The Primacy of James (or the Ante-Ante-Nicene Fathers)

One of the puzzles of Roman Catholic claims about the primacy of the papacy is that the biblical support for this view rests almost entirely on Matt. 16:18. Theologians and church members (at least of Protestant derivation) should always beware of so little biblical support. In addition, when you read the New Testament (if you do), Peter largely fades from view. In Acts Peter does not show up after the fifteenth chapter (according not to superior biblical knowledge but to a word search — “advanced,” mind you — at ESVBible.org). The rest of the book is really Paul’s story. And the rest of the New Testament is really Paul’s teaching. Yes, Peter, John and James write epistles but they are short compared to Paul (leaving aside Revelation in page count totals).

What is also striking about the New Testament is the interaction among the apostles. Galatians 2 proves to be a particularly difficult text to square with claims about Peter’s primacy, not to mention his infallibility, since it records Paul publicly rebuking Peter for caving to the Judaizers. Here first is Calvin’s rendering of Paul’s order of James, Peter, and John in Galatians 2:9:

I have already stated, that James was the son of Alpheus. He could not be “the brother of John” who had been lately put to death by Herod, (Acts 12:2,) and to suppose that one of the disciples had been placed above the apostles would be absurd. That he held the highest rank among the apostles, is made evident by Luke, who ascribes to him the summing up and decision of the cause in the council, (Acts 15:13,) and afterwards mentions his having assembled “all the elders” of the church of Jerusalem. (Acts 21:18.) When he says, that they seemed to be pillars, he does not speak contemptuously, but quotes the general opinion, arguing from it, that what was done by such men ought not to be lightly set aside. In a question relating to diversity of rank, it is surprising that James should be mentioned before Peter; but the reason perhaps is, that he presided over the church at Jerusalem.

Calvin follows with these remarks on Paul’s rebuke to Peter:

Now, as I have said, he goes further, and asserts that he had blamed Peter for leaning to the other side; and he proceeds to explain the cause of the dispute. It was no ordinary proof of the strength of his doctrine, that he not only obtained their cordial approbation, but firmly maintained it in a debate with Peter, and came off victorious. What reason could there now be for hesitating to receive it as certain and undoubted truth?

At the same time, this is a reply to another calumny, that Paul was but an ordinary disciple, far below the rank of an apostle: for the reproof which he administered was an evidence that the parties were on an equal footing. The highest, I acknowledge, are sometimes properly reproved by the lowest, for this liberty on the part of inferiors towards their superiors is permitted by God; and so it does not follow, that he who reproves another must be his equal. But the nature of the reproof deserves notice. Paul did not simply reprove Peter, as a Christian might reprove a Christian, but he did it officially, as the phrase is; that is, in the exercise of the apostolic character which he sustained.

This is another thunderbolt which strikes the Papacy of Rome. It exposes the impudent pretensions of the Roman Antichrist, who boasts that he is not bound to assign a reason, and sets at defiance the judgment of the whole Church. Without rashness, without undue boldness, but in the exercise of the power granted him by God, this single individual chastises Peter, in the presence of the whole Church; and Peter submissively bows to the chastisement. Nay, the whole debate on those two points was nothing less than a manifest overthrow of that tyrannical primacy, which the Romanists foolishly enough allege to be founded on divine right. If they wish to have God appearing on their side, a new Bible must be manufactured; if they do not wish to have him for an open enemy, those two chapters of the Holy Scriptures must be expunged.

Of course, defenders of the magisterium need not trust Calvin since he is writing out of a position of disobedience to the papacy. That is why it is intriguing what a Roman Catholic biblical commentary has to say about this passage:

St. Paul says that he withstood St. Peter to the face “because he was to be blamed,” inasmuch as, whereas he had hitherto eaten openly with Gentiles, he was now led by fear of the Judaizers to refuse to do so, “fearing them who were of the circumcision.” “To his dissimulation,” adds the Apostle, “the rest of the Jews consented, so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation.” St. Jerome maintained that the whole scene was a “dissimulation,” Peter was not “to be blamed” by Paul, but solely by those brethren whom he had offended by withdrawing from their table; the scene, therefore, was meant to appease both parties, viz. those who believed in circumcision—for they could follow Peter, and those who repudiated circumcision—for they could follow Paul. St. Jerome’s reasons for holding this view are briefly that Paul could not have withstood Peter, who was his senior, and further that Paul, by circumcising Timothy and shaving his head at Cenchre, was guilty of the same obsequiousness towards Jewish prejudices. Some, he says, try to avoid the dilemma by saying that “Cephas” is not the Apostle Peter, but one of the Seventy disciples, and, moreover, that Acts is silent concerning the whole affair. But St. Jerome replies that Cephas and Peter are but Aramaic and Greek forms of the same name; that he knows of no other Cephas than the one who is termed at one time “Cephas,” at another “Peter”; and finally, that St. Luke was not bound to mention every event he knew of.

St. Chrysostom’s explanation is fundamentally the same as that of St. Jerome. It could not, he urges, have really been a dispute, for this they would have had in private. Therefore “to his face,” κατὰ πρόσωπον, must be a figure of speech, and the equivalent of “in appearance,” σχημα. The explanation, then, is that Peter withdrew from the table of the uncircumcised converts for two reasons: lest he should offend the Jewish converts, and in order to give St. Paul an occasion for correcting him. This correction was necessitated, not because St. Peter was in the wrong, but because those who saw him eat with Jews might fancy he did so out of fear of St. Paul. The latter, of course, had no such feeling. “Paul, then, rebukes, and Peter bears with it; so that while the master is silent under rebuke his disciples may be the more easily induced to put aside their suspicion. . . . Peter, then, joins Paul in this pretense, συνυποκρινεται, as though were really in fault, so that owing to this rebuke they might be corrected. . . . Thus, by his silence Peter corrected their false suspicions; he put up with the imputation of dissimulation so as, by a real dissimulation, to free the Jews.”

This view was strenuously combated by St. Augustine, who pointed out that it made Scripture untruthful. St. Jerome replied that his view was derived from Origen, and that it seemed to him compelling from the twofold consideration that (a) Peter knew from the conversion of Cornelius that the Gentiles were to be received into the Church, and (b) that St. Paul had done the same in the case of Timothy, and in shaving his own head at Cenchre. Finally, he endeavored to show that he and Augustine were really saying the same thing in different words. But Augustine declined to accept this statement. The idea that the whole scene was fictitious was repellent to him, since it imperiled the whole truth of Scripture: “Non nunc inquiro quid fecerit, sed quid scripserit quaero.” “If Peter was doing what he had a right to do, then Paul lied when he said that Peter walked not uprightly unto the truth of the Gospel. . . . But if Paul wrote the truth, then it was true that Peter walked not rightly.” St. Augustine then shows that the cases of Timothy and the shaving of Paul’s head are not parallel with this episode at Antioch; he further points out that in St. Jerome’s list of authorities for his view Apollinaris the Laodicean and Alexander are heretics, while Jerome himself acknowledges that there are errors in Origen and Didymus. Augustine’s main exegetical point, however, is that the scene at Antioch took place either after or—as he himself at that date seems to have thought merely more probable—before the Council at Jerusalem. If after the Council, then it is to be noticed that whereas the Decrees forbade anyone to compel the Gentile converts to Judaize, they did not prohibit the Jewish converts from Judaizing. If before the Council, then it is not to be wondered at that St. Paul should urge St. Peter to uphold what he had already learnt from the case of Cornelius. But Augustine really based his whole position on the irrefragable veracity of Scripture; again and again in the course of the controversy does he return to the principle that if the scene is fictitious, then we can no longer trust Scripture. It is certainly remarkable that St. Jerome nowhere takes up this point, while his marked descent from acrimony to an unusual suavity in the course of the correspondence seems to indicate that he felt that Augustine’s position was really the sounder, though he never sang the palinodia for which St. Augustine called!

The point to notice in this commentary is the lack of consensus among the early church fathers even about as important an episode as this for claims about the primacy of Peter. The constant theme at Called To Communion is that the early church is in agreement about the deposit of the faith and that this provides a much more certain basis for faith than do Protestant interpretations of the Bible. Well, if Jerome, Chrysostom, and Augustine don’t see eye to eye on this matter, how unified are those early fathers? What kind of consensus exists that falls right down from Matt. 16:18 to a unified body of truth? Or how is it that Roman Catholic understandings of the early church fathers’ teaching do not rely on interpretations while Protestants only have their opinions? History is not so easily appropriated.

And that is an important point implicitly in Eamon Duffy’s history of the papacy (Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, Yale, 1997). As students of the Reformation may know, Duffy is one of those historians that Roman Catholics like to cite because his book on England (The Stripping of the Altars) shows how vibrant Roman Catholic piety was before Henry VIII came along. Instead of being moribund, late medieval piety was alive and popular. But his introduction to Saints and Sinners will not set well with those CTCers who claim that the reality of Rome needs no interpretation:

All the essential claims of the modern papacy, it might seem, are contained in this Gospel saying about the Rock, and in Irenaeus’ account of the apostolic pedigree of the early bishops of Rome. Yet matters are not so simple. The popes trace their commission from Christ through Peter, yet for Irenaeus the authority of the Church at Rome came from its foundation by two Apostles, not by one, Peter and Paul, not Peter alone. The tradition that Peter and Paul had been put to death at the hands of Nero in Rome about the year AD 64 was universally accepted in the second century, and by the end of that century pilgrims to Rome were being shown the ‘trophies’ of the Apostles, their tombs or cenotaphs, Peter’s on the Vatican Hill, and Paul’s on the Via Ostiensis, outside the walls on the road to the coast. Yet on all of this the New Testament is silent. Later legend would fill out the details of Peter’s life and death in Rome — his struggles with the magician and father of heresy, Simon Magus, his miracles, his attempted escape from persecution in Rome, a flight from which he was turned back by a reproachful vision of Christ (the ‘Quo Vadis’ legend), and finally his crucifixion upside down in the Vatican Circus in the time of the Emperor Nero. These stories were to be accepted as sober history by some of the greatest minds of the early Church — Origen, Ambrose, Augustine. But they are pious romance, not history, and the fact is that we have no reliable accounts either of Peter’s later life or of the manner or place of his death. Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops to carry on their work in the city, for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the deaths of the Apostles. In fact, wherever we turn, the solid outlines of the Petrine succession at Rome seem to blur and dissolve. (p. 1)

As I’ve said, the idea that only Protestants have opinions and Roman Catholics have epistemic certainty is nonsense historically considered.

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86 thoughts on “The Primacy of James (or the Ante-Ante-Nicene Fathers)

  1. Great post!

    Peter would seem to be a distant 3rd as far as New Testament authorship goes among the apostles.

    * Luke (Actual volume of both Luke & Acts) – but not even an apostle!
    1. Paul (His epistles)
    2. John (Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation)
    3. Peter? (2 Epistles) He doesn’t even get the longest speech in Acts (Stephen)!

    Not speaking ill of the Apostle Peter at all, just echoing your point.

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  2. Eamon Duffy’s account tracks more along the lines of the teachers at seminary as regards both claims of antiquity and regard of magisterial authority. It’s not that they didn’t have high regard and some of the more devout had almost a school-girl ‘beatlemania’ devotion, complete with photos etc. But when you got down to hammering out the what we believe and why we believe it, they NEVER fell back on magisterial authority or the primacy of the papacy. Instead, it was a regard for the majority practice or beliefs of the ‘community of faith’. The worldwide community of faith, most readily observed through the practice of the mass, was almost always the ground for the veracity of a practice or belief. The main engagement with scripture wasn’t exegesis to determine doctrine or test practice but, quite frankly, was to deconstruct the veracity of the documents particularly the historicity of Christ and who really said what. And once again more weight was given to the interlopers of the early ‘community of faith’ who were lauded for and credited with the more ‘divine’ statements of Jesus. The point being that the bedrock of the roman church wasn’t even original apostolic authority much less succession, but this community of faith who had always been there and had in fact had a dominant hand in writing the canon.

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  3. Prior to Paul’s rebuke of Peter in Galatians 2 is this statement:

    But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
    (Galatians 1:8-9 ESV)
    (Even I am capable of Copy-and-paste via esvbibleorg…)

    The whole rebuke of Peter is preceded by Paul’s statement concerning the capabilities of any man (or angel) to bear witness to a false gospel. The fact of the matter is that Peter, by his actions, was undermining the very gospel that he claimed. The point here is that Peter erred and his actions were bearing witness against the gospel he proclaimed to follow. How any Roman Catholic misses this I do not know.

    Hence why interpreting “the Rock” as Peter’s confession and not himself is correct. True doctrine cannot error; men error (like Peter did) and must align themselves with the truth of the Gospel or else be “Accursed.”

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  4. Sean says “Instead, it was a regard for the majority practice or beliefs of the ‘community of faith’.”

    In protestantism I think we see a bit of this in assuming that whatever is attracting the most people must be correct. How can the OPC have anything to say to Joel Osteen when their churches attract few and his attract thousands?

    If “majority practice” is not authoritative and if the early church fathers do not agree then where do we go? How about the Bible?…

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  5. Bryan Cross took a dig at the Heidelberg and the Belgic last week because they were written by “unordained men” or something like that. Reformed people would readily confess that those documents are only valid to the extent that they are a faithful summary of scripture. If anything they teach can be proven to be in opposition to scripture than Reformed churches can throw those parts out. Not so with Catholics who place the teachings of men above the Bible.

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  6. Erik,

    That’s interesting about the dig at the Heidelberg and the Belgic. I suppose Mr. Cross couldn’t take that standard too far or it would put the affirmations at Called To Communion in doubt. But then again, even Protestant symbols written by ordained men can be deprecated on the basis of their irregular ordination from the perspective of Rome.

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  7. This is really good stuff. Michael Horton, a couple days ago in a radio interview on this very topic of the Rome and Protestantism. Forward to time mark 2:07 to get to the beginning of the segment with Horton.

    [audio src="http://www.strcast2.org/podcast/weekly/080512.mp3" /]

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  8. D.G.

    You wrote:

    <blockquote?Well, if Jerome, Chrysostom, and Augustine don’t see eye to eye on this matter, how unified are those early fathers?

    You seem to be attempting to extrapolate from one instance of patristic disagreement concerning the interpretation of this passage, to the conclusion that there is no shared Tradition among the Fathers. That wouldn’t be a justified inference.

    Or how is it that Roman Catholic understandings of the early church fathers’ teaching do not rely on interpretations while Protestants only have their opinions?

    This is a straw man. No CTC author (or any Catholic I know, for that matter) claims that “Catholic understandings of the early church fathers’ teaching do not rely on interpretations.”

    But his introduction to Saints and Sinners will not set well with those CTCers who claim that the reality of Rome needs no interpretation:

    Again, this is a straw man. Where has any author at CTC claimed that “the reality of Rome needs no interpretation”?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  9. Erik, the Confession of Faith also speaks of synods and councils as “ordinances of God” and worthy of respect on those grounds alone. I think it’s 31.4.

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  10. Bryan, I could find any number of instances where the contrast between Rome and Protestantism is supposed to be that Rome simply is the deposit of the faith but Protestants have to interpret. But one example is Joshua Lim’s account of his conversion. Here is one of Josh’ comments which underscores this point that Rome represents historical truth — it is a fact — and Protestantism is simply lost in opinions:

    The question is not what one perceives to be the case. Of course, from a Protestant’s perspective submission to one’s own interpretation of Scripture is submission to the Word of God. My main point is that the distinction between ‘only authority’ and ‘final authority’ is, in practice, purely nominal. If you disagree with your elders on a given interpretation of Scripture, and you are convinced that you are correct, you would not submit to that body. In this sense, for the Protestant, the church only has as authority if the individual is already in agreement with that particular body. It’s hard to see how this is real authority. If you’re ‘excommunicated’ from one church for ‘heresy’ you can simply go to another protestant body that doesn’t regard that teaching as heretical and remain a consistent, bible-believing Protestant.

    If I, as a Catholic, disagree with the Magisterium of the Church in interpreting a given passage of Scripture, I must submit to the Church since she was established on the foundation of the Apostles by Christ himself. In other words, there is here an authority that is not contingent upon my agreement, but is objectively Christ’s authority–whether I agree with it or not.

    Ray Stamper’s post makes a similar point on authority paradigms:

    Keeping the above scenario in mind, let us explore the Catholic and Protestant authority paradigms (again, prescinding from exegesis and historical quarrels). Jesus Christ has ascended to heaven and is no longer among us in the same way as He was in first century Palestine. So in what way – from a communicative point of view – is He still with us? The Catholic paradigm claims that by leaving us with a living, personal, communicative authority that can speak repeatedly and definitively in His name, we therefore, still have a means of reaching clarity and certainty regarding the orthodox understanding of revealed data, not entirely unlike if Christ were still personally walking among us. Hence, Christians can repeatedly ask clarifying questions and arrive at doctrinal clarity and certainty over time – and that is just what the history of Magisterial pronouncements and the development of doctrine entail.

    Therefore, similar to the scenario mapped above, the Catholic use of reason changes radically after having come to recognize the locus of Divine authority in the living voice of the Magisterium centered in the Petrine office. There is no theological arguing with the Magisterium about the content of her definitive statements, because she speaks with the authority of Christ in such instances. Yet, we necessarily use our reason to understand what the Magisterium teaches. And, in fact, the people of God, across time, have required repeated input from the Magisterium to gain clarity on this or that issue, as will continue to the end of time. But there is no question of “holding our own” in matters of theological doctrine, over against the definitive teachings of the Magisterium. That notion would be as bizarre as a Reformed theologian having a combox dialogue with Jesus Christ, and after reaching a clear understanding of Jesus’ position on some theological matter, then beginning to offer exegetical and/or historical arguments to rebut Jesus’ theological claims!

    What Rome does is simply there and you believe it. No equivocation allowed or required. What Protestants do is simply interpret a book, and a book is capable of a variety of interpretations.

    The point is that Rome is not capable of a variety of interpretations and Protestantism is always open to interpretation. I understand how reassuring this is in a world of hermeneutics and doubt. But since Rome uses words, words are always subject to interpretation. And Rome’s have been repeatedly been interpreted by all sorts of Roman Catholics. The CTC view of no interpretation needed is simply bizarre and wrong.

    Just to play along, how do you interpret the Fourth Lateran Council’s requirements for Jews to wear different clothing than Christians? Do you interpret or do you take it lock stock and barrel?

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  11. CHAP. XXXI. – Of Synods and Councils.

    1. For the better government, and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called Synods or Councils; and it belongeth to the overseers and other rulers of the particular churches, by virtue of their office, and the power which Christ hath given them for edification and not for destruction, to appoint such assemblies; and to convene together in them, as often as they shall judge it expedient for the good of the church.

    2. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of His Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.

    3. All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.

    4. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

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  12. D.G. – The quotes you share are interesting. They remind me of the movie “My Bodyguard”. Matt Dillon is bullying Chris Makepeace so Chris Makepeace goes and gets Adam Baldwin to stand up for him. He scares Matt Dillon off so Matt Dillon goes and gets Hank Salas to stand up to Adam Baldwin. In the end Adam Baldwin beats up Hank Salas, but that’s not relevant to my point.

    Some Protestants don’t like the fact that “no one has final authority” within Protestantism so they go to Rome, who is glad to claim final authority. The former Protestant now feels all warm, fuzzy, and secure. They forget to really examine whether or not what Rome says about its authority is TRUE. Now I know they believe it’s true, by that belief is based on faith, which is why we are in the stalemate we have been in for 500 years.

    The CTC guys need to be humble and at least admit there are valid reasons we are in a stalemate. It is not obvious to the casual observer that Rome is right.

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  13. Bryan Cross wrote: “You seem to be attempting to extrapolate from one instance of patristic disagreement concerning the interpretation of this passage, to the conclusion that there is no shared Tradition among the Fathers.”

    GW: Apart from Scripture, which is an objective, written body of “Tradition,” can you point us to the specific, objective, unwritten contents of this shared patristic Tradition of which you speak, as officially and dogmatically defined by Rome? And can you offer us clear, official, dogmatically-defined guidelines for how to distinguish this “shared Tradition among the Fathers” from instances of mere patristic disagreement concerning the interpretation of specific passages? And, finally, can you demonstrate to us that your distinction between patristic interpretations of Scripture (on the one hand) and “shared Tradition among the fathers” (on the other hand) is, in fact, a distinction based upon official Roman teaching, and not merely an artificial and arbitrary rescuing device invented to explain away contradictions amongst the Church Fathers or merely “your” interpretation of this “Tradition”? (Would not this “shared Tradition among the fathers” include shared interpretations of Holy Scripture?)

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  14. D.G.

    You wrote:

    the contrast between Rome and Protestantism is supposed to be that Rome simply is the deposit of the faith but Protestants have to interpret

    Nothing Joshua or Ray says in those quotations states or entails that Catholics don’t have to interpret magisterial teaching, or that “the reality of Rome needs no interpretation.” You’re misunderstanding them. Their point is not that somehow being Catholic bypasses the need for interpretation (while Protestants are stuck with needing to interpret). Rather, their point is that divinely established magisterial interpretive authority allows for the resolution of interpretative questions, including questions regarding the interpretation of the magisterium itself.

    What Rome does is simply there and you believe it.

    Again, no one at CTC has said that; it is a straw man of your own making.

    The point is that Rome is not capable of a variety of interpretations and….

    Neither Joshua nor Ray nor anyone at CTC said that, or said anything entailing that.

    But since Rome uses words, words are always subject to interpretation. And Rome’s have been repeatedly been interpreted by all sorts of Roman Catholics. The CTC view of no interpretation needed is simply bizarre and wrong.

    No one at CTC denies that interpretation of Rome’s words is necessary. You’re attacking a straw man.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  15. Bryan Cross wrote: “Rather, their point is that divinely established magisterial interpretive authority allows for the resolution of interpretative questions, including questions regarding the interpretation of the magisterium itself.”

    GW: Is that Rome’s official interpretation of its own interpretive authority, or is that your (or perhaps CTC’s) interpretation of Rome’s interpretive authority?

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  16. Geoff – Don’t waste your time. Bryan doesn’t address anyone but D.G. and when he does it’s in the form of a formal press release, not a conversation. He should take Jay Carney’s job.

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  17. Bryan: Could you please provide us with a sample list of Scripture passages (other than Matthew 16:18 and John 20:22-23) that Rome has officially, dogmatically interpreted in response to interpretive controversies within the church.

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  18. D.G.,

    Thoughtful post. I’m reading your exchange with Bryan and an illustration came to mind. Imagine two scenario’s

    (Scenario #1) As a high school history teacher I sometimes get to teach on difficult subjects to a diverse student body (the feminist movement, the sexual revolution, the Protestant revivals, ect). Some of the students may very well disagree about what exactly I am teaching, but they are free to ask questions for greater clarity. One question that never comes up, however, is “who is the teacher?” All know, the question doesn’t need to be asked.

    (Scenario #2) Students come to the room with text books on their desk, but no teacher. They can read, they can debate, but there is no common authority in the room that everybody agrees has the authority to teach. This is Protestantism.

    Yes, Interpretation is required for both Catholics and Protestants. Protestantism, however, seems to resemble a classroom without a teacher. The WCF means nothing to a Methodist just as Wesley’s Discipline means nothing to Presbyterians. Anglicans don’t care for the Book of Concord (Lutheran) and Lutherans don’t care for the 39 Articles. There is simply no recognized teacher in Protestantism.

    You may argue in reply that Catholicism resembles a classroom without a book, but this is not true. The book and the teacher are in accord with one another and both come from the same authority (the state in the case of the illustration). The Bible and the Magisterium are in perfect accord. Listen to how question 80 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it;

    80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.”40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  19. Somebody said something somewhere about things like ‘infallibility’ dying the death of a thousand qualifications. It’s beginning to head into the territory of; ‘If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there………….’

    BTW, Rome is the mass. Just sayin’

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  20. Jeremy Tate – See my comment above about “My Bodyguard”. How does knowing who the teacher is in your example have anything to say about whether or not his teaching is right? It comes down to faith, no?

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  21. Jeremy Tate says;

    “The Bible and the Magisterium are in perfect accord.” Here we go again.

    Jeremy, I’m willing to buy that this works out if you guys have a deficient view of the inspiration of scripture, which is in fact the case. But, you know how conservative protestants view the canon, Your use of language does not correspond to our canonical concepts, even where the same words are used. So, this becomes like the ECT document where you get protestants to sell the deed to their house while you sit on your porch across the street smoking a cigar marveling that you actually got them to sell it to you for the change in your pocket.

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  22. Confessional Reformed people have a framework that we generally don’t question, too — our confessional standards. That doesn’t make them necessarily correct. Catholics don’t accept them. People confuse order, age, appearance, and claims of authority for actual authority in the case of Rome (in my opinion).

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  23. I think D.G.’s point (and my point) is it’s not the fact that people are Roman Catholic, or even that Reformed guys convert to Catholicism, that is the issue. It’s the smugness and ham-handedness with which the CTC guys go about things on their website and in their posts here that is irritating. Just acknowledge that you have made a different leap of faith than we have made and we can all respect each other and be friends. D.G. has mentioned that he has Catholic friends (even some he has dedicated books to) so being Catholic is not the issue.

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  24. Erik,

    How does knowing who the teacher is in your example have anything to say about whether or not his teaching is right? It comes down to faith, no?

    Jesus gave to his Apostles and the Church the authority to teach divine truth. “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16 ESV)

    Protestantism asserts (without any Scriptural backing) that this gift, to speak on behalf of Christ, was somehow lost.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  25. Sean,

    Keep in mind that as dear as Sole Fide is to Protestants, it reduces to a mere hypothetical. “Orthodox Reformed” people always want to clarify that “although we’re saved by faith alone, it is by a faith that never is alone”. In other words, Protestantism is based on a doctrine which, even according to the best of Protestantism (in my opinion Confessional Reformed), is categorically impossible. ECT probably saw this, and hence, didn’t need to sell the deed to their house.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  26. Jeremy,

    More rose-coloring I see. I call it dishonest brokering, like the gypsies who want to reroof my house. I would never let you, unwittingly or otherwise, forsake the mass and sacraments, for a little unity around something so open to interpretation as words inscripturated or traditionally considered. That just wouldn’t be right. BTW, there you go blurring justification and sanctification….again.

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  27. Jeremy: “Jesus gave to his Apostles and the Church the authority to teach divine truth.”

    The Apostles, yes. I know of no apostles that are still living. And which “church” is the question. You have your answer and I have mine.

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  28. Bryan, maybe I’m attacking a straw man, but CTC is clear that the problem of Protestantism is that we only have a book and you have a historical fact — that Christ chose Peter, etc. Christ choosing Peter is an interpretation. I’m glad to hear that you also agree that this needs to be interpreted.

    But then the real problem of Protestantism isn’t a multiplicity of interpretations. Rome has many interpretations among its clergy and scholars and people. Rome also seems to notice, as the commentary I quoted, that the Early Church Fathers had a multiplicity of interpretations. I’m still wondering how all this adds up to the consensus that CTCers boast. Not to mention that I wonder how your interpretations are some how better than ours as in tu quoque. Your version of ECF is not infallible or charismatic. It’s just an opinion like mine.

    What does make your interpretation different from mine is that yours may (I’m not sure but I’ll take your word for it) agree with what finally separates us — namely, that you have AN (you would say THE) interpreter. What finally makes your interpretations significant is that they are backed up by an infallible interpreter. But if that’s the case, your interpretations are really unimportant and just as insignificant as Protestants. Your opinions only become true when they line up with the popes and the magisterium. If they don’t they are just like Protestants, words blowing in the breeze.

    In which case, I don’t know why you knock yourself out with so much “evidence” from the early church. All that evidence is the same kind of phenomenon as all the exegesis that Protestants might use for their convictions. Without an infallible living authority to tell you you arrived at the right interpretation of the evidence, your version of the evidence is just opinion.

    I see how we differ and agree to disagree. Just don’t tell us that what we do chaotic and subjective. Your scholarly writings are also chaotic and subjective unless they agree with the pope and magisterium. I see how that gives you an advantage over us. I don’t see how that allows you to publish at CTC anything other than what the popes and magisterium teach.

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  29. Jeremy T., I see the point of your analogy. But what you guys at CTC don’t seem to recognize is that the teacher in your scenario (since Vatican 2) resembles more a substitute teacher than one of the nuns that used to bring a yard stick into class and let students know when they were wrong morally and intellectually. So great, you have a teacher. What’s he doing about the Jesuits in the back of the class that keep throwing spitballs at the egg heads in the front?

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  30. Jeremy, this is patently false — that Protestantism lost the gift of speaking on behalf of Christ. Every Sunday when my minister preaches the word, and sometimes he uses his own words, I hear the word of Christ. You don’t like us to misrepresent Rome. Don’t misrepresent Reformed Protestantism. God gave us pastors, evangelists, teachers, and elders for a reason and a good reason.

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  31. Erik,

    I think D.G.’s point (and my point) is it’s not the fact that people are Roman Catholic, or even that Reformed guys convert to Catholicism, that is the issue. It’s the smugness and ham-handedness with which the CTC guys go about things on their website and in their posts here that is irritating. Just acknowledge that you have made a different leap of faith than we have made and we can all respect each other and be friends. D.G. has mentioned that he has Catholic friends (even some he has dedicated books to) so being Catholic is not the issue.

    I appreciate your heart and where you’re coming from. Last summer I had the chance to spend several days with many of the authors at Called to Communion. While I expected to be impressed with these men as scholars I went home more impressed with them as men of faith. I just don’t see the “smugness” that you find so irritating.

    Christian unity matters. Protestantism has attempted to rediscover unity, but it always takes the form of watering down doctrinal distinctives among various Protestant groups. The Catholic Church alone offers both unity and doctrinal depth. The Catholic Church hasn’t been preserved because super competent men hold positions of power, but because the Holy Spirit has kept the promise of Christ to remain with His people.

    As for the “leap of faith”. Personally, I began seminary at RTS with zero expectation of even considering anything outside of Reformed Protestantism. I had been told that the Catholic Church had condemned the gospel at Trent and that the Reformers had courageously stood up and reasserted the Biblical Doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. It was only when I immersed myself in Scripture and history that I realized that the story was a bit more complicated. I had no answer when a Catholic asked me where the Bible teaches Sola Scriptura. I realized that I couldn’t agree with all the implications of Sola Fide (that one can be saved without agape for God). In fact, didn’t make a giant leap of faith. I slowly and painfully realized that the Reformation had actually been an attempt to reform the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and that ultimately, the only ones who did any real reforming were the ones who worked to end corruption from within the Church. St. Catherine of Siena is the classic example of one who worked to reform the corruption of the medieval Catholic Church from within. For me, conversion meant the loss of my job, the loss of my house (a Church owned property), the loss of friends, and a massive strain on my marriage. I didn’t do what I did because I wanted to take a blind leap of faith.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  32. Jeremy Tate, how could salvation based on Christ’s righteousness be impossible. What seems impossible is that you could ever infuse enough righteousness into a human being to make them as righteous as Christ was both before and especially after his passion.

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  33. As for the “leap of faith”. Personally, I began seminary at RTS with zero expectation of even considering anything outside of Reformed Protestantism. I had been told that the Catholic Church had condemned the gospel at Trent and that the Reformers had courageously stood up and reasserted the Biblical Doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. It was only when I immersed myself in Scripture and history that I realized that the story was a bit more complicated.

    RS: While it is a bit complicated, that does not deny the truth of them. From what you have beeing writing, I am still convinced that you don’t really understand them.

    Jeremy T: I had no answer when a Catholic asked me where the Bible teaches Sola Scriptura. I realized that I couldn’t agree with all the implications of Sola Fide (that one can be saved without agape for God).

    RS: Which is proof that perhaps you don’t understand what it teaches.

    Jeremy T: In fact, didn’t make a giant leap of faith. I slowly and painfully realized that the Reformation had actually been an attempt to reform the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and that ultimately, the only ones who did any real reforming were the ones who worked to end corruption from within the Church.

    RS: That may be mostly true, but the real corruption was when the Gospel of grace alone was declared anathema. You may think that this is nothing but a stereotype, but so be it. The fact is that it is true. When Rome did that it ceased to be a Church since it takes the Gospel to be a real Church. The corruption of Rome extended to the corruption of the Gospel.

    Jeremy T: St. Catherine of Siena is the classic example of one who worked to reform the corruption of the medieval Catholic Church from within. For me, conversion meant the loss of my job, the loss of my house (a Church owned property), the loss of friends, and a massive strain on my marriage. I didn’t do what I did because I wanted to take a blind leap of faith.

    RS: Perhaps you didn’t want to take a blind leap of faith, but that is not the same thing as taking a blinded leap.

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  34. Sean,

    Would love to interact with your post, but it is mostly incomprehensible, e.g.: “the teachers at seminary.” What teachers? What seminary?

    What “community of faith” had a “dominant hand in writing the canon”? What does “writing the canon” mean? How does a community write?

    I don’t know if your comment is pro or anti magisterium. I don’t know what you think about the original post it purports to comment on.

    I welcome your opinions here, but simply request that you state them more clearly.

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  35. D.G.,

    Jeremy, this is patently false — that Protestantism lost the gift of speaking on behalf of Christ.

    Of course Protestantism asserts that the charism of infallibity has been lost (speaking on behalf of the Christ who never gets it wrong). If I am wrong in my assertion, just tell me where to go within Protestantism to find the voice divinely protected from error.

    Look at Vatican II’s (which it sounds like you have read in its entirity?) Dogmatic Constitution on the Church;

    This infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed in defining a doctrine of faith and morals extends as far as the deposit of divine revelation which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded.

    Further,

    The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of bishops when that body exercises supreme teaching authority with the successor of Peter

    Protestantism, and you, reject the idea that such a gift still exists. Do you believe that the “Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed” with this gift?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  36. Brian – How close is your church plant to Reston, VA? My sister may be moving there and is looking for a conservative Reformed church. I am in the URC in Des Moines.

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  37. Erik: Depends where in Reston. Google says its 22.5 mostly freeway miles, or 35 minutes on a Sunday morning. Parking isn’t bad (on Sunday) at our downtown location, and we validate if you need to use a garage (rare).

    Grace Church OPC in Vienna, VA would likely be closer (still about 20 minutes), and it is a good church. While we’re both confessionally Reformed, you’d find us to be more liturgical, with weekly communion, etc.

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  38. Richard Smith,

    Please quote from Trent, where exactly does it declare the

    Gospel of grace alone was declared anathema

    Does Trent say this or is this how you interpret Trent?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  39. Erik,

    Jeremy – I appreciate your sincerity and ability to have a conversation.

    Wow. Thank you. I am often guilty of just defending sides and not listening well, so please know that I am doing my best to listen and consider what you and other Reformed people are saying.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  40. Brian,

    Sorry about that, I was trading on prior posts as to my past experience at a catholic seminary and later studies at college. The priests and religious that were my profs, were trying to enact Vat II recommendations as it regarded scriptural hermenuetics, and since this was relatively new to them, they simply ‘borrowed’ the protestant liberal hermenuetics of Bultman and the higher critics and then capitalized upon the ongoing determinations of the jesus seminar folk, to essentialy deconstruct the scriptures, and challenge the historicity of Jesus. It amounted to a Jeffersonian gutting of the divine statements of Jesus and the miracles, and attributing such statements to the interlopers of the ‘community of faith’ who added such sayings later. It was pretty boiler plate liberalism with the reliance on the ‘Q’ document as a template, as I remember it. This deconstruction of sacred scripture was considered no threat to Rome and in fact gave creedence to the idea that holy tradition and the ‘community of faith’ were of more importance to the church than sacred scripture.

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  41. Brian,

    BTW, I am a member in the PCA. So, no longer RC but don’t tell the guys at presbytery who consider the ‘bishop of rome’ worthy of protestant deference

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  42. Sean, sorry for my latest comment directed toward you. It was out of order (literally), in that I posted it without reloading my page (I thought I was the fourth or fifth comment in the chain). Where it is found, it doesn’t make sense. Apologies.

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  43. Jeremy, like I say, looks good on paper. But we’re back in the school classroom. No one is sure when the teacher is speaking authoritatively or infallibly. I did ask Bryan yesterday if he submits to the Fourth Lateran Council on the attire of Jews:

    68. Jews appearing in public

    A difference of dress distinguishes Jews or Saracens from Christians in some provinces, but in others a certain confusion has developed so that they are indistinguishable. Whence it sometimes happens that by mistake Christians join with Jewish or Saracen women, and Jews or Saracens with christian women. In order that the offence of such a damnable mixing may not spread further, under the excuse of a mistake of this kind, we decree that such persons of either sex, in every christian province and at all times, are to be distinguished in public from other people by the character of their dress — seeing moreover that this was enjoined upon them by Moses himself, as we read. They shall not appear in public at all on the days of lamentation and on passion Sunday; because some of them on such days, as we have heard, do not blush to parade in very ornate dress and are not afraid to mock Christians who are presenting a memorial of the most sacred passion and are displaying signs of grief. What we most strictly forbid however, is that they dare in any way to break out in derision of the Redeemer. We order secular princes to restrain with condign punishment those who do so presume, lest they dare to blaspheme in any way him who was crucified for us, since we ought not to ignore insults against him who blotted out our wrongdoings.

    You seem to have great certainty about certainty. But Roman Catholicism these days is not all that certain about whether the certain voice is certain. It does seem that you take great assurance from an ideal and ignore the reality (or wonder much how the two square).

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  44. Jeremy,

    I hope you have enough agape for God.

    This isn’t snark, it’s Law. “Unless your agape for God exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Is it perfect? Will you allow Christ to “top it off” for you? Or will you close the gap, purge the refuse, with a little purgatorial suffering?

    As Richard notes, the comment proves you don’t understand the force of sola fide, for sola fide doesn’t deny that the believer–every believer–has agape for God. Even the thief on the cross has agape for the one hanging beside him. It just denies that your agape provides any basis for your salvation, as you and your magisterium insist.

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  45. Brian,

    Is this Dr. Brian Lee at RTS in D.C.? If so, thank you for being such a great Professor and for always taking an interest in the lives of your students. I loved your Genesis to Joshua class. Thank you for teaching me to think about theology (even if you disagree with where I went) BTW Erin and I are working to catch up with your family (baby #4 on the way). If this is not Dr. Lee, uh,sorry.

    I miss seeing you – Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  46. Dr. Lee,

    Bryan Cross’ most recent post answers this question. If you go to CtC it’s titled “Imputation and Paradigms: A Reply to Nicholas…” I will offer a longer response tonight though. I’m tied up until then with work. Gotta run.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  47. Jeremy,

    The reference to your time at RTS is further evidence of arrogance referred to earlier. CTC folks wear their Reformed degrees or credentials as proof that they really get the Reformation, and reject it knowingly, with eyes wide open. Yet their words often show a failure to understand the most basic Reformed teachings.

    I’m not surprised in the least that there are many folks at Westminster East or West or RTS who don’t understand Reformation doctrine, or understanding it, reject it. Most confirmed catholics, and many priests, lack basic understanding of Roman doctrine. But your credentials don’t get you off the hook for showing that you understand it in debate by actually representing it accurately. Show your former insider status by your words, not by appeals to credentials or experience.

    That is the force of DGH’s post. The claim that “Protestants interpret, Papists know” is patently and demonstrably false. Most Roman converts I know have embraced a romantic ideal of knowing, in lieu of the hard work of interpretation and exegesis. But there is no there there.

    Great post, Darryl.

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  48. I am at RTS in DC, and if I taught you, sorry for not remembering your name. The rapidfire and occasional nature of the scheduling usually leaves me forgetting former students within weeks of the course. OK, my shoddy memory is to blame as well.

    Though I am the youngest of six, I only have one child, so I’m not sure what you by “catching up with your family.”

    Cheers, and thank you for your kind words about my class. I would only add to previous post that being a former student of mine is no guarantee of understanding Reformed doctrine, either (if not a liability).

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  49. Brian Lee (not Peter Lee),

    You write

    The reference to your time at RTS is further evidence of arrogance referred to earlier. CTC folks wear their Reformed degrees or credentials as proof that they really get the Reformation, and reject it knowingly, with eyes wide open. Yet their words often show a failure to understand the most basic Reformed teachings.

    Sorry you see this as arrogance. I can assure you that I understand Reformed Theology, I just disagree with certain aspects. This tactic though is common. Reformed people sometimes ignore whatever converts say and instead explain away every conversion as an instance of somebody not understanding Reformed Theology (which is nicer than the alternatives; we’re mentally unstable or have just turned from the Lord)

    Brian, I encourage you to do justice to the Reformed Worldview, which in my opinion, is certainly big enough to allow for people who (A) understand Reformed Theology (B) Disagree with aspects of it and (C) still love Jesus.

    I will address your agape question tonight; Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  50. Jeremy, I allow for the class of people you identify, who understand and reject the Reformation, and yet love Jesus. It was your own comment I was referring to, which belied a misunderstanding of sola fide:

    “I realized that I couldn’t agree with all the implications of Sola Fide (that one can be saved without agape for God).”

    Cross’s article doesn’t address this, as he doesn’t really identify what agape is. The only way your comment about sola fide is accurate is if “agape” is perfect love. But Cross equivocates on this point. He sets agape over against a list paradigm, but there is no such false dichotomy. The law points to love, but there is no space between them. The one who has agape keeps the whole list perfectly. If agape is less than the list, what is it? A sentiment? A desire?

    If you choose to rely on the agape infused in your heart as the basis of your justification, it best be whole and perfect and entire love for God, including your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and reflected in your thoughts, actions, hopes, desires. No one is justified without agape, but no one is justified on the basis of their agape. Saving faith is never alone, though it alone acts to save.

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  51. D.G.

    You wrote:

    but CTC is clear that the problem of Protestantism is that we only have a book and you have a historical fact — that Christ chose Peter, etc.

    Not quite. Yes, a problem intrinsic to Protestantism is that Scripture alone is incapable of definitively determining for all Christians what is orthodox and what is heretical. But the Catholic solution to that problem is not “the Catholic Church has an historical fact,” but rather that the Catholic Church has a divinely established magisterium. Discovering this about the Catholic Church generally requires interpretation of historical and patristic evidence.

    But then the real problem of Protestantism isn’t a multiplicity of interpretations. Rome has many interpretations among its clergy and scholars and people.

    Yes and yes. The problem within Protestantism is not a multiplicity of interpretations per se, but rather an incapacity in principle to establish and determine definitively the content of the “one faith” of the Church. The multiplicity of interpretations within the Catholic Church occur within the context of magisterial authority, such that these interpretations either fall under the category of questions not yet definitively answered by the magisterium, or if not, are either contrary to or in conformity with magisterial teaching. Their presence therefore does not nullify the capacity of the magisterium definitively to resolve doctrinal and interpretive questions.

    Rome also seems to notice, as the commentary I quoted, that the Early Church Fathers had a multiplicity of interpretations. I’m still wondering how all this adds up to the consensus that CTCers boast.

    As I said in a previous comment on a previous thread here at OL, discovering the entirety of the shared Tradition within the Fathers cannot be done in a combox, or by prooftexting from the Fathers. So nothing here in what you have said or what any of us has said in a combox “adds up” to the patristic consensus.

    Not to mention that I wonder how your interpretations are some how better than ours as in tu quoque. Your version of ECF is not infallible or charismatic. It’s just an opinion like mine.

    The only way to answer that question is to go through the Church Fathers one by one, from the first century onward, and determine whether what they say fits better into the Catholic paradigm or the Protestant paradigm. Some opinions about history are better than others. Historical truths can be discovered. Institutions and offices can be historically uncovered.

    In discussing this, it is important, in my opinion, to distinguish between that inquiry and investigation in which one engages prior to recognizing the authority of the magisterium, and that inquiry and investigation in which one engages as a Catholic under the authority of the magisterium. These two take place in different epistemic frameworks, and it is important when discussing these matters to identify clearly which epistemic condition is in view.

    What finally makes your interpretations significant is that they are backed up by an infallible interpreter. But if that’s the case, your interpretations are really unimportant and just as insignificant as Protestants. Your opinions only become true when they line up with the popes and the magisterium.

    That conclusion does not follow. A theological opinion can be true even if it has not yet been definitively declared to be true by the magisterium. Theological reasoning and argumentation that self-consciously stands within and builds upon the Catholic theological tradition is important and significant even if the conclusions one reaches through such inquiry have not yet been addressed by the magisterium. Such reasoning and inquiry can also help to unveil a deeper understanding of the implications underlying previous magisterial decisions. And there is the whole preliminary stage of inquiry at the level of motives of credibility, prior to recognizing and submitting to magisterial authority. Interpretations and conclusions at that stage are important, because they can lead one toward or away from the truth regarding the identity of Christ, the Church and ultimately the gospel.

    If they don’t they are just like Protestants, words blowing in the breeze.

    True, in the sense that they have no magisterial authority, or capacity to determine dogma definitively for all Christians.

    In which case, I don’t know why you knock yourself out with so much “evidence” from the early church. All that evidence is the same kind of phenomenon as all the exegesis that Protestants might use for their convictions. Without an infallible living authority to tell you you arrived at the right interpretation of the evidence, your version of the evidence is just opinion.

    I do not believe that without an infallible living authority, I cannot arrive at the truth regarding the motives of credibility concerning where and what is the Church Christ founded. The motives of credibility are open to investigation prior to recognizing the authority of the Church’s magisterium.

    I see how we differ and agree to disagree. Just don’t tell us that what we do chaotic and subjective. Your scholarly writings are also chaotic and subjective unless they agree with the pope and magisterium. I see how that gives you an advantage over us. I don’t see how that allows you to publish at CTC anything other than what the popes and magisterium teach.

    As I said above, Catholicism does not require or entail skepticism about grasping the motives of credibility prior to the ecclesial act of faith. Catholicism rejects fideism. So there is plenty for a Catholic to talk about regarding the disagreement between Catholics and Protestants, even while setting aside (for the sake of argument) the authority of the magisterium. There is also within Catholicism a belief in the authority of Tradition, which is broader than simply what popes and councils have explicitly said. So a Catholic consciously speaking from within the Catholic paradigm can draw from the Tradition as well to explain various Catholic doctrines and practices, including magisterial definitions.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  52. Jeremy Tate: Richard Smith, Please quote from Trent, where exactly does it declare the Gospel of grace alone was declared anathema

    Does Trent say this or is this how you interpret Trent?

    RS: It would take a lot of posts to show how much and how often Trent denies the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. I will post some, but here are some places where Trent denies the Gospel.

    CHAPTER IV.
    A description is introduced of the Justification of the impious, and of the Manner thereof under the law of grace.

    By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein 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 Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

    CHAPTER V.
    On the necessity, in adults, of preparation for Justification, and whence it proceeds.

    The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient [Page 33] grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. Whence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you, we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer; Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted, we confess that we are prevented by the grace of God.

    CHAPTER VII.
    What the justification of the impious is, and what are the causes thereof.

    This disposition, or preparation, is followed by Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend, that so he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.

    CHAPTER VII.
    What the justification of the impious is, and what are the causes thereof.

    This disposition, or preparation, is followed by Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend, that so he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting.
    Of this Justification the causes are these: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting; while the efficient cause is a merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing, and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance; but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited Justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father; the instru-[Page 35]mental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified; lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation. For, although no one can be just, but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity. For faith, unless hope and charity be added thereto, neither unites man perfectly with Christ, nor makes him a living member of His body. For which reason it is most truly said, that Faith without works is dead and profitless; and, In Christ Jesus neither circumcision, availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by charity.

    CHAPTER X.
    On the increase of Justification received.
    Having, therefore, been thus justified, and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day; that is, by mortifying the members of their own flesh, and by presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified, as it is written; He that is just, let him be justified still; and again, Be not afraid to be justified even to death; and also, Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. And this increase of justification holy Church begs, when she prays, “Give unto us, O Lord, increase of faith, hope, and charity.”

    CHAPTER XI.
    On keeping the Commandments, and on the necessity and possibility thereof.
    But no one, how much soever justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema,-that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou are able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy; whose yoke is sweet and whose burthen light. For, whoso are the sons of God, love Christ; but they who love him, keep his commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do. For, although, during this mortal life, men, how holy and just soever, at times fall into at least light and daily sins, which are also called venial, not therefore do they cease to be just. For that cry of the just, Forgive us our trespasses, is both humble and true. And for this cause, the just themselves ought to feel themselves the more obligated to walk in the way of justice, in that, being already freed from sins, but made servants of God, they are able, living soberly, justly, and godly, to proceed onwards through Jesus Christ, by whom they have had access unto this grace. For God forsakes not those who have been once justified by His grace, unless he be first forsaken by them. Wherefore, no one ought to flatter himself up with faith alone, fancying that by faith alone he is made an heir, and will obtain the inheritance,

    CHAPTER XII.
    That a rash presumptuousness in the matter of Predestination is to be avoided.
    No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in [Page 40] the number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself.

    CHAPTER XIV.
    On the fallen, and their restoration.
    As regards those who, by sin, have fallen from the received grace of Justification, they may be again justified, when, God exciting them, through the sacrament of Penance they shall have attained to the recovery, by the merit of Christ, of the grace lost: for this manner of Justification is of the fallen the reparation: which the holy Fathers have aptly called a second plank after the shipwreck of grace lost. For, on behalf of those who fall into sins after baptism, Christ Jesus instituted the sacrament of Penance, when He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Whence it is to be taught, that the penitence of a Christian, after his fall, is very different from that at (his) baptism; and that therein are included not only a cessation from sins, and a detestation thereof, or, a contrite and humble heart, but also the sacramental confession of the said sins,-at least in desire, and to be made in its season,-and sacerdotal absolution; and likewise satisfaction by fasts, alms, prayers, and the other pious exercises of a spiritual life;

    CHAPTER XVI.
    On the fruit of Justification, that is, on the merit of good works, and on the nature of that merit.
    Before men, therefore, who have been justified in this manner,-whether they have preserved uninterruptedly the grace received, or whether they have recovered it when lost,-are to be set the words of the Apostle: Abound in every good work, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord; for God is not unjust, that he should forget your work, and the love which you have shown in his name; and, do not lose your confidence, which hath a great reward. And, for this cause, life eternal is to be proposed to those working well unto [Page 43] the end, and hoping in God, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Jesus Christ, and as a reward which is according to the promise of God Himself, to be faithfully rendered to their good works and merits. For this is that crown of justice which the Apostle declared was, after his fight and course, laid up for him, to be rendered to him by the just judge, and not only to him, but also to all that love his coming. For, whereas Jesus Christ Himself continually infuses his virtue into the said justified,-as the head into the members, and the vine into the branches,-and this virtue always precedes and accompanies and follows their good works, which without it could not in any wise be pleasing and meritorious before God,-we must believe that nothing further is wanting to the justified, to prevent their being accounted 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 also in its (due) time, if so be, however, that they depart in grace: seeing that Christ, our Saviour, saith: If any one shall drink of the water that I will give him, he shall not thirst for ever; but it shall become in him a fountain of water springing up unto life everlasting. Thus, neither is our own justice established as our own as from ourselves; nor is the justice of God ignored or repudiated: for that justice which is called ours, because that we are justified from its being inherent in us, that same is (the justice) of God, because that it is infused into us of God, through the merit of Christ. Neither is this to be omitted,-that although, in the sacred writings, so much is attributed to good works, that Christ promises, that even he that shall give a drink of cold water to one of his least ones, shall not lose his reward; and the Apostle testifies that, That which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; nevertheless God forbid that a Christian should either trust or glory in himself, and not in the Lord, whose bounty towards all [Page 44] men is so great, that He will have the things which are His own gifts be their merits.

    CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.
    CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

    CANON V.-If any one saith, that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.
    CANON VII.-If any one saith, that all works done before Justification, in whatsoever way they be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; or that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema.
    CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
    CANON X.-If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.
    CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

    CANON XVII.-If any one saith, that the grace of Justification is only attained to by those who are predestined unto life; but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.
    CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.
    CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.
    CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.
    CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose [Page 49] living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

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  53. Darryl said: Jeremy T., I see the point of your analogy. But what you guys at CTC don’t seem to recognize is that the teacher in your scenario (since Vatican 2) resembles more a substitute teacher than one of the nuns that used to bring a yard stick into class and let students know when they were wrong morally and intellectually. So great, you have a teacher. What’s he doing about the Jesuits in the back of the class that keep throwing spitballs at the egg heads in the front?

    John Y: Now there is some good and creative snark, perhaps an instant classic; except you can’t throw spitballs Darryl, you have to blow them. I want to be like Darryl. I dated a Catholic girl for 4 years who was strictly brought up in a Catholic home and attended all Catholic schools through high school. And this is exactly how she describe what the nuns were like. She was a wild Latin American girl and real fun to be around. But if you crossed her she turned into the devil-incarnate. She had a will of iron. Her brother was studying to be a priest but turned gay and was shoved off a balcony by a wounded lover. They never caught the guy who did it. It was deemed a suicide. I love the image of the Jesuits blowing spitballs at all the egg-heads in the front of the class.

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  54. Bryan, if Rome denies fideism, you guys at CTC should really strive to sound less fideistic. I mean is a debate with you really possible since the conclusion is already determined? We may debate the fathers or Scripture, but in the end your mind is made up and CTC functions as an echo chamber for minds made up.

    As for whether or not your theological opinions are true independent of magisterial approval, the language of “can be” pretty much seals it. Your ideas are like Protestants until the pope delivers. It must be great having a theological calculator as a back up to your math. But seeing how a lot of people who weren’t infallible were responsible for constructing the calculator, this looks like a set of truth that can never be tested (or falsified).

    And I’m still wondering what you make of Constitution 68 of the Fourth Lateran Council. Seeing as how authoritative and infallible your church is, is it still the case that Jews should wear different attire? Or is this one that doesn’t qualify as infallible? Is there a calculator that allows you to tell the difference between an authoritative church council and one the isn’t? Please supply the link.

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  55. She must not have ran into one of those substitutes- they branded that infused grace into her with a rod of iron. It certainly worked on her- her will was unbendable. She almost ended up destroying me too. It was the strangest 4 years I have ever been through in my life.

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  56. Bryan says;

    The problem within Protestantism is not a multiplicity of interpretations per se, but rather an incapacity in principle to establish and determine definitively the content of the “one faith” of the Church. The multiplicity of interpretations within the Catholic Church occur within the context of magisterial authority, such that these interpretations either fall under the category of questions not yet definitively answered by the magisterium, or if not, are either contrary to or in conformity with magisterial teaching. Their presence therefore does not nullify the capacity of the magisterium definitively to resolve doctrinal and interpretive questions.

    Sean:

    This is beginning to remind me of dungeons and dragons when we would argue; ‘Nuh, uh my palladin cloak totally counters that.’ Not that I know, directly or anything, I just heard about it.

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  57. The reference to your time at RTS is further evidence of arrogance referred to earlier. CTC folks wear their Reformed degrees or credentials as proof that they really get the Reformation, and reject it knowingly, with eyes wide open.

    For what its worth I am a convert from the Presbyterian Church (PCA) as well and I have no seminary training whatsoever.

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  58. Dr. Lee,

    Jeremy, I allow for the class of people you identify, who understand and reject the Reformation, and yet love Jesus. It was your own comment I was referring to, which belied a misunderstanding of sola fide:

    “I realized that I couldn’t agree with all the implications of Sola Fide (that one can be saved without agape for God).”

    Fair enough. I should have been more clear. Sorry. I understand (quite well) that the historic Reformed position has always bound together justification and sanctification (although insisting on their distinctness) The Reformed position still confuses the matter, however, as Sola Fide reduces to a mere hypothetical as “faith alone” doesn’t really exist because (as you say) saving faith never is alone. It seems strange to remain separated from the historic Church over a condition that could never exist in a real person (faith alone).

    Cross’s article doesn’t address this, as he doesn’t really identify what agape is. The only way your comment about sola fide is accurate is if “agape” is perfect love. But Cross equivocates on this point. He sets agape over against a list paradigm, but there is no such false dichotomy. The law points to love, but there is no space between them. The one who has agape keeps the whole list perfectly. If agape is less than the list, what is it? A sentiment? A desire?

    Bryan uses agape as synonymous with charity. See 1822 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

    Further on you write

    If you choose to rely on the agape infused in your heart as the basis of your justification, it best be whole and perfect and entire love for God, including your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and reflected in your thoughts, actions, hopes, desires. No one is justified without agape, but no one is justified on the basis of their agape. Saving faith is never alone, though it alone acts to save.

    Did you read all of Bryan Cross’ recent post? Again, he addresses this with great clarity.

    In the agape paradigm, by contrast, agape is the fulfillment of the law. Agape is not merely some power or force or energy by which one is enabled better to keep the list of rules, either perfectly or imperfectly. Rather, agape is what the law has pointed to all along. To have agape in one’s soul is to have the perfect righteousness to which the list of precepts point. Righteousness conceived as keeping a list of externally written precepts is conceptually a shadow of the true righteousness which consists of agape infused into the soul. This infusion of agape is the law written on the heart. But the writing of the law on the heart should not be conceived as merely memorizing the list of precepts, or being more highly motivated to keep the list of precepts. To conceive of agape as merely a force or good motivation that helps us better (but imperfectly, in this life) keep the list of rules, is still to be in the list paradigm. The writing of the law on the heart provides in itself the very fulfillment of the law — that perfection to which the external law always pointed. To have agape is already to have fulfilled the telos of the law, a telos that is expressed in our words, deeds, and actions because they are all ordered to a supernatural end unless we commit a mortal sin. The typical Protestant objection to the Catholic understanding of justification by the infusion of agape is “Who perfectly loves God? No one.” But this objection presupposes the list paradigm.

    Your question still presupposes the list paradigm. Do I love God perfectly? No. I do not love God perfectly, but I have the gift of agape infused into my heart which is the law written on the heart – “that perfection to which the external law always pointed.”

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  59. Jeremy T: Fair enough. I should have been more clear. Sorry. I understand (quite well) that the historic Reformed position has always bound together justification and sanctification (although insisting on their distinctness) The Reformed position still confuses the matter, however, as Sola Fide reduces to a mere hypothetical as “faith alone” doesn’t really exist because (as you say) saving faith never is alone.

    RS: Jeremy, once again this demonstrates that you don’t understand the historical and biblical concept of faith alone. Romans 4:16 teaches that it is by faith in order that it may be by grace. Sola Fide is not reduced to a mere hypothetical by your words. The intent of Sola Fide
    is to protect and shine forth the glory of God in Sola Gratia. Without the bigger picture of grace alone there is no understanding of faith alone. Part of grace alone is also Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Truly, Jeremy T, you don’t understand the Reformed view.

    Jeremy T: It seems strange to remain separated from the historic Church over a condition that could never exist in a real person (faith alone).

    RS: But Rome is not the historic Church because it denies the historic and biblical Gospel. Until you really grasp what Sola Fide means, you will continue to think that it is strange. The soul that is saved by grace alone is saved apart from any merit in itself and any works or worth of self. The soul that is saved by faith alone is saved by Christ alone and as such by the free and uncaused and ill-merited grace of Christ.

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  60. D.G.

    You wrote:

    if Rome denies fideism, you guys at CTC should really strive to sound less fideistic.

    What have we said or written that “sounds” fideistic?

    I mean is a debate with you really possible since the conclusion is already determined?

    Should I take that to mean you’re uncertain about your own position, since otherwise you would let me know that debate with you is impossible? If you are uncertain about your own position, I think it would be better ask questions rather than criticize. But if you are certain, then you don’t really believe that “debate with [me is not] really possible since the conclusion is already determined,” since otherwise you wouldn’t be having this exchange with me.

    Such a precondition (i.e. that all participating parties be uncertain of the truth of their own position) for genuine debate/dialogue would preclude from participation any persons who know the truth, and are certain that they know it. I see no reason to accept that skeptical presupposition as a necessary criterion for authentic debate/dialogue. Hence my “Two Ecumenicisms” article at CTC.

    We may debate the fathers or Scripture, but in the end your mind is made up and CTC functions as an echo chamber for minds made up.

    Have you taken a look around the Old Life combox lately? On the one hand, you criticize the Catholic Church for having a multiplicity of interpretations and views all over the place, while you joined a denomination of 30k+ people on the basis of your agreement with their tightly delineated interpretation of Scripture. On the other hand you fault us for being a an ‘echo chamber’ while we’re in the middle of 1.2 billion people and their multiplicity of interpretations, cultures, races, liturgies, spit balls, etc. Pot, kettle and all that. But the whole “echo chamber” accusation is just a veiled ad hominem, because it subtly implies that we only want to hear and read people who think like us. Ad hominems do not falsify anything I said in my previous comments.

    But seeing how a lot of people who weren’t infallible were responsible for constructing the calculator, this looks like a set of truth that can never be tested (or falsified).

    If you’re speaking of the papacy, then, as you know, we believe Christ Himself instituted it. And Christ is infallible. As for falsifiability, I addressed that in a previous comment, and the podcast linked there. We believe that the Catholic Church is attested to by the motives of credibility. This is why becoming Catholic is not a leap in the dark, and fideism is false. (See my “Wilson vs. Hitchens: A Catholic Perspective.”)

    And I’m still wondering what you make of Constitution 68 of the Fourth Lateran Council. Seeing as how authoritative and infallible your church is, is it still the case that Jews should wear different attire? Or is this one that doesn’t qualify as infallible?

    In a previous thread, I pointed you to chapter three of Lumen Gentium, regarding the conditions under which we can know that the Spirit has protected the magisterium from error. Canon 68 of the Fourth Lateran is not doctrinal, and so does not fall under the specified conditions. It is not even disciplinary, because it enjoined a civil policy [under a particular social condition] that concerned the governance of persons who, under that condition were believed to fall under the categories of pagans or heretics, whereas canon law applies only to members of the Church.

    Is there a calculator that allows you to tell the difference between an authoritative church council and one the isn’t? Please supply the link.

    See chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium. Ecumenical councils have magisterial authority; local councils have local authority, and are subordinate to the Church’s magisterial authority.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  61. Bryan, a debate is one thing. A conversation is another. And when the answers are already set, the dialogue in the combox has the feel of talking to Mormons at the front door. It may the problem of that calculator you speak through.

    As for the OPC, Old Life is hardly the echo chamber of this communion. If you stopped by every once in a while and got out of all the pope talk at CTC you might see that the views here are highly contested. In case you missed it, 2k theology, which Jason Stellman once advocated, is not a favorite of theonomists, neo-Cal’s and experimental Calvinists. I stand by the echo chamber. I don’t see CTC interacting much with the folks at First Things, for instance. Whether that makes you or Rusty Reno fringe, only the magisterium can tell. But I’m betting First Things is more representative of conservatives in the American Roman Catholic Church.

    Your claim that Christ instituted the papacy is an interpretation of what Christ said. If the pope says that this is what Christ said, and he is the one whose authority is preserved by that interpretation, you tell me whether this is a little circular (if not borderline fideisitc). Either way, it’s an interpretation that you won’t question because of the interpreter of Christ’s words. In other words, it’s a historical claim and history is no more objective than Scripture.

    I skimmed through chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium. I missed a reference to the Fourth Lateran Council. Perhaps you could break it down for us. Or would that be an interpretation of a historical document?

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  62. D.G.,

    I skimmed through chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium. I missed a reference to the Fourth Lateran Council. Perhaps you could break it down for us.

    The scope of infallibility is explained in more detail the Catholic Encyclopedia article “Infallibility.” If the answer to your question is still not clear, just email me (or any other sufficiently-catechized Catholic). May God bring us to full visible unity, through the power of His grace.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  63. Bryan Cross: May God bring us to full visible unity, through the power of His grace.

    RS: As long as Rome does not denounce Trent I, there can be no unity in the Gospel. For those who truly hold that the biblical Gospel is what the Reformers taught and what Trent I declared as anathema, there can be no unity. There can be no unity apart from unity in the truth.

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  64. Bryan, thanks for the link. The answer is still hardly clear and involves lots of interpretation, the bugaboo of Protestantism. I’d think you have more of a point if a pope had ruled that Constitution 68 wasn’t infallible.

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  65. Why does reading Bryan’s defenses of Catholicism remind me of those games at the carnival that I used to blow all of my money on as a kid? I hoped to win the big panda bear but at best all I could get was the pocket knife that I inevitably cut my finger on

    John Yeazel – Could it be said of that Catholic girl that you used to date that:

    “She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean Was the best damn woman that I ever seen She had the sightless eyes, telling me no lies Knocking me out with those American thighs.”?

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  66. D.G.

    I’d think you have more of a point if a pope had ruled that Constitution 68 wasn’t infallible.

    As I pointed out two comments ago, canon 68 does not even rise to the level of discipline. And no disciplines are infallible, because, as Vatican I and chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium explains (and as the Catholic Encyclopedia article I referred you to explains), infallibility only applies to definitive teachings on matters of faith or morals. So a fortiori, canon 68 is not infallible.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  67. D.G.,

    The extended quote by E. Duffy at the conclusion of this post, concerning the founding of the Church in Rome and the monepiscopacy in the first century echoes the errors of F. Sullivan (or vice versa), set forth in the latter’s book, From Apostles to Bishops. TOn both counts, their inferences from the available evidence have been shown to be mistaken. See Oswald Sobrino, “Was Peter the First Bishop of Rome?” (http://www.catholic-convert.com/documents/PeterInRome.doc) and Michael C. McGuckian SJ, “The Apostolic Succession: A Reply to Francis A. Sullivan” (abstract).

    I recently addressed the question of the Peter narrative in Acts. As a matter of fact, literary considerations of Acts 12 lead us to believe that Luke envisioned an important role for Peter in the continuing life of the Church. We get a taste of this in the depiction of Peter’s role in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15). This is what we find in Acts 12, as I wrote elsewhere:

    Any careful reader can discern that the Lukan narrative sets the stage for Peter’s continuing ministry (which history reveals as being his mission to Rome), particularly if we pay attention to where Luke ends his account of Peter: A miraculous deliverance from prison, the presence of an angel, an appearance to the disciples, and a departure to “another place.” This account follows the pattern of the most significant event recorded in the NT [i.e., the Resurrection of Christ].

    Finally, although I had made up my mind to ignore your repeated attempts to marginalize CTC as being on the Catholic fringe, I will make one point: Per our statement of purpose, CTC exists to “effect reconciliation and reunion between Catholics and Protestants, particularly those of the Reformed tradition.” There are already plenty of Catholic websites that do many other worthy things. We have chosen to focus on the fundamental doctrinal differences (church, authority, salvation) between the Catholic Church and the Reformed tradition. If that constitutes a Catholic fringe, then you might consider that this says more about the groups that we are addressing than the nature of the address.

    Andrew

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  68. Andrew, what kind of reconciliation does CTC envision if it means submitting to the Bishop of Rome? That’s the only union imaginable, right? So why not be up front and say CTC’s aim is to convert Reformed Protestants, you know, those Protestants who take inerrancy seriously.

    BTW, I think you’d have to be a very very careful reader to detect a large presence for Peter in the NT after Acts 15.

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  69. And Brian – At this point we know you know Latin and we know you have studied formal logic so could you just speak slowly in plain English from this point on so the peons like me who went to public school can try to follow along?

    D.G. has letters after his name but you can follow along with him like you were talking with him at the neighborhood pub.

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  70. Andrew – So basically you are saying CTC is a Catholic fringe attempting to win over a Protestant fringe? Evangelicals are way easier pickings, man. Trust me. They don’t read much, though.

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  71. D.G.,

    Just careful enough to spot the Petrine texts in Matthew, Luke, and John, which were all (most probably) written after the date traditionally assigned to the martyrdom of St. Peter (and that of Paul) in Rome.

    As far as reconciliation goes, the first step is simply to acknowledge that we are not in full communion. We each have different ideas about just what would be necessary for full communion in one visible Church, including whether or not that is an important goal. Thus, the long, slow conversation.

    Erik,

    I’d say rather that its a fringe conversation, but the even the Pope is willing to go out on limb if perhaps some might be saved (see Anglicanorum Coetibus).

    I don’t know whether or not Evangelicals read much, but I do think that the Reformed blogosphere presents unique challenges for any dialogue the purpose of which is arriving at unity in truth. So far as I can tell, however, that challenge doesn’t have anything to do with how much (or little) Reformed folks read.

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  72. Andrew,

    Out of curiousity, do you abide a higher critical method of dating the NT scriptures? No gotcha’s just trying to get something clear in my own thinking.

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  73. Andrew, I don’t seem much conversation at CTC about infallibility. It is simply a given, the basis for all right thinking. That leaves me and a lot of Roman Catholics out.

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  74. D.G.,

    On the topic of infallibility, there is a collection of posts that can be found in the Index, under the category, “The Church.”

    I don’t know about its being the basis of all right thinking, but it does make a difference when it comes to believing, or simply holding a few (and a bunch of) theological opinions, as I explained in this post.

    Andrew

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  75. Andrew Preslar: Finally, although I had made up my mind to ignore your repeated attempts to marginalize CTC as being on the Catholic fringe, I will make one point: Per our statement of purpose, CTC exists to “effect reconciliation and reunion between Catholics and Protestants, particularly those of the Reformed tradition.” There are already plenty of Catholic websites that do many other worthy things. We have chosen to focus on the fundamental doctrinal differences (church, authority, salvation) between the Catholic Church and the Reformed tradition. If that constitutes a Catholic fringe, then you might consider that this says more about the groups that we are addressing than the nature of the address.

    RS: So your goal is to “effect reconciliation and reunion between Catholics and Protestants, particularly those of the Reformed tradition.” First you are going to have to be honest about what Trent I taught and deal with it. As long as Trent I stands as it is and what Luther and Calvin stand as they are, there is no reconciliation between the two. The two positions cannot be reconciled since they are logically contradictory. So the issue cannnot really be reconciation or reunion, it must be your effort to get people to submit to Rome.

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  76. “Roman Catholic polemics has frequently contrasted the variations of Protestantism with the stable and unchanging doctrine of Roman Catholicism. It seems that theologians have been willing to trace the history of doctrines and doctrinal systems which they found to be in error, but that the normative tradition had to be protected from the relativity of having a history or of being, in any decisive sense, the product of history” – Pelikan, “The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)” p. 8

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