you would have to acknowledge that Paul liberally changes the meaning between a non-imputational meaning to an imputational meaning.
    For instance, when Paul quotes Psalm 32: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not ‘impute’ sin”.
    This certainly doesn’t fit the imputation as transfer reinterpretation.

  247. Hi Christopher, thank you for your response and your kindness. When i said we both have fallible judgment informed by the Holy Spirit I only meant that We both believe we have the Holy Spirit informing our decisions about truth. Obviously I don’t believe a Roman Catholic who follows church doctrine is a brother in Christ. My point was that we look at things thru different lenses. And when you asked me how could you accept Tim’s piece I merely said take off your Roman glasses, not to be rude, but to look at it from a Reformed perspective. For instance I have looked at Romans 2 from the Roman Catholic perspective and I agree with Calvin, that anyone who believes they can be justified by the law deserves the judgment they will receive by it. Romans 2 must be understood in the context of the first 3 chapters. Paul does not say that the doers of the law will be justified by doing the law. It was to show the jews that the gentile Christians who believed kept the law and the Jews who didn’t keep the law didn’t believe. Please read Tim’s follow up article on his site if your interested. The Roman error Christopher is that Paul’s antithesis in Romans (4) and Galatians isn’t between works of the law ( circumcision) and works done in grace, its between works and hearing by faith. Faith and works are opposed for Paul in justification and its not ambiguous. And this is the whole ball of wax. at the heart of the Reformation was the distinction of Law and Gospel. We divide this word into two principle parts , one is law, the other gospel. The law is written by nature on our hearts, the gospel is the good news and is not in us by nature but comes to s from heaven Mat 16:17. The law leads us to Christ. Ignorance of these distinctions has always been the source of corruption of the gospel. So in Rome Jesus is a gentler Moses with a softer law, as if loving God wit all of heart souls and mind is easy. The law can do nothing but condemn man because of sin, we are under its penalty. Rome can only see the gospel as that which enables believers to become righteous by obedience and compensation for their lack not realizing the law requires perfection. To confuse law and gospel is to corrupt faith at its core. My only other point was that your informed judgment tells you to trust a church, and mine tells me to trust the Word, but a church can’t save you, only the word. Christopher, there are 2 different gospels. We says faith alone in Christ alone, the finished work on the cross, saves us and justifies us, that all our sins are forgiven past, present and future, and that we can have the assurance the bible offers John 5:24, Rom.5:1, 8:1, 8:38, 1 John 5:13 because He loses none and He perseveres. The other says that the incarnation isn’t finished, He is still on the cross, and your being saved in installments thru the acts of the church by doing a sacramental system ex opere operato and meriting increases of your salvation until perfection. But God says He justifies the ungodly by faith, apart form works, not the inherently righteous at the end of his life. We both must choose. God bless

  248. Kevin,

    What David said in 239 agrees with Augustine’s explanation. I thought I would give Augustine’s quote to explain in his words much of what David was saying:

    Therefore the blessed Paul casts away those past attainments of his righteousness, as “losses” and “dung,” that “he may win Christ and be found in Him, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law.” Wherefore his own, if it is of the law? For that law is the law of God. Who has denied this, save Marcion and Manicheus, and such like pests? Since, then, that is the law of God, he says it is “his own” righteousness “which is of the law;” and this righteousness of his own he would not have, but cast it forth as “dung.” Why so, except because it is this which I have above demonstrated, that those are under the law who, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own, are not subject to the righteousness of God? (Rom 10:3) For they think that, by the strength of their own will, they will fulfil the commands of the law; and wrapped up in their pride, they are not converted to assisting grace. Thus the letter kills (2 Cor 3:6) them either openly, as being guilty to themselves, by not doing what the law commands; or by thinking that they do it, although they do it not with spiritual love, which is of God. Thus they remain either plainly wicked or deceitfully righteous — manifestly cut off in open unrighteousness, or foolishly elated in fallacious righteousness. And by this means — marvellous indeed, but yet true — the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by the righteousness which is in the law, or by the law, but by that which is in the Spirit of grace. Because the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in those, as it is written, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. But, according to the righteousness which is in the law, the apostle says that he was blameless in the flesh, not in the Spirit; and he says that the righteousness which is of the law was his, not God’s. It must be understood, therefore, that the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled according to the righteousness which is in the law or of the law, that is, according to the righteousness of man, but according to the righteousness which is in the Spirit of grace, therefore according to the righteousness of God, that is, which man has from God. Which may be thus more clearly and briefly stated: That the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled when the law commands, and man as it were of his own strength obeys; but when the Spirit aids, and man’s free will, but freed by the grace of God, performs. Therefore the righteousness of the law is to command what is pleasing to God, to forbid what is displeasing; but the righteousness in the law is to obey the letter, and beyond it to seek for no assistance of God for holy living. For when he had said, “Not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is by the faith of Christ,” he added, “Which is from God.” That, therefore, is itself the righteousness of God, being ignorant of which the proud go about to establish their own; for it is not called the righteousness of God because by it God is righteous, but because man has it from God. (Bk III, chapter 20)

    That is it–just thought that might help you to see where Catholics are coming from on this topic,
    Thanks, Kim

  249. Kevin,

    I agree with Calvin, that anyone who believes they can be justified by the law deserves the judgment they will receive by it.

    The Catholic Church does not teach we can be justified by the law.

    Romans 2 must be understood in the context of the first 3 chapters.

    Absolutely.

    Paul does not say that the doers of the law will be justified by doing the law.

    Agreed. More specifically, Paul says no one will be justified by the works of the law.
    He does, however, say, “Those who obey the law will be declared righteous.”

    It was to show the jews that the gentile Christians who believed kept the law and the Jews who didn’t keep the law didn’t believe.

    That’s right. Or rather, that the Jews didn’t keep the dikaiomata tou nomou.

    The Roman error Christopher is that Paul’s antithesis in Romans (4) and Galatians isn’t between works of the law ( circumcision) and works done in grace, its between works and hearing by faith.

    The Catholic Church does not teach that we should do the works of the Mosaic law in grace. It teaches, unambiguously, that we are not to do the works of the Mosaic law. Nor does it teach that we attain reconciliation with God by performing certain concrete and specific acts after we have received the spirit. Rather, it teaches that we are just, intrinsically, by virtue of the grace infused into our souls without any merit on our part. “that justice which is called ours, because we are justified by its inherence in us, that same is [the justice] of God, because it is infused into us by God through the merit of Christ.” (Trent, 6th session, ch.16)

    Faith and works are opposed for Paul in justification and its not ambiguous.

    Agreed. It is not ambiguous. “So say we all,” (to quote Battlestar Galactica)

    at the heart of the Reformation was the distinction of Law and Gospel. We divide this word into two principle parts , one is law, the other gospel.

    Yep. That was at the heart of the Reformation. Unfortunately, this is not a biblical distinction. There is not one text of Scripture saying we must categorize all moral exhortation, threats, and warnings as “law,” and all promises of grace as “gospel.” In fact, Paul considers the promise of judgment to be part of the gospel. (Rom. 2:16, Acts 17:31) Nor does Jesus, when he announces the “Good news” refrain from threats and exhortation.

    Ignorance of these distinctions has always been the source of corruption of the gospel.

    If that were true, it would mean that the Fathers of the church corrupted the gospel. It would also suggest that one needs Luther in order to understand the gospel, inasmuch as no Christian Church anywhere in the world (except, perhaps Marcion) ever divided the Scriptures in this way until Luther.

    So in Rome Jesus is a gentler Moses with a softer law,

    Actually, Ireneaus says that Jesus intensified the moral demands of the law.

    The law can do nothing but condemn man because of sin, we are under its penalty. Rome can only see the gospel as that which enables believers to become righteous by obedience and compensation for their lack not realizing the law requires perfection.

    Again, you are incorrect in your depiction of Catholic faith. Catholic faith has always taught that we are obligated to perfection. Furthermore, The Council of Trent says that the justified have fully satisfied the divine law:

    For since Christ Jesus Himself, as the head into the members and the vine into the branches,[99] continually infuses strength into those justified, which strength always precedes, accompanies and follows their good works, and without which they could not in any manner be pleasing and meritorious before God, we must believe that nothing further is wanting to those justified to prevent them from being considered to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life, to be obtained in its [due] time, provided they depart [this life] in grace,[100]

    My only other point was that your informed judgment tells you to trust a church, and mine tells me to trust the Word, but a church can’t save you, only the word.

    If by “the word,” you mean the 66 books of the Protestant Canon, then you are entrusting yourself to an authority that Revelation has nowhere endorsed. When did Jesus, the Prophets, or the apostles ever tell us to entrust ourselves to this specific rule of faith?

    there are 2 different gospels

    Probably many more than 2.

    We says faith alone in Christ alone, the finished work on the cross, saves us and justifies us, that all our sins are forgiven past, present and future,

    Yes, except that “The Word” doesn’t teach that. In fact, “the word” says faith alone does not justify. And nowhere in the word do we read that our future sins are forgiven such that they cannot separate us from Christ.

    The other says that the incarnation isn’t finished, He is still on the cross

    Incorrect. The Catholic Church does not teach this.

    your being saved in installments

    incorrect, Trent says, “In which words is given a brief description of the justification of the sinner, as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior.”

    a sacramental system ex opere operato

    Would you prefer a sacramental system in which efficacy depended on the worthiness of celebrant or recipient?

    meriting increases of your salvation until perfection

    do you deny that God rewards good works done in faith and grace?

    But God says He justifies the ungodly by faith, apart form works,

    We agree.

    not the inherently righteous at the end of his life

    Actually, St. Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Cor. 5:10

    -David

  250. Kim, Augustine’s quote helps the Reformed cause and not the medieval Roman Gospel which Trent affirmed. He says clearly the righteousness by which we are justified is not our own, but the righteousness that comes from God thru faith. ” Not having my own righteousness , which is of the Law” he says but but that which is of faith in Christ, which is from God.” Kim this is Paul’s gospel and the Reformed gospel. This however is not your gospel, the one from Trent. Here are quotes from your Cannons ” To the one who works well to the end” ” as a reward to their merits and good works” ” converted to their own justification” canon 9 Trent ” if anyone saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise to mean that nothing else is required to co-operate.” Canon 24 ” if anyone saith, that the justice received is no more preserved and also increased by good works” Kim, may I suggest that you are in a system of works righteousness of love increased by merits and demerits. Any fair reading of Augustine and Paul compared to what i just quoted form your church Trent would make one leave that communion immediately. In Christ’s love Kevin

  251. He says clearly the righteousness by which we are justified is not our own, but the righteousness that comes from God thru faith. ” Not having my own righteousness , which is of the Law” he says but but that which is of faith in Christ, which is from God.”

    This is the Catholic gospel, too. The difference is not whether righteousness comes from Christ, but how it makes us righteous. By infusion or by imputation. No text of Scripture teaches that we are accounted righteous because of the imputed righteousness of Christ, nor did any Christian hold this until the 16th century.

  252. Kevin,

    Yesterday you asserted ( without attempting to prove ) that Charity plays no part in Justification.
    You assert faith is all that is needed. Could you supply some scripture to support this?
    Charity or Love is the virtue of union. Even among humans, love desires union. Think of spouses.
    Faith does not take possession of Christ. Faith resides in the intellect. In this life, we see as in a dark mirror according to Paul. We behold objects in the intellect by ideas or concepts. An idea of Christ is not Christ. Only in heaven, when faith falls away, will we see God “face to face” or “as He is” without any created image/ concept or idea.
    You listed some verses yesterday to show the necessity of Faith in justification. Catholics agree that faith is the root of justification and without it one cannot please God.. Charity cannot exist with out faith. One cannot love what one does not know. However, Faith can exist without Charity.

    While Faith can exist without Charity, one cannot make an act of faith without charity. The act of faith is an intellectual act moved by the will ( where love resides ). Abraham believed God ( made an act of faith moved by love ) and was justified for it. Later, when he offered Isaac, his justification/sanctification increased by another act of love. He merited not initial justification but an increase and a reward for his obedience.

    Had Abraham refused to offer Isaac, he would have retained Faith but he could have lost grace, charity and justification for his disobedience.

  253. Kevin,

    It was no accident that the Church defeated the spread of Calvinism/Jansenism with devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus.
    The heart of Jesus, burning with love for all men and pleading for love and reparation reveals the Father. To start with an eternal decree of election/reprobation and then have Jesus come merely to make official that decree has the cart before the horse.
    God is Love. When we have the love of/for/from God, we have God.

  254. Hi Jim,

    The difficulty with these discussions is that they are often rife with equivocation.
    For many Protestants “faith vs. works” (a biblical distinction) naturally implies “faith vs. charity.” This is because they see charity as “a work.” for Protestants, all you have to do to prove “faith vs. Charity” is cite Romans 3:28.

    This is why I have been at great pains to try to distinguish the meaning of “works of the law” (Romans 3:28) from the “righteous requirements of the law” (Romans 2:25-ff) that one fulfills with the Spirit’s help. Until or unless we disambiguate “works of the law,” I fear the discussion will be interminable.

    The question I would ask is rather this: Can you show me where Scripture says that justification accomplishes the imputation of “the Righteousness of Christ?” At best, the Protestant points to Rom. 4:3, 4:22. But neither of these actually mentions the righteousness of Christ.

    I would also ask, “How do you know that by excluding law keeping in contrast to faith, Paul is not simply excluding the hearing-not-doing of Romans 2:13?” How do you know that by counseling faith, Paul is not endorsing faith-as-the-vehicle-for-the-outpouring-of-the-spirit-and-the-circumcised-heart.?

    Paul says that those circumcised in heart keep the RROTL. He never says faith brings about the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    -David

  255. Jim, Romans 3:26, Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8, Rom. 4:5 . If you need more let me know. Now I will ask you where the scripture teaches we are justified by love. I’m sure I won’t be getting any verses back from you Jim because the scripture doesn’t teah us that. In fact what it does teach us is that God chose Jacob before he had done any good or bad, and before he had any infused anything in him. Here is the Roman problem Jim. Justification is always past tense in scripture and there is no, and i repeat no evidence of further justification or installments of justification. In fact John 5:24 says by believing one passed, past tense, out of judgment and out of death into life. Romans 10:9-10 does not help your cause because it teaches the one who confesses and believes results in righteousness and salvation. The good news is that his work is finished on the cross and it obtained eternal redemption and perfected us. There is no evidence in scripture of a continuing incarnation where people are meriting increases of justice and grace thru work and sacraments. There are only 4 verses on the Lord’s supper in the Epistles, yet Rome makes the bread of the supper the sacrifice for their sins. And Dave Anders will tell you it is a real and proper sacrifice for sins. Jim, He is seated high above heaven and earth and left us with the Spirit. Revelations 1:17 says He was dead and now He lives forever more. The church sings the amen and witnesses to the accomplished work of Christ. No one is qualified to mediate their own sins or to help Him complete what is only His , incarnation and atonement. He is an eternal victim in Rome, still on the cross, not Lord and Savior. God Bless

  256. Dave, Only in regards to justification. Works are the result of saving faith and not the condition of it. I appreciate your attempt to distinguish works of law and RROTL. But it is a mute point. Paul excludes all works, even righteous deeds, and so did Clement Bishop of Rome.

  257. Dave, We point to Romans 5:12-19, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 corinthians 5:21, Jeremiah 23, Romans 8:1-4. The scripture teaches that the righteousness that come form God thru faith is a righteousness not our own, but an alien righteous, namely the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ. It is clearly taught in scripture. As clearly as the Trinity. You cannot take 2 corinthians 5:21 and say that Christ becomes sin inherently and we become the righteousness of God inherently. It must be imputation, thats what the text teaches. Hebrews said He was obedient unto death. He was born under the Law to redeem those who were under the law. God does not help us to achieve His favor with His help, but He lived the Law in our place and fulfilled all righteousness. Thanks Dave. You have to be one of the nicer catholics I’ve met. Great demeanor.

  258. Kevin,

    Works are the result of saving faith and not the condition of it.

    Have I said anywhere that works are the condition of saving faith?

    I appreciate your attempt to distinguish works of law and RROTL. But it is a mute point.

    No, it is essential to know what Paul means by these terms.

    Paul excludes all works, even righteous deeds, and so did Clement Bishop of Rome.

    yes. So does the Catholic Church. God does not give us the grace of justification because we have done righteous deeds. Again, we don’t disagree about this. We disagree about what happens when we are justified. Are we made righteous, or are we merely imputed righteous? This difference cannot be resolved simply by citing bible verses. It requires an argument about the meaning of those verses. Catholics affirm every verse in St. Paul’s corpus. The Catholic Church canonized those texts! That is not at issue.

    -David

    -David

  259. Kevin,

    Thanks for your contributions…

    Works are the result of saving faith and not the condition of it.

    I would say that works perfect one’s faith… (St. James 2:22), but I would also say that these things don’t obligate God to save anyone like a wage for being emplyed and completing tasks… “the whole operation pertains to grace.”

    IC XC
    Christopher

  260. Kevin,

    To be justified means to be saved, right? To be saved is NOT always in the past tense.
    You asked for a verse proving Charity justifies. How about Romans 5:5?

    You know Kevin, the concept of God being Love was strange to the pagans. For them, God was loved and attracted men who need God. They also thought the earth attracted objects by way of love. This is how they defined gravity. Material objects desired union with the earth and fell towards it. Love was attraction to fulfill a lack.
    Since God was complete, he needed nothing and therefore did not love anyone or anything.

    The Revelation of the Trinity, that the Father was eternally begetting the Son and the Son proceeding begotten strange enough although they had an idea of sorts of the Logos. Especially strange was the Love between the Father and the Son spirating into the Person of the Holy Ghost.

    This Holy Ghost never comes without producing Charity in the soul and we never have Charity if the Holy Ghost is absent. And if we have one person of the Trinity we have all three.

    You asked for a verse. I gave you Romans 5:5. No imputation but an actual indwelling.
    (PS none of your verses proved your position ).

  261. Kevin,
    You make it hard to respond because you suddenly jumped from talking about how we increase in grace/justification to impugning the Mass.
    I will stay with the original topic.

    How do we grow in grace? James 2:25 speaks about Abraham being justified by sacrificing Isaac ( Gen 22 )..
    We know this is not initial justification because because he was already justified in Gen 15. We also know that this is not a penitential restoration to lost justification as the good work of sacrificing Isaac is just that, a work. Works alone do not save. Yet the text says Abraham was justified. IOW, he was further justified.
    This goes counter to the idea that justification is a one time event. We grow and increase in justice/holiness by good works. Bad works ( sins ) can cost us salvation. ( What would have happened if Abraham had refused to sacrifice his son?)
    Since the Eucharist is Christ, the source of all grace, we increase in grace through worthy reception of the Sacrament.

  262. Christopher, thanks also for your input. I would ask you to consider this Romans 6:23, 5:17 calls it the free gift of eternal life, and the free gift of righteousness. If God gave grace in response to an action or an ability it wouldn’t be a gift, but a reward. In Rome grace is a Reward. You do your level best and God gives you grace. But the scripture is very clear that all of salvation is of God as a gift, and not a reward. “not that of yourselves” ” not of works” If a person looks to anything or trusts in anything other than Christ alone and His righteousness, IMHO they will not be saved according to Scripture. We aren’t justified by faith as its is activated by our love, doing, being. IOW faith doesn’t have a virtue tied to it that merits the acceptance of God. But in Rome that isn’t the case. Dave says no, but IMHO church doctrine says yes. God Bless thanks for the discussion.

  263. Kevin,
    You asked me for some verses so I guess I can ask you for some. Where does the Bible say Christ kept the law in our place? Not simply by being born under the law.
    Why would He? We are not saved by Law keeping, are we? Paul says in Galatians 3 that we aren’t.

    Where does the Bible say works are a ( necessary or automatic ) result of justification? The Bible exhorts believers to work, obey, and persevere. This sure seems strange if holy living, good works and obedience are sure to follow upon justification.

    Kevin, we are saved by being In Christ. And He being in us. He is vine and we the branches. It is an actual ( not imputed 0 union. This is accomplished by the Sacramental character of Baptism and sanctifying grace.

  264. Dave said, God does not give us the grace of justification because we have righteous deeds.” Are you saying you don’t earn a merit by doing good works, or a sacrament which entitles you to more grace and justice? Is grace not the means of exchange on the church merit system? Do you not earn increase in grace and justice at the Mass. Is it not historically referred to by Rome as ” the work of the people”? This was a big deal for the Reformers who considered Roman sacraments ex opere operato a violation of jbfa. Ex opere operato means by the working of the works correct?

  265. Dave, you said the Catholic church canonized those versus. Lets be frank, Luther was the first to exegete Justification in the church.

  266. Kevin,

    Dave said, God does not give us the grace of justification because we have righteous deeds.” Are you saying you don’t earn a merit by doing good works

    I am saying that we do not earn the grace of justification by doing good deeds. The Council of Trent said, “justification must proceed from the predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits on their part, they are called.”

    But I am also saying that the justified may increase in grace and sanctification by their willing participation and that they will be rewarded for that participation in this life and the next life.

  267. Kevin,

    Thanks for continuing the discussion.

    To repeat. God does not pay us salvation as some kind of owed wage in Catholic teaching. Like Dr. Anders explained, by grace we are saved… our capacity to experience of being partakers of the Divine Nature can increase (which is also grace).

    If Luther was the first to exegete the “doctrine on which the Church stands or falls” correctly… I feel well justified that my suspicions thereof are healthy ones.

    IC XC

  268. Kevin:

    Dave, you said the Catholic church canonized those versus. Lets be frank, Luther was the first to exegete Justification in the church.

    I said the Catholic Church canonized these letters of St. Paul, i.e. declared them to be sacred scripture.

    If you mean that Luther was the first one to articulate justification as justification by faith alone through the imputed righteousness of Christ . . .

    I could not possibly agree with you any more. Luther was absolutely, unambiguously, without a doubt, clearly, manifestly, obviously, significantly, totally, uniquely, and emphatically THE FIRST person in the whole history of Christianity East and West ever to describe justification in these terms. His doctrine was, as the Protestant McGrath put it, a “complete theological novum” in the history of Christianity.

    I am glad we see eye to eye on that point.

    -David

  269. Dave, one man’s novum is another man’s gospel. We would say the medieval Roman Gospel of (7)sacramental efficacy up in the place of the atonement is the novum. Thanks

  270. Bryan #192:

    Relying upon this from my #188:

    1. His failure to understand the Hebrew behind sdq and related Hebrew concepts for “justice” and “righteousness” in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

    2. This word group is then translated into the Greek; the original meanings are contained in the translated terms, but the terms in Greek culture acquire new meanings.

    3. Augustine relies on the equivocated Greek meanings (extant in later Greek culture, but not found in the original Hebrew) in his writings rather than the original (Hebrew) concepts.

    4. By the time these verses are translated into the Latin, they have meanings that are entirely different from what they originally meant in Hebrew.

    5. Thus, the Latin-speaking world is treated, via Augustine, to a concept of “justification” that simply is not derived from the knowledge of the Old Testament God.

    You say:

    The fifth premise does not follow from the first four. Just because one does not know Hebrew, it does not follow that one has no knowledge of the “Old Testament God.” So that argument is a non sequitur.

    Not so. The first four not simply a reporting of what happened when Augustine, a teacher, “not knowning Hebrew”, articulated his doctrine of justification. The first four are a reporting (by McGrath) of a textbook case of equivocation, at two levels (both Hebrew to Greek and then Greek to Latin).

    #5 is not the conclusion to an argument. It is yet another statement of fact. Augustine, because of his influence, caused a major equivocation to be spread through western Christian doctrine.

    But more importantly, the argument you are trying to construct presupposes that the only way to know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification is by knowing Hebrew.

    That’s not the case. But it is the case that such a major equivocation as the one that Augustine put into circulation caused major problems.

    If, for example, (speaking hypothetically) there was a direct chain of reliable oral transmission from the Apostles to St. Augustine, concerning the doctrine of justification, then even if St. Augustine did not know Hebrew, he would know the Apostolic doctrine of justification.

    You are correct. This is merely “hypothetical”.

    And what you are doing here is excusing an actual equivocation, and hoping to excuse it with a hypothetical.

    Of course, I can’t “prove” such a thing didn’t happen (as improbable as it was — given that “reliable oral transmission” can’t even happen in a room with 30 people transmitting a short message within 10 minutes). It will be called “an argument from silence”. But how much “argument from silence” does there have to be before actual silence is admitted?

    But nor can you prove that it did happen. You merely presuppose that such a thing existed.

    The actual fact is, if we deal in “actual facts,” there simply is no evidence of a “reliable Oral transmission”. Yves Congar traced 8 (and only 8) practices from the first or second century into the fourth century. Not a whiff of a single doctrine being “reliably orally transmitted”.

    So the hidden premise doing all the work in your argument is a premise claiming that the only way to know the Apostles’ doctrine of justification is by knowing the Old Testament in Hebrew.

    I’ve already denied this is the case, and you have not proved your case. The “presupposition” in my argument is that McGrath correctly articulated how Augustine (however inadvertently) equivocated on Hebrew words as they were translated two degrees from Hebrew to Greek and then from Greek to Latin (and then from the mistranslations into Latin into Augustine’s articulation of a doctrine).

    In fact, knowing the Old Testament in Hebrew IS a good thing, and equivocation is a bad thing. Equivocation in a logical argument is enough to invalidate the whole argument.

    And yet, you accept this equivocation on the strength of a true “non-sequitur” — that there really was a (hypothetical) “reliable oral transmission from the Apostles” for which there is absolutely no evidence.

    And that’s not only a question-begging premise (for reasons laid out in “The Tradition or the Lexicon“) but one that is problematic as well, because it would imply that in order for the Apostles to teach their doctrine of justification to the first generation of Christians, they would first have had to teach all these early Christians to read the Old Testament in Hebrew.

    This is a silly reductio.

    I’ve addressed your article “Tradition and the Lexicon“. I’ve reproduced some of it here. I said:

    By standards that Beale relates, there may be more than 4,000 “allusions” or “echoes” of the Old Testament found within the New. Given that there are 7956 verses in the New Testament, more than half the New Testament can be seen as bearing at least some form of “echo of” or “allusion to” some Old Testament concept or idea.

    Thus, when a New Testament writer talks of “tradition” “handed down (παρέδοσαν) to him by “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word”, which in Luke 1:2 is a clear reference to the apostles, the “content” of that “tradition” was oozing with Old Testament words and concepts.

    What you disdainfully call “The Lexicon” was the language that the Apostles lived and breathed.

    It would thus entail a massive automatic apostasy (inasmuch as the doctrine of justification is the doctrine on which the Church stands or falls) in the first century as soon as the gospel reached persons who did not speak Hebrew and did not learn Hebrew.

    This is ridiculous at so many levels.

    First, your use of “the doctrine on which the Church stands or falls) is a pure anachronism. First you espouse equivocation, and now you actually rely on anachronism.

    Second, given that I (and Reformed believers generally) believe in the monergism and the sovereignty of God, you appeal to “entailment” is defeated right there. A person “not knowing Hebrew” does not in any way prevent God from effecting a monergistic

    Third, God does not require a comprehensive knowledge of how a doctrine works in order to perform his saving work.

    In this way your presupposition makes learning Hebrew a prerequisite for becoming Christian (and for catechizing one’s children into the Christian faith), more so than even Arabic is thought to be necessary for becoming Islam, and limits the spread of Christianity only to persons who know Hebrew. Your argument thus imposes the lexical paradigm on St. Augustine, and in this way begs the question by presupposing (a) the non-existence of a community passing on the Tradition, and (b) that a necessary condition for coming to know the truth about the Apostles’ doctrine of justification (and thus about the gospel) is by way of exegeting the Hebrew Old Testament.

    You continue to compound your fallacy here. I can impose nothing upon Augustine (anachronism), and nor does my reporting of this equivocation (a) deny the community, (b) force the knowledge of Hebrew upon anyone.

  271. Dave you said ” but I’m also saying that the justified may also increase in grace and sanctification( you mean justification) by their willing participation, and they will be rewarded by that participation in this life and the next life.” So what is the difference if you are initially justified by grace apart from works but additional justification is merited? Romans 11:6, Ephesians 2:8 among so many other verses do not allow for merited installments of justification. Its either all by grace alone thru faith alone in Christ alone, or it is not. Romans 4:16 says if a Catholic wants to be saved by grace alone, it will have to be by faith alone. And Dave, this whole thing about this is the way the church has always been is not true. You and I both know that both the Reformed and RC claim the fathers and History. Dave I have a very serious question for you. Would you know the antichrist if you saw it? Would you recognize the man of perdition who puts himself up as God in the church as Paul says in Thessalonians , that he says is already at work? The fathers to the one worried that the apostasy would come and they wouldn’t recognize it? Would you or I? I invite you to read Tim Kauffman’s article ” The Rise of roman Catholicism” I think you would find it interesting. Other than that Dave you are a brilliant man with whom I have enjoyed this exchange. Thank you for your thoughtful answers and God Bless your family. K

  272. Christopher, thank you also for the exchange.

  273. Jim (re: 263)

    You wrote to Kevin:
    Where does the Bible say Christ kept the law in our place? Not simply by being born under the law.
    Why would He? We are not saved by Law keeping, are we? Paul says in Galatians 3 that we aren’t

    Response:
    Christ, who was born under the Law, kept the precepts and endured the penal threats of curse and death. “In our place” is signified by these words:

    …born under the law, to redeem those under the law…Gal.4

    R L Dabney asked the right questions: By what fair interpretation can it be shown that the law under which He was made to redeem us, included nothing but the penal threatenings? “To redeem us who were under the law.” Were we under no part of it but the threats?

  274. Dr. Anders,

    I wanted to say…

    I could not possibly agree with you any more. Luther was absolutely, unambiguously, without a doubt, clearly, manifestly, obviously, significantly, totally, uniquely, and emphatically THE FIRST person in the whole history of Christianity East and West ever to describe justification in these terms. His doctrine was, as the Protestant McGrath put it, a “complete theological novum” in the history of Christianity.

    I read this more than once I agreed with it so much… ;)

    IC XC
    <

  275. John Bugay (#270 and earlier):

    While I respect the scholarship that goes into trying to reconstruct the nuances of words at two-to-three thousand years’ remove, a text of limited length is simply never going to convey the wealth of meaning and understood nuance and context that oral transmission conveys, nor with the reliability of oral transmission.

    For this reason, I think the more reliable rule-of-thumb for “reconstructing” ancient Christianity is: Rely on (informed, scholarly, arduously-assembled, respectable) speculations about the meanings of words and how they change over time only if you must.

    And “only if you must” means: “only if there isn’t a robust, documented chain of oral transmission you can use as a CHECKSUM, so-to-speak, at various points in time along the way. If there is a robust and documented chain of oral transmission, then it makes more sense to prefer that over a process of “lexicographical archaeology,” because it is more reliable. Indeed, it provides you the Answer Key In The Back Of The Book, so-to-speak, against which you can check your forays in lexicography to see how accurate they turned out to be.”

    (I don’t know if you know what I mean by the word “checksum.” It’s an Internet term: When a message is sent from Computer A to Computer B, it is broken into packets; each of these carries part of the message plus a checksum which is a “hash” of the content of that packet created by processing the content of the packet through a mathematical algorithm. The “hash” algorithm has the following property: Two messages with slightly different contents produce radically different “hashes.” When a packet arrives at Computer B, Computer B does not automatically trust it. Instead, it looks at the contents and “hashes” them, and compares the “hash” of what it received to the “hash” generated by Computer A of the same packet. If the two “hashes” are different, then Computer B knows that the content of the packet was corrupted or altered en route; Computer B reacts to this by ignoring the corrupted packet and sending a message asking Computer A to re-transmit it.)

    I reiterate the fundamental principle: oral transmission of certain kinds is highly accurate.

    There is, of course, a kind of oral transmission which is not reliable, and you reference it: The “game of telephone,” in which each person in a circle must quickly whisper a message to the next, in such a way that no other can hear it, and the next does the same to the person after him, and so on.

    The reason this very unusual form of oral transmission is unreliable is: When the message passes from A to B, and then from B to C…

    – A is not allowed to repeat himself to B;
    – B is not allowed to ask A whether he got it right;
    – A is not allowed to wait until he is sure that B got it right before appointing B to pass the message on to C;
    – A is not allowed to listen to what B is saying to C, to make sure he is saying it right.

    Thus a game of “telephone” produces errors.

    But imagine how the game of “telephone” would be if B was allowed to spend months with A, conversing about the message.

    Imagine how the game would play out if B wasn’t allowed to talk to C until and unless A felt so confident that B had the message down pat that A was willing to appoint B to an office of leadership in an organization that existed for the purpose of propagating the message.

    Imagine how the game would play out if, for months or years, A could remain in a supervisory role while watching B deliver the same message to C and D and E, to make sure nothing was getting changed over time.

    And imagine the results if all this happened in a culture where there was a strong tradition of oral memorization, and no Internet Blogs (!) or Smartphone Apps to distract the participants.

    Is there any doubt that the game would be…well, no fun? Because the message would be transmitted entirely without those funny distortions which make the usual version of the game amusing?

    But these, of course, are exactly the circumstances under which the Apostolic Tradition was passed from the Apostles to the earliest bishops like Polycarp and Ignatius and Clement, and from them to their successors like Irenaeus.

    And of course it was how it was handed from Jesus to the Apostles, with the exclusion of Paul — but let us assume that this very mystical special case received a transmission equally clear.

    At any rate, this method of transmitting what is meant by a word — by using it in context until it becomes part of one’s workaday vocabulary, in an organization dedicated to preserving the message of which that word was part — is a far more reliable way for a man to know the meaning of a word, than is the practice of lexicographical spelunking.

    I don’t mean to discount the real effort, perhaps even the genius, that these men put into trying to derive what these words meant, and into discovering whether they meant the same things in various times and places.

    But the oral tradition — of the type by which Irenaeus received the Apostolic Faith from Polycarp, and he from John, and John from Jesus — simply provides a richer and more certain way to receive the “fullness of the faith.” By comparison, any attempt to reconstruct the faith — at a remove of more than a thousand years, and over the wider gulf of drastic cultural change — from mere textual analysis will produce…well, will produce a lot of widely-varying notions of what the original message was, and when it comes to scholarly research into this or that term, “two of a trade will never agree.” (Well…not “never.” But very very far from “always.”)

    So I think your methodology — relying on McGrath, et alia, to have discovered in their text-based reconstructions of the faith things which somehow escaped the notice of men who spent months or years learning it (and many more years practicing it) from men who spent months or years learning it from the Apostles is just plain backwards. Instead of using it for Topic X because the Fathers are silent about Topic X, you’re using it when the Fathers are not silent about Topic X to try to prove the Fathers wrong about Topic X.

    That’s like wanting to know the worldview of the Ramnulfid family in Acquitaine in the year 1100, and trying to figure it out by working backwards from a collection of modern and ancient French-English dictionaries…all the while ignoring that you have a thousand pages collected from the personal diaries of that family’s children and grandchildren including Elanor of Acquitaine and William III and Adelaide and Hugh Capet. And then, when you come up with a theory you’re fond of, you want to argue that Elanor and Bill and Adelaide and Hugh have it all wrong…?

    In all of this, I’m not mentioning the fact that, when I first read the quotes from McGrath about how the Hebrews viewed sedaqa or saddiq, it seemed as if you were trying to argue for the Catholic view of righteousness or justification over and against the Protestant! Certainly I was unable, from what you cited, to find anything that wasn’t amenable to the faith as I know it. I certainly didn’t see how your accusation against Augustine followed from them. But that kind of thing is more up Bryan and David’s alleys, so perhaps they can say more.

    But I thought I should comment on your overall procedure and how very backwards it seems to me, preferring what is less-reliable, more prone to scholarly error, over-and-above the very evidence that those scholars ought to be using to check their work.

    They ought to say, “If I had been asked to sum up certain theological topics on the basis of my reading of the Bible, I would never have described it the way I find Origen, Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Athanasius, Irenaeus, Clement, Ignatius, and the rest of these fellows do. Sure, they disagree — with no clear majority — in some areas or are silent about others: Those are the points where I am forced to rely on my own best reading. And there are some areas where my Bible-reading produces the same resulting expressions of faith as they use…which means I must have read correctly. But in areas where their view disagrees with my own, unanimously or nearly-so, I am forced to conclude that no matter how clever my own exegesis and how ample my scholarly resources, I am probably missing something.”

  276. Hi all, I just wanted to give a long, long quote (if the moderator permits—if he does not permit I surely will understand.) This is in regard to John Bugay’s reference to McGrath’s topic of dikaiow and why his statements may not be true. I thought this might feed discussion and thought processes ;-):

    First, without reservation, the New Testament authors use the dikaioo cognates to translate the Hebrew and Septuagint cognates. These translations occur in many non-justification contexts (i.e., “non-imputation” contexts).

    For example, in 2 Cor. 9:9 Paul cites a quotation from Psalm 112:9 and uses the Greek dikaiosune to translate the Hebrew feminine noun tsadaqah (which the LXX also translates as dikaiosune). The context of 2 Cor. 9:9-10 concerns liberal giving, both of God and men, to those in need.

    Thus, contrary to McGrath’s thesis, dikaiosune is understood as that which is inherent within both God and man due to the good they have done. Similarly, Hebrews 1:9 uses dikaiosune to translate the Hebrew male noun tsadaq in Psalm 45:7 (of which the LXX uses dikaiosune) and speaks of the inherent righteousness of Christ. (The relevance of the LXX may be even more significant here since Hebrews 1:6 is quoted by Paul directly from the LXX).

    In addition, 1 Peter 3:12 uses dikaioo to translate the Hebrew adjective tsadeek of Psalm 34:15 (of which the LXX usesdikaious). The context of 1 Peter 3:12 regards righteous individuals as inherently righteous, for it is they who “turn from evil to do good” and “seek peace and pursue it.” Similarly, Hebrews 11:7 uses dikaiosune to describe the righteousness of Noah, translating the Hebrew adjective tsadeek in Genesis 7:1 which refers to God seeing Noah as inherently righteous for his goodness in the midst of the wicked people of his day.

    We should also add that Scripture does not support McGrath’s assessment of the Greek word axioo to refer only to the estimation of an individual rather than his merit (which he distinguishes from the Latin notion of merit that gives the individual the “right” of the third party estimation, i.e., because he is deserving of it). The New Testament uses axioo not only in considering someone worthy but also in recognizing someone worthy because he is actually worthy. For example, Hebrews 3:3 uses axioo in reference to Christ’s worthiness: “Jesus has been counted worthy of greater honor than Moses…” This is a common usage of axioo and its cognates in the New Testament (cf., 1 Thess. 1:11; 1 Tim. 5:17; Col 1:10; et al).

    Thus we see that Dr. Horton relies on faulty information in the analysis of Alister McGrath.
    …………………………..
    ) Has any Catholic theologian ever contested that dikaiow and its derivatives are totally void or incapable of being used in a legal sense? No, never. There were various instances in which the Greeks used the word in legal contexts. Paul could have done the same thing, if he desired to do so. But that just begs the question: DID he do so? Take the word “marriage,” for example. Is that a legal term or a personal term? It can be either, depending on the context in which it is placed. When applying for a marriage license, or when in divorce court, the word “marriage” becomes very legal, does it not? But when a husband loves his wife (as opposed to merely giving her food, clothing and shelter) is “marriage” merely a legal term? No, certainly not. It takes on a whole new meaning that law knows nothing about, for law can’t love. Only people who make a personal commitment of trust and care can love each other.

    In the same way, Protestants think that just because they can find some examples where Greek culture used dikaiow in a legal sense that this automatically allows them to conclude that Paul is using it thusly, and, in fact, is confined to such a meaning in the New Testament. It is the all-or-nothing meaning that Protestants attempt to assign to dikaiow that is the problem. They tell us that it can ONLY refer to legal matters, and thus Paul is forced to use it forensically. But they have never proven this. They have never shown that dikaiow has such an exclusive meaning in Greek, nor have they produced a clear passage of Scripture which shows that Paul used dikaiow forensically, and only forensically. What they have done is give a lot of misinformation about dikaiow and Paul’s use of the term in the New Testament, not the least of which is Dr. Horton’s attempt below.

    The verbal ending of dikaiow is declarative; if the biblical writers intended by “justification” a process of moral transformation, there is a perfectly good verbal ending for that sort of thing in Greek: adzo rather than ow. For instance, “to make holy” is translated from the Greek verb, “hagiodzo,” and this word is never rendered “to justify.” When the biblical writers refer to justification, they use the declarative ending; when they refer to sanctification, they use the progressive ending. If it is good enough of a distinction for the biblical writers themselves, surely we should have not trouble with the Bible’s own language.

    6) Although Protestants have touted the ow ending as being exclusively forensic, the reality is that this is simply not true. We can find disproof for Dr. Horton’s contention in one of the very Protestant sources Dr. Horton admires. Philip Schaff, for example, says “Modern exegesis has justified this view of dikaiow and dikaiowsis, according to Hellenistic usage.” and then Schaff makes the admission: “.although etymologically the verb may mean to make just, i.e., to sanctify, in accordance with verbs in ow (e.g., delow, phanerow, tuphow, to make manifest, etc.” (History of the Christian Church, Vol. VII, f. 2, p. 123).

    A study of these three NT words confirms Schaff’s admission. The word delow appears seven times in the epistles, all of which denote a recognition of an actual manifestation (e.g., 1 Cor 3:13; Col 1:8); phenerow appears fifty times, denoting the same (e.g., 1 Cor 4:5; 1 Tim 3:16); tuphow is used three times, referring to an actual blindness (John 12:40).

    We also have the witness of M. J. LaGrange stating: “First, we should not that verbs in ow mean to make whatever the root indicates. Thus dikaiow would properly mean “make just” (La Justification selon saint Paul, RB 1914, 121, cited by C. Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, 1995, 1:341).

    Protestants attempt to defend their forensic use of dikaiow by appealing to equally dubious definitions of associated words. For example, Protestants attempt to support an exclusively forensic meaning to dikaiow by appealing to the Greek word logizomai, normally translated as “credited” or “reckoned” in modern translations (cf., Romans 4:3). As taken from pages 324-325 of NBFA, here is what happens when they do so:

    “This matter concerns the use of the Greek word logizomai, translated as ‘reckoned,’ ‘credited,’ ‘accepted,’ ‘counted,’ ‘considered.’.Protestant exegesis, especially that of Romans 4 where the Greek word logizomai appears twelve times, has consistently understood the word in the sense of ‘credited.’.Abraham is understood as one who has ‘something to his credit’ so that when God looks at his ledger book, as it were, he sees that, in accounting terms, Abraham is in the black.

    Evangelical Joel Beeke comments on this verb:

    ‘This verb most often indicates ‘what a person, considered by himself, is not, or does not have, but is reckoned, held or regarded to be, or to have. It is clear then that when Abraham was justified by his faith, the righteousness which was reckoned or ‘charged to his account’ was a righteousness not his own but that of another, namely, the righteousness of Christ.’

    Unfortunately, Beeke presents a false premise which leads a false conclusion. First, the Greek verb logizomai does not ‘most often indicate’ what someone or something is merely ‘considered’ to be but is not so in reality. The New Testament uses logizomai 41 times. Most of these refer to what someone is thinking as a mental representation of the reality they are witnessing (cf., Luke 22:37; Rom 3:28; 6:11; 9:8; 1 Cor 4:1; 13:5, 11; Phil 3:13; 4:8; Heb 11:19, et al). Contrary to Beeke’s proposition, in only a few instances is logizomai used as a mental representation of something that does not exist in reality (cf., Rom 2:26; 2 Cor 12:6).

    Hence, the preponderant evidence shows that logizomai denotes more of what is recognized or understood intrinsically of a person or thing than a mere crediting to the person or thing something that is not intrinsic to it. In the case of Abraham, we can then understand the phrase “his faith is reckoned as righteousness” in Romans 4:3 such that God is recognizing or viewing Abraham’s faith as righteousness.This is very different from saying, as Beeke claims, that God ‘credited’ Abraham with righteousness as if to say that Abraham was not really showing any righteous qualities when he demonstrated his faith but that God, because of the alien righteousness of Christ, merely gave him the label of righteousness.’

    I recommend to the reader that he consult pages 324-354 in Not By Faith Alone to see all the arguments refuting the contention of Dr. Horton that dikaiow is exclusively forensic.

    end of quote

  277. David Anders, (# 268)

    Hi David, you wrote:

    I said the Catholic Church canonized these letters of St. Paul, i.e. declared them to be sacred scripture.

    Wrong, the early church or “catholic church” (But not Roman Catholic Church) recognized and discerned the letters of Paul that already existed and were already God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) as soon as they were written between 49-67 AD, and because they were already God-breathed, therefore infallible and inerrant, they were already the standard/criterion/rule /principle (original meaning of κανων). The early church recognized and discerned and discovered them as canonical Scripture, because they already had the internal quality of God-breathed-ness. Their declaration did not make them canon.

  278. Folks,

    I fear I’ve let the conversation move a bit far afield from the topic at hand: The Witness of the Lost Christianties.

    Lexical and exegetical questions about St. Paul and Augustine and the canon question are only very tangentially related to whether or not Syrian, Coptic, Persian, Armenian, or Malabar Christianity supports a Protestant interpretation of Scripture.

    All the topics under discussion are interesting and important. However, I think they should be directed to relevant links on the site.
    I apologize. My fault. I let the cat out of the bag on this one.

    A few suggestions for further discussion:

    On the meaning of dikaio:

    On the Canon Question:

    The Doctrine of Salvation in antiquity

    Imputation vs. Infusion:

    St. Augustine on Law and Grace

    Thank you for your cooperation. Hopefully, this will enable us to tighten the discussion and maintain focus.

    -David

  279. Getting back to the issue of “Lost Christianities” – I have noticed in looking at blogs about the current problems with the Jihadist Militant Muslim group I.S.I.S. / D.A.Esh / IS (Islamic State) – several Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Roman Catholics have been saying, generally, things like “we lost our civilization”, and “the west better wake up or they will loose theirs too”, etc.

    I repeat again that several of the big reasons for that was

    1. The Church as a whole had “left / neglected/ abandoned its first love” (Revelation 2:4-5) just as Ephesus had done; which includes the neglect of Christ Himself and His Love first, rather than our love for Him. His love for us is what motivates and gives power for us to love Him and love others. The emphasis on works-righteousness and moral renovation, exalting virginity over marriage, mortification, asceticism like Simon Stylites (clear violations of Colossians 2:10-23), fastings, penances, works, almsgiving, praying to the dead and visiting graves and holy sites as somehow gaining merit and grace by touching them and staring at them, icons, deification, etc. – these things eclipsed the purity of the gospel message in the NT about grace, forgiveness of sins, justification, acceptance by God as motivation for growth in holiness and sanctification, etc. That emphasis of the early church eclipsed the Scriptures and justification by faith alone.

    2. The exaltation of Mary beyond what she really is – a godly woman, a believer, but a sinner; not to be prayed to or prayed to in prayer. This was obviously why Muhammad of Islam misunderstood Christianity, the phrase “the Son of God”, the phrase “Mother of God”, the Deity of Christ, and the Trinity. Surah 5:72-75, 5:116; 6:101; 112; 19:88-92 – if you look at the Qur’an and what it says, it it obvious that Muhammad and the Arabs and the early Muslims thought that Christianity was teaching that “Father” and “Son” meant that God had a sexual relationship with Mary and procreated Jesus (like Mormonism); and that the Trinity was “three gods” and that Mary was “The Mother of God”, one of the Trinity. That is the impression that Muhammad and the other Arabs got from the church at the time (from Hadith collections and Islamic commentaries for many centuries even after Qur’an), filled with nominalism, and the heretical sects of Monophysites (Copts, Jacobite Assyrians, and Aremian Orthodox Church) and also from the Assyrian Nestorians that were in Mesoptamia and N. Persia, and the nominal groups that were Chalcedonian and in unity with Rome and Constantinople.

    Even today, most Muslims STILL understand Christiantiy as this way because of the icons, statues of Mary, and people praying in front of them to Mary and kissing them and bowing down, etc. We can find pictures of John Paul 2 and Benedict XVI doing the same thing in front of massive statues of Mary. The whole thing is a very bad witness and a violation of the second commandment and a scandal against Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 15:20-21, etc. All the churches that you are claiming are the same in basic things are all giving a bad witness to the Muslim world and have been for centuries. It is the Protestant Evangelicals who actually go into Muslim communities and seek to witness and emphasize the Scriptures in their own languages rather than the closed communities of speaking Assyrian, Armenian, Coptic, etc. and not reaching out in Arabic, Farsi, or Turkish, etc.

    I understand the feelings of those inward communities who have been persecuted and I feel for them; and pray for them and sincerely hope they are rescued from the barbarism of these Jihadists Muslims. (and for other religions like the Yazidis also) But they (The Christian groups) need to get back to the Bible and stop the Mary emphasis and external works and priestly rituals as the emphasis.

    3. The early church did not translate the Scriptures into Arabic (900s AD) or Farsi( process from 1812-1900s) or Turkish until it was too late.

    4. The harsh policies of the Chalcedonian (451 AD, which I agree with on the 2 natures of Christ, as all Biblical Protestants do) – but the idea of enforcing dogma on the populations of the east in Egypt (Coptic Church) and Jacobite-Syrian Church and the Armenian Church, set up a resentment and bitterness in these communities that “they at first welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators from the Byzantine oppressors”. But later, they were decived and the Arabs stayed as conquerors and forced the Christians to pay the Jiziye (Surah 9:28-29) and be Dhimmis (“protected”, in reality aggreed to be conquered and humiliated second class citizens) and humiliated and they could not evangelize or build new churches.

  280. Should have been
    about Mary –

    “not to be prayed to or praised in prayer. “

  281. John (re: #270)

    You wrote:

    Not so. The first four not simply a reporting of what happened when Augustine, a teacher, “not knowning Hebrew”, articulated his doctrine of justification. The first four are a reporting (by McGrath) of a textbook case of equivocation, at two levels (both Hebrew to Greek and then Greek to Latin).

    #5 is not the conclusion to an argument. It is yet another statement of fact. Augustine, because of his influence, caused a major equivocation to be spread through western Christian doctrine.

    If #5 is not the conclusion to an argument, then necessarily it does not follow from the first four premises. If none of the five propositions are conclusions, then there is no argument in those five propositions. And if #5 *were* claimed to be the conclusion of the argument, it would not follow formally from the first four premises, as even my beginning logic students would be able to point out. (But normally one does not begin a non-conclusion with a logical operator like “thus.”)

    I had written:

    But more importantly, the argument you are trying to construct presupposes that the only way to know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification is by knowing Hebrew.

    You replied:

    That’s not the case.

    Merely gainsaying my claim does not falsify it. I explained why the argument you are attempting to construct presupposes this. You have not yet provided an argument having as its conclusion the claim you made in #171: “Augustine built his doctrine of justification upon a translation error.” Making use of a translation in which a term does not have the same meaning as a document from which it is translated, does not entail building one’s doctrine on this semantic discrepancy, because one may have received one’s doctrine from other sources besides the translated document in question.

    And what you are doing here is excusing an actual equivocation, and hoping to excuse it with a hypothetical.

    No, only explaining why the conclusion of the argument you were trying to make does not follow from the premises you provided.

    But nor can you prove that it did happen. You merely presuppose that such a thing existed.

    No, again, I was only showing why the conclusion of the argument you were trying to make does not follow from the premises you provided.

    I had written:

    So the hidden premise doing all the work in your argument is a premise claiming that the only way to know the Apostles’ doctrine of justification is by knowing the Old Testament in Hebrew.

    To which you replied:

    I’ve already denied this is the case, and you have not proved your case.

    You can deny it all day, but that doesn’t falsify it. In order to falsify it, you would need to show that your conclusion follows even if this presupposition is false.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  282. Ken, regarding comment #277, I posted a question for you here: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/01/the-canon-question/comment-page-16/#comment-119594

  283. Bryan 281:

    I had written:

    But more importantly, the argument you are trying to construct presupposes that the only way to know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification is by knowing Hebrew.

    You replied:

    That’s not the case.

    Merely gainsaying my claim does not falsify it. I explained why the argument you are attempting to construct presupposes this. You have not yet provided an argument having as its conclusion the claim you made in #171: “Augustine built his doctrine of justification upon a translation error.” Making use of a translation in which a term does not have the same meaning as a document from which it is translated, does not entail building one’s doctrine on this semantic discrepancy, because one may have received one’s doctrine from other sources besides the translated document in question.

    It is not true – I do not presuppose that “the only way to know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification is knowing Hebrew”.

    Here, you have set up a false dilemma, putting me in a position to defend “the only way”.

    However one comes to “know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification”, however, one MUST know the Hebrew concept

    It is possible to know “the concept” while not actually understanding the Hebrew.

    And “the concept” is important because that is what is in Paul, the Hebrew’s mind, as he relates these words.

  284. John, (re: #283)

    However one comes to “know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification”, however, one MUST know the Hebrew concept

    There is the problematic and question-begging assumption right there, for reasons I explained in #204.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  285. Bryan (regarding 281 and 284):

    I want to clarify that you facile appeal to “begging the question” here does not refer to the fact that anything I have said is wrong or invalid. It means that you just simply ignore what I say without even looking at it. Your common usage for this is simply that you don’t agree with a premise that analyzes a complex situation like this one outside of what you believe to be “Roman Catholic Tradition”.

    However, there are readers who will look at what I’ve presented, and they will wonder why “Roman Catholic Tradition” gets to trump a linguistic and historical analysis such as the one that McGrath has given.

    One answer will be simply that this analysis doesn’t arrive at Roman Catholic conclusions – or more specifically, that it doesn’t arrive at the conclusion that you personally want it to arrive at.

    That is what you mean by “begging the question”.

    JB: However one comes to “know correctly the Apostolic doctrine of justification”, however, one MUST know the Hebrew concept

    BC: There is the problematic and question-begging assumption right there, for reasons I explained in #204.

    In 204 you say:

    Moreover, presupposed in the notion that the meaning of the Greek (and Latin) terms for justification, must not differ from the meaning of the Hebrew term as used in the Old Testament, and insofar as they do differ, there is a *theological* error, is the assumption that the New Covenant cannot go beyond the Old Covenant, that the new wine must be poured into old wineskins.

    This is simplistic. To say that one MUST know the Hebrew concept is not to presuppose that other meanings are not evident. I’ve shown how it is not out of the ordinary to find – nor is it impossible to trace – new Apostolic meanings in words extant in the Hebrew and Greek cultures. See the analysis I provided by T.F. Torrance on “Grace in Paul” vs “Grace in 1 Clement”, for example.

    (Just FYI, I recall you disagreeing with the analysis I provided there, too, saying it “begged the question” on the very definition that was the result of the analysis.)

    The right way to look at this is to understand not only what the Hebrew says, but what the Greek/Latin say. McGrath has done this, and he has not only looked at “what the meanings are”, but “where they come from”, and in this case, the Greek/Latin meanings are easily traced to the usage of Aristotle.

    Now, if you want to say that the Apostles picked up the usage of Aristotle, then you should be prepared to say how and why they did so. But you do not do this. You merely make an appeal to “begging the question”, which, when one is “begging the question in the dialectical sense”, simply means, “I disagree”.

    Upon what grounds, however, might you be prepared to say that the Apostles relied on an equivocation of the terms (given above in # 161). It would be nice if you could give your side of how your understanding of this would play itself out.

    Bryan (from 281):

    If #5 is not the conclusion to an argument, then necessarily it does not follow from the first four premises. If none of the five propositions are conclusions, then there is no argument in those five propositions.

    History is not always subject to “the need for argumentation”. Thus, the five steps I gave are events that happened in history: they were measured, recorded, found to be the case upon re-examination. Consider the statement:

    John walked out his front door. He walked along the sidewalk to the street. He crossed the street and waited for a bus. When the bus came, John entered the bus, and the bus drove down the street.

    That is a sequence of events that may be observed and recorded (in some fashion – the “recording” may take into account the weather or what John was thinking or feeling at the time, but none of those things affect the sequence, they only embellish it).

    So what happened in the case of “Augustine’s goof” wasn’t purely Augustine, but he was the key player. He passed along some equivocated terms, and he did so with what McGrath might call “the authority of Augustine”.

    Recall that equivocation is “the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense”, and that Augustine DIDN’T know the Hebrew, and so he didn’t even know he was passing along this equivocation. .

    McGrath gives arguments along the way, on the use of language, (that neither you nor I are qualified to comment on) and I don’t need to give them here, because his work has been re-issued three times and his arguments survived that process.

    You have said that there was some “reliable oral tradition” by which Augustine felt confident to use the equivocated terms. First of all, that does not change the fact that there was equivocation, and second, you must assume the burden of proof to demonstrate this “reliable oral tradition” – and your failure to actually do so (and I expect you will merely assert that it was the case)

    I.

    Here are the steps of the equivocation. Here is how it happened, in a simplified form:

    In the Old Testament, the concepts of God’s “justice” and his “righteousness” were described by the Hebrew words “sdq” and “hesed” (and using words with those roots).

    Of course, we hold the Old Testament to be revelation from God – “special revelation”, things that we don’t know about God unless he reveals himself.

    Let those concepts be “meaning a” and let the words be “Translation A”.

    Now, at some point the Old Testament was translated into Greek. Because of the way that translations work, words in translation have a range of meanings.

    Thus, “meaning a” was translated to “Translation B”. “Translation B” is an adequate translation of “meaning a”, but the reverse is not necessarily the case, because “Translation B” can also have “meaning b”, which is different from “meaning a”. So “Translation B” doesn’t always carry “meaning a”.

    But that is what happened. The Hebrew text was translated into the Greek (the LXX). The LXX carries “Translation B”, and the existing Greek culture, knowing that “Translation B” carries “meaning b” (which is the sense in which Aristotle used the term). Thus “meaning a” is once-removed from “Translation B”.

    The apostle Paul, knowing both Hebrew and Greek, uses “Translation B” which he knows to have “meaning a” (because of his association with the ancient Hebrew culture and traditions).

    Most of Paul’s early readers, coming from the Hebrew culture, also understand “meaning a”, because they are aware of “Translation A”.

    However, later readers in the broader Mediterranean culture, with their Greek rather than Hebrew sensibilities, know “Translation B” and because of their knowledge of Aristotle (for example), pick up “meaning b”.

    Enter a third language, Latin (“Translation C”). “Translation C” can have “meaning b” and also “meaning c”, but not “meaning a”. Thus, while “Translation B” is an adequate (though not perfect) translation for “meaning a”, “Translation C” in no way carries the meaning of “meaning a”, and it substitutes something totally different, “meaning c” – which is quite different from “meaning a”.

    This is “Augustine’s goof”. Augustine built his understanding of “justification” not on “meaning a”, which is the proper way to understand it (proper in the sense that this sense was revealed by God in the OT), but upon “meaning c”.

    Bryan, you say you see no arguments. At each of these steps, where arguments need to be made, McGrath makes them. “Translation A” has “meaning a” because this is how they are used at points 1, 2, and 3 in the OT as well as at points 4, 5, and 6 in other literature of the period. Etc. If you don’t see it, then that speaks about you, not about McGrath’s arguments.

    There is a second dimension to this, too. And McGrath “argues” for this as well:

    1. Paul shaped the Christian tradition, specifically in terms of “meaning a”.

    2. The “pre-Augustinian tradition” lost Paul’s meaning. He notes “justification was simply not a theological issue in the pre-Augustinian tradition”, and to that extent discussions of “matters such as predestination, grace and free will is somewhat confused” (McGrath’s term) in these pre-Augustinian writers, and would remain so “until controversy forced a full discussion of the issue upon the church” (pg 33).

    3. Augustine and his discussions became “the fountainhead” of discussions on justification. He notes “Augustine’s doctrine of justification is the first discussion of the matter of major significance to emerge from the twilight of the western [patristic] theological tradition, establishing the framework within which the future discussion of the justification of humankind before God would be conducted” (39).

    Thus, given Augustine’s influence upon the Medieval writers, Augustine’s musings and doctrine of justification, based on this very clear equivocation, held tremendous influence for the Medievals, and it was the definition of “justification” that was codified at the council of Trent.

    II.

    There is another aspect to why Pauline usage was lost. First, it was lost because Rome trounced the Jews in Palestine during the years from 70 AD through 135 AD (the Bar Kokhba rebellion). So a great deal of Hebrew influence and understanding was lost during that period.

    Separately, the growing influence of the “Petrine” ministry began to take precedence, at the expense of Paul. Here is where an emerging “Petrine” influence works to destroy Pauline meaning. And here is where the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” really hurts the Roman Catholic account of things.

    McGrath says:

    Krister Stendahl put into words a thought that passed through my mind on many occasions as I wrestled with the patristic corpus for the purpose of this present study. “It has always been a puzzling fact that Paul meant so relatively little for the thinking of the church during the first 350 years of its history. TO be sure, he is honored and quoted, but – in the theological perspective of the west – it seems that Paul’s great insight into justification by faith was forgotten” (citing one of Stendahl’s seminal “New Perspective” works, “Paul among Jews and Gentiles”, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976, pg 83).

    Of course, Irenaeus, whose name is invoked, understands, at least, the influence that Peter and Paul BOTH had on the church at Rome in the 60’s AD. However, the influence of Paul waned, and that was at the instigation of Roman bishops who wanted to invoke “Peter”.

    And it is well-known that it was “Petrine” boasting that excluded Paul. Daniel William O’Connor “Peter in Rome: The Literary, Liturgical, and Archeological Evidence”, New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1969, pg 34):

    … between the mid-second and the mid-third century a change took place in the function of the bishops’ list. In the earliest period the [kerygma] of the apostles was guaranteed by the [diadoke] or succession of the bishops.

    And that is the thing that Irenaeus argues for.

    By the middle of the third century, certainly by the time of Cyprian, another factor became singularly important, the legitimization of the Roman episcopacy by means of this same [diadoke]. While earlier interest was served in retaining both Peter and Paul, the later was served by the exclusive presence of Peter as bishop. Naturally, in the evolution of a monarchical episcopacy there was room for only one bishop at any given time. Therefore, Paul had to be sacrificed. The See of Rome became the “Cathedra Petri.” (O’Connor, pg 83)

    So Paul is “sacrificed” as a leader in exchange for “Petrine” authority in the mono-episcopacy in Rome. And Pauling meaning is forgotten. Augustinian equivocation becomes the Roman doctrine of justification. “Works” (another term upon which there is equivocation) are a necessary component.

    III.

    Bryan you said:

    If, for example, (speaking hypothetically) there was a direct chain of reliable oral transmission from the Apostles to St. Augustine, concerning the doctrine of justification, then even if St. Augustine did not know Hebrew, he would know the Apostolic doctrine of justification.

    Now, here is a thing that must be argued for, and not asserted: this “hypothetical” “direct chain of reliable oral transmission”.

    And in this case, specifically, where did this “direct chain of reliable oral transmission” come up with the equivocation of terms regarding “justification”?

  286. John (re: #285)

    It means that you just simply ignore what I say without even looking at it.

    No. The phrase ‘begging the question’ as I use it here means presupposing the point in question.

    History is not always subject to “the need for argumentation”.

    But claims such as the claim you made in #171, namely, “Augustine built his doctrine of justification upon a translation error,” and your claim in #188 that St. Augustine introduced the Latin-speaking world to a concept of justification that was not from God [since there is only one God], do require argumentation. And so far you haven’t provided a sound argument having either of those claims as a conclusion.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  287. John,

    However, there are readers who will look at what I’ve presented, and they will wonder why “Roman Catholic Tradition” gets to trump a linguistic and historical analysis such as the one that McGrath has given.

    I think we're wondering, as RC outlined in #275, why your approach is preferable.

    So I think your methodology — relying on McGrath, et alia, to have discovered in their text-based reconstructions of the faith things which somehow escaped the notice of men who spent months or years learning it (and many more years practicing it) from men who spent months or years learning it from the Apostles is just plain backwards[….]

    That’s like wanting to know the worldview of the Ramnulfid family in Acquitaine in the year 1100, and trying to figure it out by working backwards from a collection of modern and ancient French-English dictionaries…all the while ignoring that you have a thousand pages collected from the personal diaries of that family’s children and grandchildren including Elanor of Acquitaine and William III and Adelaide and Hugh Capet. And then, when you come up with a theory you’re fond of, you want to argue that Elanor and Bill and Adelaide and Hugh have it all wrong…?

  288. Sean, 287, perhaps you did not get the email request not to continue to post on the Augustine topic in this thread.

    With that said, I’m open to suggestions as to where to respond to this line of questions.

  289. John, you can respond here.

Leave Comment

Subscribe without commenting