Unexpected Development

Converts to a communion may often display a zeal that old-timers find off-putting. In Reformed circles, we have the phrase “cage phase” to denote the over zealous and new Calvinist who expects every Reformed pastor to sound like Calvin and every congregation to be as rigorous the New England Puritans.

It turns out that Roman Catholics have their own problems with converts. One instance, largely forgotten (perhaps another indication of Vatican II’s epoch-making shift) was the exchange between Orestes Brownson and John Henry Newman. Both were converts, but Brownson, admired by some contemporary conservatives, was not impressed by Newman’s theory of development of doctrine. In fact, Brownson believed it would kill Roman Catholicism (which makes it odd that Jason and the Callers do not regard Brownson as the model convert). Here is a short sampling of what Brownson said about the idea of the development of doctrine:

. . . we could not accept Mr. Newman’s Essay, even ,if its theory were susceptible of a satisfactory explanation. It deserves to be excluded from every Catholic library for its unorthodox forms of expression, as scandalous, even if not as heretical, erroneous, or rash. Words are things, and used improperly by men of eminence, or with inexactitude, become the occasion of error and heresy in others. Not a few of the errors which have afflicted the Church have come in under shelter of loose or inexact expressions, which great and sometimes even saintly men have suffered to escape them. The vain, the restless, the proud, the disobedient, seize on them, ascribe to them a sense they will bear, but not the one intended by their authors, and lay the foundation for ” sects of perdition.” Sometimes even better men are deceived and misled, as we see in the case of Fenelon. One cannot be too careful to be exact in expression, or to guard against innovation in word as well as in thought, especially in this age, in which there is such a decided tendency to abandon the scholastic method for the rhetorical. The scandalous phraseology of the Essay is no charge against its author, writing when and where he did, but is a grave charge against the Essay itself.

Finally, we repeat, from our former article, that we object to the Theory of Developments the very fact that it is a theory. We see no call and no room for theories in the Catholic Church, — least of all, for theories concocted outside of her by men whose eyes are dim, and who have nothing but their own reason to work with. From the nature of the case, they are theories, not for the conversion of their authors, but for the conversion of the Church, — framed to bring her to them, not them to her. They can do no good, and may do much harm. It is natural for us to concoct them when out of the Church, for then we have, and can have, nothing but theories, and can do nothing but theorize ; but, if we are wise, we shall not attempt to bring them into the Church with us. The more empty-handed we come to the Church, the better ; and the more affectionately will she embrace us, and the more freely and liberally will she dispense to us her graces.

Lest anyone miss the implicit significance of this exchange for the future of Roman Catholicism and its conservative (or traditionalist) members, readers should know that some Roman Catholics believe that Newman prevailed and Brownson lost at Vatican II. Here is how one traditionalist puts it:

. . . Brownson foresaw the future danger should Newman’s theory become accepted in the Church. Unless his theory was renounced, Brownson affirmed, it would either ultimately lead Newman himself out of communion with the Church or, much worse, be wrongly absorbed into the Catholic Church (p. 1).

In fact, the latter happened. His “pioneer” work established the idea of the development of dogma as a principle later held by the Modernists. Taken up by the Progressivists, it was consecrated at Vatican II, invoked in both the Declaration of Religion Freedom and the Constitution on Revelation. (2)

Newman alleged he was simply showing that the Catholic Church of his time was in continuity with that of the Apostles and the Fathers. But Vatican II did what Brownson feared could happen – it used this ‘theory’ to justify new advances and actual shifts in doctrine, such as its teaching on religious freedom. Jesuit Avery Dulles singled out Newman as anticipating the thought of Karl Rahner “to the effect that every dogmatic proclamation is not only an end, but also a beginning.” (3)

Someone could object that this work was written when Newman was a Protestant, and, therefore, should be disregarded as irrelevant after Newman’s conversion to Catholicism. The objection would be pertinent if he had rejected its theories or buried it, as Brownson suggested. On the contrary, he offered the work to the public and continued to defend its thesis until the end of his life. Thus, the objection is invalid.

Most American Catholics have not read Newman’s suspect theological works, such as the Essay on Development of Doctrine. His fame and popularity rest on his letters and sermons on piety and religious devotion. Let those well-meaning Catholic take the time to read at least Brownson’s criticism of Newman’s Essay, and they may begin to question the orthodoxy of the “oracle from Littlemore.” They may also begin to wonder if the beatification of Newman, rightly called the Father of Vatican II by the progressivists themselves, has the underlying purpose of giving needed impetus to the Council at a time when dissatisfaction with it is significantly increasing.

These tensions within Roman Catholicism may be obscure to recent converts, as difficult to perceive as the real fault lines between conservatives and other varieties of Roman Catholic communicants. For instance, John Zmirac has wondered (a la Brownson about Newman) whether Protestant converts to Rome understand what happened at Vatican II or whether they can find their way to the genuine Roman Catholic liturgy:

7) The Novus Ordo Missae was crafted by an ecumenical committee (including Protestants) that aimed at Christian unity. In a creative compromise, the committee cut large sections from the Mass — those that made it screamingly obvious that the Mass was a sacrifice and a wedding. The committee also trimmed away many rituals designed to underscore those doctrines, adding other practices to boost the role of the laity and undercut the role of the priest.

These changes didn’t vitiate the sacrament, but they did cloud its symbolic and catechetical clarity. They also reduced its dignity, gravity, and beauty. The Dies Irae gave way to “Gather Us In.” Or, as then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: “In the place of the liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living, process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it — as in a manufacturing process — with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.”

8) The most important elements that distinguish the priest’s role from the people’s, and hence Catholic sacraments from Protestant prayer services, are the following: The priest facing the altar; the prayers of the old Offertory (which survive in the First Eucharistic Prayer); the exclusive claim of the clergy (priests and deacons) to handle the Sacrament; the all-male priesthood; and kneeling for Communion on the tongue.

9) Each practice we add to the liturgy that blurs the difference between the people and the priest adds to confusion about what the heck is going on up on the altar. It’s no surprise that after 40 years of liturgical “renewal,” only 30 percent of American Catholics still believe in transubstantiation. More troublingly, those who are receiving Communion rarely bother with the Sacrament of Penance. The old terror of blasphemy that was underlined by gold patens tucked under our chins gave way to a shrug and a smile as we take in our hands a wafer from a neighbor.

10) Dissenters from key Catholic doctrines of faith and morals took ruthless advantage of the hype surrounding the Second Vatican Council and the symbolic confusion sowed by radical liturgical changes — which seemed to signal, like a new flag flying over a country, a new regime in the Church. Maybe a new Church altogether. Some of these dissenters, like Archbishop Rembert Weakland, were also involved in creating the new liturgy itself.

11) That liturgy kept on metastasizing, “renewing” itself seemingly every year. The same bishops who pushed relentlessly for Communion in the hand, extraordinary ministers of Communion, altar girls, and standing for Communion were the men who appointed feminists and pro-gay, pro-contraception, and even “pro-choice” delegates to dissident conferences such as the Call to Action (1976). Such bishops also persecuted adherents of the old liturgy and clergy who preached Humanae Vitae. The same men repeatedly defied Pope John Paul II, who avoided a schism and decided instead to replace them as they retired with more faithful bishops. He mostly succeeded.

All of the above is simply, uncontroversially true. And in saner times, it would be none of a layman’s business. We have enough on our plates pursuing our own vocations and staying in a state of grace, and we really shouldn’t have to shop around for the least sacrilegious parish, or fight with our bishop’s religious education office against nuns who deny the Creed. But here we are, still gasping for breath as the smoke of Satan slowly lifts, and there’s no excuse for pretending the air has been clear all along. The Bride of Christ has been battered, hounded, and hunted by the Enemy — but she’s still standing, as we were promised. Now it’s our task to bind her wounds, repair the rents in her gown, and lovingly comb her hair.

Although Zmirac is no traditionalist, one Trad Catholic has picked up on the problem that Protestant converts post-Vatican II face when trying to adjust to and find a place within Rome’s traditionalism:

Catholic converts from Protestantism bring to the Church a certain mentality that can make it difficult for them to accept Traditionalist arguments in favor of restoring a lot of the discarded “externals” of our faith’s tradition. In the post I used myself as a reference point (being a revert to the faith from charismatic Protestantism) and explained how it took some time for me after my return to the Church to start seeing the beauty of Traditional Catholicism, and perceive that much had been lost by rejecting this beauty. . . . I deny that a convert from Protestantism is not as “good’ as a cradle Catholic; I did say (and I maintain) that a convert-from-Protestantism-mentality does color the way we see things once we return to the Church.

It is interesting, however, that John Zmirak . . . talks about the non-Trad confusion over apparent Trad fixation on “mere externals.” This is, I think, one of the central ideas of Traditionalism – that alleged inessentials were not as inessential as once thought.

I often wonder if Jason and the Callers got more than that for which they bargained. They have a lot to make sense of over there on their side of the Tiber. Here is how Boniface puts it:

Then why bother even pointing out the differences? Because the Catholic Church as a whole – Trad, non-Trad, liberal, mainstream, whatever – is in an identity crisis. Who are we, and what does it mean to be Catholic? What does a Catholic life look like? These questions of identity;,far from being useless and divisive, are I think some of the most important issues Catholics can examine. I tend to take the position that Traditionalism exemplifies a more perfect continuity with the fullness of Tradition than other non-Trad manifestations of the faith, and part of what I do here is defend that proposition against those who take a more negative approach to Traditionalism. We may disagree on what Catholic identity should look like, but let’s not say that these questions are not important; if only our fathers in the 1960’s and 1970’s had more of a concern for Catholic identity, we might not be in a liberal crisis.

Given Jason and the Callers’ covering their eyes to church history — ancient and recent, I am not sure they are up to the task of accounting for such developments. But they sure know they aren’t Protestant (as long as they don’t know about Brownson).

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272 Comments

  1. sean
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Michael, real quick, read the immediately following on pg 51 and it may become clearer what I was saying. I’ll get back to you on the 10:43 comment when I get a chance

  2. Posted May 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I understood what he said following that. If I understand him properly, he moves on to say even with that historical witness the problem with taking it is he believes it looks at the canon improperly as a “voice of the community.” I agree. He is trying to protect the idea that the canon isn’t the canon with out the authority of the community. Basically the voice of the community doesn’t mean squat if it is not God’s authoritative word which the “voice of the community” accepts. The words of Scripture are scripture when they are written then and forever. I agree. This doesn’t change the historical context of what we have been talking about. We have a historic and eternal God, because of Jesus Christ. He has given us a historic truth to understand so we have a eternal hope to know. He works in and through history to show us what our eyes can not see. They both go hand in hand. We live in both in the here & now and the eschaton through Christ. This is our reality as Christians. We have faith in what we can not see, but has been shown to us by faith in the God of Abraham revealed in the Son born of the virgin, Jesus Christ. He works with the physical history(the flesh) to reveal the heavenly truth(the Spirit). To separate these is to have some other faith than Christian faith. The trouble I have with the canon question is there are two different historical accounts. One says we know the OT previous to Christ and it was 39 books and the other says we know or may not know the historic infallible OT previous to Christ but we have been given the authority by the sending of Christ and His Apostles to say what it is so that you may know. The first I am not finding the historical evidence to back up, in fact I am finding the opposite.

  3. Posted May 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Words are quite important. Sorry, I forgot one in sentence four. Here it is corrected:
    He is trying to protect against the idea that the canon isn’t the canon with out the authority of the community.
    I say again, I agree to that.
    For clarity, the Church just confesses what it already is. Both Protestants and Catholics do this. My conflict is that Protestants also say we can’t confess things not found in Scripture. In the Reformed/Protestant camp there appears to be a self made road block against its own dogma.

  4. Posted May 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I’m still reading and I found the 3rd part and will continue seeking to get Kline’s full picture. Thanks,
    Michael

    For anybody following here is the link.
    http://www.meredithkline.com/files/articles/Canon-and-Covenant-3.pdf

  5. Posted May 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Kline gets into cessationism of the Apostlic ministries in part 3. Basically the 70AD temple destruction being when the OT covenant ceases, so there will probably be his ultimate area of importance for our topic. He says:
    Although the New Testament canon is the currently normative canon for the church, it contains in the Gospels certain directives for the company of Jesus’ disciples which were applicable only within the old covenant order, and else­ where in the New Testament directives are found which were made temporarily expedient by that overlapping of the old and new orders which was not terminated until the judgment of the former in 70 A. D. So, for example, certain procedural details of the mission of the twelve or the mission of the seventy were conditioned by their old order context and hence are not normative for the present mission of the church.
    Sorry for reading ahead. I like to have some idea where somebody is going.
    MichaelTX

  6. Posted May 21, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Sean, still reading but I thought I’d drop my thoughts how I am not seeing how Kline’s Hittite covenant idea does not seem as though it will bring about the excluclusion of the 7 books included in the Catholic Canon. They seem to all fit in the categories Kline lays out which fit with the Hittite treaty form. He finds these categories valid for the canon; history, law and wisdom, prophecy and praise. Which seems to encompass the books in dispute. Kline has this summary of the attachment to the primary Law which I don’t find contrary to them either: In this process of organic extension there was combined with the Pentateuchal record of the establishment of the covenant a centuries spanning documentary witness to the continuing relationship, consisting in historical accounts, documents of the prophetic emissaries of the Lord, and literary deposits of other aspects of covenant life. The Old Testament which was thus produced represents an adaptation of the treaty form which is as much creative as it is imitative. Hence, the Old Testament is a covenantal corpus which is not only materially but formally sui generis. But it is indeed as a whole a covenantal corpus.

  7. sean
    Posted May 22, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Michael, your judgement of inclusion would not be one he shared. But, I’m glad you’re finding the reading at least compelling to a point. This eventually comes back to what documents were considered part of the covenantal corpus which would have been the documents housed in the ark of the covenant, which brings us back to both the considered covenant-canonical discussion and, for secondary historical verification, Josephus’ testimony of temple contents when Titus(I believe) sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD. There’s other self-attesting-internal attesting, prophecy-fullfillment, intertestamental assertation, authorship, timeframe et al. considerations we’ve already touched upon some, but I guess we can go over more in depth at a later on.

  8. Posted May 22, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Sean, there is much which Kline has put forth that I can agree with, but also things that don’t fit. Oddly several conclusion he draws from his research in to the ancient near east covenants are things that I am familiar with. They are some of what helped me understand the Church on earth with Christ as the heavenly King to be the fulfillment of the plan of God since the beginning. The fullness of the Davidic Kingdom is what we are in while not fully as we await the return of the King unveiled from the sacramental signs. The Davidic covenant is not the only covenant fulfilled in Christ. All the covenants are included. The Adamic(God with us), the Noahic(no more destruction by water), the covenants to Abraham being a blessing to all people; which are brought to fruition in the birth of Isaac(made a family) and the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant(made a nation), then we have the fall and the reformational(Deuturomonic Covenvant) and finally the Davidic Covenant(Kingdom) which is given to the Son of David for the Temple being built in Jerusalem(which has the court for gentiles), then sadly all the new falls until the final fulfillment of all those covenants by the one who will not fall; the Son of David and eternal Son of God. This is the permanent union of all peoples and nations in the Holy One of the temple made flesh. Those in union with Him are the Church, the Temple of living stones who may all enter the Holy of Hollies through Him the one and only high priest of all peoples and nations for all eternity.
    I did finish reading the third part by Kline last night and have some things he said that I want you to look at from my perspective. I’ll put them together and get them out here hopefully today.
    Peace,
    Michael

  9. Posted May 22, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Sean, You may find these articles pretty interesting:

    Christ, Kingdom, and Creation:
    Davidic Christology and Ecclesiology in Luke-Acts
    http://www.salvationhistory.com/documents/scripture/LSJ3%20Hahn.pdf

    COVENANT IN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS:
    SOME CURRENT RESEARCH (1994–2004)
    http://www.salvationhistory.com/documents/scripture/CBR%20Covenant%20Research-2005.pdf

    We may get off our topic though. Hope you get a chance to read the other articles first.
    Michael

  10. Posted May 22, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Sean per your 9:51,
    “…what documents were considered part of the covenantal corpus which would have been the documents housed in the ark of the covenant, which brings us back to both the considered covenant-canonical discussion and, for secondary historical verification, Josephus’ testimony of temple contents…”
    I he never got into the things you talk about there. Is there more article than the three in that series? It seemed like he finished with the third.

  11. sean
    Posted May 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Michael, he does a whole book/primer called ‘Structure of Biblical Authority’ but I wasn’t going to do that to you, though I got quite a lot out of it. I’m not sure he goes into the Josephus-Titus bit in ‘structure of biblical authority’. Though he, like everyone I ever read, considers Josephus’ accounts an historical touchstone.

  12. Posted May 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I found the intro 20 pages or so to it. It looks like a good read. My question being you have read it is, does it prove we don’t need apostolic Holy Spirit protected authority to “know” the canon dogmatically. That still just does not seem possible to me. Dogma seems to necessarily require authority to me. Most Dogma I can receive from the inerrant Scriptures, but I can’t get the canon from it with the knowledge I have now. If that authority I receive dogma from is not authority from God I don’t want it. Maybe you have never been trapped by the Devil with his scheming, I have.
    Peace,
    MichaelTX

    I’m still trying to put together my thoughts on part three.

  13. sean
    Posted May 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Michael, protestants have authority. We don’t claim infallible authority.’ Councils may and do err’ I understand Rome claims it. Their claims don’t mean much to me apart from fidelity to original apostolic tradition. I understand Rome claims for itself ‘apostolic succession’ the historical record is another matter entirely. I’m probably less concerned about the apocrypha(doubtful) than I am about it’s content. What is the gospel message? Paul says we’re faith endangering apart from and conscience bound to it(gospel message); Gal. 1:8, over even his own apostolic authority. I’m under religious authority, always have been, my concern is that Rome has abdicated it’s authority via departure from the Pauline gospel. I just don’t find the canon argument all that decisive, not that it’s not important. Your concern seems to be more about who’s religious authority can I submit to so as to ensure the safeguard of my soul and keep me from error. Well, the scriptures say we get to walk by faith and our assurance and ‘deposit’ is per the testimony of the Holy Spirit; 1 John. Then Paul calls on us to test all spirits and reject those whose gospel message is NOT the one he brought. This isn’t an argument that he hinges on apostolic authority, which he has exemplar, but on gospel message and almost in an attempt to further diminish what could be his own appeal to his apostolic authority, he says; If I OR an angel of God should preach to you another gospel, let him be anathema(As far as I know, Rome doesn’t even hold this out as a possibility for herself). So, I’m not trying to diminish this as a turning point for you, but I think it’s a bit misplaced. Still, I’m happy to walk through it the best I can.

  14. Posted May 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Sean, It really is simple what I am talking about. I can not with a clear conscience “bear witness” against God’s revelation. If it is not revealed I can not call it God’s dogmatic revelation. I would be a liar. If I am shown that it is revelation I can confess it to my torturer and death, then I can “love not my life unto death” for that “testimony”. If it is not revealed I will not. I don’t think this is unbiblical, I think it is the only biblical type of witness.

  15. Posted May 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I’ve had 5 rooms get flooded in my house so don’t feel I have abandon our talks. Catch up later.

  16. sean
    Posted May 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Michael, get on that. Yikes. Sorry.

  17. Posted May 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Sean,
    Fun fun. I now have three rooms with no carpet. Anyway, while reading I pulled out a few quotes from part 3 of Kline’s work. They seem to be interestingly right with some of the things we have previously talked about. So, I thought I would put them down and put some thoughts with them to connect them with our conversations and thoughts.

    As word of power, Scripture finds a prototype in the original, creation house- building of God. The divine creative fiats were God’s effectual architectural utterances by which he actually produced and actively manipulated ultimate materials — light, life, and spirit, so fashioning his creation house. Similarly, the Scriptural word of God effectually wielded by the Spirit is the fiat of God’s new creation.115 It is through the instrumentality of Scripture as powerful word that God constructs his new redemptive temple-house, dynamically molding and incorporating his people as living stones into this holy structure.

    This one lines up with your thought that the canon creates the community. Posted: http://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-2/#comment-83631
    You said, “The community exists because the canon births the community.”
    You were responding to my post: http://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-2/#comment-83614
    Were I said: “…apart from the Covenant People of God, such as the Apostles and the leaders of the Church and all the baptized members of Christ through the ages we don’t have anybody forming, carrying, and defending the Scriptures and Gospel we all love. It is the people of God, the Church, who love and proclaim the living Word and His care over us, and they have been doing it since the beginning. The Scriptures are formed within the people of God, by God’s Spirit and the authors; then protected by those same covenant people. To take the Scriptures from their habitat will always point back to their home in that unified Covenant People.
    Here Kline brings this forward in his thoughts:

    As to its nuclear formal function, canonical covenant is a community rule. Inasmuch then as canonical Scripture is God’s house- building word, the community rule for his covenant people, the Reformation insistence is confirmed that the Scriptures form the church, and not vice versa. Indeed, in respect to the formal identity of Scripture, that position turns out to be true in an even more precise way than Reformed orthodoxy has had in mind. Yet, curiously, we are at the same time compelled by this apprehension of the nature of biblical canon as constitution for the community to acknowledge that our traditional formulations of the canon doctrine have not done full justice to the role of the community. The community is inextricably bound up in the reality of canonical Scripture. The concept of covenant-canon requires a covenant community. Though the community does not confer canonical authority on the Scriptures, Scripture in the form of constitutional treaty implies the community constituted by it and existing under its authority. Canonical authority is not derived from a community, but covenantal canon connotes covenantal community.”7

    In that same post above I said,” The Scriptures apart from the protected people of God are like a fish out of water.”
    And in a previous post I said in response to you saying The community exists because the canon births the community.
    By saying, “I agree. There is more to this picture though. Not only does the Spirit gather the covenant people with the conviction of the Word from the outside of the covenant people, He also keeps the gathered within the covenant people, too. One important aspect which is inherent in this is that this has been happening since before the Scriptures were written and scattered among God’s covenant people who alone have the means to know Him and His Word. His sheep know His voice and they follow Him. The Scriptures are the fruit and seed of the covenant people. IOW, the Word is the beginning and the end of the gathered people of God. The Scriptures come from the body of Christ and draw to the body of Christ. But it is the glorification of the one body of Christ that is there purpose and goal. Christ and the Scriptures work as one, He and they seek the lost sheep to gather them not for their fellowship with each other, but for fellowship with Him. Though, in fellowship with Him they will have fellowship with each other.
    Now a problem will inevitably occur if the Scriptures birthed in that Holy Spirit indwelt body of the covenant people are used contrary to Christ’s purpose. The cause of Christ is gathering and if the Scriptures are used to scatter His people, then they are no longer used in accord with the will of God. They are then used against Him….God does create and gather the people of God ex-nihilo, with the written Word, but they are created for fellowship with those created ex-nihilo by the living Word who spoke to the Apostles and dwells with His Church by the gift of His Spirit until the end of the age. This fellowship with Christ goes to the begin and it is in this fellowship bound and protected by the Holy Spirit which brought forth the written Word born of the Spirit in union with the writers and recieved by the beloved who recognize the Scriptures as born of God. The Scriptures are both born and eternal. Like Christ is both born and eternal. He was born into the people of Israel in which we are reborn and ingrafted.

    After that was when you got concerned we might be getting a bit too esoteric. It might seem clearer now. Me and Kline have many common ideas there. Kline continues later saying,

    In brief, the Old Testament canon was given as the covenant constitution for the Israelite community formally established as a kingdom under Moses, the servant of Yahweh. The ground layer of this canon bears witness to the covenant- making events by which that kingdom was established, and it includes besides, as an historical prelude, a record of prior relationships of the parties to the treaty, or their predecessors back to the very beginnings.

    And then later,

    In the Gospels the New Testament canon testifies to the covenant-making events which were foundational to the building of the house of God over which Jesus was set as a Son.

    Directly following that above is where I and Kline part ways to a degree. But basically we agree about the OT. He follows interpreting the NT Church saying,

    Then beyond the Gospels the New Testament reflects a history of church polity involving distinct stages. As in the Old Testament, following the founding ministry of the covenant mediator there was a transitional era of community extension for the church. In the Old Testament, this period witnessed a movement of the covenant people from outside of Canaan into the land and eventually to a central cultic focus at Jerusalem, Yahweh’s selection of which for his permanent residence fully introduced the final Old Testament stage of polity.

    Oddly this idea from Kline may make one wonder why the whole of Paul ministry work climaxes at Him teaching to the Jews in Rome and then turning to the Gentiles in Rome.

    Mainly it is when Kline begins asserting how these stages work and what isn’t part of the Church. I find little biblical merit in asserting some of the Scriptures to be only valid in the pre-70AD Church. I and Kline seem to have a difference with where we put an “end” to the Old Covenant. Mainly I put it at the Last supper and the Cross with the rending of the veil and the Resurrection, but this isn’t an end to it but the true and definitive beginning of it as the New Convenant.
    Here is a bit more of what I quoted to you the other day:

    Consequently, determining what is currently normative within the New Testament canon for community structure and function involves a process of discrimination analogous to that which faced those living under the Old Testament canon.140 Although the New Testament canon is the currently normative canon for the church, it contains in the Gospels certain directives for the company of Jesus’ disciples which were applicable only within the old covenant order, and elsewhere in the New Testament directives are found which were made temporarily expedient by that overlapping of the old and new orders which was not terminated until the judgment of the former in 70 A. D. So, for example, certain procedural details of the mission of the twelve141 or the mission of the seventy142 were conditioned by their old order context and hence are not normative for the present mission of the church. Examples of transitional features explicable in terms of the temporary overlapping of the covenants but no longer normative are the Jerusalem council’s ruling concerning certain Old Testament cultic proscriptions143 and the more positive endorsement of the continuing legitimacy of the Jerusalem temple cultus by the practice of the apostles.144 There is the further necessity to distinguish current from non-current norms which arises from the fact that the New Testament prescribes for more than one phase of church polity as it renders canonical service for apostolic and post-apostolic eras. It is within the framework of the church’s distinctive phases, and particularly with due regard for the special historical purposes of the apostolic phase of the new order, that the interpretation of the church’s early charismatic functions must be sought.

    Many things in this quote are things I don’t find Biblical reasons to make them certain enough to be the norm for the Church today. Someone could assume it, but I don’t believe Scripture says much of this. It would seem some authority would need to speak up to clear these ideas up. And this is where the importance of what he had spoken of earlier would come into play for me. It seems if the Covenant Canon proves the Covenant Community pre-exists the NT Scripture, then finding that community should be how you would have a better chance of knowing how the post-Gospel, Acts, NT letters history should be functioning. Not asserting how it should work and forming a community to fit our interpretation of Scripture as we think would be best. Kind of a block out this verse keep that verse type of thing. This is what would make you a separate community instead of “the” covenant community. This would be like taking the OT Scriptures to a foreign nation and getting them to incorporate them in to their culture and say the “core canon” the Law happened to them and they are the community in them. Here is the Jerusalem of the OT Scriptures. This is sort of what happened with Samaria.

    I did appreciate reading Kline. Thanks

    Hope that didn’t give you too much, Sean.
    Later,
    Michael

  18. Posted May 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Here was your comment over there I thought I would repost it before I respond.

    Michael, just a heads up on where this goes, the existence of a community doesn’t then spawn another extra-canonical, roman-particular tradition administered by peculiarly roman offices because, well, Rome claims it does. If Rome wants to have a sufficient, subordinate, fallible tradition of interpretation submitted to the infallible perspicuous canonical authority, then, welcome to the club. What Rome can’t have is a non-perspicuous canonical authority NECESSITATING the unwritten Roman “T” tradition which is itself administered by and even infallibly interpreted by a monarchial magisterium. They particularly can’t administer that salvation exclusively prior to Vat II then switch gears and avail it to those in schism, as seperated brethren, but in ignorant communion with the roman pontiff, and then engage the canonical authority per a higher-critical hermenuetic that not only denies the possibility but the knowability of infallible dogma and then diminishes the original apostolic written tradition as so much community enthusiast interloping, a hermenuetic they borrowed from german protestant liberalism because, well, they didn’t have one. And that by the way, is the dinner table conversation of the past 50 years that you converts weren’t privy to.

    I will mainly wait ’til you read all the way through the above post, but I will touch one thing in here just for a thoughts sake.

    You said, …the existence of a community doesn’t then spawn another extra-canonical, roman-particular tradition administered by peculiarly roman offices because, well, Rome claims it does.”
    The bolded above I actually agree with. The main thing is that Scripture doesn’t exclude it and actually testify to the very clear reasonableness of it. As the existence of the Pentateuch, shows a particular Old Covenant people who are called to and are submitted to the Law, so also the Gospels and Acts testify to a particular New Covenant people created by the call and promises of Christ. There is no hint in the NT Scriptures that you or I can reject the authentic teaching of Christ and the Apostles “whether by word of mouth or writing,” therefore there could and most likely is truly Apostolic teaching that is active in the different Christian communities that for them to reject would be disobedience to Christ or at least the Apostles teaching whether we can find it in Scriptures or not. If I were in those community I would, by the Spirits leading, continue to do and teach those things even if it were not written in Scripture received as inerrant by the Church. No amount of pressure would cause the believer convicted by the Holy Spirit to reject it. I do not doubt this is hard to jump at with faith in God’s care, but it is not illogical to truly be a faithful biblical Christian who recognizes that capitol “T” tradition can be part of the True teachings of Christ and the Apostles. Actually as you see in Kline’s work of the ancient near eastern treaty covenant-canon being a testimony of the true witness to the Covenant people’s covenant. It is the community formed by Christ with His covenant promises in the NT what would be able to testify to that by the Holy Spirit’s promised protection[John 14:26,15:26, and other promises such as the promise Peter being the Rock[Matt 16:18}, and only that community would have the actual history that would provide such a situation. Of course these are not the only promises and prophecies of Christ in the NT to grasp the understand of all the functions of the Church’s role in relation to Christ.

    I say again like I have before, it is possible that it is not the Catholic Church’s bishop in communion with Rome that has this covenant history, but I still ask if I can be pointed in some other direction I am all ears?

  19. sean
    Posted May 27, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Michael;…….. “then finding that community should be how you would have a better chance of knowing how the post-Gospel, Acts, NT letters history should be functioning. Not asserting how it should work and forming a community to fit our interpretation of Scripture as we think would be best.”

    Me: And we’re back to the RC assumption that surely God would have left us a solitary visible readily identifiable church by which we might know the truth. This denies perspicuity, visible-invisible distinction, ironically enough, original apostolic teaching on the offices of the church, weighing/testing true and false teachers per that same written tradition, and again puts the community before the canon. If Rome wants to limit it’s claims to real, subordinate, sufficient, and fallible, then they can join the protestant club. Otherwise, they’re just another sect making infallible, messianic claims or not (Vat II-Francis), that when weighed against the canon come up short and Rome jumping through the escape pod of “T” tradition is no cover for their lack of adherence to written apostolic tradition.

    Michael, history is not neat. People are not tidy, and the church has suffered division and turmoil since it’s inception. The challenge for you and for us all is can we stomach the tension and live by faith in the words of God. Can we believe in that which we can’t see, can we live with doubt attending to our faith. Can we live in the tension of the already-not yet eschatological scheme of scripture. Rome seeks to ameliorate these tensions by offering a comfort in certainty of a visible manifestation and sole earthly mediation which unfortunately displaces a comfort from and by the Holy Spirit in the Risen Christ. Protestants aren’t recreating the wheel, they’re acting in faith upon the written apostolic tradition and conviction of the Holy Spirit, as you say; ‘the sheep hear His voice.” It’s messy and inconvenient. So, what’s new about that this side of Glory. The ultimate ‘beef’ with Rome is that she’s added to canonical scripture and varyingly obscured the apostolic gospel. Gal 1:8

  20. Posted May 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I having a hard time understanding how you are continuing to say I and other RCs are displacing the “comfort from and by the Holy Spirit in the Risen Christ.” If that were the case I would not be Catholic. My comfort is exactly in the One you speak of. If not, how could I look at the crazy history of the Church be at peace; the ridiculous historic circumstances, Saints persecuted by power hungry leaders of the Church, sinful priest, popes who may not have even believed in Christ. I promise there is plenty to tell me to walk by sight in what can be seen and walk away from the Catholic Church.
    “The challenge for you and for us all is can we stomach the tension and live by faith in the words of God.”
    Sean, this is what God called me to and by His strength alone I followed His voice to where I am. I would not be here if it were up to me alone.

    You said, “And we’re back to the RC assumption that surely God would have left us a solitary visible readily identifiable church by which we might know the truth. This denies perspicuity, visible-invisible distinction, ironically enough, original apostolic teaching on the offices of the church, weighing/testing true and false teachers per that same written tradition, and again puts the community before the canon.

    Does this not work both ways. Are you not assuming that God does not wish there to be a visibly identifiable pearl of great price which has both wheat and tares, and that the Holy Spirit will not protect the official preaching of the Church from error(lead you to all truth), and which one may leave and know that we have “departed from us because they were not of us.”

    Sean, If you read through Kline’s arguments you will clearly see he is demonstrating that the evidence of the ANE covenants shows that the “canon” has authority over the community because the community is covenanted within the canon. This does put the community before the canon because the Canon shows the community before the Canon, not because the Canon isn’t authoritative over the community but because those who see this distinction are under the canonical mandates in the Canon.

    Like you said the other day,
    Now that that is clear as mud.

    Have you gotten a chance to read over Brown or Barber?

  21. Posted May 27, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Sean, reading over that last sentence I thought I would clarify it with a few missing words and added emphasis.
    Try this:
    This does put the covenant community before the canonical Scriptures because the Canon shows the community before the Canon, not because the Canon isn’t authoritative apart from the communities canonically given authority but because those who have previous knowledge of this distinction are under the covenantal words of Christ from before the written Canon. In essence the Scriptures can’t undo the pre-existing Covenant they present within the written words; they preserve and present the covenant’s existence created by the living Word for all generations.

    Hope that is a little clearer,
    Michael

  22. Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Sean,
    Any luck?

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