If You Can't Stand Superiority, Get Off the Top Shelf

The chief deficiency of Protestantism, according to Jason and the Callers, is that we only have a Bible that needs to be interpreted while they — Roman Catholics — have a pope who is the final word on interpretation. In other words, Protestants have multiple opinions about the Bible’s meaning while Roman Catholics have one truth thanks to its one pope (please don’t notice, by the way, when the church had more than one).

Given this anti-Protestant polemic (the new acceptable prejudice), I had a good chuckle when devout Roman Catholics had to come to the rescue to explain what Francis meant in his recent universalistic sounding homily.

Andrew Preslar did a pretty good impersonation of a Protestant reading his Bible when he wrote:

The key to understanding the Pope’s remarks is to understand that there is a difference between being redeemed–as are all men (objectively), because of Christ’s death and resurrection–and being saved or in a state of grace–as are only those who receive God’s grace by faith and abide in his love. It is also important to notice that the Pope was not teaching that atheists can be saved merely by doing good works. He made two distinct though related points; namely, that atheists can do good works and that Christ has redeemed everyone. For these reasons, we can “meet one another in doing good.” [1] Of course, the Pope’s point about the universality of the Atonement is disputed by Calvinists, and the teaching of Vatican II concerning the possibility of salvation apart from explicit faith in Christ is widely debated in non-Catholic Christian circles. Without here entering into these debates by way of argument, I want to describe how I think about this matter now, as a Catholic, with special reference to evangelism.

Bryan Cross couldn’t resist getting in on the fun of private interpretation:

Whatever the merits of these explanations of Francis, they flatly contradict the claim that Protestantism suffers from a diversity of opinions. Roman Catholicism does as well. You have the former Protestant line of Francis’ meaning, and then you have the cradle-left-leaning-social-justice Roman Catholic version. Link to NCR comments on homily. Protestants have to interpret the Bible and Roman Catholics (post-Vatican 2) have the freedom to interpret their bishops. Without any temporal power to enforce the right interpretation – whether Geneva’s City Council or the Roman Inquisition, we’re all Protestants now.

If Jason and the Callers had the slightest awareness of history, they would know that they jumped from the frying pan of denominationalism into the fire of Roman Catholic opinion making. But to justify their rational, autonomous decisionism, they continue to think they have chosen the church of Cappadocia circa 389 AD.

Modernity does make its demands.

497 thoughts on “If You Can't Stand Superiority, Get Off the Top Shelf

  1. Given this anti-Protestant polemic (the new acceptable prejudice)

    Not in this case: Many Protestants are in accord with Pope Francis’s remarks. This does, however, offer Calvinists a “teaching moment” vs. Roman Catholicism’s “Arminianism,” although this Arminianism is also shared by many Protestants*.

    In fact, the question here is whether such an Arminianism is the normative Christian view of salvation–that is, the majority view of all Christians–Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodox, various Wesleyans, most Baptists, and sundry others, all being non-Calvinist.

    “The problem of magisterium,” of theological authority [which we were discussing before this “controversy” broke] remains, and really has nothing to do with “Protestant” vs. Catholic; the problem of magisterium exists independently of Rome and is no secret.

    http://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/how-conservative-presbyterianism-lost-its-mojo/

    There has been a decided turn to intramural theological squabbles in conservative Presbyterian circles since the 1970s—the Shepherd controversy, theonomy, Federal Vision, the Pete Enns controversy, literal six-day young-earth creationism, 2K. The list goes on and on. Some of these issues reflect historic fissures in the tradition, while others are evidence of the breakdown of earlier theological consensus and the loss of a sense of proportionality. Not every issue requires that one go to the mat. John Frame chronicled some of this in a controversial internet article “Machen’s Warrior Children.”

    &c.

    ______
    *See, for instance, Keith Drury’s “The Triumph of Arrminianism”

    A true Calvinist begins and ends his discussion of salvation with God. God alone. For the true Calvinist, man has no ability to move toward God. He cannot even recognize his own sin. Salvation is something which happens wholly as God’s work. What man does or is makes no difference. Confession, repentance, or “going to the altar” does not make a difference. To the true Calvinist, salvation happens totally apart from anything man does or is. It is purely God’s work done without man’s participation in any way whatsoever.

    Today’s church has drifted to a more Arminian approach. Most church people today believe the Christian’s relationship with God is bi-lateral, not uni-lateral. While maintaining that God alone does the saving, today’s church figures that men and women have a part to play—confessing sins and receiving Christ. To today’s average Christian, Christ’s death on the cross provided completely for our salvation, but forgiveness is not effective until an individual receives God’s forgiveness. In this most Christians are “practicing Arminians.”

    How shall we approach evangelism?

    Since a Calvinist believes salvation is wholly God’s work without any partnership with man, he or she approaches evangelism nonaggressively. Calvinism teaches there is nothing whatsoever a person can do to become saved—we can’t “decide for Christ” or “receive Christ” enabling a person to “become a Christian.” To do this would give man a part in salvation. Calvinists believe salvation is from God and God alone. To make salvation hinge on an individual’s “accepting Christ” or “receiving Christ” makes salvation partially a human endeavor. A true Calvinist believes that nothing whatsoever a person does or is contributes anything at all to salvation. Salvation is God’s work alone and we play no part in it—not even receiving salvation counts.

    Today’s evangelical church is far more Arminian in its approach to evangelism.

    [Bold face in original.]

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  2. Salvation comes through God’s Grace and Mercy. The Sacrifice of The Cross, Is The Sacrifice of The Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, for “God so Loved us that He sent His only Son…”.

    Do not let your hearts be hardened like a pillar of salt, for it is through, with, and in Christ, in the unity of God’s Holy Spirit, that The Body of Christ exists.

    “No one can come to The Father except through me.” – Jesus The Christ

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  3. Tom, you heard perhaps of Jacob I loved, Esau I hated. I know it’s hard to wrap your mind around that. But when we start with what makes sense to us, we wouldn’t get limited atonement or flight of the penguins (all that just to keep the breed going?).

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  4. God Is Love. Love exists in relationship.
    “You cannot be my disciples, if you do not abide in My Word.” – Christ, The Way, The Truth, The Life(Light) of Love.

    From The Beginning, it Is God Who defines what is Good. Our Call to Holiness, Is a call to Love according to The Word of God.

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  5. You can see just how much these Protestant converts have abandoned all reason or common sense when they go to these lengths to defend Francis. Even though the Roman church has been moving toward full-on universalism for some time now, I’m willing to give Francis the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps he just wasn’t speaking very clearly.

    Apparently for CTC and Stellman, the pope can’t even have an off day. Why they can’t simply say he wasn’t speaking ex cathedra and was off his game is just simply astounding. It’s a shell game there willing to play elsewhere.

    And if Francis needs amateur lay-level apologists such as the Callers and Stellman to defend him, that makes Rome better than Protestantism how? I though the Bible’s lack of perspicuity was the reason why we needed the far more perspicuous Roman Magisterium.

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  6. D.G., sorry, I thought it reasonable to assume that if my comment was not directed to any specific person, it was directed to all men and women, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers…who, accepting God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy, accept God’s Good Will.

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  7. Robert, or maybe not so astounding. I mean, the system is authoritarian after all. Ex cathedra seems to be a convenient card to play to take the edge off. But one does wonder: if infallibility only occurs under extraordinary circumstances then what are the ordinary times in which the Bishop of Rome can be fallible and thus subject to scrutiny? To listen to CtC and CCC tell it in this instance of mere homily, never, he’s infallible 24/7/365 and it falls to the unwashed masses to simply defend and interpret.

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  8. On the working assumption that Nancy is a real person she really does represent a kind of Catholic we haven’t had here before. The desire to lose one in One made up of many is certainly distinct from the Crossian Mr. Smart Guy approach. (See, Nancy, I can also use unconventional CAPS). I wonder if Nancy’s subjective mode of worship is like what you would expect in Eastern religions.

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  9. One need not defend a lion, it is said, for a lion can defend itself. Clearly this no Pope Leo(nine) because everyone is jumping forward to re-interpret him as if he were a doddering old man who sometimes says nutty things. Wouldn’t it be more pious for the Catholic to listen and heed their Pope? And what can be their basis for calling his words into question? Could it be….private interpretation?

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  10. MM, I’m not sure about the new breed of catholic, line. Me thinks that once inside the wall of noumenal Rome, this is where the sincere evangelical meets his twin; sincere RC. This is gonna be where the Bryan Crossity’s are gonna let their evangelical hair down, up to and including trying to proselytize evangelical style. It’s all about the outward piety(all of lifery, witnessing when I should be working) and inward meaning it, even down to the RC’s in mass who are one beat slower/faster during the responsorials.

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  11. MM, IOW, for the sincere RC and the sincere evanjellyfish, it’s all about what’s going on inside of me and wearing that ‘reality’ on my sleeve.

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  12. The RCC has a definitive word on the exegesis of Romans 7 and 9, or 2 Peter 2:4-12?

    I would very much like a link…

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  13. Sean, I’ll tend to yield to your perspective on all this. If we were to find Protestant paralells, Cross might be Gordon Clark and Nancy would be a charismatic? But I find the Nancy approach to be more authentic; it’s a deep, subjective faith commitment that’s going on here, and the logical approach is so much rhetoric.

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  14. MM, I think that’s right. I don’t know much about Clark himself but I often wonder about the strict rationalism of Clarkians. Certainly Cross had to make the leap just to escape his own stark rationalism. That’s why I always liked Jonathan Tate, he was at least getting down to the nitty gritty of sacramentalism and the eucharist on a lot more direct line than the Thomistic path of the others.

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  15. Zrim,

    I guess I’m not surprised. It is necessary once you swallow the hard pill of Roman infallibility. But to excuse Francis because he was speaking Roman Catholic language to a Roman Catholic audience, as CTC and Stellman are doing, is rather crazy. Is not the pope the Vicar of Christ? Should he not speak clearly if the salvation of the whole race depends on him?

    Rome is better, why?

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  16. In other words, Protestants have multiple opinions about the Bible’s meaning while Roman Catholics have one truth thanks to its one pope (please don’t notice, by the way, when the church had more than one).

    Ahem, shouldn’t the last clause read in true Byromic nitpicking discernment ” when the infallible church infallibly had more than one infallible leader.”?
    Hey, just askin.

    And Cross is G. Clark?
    Come on. What a low blow. I’m ready to go back to the PB, (tho I always thought the Viking was OK if he is who I think he is).

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  17. Since it is true that Pope Francis supports same-sex sexual unions and thus same-sex sexual acts, The election of Pope Francis is not valid to begin with. Men and women are designed in such a way that it is not possible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the human person, who, from the moment of conception, has been created in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as male and female.

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  18. Robert,

    As far as CTCers go, the pope could declare himself anti-christ and the hermenuetic of faith would cause them to reconcile to it as some supreme act of humility by which he just cemented his worthiness to be God’s vicar. ‘They believe that they might understand’ along with other pious sounding declarations of faithful subjugation.

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  19. Bob S, if you dig being offended then read no further. Otherwise I have only drawn a limited paralell about kinds of argumentation. Now hustle back to the PB if you wish and tell them all that the 2ks have slandered Clark.

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  20. Daryll, that was a good call on Nancy; SSPX I believe you inquired. Though now I half suspect Kent or Erik or even MM of a pseudonym.

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  21. Nancy,

    I don’t even know what a “same-sex sexual union” is. But whatever it is, I’m pretty sure that Pope Francis did not support such an institution. And, even if he did, I don’t see how it’s apposite to the above discussion. Did you forget to take the meds this morning?

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  22. Bobby, true, there is no such thing as a same-sex sexual union, as it is scientifically impossible for same sex sexual acts to be unitive. The fact that Pope Francis supports same-sex sexual “unions” is relevant is because a Pope who is not a valid Pope has no authority in The Catholic Church. This does not change the fact that through Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, The Word of God, Has remained consistent.

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  23. Sean, it’s not that I’m above such a thing, just that it would take too much work. If I go pseudo – I mean, more than I am now – my character will be Muddy Gravel, a twice-divorced bluesman with some earthy common sense and skepticism toward all forms of world-conquering.

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  24. As I sit here at work, watching “Girls”, eating Ben & Jerry’s Liz Lemon Greek Frozen Yogurt, and working through mounds of paper, Nancy has made my Memorial Day joy complete. Once “Girls” is over I’ll make my way back to season 2 of “The Wire” and it will get even better.

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  25. All, I was never a fan of Star Trek, but I did enjoy The Time Tunnel, even though I realized in reality, Time is a continuum. Although we can’t go back in Time, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could repair the schism in Christ’s Church from The Beginning?

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  26. No way “Nancy D.” is a woman. Multiple comments and now Star Trek? Fess up. Who is it? We need to take roll and figure out who’s missing. It’s probably Paul.

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  27. I think Nancy D got Twilight Zone confused with Star Trek. Which since, according to Todd, we’re all equivalent to a bunch of trekkies, should be enough for banishment just on it’s own.

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  28. Erik, I said I was not a fan of Star Trek, that’s a clue. I am a daughter, sister, wife, and mother. I am not Paul.

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  29. Tom, you heard perhaps of Jacob I loved, Esau I hated. I know it’s hard to wrap your mind around that. But when we start with what makes sense to us…

    Darryl, I don’t litigate theological truth claims on the internet. Believe what you will. I was pointing out that

    a) This Pope Francis hubbub seems to come more as a surprise or as a confusion to Calvinists and atheists. “Arminianism” is normative among Christians, that Christ died for all men [“universal atonement”], not just an “Elect.” Many Calvinists appear to have misapprehended that [see Michael Horton], and of course atheists/unchurched seldom understand any Christian doctrine clearly, Catholic or Reformed.

    b) That Protestantism’s “problem of magisterium” is independent of the existence of the Roman church. Although the Pope can speak of/for Catholicism normatively, a “normative” Reformed theology cannot be said to exist, since there is no “majority church” to pontificate it. Or as previously glibly but accurately put, Whose Calvinism is it anyway?

    My interest here is always clarity–I want to get you right. Indeed, it can be said there’s no one who can definitively speak for J. Gresham Machen, let alone John Calvin or Christianity. John Frame’s [in]famous

    http://www.frame-poythress.org/machens-warrior-children/

    contains many of the concerns I arrived at independently–which is gratifying–but you should know I personally maintain a fallibilism about these things, that perhaps your theological truth claims are completely correct, and that yours is indeed the One True Church. That’s not the sort of thing to be settled in comboxes.

    You went “meta” on the magisterium question, but aside from some passing references by some ex-Protestants of your acquaintance, I don’t think this Pope Francis thing rings of an “anti-Protestantism” atall–I submit that “Universal Atonement” is the normative theology of Christianity, that “Limited Atonement” for an “Elect” is a minority position even among Protestants and certainly the minority position among the world’s ~2 billion Christians.

    [Now, as previously litigated, if in your view many or most of those ~2 billion may not be Christians atall, that’s the No True Scotsman argument, and is unhelpful outside your Own True Church.]

    [I intend to get deeper into John Frame’s “Twenty-One Points” of contention between even Machen-ists, and have already downloaded an mp3 from “Christ the Center” that appears to be your rebuttal. Still, as an outside observer, I’m more interested in keeping an accurate scorecard than assessing truth claims. And when Frame writes

    One slogan of the Machen movement was “truth before friendship.” We should laud their intention to act according to principle without compromise. But the biblical balance is “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We must not speak the truth without thinking of the effect of our formulations on our fellow Christians, even our opponents. That balance was not characteristic of the Machen movement.

    this is a question of form, not content. A parting shot in my journey to BaylyWorld was what with all the “sodomite” talk, I just wasn’t feeling the love. This is not true just of the Baylys. FWIW.]

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  30. But Nancy, the schism did happen. There was a rupture in the Church, hence the space-time continuum itself ruptured, which resulted in matter and anti-matter, world and bizarro world, Gandalf ain’t coming back as the White Wizard and a DeLorean will never rescue you from bully Biff.

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  31. Todd is lurking. Which reminds me of my one creepy trekkie encounter when I actually went to the movies to see the Trek movie with the new ‘young’ Cap’n Kirk a couple of years back. So, me and my wife-to-be are taking in the movie, which she was embarrassed to be at as it was and still reminds me of to this day, and one of the trekkies who’d come with a few of his trekkie pals(knew it was bad when my now wife was the only female in the theater) let out an audible gasp and mutterings of “she’s hot” when the ‘young’ version of one of the staple female characters comes on screen. I never knew how real the whole ‘basement-living trekkie’ contingent was ’till that moment. Never been to an adult theater but I got a sense of it right then.

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  32. Tom, Pope Francis confirmed that the media reports are accurate in regards to same-sex sexual relationships and thus same-sex sexual acts, on page 117 of his book, “On Heaven and Earth”.

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  33. Tom, if you Love someone, you desire to treat them with respect in private as well as in public.

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  34. Sean, reminds me:

    You might be a Trekkie if…

    you can name all 79 episodes of classic Trek– in order
    you can name alphabetically all the women Kirk seduced
    you named your first child Tiberius
    you spend $150.00 at a convention on a piece of plastic that may or may not look like a phaser
    you sing along with William Shatner’s record album
    you talk… like… William Shatner–on purpose
    you trim your angora cat’s hair to make it look like a tribble
    you scare your little brother by acting like a Gorn
    your dream date is with Deanna Troi
    you can trace your genealogy back to Surak
    you can quote all of the Articles of the Federation
    you sing Klingon Opera while showering
    you cannot use contractions in your speech
    you know the difference between “Live long and prosper” and “Nanu, nanu”
    you ask your broken computer to run a self-diagnostic

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  35. NancyD, I was getting your back there–at least for your freedom to speak without being summarily dismissed. I do not agree with your interpretation of Pope Francis’ book, written as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. By all means let’s look at it, and look! a google reveals what you yourself reported it on another blog! What were the odds??!!

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/extracts-of-new-book-on-pope-francis#ixzz2UX0niXXd

    Posted by Nancy D. on Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 8:17 AM (EDT):

    Read more:
    Page 117, in regards to same-sex unions

    “If there is a union of a PRIVATE NATURE, THERE IS NEITHER A THIRD PARTY NOR IS SOCIETY AFFECTED. Now, if this union is given the category of marriage and they are given adoption rights, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and female mother that can help them shape their identity.

    [We shall assume that THE CAPITAL LETTERS WERE ADDED BY YOU.]

    Actually, if I understand Darryl G. Hart’s “Two Kingdoms” theology, he would quite approve of the CAPITAL LETTERS part, that the church, state, or “society” have no compelling interest in private sex acts. I’m no 2Ker, but that seems a reasonable line to draw via wisdom, or as political philosophy. Thomas Aquinas himself wrote that prostitution was an evil in itself [and further that any unfortunate babies born deserve “a male father and female mother”].

    But Aquinas also thought that rooting out prostitution would create greater evil than whatever good was achieved by persecuting it. So Pope Francis had quite a defensible Thomistic view of gay civil unions here: they were legally inevitable, and certainly trying to root out homosexual conduct [impossible anyway] would result in a police state incompatible with human dignity. You cannot do do evil to create good–that’s central Aquinas reasoning.

    I believe Darryl Hart and J. Gresham Machen would agree with the above, if not the Thomistic reasoning behind it. And beware being more Catholic than the Pope. He usually has Catholic reasons that aren’t immediately obvious.

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  36. Robert, my point isn’t to excuse Francis–those who presume to speak for Christ and do so misleadingly have millstones that await.

    It’s to press the Callers on infallibility. They will say he’s only infallible ex cathedra, which to my understanding does not cover homilies. He speaks carelessly and confusingly in a homily and they rush to clarify and justify, which would seem to suggest that infallibility extends beyond ex cathedra, which only buttresses the functional authoritarianism. Stellman will sometimes use an absurdity to show that the Roman system isn’t as authoritarian as the Reformed might suggest, saying that when Francis favors something like vanilla to chocolate it is not binding. Sure, how infallibility comes and goes and doesn’t apply to flavors is a bit of a mystery, but I’m not talking about that. I’m wondering if they can see how rushing to justify clearly careless words in a non-ex cathedra moment at least comes off fundamentalist–the Pope says it, I believe it, that settles it.

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  37. I recently re-read Frame’s essay. It’s interesting to note how many dogs he has in those fights. One thing to realize is that all of the dustups that Frame identifies are since the founding of the OPC…and the OPC still exists as a denomination as it has for the past 75+ years. Indeed, Frame is the one who has taken his toys and gone elsewhere.

    Also worth noting is Hart’s forthcoming global, yes global, history of Calvinism. Our movement is not as small as Tom would like to believe.

    I do appreciate your toned down demeanor in your comment today, Tom.

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  38. Sean – (knew it was bad when my now wife was the only female in the theater)

    Erik – Try taking your very pregnant wife to the first night showing of “Borat” in a college town.

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  39. Tom,

    Regarding your “scorekeeping”: Who cares? We advertise ourselves as Old School Presbyterians. You come here and find Old School Presbyterianism and are shocked, shocked! at the audacity of our theology. What were you expecting? Joel Osteen? Billy Graham? Make theological arguments if you intend to dissuade us, don’t just tell us our numbers are small. Most things worth being involved in in this sorry world involve small numbers, in case you hadn’t noticed.

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  40. Zrim,
    I’m wondering if they can see how rushing to justify clearly careless words in a non-ex cathedra moment at least comes off fundamentalist–the Pope says it, I believe it, that settles it.

    Indeed, their response says a lot more about their circle-the-wagons mindset than it does Francis’s theology… though not to excuse his wanderings.

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  41. Ratzinger rose to the papacy by covering up terrible crimes committed by priests against children, and Ratzinger left the papacy and the Vatican drowning in a cesspool of blackmail, male prostitutes, and gay sex rings. He reaped what he sowed.

    Since then, the Papal Conclave and the Scrutineers blew its smoke and Shazam! they appointed a pope who winks at atheism and smiles on same sex marriage. Call me a cynic, but I am not shocked. Romans 1:27.

    Does anyone really wonder why Jason Stellman chose Rome?

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  42. Tom, Regarding your “scorekeeping”: Who cares? We advertise ourselves as Old School Presbyterians. You come here and find Old School Presbyterianism and are shocked, shocked! at the audacity of our theology. What were you expecting? Joel Osteen? Billy Graham? Make theological arguments if you intend to dissuade us, don’t just tell us our numbers are small. Most things worth being involved in in this sorry world involve small numbers, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    I came to this blog to hear amd learn leading J. Gresham Machen biographer Darryl G. Hart in his own words, fairly. Sorting through the high-handedness and smirk, snark, sarcasm of his followers has not been a pleasant experience.

    You flatter yourself that your theology is particularly “audacious” or that I came here to “dissuade” you of anything—any more than Darryl went to Turkey to “dissuade” anyone from Islam. In fact, I find your brand of Calvinism interesting and worthy mostly for its similarity to Islam, and admire you both for exactly the same reasons.

    Darryl, if that sounds like a compliment in the way that J. Gresham Machen wrote

    We would not indeed obscure the difference which divides us from Rome. The gulf is indeed profound. But profound as it is, it seems almost trifling compared to the abyss which stands between us and many ministers of our own Church. The Church of Rome may represent a perversion of the Christian religion; but naturalistic liberalism is not Christianity at all.

    then so be it.

    And N.B., I admire a proper Islam more than “liberal Christianity”—Beatitudism, Barney the Christosaurism, whaterism, and that’s why you fascinate me so. Perhaps the same reason you found yourself in Turkey out of 200 other countries on Earth—surely not to be a Christian missionary to a 99% Muslim country that would likely jail you if you gave Islam half the guff you give Roman Catholicism.

    Your table-fencer ErikC seems to think I’m here to overturn your table. Not so.

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  43. Extra base hit for CN. We miss the obvious. Not much need to argue about the abomination that is Rome. Truth hurts.

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  44. “What were the odds??!!.”

    Since all the conditions were met for the event to occur, the odds were 100%

    Tom, there is a difference between not prosecuting every sin, and condoning sin, and that difference makes all the difference. Desire, consent or location, does not change the inherent nature of a demeaning act. No doubt, St.Thomas would agree.

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  45. Tom, btw, the Pope can’t litigate what he says either. If you’ve been following the posts about Edgardo Mortara, it takes the temporal to implement the spiritual. But then you think the two swords business only applies to 1300 AD.

    And if you’re going to try to get me “right,” I’d advise against using John Frame. Sheesh. What United Colors of Beneton shop do you buy your theology from? First Beza now Frame?

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  46. If you’ve been following the posts about Edgardo Mortara, it takes the temporal to implement the spiritual. But then you think the two swords business only applies to 1300 AD.

    Not what I said, and it’s getting too tiresome correcting the misapprehensions of what I actually do say.

    And if you’re going to try to get me “right,” I’d advise against using John Frame. Sheesh.

    Well, I hardly expected you to be happy about it. ;-P Again, it’s more about Whose Calvinism is it anyway than which of you is right or wrong. And as for the other 99% of what I write that you elide, well, that’s all part of the picture too. I’m getting you fine. Peace.

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  47. Tom, the elision goes both ways. You haven’t exactly owned up to the anti-Arminian Calvinists who you believe supported the U.S. War for Independence, or that the resistance theory of the 16th and 17th centuries was decidedly against Arminianism (which is not exactly what Francis was affirming). In fact, you mix in just enough snark so that you do create your own misapprehensions. Sometimes you need to resist the jabs for the sake of clarity.

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  48. Erik, try taking a very Baptist girlfriend to a first showing of “My Own Private Idaho” at the Michigan theatre in Ann Arbor (1991). That was not smart, that was not smart.

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  49. CN, you can’t have a Great Apostasy from a false church. One need only look at the signs of the Time we are living in to understand that the way to have a Great Apostasy, that if it were possible, would deceive even the elect, is to allow those who have left Christ’s Church spiritually, to remain within His Church physically, causing chaos and confusion, as they lead many astray. Although it is true that “the gates of hell will not prevail”, “When The Son of man returns, will he find Faith on Earth”? Not if through a false ecumenism, we compromise The Truth.

    That being said, those who are responsible for the heinous crimes were not the Faithful. They were persons who denied the teaching of The Catholic Church in regards to Faith and Morals.The crisis in The Catholic Church is due to those persons who deny the Sanctity of every Human Life from the moment of conception, and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family, and the failure of the hierarchy to inform the apostates that they are no longer in communion with Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

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  50. To be clear, to deny the truth about the essence of the human person, who from the moment of conception, has been created in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as male or female, is to deny the truth about the essence of God from the beginning, and makes one an apostate.

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  51. Zrim,

    You were the guy who saw that in the theater? You should have added in “The Basketball Diaries” and “Drugstore Cowboy” for a triple feature. Her dad would have had you lynched.

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  52. Tom – mostly for its similarity to Islam, and admire you both for exactly the same reasons.

    Erik – Yeah, because Calvinism & Islam are so similar. I guess since you used to have a ponytail we can assume you’re just like Vincent Vega. Similarity to Islam, good grief.

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  53. Erik, her dad married us. Good thing I stopped while I was ahead and just bought her some Stucchi’s to calm her stomach.

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  54. Erik/Zrim – if you think that’s bad, I had a classmate who took a first date to see “Closely Watched Trains” (which, coincidently, was also in a theater in AA,MI, ca. 1968). Sure, it was a foreign sub-title flick, so you could look the other way at the verbiage, but activities on the screen were so filled with innuendos that I’m not sure how he explained everything. ‘Course, knowing this guy, I’m not sure he understood all of them himself. BTW, he’s an LCMS pastor now, so that completes the irony sphere.

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  55. Careful George. Rumor has it D.G. courted Mrs. Hart with foreign films.

    My wife and I argue about who had more highbrow taste in film growing up. I rode the bus to campus see “Amadeus” in junior high while she touts her viewing of “Cinema Paradiso” and “Pelle the Conqueror”. She grew up pagan and I grew up Baptist so she had a head start, but I caught up and surpassed her. She was coerced into watching too much “Barney” and “My Little Pony” over the last two decades.

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  56. George,

    I’ve seen “Trains”. It’s interesting to reflect on what qualified as “racy” before “Bonnie & Clyde” broke the studio code in 1967. “Trains” was from 1966.

    Like

  57. Erik – I need to update my NetFlix queue – all the ones in there now have release dates like August or September. Any good recommendations? How about “Side Effects?” Seen that?

    Like

  58. Pop has a line in the above video, which is pretty 2k as well. He doesn’t berate Timmy for not doing what he told him(Law) or inappropriately remind of his faith to manipulate him/motivate him to do what he’s been directed to do(misappropriation of gospel truths to seek a temporal end), he jokingly tells him that maybe if he(Pop) tells him in a different way how to do something, that the wiring in Timmy’s head will accept it.(temporal means-good for a temporal end-good, but not holy).

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  59. You bunch of heathens. I courted the Mrs. by taking her to The Muppet Movie. There was a little too much pink in a Miss Piggie scene but otherwise it was pretty clean.

    Like

  60. MM, who would’ve coached him? Pitino and Duncan wouldn’t have worked. If Adam hadn’t sinned, you would’ve had the Bias era, where he thwarted Jordan’s best years, dovetailing into the Duncan era with Larry Bird in the front office and Don Nelson as coach with Pop as his assistant. That Adam really mucked it up.

    Like

  61. M&M, you court like a Baptist. What’s next, Purity Balls with the daughters? But don’t you know that courting is the new faddish rage among the homeschooling set?

    Like

  62. Sean: that’s awesome analysis.

    Zrim: well, I was a Baptist. And my daughters aren’t allowed to date until they’re 24.

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  63. You haven’t exactly owned up to the anti-Arminian Calvinists who you believe supported the U.S. War for Independence, or that the resistance theory of the 16th and 17th centuries was decidedly against Arminianism

    Anti-Arminian Calvinists DID support the U.S. War for Independence. There were a lot of them. I have no idea what you’re arguing.

    http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2009/janfeb/17.28.html

    Calvinism and Liberty
    Reformed influences on America’s founding principles.

    JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009
    King George III blamed the American Revolution on Calvinist clergymen, whom he called “the black regiment”—a reference to the austere clerical robes worn by New England preachers. He was not far wrong. But few educated Americans now are aware of the Calvinist contribution to founding-generation ideals of republicanism, equality, and resistance to tyranny. If asked, most modern Americans would attribute 18th-century political liberalism to the secular Enlightenment, and thus to the decline in religious belief among people of the West. Most think the idea of the social contract, along with the right of the people to rebel against tyranny, originated with John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, published in 1790. Some, whose knowledge of Puritanism extends no farther than the Salem witch trials, imagine that Calvinist theology must have opposed democracy and liberty.

    John Witte’s new book, The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Early Modern Calvinism, will therefore come as an eye-opener to many.

    &c.

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  64. George,

    “Side Effects” is o.k., not great. Of things I’ve seen lately I highly recommend “The Killing”, seasons 1 & 2. Also season 1 & 2 of “Men of a Certain Age”. The best movies I’ve seen in recent months are “The Little Fugitive”, “Warrior”, and “Teddy Bear”. If you want to laugh really hard watch Jim Gaffigan’s comedy on Netflix.

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  65. So I want to see if I understand what’s going on here. The CtC bunch left protestantism in part over what they perceived as a weakness with Sola Scripture – without a pope people can read the bible in any old way they want and that leads to religious anarchy (and 50 bazillion independent bapticostal community churches). Once you accept apostolic succession and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, you have the makings of a paradigm that makes all epistemic uncertainly disappear – everything fits perfectly and to suggest otherwise is to commit a straw man fallacy.

    We reformed types say poppycock to all that. There are major problems establishing apostolic succession in the early church, the Pope came along relatively late, and he hasn’t done much to quell doctrinal uncertainty anyway – indeed councils have erred and popes have contradicted one another (is killing in the name of God blasphemy or one’s moral duty – how does one develop into the other?). Sweeping these contradictions under the “development” rug is an intellectually dishonest way to pretend that the infallible magisterium is indeed infallible.

    Now we have a pope providing a definitive teaching on something (what isn’t exactly clear). Fortunately we have teachers (e.g. Bryan Cross) to come along and explain to us what the the proper interpretation of this latest homily from the pope means (or doesn’t mean as the case may be). But then there are a lot of other smart Catholic voices explaining that the pope clearly meant something else. What’s a poor layman to do? How do I decide which priest, theologian, or Catholic intellectual to listen to (e.g. Fr. McBrien, Garry Wills, or Bryan Cross?) to extract the proper meaning from the text or even to know whether he is the legitimate Pope (NancyD)? Do I decide for myself or does the Church tell me? Which part of the Church? I almost feel like a poor protestant trying to decide whether to be Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, or Reformed. I guess I could read up on the issues myself, listen carefully to the arguments on the issue, and make a choice with whom to align – but that’s how I ended up among the frozen chosen. I don’t know how to make sense of what the Pope said. If the Catholic intellectuals can’t agree among themselves, what hope do I have?. I just don’t understand how going to Rome does anything more than kick the epistemological can down the road.

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  66. sdb,

    Post that good question at CTC and see if they’ll answer it. Bryan will probably tell you (in the Peace of Christ, of course) that you are not being charitable. That’s what he resorts to when flummoxed.

    As an accountant I’ve observed that figuring out Catholicism is a lot like trying to figure out how to comply with the tax code. Unless you find a regulation or a court case that is exactly on point with the situation you are dealing with, you are left with various shades of gray. Ask 50 accountants to do the same complex tax return and I’ll guarantee you’ll get 50 different answers. This is why it’s so stupid for CTC to come along and act like it’s all so clear and we’re just stubborn for not seeing it like they do. Try to get Bryan to admit to any ambiguity in the Church that Jesus Christ Himself Founded (TM). He’ll just point out the logical fallacy that you committed in asking the question.

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  67. Erik,

    My wife and I have been working our way through the 7x Up series, which I think was recommended here, on Netflix. We just finished 42 Up. They’re great and would have been even more useful in high school, but at least we learned how to cope with armpit hair.

    The new My Little Pony is supposed to be really good. We have a daughter and I’m scared about how relevant that may become.

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  68. So says Tom, the guy who stands firmly for…..wait for it….wait for it…I’m not sure what. Tom is like Karl Marx in the brilliant video Sean posted last week:

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  69. Mike,

    I’ve heard good things about that series but haven’t seen any of them yet. I hope to.

    I’ve been mocking my son mercilessly for watching “My Little Pony” but he’s still at it. He’s ticked off because Netflix stopped streaming “Jimmy Neutron” so apparently this is his way of acting out.

    Then there’s my wife and her sister watching “Game of Thrones”. I just can’t go there.

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  70. Our resident ‘sean’ posted a comment somewhere about us all eating at the dinner table, or sitting outside while others est, something. Basically, sdb, we can break this down however we like. I totally butchered his writing (sorry sean), but I think we Christians put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional. Also, why I remain a Calvinist, has something to do with the last part..

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  71. Tom, your charity at spending this long with us degenerates is a shock to my Calvinist blood. The longer you stay, the more I doubt? Weird. This is where I bring up golf, but I’m flummoxed here. Enough posts for 2013. See you all next year.

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  72. Tom, in your knowledge of and wisdom in all things — Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, church history, American Revolution (stocks and bonds?) — what is exactly going on?

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  73. Hart,
    Can’t answer for Tom but I have a theory. We don’t believe.

    First words and last words of Christ in the gospel of Mark.

    “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

    For love of the Truth and those who need it our Lord was killed.

    Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

    I do not believe we love the Truth or those who need it as Christ does.

    What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people!3 Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
    11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.4 The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    May the Lord forgive us our sins and grant us everlasting life through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Blessings fellas,
    MichaelTX

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  74. Judging from the way people defend the Universalistic comments, I would have to say that had the “Pope” said the same thing about Satanists, some would have defended him as well or twisted the comment to their liking.

    I just wonder why people dont consider the possibility that he might be a false Pope. I mean if a Pope 20 years from now say that Francis was a false Pope, those RC apologists would defend that Pope’s comments as well right?

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  75. Well, Robert Sungenius said in the 2001 Papal Infallibility debate vs James White that Popes can be heretics.

    I guess if I were a smart RC apologist, I would just say that this Pope’s views about Universal Salvation were heretical and nothing more.

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  76. Tom
    No need to apologize, though an explanation of what I’ve missed about CtC would be nice. I guess I’m too much of a simpleton to get it on my own.

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  77. Hart,
    I believe this explains why we lack fellowship and understanding of each other. We do not believe as we ought. We seek more often than not to point out the sin, foolishness, and error in others rather than seeking holiness, wisdom and truth from God for ourselves.

    “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

    “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

    “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    I think we repel the union of sinners because we deny we are “chief of sinners.” The one people of Christ is the union on sinners in the One who was a “friend of sinners.” Even if we don’t believe this one Church to be manifest in the visibly organized Catholic Church, but only those baptized into Christ’s death we still have a problem with our lack of fellowship with each other and this reveals our lack of “walking in the light.”

    This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    It took one Adam in the beginning to break fellowship with God and his children’s fellowship. Now one New Adam has restored fellowship with God and His children, we act like we are born of the first Adam of the flesh rather than the second of the Spirit, therefore we act like we don’t believe. I say this shows we don’t believe.

    The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

    We can not give what we do not have, fellowship with God through Christ.

    Hope that helps you understand my train of thought.

    Peace from the chief sinner over here in Texas,
    Michael

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  78. Tom, in your knowledge of and wisdom in all things — Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, church history, American Revolution (stocks and bonds?) — what is exactly going on?

    I’ll answer as though you’re mostly sincere with the above. Believe it or don’t, I thought the College of Cardinals [which is all part of the “living church”/magisterium/inspired by the Holy Spirit nexus] would select a pope from outside Europe. The Church took a great beating in the First World over the pedophilia scandals. So the best solution was to turn to the Church’s future, which lies outside the First World. [See, Phillip Jenkins on demographics, for instance.]

    I also suspected [really!] that the new pope might choose the name Francis. What was and is called for is what the Puritans called Days of Fasting and Humiliation, and that’s just what Pope Bergoglio has done, the washing of feet, the mellow tone.

    As for the Church’s prayer for Universal Reconciliation [a hope, not an ex cathedra doctrine of universal salvation], it’s in the catechism–“apocatastasis” not as a fact but as a prayer. [Personally, I see no reason why everyone can’t be “Elect,” if such is God’s will.] I think it’s a good product and good advertising, and Francis intends to get the RCC to be more evangelical–indeed, I just heard that the growth of evangelical Protestantism in South America was also a boon for the RCC, spurring Catholics to start attending church again.

    A rising tide lifts all boats, and Francis means to get the RCC back afloat.

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  79. Tom – A rising tide lifts all boats, and Francis means to get the RCC back afloat

    Erik – It’s always high tide at CTC. All they lack is more converts from Presbyterian & Reformed churches.

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  80. Tom,

    In your opinion, why is being religious superior to being virtuous but irreligious? If I have no religion but work hard, pay my taxes, and raise my kids well, what does it matter if I go to church?

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  81. Michael TX, but what if you are wrong and I am not seeking holiness in pointing out that you are wrong? Paul said that even those who preached the gospel for the wrong motives were right to preach the gospel. Please don’t go pietistic on me.

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  82. Hart,
    Not trying go all pietistic on you. I just believe that if two parties are truly following Christ they will not part ways, though I do believe because we can not know each other as God knows us and we have an Enemy among us this does happen.So, ultimately they will not remain apart.
    I do know I can be wrong the Catholic Church and am willing to be corrected. I also with Paul am glad when Christ is preached even if it is out of selfishness. But, the greater question is in your pointing out me being wrong are you preaching Christ? Paul knew and was at peace in all his troubles even to his death.

    “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself…”

    “And all things are of God,-who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. . . . Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

    “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.”

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  83. Tom, the what’s going on was in reference to an account of why Protestants were converting to Rome, not your odds on the next pope.

    Then why didn’t Dr. Magic 8 Ball just say that in the first place instead of sending me down a rabbit hole in a good faith guess as to what the hell he was asking? Geez.

    And it was a pretty pithy response. I was hoping y’d enjoy it. It was about this pope and your recent attack on his recent speech.

    As for your actual question, I’m afraid you won’t like my answer, but I believe it’s for the intellectual tradition and method*. The list of estimable converts to Catholicism is astounding in its intellectual heft. Chesterton, Elizabeth Anscombe, Mortimer Adler, Avery [Cardinal] Dulles, Newt Gingrich [OK OK, I’m kidding], Russell Kirk, Jacques Maritain, Alasdair MacIntyre, Malcolm Muggeridge, John Henry Newman, Richard John Neuhaus, Walker Percy, JRR Tolkien, to name a few names I grabbed off the list.

    Interestingly enough, a number of these people became some of the foremost and able apologists for Catholicism. That your friends from Called to Communion embraced apologetics is no surprise–frankly, if you’re any barometer, they have embraced a change from polemics to an affirmative message and it feels good. I’m sorry, Darryl, but much of your writing is polemical, bagging on the papists, and in Reformed theology itself has an anti-universal/anti-catholic-with-a-small “c” strain, that of the U and the L in TULIP. If the elect are saved anyway, then God will handle the details. Evangelism, ecumenicalism, even being pleasant to certain other so-called “Christians” despite doctrinal differences really doesn’t matter much either way in the end. “Fatalism,” as you put it.

    The difference in vibe betw your pals here and the Called to Communion crowd is palpable to the outside observer. The theology of hope that all men will be saved, universal reconciliation, is substantively different from “Limited Atonement” [Christ died for me, not thee], and I think it shows in how you each go about your soteriological business.

    ________________
    *http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/jbudziszewski_int1_feb05.asp

    J. Budziszewski, professor at UTexas, a convert from evangelical Christianity:

    “Naturally I taught my students Thomas Aquinas, but I found it difficult to do so. The problem was that his arguments presented such a strong appearance of truth. For the very beauty of this appearance, I had to exercise strong discipline not to weep. One of my students in those days asked permission to put a personal question. “I’ve been listening carefully,” he said, “and I figure that you’re either an atheist or a Roman Catholic. Which one is it?”

    You can see why, when I finally returned to Christian faith, I wanted that one foot in Catholic tradition.

    Yet return also meant recovery of lost elements of Protestant belief, and I couldn’t see my way to Catholicism proper.

    I had the common Protestant idea that Catholicism teaches “works-righteousness”–that we earn our way into heaven, apart from the merits of Christ–that if we just earn enough “virtue points,” we’re in. It took a long time to get over such misunderstandings.”

    TVD: So there’s your current theological dispute with C2C and the Pope, that Protestants are operating under that false impression.

    But I do want to add that those who have swum the Tiber the other way, away from Rome–IMO usually do it for a more personal–visceral–connection with the Bible and with Christ himself. “Enthusiasm,” if I have the Calvinist battles between the New Lights and the Old Lights correct, during the First Great Awakening.

    “They are chiefly, indeed, young persons, sometimes lads, or rather
    boys; nay, women and girls, yea, Negroes, have taken upon them to do
    the business of preachers.”—Charles Chauncey, c. 1740

    Amateurs. Feh.

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  84. Tom,

    Not everyone’s impressed with your Catholic converts in a “big picture” sense:

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/a/allitt-converts.html

    “But the general trend bore the range of intellectually respectable ideas steadily away from religion in general and Catholicism in particular. This trend, often labeled “secularization,” appeared for decades to be unstoppable, so that many convert intellectuals, far from reversing its momentum, found their own views gradually moving outside the realm of what other intellectuals considered plausible. The consequence was marginalization, and convert intellectuals in general lost influence with the passing decades, so that none in the twentieth century could have an effect on his or her non-Catholic contemporaries to match that of Newman and Brownson in the mid-nineteenth. Certain writers, such as Chesterton or Christopher Dawson, could still find admirers, but neither created a major school of thought, and non-Catholic admirers saw their religion as a colorful aberration rather than a central element in their work. In that sense this book is the history of a momentous and protracted failure.”

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  85. Tom – But I do want to add that those who have swum the Tiber the other way, away from Rome–IMO usually do it for a more personal–visceral–connection with the Bible and with Christ himself. “Enthusiasm,” if I have the Calvinist battles between the New Lights and the Old Lights correct, during the First Great Awakening.

    Erik – I think it’s less “enthusiasm” than it is comparing Catholic theology to Scripture, a la the Reformers, and finding Catholic theology wanting. You can be “enthusiastic” and remain Catholic. Look at MichaelTx.

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  86. Tom – The difference in vibe betw your pals here and the Called to Communion crowd is palpable to the outside observer. The theology of hope that all men will be saved, universal reconciliation, is substantively different from “Limited Atonement” [Christ died for me, not thee], and I think it shows in how you each go about your soteriological business.

    Erik – But the Vatican has been clarifying the Pope’s claims. You still have to be joined to the RCC (if you know about it) to be saved. How is this “Universal reconciliation”?

    You are right that the doctrine of Limited Atonement differs from Catholic theology, though. Not a bad post by you.

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  87. I’ll take that last bit as a compliment, Erik. Acknowledging that, by God’s grace, if Catholicism is against Scripture and the God of our Lord Jesus, then I’ll be even more enthusiastic against it. Look out if this previous antiCatholic becomes a revert. Of all things I hate to be deceived, and hate it more in others.
    Peace,
    MichaelTX

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  88. Enthusiasm in the Truth is good; enthusiasm in error is kicking harder than others against the goads and just leads to more pain. Not good.

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  89. Erik – But the Vatican has been clarifying the Pope’s claims. You still have to be joined to the RCC (if you know about it) to be saved. How is this “Universal reconciliation”?

    Asked and answered in my very first comment of Darryl’s Original Post on this, Erik. You’re wearin’ me out, brother. Kindly read me with care the first time.

    Neither am I interested in fending off anti-Catholic polemics. There is no end to that game. If you genuinely seek truth instead of hunting for error, then I’ll be glad to help. I don’t write here to win arguments or convince Erik or Darryl of anything. I write in the interest of clarity for the readers here gathered, who will hopefully explore these issues further on their own.
    ____

    Tom Van Dyke
    Posted May 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    True, this the RCC prays for–universal reconciliation, apokatastasis in the
    Greek. Not that there is no hell, but that it be empty.

    I for one am glad it’s in God’s hands and not my fellow man’s, some of whom get the smuglies at the idea of other people in hell.

    “Eternal damnation remains a possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it.”–John Paul II

    RCC Catechism:

    1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: ‘Lord, let
    me never be parted from you.’ If it is true that no one can save
    himself, it is also true that God ‘desires all men to be saved’ (1 Tim
    2:4), and that for him ‘all things are possible’ (Mt 19:26).

    1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by
    God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each
    one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’
    and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good
    works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays
    for ‘all men to be saved.’

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  90. An universal objective reconciliation which turns out not to reconcile….is limited. No true gospel tells anybody that they in particular are elect, so it’s false to describe the Reformed Confessions as teaching “for me but not for you”.

    The ultimate way we can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you” is to tell them that the gospel they MUST believe excludes even this believing as the condition of salvation. The only condition of
    salvation for the elect is Christ’s just and effectual death for the elect.

    No debated language about the objectivity of “the covenant” or “sacraments” should be allowed to obscure this gospel truth. Unless you preach that Christ died only for the elect, no matter how
    confessional you are, you will end up encouraging people to make faith (and the works that follow) into that little something that makes the difference between life and death!

    The glory of God in the gospel means that all for whom Christ died will certainly be saved. Election is God’s love. When the Bible talks about God’s love, it talks about propitiation. I John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” If you are not yet justified, when you read that “our”, you are reading somebody else’s mail.

    If all we only stipulate that the appeasement of wrath will not work without our faith, then it’s not enough to add on that God sent His son to purchase our faith. The nature of the cross as a propitiation will not be proclaimed. Instead covenant will be turned into law. A propitiation for the elect which is also the same and enough for the non-elect, amounts to nothing.

    Christ loved the church, but is the church the Norman Shepherd church of elect who become the non-elect? The Shepherd gospel is not first of all about future justification by works. It starts with the idea of talking about “the covenant” instead of “election”, about water baptism instead of regeneration.

    The gospel does not tell anybody that they are elect while others are not. But many paradoxical folks will defend a non-election gospel as being the only perspective possible to us. We have to know we believe, before we can know if we are elect. I agree, but we can and should know that God has an elect before we believe the gospel.

    Knowing our election before we believe is impossible. Knowing our election is NOT our warrant to believe. But this is no excuse for leaving the Bible doctrine of election out of the doctrine of propitiation by Christ’s death there and then on the cross.

    The glory of God does not depend on human decisions, and the gospel must not become a hostage to catholic collaboration with those who on the basis of “universal atonement” condition salvation on what God does in the sinner.

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  91. Tom,

    I think you grasp some aspects of Reformed Theology, but I think you still have a lot of misconceptions. I sincerely hope you stay around and ask questions.

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  92. Mark from over here, I see again how our languages differ, yet speak of commonalities.

    Anyway,
    about water baptism instead of regeneration.
    Can you show me where Scripture shows these must be separated?

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  93. Erik,
    I didn’t think you were speaking bad of me. I just know it can be used that way. I believe enthusiasm in the Truth can only come from the Lord, so I take it as a good gift. May the Lord give us all greater enthusiasm in the Truth.

    “None can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.”

    Peace,
    Michael

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  94. I think you grasp some aspects of Reformed Theology, but I think you still have a lot of misconceptions. I sincerely hope you stay around and ask questions

    Erik, work it out amongst yourselves.

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/norman-shepherd-begins-by-telling-us-not-to-talk-about-election/

    If Norman Shepherd gets the noose, I have no chance.

    This theological debate about grace and justification has been going on for 500 years and frankly, it doesn’t matter a whit. God decides. If he decides [had already decided at the beginning of time, or even before that] to spare Adolf Hitler, that’s none of our business. And spare me the sophistry of “Can you show me a Protestant church that prays that some should be lost?” which perverts the question. Limited Atonement presupposes that some were not atoned for, and by your own theology, case closed on them.

    [Unless you hope that all will turn out to be “Elect,” although that makes “Limited” Atonement a moot concept.]

    What I have already argued is that the hope for universal reconciliation may be the Christian norm, as I already wrote.

    Many Protestants are in accord with Pope Francis’s remarks. This does, however, offer Calvinists a “teaching moment” vs. Roman Catholicism’s “Arminianism,” although this Arminianism is also shared by many Protestants*.

    In fact, the question here is whether such an Arminianism is the normative Christian view of salvation–that is, the majority view of all Christians–Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodox, various Wesleyans, most Baptists, and sundry others, all being non-Calvinist.

    I suppose I can just keep reposting the same replies in the hope that you may someday read them, and perhaps even respond to them!

    ____
    **See, for instance, Keith Drury’s “The Triumph of Arrminianism”

    http://www.crivoice.org/arminianism.html

    Like

  95. I think you grasp some aspects of Reformed Theology, but I think you still have a lot of misconceptions. I sincerely hope you stay around and ask questions

    Erik, work it out amongst yourselves.

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/norman-shepherd-begins-by-telling-us-not-to-talk-about-election/

    If Norman Shepherd gets the noose, I have no chance.

    This theological debate about grace and justification has been going on for 500 years and frankly, it doesn’t matter a whit. God decides. If he decides [had already decided at the beginning of time, or even before that] to spare Adolf Hitler, that’s none of our business. And spare me the sophistry of “Can you show me a Protestant church that prays that some should be lost?” which perverts the question. Limited Atonement presupposes that some were not atoned for, and by your own theology, case closed on them.

    [Unless you hope that all will turn out to be “Elect,” although that makes “Limited” Atonement a moot concept.]

    What I have already argued is that the hope for universal reconciliation may be the Christian norm, as I already wrote.

    Many Protestants are in accord with Pope Francis’s remarks. This does, however, offer Calvinists a “teaching moment” vs. Roman Catholicism’s “Arminianism,” although this Arminianism is also shared by many Protestants*.

    In fact, the question here is whether such an Arminianism is the normative Christian view of salvation–that is, the majority view of all Christians–Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodox, various Wesleyans, most Baptists, and sundry others, all being non-Calvinist.

    I suppose I can just keep reposting the same replies in the hope that you may someday read them, and perhaps even respond to them!

    ____
    **See, for instance, Keith Drury’s “The Triumph of Arrminianism”

    “A true Calvinist begins and ends his discussion of salvation with God. God alone. For the true Calvinist, man has no ability to move toward God. He cannot even recognize his own sin. Salvation is something which happens wholly as God’s work. What man does or is makes no difference. Confession, repentance, or “going to the altar” does not make a difference. To the true Calvinist, salvation happens totally apart from anything man does or is. It is purely God’s work done without man’s participation in any way whatsoever.

    Today’s church has drifted to a more Arminian approach. Most church people today believe the Christian’s relationship with God is bi-lateral, not uni-lateral. While maintaining that God alone does the saving, today’s church figures that men and women have a part to play—confessing sins and receiving Christ. To today’s average Christian, Christ’s death on the cross provided completely for our salvation, but forgiveness is not effective until an individual receives God’s forgiveness. In this most Christians are “practicing Arminians.”

    How shall we approach evangelism?

    Since a Calvinist believes salvation is wholly God’s work without any partnership with man, he or she approaches evangelism nonaggressively. Calvinism teaches there is nothing whatsoever a person can do to become saved—we can’t “decide for Christ” or “receive Christ” enabling a person to “become a Christian.” To do this would give man a part in salvation. Calvinists believe salvation is from God and God alone. To make salvation hinge on an individual’s “accepting Christ” or “receiving Christ” makes salvation partially a human endeavor. A true Calvinist believes that nothing whatsoever a person does or is contributes anything at all to salvation. Salvation is God’s work alone and we play no part in it—not even receiving salvation counts.

    Today’s evangelical church is far more Arminian in its approach to evangelism.”

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  96. I appreciate everyone keeping it civil here. As a life long and thankful protestant, those converting, and their subsequent proselytizing, is very confusing to me. Clearly, these people think they found something in RC. I’ve found so much and still am without RCism. And again, very thankful for where I find myself. I can only talk for me, here, though.

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  97. Tom – Limited Atonement presupposes that some were not atoned for, and by your own theology, case closed on them.

    [Unless you hope that all will turn out to be “Elect,” although that makes “Limited” Atonement a moot concept.]

    Erik – It’s confusing trying to talk with you, Tom, because you seem to have a very utilitarian concept of religion. Tell me why you think what one “hopes” for has any bearing on whether or not a religion is true or false. This is where we keep getting tripped up.

    You need to show your cards more about what you personally believe and why.

    I think you also understand how Reformed Churches work in practice. We don’t presume to know who was atoned for. We preach the gospel widely and regard those in true churches as saved people until proven otherwise (that’s when we practice church discipline — up to and including excommunication — when needed). Even then, we rely on professions of faith and don’t presume to know the ultimate fate of men’s souls. We realize our knowledge of these things is fallible and limited.

    Like

  98. Good stuff!
    AB.

    God has more than we can take and He keeps giving more and making us able to receive it and speak of it.
    God is good. We are the poor servants which only give what He has given.

    You finishing up for the work day?

    Like

  99. Tom,

    You argue that Arminianism is the majority view. O.K. So what? Way more people eat hot dogs than steak. Should I agree with you that hot dogs are better? You need to convince me that Arminianism is biblical. Way more people go to Joel Osteen’s church than mine, but that doesn’t convince me that Osteen has superior theology to my pastor.

    Drury’s quote is bogus because if you read our confessions you will see that we believe God uses men and means (primarily the preaching of the gospel) to save people. Unlike the Arminian, however, we can preach without fear because we don’t think the person’s response depends on us.

    If you are an Arminian, Tom, do you spend every minute telling people about Jesus? If not, why not. People could be going to hell because of your selfishness and laziness. Why play music? This is time you could be witnessing.

    If we believed what you say we believe why would we have adults get baptized and make a profession of faith upon repentance & belief? We do that.

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  100. The question is why one leaves an Arminian position to convert to a Reformed position.

    There has been a fad about it for the last decade, which swept me up to a good church.

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  101. Erik,

    Way more people go to Joel Osteen’s church than mine, but that doesn’t convince me that Osteen has superior theology to my pastor.

    I have to say Amen! to that.

    Like

  102. Tom,
    I’d also be weary of calling the Catholic teaching “Arminian”, even if some view it that way. Arminius didn’t teach Catholic doctrine, but nor did Calvin. They both had some things right, as I understand it.

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  103. Tom, I’d also be weary of calling the Catholic teaching “Arminian”, even if some view it that way. Arminius didn’t teach Catholic doctrine, but nor did Calvin. They both had some things right, as I understand it.

    I put scare quotes around “Arminian,” Michael, in the narrow sense used by Keith Drury here

    http://www.crivoice.org/arminianism.html

    to delineate it from Calvinistic soteriology.

    Again,

    This theological debate about grace and justification has been going on for 500 years and frankly, it doesn’t matter a whit. God decides. If he decides [had already decided at the beginning of time, or even before that] to spare Adolf Hitler, that’s none of our business.

    BTW, here’s a PDF of a hand-typed transcript of an interview of Cornelius Van Til on Norman Shepherd matter.

    http://www.trinity-pres.net/essays/ns06-InterviewWithJimPaytonJackSawyerPeterLillback.pdf

    You must understand I find this interesting as ecclesiastical history, but the theological questions at hand are not very compelling to me.

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  104. Erik, I like Dordt for the most part, except for the “sufficient/efficient” formula. I especially like the antithesis against errors. Dordt is clear and rational.

    Roman Catholics are not Arminians, Lutherans are not Arminians, and not all Arminians are the same. But all agree that Christ’s atonement was not only for the elect but also for those who will perish.

    Ephesians 1:9-11–” making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…”

    These days even most Reformed folk teach that Christ died in some sense for every sinner, even if they say that Christ died so God could justly condemn the sinner. Many think that they honor Christ by saying that the decree for Christ to die is before the decree to elect some sinners. They claim in this way to put the person of Christ before the doctrine of election.

    Many Reformed and Lutheran folk don’t want to make Christ’s atoning death the cause of justification. They want something they call “union” with the living Christ to be the cause of all saving grace. In this way, they attempt to talk about salvation in Christ without talking about either election or Christ’s past death for the elect. These folks tend to equate “atonement” (and election) with the church and its present “means of grace”.

    Like

  105. Sorry–I keep putting links in and more than one gets you trapped in comment moderation.

    Tom, I’d also be weary of calling the Catholic teaching “Arminian”, even if some view it that way. Arminius didn’t teach Catholic doctrine, but nor did Calvin. They both had some things right, as I understand it.

    I put scare quotes around “Arminian,” Michael, for the narrow sense used by Keith Drury here

    http://www.crivoice.org/arminianism.html

    to delineate it from Calvinistic soteriology.

    Again,

    This theological debate about grace and justification has been going on for 500 years and frankly, it doesn’t matter a whit. God decides. If he decides [had already decided at the beginning of time, or even before that] to spare Adolf Hitler, that’s none of our business.

    BTW, here’s a PDF of a hand-typed transcript of an interview of Cornelius Van Til on Norman Shepherd matter.

    http://www.trinity-pres.net/essays/ns06-InterviewWithJimPaytonJackSawyerPeterLillback.pdf

    You must understand I find this interesting as ecclesiastical history, but the theological questions at hand are not very compelling to me. I have no problem with Pope Francis’s remarks, and neither does the Catholic catechism. This hubbub is about nothing except certain Protestants’ and atheists’ confusion on the RCC’s position. Without getting into the tall weeds of it, I take it the Norman Shepherd controversy is theologically similar. I’d rather read y’all discoursing on that: It seems you have plenty enough to squabble about inside the Machen house.

    Like

  106. DGH: Sorry–I keep putting links in and more than one link gets you trapped in comment moderation. Pls ignore previous attempts at this comment.
    ________________

    MichaelTX: Tom, I’d also be weary of calling the Catholic teaching “Arminian”, even if some view it that way. Arminius didn’t teach Catholic doctrine, but nor did Calvin. They both had some things right, as I understand it.

    I put scare quotes around “Arminian,” Michael, for the narrow sense used by Keith Drury to delineate it from Calvinistic soteriology.

    Again,

    This theological debate about grace and justification has been going on for 500 years and frankly, it doesn’t matter a whit. God decides. If he decides [had already decided at the beginning of time, or even before that] to spare Adolf Hitler, that’s none of our business.

    BTW, here’s a PDF of a hand-typed transcript of an interview of Cornelius Van Til on Norman Shepherd matter y’all may find interesting.

    http://www.trinity-pres.net/essays/ns06-InterviewWithJimPaytonJackSawyerPeterLillback.pdf

    You must understand I find this all interesting as ecclesiastical history, but the theological questions at hand are not very compelling to me. I have no problem with Pope Francis’s remarks, and neither does the Catholic catechism. This hubbub is about nothing except certain Protestants’ and atheists’ confusion on the RCC’s position. Without getting into the tall weeds of it, I take it the Norman Shepherd controversy is theologically similar. If so, I’d rather read y’all discoursing on the issue per that: It seems you have plenty enough to squabble about inside the Machen house without looking inside others’.

    Like

  107. “Strictly speaking, there are no demands and conditions in the gospel but only promises and gifts. Faith and repentance are as much benefits of the covenant of grace as justification (and so forth)”
    —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4.454

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  108. Tom,

    The OPC, the URC, the RCUS, etc. (pretty much everyone but the PCA) have issued statements on “The Federal Vision”, which is basically Norman Shepherd for the next generation. The OPC’s report is maybe the best:

    http://www.opc.org/GA/justification.pdf

    You won’t find much discussion of Shepherd here, because most of us consider the matter to be settled in our churches.

    I agree with you that what Francis said was not a big deal, other than the fact that it maybe wasn’t wise for him to make a statement that required so much clarification by those under him (from CTC to the Vatican).

    Like

  109. Tom – And spare me the sophistry of “Can you show me a Protestant church that prays that some should be lost?” which perverts the question.

    Erik – You lauded the Catholic church for praying that all men be saved. How does my challenge pervert the question?

    They pray for all to be saved but say that none who know of Rome but fail to come to her will be.

    We pray for all to be saved but say that only those who have true faith in Christ will be.

    What’s the difference?

    Like

  110. Tom,

    You criticize Calvinists but you have no problem with Catholics saying that no one can be saved outside of the Catholic Church (if they know of her)? You let them off just because they say they pray that everyone would join their church?

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  111. Tom,

    Charging Calvinists as fatalists is not out of left field, granted. We stress the soverignty of God, but there is a paradoxical element here, IMHO. Our confession says we must handle the doctrine of election with extra care. Does that help?

    AB

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  112. Correction, predestination, not election, is what we handle with care. My point is made though, we acknowledge paradox (mystery) here. Disagree with reformed prots all you like. Some of us really dig the WCF. Here’s from chapter 3:

    The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

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  113. AB: Our confession says we must handle the doctrine of election with extra care. Does that help?

    Well, if the Pope got all this guff for saying all people might be saved, I can’t imagine the social spitstorm that would come down–fairly or unfairly, ignorantly or knowledgeably–on Calvinists if the “Elect” thing and all its implications really got out there. Just sayin’.

    We’re kind of reaching the limit of my interest in all this, esp since the theological weeds are getting tall and Calvinists seem to be “careful” about what they say about Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement, and this cat-and-mouse thing of trying to figure out what they believe [“no, THAT’S not it–you don’t understand…”] is lame. If y’all want to be open about it, I’m happy to read.

    In particular, this centuries-old grace and justification debate is an argument about something that’s out of our hands anyway. Or as somebody put it, a difference that makes no difference IS no difference. I’m happy to hear you out so that I understand your position [iirc, Aquinas likewise struggled with the idea that an omnipotent God couldn’t NOT know who would be saved and who wouldn’t, so I’m guessing that’s related]. But I’m not going to fight with you about it. It seems to me that Election could be universal [if such is God’s will] and therefore so is the Atonement, and so you could go about your Calvinistic business without that question needing to be resolved.

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  114. Tom,

    I get that you have reached the limit of your interest in this topic. So therefore, this will be as brief as I can make it.

    There is no shame in my admitting there are mysteries in the Christian religion. In my own study, I have found it helpful to know when I am dealing with a doctrine that is mysterious. Predestination and election just happens to be one of those.

    The best learning about the reformed faith I have been experiencing is through a very good pastor, teaching us the Westminster larger catechism. I know this might be a boring answer, but as for the OPC, we take that document really seriously, and find it very helpful.

    There’s open debates about how far we take our confession (the debates our over officers in the church, of which I am one, and what it means for us to “subscribe” to the confession). The point is, if you want to learned about confessional protestants, it’s a time consuming effort, but a study of the confessions is a must. Don’t expect a silver bullet answer in a combox. I have found that christian doctrine of any kind simply doesn’t work like that.

    There is plenty of “spit-storm” about doctrines like election, because plenty of atheists read the Bible and take great offense to much of what it is saying. When we say we are confessional, we are ultimately saying that the Westminster Confession summarizes well the teaching in Scripture. Again, you can disagree all you like. But that’s who we are.

    It’s ultimately not the confession or the Bible that I expect the “spit-storm,” however. I expect to be spat upon when and if I ever proclaim a clear gospel. That’s just plain fact. My pastor made a point recently in our mid-week Bible study through 1 Thessalonians (we are in Chapter 2, if you want to try to find the verses that are the context for what follows) that when a clear Gospel is preached, it seems there is always a very strong negative or positive response. This is where election starts to make sense for someone like me, 12+ years in the OPC every Sunday. I think that’s true – a person either responds very positively or very negatively when presented with the fact that they are a sinner in need of a savior. And the more clear the message, the more strong the reaction, positive or negative.

    Look, no one wants an internet fight. We’re all trying to help each other out, I think. But I’ve already written too much. If you want my take, I’m a big Bible guy – they called me “Bible Boy” in my public school, because I kept that book with me in my backpack. There’s reasons why I took to the Bible at a young age, and reasons why I continue to find such help in daily study of that book. It floats my boat, dude. And the OPC has helped me immensely, personally. It may not be the church for everyone, but we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got. And when someone comes along and says I need some correction in my learning from some outside pope or magisterium, I just say, “huh?” I’m sure I got issues, but why listen to them instead of anyone else? I’m not the one trying to convince a bunch of CtCers to come to the OPC. They are the ones running a website. Those of us around here just scratch our heads, post comments, and read DG’s blog posts. I find them quite informative and I keep reading. Glad you like it around here to stay this long. Remember, wherever you go next, we had good beer here. And you’re always welcome back. At least, that’s my take.

    AB

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  115. Goodstuff AB,
    Just hope you remember if you ever want an answer for “why listen to them instead of anyone else?” Just ask and I’ll do all I can.
    Peace bro,
    Mike

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  116. Tom, Beza’s views about predestination have not stopped you from claiming him as a major influence on the so-called Calvinist American Revolution. You do blow hot and cold on Calvinism. Seems to be when it suits you, you appeal to it. Otherwise, Calvinists are crazy. So why not admit that by your lights you live in a crazy Republic.

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  117. DGH: Tom, Beza’s views about predestination have not stopped you from claiming him as a major influence on the so-called Calvinist American Revolution. You do blow hot and cold on Calvinism.

    Darryl, I like Calvinism, especially Calvinist resistance theory, which freed mankind. Roman Catholicism objected to the Divine Right of Kings for its own ecclesiastical reasons, but Calvinism put boots on the ground. First it freed England/Scotland in the 1600s, then America in the late 1700s. We can do the history together whether or not you’re in accord theologically.

    To respond directly to

    Beza’s views about predestination have not stopped you from claiming him as a major influence on the so-called Calvinist American Revolution.

    Of course not, D. It’s 2K, Two Kingdoms theology—American Calvinists such as Samuel Adams keeps separate the concerns of this world from the concerns about the next. Your salvation is between you and God and no government can save your soul.

    The Calvinist Americans [via Locke] figured that much out well before the Papacy did. Although it is antithetical to our positions that

    _______

    Brian Lee
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink
    DGH, spoiler alert.

    He became an Augustinian priest and preached for the conversion of the Jews across Europe and in New York. He died at 88 in Belgium.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgardo_Mortara
    ________

    The last laugh is always God’s.

    Peace, brother DGH, a smile without the wink. :-) Thx for being you.

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  118. Michael,

    Sure. So, let’s assume that protestants have everything the Catholics do (apostolic succession, “infallible” magisterium, yadda yadda yadda). You never know, maybe we do. Please point out exactly where the protestant’s faith is deficient to the Roman Catholic’s.

    AB

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  119. Tom,

    I read that Van Til interview — at least the first 10 pages that I was able to print, anyway. I assume your point is that Van Til was in agreement with Norman Shepherd.

    The rambling nature of the interview makes an Old Bob blog comment look clear and concise. With all due respect to Dr. Van Til, there probably needs to be an age at which our theologians graciously retire and are left alone when it comes to making public comments. Have you heard of Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and Jerry Falwell? No one has ever claimed that theologians and intellectuals do their best work after 80 (I know, Falwell didn’t make it that long — Baptists like their red meat).

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  120. Hart,
    I will say I have wondered about the often greater brilliance of converts to Catholicism over many cradle RCs. I haven’t found it so common on the ground level, but more on the popular level, but any how I know what you mean. I think it has a lot to do with just plain old human nature. We tend to take for granted what we have always had, while we are more grateful for gifts we receive; especially when it God gives that gift through suffering. The struggle of the soul to resist the gift seem quite common in the Catholic converts. That is some of my thought on it anyway.
    Peace,
    MicahelTX

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  121. “… there probably needs to be an age at which our theologians graciously retire and are left alone when it comes to making public comments. Have you heard of Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and Jerry Falwell? No one has ever claimed that theologians and intellectuals do their best work after 80 …”

    Yup. Packer and his twist over ETC, Stott and his coming out with annihilationism, and so on. But the worst of these might well be Graham and some of the wacky things he’s said in recent years.

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  122. Sorry John, our posts crossed like ships in the fog. BTW, are you any relation to Jack Reacher?
    Sorry again, I just couldn’t resist that one…

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  123. AB,
    “Please point out exactly where the protestant’s faith is deficient to the Roman Catholic’s.

    It isn’t. It would be just like the Catholic who doesn’t know the fullness taught by the Spirit, therefore doesn’t live in light of it, so also the Protestant who lives fully to what God has revealed to them.

    Neither of these two faithful followers of Christ, Protestant or Catholic, is the same as the unfaithful who know what is revealed to them and ignores it. They shut the door to the greater peace and freedom God wishes to give through the knowledge of greater Truth. There is only One who gives true peace and joy that the world can not crush out, His name is Jesus. He is God with us, and He shows more as we seek more. This is the wonder of our God, we can never exhaust the well of His wonder. Though He always gives more than the old wine skin can take, therefore we are called to be new wine skins that stretch with the revelation of Truth instead of resisting it.

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  124. Michael, Protestants are coming out of a propositional and word-based religious expression over into an visual, pageant and rite oriented expression in RC. This is why I term them ‘prot-catholics’. They tend to be traditional, pretty much ignore Vatican II intentions, and seek to harmonize(like they did when they read the scriptures) the “T” tradition. They also do some making up of RC as they go along( ‘I can keep all the best of what I believed as a protestant’). They don’t really know yet what Cradles already assimilated; it’s not about propositional truth( there’s no harmonizing 850 page catechisms), it’s about ontological change per the sacraments, all the way down to last rites, priestly mediation and venerating/worshiping Mary.

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  125. Michael,

    No offense, but your answer to my question seems to be, “it isn’t, but it is.” I’m no logician like your friend Bryan Cross, but I can’t make sense of what you are saying. I’m left with feeling that a trip to Rome would leave me with only more questions. I’ve met other theological systems that don’t have answers, but only lead to more questions, so this is not uncommon. My two sense is, as someone else said, clean up your own house before worrying about ours. Courtesy to Tom, I think.

    AB

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  126. AB,
    I agree with you that it is not our job to clean up someone else’s house. We must always be dealing with our house. God in dealing with our house shines out to the world.

    It is not “it ins’t, but it is”, it is God has more for us both and if we turn away from it we need to repent and believe in God. We reject truth or receive truth in the same way. We must believe “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”; “Jew or Greek,” Catholic or Protestant. Did the Paul, the Jew, believe himself to have more revelation that the Greek? Yes. Does this make His faith better than the Greek? No. God is no respecter of men, but places men in different situations and places that we may seek Him to the fullness of what He reveals to us. It is the One Spirit effecting both the Protestant seeking Truth and the Catholic seeking Truth. I thought Catholic teachings were in error before I study actual Catholic teaching, the Greek thought the Jew was in error too. All find unity in following Truth, Christ. But, each in his own capacity as God gives grace.

    Hope that helps some.

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  127. Well, George, I have been told that I have a Cruise-like smile to go with my Gibson blue eyes. Now if I could do something with this Karl Malden nose ……..

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  128. Sean,
    I think I can see your point, but I’ve read the 850+ pages CCC. I’m in, VII post and pre; still rejecting error and embracing truth, while looking for errors and seeking more truth; Still loving the One Lord and the Holy Scriptures, still rejecting idols unless you can prove from Scripture it is not our Lord I receive in Holy Communion.
    I can understand with your history why someone like me would be a thorn in yours side, but I am willing to be corrected from error and have yet to be.

    You said, it’s about ontological change
    Is this not the whole of why Christ came?

    “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”

    I’m guessing that you disagree that God uses Baptism and Communion to accomplish this new life?

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  129. AB,
    You should know by now I do all I can to “provide an answer to the hope” that I have. Leave a crack in the door and I’ll be talking through it.
    Enjoy the day,
    Mike

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  130. Tom, how exactly does Calvinism liberate mankind and send half of humankind to hell? That’s the dilemma your emoticons avoid.

    U and L respectively, Darryl.😦

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  131. Michael, you’re being protestant. In the words of one of your own, who knows it to be true but struggles to wean himself off his protestant leanings; ‘You catch more than you learn’. I don’t consider you a thorn in my side at all. As has been noted, at least the catholics are dealing with the text as it regards the lord’s supper. But no, I don’t believe transubstantiation is being taught in scripture. Particularly a conversion brought upon by the priest’s charism. And you should know from your protestant days, that my salvation is secured outside of me in another not per my ‘becoming’. Though one day I will be glorified. And no, I don’t believe my baptism works ex opere operato nor that it removes original sin. If we’re going to be honest in our discussions we need to start working with the concepts behind the language and not just throw the verbage out there.

    You guys tend to go back and forth between your old protestant mind and your new RC becoming. That’s why otherwise bright protestants keep getting suckered into ECT documents and manhattan declarations. You use the same words but don’t mean the same thing by them. I’m trying to be a thorn in the side of such negotiations.

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  132. Tom, have you ever wondered why Rome can’t produce it’s own apologists but needs ex-Protestants?

    Did I say that, Darryl? Let’s see, hmm, no I didn’t. Are you saying that? I don’t think it would hold up to closer inspection.

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  133. Sean,
    You’ll have to explain more clearly how I’m Protestant and have accepted the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church and I receive the instructions and anathemas of the councils as coming with the protection of the promised Holy Spirit. We must clear have a different definition of qualifies one as a Protestant.

    I did not ask if you could get to transubstantiation from Scripture alone. I asked if from Scripture you can prove it is not true. That is a big difference. Scripture does say it is profitable for correcting. I am willing to be corrected by Scripture.

    Sean,
    If true salvation includes “one day I will be glorified,” then true salvation does include “becoming.” It can still not be of you, but truly be for your “becoming” holy. This is ultimately what salvation from rebellion, sin and death is, right?
    If baptism is not united to effectual unity with Christ, what is it?

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  134. Michael, I think I explained it clearly earlier. You’re a traditionalist, you largely reject the interpretations coming out of Vat II(though not to the degree maybe CTC would; “they regard the last 50 years, or at least till Ratzinger, the lost generation). Your still propositionally bound by and large, but you run it between pietistic protestantism to RC dogmatism. Rarely do you speak, at least here, of the sacerdotalism of Rome.

    Michael, sure you point me to the NT biblical concept of priestcraft. You get that straight from “T” tradition. Don’t you dare jump to a gospel narrative in John about ‘eating my flesh’. You have to get the priesthood before you even go there. And don’t give me old wineskins Judaism.

    I believe baptism is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace. Not operating ex opere operato nor contingent upon the moment of time it is administered. Additionally, as said before, it does not by proper execution, remove original guilt and sin.

    Michael, certainly there is an ‘ontological’ aspect but it’s first and finally legal and forensic. If we wanna use the bride of Christ illustration, it’s a familial arrangement bound up and preceded by a legal declaration, if you don’t believe me try leaving your wife. We aren’t initially justified and then further justified per infusion of grace dependent(as ground) as it were on my cooperation in my becoming.

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  135. Sean,
    I don’t have a problem dealing with the priesthood. It just hasn’t come up in any conversations. Sounds good about emailing. I’ll try and get with you tomorrow probably. I prefer chatting one on one anyway. Less tendencies for me to be a puffed up show off. Sorry if I have come across that way at any time.

    I will mention one thing that seems odd about not considering baptism effectual is that it seem to be against the WCF. I know definitions are formulated different between us, but it says the ordinances of the NT are:
    held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews
    and Gentiles.

    Does this not mean that the WFC teaches there is a reality with Christ’s actual work encountered in the NT ordinances by that “sign and seal”?

    I guess anybody could answer.

    I come out of a more “just symbolic” background myself. Am I wrong about the WFC?

    I’ll get with you by email.
    Peace,
    MichaelTX

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  136. “Anybody can answer?”
    Anybody, but the ex prot romanists evidently.
    Come on Michael. Get serious.

    Transubstantiation? Correction by Scripture? Easy.
    “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Lk. 22:20
    According to Rome’s literal fundamentalist hermeneutic ala the bread, Christ here can’t be referring to the wine, but to the cup itself. But then evidently cups bleed and we drink the cup itself, not what’s in the cup or from it.

    “If baptism is not united to effectual unity with Christ, what is it?”

    It is a sign and a seal of that spiritual reality accomplished by faith, but for those that walk by sight, whether the FV or Rome, baptism actually is what it signifies. IOW read WCF 28:5 & 6 particularly. Hint, it does not teach ex opere operato even in Doug Wilson says so.

    Any further questions, read Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine. He deals with the distinctions between signs/symbols and what they signify/symbolize. It is that elementary.

    Priesthood? Read Hebrews. Christ alone is the sinless sacrificer of the order of Melchizedek, as well the sinless and final sacrifice. There are no more sacrifices or sacrificial priests of any order, never mind Aaronic in the Christian economy. The only priests are those who belong to the priesthood of believers, who as a congregation offer the sacrifice of praise, whatever the Romish priests pretend to be doing in front of their altar. IOW the Jews may have been guilty of unbelief, but at least they had the command of God for their ceremonial worship. Rome not a shred.

    I know. Nobody likes being lectured at or patronized.
    But then you might refrain from it yourself as the by now standard/typical ex prot who assumes Romanism is eminently scriptural, as well as reasonable and historical, but obviously can’t tell us what protestantism actually teaches – again whether you believe it or not.

    And it’s that ignorance which renders your advocation of Rome rather hollow/unpersuasive.

    Thank you.

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  137. Since we are talking of Transubstantiation, let me ask:

    If the Wafer of the Eucharist gets eaten by a church mouse, does that mean that God would be inside the mouse? If the Wafer was poisoned, would it kill the mouse?

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  138. Michael, on the one hand the WCF says:

    6. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries.

    But, having said that, the WCF does not describe a sacrament of mere memorialism:

    7. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

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  139. MikeM,
    I’ve read through those as well, and it seems the WCF is trying to back peddle on some of its claims to me. This balance is actually closer to the Catholic view as I understand. Depending on how you were to take some of the statements. It is not like we got an arm in our mouth, but truly the Body of Christ. Christ’s glorified body does not leave the right of the Father to come into us. We join the glorified perfected body in time and eternity, though within the veil of temporal and physical union in the reception of Christ’s body. It is a marriage of temporal and eternal truths in the same way Christ is the union of the eternal God with the temporal man, Jesus. Totally divine and totally human. There is no separation. Total union, yet having distinction. You could not see a divine God when he walked by, but a man who was discernible by the gift of grace as the divine Son of the Father.

    How does the WCF deal with the un-discerner being truly “guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ”?

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  140. MikeTX, there are 8 enumerated paragraphs on the Lord’s Supper in the Westminster Confession. Much of the content of those 8 paragraphs is concerned with distinguishing from the RCC position. If you go to opc.org, you can click on the Westminster Confession on the right side then go to Chapter 29.

    The WCF actually has a higher view of the church and sacraments than, for example, the baptistic view. It is more then memorial, for Christ is spiritually present, and there is spiritual nourishment and growth for the believer. Then you have to go through the various disclaimers about what that doesn’t mean, such as not meaning the substance or nature of the elements are changed.

    The last paragraph of chapter 29 deals with judgment for wrongfully taking the Lord’s Supper.

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  141. MikeM,
    I’ll read over it again. It has been a few weeks. I did come out of a more Baptist background. In your view how do you reconcile Christ’s being united with a resurrected glorified body in heaven and the reception of Him spiritually not being a union with the spiritual and physically post resurrected reality of Christ?

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  142. Michael, from the reformed side we are dealing with real presence, we’re not mere memorialists. But as with many distinctions with RC’s, we’re united to Christ by faith we’re not imbibing in metaphysical ‘matter’. We aren’t dealing with exchanges total or partial between bread and body or wine and blood. Furthermore the charism of the protestant pastor isn’t engaged in the transference. Their is no incantation that makes it so, and continues to remain because consecration has taken place. We feed really but spiritually by faith. The distinction is best seen in that we have no altar, no ciborium, no tabernacle.

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  143. “In your view how do you reconcile Christ’s being united with a resurrected glorified body in heaven and the reception of Him spiritually not being a union with the spiritual and physically post resurrected reality of Christ?”

    I suggest a clean break with that analytic loop. Instead, think of how are believers blessed by a sermon. They are spiritually blessed when hearing in faith. The Lord’s Supper is a demonstrative, tangible sermon by which we are blessed when receiving and hearing in faith.

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  144. Sean,
    We feed really but spiritually by faith.

    Ok, you feed really on what?

    I really am just trying to find the line over there. I when straight from symbolic to true presence. From a remembering to a actuality.
    Do you understand why I’m might be having trouble distinguishing the differences?

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  145. Michael, I know it’s sincere. BTW, I don’t think you’re a showoff. Michael, both of our camps say more about what it’s NOT then what it is. There’s mystery here. It’s not dissimilar to the Trinity in that way. We know a lot more precisely about what it’s not. Here’s one of the places where I am a Calvinist precisely. IOW, it doesn’t get any better for me than Calvin on the sacraments and also I misued real presence, for our purposes, in my previous comment;

    “Calvin avoided the language of “physicality” employed by the Lutherans. Christ’s body and blood were to be “understood in terms of Christ’s act of reconciliation, not in themselves.”[11] Although the believer, through the Supper, possesses a true communion with Christ’s natural body and blood, it is not in terms of substantiality but rather in terms of the spiritual, redemptive benefits inherent in the resurrected and ascended body of Christ. Hence, for Calvin, a local presence is not necessary. The body of Christ remains in heaven. There is no “descent” of Christ to earth. “Flesh must therefore be flesh; spirit, spirit — each thing in the state and condition wherein God created it. But such is the condition of flesh that it must subsist in one definite place, with its own size and form.” [12] The human properties of Christ’s body are not impaired. Moreover the elements of the Supper retain their full, substantial identity as bread and wine.

    There is however a descent of the Holy Spirit who constitutes the connection between the risen Christ and the souls of believers. “No extent of space interferes with the boundless energy of the Spirit, which transfuses life into us from the flesh of Christ.”[13] “It is certainly a proof of truly divine and incomprehensible power that how remote so ever He may be from us, He infuses life from the substance of His flesh and blood into our souls so that no distance of place can impede the union of head and members.” [14] The manner in which Christ’s flesh is eaten is spiritual. The Holy Spirit communicates the life-giving benefits of Christ’s natural body to us.

    Although, on one hand, Calvin denies the descent of Christ’s body to us (absentia localis), he paradoxically speaks of such a descent by the Holy Spirit as the source of real presence (praesentia realis) in the Supper. Calvin would only allow the word “real” (reali) to be used if it meant that which was not fallacious and imaginary or the opposite of that which was deceptive and illusory. On the whole he preferred the word “true” (vero) to describe Christ’s presence. In normal speech “real” connotes something that is existent, objective, and in the external order. When used with reference to the Supper, “real presence” implies “local presence,” and, of course, this is denied by Calvin. So then, Calvin would allow the phrase praesentia realis only if “real” was used for “true” as is sometimes the case in common or vulgar parlance.[15] As for the mode of “descent” (modum descensus) Calvin maintains that it is the Holy Spirit who descends but not alone. Christ “descends” by His Spirit. But again Calvin employs paradoxical language when he maintains that the manner of descent is that “by which he lifts us up to himself.[16] There is, so to speak, a simultaneous descent and ascent. What is in view, here, is sacramental “proximity” effected by the Spirit upon the ground of the mystical union of Christ and His people.

    Calvin maintains that the sacrament’s effect is more than a mere stimulation of the intellect, imagination, and emotions at the sight of the portrayal of the spectacle of the Cross. It is this and more. “In participation in the Supper faith connects itself with something outside of itself and other than a mere idea, and, in so doing, effects in the spiritual realm a real communication between itself and the earthly reality such as that figured in the act of eating the bread.”[17] Calvin distinguishes between eating and believing. Faith or belief receives Christ and the promises, but eating implies more. Eating is the result or consequence of faith. [18] The spiritual transaction which occurs possesses the nature of nourishment or vivication. “…the flesh of Christ is eaten by believing because it is made ours by faith…”[19] Hence, the eating (nourishment) follows from believing (appropriation). Or, in other words, faith is a vessel that receives something from outside — the benefits of Christ’s flesh and blood which nourish the believer and impart to him eternal life.”

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  146. To put it another way, MTX, we don’t meditate on the bread and wine. His body was broken for us, his blood was spilled for us; this is our meditation. Taking the elements is an outward manifestation of believing in his gospel and receiving him. We meditate on the gospel / that which is spiritual, not that which is physical. So he spiritually blesses.

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  147. No doubt we got a mystery going on here, no matter which camps glasses you are looking with. I do have trouble working through that paragraph though. It often says exactly the Catholic view then turns and says “no” not the Catholic view. It is hard for me to assimilate. But, in essence if I catch it correctly Calvin says by our faith we truly incorporate the effects of true union with Christ, while the Catholic view is true union with the God-man occurs therefore my faith is effectual. Basically?

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  148. Michael, not being exhaustive or book length precise, but yeah what you seem to be hitting on here is a denial of ex opere operato from the protestant side. There’s other distinctions as well such as metaphysical/ontological transference or priestly charism.

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  149. MikeM,
    You and I would be in agreement there. One thought I would stipulate in there though is regarding you saying:
    “that which is spiritual, not that which is physical. So he spiritually blesses.”
    I wouldn’t be able to separate Christ who is both truly God the Son and consubstantial with the Father for all eternity and totally spiritually and physically man since His birth in Bethlehem. Therefore union spiritually is union physically and vise versa by His choice, by my understand now anyway. Spiritual union looks forward to physical union while physical union discerns true spiritual and physical union with God in Christ.
    Help?

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  150. MTX, now a question for you. The RCC seems inclined to impute spiritual power to that which is physical. I’m thinking of the eucharist and relics. Can you explain that? Is that your position?

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  151. Sean,The priestly charism would be something that would seem more of a Lutheran divide to me. Lutheran real presence language gets real close to Catholic but still denies the need or God’s wish for a priesthood. So I see it in the topic we are on but not necessarily needing to be addressed for understanding what we are saying.

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  152. MTX, Christ’s physical body is in a certain location. Mine is in another location. Why must they be merged? And you if you are going to talk about physical merging you have entered the realm of the empirical, so we’ll assume your data will be forthcoming.

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  153. MikeM,
    If the Holy Communion is true communion with Christ how could it not be effectual. It was the spiritual/physical union of God the Son in Christ with Man that is the effectual president for all redemption. It is the accually incorporation of me with Him, who in His mercy came to save us from our destruction and separation from God both physically and spiritually.

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  154. Michael, I don’t know how you divide out priestly charism from transubstantiation. Maybe this is what I was getting at when I see you bouncing between your baptistic background and your now RC affiliation. Particularly when the RC is trading on ex opere operato. Conversion of elements is so pronounced in the understanding that RC has ‘holding vessels’ for the converted material.

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  155. No more physical evidence than that of the faith I have in the written Word and the witness of a transforming life in Christ that is by grace willing to die as my Lord did for me. Galations 2:20 “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live now I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
    Not trying to being sharp I promise.

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  156. Sean,
    I’m not saying the priesthood and the command of Christ to it is not necessary for my Faith. What I am saying is it is not necessary for the divide between Protestant and Catholic, because Lutherans(Protestants) except essentially a Catholic view while being accepted as not being Catholic but categorically Protestant. So, I don’t see the need in me seeking to understand that part from from a Calvin’s fellas. Understood a little?

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  157. Before Adam and Eve sinned they were physically distinct from God. Mankind never lost physical union with God because we never had it. You would have us redeemed to a state we were never in to begin with.

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  158. Hey, Sean, you remember Nancy and her Borg Apologetic? There was that yearning to be lost in union with The One. How unusual or typical is that driving force in RCC?

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  159. Michael, sort of, maybe, but not really. You don’t have an RC view apart from sacerdotalism. You’d have to argue a primitive or non-Tridentine understanding of the RC view.

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  160. MikeM,
    In a part yes and in part no. But, before I was married I was no less who I am, but am now still just a man but also a now husband. I have been transformed. We now with the coming of Christ are now longer servants, but “beloved.” This is spousal language. We are now in “intimate” communion with God in Christ. He has taken to Himself a bride. We are His beloved bride through the Cross. He laid down His life in love for His bride we receive Him in thanksgiving for His graceful reception of us a wayward adulterous harlot of a wife to be cleansed by His and His healing hands. We are not disintegrated we are His received Body. Ephesians 5’s great mystery speaking of Christ and the Church.

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  161. You don’t have an RC view apart from sacerdotalism.

    I understand Sean, my point is you don’t have to only make a Catholic understand your view, you must also make a Lutheran which does not except the requirement of a unbreakable priestly calling in the Church.

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  162. MM, the RC’s have always kinda fallen back to pietistic or romantic notions of just ‘love God’ or just believe or “I believe that I might understand’. That’s the why of the ascetics and monastics- I need to be closer to God. Vows of silence and poverty, the contemplatives, the mystics. There’s a real heart of divination that goes along with devout RC. Priestly charism, actual transformation of matter, veneration, pageant, ‘you catch more than you learn’. Hierarchy among the faithful, heirarchy among the priestly class. There’s quite a bit of ladder climbing and losing yourself in the divine center if you will.

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  163. MikeM,
    This may sound crazy, but I truly held out the possibility that at my first reception of Christ in the Mass may have been my last day, for better of worst.

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  164. Michael, sort of. I get what you’re trying to drive at. Well, as you know, Luther and Calvin never did bridge the gap. Lutherans don’t let me at their table from either background. But with the lutherans I’m just dealing with the texts. There is no mere dealing with the text with RC’s. We can agree it’s mysterious and more than memorialism or symbolism. I’d frankly have to brush up on the lutheran position; with and under I believe. Which just from a first blush is borrowing from a medieval understanding of metaphysics.

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  165. MikeM,
    When you asked earlier about a experimental sign of this union. This is the same thing asked of Christ by people in His day. You couldn’t look smell or taste the divine in Him, He just was. So yes I do believe there are parts to our Faith that we are called to “just believe” for Christ’s sake. He said “if you do not believe that I am He you will die in your sins.” I wish you could know how much I begged God to stop me if this were not true.
    Just trying to give you some of my mind,
    MichaelTX

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  166. I repeat what I asked just to get my wondering back where we are.

    We feed really but spiritually by faith.

    Ok, you feed really on what?

    And then was wondering with MikeM about this:

    I wouldn’t be able to separate Christ who is both truly God the Son and consubstantial with the Father for all eternity and totally spiritually and physically man since His birth in Bethlehem. Therefore union spiritually is union physically and vise versa by His choice, by my understand now anyway. Spiritual union looks forward to physical union while physical union discerns true spiritual and physical union with God in Christ.

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  167. MikeM,
    I’d also say that desire for union with God and separation from sin is quite normal in the Scriptures, too. Especially, in Paul and John.

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  168. Lutherans don’t let me at their table from either background.,/I>

    Sean, I think many Lutheran bodies now do, but they speak very clearly about receivers being Baptized and believing in the real presence of Christ. But, I’m no Lutheran expert either.

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  169. “So yes I do believe there are parts to our Faith that we are called to “just believe” for Christ’s sake.”

    And that’s fine for spiritual realities. But when you speak of physical changes and physical union, let’s take it to the science lab.

    “I truly held out the possibility that at my first reception of Christ in the Mass may have been my last day, for better of worst.”

    Can you explain?

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  170. Well,
    The Catholic belief is either the greatest blasphemy there is or the greatest unbelievable blessing there is this side of the grave. Therefore, I understand blasphemy to be reasonably punishable by God with death and true union with God to be reasonably the end of the purpose of man. I guess from there you may be able to suppose the rabbit holes of reasonable possibilities.

    And that’s fine for spiritual realities. But when you speak of physical changes and physical union, let’s take it to the science lab.
    I understand your thought here, but when you hold that same standard beside Jesus you can find nothing divine in Him either. “Is this not the son of Mary and Joseph?”

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  171. Sorry,
    Poor Scripture quote.

    “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James…And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.6And He wondered at their unbelief.”

    Sorry. Hope the added context helps.

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  172. Michael, this is part of the rub from my side; I’m already believing in the miraculous, the invisible, the mysterious. God has uniquely revealed himself and required of me a faith beyond doubting Thomas. A faith supernaturally enabled by God’s gifting through the work of the Holy Spirit. The object of which is testated by the Christ as revealed in the scriptures. So, while we can have disagreements about the canonical texts, where does Rome get the canonical license to go beyond those scriptures? That she does this is not a matter of contest. Iow, it’s one thing to require of me supernatural faith to revealed(canonical) truths, it’s another altogether to require it of me in extra canonical tradition. We would consider this an illegitimate attempt to bind a believer’s conscience. And and obscuring of the gospel message. So, it’s not a matter of a lack of faith but of the proper objects of that faith.

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  173. Sean,
    I get it, but could not the 33 AD Jew say the same thing and reject Christ and His Apostles?

    But, this has nothing to do with you helping me understand the view reguarding Holy Communion you are taking which I don’t understand. What do you understand yourself to feed on?

    Do you understand my concerns regarding the Christology?

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  174. Michael, according to Jesus and the apostles, the 33 AD Jew has no such rock if they rightly understood the scriptures. As it was, they were more beholden to their traditions and failed to see Christ in the scriptures. This would be roughly the same charge I would lay at the feet of the RCC. Their traditions have obscured the Christ of the scriptures they claim to uphold.

    Matthew 15

    Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”[a] 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[b] of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

    8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
    9 in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

    Michael, I feed on Christ really but spiritually by faith when I partake of the lord’s supper. I’m not partaking of any physicality either by conversion or through communion with or underneath the elements. Here’s Calvin;

    The body of Christ remains in heaven. There is no “descent” of Christ to earth. “Flesh must therefore be flesh; spirit, spirit — each thing in the state and condition wherein God created it. But such is the condition of flesh that it must subsist in one definite place, with its own size and form.” [12] The human properties of Christ’s body are not impaired. Moreover the elements of the Supper retain their full, substantial identity as bread and wine.

    There is however a descent of the Holy Spirit who constitutes the connection between the risen Christ and the souls of believers. “No extent of space interferes with the boundless energy of the Spirit, which transfuses life into us from the flesh of Christ.”[13] “It is certainly a proof of truly divine and incomprehensible power that how remote so ever He may be from us, He infuses life from the substance of His flesh and blood into our souls so that no distance of place can impede the union of head and members.” [14] The manner in which Christ’s flesh is eaten is spiritual. The Holy Spirit communicates the life-giving benefits of Christ’s natural body to us.

    The mystery I hold defies the clarity of specificity you are asking of me. Here’s the WCF;

    VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament,[13] do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.[14]

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  175. Sean,

    The problem is I and the Church say this same thing, there is “no such rock if they rightly understood the scriptures.”
    Sorry, but I would think this is what you would know about the Church. If it or I thought the “T” tradition was against the the Scriptures I and it would reject them, too.

    There is no communities without extra biblical “traditions.” Calvin or any of the Reformed Church communities are the same. It was traditions apart from Scripture which showed me the error that apart from a “T” tradition we will have only “man” made traditions parallel with Scripture.

    “VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament,[13] do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.[14]

    I would think you would understand the Catholic would want clarifications on those bold areas, but otherwise would say the exact same thing. The Lutheran would say the same. Both would say if it contradicts the unbolded areas we have a human tradition that contradicts Scripture. I am not alone even within the Sola Scriptura Reformational crowd.

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  176. Michael,

    We both have traditions. But Rome has “T” tradition that allows it NOT to hold itself finally to canonical tradition/scripture when it comes to “T”. Protestants have no such out. Rome argues a non written apostolic tradition as “deposit” but has no biblical basis for it or necessary biblical teaching about it’s contents. Protestants have no such “T” tradition. Protestants don’t hold to a ‘parallel tradition’ but a subjugated one to infallible scripture.

    Michael, it’s not even that we don’t have shared ground, it’s that roman “T” adds to revealed scripture and, in the assessment of protestants, obscures the revealed scriptures. Protestants don’t have a 3 legged stool but a heirarchy of authority. The Roman 3 legged stool is more a heirarchy as well with the magisterium supervising the ‘deposit’ which contains the interpretation of scripture and additional apostolic teaching not found in scripture. I don’t understand your line on the eucharist. You believe in transubstantiation, the reformed don’t. I gave you our understanding of it. If it lacks the specificity you desire of what ‘IT’ is, I can’t help it there’s a mystery here. We understand it as being NOT what RC’s or lutheran’s for that matter put forward it is. My primary pushback isn’t against real presence but conversion of elements per priestly charism and participation in an ongoing sacrifice. We refuse to speak in the specificity of thomistic or platonic metaphysical categories. That’s an answer.

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  177. Sean,
    I will agree that is an answer, but if there is no contact with Christ and the redemptive reality accomplished in His Body, then it seems Christ has us moving back to ritual and shadow instead of the reality of the NT Covenant. If the “IT”s of the NT ordinances do not truly connect us to Christ there seems to be large disconnect with Scriptural faith to me.
    I’dlike to still be resting just fine on my one leg of Scripture alone, but I got nocked of it with he canon/sola scriptura contradiction I have been trying to get you to see. If it is not there and you never catch it I hope it is not there and you never do, but It is quite clear to me and I will wait til I can see some other reasonable reason to grasp the 66 Canon other than just this is what it is. I do wish there was some other answer than a authority give to a communion with the orders to show the faith to the world, but that is what I see in the Scriptures and I can’t reject the idea that there is such a community with those divinely given duties and the accompanied promises.

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  178. Michael, in response to the first part of your assertion, there is a REAL connection. A spiritual ‘connection’ or reality by faith is no less real than those who didn’t have the opportunity Thomas had to feel his hands and stick his hand into his side, and Jesus calls those blessed for their faith in what they have not seen. I need to keep thinking over the canonical question. I honestly don’t see the Roman structure in scripture and would need to see it there to believe in it. I don’t want to diminish your faith in it by writing it off to some psychological need or wish fulfillment, but I know a number of Trads who talk about it just that way. You and I both hold to a canonical community. How we believe that community is constituted and the authority they adhere seems to be what we are at odds about.

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  179. That last bit through there is quite agreed. We both have a community. How it is constituted is what the Catholic priesthood under Bishop’s orders is all about. Priest have no “sending” apart from bishops. Bishops have no “sending” apart from Apostles. Apostles have no “sending” apart from Christ and by our faith we believe Christ is sent by the Father who shows justification for our faith with the resurrection. All this is also confirmed with the unquenchable resilience created by the power of the Holy Spirit in the community of faith since the beginning.

    Here is a really quick scetchy bit on somestuff in the NT on the Roman structure. I know people say it is just asserted that the Pastorial letters are sent to “bishops” but this is very key to seeing it more clearly in the NT. Paul the Apostles appoints Timothy to appoint “presbyters” and “overseers.” Timothy being given the right to appoint overseers tells a lot. This is what Paul does. Presbyter is the root of the German word from which we get the word priest and quite obviously the role of overseer can be the bishop who is called to speak with all authority. All of these are to be discipled men who can teach the faith they have been taught. I could go on but I would really need more time than I have now. I think Karl Adams has a good book I’ve been waiting to read covering the Church. Hopefully sometime I can pick it up. I think it is called “The Church of God.” Maybe… Ignatius Press. I know some of it can be read online.
    But, really I would still like you to as possible keep the blood trail on the canon question. Still enjoying chatting.
    Thanks,
    MichaelTX

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  180. Oh Sean,
    I also see the doubting Thomas blessing senario clearly in the Catholics faith in the true presence. I don’t see the body of Christ nor taste nor feel, but I do believe and say “my Lord and my God” and then act accordingly.

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  181. Sean, sorry the book earlier was by Louis Bouyer and it is from Ignatius Press, but it is in depth ecclesiology and probably not the book to just skim for Scripture quotes. About 450 pages I think. It looks really good though. He has book on the essential and beautiful heart of Protestantism which is easily missed by Catholics called “The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism”. I read it a about a year or so back.
    Later,
    Mike

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  182. Michael,

    If Jesus is a real man with a real body how is he in heaven and in your mouth at the same time? “It’s a mystery” is not an answer. No fideism.

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  183. “I’ll try and get to some of those thoughts this week. I’m no Catholic genius over here, but I’ll do my best.”

    Nope. Not good enough, Michael.
    You’re just another Bryan Cross, who doesn’t know the prot answers before you leave for Rome when they should be at your fingertips.
    IOW you need to back off the triumphal attitude/approach that you have taken so far, if you really expect people to take you seriously.
    I’m not knocking sean. If he wants to engage, that’s his business. He knows his stuff, but me, I only got so much time to waste.

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  184. Nope. Not good enough, Michael.

    You’ve done quite good enough, Michael, and props to Sean too for listening back. Butt out, Bob.

    Rock on. Let it rain.

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  185. Michael,

    I’m interested in engaging you further on the canon/community issue. However, it seems to me that there are a few questions that must be answered to which I haven’t seen a definitive answer in your interactions with Sean.

    When did the church recognize the authoritative canon of the Old Testament (I assume we can leave the NT out of this since there is no dispute concerning the books included therein) that is to be received by all Christians? Was it possible to know what was and was not Scripture prior to that time and, if so, how? Are Tradition and the Magisterium necessary to know what is taught in the Scriptures and have they always been necessary? Is the Tradition of the RC revelation in the same sense as Scripture is and, if not, how is it different?

    I’m sure there are many other questions with which I will need to follow up after hearing your answers but those are the foundational ones that I see as needing to be answered before having common ground to engage on the issue.

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  186. Michael, the timothy example is a tough sell on this side of the river. The Gregorian reforms then Trent forever changed the structure and face of RC, you don’t even have a priestly class as we know it until the 11th century. Even if you grant the ground of episkopos, and I don’t in the way you or I know it, these guys were little more than pastors of local churches. IOW, they functioned like elders, teaching elders. The structure you see in scripture is elder rule. This doesn’t come anywhere near to the needed, much less unbroken line of AS, centralist-monarchist papacy or compulsory clericalism. Rome became a medieval institution and has held onto it as best it could. What’s remarkable about Rome isn’t it’s NT prescription, but that it’s a medieval institution living in 2013. Granted, it’s down to Vatican City, but still that’s some work.

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  187. Bob S,
    You sort of gave me a shotgun spray of things to address. I was not blowing you off. I truly would have try to put together something addressing your concerns. I am a father of four who home schools my kids and takes care of the business side of a family business. You pointed at some big topics that just don’t have 1 2 3 answers. Sorry, I can not just drop my responsibilities. Those are not just of the cuff type of questions. I do truly try and present what the Churches teachings are and at times that means making sure and brushing up first.
    Bryan Cross seems like a good enough guy, but we do not operate the same way. I think a lot of the answers someone has about the Church would be much better to search out for themselves. Noone know ones own concerns like ones self and God is always willing to teach us. If the Church is wrong to hell with ists self important propaganda. If it is true praise be the God who dwells among His sinful people.
    What is your most important concern Bob? Maybe I can point you in a direction if you do want answers.

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  188. Erik,
    Please don’t take this wrong.

    If Jesus is the God who is eternal how was he born? How did He die? How did he with a real resurrected body walk into a locked room with the disciples? Why didn’t the Apostles recognize Him? Above all, how does He want us to be with Him for all eternity?
    We are dealing right here with the ability to walk through the veil of eternity while remaining in the temporal world in a like manner that the Son walked from eternity into the temporal affairs of men; we have to deal with some mystery.

    Sorry, we have to deal with stuff that is hard.

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  189. Drew P,
    I am happy to have anybody look into this with me. I really haven’t found a way around it. I didn’t drop Sola Scriptura just cause I wanted to take a swim across the Tiber. It was truly my love of God and the Scriptures that made me need an answer to this topic. It left it impossible for me to logically remain Protestant. I will say there are probably more informed people than me on this topic. I do what I can and that is also why even after being in the Church for a 1 1/2 now I still hold out the possibility of more answers here. I do love being Catholic, but if what made me loss my Protestant position and walk this road is wrong then at least I know others might rightfully have different options.
    To what I can think of of the top of my head with your questions:

    When did the church recognize the authoritative canon of the Old Testament (I assume we can leave the NT out of this since there is no dispute concerning the books included therein) that is to be received by all Christians?
    With this one it is addressed in serveral local synods in the 400s as far as I know and was mainly recieved by all Catholics. It was also in the Council of Florance which was bring back together the Rome and the Orthodox around 1400. The “disputed books” were in the Gutenberg bible 1450s, I think.

    Was it possible to know what was and was not Scripture prior to that time and, if so, how?
    I think this is a harder question to answer. Even the Jews communities had division over this. Sadducees and the Samaritains apparently held only the Pentatuch as the Canon, while the Pharisees held to a larger canon and historically the extent of it is not known until after the establishing of the Church of the NT Apostles.

    Are Tradition and the Magisterium necessary to know what is taught in the Scriptures and have they always been necessary? I think quite clearly the disputes of the Church in the NT shows that it operated under the ability to say what and how things were to be in the Church, so a “magisterium” was used in the NT Scriptures. Magisterium just mean teaching office, I think.

    Is the Tradition of the RC revelation in the same sense as Scripture is and, if not, how is it different? With understanding of history and order of the NT Church part of this has to be basically, Scripture is established by Tradition, so without some form of authoritative Tradition we do not have a sure knowledge of Church order and therefore the God given limits of the Canon.

    Hope that gives a light overview of those concerns. More could surely be said, but I am out of time.
    MichaelTX

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  190. Michael – need an answer

    Wish fulfillment?

    How is using the Bible to recognize the Catholic church (i.e. apostolic sucession, Peter receiving the keys, etc.) and having the Catholic church tell us what the Bible consists of not circular?

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  191. Erik,
    I don’t think so if you look at it from a different perspective. If like me you have a Bible and love the God revealed in it and you by grace have been lead to be continually changed by the God of those words, then seeking more wisdom and understanding of how God brings surety and the unity of His people (which is in those words)along with those words, then I am just following the echo of God’s voice until I find His chosen source.

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  192. Michael,

    I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. I understand if your time constraints kept you from treating these as in depth as you would like and if that’s the case I’m willing to continue to listen. However, at this point, I’m not quite satisfied with some of the answers so I’d like to pursue them further because I do think that they are vital.

    I think it’s vital to iron out an answer to my second question because if we don’t have it, then how in the world can we believe that God’s people prior to the advent of Christ knew what God had revealed to them? Luke tells us in Acts 17 that the Bereans were nobler than the Thessalonians because they searched the Scriptures in order to examine Paul’s teaching. If there was not a way to know what the Scriptures were at that time, how could they accomplish such a feat? Was there a difference in being able to determine the canonicity of a certain book as opposed to being able to determine the canon as a whole? If so, how?

    I think you missed the thrust of my third question. I understand the necessity from the Roman point of view of Tradition and the Magisterium to shed light on the Scriptures following the ascension of Christ. My question is more along the lines of, how did God’s people prior to that point know what was taught in the Scriptures? Did they have an infallible Tradition and Magisterium (i.e. was there an infallible body of works or spiritual governing body that could instruct David as to what God revealed in the Pentateuch)?

    I’m afraid I simply don’t understand your answer to my fourth question. I’m assuming that we both agree that the Scriptures are the word of God (as 2 Tim says, “God-breathed”) although we disagree concerning what constitutes those Scriptures. My question is, is Tradition breathed by God in the same sense or not? If not, is Tradition still the revelation of God but just in a different sense? Is the Tradition in every sense equal to the Scriptures to the point that they could be considered a third testament or a continuation of the NT or is there a qualitative difference between the Scriptures and Tradition that gives one authority over the other?

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  193. Drew,
    I’m not sure if you were following me and Sean over in “Unexpected Developement”, but we wlked through some of this over there. It may be good to read through some of that chatting over there.
    I would be satisfied with my answers either.
    Concerning, If there was not a way to know what the Scriptures were at that time, how could they accomplish such a feat? Was there a difference in being able to determine the canonicity of a certain book as opposed to being able to determine the canon as a whole? If so, how?
    I have no doubt that the Bereans did their due diligence, but problem is I don’t know what Scripture Tradition they were following. Though I do know more that the 39 book OT was translated and used in the Greek Septuagint. There are some books that have universal acceptance and maybe they are using them, but I don’t know. Scripture doesn’t tell us and history doesn’t definitively teach us either.

    Try and read over at Unexpected Development starting here:
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/unexpected-development/comment-page-3/#comment-84043

    It is a jump off of my comment to Sean from Developement of a Loophole here:
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-3/#comment-83740

    I will try and address some of your other questions shortly. The depth needed for this topic will be hard for us in comboxes and I may recommend some other reading,too.

    Peace,
    MichaelTX

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  194. Drew,
    One more thought on your first section, how in the world can we believe that God’s people prior to the advent of Christ knew what God had revealed to them? I think one of the things that is paramount in this is that the number one thing the OT people knew of the revelation they had is that they were God’s chosen people and the Scriptures testified to that covenant reality. Me and Sean discussed this over there in Unexpected regarding some articles he had me read by Meredeth Kline covering Canon and Community.
    Til later,
    MichaelTX

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  195. Michael,

    In other words it’s totally subjective. “You have your truth and I have mine”. You are a thoroughly postmodern man, as much as I am a “child of the enlightenment”.

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  196. Michael,

    How can the Bible point you to the RCC as the church that Christ founded while at the same time the RCC denies the gospel at Trent? Read Hart & Muether’s piece I posted at “Roman Inquisition’s Success”.

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  197. Erik per you #39,
    Maybe I misunderstand how you mean postmodern. If I say the Catholic Church is the only rightful manifestation of the visible Church and all people should follow God’s directive and order and this can be known by all people in God’s own providential way, how am I postmodern? I do say there is but one knowable truth for all people and that truth is the truth revealed through Christ our Lord. Isn’t this the opposite of postmodernism?

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  198. I’ll try and have read of the article. Concerning Trent, you should know Catholics do not believe we have denied the Scriptural Gospel of Christ, even if you think we have. We believe at Trent we have done what the God’s people always have done; protected it.

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  199. Michael, couple of things on Barber; you(Barber) don’t get to essentially dismiss Josephus as a partisan in favor of later historical determinations. This is just bad history and even anachronistic. Also, Barber has no interaction with ANE treaty form that I can find. This is critical for OT scholarship and canonical studies, one may not agree with Kline’s conclusions or ANE analysis but you don’t get to bypass treaty form and be taken seriously. According to ANE treaty form, canon is NOT a later developing historical determination but a contemporary written account of covenantal relationship. Until Barber deals with ANE treaty form and the serious historicity of Josephus’ account this is little more than hopeful RC favorable historic cherry picking.

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  200. Hey Sean,
    Not that I dislike the company but we seem to have reignited this tread.:-)

    I’ll read back over that stretch in Barber, but he doesn’t just dismiss it I don’t think. He just takes it as a historic record along with others, right? Through, he clearly doesn’t grant him the infallibility of being the definitive teacher for all Judaism as well as the Christian Church who apparently set their own canon disregarding Him, too. Have you read all three parts yet?

    About the timothy stuff. I was just giving you an area to start looking at from a different perspective. There are other areas to jump at, but maybe we can get into that later after we get this canon stuff all in our minds together.

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  201. Michael, he gives Josephus what amounts to a skinny paragraph and argues against giving his account too much weight. Yikes. More importantly and a primary consideration is ANE analysis. I don’t see where he ever even broaches it.

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  202. I’d say you are right he doesn’t get in to the ANE treaty ideas, but I think you may be discrediting him for having no knowledge of the topic. He is not cover how we can come up with a core canon. He is covering historic knowledge of the canon. I’ll search to see if I can find anything from him on it, but I doubt he is ignorant of the topic.

    He doesn’t just say don’t give it much weight. He basically says we have reasons for not saying Josephus alone can give us true knowledge of it.

    The earliest and most explicit testimony of a Hebrew canonical list comes from Josephus:
    “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have], but only twenty-two books, which contain all the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death… the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life.”[25]

    Though scholars have reconstructed Josephus’ list differently, it seems clear that we have in his testimony a list of books very close to the Hebrew canon as it stands today. Nonetheless, his canon is not identical to that of the modern Hebrew Bible.[26] Moreover, it is debatable whether or not his canon had a tripartite structure.[27] Thus, one should be careful not to overstate the importance of Josephus. For one thing, Josephus was clearly a member of the Pharisaic party and, although he might not have liked to think so, his was not the universally accepted Jewish Bible—other Jewish communities included more than twenty-two books.[28]

    For a long time it was believed that the Hebrew Bible was closed at the end of the first century C. E. It was believed that a group of Rabbis made an official binding decision at a gathering known as “the Council of Jamnia.” Today, however, it is largely recognized that there is virtually no evidence that such a “council” ever occurred. While some Rabbis may have gathered in Jamnia at the end of the first century C. E. to discuss the status of some disputed books such as Ecclesiastes or Song of Songs, they most certainly did not make any binding decisions about the canon.[29] This is apparent in the fact that rabbinic debate over the canon continued to rage on until 200 C. E.! Strikingly, Sirach is quoted as Scripture in the Babylonian Talmud.[30] In addition, Ecclesiastes was disputed in some rabbinic circles and there remained lingering doubts over the book of Esther.[31]

    I have Josephus’ work on my desk. Is there some other areas in it you think I should read for a better picture?

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  203. Michael, we don’t have Josephus alone, but if you have a better, potentially hostile, jewish historical witness outside the NT canon, do tell. This is the guy who came in with Titus. Granted it’s been a while since I’ve done serious apologetic reading on the historicity of Christ, but if memory serves he has two works which are ‘our’ best on the veracity of the historical person of Jesus. He’s also the closest in time to the life of Jesus. He was widely considered The jewish historian of record. Kline points out that the tripartite construction analysis is already a biased approach in favor of an anachronistic reading of canonical development favoring a reconstructionist approach over appeal to ANE or even timely historical witness-Josephus. Barber’s analysis is trading on an approach that DETERMINES not receives the canon. This is an inherent bias, and I’ll take Josephus and whatever bias he may have over later developments.

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  204. Michael, I also want to point out that so far your appeals to canon haven’t had anything to do with the content of those books and we’re not talking about NT revelation, but rather the existence of an ecclesial body that says; ‘here’s the canon’. So, it seems to continue to be an authority question for you. Just remember protestants have ecclesial authority too, but it’s subjugated. Sufficient but not exhaustive nor infallible; ‘councils may and do err’. Anyway, just a reminder.

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  205. Michael,

    Yes, that’s the article.

    By “postmodern” I mean that you appear to have arrived at truth in a highly subjective way. I identify the true church a la Belgic 29 (biblical criteria). You seem to identify it via warm fuzzies.

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  206. “We” do have the apologetic value of Josephus’ record witnessing to Christ’s historicity. Yet, this is valuable to those who require an external witness apart from the NT Church. Josephus is not a disciple therefore he is given some extra credence by skeptics. Thank God for the unneeded witness. He gave the Jews of His day one in John the Baptist of His coming to fulfill all things.

    I also find nothing in Barber that points to the idea that he thinks the Church does not “receive” the canon. Nor is that something I think, but I do think we should have a way to come to a knowledge of the Canon that is definitive not speculative.

    Just remember protestants have ecclesial authority too, but it’s subjugated. Sufficient but not exhaustive nor infallible; ‘councils may and do err’.

    I appreciate the reminder, but this is exactly why I can’t in good conscience accept the Reformed confessions that definitively say what books constitute the canonical limits of God’s Word and say we can only dogmatically “know” what the Scriptures teach.

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  207. Drew,
    I’m back.

    You asked:

    I think you missed the thrust of my third question. I understand the necessity from the Roman point of view of Tradition and the Magisterium to shed light on the Scriptures following the ascension of Christ. My question is more along the lines of, how did God’s people prior to that point know what was taught in the Scriptures? Did they have an infallible Tradition and Magisterium (i.e. was there an infallible body of works or spiritual governing body that could instruct David as to what God revealed in the Pentateuch)?

    I don’t think we need a infallible magisterium to come to the recongition of the infallible one when it comes. All true authority is from God alone. I think this is exactly what the Bereans did. They search what they could know and recognized the authorized messager of Paul and the message of the Apostles of Christ. He was “sent”. Therefore, he could speak as one sent with authority and was recognizable as coming from God and presenting His truth.

    I’m afraid I simply don’t understand your answer to my fourth question. I’m assuming that we both agree that the Scriptures are the word of God (as 2 Tim says, “God-breathed”) although we disagree concerning what constitutes those Scriptures. My question is, is Tradition breathed by God in the same sense or not? If not, is Tradition still the revelation of God but just in a different sense? Is the Tradition in every sense equal to the Scriptures to the point that they could be considered a third testament or a continuation of the NT or is there a qualitative difference between the Scriptures and Tradition that gives one authority over the other?

    That was kind of why I answered the way I did. It isn’t that clear. I am willing that the canon be the 66 book canon or the 73 book canon. But it is a tradition that will get us to either one, therefore our canon can only be as reliable as our gift of being given it from the proper tradition, the apostolic tradition. This does mean God has given us more in His coming than just His wirtten word. We can by the guiding promises of the Spirit have all that Christ said even if it was not written. We can have all that all the Apostles taught even if it was not written, by the gift and promised protection of the Spirit. Does this make me fearful as a historical “bible only” type of guy. Yes. But God is good and can be trusted even if I don’t like the unknown possibilities.

    If we can truly get to a rightful “Sola Scripture” canon without a existing community then we don’t need a “T” tradition, but other wise I see no way around it. The canon testifies to a existing community. Therefore there is a community in which that canon is received and created by the same Spirit who formed it.

    Drew, does that help?

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  208. Erik,
    Make the Biblical (yes, Biblical) case for the RCC being “God’s directive and order”? No tradition allowed. That’s circular.

    I have never said it that way. What I have said is the Scriptures testify to a single rightful community that has unity, like the OT rightful community is testified in the OT. If somebody found the OT, but couldn’t find the Jews then the logical conclusion would be they were extinct or I need to keep looking. It shows there is a “chosen people.”

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  209. Michael, but then you’re saying RC ‘wins’ because it claims it. That is nothing but circular reasoning. More importantly this is one of those ‘reasons’ that eclipses the sole infallible authority of Christ over his church. ‘My sheep hear my voice’. Apart from Christ revealed in His scriptures by the Holy Spirit, we have nothing but subjugated authority. There’s nothing insufficient about that authority. It’s real and authoritative but bounded by it’s submission to it’s head. ‘Councils may and do err’.

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  210. Michael,

    Glad to see you addressed my other questions too and I’ll get to those but I will make a comment your first response to me with Barber’s articles here. By the way, I know you’re dealing with this on a lot of fronts at the moment so thanks for taking the time to deal with me. I’m not so much interested in pitting him against Protestant scholars to determine a historical question about what was seen as the OT canon. Let me lay out the issue here as I see it and say why I have a problem with the Roman rendering of the issue.

    1. The testimony of the OT (whichever version you choose) and the NT is that God revealed Himself to His covenant people, prior to the advent of Christ, in many ways, one of which being the Scriptures that we have come to know as the OT.

    2. These Scriptures contained within them God’s revealed will for and to His covenant people.

    3. There was false teaching also being circulated amongst God’s covenant people.

    4. God held His covenant people responsible to receive and obey His revelation in the Scriptures against the competing claims of the false teachers.

    The issue at stake here is not whether or not any particular consensus arose among groups of Jews on the issue of canon, nor when the canon became closed. The issue is that God revealed Himself, in His own words, in some books and not in others and that His people were responsible to receive the revelation that He had given at that time. In light of that, did God give a way for His word to be recognized and received by those people or not? So, perhaps I’m not seeing the other options here but it seems to me that leaves you with 3 options:

    1. God did not provide a way for His people at that time to distinguish between His word and false teaching. This seems to me to be the most troublesome option because God’s word was given to point His people to Christ and lead them to life in Him but this option would preclude that and leave the people of God in darkness.

    2. God did provide a way for His people at that time to distinguish between His word and false teaching but it is different from the way He provides after the ascension of Christ. This option has the possibility of being the broadest as there could be any number of ways that God could have used to differentiate, including the Reformed notion of the witness of the Holy Spirit. However, if the Romanist was to advocate for this view, it would then fall to them to tell us how this was and why God ceased to use this method to the point that it is invalid as a standard now. This view seems to me to be the least consistent with Roman theology.

    3. There existed then, as there does today, an infallible Tradition and/or Magisterium which distilled to God’s covenant people what the word of God was. This option seems to me to be the most consistent with Romanist thought concerning the canon as a whole but if they did adopt this view, then what was that Tradition or Magisterium? I didn’t see any sort of identification of such in Barber’s piece or any other Romanist I’ve encountered, but rather the opposite.

    If I am missing your actual position on this issue, I apologize but perhaps you can see why it is not easy to see what your position on this matter is.

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  211. Michael, how does your NT unity case work as ‘chosen people’? In one instance Barber is trading on the idea that the OT community is splintered along partisan lines, yet they have a canon. Our current NT church age is splintered denominationally as was the Apostolic order at different moments; John Mark, Barnabas and Paul. Rome has got a breadth of theological diversity rivaling liberal protestantism not to mention a breadth of fealty from agnostic Jesuits to trads to declarations of the religious that the magisterium is not the church. Your view of NT canon must admit protestants as canonical community as it stands. Tridentine RC isn’t the primitive church much less the church in practice or teaching during Paul’s missionary journeys. Rome doesn’t start to become Rome ’till pope Gregory. This is getting tough to substantiate.

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  212. Michael,

    How do you defend the RCC Mass, which the Belgic calls a “cursed idolatry”? Where does the Bible teach that the Church should be offering Christ up as a sacrifice again, and again, and again, as if his one sacrifice was not sufficient?

    What if the visible, “unified” Church that you have identified does things in opposition to what Scripture has commanded? Who wins – Scripture or that visible church?

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  213. Michael,

    My contention is that when Protestants convert out of motivation for a unified, visble church they sacrifice far too much in terms of what Scripture teaches. They gain one thing but in so doing lose another that is way more important.

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  214. Drew,
    It would probably be more in the category of your #3 option from my understanding but not near as definitive as the NT Church. Shadow and reality type of thing. Isreal’s Canon would have been part of the tradition of the nation even if it was or was not definitatively limited by the people. It has more to do with the people of the Nation, rather than a “magisterium.” But, it does seem Christ calls the people he teaches to do what those who sit on the chair of Moses tell the to do, but don’t do what they do. So, he calls them to trust what is clearly taught, but don’t be like the evil brood presenting that teaching. For clarity on much of this I would need to do more searching.

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  215. Strike two, Michael.

    You were the one who asked about transubstantiation and baptism, while sean brought up the priesthood, which reasonably follows from Rome’s sacrifical system which you assume to be true. But neither are the answers to your questions rocket science, though they are spiritually discerned.
    (Which is just the problem. Romanism is all about a sensual and external religion.)

    Yeah, the comment tsunami has begun and now you are swamped, but maybe you should have thought about that before you started championing romanism as a novice, on top of failing to demonstrate a prior grasp of protestantism.

    Which might as well be the syndrome endemic to Bryan Cross and the Called To Confusion cadre.
    Jason Stellman for example, either doesn’t know, hasn’t heard or suppresses the reformed answers to the questions he poses and therefore jumps to the self justifying conclusion that he really did fight the Church, “But the Church Won” anyway.

    (Perfomative) ecclesial deism indeed.

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  216. Erik,
    The Mass is not a recrucifing of Christ. It is our joining the one and for all time crucified and living one who was slain before the foundation of the world. It is a sacrifice because it is that one same sacrifice. We are just able to come to it in the Mass, because we come to Him who calls us to Him. If it is not Christ we come to then the Belgic is right, if it is then it is completely wrong.

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  217. Bob,
    I will try and answer a question if you have one. If you ask please understand you will be getting an answer from me. I am fallible. I also am neither Brian nor Stellman, though we have all come to the same fallible conclusion. This is exactly why I still am seeking an alternative view where Sola Scriptura would be valid. Please remember I am a husband and father of four and they are my priority.

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  218. Sean,
    then you’re saying RC ‘wins’ because it claims it. That is nothing but circular reasoning. More importantly this is one of those ‘reasons’ that eclipses the sole infallible authority of Christ over his church. ‘My sheep hear my voice’. Apart from Christ revealed in His scriptures by the Holy Spirit, we have nothing but subjugated authority. There’s nothing insufficient about that authority. It’s real and authoritative but bounded by it’s submission to it’s head. ‘Councils may and do err’.

    I am not nor have I said the Catholic Church wins, though my conclusion has been it is the visible historic NT community. How has “what” eclipsed Christ’s authority over His Church. If the Catholic Church is not used to present our one Lord’s authority to the people of the earth then I would also not be part of it. I do believe there is something insuficiient about the authority of the Reformed eclesiology. It is leaving me disciding the Canon of my authority. I can not see this being right. I’m not a leader in the Church. I’m a leader In my home and I want to have an answer for those under me.

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  219. Michael,

    If Christ’s body is at the right hand of the father how are you sacrificing it again? And why? And on what authority?

    “It is a sacrifice because it is that one same sacrifice.”

    ???

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  220. It seems like the RCC is doing directly the opposite of what is talked about in Hebrews 10, and my contention is that this is intentional in order to foster dependency in the laity on the priesthood:

    Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

    1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

    5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

    “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

    but a body have you prepared for me;

    6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings

    you have taken no pleasure.

    7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

    8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

    And this doesn’t even consider the Second Commandment prohibition of the use of images in worship.

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  221. Erik,
    Don’t you think it would be quite biblically ingotant of me to not know these teachings. This is exactly the passage I was alluding to. It is the one sacrifice offered by the one same and only High Priest which we who are being sanctified by that we come into contact with in the Mass. We are lead to the one and only truly salvific sacrific for which all the OT sacrifices only pointed. It is real hey were shadow. Only the high priest went into the Holy of Holies and only Inc a year, but now all come before the holy One through the body of Christ.

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  222. “It is leaving me disciding the Canon of my authority.”

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Within reformed churches, part of our membership vows include submission to our elders. Likewise our elders confess fidelity to our confessions. Given the range of theological opinion among Catholic priests (e.g. Fr. McBrien at ND, Kung), it is hard for me to see how Catholics are less bound by personal authority. The same question arises when deciding who to submit to – why am I leaning any less on my own authority by joining the Roman Catholic church than say the Eastern Orthodox church or the PCA? Finally, if you want to approach the issue sociologically, do you really think the beliefs of the typical evangelical or confessional protestant are less orthodox than your typical Roman Catholic layperson? The data don’t bear this out – indeed RCs in america rank with mainline protestants in terms of heterodox beliefs (most believe the eucharist to be strictly symbolic interestingly enough).

    It seems to me that the church, through her earthly leaders, has the authority to provide definitive teaching of what the scriptures mean. They do not have the authority to add, take away, or alter those scriptures. The problem the church has with authority is that it has no power other than moral suasion. If I don’t like something my church does, I can hit the road (unless I’m a scientologist) and join a similar one. Democracy and religious liberty (anarchy) have given us the smorgasbord of denominations – not the reformation. Once a church discredits itself morally (abuse cover-up by Cardinals?) or undercuts its own rationale for existing (ECUSA?) it has nothing left but sentimentality to hold onto members. We aren’t a very sentimental country.

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  223. sdb,
    Not sure how much of our discussion over the canon/sola scripture contradiction you have caught, but if one is outside of a “confession” and part of that confession contains a list of the Scriptures and also say we only can dogmatical say what is found in the Scripture, then that leaves the discider to discide apart from Scripture if that is true. Most Reformed confessions say both so I can not confess them until I would see this logical problem resolved. I do not believe God had called me personally to discern the limits of the canon. I do not believe myself to be qualified for such a task.
    Does that help?

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  224. Michael, how do you justify your Elders, and church officers “Priests” vowing never to marry, when Scripture says Elders and Deacons should be the husband of one wife. With they’re children not being hellions. Why asks Pual?

    Because if they can’t manage their own households how will they manage Christs church?

    How do you square this clear instruction for marriage in the new testament in both in 1 Tim 3, and Titus, and have the RCC come up with a whole new program forbidding Elders to marry? They will not allow they’re Priests to marry!

    This is a prohibition that is not found in Scripture!!

    How is that not a contradiction of new testament instruction?

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  225. Michael,

    Strike three and you’re out.
    I am not asking any questions. I am telling you that you are incompetent to deciding whether or not Rome is the true church because you can’t even give us the most elementary prot answers/rebuttals to your questions, all the while you tell us you used to be a prot. Not cool, particularly as the spiritual head of your family.

    FTM Rome is hypocritical in (performatively) asserting perspicuity for Roman history and the popish fatwas, all the while denying it to Scripture. IOW perspicuity is a given. The question is, who or what qualifies and do we listen to Scripture or Rome to decide? Particularly since the last inconsistently appeals to Scripture for her authority in the first place. Or we could cut out the middle man and go straight to the Word. It ain’t a tough choice.

    And as far as that goes, while it is true that protestant Whitaker says the canon is a tough question, it’s pretty much a red herring. You could and should just forget about it and concentrate on answering something closer to home. Is justification by faith alone the true gospel or is Rome’s semi pelagian version to be preferred?

    But if you can’t answer that then you need to get off the internet and get your nose in the good book for the sake of your family, if nothing else.

    ciao

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  226. Bob S,
    I don’t understand you. I haven’t reread you first post to me until now, because you have not treated me like anything but a waste of your time. So first, can you explain to me why you lack Christian charity towards me, which is a real sign of our justification?
    I don’t think I’m being sensitive here. It seems obvious you don’t care to talk to or hear from me.

    Concerning your thoughts, there is a distinction of the sign and the reality truly received by and through the sign. Catholic doctrine has no problem with this. What is received it truly what is signified by the tangible sign. The “sign” is not the reality but the door through which the reality is truly there. We have faith because the reality is there, not the reality is there because we have faith.
    I have On Christian Doctrine in my kindle right now. Thanks for the recommendation.
    I am not from “old school” reformed Protestantism. And, I do have a sincere respect for the faithfulness that I hear among you guys. I do like that you guys seem to dig hard into understanding your communities confession and seek to keep your elders accountable to those confessions. I also see that if a “old school” reformed guy finds himself out of accord with your confessions you all find this to be something that must be dealt with through study and interaction with your elders. I see all this as good things. I do have respect for faithful “old school” guys. I would not be here if I had not found “true” interaction with people who care about knowing their faith and understanding others. I realize there is a true desire to be faithful to Christ and believe what is true among many I have come in contact with here.
    Bob, I don’t find your disassembling of Catholic doctrine on the sacraments sufficient to compel my dismissal of my understanding. There is a lot of Scripture not dealt with there. Is there a good book or article you could recommend that would do just that? I am primarily seeking answers from the reformed view on the canon right now, but I do still desire to know more from differing points of view on other things, too. I also find the “real” Catholic understanding of Justification to be more Scriptural than the Reformed “covering” with the righteousness of Christ.
    Sorry, the canon/sola scriptura question is not something I could just blow off. I still don’t understand why there isn’t a good answer for it. The Reformation is built on having the Scriptures for all doctrine, but there seems to be no way in Reformed ecclesiology to get to a sure knowledge of them.

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  227. Hart,
    You need my whole phrase.
    I say the Catholic Church is the only rightful manifestation of the visible Church
    I don’t exclude Cyprus’s visible manifestation, but neither does Rome. It sure would be a long trip to the Divine Liturgy in Cyprus for me to be directly in their local communion though.

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  228. Doug,
    Not all Rites in the Catholic Church requires celibate priest. Not even the Roman Rite has always required it and it could be changed if the Church leaders desired to do so. Personally, I think it is a good thing that I don’t have to via for the attention of my pastor with his wife and kids. Paul points to this as a good thing, too.

    Was Paul unqualified for ministry?

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  229. Michael, be careful. I’ve given you a ‘sure’ way with covenant. You may not agree or understand it all, but if Barber is your ‘sure’ way or because Rome ‘claims’ to be the sure way. Those are different from not having been presented a reasonable and reliable case. Even your own MOC only requires a reasoned principle not a certain one. You make faith claims in your Roman fealty statements, they may have MOC way behind them somewhere but there isn’t a question that the surety/certainty claims trads are making, are noumenal ones. Just keep it fair.

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  230. Sean,
    I haven’t discredited Kline’s ideas in any way. I think they are great so far. I just haven’t seen those ideas used to dismiss or limit the actual canon, yet. Still searching.

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  231. Kline never got into to actually examining books in regard to his theory. You also recommended his book on the topic and I asked you if he does show what I ask and you never said if he does or not. We haven’t got back to that yet. Barber isn’t an end all or anything for me. I read it for the first time the day I recommended it to you for some background. Did you end up reading Brown’s article?

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  232. Michael, the treaty form is intended to be a limiting factor. Kline doesn’t engage a direct polemic against apocryphal books other than they weren’t part of the historical covenant treaty between God and His people, they are deuterocanonical-written during the intertestamental period. They also don’t form the collection of the earliest reliable testimony; Josephus. IOW, they aren’t temple documents.

    I haven’t read Brown’s article, yet.

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  233. Sean,
    than they weren’t part of the historical covenant treaty between God and His people
    This is the part I never noticed him trying to get at. He gave some categories to what he thought could be included in the ANE treaty documents, but never did any asserting or examining of actual texts. It kind of make it hard to argue or examine non existent arguments. Does he get into that in his book?

    I hope you do get a chance to read Brown’s article. Like I said before it is one of the few articles I have read over at C2C.
    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/01/the-canon-question/
    I found in had good depth and clarity for a article on this subject.
    Later,
    Mike

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  234. Michael, he’s a biblical theologian he’s working within the historical narrative of the mosaic covenant. The apocrypha was never part of the covenant treaty. It’s just not in existence. That’s why there’s been such issues with it, it’s an intertestamental consideration. It was never in the corpus of the mosaic/Israelite covenant. It’s just not part of the narrative. So yeah, he’s dealing with it, but his primary purpose isn’t to construct a polemic against the apocrypha it’s a byproduct of canon/rule of faith being intrinsic to covenant-treaty form.

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  235. Sean,
    The apocrypha was never part of the covenant treaty. It’s just not in existence. That’s why there’s been such issues with it, it’s an intertestamental consideration. It was never in the corpus of the mosaic/Israelite covenant. It’s just not part of the narrative.

    Isn’t this the dispute?

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  236. Michael, no this isn’t the dispute. The dispute is inclusion for canonical purposes, but if canon is intrinsic to treaty form, how does the apocrypha make the cut? So far, all you’ve said is that Rome says so. If you don’t like that then your argument would need to be canon is not coterminous with covenant treaty.

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  237. if canon is intrinsic to treaty form, how does the apocrypha make the cut?”
    This is the argument for or against that I am waiting to hear. Does he get to it in his book?

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  238. Michael, yes he gets more in depth into what ANE treaty form is and parallels that with OT documents.

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  239. Again, he’s not going to take the apocryphal books written in the intertestamental period and scrutinize them. He’s going to bring into bold relief the ANE treaty form inherent in the mosaic covenant.

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  240. Does he get into trying to prove this “intertestimental” period being disqualified by some mandate, biblically or otherwise?

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  241. Sean,
    It just seems so far there is just an a priori thing going on. I can’t buy the book right now. Does he even get into that or do you know of a work that does?

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  242. Michael, as I remember it, there’s no prophet in the intertestamental period. I think Macc. points this out. The lack of prophetic voice/prosecutorial primarily and covenant lawsuit would rule it out of covenantal consideration. Not to mention authorship issues. I’ll flip through it when I get home.

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  243. Sound good Sean. I wouldn’t think “no prophet” necessarily means “no Holy Spirit Scripture” being not all OT Scripture was written by prophets. And it is not like there aren’t plenty of scholarly folks who argue “authorship” problems with other stuff.

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  244. Michael, you’re already poo pooing it? I never said all OT scripture was written by prophets. They’re kinda important to the mosaic administration however-covenant lawsuit, prophecy. You’re gonna have to get the book at some point ‘cuz I can’t do the whole thing per the combox. I may send it to you if I can spare it.

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  245. Hart,
    There are even more recent schismatic communities that are still considered valid “Churches” with valid Apostolic Succession and Sacraments. Anathemas only apply to those who affirm what they know and understand is anathemas. Just because a leader in a “Church” receives an anathema doesn’t mean everybody in that community or even that person is going to hell.

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  246. MTX, as an ordinary member of a Reformed church I affirm what I understand as sola fide and what the RCC anathematizes, just like my elders. Where am I headed?

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  247. Can’t answer that one, Zrim.
    “judge not lest ye be judged.”
    I speak with Paul, Peter, James:”Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God at work in you.” “Always be ready to give and answer for the hope that lies with you.” “Believe and be baptized and you shall be saved.” “With out faith it is impossible to please God” “Faith apart from works is death.”
    Christ: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
    “Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day..”
    “If you do not believe I am He you will die in your sins.”
    “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believes in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. He that believes in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believes not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. For every one that doth evil hates the light, and comes not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, comes to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.”

    Zrim,
    I am no man’s judge. God’s word judges us all.

    “If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hates me, hates my Father also.”

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  248. Zrim,
    I have my own plank to deal with, but am happy to talk about the help I am getting with digging it out with the light of Christ. I’ll help sharing what burdens of my fellow pilgrims I can help with. Even if it just being along side you and your suffering.

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  249. I am not the Word nor the Light only a unprofitable servants that does that which we ought to do and often do a pretty poor job at that most of the time. I have only ever give to the Lord what he has first given to me and even with that I have many times kept that for myself.

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  250. MTX, I appreciate the humility, but I’m not asking you to judge me. I’m asking you to interpret your church’s formulations and clarify your own words, which were: “Anathemas only apply to those who affirm what they know and understand is anathemas. Just because a leader in a ‘Church’ receives an anathema doesn’t mean everybody in that community or even that person is going to hell.”

    That sounds like the usual Catholic sentiment, which seems to be that Trent was aimed at Luther and those born in the Catholic Church but not those born to Luther and outside the Catholic Church and so whom, by no fault of their own, embrace bad teaching but suffer no consequences. Which sounds fine, until you think about it for five minutes and then it turns insulting, because some of us really do understand both Luther and Trent and side with Luther. Is your church saying we’re condemned or not? If not, then why speak that way and what incentive do we have to come home?

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  251. Zrim,
    I know my heart and I am not humble.

    Do you believe the Catholic Church is Christ’s authoritative Church and is able to speak with the actual protection of the Holy Spirit in the Council of Trent?

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  252. MTX, going to hell is not the same thing as being a schismatic or someone excommunicated by the pope. That’s what Jason and the Callers keep telling me.

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  253. Zrim,
    I’ll let the Church summarize some of her own thoughts to the listening world from the first universal Catholic Catechism in modern times. The Church seems to leave judgement to the person and God as well.

    Paragraphs:

    1776 “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”47
    1780 The dignity of the human person implies and requires uprightness of moral conscience. Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed. The truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the prudent judgment of conscience. We call that man prudent who chooses in conformity with this judgment.
    1786 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.
    1789 Some rules apply in every case:
    – One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
    – the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”56
    – charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience: “Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ.”57 Therefore “it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble.”
    1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
    1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.”59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
    1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
    1793 If – on the contrary – the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
    1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time “from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.”60
    The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.61

    Zrim, I hope that gives a little better view of the Church’s teaching on this. As I understand it, the Church doesn’t judge anyone either, but teaches what it understands to be true and lets God’s providence in each persons life bring the chips fall where they may.

    If you did or come to believe different about the Church having any authority from the God of the conscience there is a whole new ball game going on. “For who much is given much is required.” I am on a “superior top shelf”, as Hart says, not because I wish to be, but because God has revealed more reality for me to react to.

    Can you describe what you believe the essence of the Gospel according to the Catholic Church is?

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  254. I did skip some paragraphs in that section which would be best to read over. But of these, please note paragraph 1790. I didn’t want to take too too big of a section here in a comment. Email me if you wish to talk on it privately.
    michaeltx2013 at gmail

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  255. Michael, seriatum.

    So first, can you explain to me why you lack Christian charity towards me, which is a real sign of our justification?

    Huh? Read Prov. Proverbs 27:5&6
    Open rebuke is better than secret love.
    Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

    We have faith because the reality is there, not the reality is there because we have faith.

    See below on Trent.

    Bob, I don’t find your disassembling of Catholic doctrine on the sacraments sufficient to compel my dismissal of my understanding.

    That was a joke, right?

    There is a lot of Scripture not dealt with there.

    Huh? See above on jokes and below on Jn 6.

    Is there a good book or article you could recommend that would do just that? I am primarily seeking answers from the reformed view on the canon right now, but I do still desire to know more from differing points of view on other things, too.

    Start with the West. Confession and Wm. Whitaker’s Disputations on Holy Scripture where he answers Bellarmine. IOW if you are new to all this, it might behoove you to get up to speed before lecturing us on the true church as you have been so diligent to do previously.

    FTM arminian evangelicalism is in principle pretty much the same thing as romanism, which is maybe why you bolted in the first place. Why settle for an imitation when you can have the real thing along with all the sarcedotal trappings.
    But your free will is not free to choose the spiritual good: God’s will is sovereign, not man’s contra Rome and Arminius.

    “judge not lest ye be judged.”

    Or

    I am no man’s judge. God’s word judges us all.

    Ahem.

    “Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day..”

    John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

    According to Jesus, coming and believing is the same as eating and drinking.
    IOW so much for justification by mastication versus salvation by believing.

    Can you describe what you believe the essence of the Gospel according to the Catholic Church is?

    Yep. Justification by faith alone is anathema. So Trent contra Romans and Galatians.

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  256. Huh? Read Prov. Proverbs 27:5&6
    Open rebuke is better than secret love.
    Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

    So, do you believe my rebuke was as a friend or a kiss of an enemy?
    I spoke regarding my concern for your heart. If I am wrong then good.
    But I say again, as a friend, I do not feel treated as a real person by you, just a doctrinal bother in a combox.

    Regarding faith alone, do the unholy enter heaven?
    And is our Christ worked justification with us in heaven?

    Til tomorrow,
    Mike

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  257. MTX, sorry but none of that clarifies how sinners are right with God. The Reformed say it is through faith alone in Christ alone. You say that is anathema. I can only conclude that means I am in peril while you sit upon the top shelf. I appreciate the effort for humility, but it just can’t help coming off as taking with one hand what is given with another.

    In contrast, the Reformed confess that the true church is found where sola fide is held (along with two other marks, sacraments and discipline) and that there is no ordinary possibility of salvation outside her and so true souls are bidden to cleave to her. There is no anathematizing, thus no need to rush around doing damage control on formal judgment of souls.

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  258. Zrim,
    The Reformed say it is through faith alone in Christ alone. You say that is anathema.
    This is why I asked you to describe what you believe is the Gospel according to the Catholic Church, because depending on what you mean by those words that is exactly what the Church doesn’t teach. I do believe it is by faith alone through Christ alone, but it is not a dead faith of intellectual assent but of Holy Spirit reborn life giving power. Which is also often the belief of Reformed guys like yourself. Is this the case?

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  259. Zrim,
    BTW, my whole interaction with the Sean on the Canon/SolaScriptura Contraction is me still looking to see if there is any other reasonable “shelf” that can be seen. My old theological boat sank out from under me and the only boat I could see was the bark of Peter. I still am looking to see if I was wrong and that boat can be resurrected from the depths by some truth I missed seeing at the time.
    Til later,
    Mike

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  260. MTX, those words mean what they say, plain and simple: sinners are reconciled to God through faith alone in Christ alone apart from any works. Faith is not mere intellectual understanding of a thing but also includes a personal trust.

    The Catholic understanding is that it is by a faith that is not alone but a faith that works through love, that is to say a faith that is internally inscribing God’s law and enabling believers to exhibit love of God and neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law in order to gain eternal inheritance. So when you claim Catholic and define justification the way the Reformed do (sola fide), you appear out of step with your own church.

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  261. Zrim,
    What you describe here is basically the Catholic understanding of justification: “internally inscribing God’s law and enabling believers to exhibit love of God and neighbor”
    But not how one receives it, which is by true living faith alone in the Word of God.

    I realize you think I step out of my own Church, but that is not true. I have been taught this by well respected and popular priest and Documents of the Church back me up. Check out the Joint Declaration on Justification between Lutherans and The Church. Does it contain every thought on Justification by the Catholic Church? No. But nether does any thing we write contain all the truth God wishes us to know on any topic. John witnesses to that at the end of His Gospel. All the Truth there is contain in Christ and what he has done and said.

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  262. I am willing to be corrected on my understanding of what I present as the Church of Christ’s teaching by Scripture or the Church which is “the pillar and foundation of Truth”[2 Tim 2:15]

    I am no liar. I speak the truth, as I know and understand it, and beg God and His people for correction of any error which I present.

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  263. Zrim,

    From your thought here: Faith is not mere intellectual understanding of a thing but also includes a personal trust.
    What do you believe necessarily follows because of this?

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  264. MTX, you may want to consult with Stellman and company, because they know that Reformed and Catholic churches do not teach the same thing concerning justification. They don’t claim on one hand to “… believe it is by faith alone through Christ alone” and on the other agree that it is by “a faith that is internally inscribing God’s law and enabling believers to exhibit love of God and neighbor….” They say it’s not the former but the latter, which is why they reject Reformed churches and embrace the RCC. You seem to want to say both. But you can’t do that, you have to embrace one and reject the other.

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  265. Zrim,
    I respect your candor, but you didn’t answer my question.

    From your thought here: Faith is not mere intellectual understanding of a thing but also includes a personal trust.
    What do you believe necessarily follows because of this?

    I’m not talking about churches I’m asking you.

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  266. Sorry, the last one didn’t format correctly, let’s try again.

    Michael,

    I see that you’re still busy dealing with all of us here and I’m pretty busy as well so no rush to get back to me.

    MTX: I don’t think we need a infallible magisterium to come to the recongition of the infallible one when it comes. All true authority is from God alone. I think this is exactly what the Bereans did. They search what they could know and recognized the authorized messager of Paul and the message of the Apostles of Christ. He was “sent”. Therefore, he could speak as one sent with authority and was recognizable as coming from God and presenting His truth.

    DP: Michael, I must confess that I’m not following you here. What you are saying here seems to be exactly what is not allowed in Roman doctrine. You’re saying that the Bereans were right in searching the Scriptures with their own interpretation, apart from the authority of the Magisterium and/or Tradition? Are you also saying that all the OT saints did the same? If this is the case, what changed to make such a thing impossible to the point that the Romanists teach us that this Magisterium and Tradition are needed if we are to know what know what the Scriptures teach? I’m truly lost on your answer, especially in light of how you go about answering my other questions.

    MTX: That was kind of why I answered the way I did. It isn’t that clear. I am willing that the canon be the 66 book canon or the 73 book canon. But it is a tradition that will get us to either one, therefore our canon can only be as reliable as our gift of being given it from the proper tradition, the apostolic tradition. This does mean God has given us more in His coming than just His wirtten word. We can by the guiding promises of the Spirit have all that Christ said even if it was not written. We can have all that all the Apostles taught even if it was not written, by the gift and promised protection of the Spirit. Does this make me fearful as a historical “bible only” type of guy. Yes. But God is good and can be trusted even if I don’t like the unknown possibilities.
    If we can truly get to a rightful “Sola Scripture” canon without a existing community then we don’t need a “T” tradition, but other wise I see no way around it. The canon testifies to a existing community. Therefore there is a community in which that canon is received and created by the same Spirit who formed it.

    DP: This answer also confuses me to a great degree. The Protestant contention is that we can get a canon without the clear testimony of a community because the Holy Spirit testifies to the words that are His. Of course the canon testifies to a community, it does so concerning the OT church as well, and, as Barber documented so well, there was not a consensus on what was and wasn’t Scripture. Yet, the Scriptures did exist at that time, so I’m not seeing the necessity of the community to define it. You seem to dismiss out of hand the possibility of the Holy Spirit testifying about His word apart from a received tradition but I don’t see why you view that as a necessity. To do so would certainly not be beyond the Holy Spirit’s power, so why isn’t that a possibility? Why does it only come down to tradition as far as you are concerned?

    It is interesting to me then, in contrast to your previous view, that you have faith that there are teachings of the apostles that the Holy Spirit intends to preserve for us that we don’t have in the Scriptures. Doesn’t such a belief necessitate the inspiration of Tradition or are you completely convinced of this by the testimony of Scripture apart from Tradition? It’s also interesting that such teaching would need to necessarily be preserved at all. We all agree that the apostles were inspired in the writing of the Scriptures but do the Romanists contend that they were also inspired apart from that work? If not, why the need to preserve their uninspired teachings? If so, where does this notion come from since even the Pope is not infallibly inspired all the time according to Roman teaching, and he is himself the chief heir of the apostles? Did the apostles have a greater charism than the Pope? If not, are the errors of Popes when they speak without infallibility preserved in Tradition and, if yes, why?

    MTX: It would probably be more in the category of your #3 option from my understanding but not near as definitive as the NT Church. Shadow and reality type of thing. Isreal’s Canon would have been part of the tradition of the nation even if it was or was not definitatively limited by the people. It has more to do with the people of the Nation, rather than a “magisterium.” But, it does seem Christ calls the people he teaches to do what those who sit on the chair of Moses tell the to do, but don’t do what they do. So, he calls them to trust what is clearly taught, but don’t be like the evil brood presenting that teaching. For clarity on much of this I would need to do more searching.

    DP: Even though I said this option seemed to me to be the most consistent with Roman theology, I honestly did not expect you to pick it. And in picking it, you seem to take away with one hand what you give with the other. There was the need for a type of authority to define the canon so that the people knew what the Scriptures were but it need not necessarily have been defined? Isn’t that the point of the authority? Again, this is not a problem for the Reformed view if the authority is the witness of the Spirit but it is the Roman position that says the community is necessary in order for it to be defined.

    It is interesting that you bring up Christ’s words about those who sit in the chair of Moses as I find it to be rather harmful to the Roman notion of Tradition. Christ also says of those same ones who sit in Moses’ chair that they sin by adding to God’s word their own tradition. Christ never commends to the people this tradition of the scribes and the Pharisees but rather pits it against the word of God they are responsible to teach (Matt 15 & Mark 7). So the question becomes, if the tradition of those who sat in the seat of Moses was against the Scriptures and their God, what prevents this of being true of those who sit in the seat of Peter?

    Overall, I’m sorry to say that your answers have really muddied the waters for me on this subject Michael. In the 3rd quote you indicate that some sort of authoritative body was necessary to define the Scriptures but in the 1st quote you say that an infallible authority is not needed to receive the Scriptures but still insist in your 2nd quote that we need some tradition in order to know what the Scriptures are. The best I can make of that is that you think some tradition is needed but that tradition need not be infallible or clear. Is that correct? If so, I’m having trouble seeing how the Protestant canon does not meet these specifications.

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  267. Drew,
    Glad you got back into my thoughts. I will work through what concerns you and clarify anything I can soon. Still reading it and thinking right now, but like your interactions.
    Peace,
    MichaelTX

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  268. MTX, I’m not sure what your question means. I was merely affirming and expanding a tad on your point that the Reformed definition of faith isn’t merely intellectual.

    Now you. Which formulation of justification are you saying you affirm?

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  269. Drew,
    It really will take a lot of Scripture and thoughts for me to try and clarify those concerns. But, for good measure. Your thought on the Chair of Peter would be right. If a tradition does contradict the Word it is not a “T” tradition, but that is not always easy to discern.

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  270. Michael,

    Glad to see that we are in agreement that any tradition that contradicts the Scriptures is invalid. That raises a lot of questions for me about traditions taught by Rome but for the purposes of our conversation that is neither here nor there. In any case, I’m looking forward to your responses and being able to interact with you further.

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  271. Michael, some of the difficulty we are all having is there appears to be a good portion of your RC faith and even points of emphasis within that communion, that are fairly unique to you. Which is ok to a degree and quite frankly more indicative of Vat II practice, but make it difficult to render an apologetic that is uniquely suited to your issues. In your pursuit of being true to your religious conscience, you’ve got a bit of a hybrid working doctrinally. You’re Trad on certain aspects-authority. You’re prot-catholic on scripture, at least in how you approach it, and you’re completely Vat II on the elevation of religious conscience, which actually tends to be ‘liberal’ in our confessional circles. It’s all ok after a fashion but it makes dialogue challenging and time consuming. So, you may wear a few of us out or have to uber-patient with responses

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  272. Zrim,
    Sorry, I will put it more clearly. Is the the type of faith(having personal trust) you believe is the biblical type of faith the end or the beginning of ultimate Salvation. Are we created in Christ unto good works, that God planned before hand for us to walk in them? Is this the necessary consequence of this faith in Christ? Is this[inscribing God’s law and enabling believers to exhibit love of God and neighbor] what that Spirit worked “personal trust” ultimately does?

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  273. MTX, not to get sloganeer-ish, but as you may already know, the Reformed believe that justification is by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone. We hold that good works are inevitable to salvation, that here are none who are justified who do not also have the law of God inscribed upon them and enabled to what is righteous and resist what is evil by the power of the Spirit.

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  274. Zrim,
    I’m not playing some trick here, but it seems you’re holding requirement up to me you will not take on your self. You have to decide. Are the works part of true Biblical salvation or not?
    We hold that good works are inevitable to salvation, that here are none who are justified who do not also have the law of God inscribed upon them and enabled to what is righteous and resist what is evil by the power of the Spirit.

    Do the unholy enter heaven or only those enabled to what is righteous and resist what is evil by the power of the Spirit going to be there?

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  275. MTX, good works necessarily attend salvation but they do not cause it. The sole instrument of justification is faith alone. If you affirm that then you’re not in step with the RCC.

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  276. Zrim,
    I’m no one special to you, but you still didn’t answer the question.

    I am in step with the RCC. The odd thing is I think you are too, but you don’t like to speak from the eternal perspective; which God in the Scriptures and the Church often speaks from. It is this eternal perspective that give the division of Justification and Sanctification by complete grace their wondrous and Biblical beauty.

    Do the unholy enter heaven or only those enabled to what is righteous and resist what is evil by the power of the Spirit going to be there?

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  277. Michael,

    Have you considered that your church is old, large, and muddled and has taken multiple, perhaps conflicting positions on many issues over time? Your catechism has close to 3,000 questions. That’s kind of ridiculous.

    Why don’t you just affirm the clarity of Trent on justification?

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  278. Sean,
    Sorry I completely missed your comment @ 11:34 until now.
    I am who I am by God’s grace. I read the actual Church documents. I read Benedict XVI and JP II. I read over the encyclicals and the Documents of VII. I read old works and new by Catholic and Protestant authors. I dig CS Lewis, as do many of the Catholics I know. I respect Martin Luther and the reformers to stand with their consciences, but I hate the divisions and wars caused by those times. I don’t blame Non-Catholics for the divisions of Christians and believe official “Catholics” have plenty of blame to share through out time for marks of ugliness on the mystical body. I went through Catholic instruction in two different parishes and was ready and willing to walk away at any time, even the day I was confirmed while standing at the alter before the priest with the Holy Oil in his hand. Saint Francis is my patron saint. It was a really hard choice between him, Athanasius and Augustine. I didn’t pick him because he loved the birds, but because in reading his works I felt the holiness he preached was the type I struggled the most with attaining. I love the Scriptures. It seems to be a thing Catholic saints love, too. I would think most of them would speak and act in ways God’s Spirit shapes and guides me. I am not my own I have been bought with a price and I hope by grace to live that truth. I just by grace know Christ and here is where I am.

    Just giving some info guys.
    Peace,
    Mike

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  279. Erik,
    I will not throw anathemas at words and beliefs that are used to mean different thing than what the Church condemned at Trent. I will try and understand truly what you mean when you say it and answer questions that I can.

    Benedict XVI “Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love.”

    I don’t speak against the Church.

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  280. By the way I am good with Trent. It just takes a bit of listening ears hearing what is actually taught there. Don’t forget Orange was not rejected at Trent and had a public reaffirmation during JP II. The Church at Trent was dealing with large amounts of really fine lines in there and lots of controversy. It can get easily polemic in a hot bed like that.

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  281. MTX, ears to hear (and the Holy Spirit) are the appeals the CRC makes to justify ordaining women, something I know the RCC takes as a mark of heterodox. How’s that feel?

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  282. Zrim,
    You may want to read back over the quote from me you wanted clarification for.

    “Anathemas only apply to those who affirm what they know and understand is anathemas. Just because a leader in a ‘Church’ receives an anathema doesn’t mean everybody in that community or even that person is going to hell.”

    I would think if you are “in step with the RCC” here then this is not an anathema you would need to be concerned with applying to you. Move on to a new one.

    You still didn’t answer.
    Good chattin Zrim.

    Read the Joint Declaration, bro.
    Peace,
    MichaelTX

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  283. The CRC may, that doesn’t make them have the promises given the Church in Scripture to the Apostles.

    JP II said, the Church “has no authority whatsoever” to ordain women in an apostolic letter.

    Different spirit different words, right?

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  284. MTX, right. But ordaining women isn’t de-authorizing the way anathematizing the gospel St. Paul preached is. It’s just wayward.

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  285. Zrim,
    Its pretty clear if it is Christ Church why would you thin what you read is not what you find in the Scriptures. At time you may not understand the councils words, but at others you may understand the Scriptures. Sometimes the order is flipped. The Scriptures never change, but the object in councils do and at time is more clear later than at the moment. One Spirit, one Truth presented in different ways at different times dealing with different issues.

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  286. Zrim,
    St. Paul nor, John nor, James, nor Christ was talking directly to Luther or Calvin or the fine lines dealt with at that time, but the Church was and still does today. Maybe you should read more of the stuff written in our language and time about what was written in that language and time by people faithful to the Church and serving Christ with their heart soul mind and strength, as well as seeking to love their neighbors as themselves.

    Just a thought.

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  287. Sorry,
    I posted it before seeing your post at 2:23 about the difference in Paul’s Gospel and women priest. I thought it fit well anyway though. I do not believe Trent or St. Paul contradict each other. If it did I would be with Paul, but truly searching to understand what the Church said shows them to be the same, though more definitively separated from more subtle errors.

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  288. MTX, I see, your church has direct access to the mouth of God and a monopoly on the first and second greatest commandments. Well, what can any Protestant say to that other than it sounds awfully similar to Pentecostals and their words of knowledge.

    Hashtag: brickwall.

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  289. Not what I said. I believe the Church to be ordered to Preach to the nation as you and I as disciples are called be “like” our Teacher. Therefore, the promises of Scripture apply to the Church. If not so with this Church, show me where to find the community to which they do apply.

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  290. MTX, it is the community marked per Belgic 29 (in oart):

    The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it.

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  291. And Zrim,
    I’m not talking about the “holy” church officials. I’m talking about faithful studiers and disciples of Christ who are faithful to the Church.

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  292. MTX, me too. But with your church’s claims to apostolic succession, it’s hard to believe you don’t privilege the church being the one in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome.

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  293. Zrim,
    Your marks seem to be missing a mark of the Kingdom at hand which Christ preached. He told the servants of his field not to damage the wheat by pulling out all the tares. The angels would take care of that. The Aposles were sent to preach to the nations.

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  294. MTX, actually if they’re missing anything they’re missing where God is rightly worshiped according to Scripture. I’ve always puzzled over how the only tradition with something like the RPW doesn’t have that as a fourth mark.

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  295. Zrim,
    About AS, I don’t believe the Church can divide because with the Spirit dwelling in her she would never divorce her Lord. There is no division in the Church. It is one because the Lord is one whom formed her and will never leave her nor forsake her. So, the community will by necessity remain in a line to the beginning. It just happens the Roman See has never bailed ship, enen if at times they may have been poor rowers. One ship we’re all rowing to the Holy City, but each bishop has his own crew with Christ as the one head of each of us all.

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  296. Michael – I will not throw anathemas at words and beliefs that are used to mean different thing than what the Church condemned at Trent. I will try and understand truly what you mean when you say it and answer questions that I can.

    Erik – O.K. I say people can be saved who have faith in Christ and who refuse to join the Roman Catholic Church. They can be a member of Prsbyterian or Reformed Church. They will hear the gospel proclaimed more purely there than in the Roman Catholic Church. Have I earned an anathema?

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  297. MTX, Reformed also believe the Spirit preserves the church from beginning to end. But it’s preserved through the Word, not Peter.

    RPW = regulative principle of worship.

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  298. Michael, part of your arguments are tantamount to us(confessionalists) saying because we amended our confessions legislating out sinful behavior, we therefore in principle no longer sin and therefore our claims to being perfectly sinless in Christ are true. And even though people have sinned we’ve never abandoned our claims that confessionally we are sinless. Therefore if you want to be part of a sinless church, since we’re the only ones to claim it, you must be in communion with us. You would laugh at us and tell us to go fish, and you’d be right. Yet when you go off into your rhetoric about Rome being the one church and having no division and how it’s so because the Lord formed her, etc.. you can imagine the reaction. We don’t live in narnia, much less heaven this side of glory.

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  299. Got no power and flash flooding happen over here boys. Catch up later.
    BTW Erik,
    Thou art ANATHEMA in the name of the Holy Roman Church. Peace, Mike

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  300. Ops Erik, I forget I can’t speak as your elder even from my “top shelf” position in the boat with Peter. Thought I could help you with your anathema needs, but I called the Pope and he said, “NO NO NO Bad Mikey!”

    Maybe next time they can elect me.
    Later,
    MichaelTX

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  301. Sean,
    I’m not really grasping the intent of your metaphor. Is it about wheat and tares bit? I do know I can speak to hear my own words sometimes. Sorry, if what you’re speaking of is from that vice.

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  302. Drew,
    I do hope to try and work through clearing some of that up for you. I did have one thing in there I find inconsistent with my situation as a post-Protestant now-Catholic guy.
    The Protestant contention is that we can get a canon without the clear testimony of a community because the Holy Spirit testifies to the words that are His.
    Personally the Holy Spirit never did this against the 7 other books in the Catholic and Orthodox canon, therefore I would have to there is something else you are talking about or I would have to disregard the promises I have from the Scriptures that I now am a Temple of the Holy Spirit.

    Am I miss understanding you?

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  303. Michael,

    The testimony is not against anything in this case. Rather, it’s that the Spirit speaks through the books that are His in a way that He does not speak through anything else.

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  304. Michael, it’s not about wheat and tares. I don’t know about the vice bit either. My point is, in response to challenges of your particular faith claims, you make statements about Rome which are rhetorically rich, much like a Fanny Crosby hymn, but aren’t arguments and are highly dubious and are often the very points that are in contention. We have folks who speak the same way on this side of the fence too. You’re a bit of a hybrid. It just makes conversation difficult at times. It’s difficult to address somebody’s particular ‘brand’ of a thing. It becomes a very subjective enterprise.

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  305. Drew,
    I guess that is not my experience then. I do read the “other” books and hear the same type of speaking. I could read and listen over and over to the Book of Wisdom, especially. I have found it as nourishing as Proverbs. I hear the knowledge of that book in the thoughts of the writings of the Apostles.

    Just not my experience, I guess. So, that doesn’t seem to be a very good objective criteria. Now give a read through some other books and I agree, to a degree. The book of Enoch or the Epistle of Barnabas for example, has some good stuff in there but there is some “speaking” differences. I will grant that. I just could discern what you are speaking of in those seven that sit right along every other book in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, apparently they couldn’t either or they wouldn’t be there.

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  306. Sean,
    I think I understand. There are somethings that have moved beyond subjective in a persons studies that have take too much thinking and working through, what they have studied and worked through, to relay clearly in anything less than a doctoral dissertation and I don’t think we can get that done here. And I even doubt myself ready to try and do that. So, some things just get said instead of argued and laid out.

    This sort of what you are talking about?

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  307. Hey Drew,
    I wan’t sure if you caught my put this Article up when I was posting to Sean. But, It does have a whole section in it covering the concerns of the criteria you were just talking about. Check it out if you get a chance.
    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/01/the-canon-question/
    Tom Brown really seems to cover this ground well to me and I would be happy to hear any faults in the work.

    Sean,
    Other than possibly the “Canon with in the Canon” criteria he doesn’t highlight the ANE treaty idea we have been getting into.

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  308. Michael,

    Looking over the article, I think it tries to prove too much. First, it assumes that we know who those are who have been given the Spirit. I know Rome claims such on behalf of the fathers but since Roman claims are what are in contention here, that point needs to be examined a little more critically. However, since I nor any Protestant I know would cast doubt on the grace given to the fathers, we’ll grant that point for the sake of the argument.

    Second, it is assumed that we need an objective criterion for the canon to be able to exist or be defined. Without knowing if the inward work of the Spirit with or without external evidence can be considered “objective” in this context, I’m not willing to concede that point. I also think this assumption causes one of the problems we’ve been discussing that I’ll get back to at the end.

    Third, and much more to the point, it is assumed that the confessional view requires 100% agreement by every person given the Spirit. Here, I’m willing to critique the Calvin quote a little and say that at this point I’m not comfortable using an analogy such as black and white to describe how the canon appears apparent since that would lend itself to a 100% agreement position. However, I see no reason for the confessional view to be forced into such a position nor for it to be construed as something quite so individualistic. Even the “Universal Consent of the Fathers” isn’t held to a 100% threshold by Rome so it is disingenuous to arbitrarily impose such a standard on our view of the canon and declare our position defeated.

    So, how do I see it working? Here I think we may find a great deal of agreement in reasoning about this to a point. The Holy Spirit was given to the church to bear witness to Christ (John 15:26). I think we’re agreed on this issue so the question becomes, how does the Spirit bear witness? I would argue that He bears witness by speaking to the church through the Scriptures. I’m not sure if you would agree or add on to that but that’s the direction I’m going and I hope we’d have pretty general agreement to this point. So, I do think the general testimony of the church through all ages (including prior to the advent of Christ as far as was possible then) is a good barometer (though not necessarily infallible). Now, to steal a page from the Roman apologist book, the testimony of history attests to the Protestant canon in almost every case. The dispute is over the books we exclude but the books we include are not disputed by and large and are certainly not disputed by Rome.

    Now, if we couple this with the fact that Rome (unless I’m wrong) likes to be generous nowadays and say that we Protestants are granted the gift of the Spirit as well, the question becomes, to what end? If we are given the Spirit who is given for the purpose of testifying to Christ and He testifies to Christ in these other seven books that we do not receive, why does He withhold the grace from us to see Christ there? I can see Rome’s answer being along the lines of the fact that that particular gift was given to the apostles and to their successors and that since we reject those who have received that particular gift, we are not able to rightly acknowledge the canon. If we were to grant Rome’s premises then, of course, that would be correct. However, given that we are at this point working within the scheme of the testimony of the Spirit being the means of discerning the canon, the question remains, why would He withhold that revelation from us? The argument could be made that it is because sin has clouded our judgment here, which is possible but would not make a positive argument for Rome or any position in particular since our position could easily make the same claim about the other positions. The same problem would arise from claims of more or less grace being given to certain groups over the others; it simply doesn’t solve anything from an argumentative standpoint.

    The simplest and really only way I see of resolving the question is to say that the Holy Spirit is not withholding that revelation from us because it is not revelation. Rather, we have a canon that has been attested to by the near unanimous consent of the catholic church throughout all ages. It is those who hold to the extended canon who hold to a canon that has been disputed by large sections of the catholic church throughout history. It seems rather simple to me, the Spirit has testified to those 66 books consistently but not the others, so the 66 seem to be the way to go. That’s how I see it anyway.

    Getting back to what I mentioned in the second point above, all of this still causes problems as I see it on the Roman side of things. This article, much like Barber’s, seems to throw dirt on the possibility of any before the advent of Christ being able to receive God’s word in Scripture. They both also disagree with the option you chose concerning this issue of there being some sort of body that defined the canon for the OT people of God. So, I’ll pose the question to you; do you agree with these articles concerning that matter or are you more using them to poke holes in the Protestant way of thinking?

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  309. Drew,
    I am still working on elaborating your concerns about the Bereans and OT authority thoughts I have.
    I thought I would answer your question though.

    Do you agree with these articles concerning that matter or are you more using them to poke holes in the Protestant way of thinking?
    By in large I do find the conclusions most reasonable with what I understand. So, my own “Protestant way of thinking” has holes in it and I would still like to find if there are reasonable answers to this dilemma. I am not joking when I say my Protestant boat sprung a leak and was sinking and the only boat I saw afloat was AS communities that were “sent” to speak the saving truths of the Faith by Christ in a direct way, therefor had been given a right to speak on the limits of Canon. Otherwise, I found it to be us or me who were setting the limits of God’s revelation instead of Him and those given that right.
    So, I am saying my Protestant faith is no longer possible, yet many here say it is the true faith of God; therefore, can anybody show this poor Texas boy some other boat. I find this one quite nice and in accord with Scripture, but if it is headed to hell I don’t want to be in it. Most especially for m;y children’s sake.

    Does that help you understand where I’m at? This is why I want a clear answer here and why I can see no way to accept any Reformed confessions which: (1)names the Canon and say we can’t dogmatically know true dogma except what can be found in Scripture or (2)confessions that say all things concerning the Faith are to be found in Scripture and don’t name the books of the Canon. Mainly that last one is odder in some ways to me than the first. This leaves me seeing the only options of(1)my own direct revelation of the Canon which conforms to a confession or (2)that there is a community having “T” tradition which is authoritative and has not been made by men that gives a way to know the Canon by the protection promised in the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise I see no resolution into the living Word of God, Christ.

    Help?

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  310. BTW Drew,
    I do like your ability to think through things.
    One thought concerning this:
    I would argue that He bears witness by speaking to the church through the Scriptures. I’m not sure if you would agree or add on to that but that’s the direction I’m going and I hope we’d have pretty general agreement to this point.
    Basically there would be no disagreement that the Spirit surely does bear witness through the Scriptures, but I find the Spirit bearing witness to the identification of those Scriptures seems to require another inlet. I see this inlet given by testimony of the Scriptures to the Apostles and the Church’s gift of the Spirit who were “sent” by Christ to maske disciples of all the nations in the Scriptures and given the promise,
    “But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you..

    Make sense?

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  311. Michael,

    I’m afraid it doesn’t help much. The issues that you bring up don’t strike at the core of the issue as far as I’m concerned. They may do well in describing how we perceive the situation but I don’t see it having much bearing on the actual defining of the canon unless we assume Roman principles about it from the outset. I understand that you see a deficiency in the Protestant way of conceiving of the canon but I’m still not clear on how your arguments come to bear on the notion of the testimony of the Spirit. Like I said, the 66 books of the Protestant canon are accepted by the catholic church of all ages with almost no debate, the 7 additional books to which you hold are not. I don’t see why it has to come down to your own authority or the authority of Tradition. What is insufficient about the Holy Spirit speaking in the 66 books that have been universally attested to by the church?

    Concerning your following comment, I’m still not quite tracking with you. I agree that the Spirit speaks in the word to the Apostles and others He has sent. No problem. I’m not seeing the connection from that to them therefore defining what that word is.

    I’m glad we’re able to have this conversation and this is why I wanted to have it. I know there is a lot of common ground for us to work from here but it also seems that there is a good bit of talking past each other in this discussion so being able to clarify these issues is helpful.

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  312. Drew,
    I know it is easy for us to talk past each other, so I like the ability to clarify as well.

    Concerning, “What is insufficient about the Holy Spirit speaking in the 66 books that have been universally attested to by the church?”
    It looks like defining them and dogmatically limiting the Canon at any set of books goes beyond the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Not really a problem for a “binding and loosing” which was given to the Apostles, but there is no sure guaranty recognized in the Reformed eclesiology for Councils. That seems to only be pushed in to present day a Catholic understanding or random cults.
    Why I think having the fullness of the inerrant Scriptures inspired by the Spirit is: In knowing the Truth we know Christ and Christ said in that knowledge we would be made free. So, I see to have any less of a goal is to be against the Word; therefore I would think we both would condemned that.

    On you not tracking me here:
    …no disagreement that the Spirit surely does bear witness through the Scriptures, but I find the Spirit bearing witness to the identification of those Scriptures seems to require another inlet.
    If the Spirit we all have been given as Christians both speaks through the Scriptures and leads to the Scriptures to all Christians, we wouldn’t have a problem. We could then boldly hope for perspicuity of Scripture and the perspicuity of identification of the limits of the Scripture. Neither seems to have happened. There isn’t consensus. Consensus or lowest common denominator doesn’t seem to be what the revelation of Christ is. This seems to cut at why we are even talking about this topic at all. There is not universal agreement about the canon among Christians and would seem to require the “black or white” approach spoken of by Calvin. It also seems to put me or all Christains “personally” discerning revelation; not revelation personally discerning us.

    Clearer?

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  313. MTX: It looks like defining them and dogmatically limiting the Canon at any set of books goes beyond the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Not really a problem for a “binding and loosing” which was given to the Apostles, but there is no sure guaranty recognized in the Reformed eclesiology for Councils. That seems to only be pushed in to present day a Catholic understanding or random cults.
    Why I think having the fullness of the inerrant Scriptures inspired by the Spirit is: In knowing the Truth we know Christ and Christ said in that knowledge we would be made free. So, I see to have any less of a goal is to be against the Word; therefore I would think we both would condemned that.
    If the Spirit we all have been given as Christians both speaks through the Scriptures and leads to the Scriptures to all Christians, we wouldn’t have a problem. We could then boldly hope for perspicuity of Scripture and the perspicuity of identification of the limits of the Scripture. Neither seems to have happened. There isn’t consensus. Consensus or lowest common denominator doesn’t seem to be what the revelation of Christ is. This seems to cut at why we are even talking about this topic at all. There is not universal agreement about the canon among Christians and would seem to require the “black or white” approach spoken of by Calvin. It also seems to put me or all Christains “personally” discerning revelation; not revelation personally discerning us.

    Clearer?

    Yes, that is clearer Michael. I am better able to understand your points, thank you. I don’t see why the issue of the canon looks so much like a problem with Sola Scriptura for you. The Scriptures call on Christians to receive the word of God as He gives it by the Spirit. They also tell us that the Spirit will lead His people into the truth. I agree that defining (if by that you mean we get to set the boundaries) and dogmatically limiting the canon goes beyond Sola Scriptura, which is why we don’t do it. We don’t define anything concerning God’s word nor have we the right to dogmatically limit it. We are, however, constrained to receive God’s word and teach the same to the world. That requires us to recognize where God has spoken and where He has not. So, when you see a list of enumerated books detailing the canon, we are not defining anything. We are simply testifying that this is where God has spoken and we are bound by the 3rd commandment (or 2nd as far as you’re concerned) to speak truthfully concerning God and His works. I grant that there is nothing in Scripture that gives me a list of what is Scripture, but Scripture doesn’t promise me such a list either. It promises that the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth and we have found that truth in the 66 books to which we hold.

    On the consensus issue, again, I see no problem on the Protestant side. There is consensus on our books, the lack of consensus is concerning yours. Where is this crisis of every Christian personally deciding on the canon for himself? I see a Christianity that has been united on the testimony of 66 books with an ongoing disagreement about 7 others. When we confess the 66 canon, we are merely confessing the common belief of the church.

    Here’s where I think there is a bit of a disconnect. The canon issue is not an issue about one canon versus another. It is an issue about 73 individual books (in this case) and whether the Holy Spirit spoke in them through the agency of men. We are not testing one canon against another but the individual canonicity of each book. 66 of those books have passed the test almost unanimously. The other 7 are in question. So, let us not miss this, the church, and our two parties on opposite sides of this issue, have come to a consensus on the positive canonicity of a text 66 times (and nearly infinite times negatively on all other books). To say there is not consensus is misleading, there is a great deal of consensus. Where there is not consensus is on those remaining 7. So, in light of the lack of consensus, why should I be compelled to accept these other books apart from the bare assertion on the part of Rome to special authority?

    So, maybe there’s another layer here that I’m missing but I’m not seeing how this strikes at Sola Scriptura. In any case, I hope you’re still working on my other questions because I really do think they need to be answered for us to make any progress here. Because, in spite of all of the issues you’ve raised, I have still not seen an explanation on your side as to how the Scriptures were received before the definition of the Rome. Ultimately, all of these Roman arguments concerning the canon boil down to the need for Rome to tell us what the Scriptures are. Well, the OT church did not have Rome but they had the Scriptures so the question still remains to be answered, how? Until that question is answered, telling us that we need Rome rings hollow.

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  314. Michael,

    From now through the rest of the weekend I will not be available as much to continue our discussion so if I’m not able to get to your responses, I apologize. I will get back to them next week, Lord willing. Have a good weekend.

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  315. Sounds good Drew. I will try and clear up some of those things. It will be hard to to see with out the images in my mind, but I will do my best. I’m a bit of a visual thinker, or parable like thinker may be a more Christlike way to out it..

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  316. Drew,
    I did have one quick thought if you catch it.

    If Reform Confessional Christianity is what Christianity is suppose to be, and we should be allowed to “recieve” a “collection” in a confession, and one Spirit filled believer disagrees with one book on that list or believes one book should be adds. Does this not bar Him from fellowship of the confession of the Church. Does this not create disunity and disfellowship of Spirit filled believers in the Reformed concept of Confessional Christianity by necessity.
    Am I missing something? Would he not be forced to form His own Confession, if no Confessional body agreed with His canon? I think this is what I was talking about in thinking each believer would have to decide for himself.

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  317. Drew
    Also, thought I would quickly try and address this:

    I don’t see why the issue of the canon looks so much like a problem with Sola Scriptura for you. The Scriptures call on Christians to receive the word of God as He gives it by the Spirit.

    Yes, Christ even quotes the Deuteronomic Covenental Law to the Devil saying we do, “not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God.”

    When seeking to affirm the Sola Scriptura formulas in the differing confession which contain a “received” list is when it is highlighted to my conscience that it is “I” who have to affirm or denounce the confession containing the list in question. If Sola Scriptura as defined in the confessions calls me and the Church to only affirm dogma found in Scripture, either the canonical books are not dogma or sola scriptura is not. Christ says let my “yes be yes” and my “no be no.” Affirming a list to receive would still call me to do it. This would seem to call me to being the great historian and discerner of which spirit is the author of which books. It seems to make me the Apostle given the keys and protection of the Spirit given to “them” in the beginning, but those promises weren’t given to me. As I understand it they were given to the same “group” who were called to make disciples of all people and to go out in to all the ends of the earth. I do know I am called to disciple my children, but I don’t think this “calling” to discern the canon is given to me.

    There could be more to add, but that should be enough to give you some concerns of mine.

    Blessing on your weekend Drew,
    MichaelTX

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  318. Michael,

    Your hypothetical concerning the Spirit-filled believer who disagrees with the canon would create division in the church, the same as if a man claiming true apostolic authority, direct revelation from God, and had signs and wonders accompanying him who posited a different canon from the Roman one would create division in Rome. Division is inevitable when one disagrees on matters as vital as where and how God has spoken. Indeed, your hypothetical man may feel that he would be forced to start his own denomination. However, he has no right to so do. He, like all of us, is constrained to receive God’s word where it is given. Whether or not we have earnest, Spirit-filled people who disagree is immaterial to the issue. Much like the two articles you before cited point out, there was not unanimity concerning the Scriptures among the Jews, but the fact remains that God had spoken to them in some works and not others and they had to receive those that are His as His word and reject those that are not His. I see no reason why it would be different now.

    I don’t see why you believe that recognizing where the Holy Spirit has spoken is somehow pitted against Sola Scriptura. Here’s the Westminster Confession’s definition of it:
    1.6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    So, by good and necessary consequence I have deduced from Scripture that the Holy Spirit has inspired some writings, that I am to receive and believe them, and that the Holy Spirit Himself will testify as to what those works are. As best as I can tell, though I am obviously not yet free from sin and deception, the Holy Spirit has testified to the 66 books of the Protestant canon alone. I don’t see how that is in tension with what is quoted above. So my basic answer is that you misrepresent Sola Scriptura. It does not demand, as you say, to “only affirm dogma found in Scripture.” Rather, it demands that we believe those doctrines found in Scripture and things that are not explicitly stated but are nonetheless deduced from the teachings of Scripture as I believe the Protestant canon to be.

    Still hoping to hear from you on my questions as I still don’t think that we can get anywhere following this path until the starting points on both sides are defined.

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  319. Don’t think you will hear from him, Drew.

    Like it or not, he wants to pass on deciding what is the canon, but he still has to decide which is the true church even as he essentially argues for implicit faith. IOW Michael wants to pick and choose what he can abdicate on. Scripture, yes; true church, no.

    Even as he either inconsistently appeals to Scripture (Matt. 16) to justify his decision or else plays the reasonable card ala Byrome Cross: It is reasonable to think that Christ would leave a visible and infallible church behind in his place, rather than abandon believers to walking by faith in the Word Jn.16:13, 1 Tim. 3:17.

    That if not abandoned to their own private judgement, which romanists have to exercise even if it is the default of basking in the assurance of implicit faith.

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  320. Drew,
    Really sorry i haven’t gotten back with you. I have been in the hospital. I am home now, but will most likely be taking it easy for a while in the blogosphere. I’ll pray for you Drew and hopefully get to a place where I can help you again soon. But, I must make the care of my family and my health in that regard my highest priority right now.
    Blessings and peace to you. I’m am glad you have found this topic so important as well. I wish I could continue with you right now.
    Later,
    Michael

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  321. Michael,

    I’m glad that you’re alright and I hope you have a speedy recovery. I will pray for you as well. Best wishes to you.

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  322. Hey Drew,
    I’ll see if I can get back into this. We seem to have a lot of irons in the fire by my reading back over the posts just on this page. I haven’t had a chance to get back to your original list of questions yet. I did at one point have those in a word doc I had somewhere, but have since lost it. So, I will just start with two things I read over at your 7/7 3:47PM post that I noticed and touch on your 7/10 10:45AM post. They seem to give us at least a reasonable point of departure from here. Maybe I can help you understand my view.
    You said:
    On the consensus issue, again, I see no problem on the Protestant side. There is consensus on our books, the lack of consensus is concerning yours. Where is this crisis of every Christian personally deciding on the canon for himself? I see a Christianity that has been united on the testimony of 66 books with an ongoing disagreement about 7 others. When we confess the 66 canon, we are merely confessing the common belief of the church.

    Here’s where I think there is a bit of a disconnect. The canon issue is not an issue about one canon versus another. It is an issue about 73 individual books (in this case) and whether the Holy Spirit spoke in them through the agency of men. We are not testing one canon against another but the individual canonicity of each book. 66 of those books have passed the test almost unanimously. The other 7 are in question. So, let us not miss this, the church, and our two parties on opposite sides of this issue, have come to a consensus on the positive canonicity of a text 66 times (and nearly infinite times negatively on all other books). To say there is not consensus is misleading, there is a great deal of consensus. Where there is not consensus is on those remaining 7. So, in light of the lack of consensus, why should I be compelled to accept these other books apart from the bare assertion on the part of Rome to special authority?

    Drew, I have no problem granting the great consensus on the inspired books. That both you and I agree on 66 books written being by men and are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are inerrant and are gifts of God to His people “for teaching, for refutation, and for training in righteousness.” This is a great blessing.

    I understand you have no problem with the 66 book canon. I have no problem with the 73 book canon, yet I once only had the 66 book canon, too. You say, “we are merely confessing the common belief of the church.” How do you judge the common confession of the Church? I have 7 books which I understand should be used for “for teaching, for refutation, and for training in righteousness,” which you believe can be ignored for such reasons. Here are my couple of concern that I don’t see resolutions to. My current Church body shows by its leadership’s rightful authority that it is in a position to judge this; with me being filled with the Spirit I have accepted this judgement. Your plan seems to be working with the lowest common denominator to discern acceptable truth. This brings us possibly down to just the Gospels, in certain Christian bodies. That doesn’t seem to coincide with the desired revelation of God to us, in my opinion. Either the Spirit has not attested to the 7 books or it has not. This is what must be discerned. In the same way the added parts by the Orthodox are either Spirit inspired or not. This 7 book detail is not directly discernable by me in my current knowledge. I also believe it would be hard, if not impossible, to discern the 66 books on my own wisdom without the historic work of the leadership of the Church in history. The authority structure was different in settling this matter than mine was as a Protestant. This is just a fact. If possible, lets exclude saying Rome’s authority to save us some unneeded debate in all this. Just looking at the early Church doesn’t seem to give me a solid canon. I see disputed books being excepted as Scripture and currently undisputed books being disputed. Just looking at today doesn’t give me an undebated canonical list. Even the Eastern Orthodox are slightly differing in the 73 book canon. I’m sure there are more details in the current situation which I don’t know. I think the Ethiopian church (I don’t know its name) includes books like Enoch. Some church bodies only accept the consensus of the four Gospels. Many Lutheran bodies accept only a smaller NT canon as the canonical core for doctrine, from what I have heard. And idiotic scholars speak all kinds of nonsense. I would need to discern who has the Spirit if I can’t discern this myself. As a Protestant I read in the Scripture, I accepted as a Protestant, and discovered there is a authoritative leadership in God’s Church which we are to submit to that has the ability to teach and settle disputes. I found no way to settle the canon dispute without the Catholic fullness of Truth. I saw no way to do it other wise. That doesn’t mean it has to be Rome who settles it. That is a different question. There are other bodies who speak as Spirit filled believers and speakers of God’s truth as they understand it. Some speak of different canonical list. This is the category where I see something like the list given in the WCF and other confessions falling into and where it bumps into the WCF’s self defined Sola Scriptura, as I understand it.

    Here again is the WCF 1.6 you cited on 7/10 @ 10:45AM:

    …we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    You continued and said:
    …I have deduced from Scripture that the Holy Spirit has inspired some writings, that I am to receive and believe them, and that the Holy Spirit Himself will testify as to what those works are. As best as I can tell, though I am obviously not yet free from sin and deception, the Holy Spirit has testified to the 66 books of the Protestant canon alone. I don’t see how that is in tension with what is quoted above. So my basic answer is that you misrepresent Sola Scriptura. It does not demand, as you say, to “only affirm dogma found in Scripture.” Rather, it demands that we believe those doctrines found in Scripture and things that are not explicitly stated but are nonetheless deduced from the teachings of Scripture as I believe the Protestant canon to be.

    This is why I want to know how you have come to believe, ”the Holy Spirit has testified to the 66 books of the Protestant canon alone” from Scripture and sound reason or why He has not deemed fit to do this illuminating for me? And also, why I have come to believe He has illuminated other books in my canon. This puts me outside of all the Reformed confessions? By this I am put outside of your fellowship in what I affirm is true. Even in my sinfulness He has made me His willing student, by God’s grace. By His mercy and strength, I am willing to be corrected. I know how proud I am at heart. I am quite aware of how little I know of history and the power of our God. By His grace Drew, I am willing to hear Him teach me through you. Sean tried to give me a frame work in the Ancient Near Eastern treaty formulations put forward by Kline. I hope he will talk with me some more about it. I have not seen yet how it reasonably forbids the books we are in disagreement about. Time frame alone does seem to be solid enough for me. That was what he posted the other day in “Rome in American Exceptionalism.” I also have seen no cogent argument laid out from Scripture. I am willing to look into any solid books on the subject you know of.

    So to repeat my essential questions:
    How do you judge the common confession of the Church, on this subject?
    How have you come to believe, “the Holy Spirit has testified to the 66 books of the Protestant canon alone” from Scripture and sound reason?

    Why I have come to believe He has illuminated other books in the Catholic canon, being I would prefer not being outside of the Reformed confessions?

    To add one question for my peace of mind:
    Have you read the 7 books in the Scriptures we are speaking of with a prayerful heart?

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  323. BTW Drew,
    When speaking of the ANE treaty form, I meant to say time frame alone doesn’t seem to be solid enough for me to reject the 7 books. And, the third paragraph should be cited from you, of course.
    Sorry for the confusion,
    Michael

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  324. Michael,

    I’m glad you’re back to continue our discussion. You raise many issues that perhaps we can get into more but, right now, I’m not going to address them for a couple of reasons. First, my original questions, which are the occasion of the discussion, have not yet been answered and I do believe that they are foundational for straightening out what we are presently trying to discuss. At present, I think we aren’t making much headway because the basic starting points are not clear on both sides. So, I must insist that we address those original questions in order to lend more clarity to this part of the discussion.

    Second, I’m not sure what more you’re asking of me. I’ve given you my reasons for why I hold to the Protestant canon and why I believe they are in accord with Sola Scriptura. If they aren’t satisfying to you, I can’t say I’m surprised given that you hold an opposing view. But you haven’t demonstrated why my accounting is insufficient only that you have reasons that you disagree with it but those reasons are hardly necessary. My approach is not lowest common denominator and, unless you’re going to show how it necessarily leads to such, does not lead to reducing the canon to the 4 gospels alone. So either you need to better outline the necessity of why I too must object to my view or to accept my explanation of it I think. Maybe we have different objectives here. If you’re trying to get questions answered for your own personal wrestling with the issue then, after we settle my original questions, I’ll be glad to pursue that and go point by point through your objections at that time until we run into a dead end or you’ve received a satisfactory answer. However, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve sufficiently answered your question concerning whether or not the Protestant canon is in accord with Sola Scriptura and see no need to defend it further.

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  325. Drew,
    I’m glad we can get back to it as well. I am assuming the questions you are speaking of are in your 7/6 11:11 post. It took reading for a while to remember everything. My hospital stay really disoriented our discussion for me. Those seem to be the only ones not addressed in some way. Let me know if that is the questions you are asking about. And a restatement of them would be helpful.

    I hope you can come to realize I’m not playing a chess game with you. It seems as if you felt that way in this previous post. If my perception is wrong, forgive me. I really do hope to find that I can understand a reasonable Protestant view on the canon. It will take a burden off of me. I’m not certain it would be enough to bring me back into the Reformed camp at this point in my understanding of everything, but it would give me peace about others remaining there. I possibly would be able to see Lutheran communion with peace, if I can get the canon established outside of apostolic secession. If I can see your reasons and understand them it will truly help me live with greater peace about where you and others are at. I will also be in a position to make wiser decisions. I truly don’t understand how we can come to the surety of the canon in the Protestant eclesiology and the Sola Scriptura standard. If I did I wouldn’t be asking and probing. I truly seek to be sincere. So I guess I’m just asking for patience with my ignorance and lack of being able to understand you. I still don’t grasp how you are getting to the only 66 book canon. Could you give my some of your understanding of history laying out that it is to commonly accepted OT books for the NT Church?

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  326. Michael, I’ve read back over some of our interaction and others interaction with you, and I’m not sure I know how to engage your canon questions any more than I have.

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  327. Sean,
    I guess more of why you think the ANE treaty’s historical assessment truly forbids the inclusion of the Maccabees histories along with the books of wisdom and if their is some other Scriptural information you are using to prohibit the seven books in contest. I haven’t seen a positive case against them yet.

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  328. Sean,
    Over in the other post you said you saw nothing in Kline’s work limiting the other books in the Catholic canon, “other than they don’t fit the time frame in consideration. They have some resemblance to wisdom literature that fit within the treaty form. But again they’re late in authorship to qualify. They’re at best an extra-canonical historical reference.”
    I’m guessing some of that is personal thoughts and not read in Kline? Eitherway , in what way do we judge what is outside of God’s chosen time frame? Salvation history was still in progress and I find nothing in Scripture saying so. Also, let’s not forget the Festival of Lights was formed in response to miracles preformed by God during the history recorded in the books of Maccabees, which Christ celebrated. This is where Jesus stood up in the temple proclaiming, “I am the light of the World. If anyone will come to me He will not walk in darkness.” This is a response to the Festival of God’s Chosen people. He shows Himself as the True miraculous light of God’s provision to fulfill the Law, as he showed Himself the True bread from Heaven over the miraculous manna in the desert.

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  329. Did catch that email I sent you talking about the miracle with the one remaining day of lamp oil consecrated by the last previously appointed High priest lasting the eight days required by the Law to rededicate the Temple after it had been desecrated under the pig slaughtering?

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  330. Is not the “abomination” in Daniel prophesying the situation invoking the Maccabees Revolt. These things seem to draw them into the formation process of the canon in the ANE framework. Am I wrong about Kline’s work? I haven’t read his bigger book on the topic.

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  331. Michael, canon as intrinsic to treaty form is a self-limiting consideration as it is coterminous with propehtic administration.

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  332. Michael, you don’t have covenant apart from prophetic administration. That’s how we get the law and the prophets paradigm. Canon intrinsic to treaty form(covenant form) is inclusive of this prophetic ministration. Deut 18:15, exodus 4:16, 7:1

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  333. Michael,

    Reading back over our discussion, I can understand your confusion as to which questions to answer. You gave some answers to the original questions but they proved to cloud my understanding more than to clarify it and the clarifications are what I have not found to be as forthcoming. So, I’ll try to distill this as best as I can.

    I believe the heart of the issue is best laid out in what I said in this comment. To this you gave some measure of an answer in saying that you believe that there would have been some form of a Magisterium that determined the canon for the people of the OT. However, this is a direct contradiction to the articles that you have pointed to elsewhere by Barber and CTC and what you yourself have said concerning the status of the canon in the OT as I talk about in this comment.

    So, I’m at a loss. You are arguing that we need a body given the authority by God to tell us what the canon is today and that there is no other means by which we can know what God’s word is. When I pressed you on this, you said that the same would have had to be true for OT saints. However, when making positive arguments against the Protestant canon, every argument you’ve cited and used has said that not only was there no consensus on the canon but that there was in fact no way to know at that time what it was. So, I don’t know which line of argumentation to believe or how they can be reconciled.

    So, the 2 ways of reconciling things as I see it are as follows. First, you hold to what you said about there being a body that determined the canon prior to the advent of Christ and repudiate Barber’s, CTC’s, and your own previous arguments to the contrary and either identify what that body was and how we can find what they identified as the canon authoritatively that is in agreement with Rome’s position or simply assert that such a body must, of necessity of the truth of the position, have existed even though you have nothing to indicate that such is the case.

    The other option is to back off of the position that there was an authoritative body that identified the canon prior to Christ’s advent and admit that there was another way that people identified and received God’s word or contend that the people therefore had no means of identifying and receiving His word. If you choose the former, then you need to account for why you assert the necessity of the Magisterium to define the canon now when there was a time when the canon was identified apart from it or you need to admit that the Magisterium is not necessary to the process of us identifying what is and is not God’s word.

    I hope that explains what I’m asking for. Thanks.

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  334. Sean,
    I guess I’m just not getting what your thoughts are trying to point out to me and for what reason you are saying it. How are we kicking out the books here?

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  335. Michael, the ANE treaty form consideration was one in where canon is intrinsic to treaty form. Part of that treaty form(covenant) consideration is prophetic administration. So, where there is no prophetic administration as stipulated in Deut., for example, you don’t have execution of covenant ministration and thus no canon. The deuterocanon has no prophetic administration. Therefore it’s not part of the treaty form therefore not part of the covenantal documents therefore not canonical.

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  336. Sean,
    Thanks. That makes your points clearer. If I understand you right, there is no prophetic or revelatory nature to any of the seven books so they are excluded. Or is it the time period in which you are saying there couldn’t be revelation?

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  337. Michael, there’s no prophetic administration. There is no prophet during the time, by which covenantal documents may eminate. If I remember correctly even Macc. notes this as a time absent of prophets. Malachi anticipates the next prophet as John the Baptist; Elijah in Mal. 4

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  338. Great clarification, Drew. I think I can help you with those problems in your understanding of my current view. Let me get some time to put it together and i will get back to you.
    Blessings,
    Michael

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  339. Michael,

    My comments have been getting hung up in moderation and the links didn’t work in the one post that got posted so just to clarify, I meant my 6/4 3:32 pm comment and my 6/6 11:11 am comment as the ones that lay out much of what I’m trying to say. Hopefully this one gets through.

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  340. anybody see cardinal dolan on colbert last night–jolly politician.

    Colbert: But aren’t we supposed to judge?

    dolan: The Bible says, “judge the sin but not the sinner”.

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  341. Sean, the idea that just because there is no sent prophet that there is no Holy Spirit inspired Scripture. Not all Scripture is written by commissioned and sent prophets right?

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  342. Michael, I think that is the case. Heb 1:1 tells us that this was how God spoke to the OT saints; was through the prophetic office. It’s not a matter of the prophet writing the text, it’s the existence of the prophetic office in conjunction with the administration of the covenant that in turn generates canonical documents. You don’t have prophets in the land ‘executing’ the covenant or bringing lawsuit against the covenant people and enforcing the sanctions, delivering God’s verdict during the time frame. So, you don’t have ongoing generation of covenantal documents after Malachi.

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  343. Michael,

    That’s fine, I just wanted to make sure you knew which comments I was citing so that there wasn’t any confusion.

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  344. Drew,
    Thanks for the wait. I hope this will help.

    I guess to distill my premises, it come down to I know I don’t have any answer on limiting the canon and I don’t feel I should. The Church leaders have an answer and I have come to accept the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church. I am still looking at what other reasonable possibilities there could be. Some other reasonable Scriptural/historic way is what I would like to hear. My premise is I know of no other way to accept and teach the limits of the inspired books than the protection given within the Scriptures to the Apostles. They didn’t tell us. I haven’t found it in history or Scripture or logic or direct light from the Spirit or an intuition of some kind.

    To help clarify what I think may be the case regarding your confusion on my points. It probably has to do with that I hold out what could be the possiblies. I’m not being shifty. I’m just unsure. But, I still think I can clarify your confusion with my position.

    Here is my idea. It is reasonable that Israel was able to recognize the books of Scripture. It is also possible that these books were common knowledge of the learned Israelites and maybe even common to all at the time of Christ. History(prior to time of the NT Church) nor Scripture seems to make that explicitly clear in my current knowledge. I believe for it to have been explicitly clear to the Israelites it would have taken more than the faithful Isrealite or even a sect of Israelites to say so by reading all the stuff written back then (I could be wrong here). But, this is where my pre-Christ magisterium comes in. I see a unifying voice needed. In the Scriptures we have Jesus issuing the command to “practice and observe whatever they tell you”, this is the scribes and the Pharisees who “sit on Moses’ seat.”[Matt 23:3] This seems to point to a unifiable voice to the people recognized by Christ. Of course, He goes on to tell the crowds not to “do what they do; for they preach but do not practice.” He also speaks of there being human traditions that are against the word of God. All this is still in my framework as a Catholic. By grace, I will not practice what Church leaders/teachers do, if it is against the Faith or the love of God and neighbor and I will not follow a tradition that goes against the Word of God. This pre-Christ leadership in the people of Israel is how the Bereans could have had a sure understanding of what books were the Scriptures, even if at the time some books were possibly undefined. The Church also doesn’t teach that people such as yourself should not look into the Scriptures to try and understand all that you can understand. The Church teaches to its own that you can not use the Word against the God given authority of the infallible instructions of the Church’s Teaching office given in that Word. This would make that person out of submission to the Church leaders, which is a command of Scripture. This is all the same teachings to the eklessia of Israel applied to the NT Church, in my understanding. But for those outside the Church, they should seek to search the Scriptures to test and see if the Church is what it says it is. Like the Bereans tested Paul. Just like a Gentile would do to enter into communion with the kahal/eklessia of Isreal. This is what I did coming into the Church. This type of studying is what I understand the Bereans to have done. They heard Paul speak with the authority given to him by Christ and they searched the Scriptures(whatever they understood those Scriptures to be[39 or 46 or even a core of less than both]{This is what is uncertain to me}), to see if what he said was consistent with the Scriptures and they “received the word” from Paul “with eagerness.”

    Here is where I think you are getting the disconnect in what the articles bring forward and what you are hearing from me. I am not dealing with historical evidence in what is above. I’m only thinking through what makes sense from the Scriptures to me. My interpretive evidence includes what is above, but includes other things as well. That is where other evidences to the limits of the canon like what you find in the articles come into play. Some of those are that there isn’t any solid evidence to what the “received” OT books are prior to the NT Church, as the articles put forward.

    This will be vague, but some of the essentials that shape where I am are:

    there is good evidence the Greek translation of Scriptures(Septuagent) made by Jewish scholars had more books in it than the 39(third centry BC)(this translation is largely quoted by the NT writers and early Church fathers)(It basically includes the 7 books to my knowledge),
    the Jews only have a list at around 200AD in the Talmud(after their rejection of Christ, Christians and the commissioning of the Apostles to teach all nations “first to the Jew then to the Greek”),
    the Talmud quotes some of those books as Scripture, I think Sirach,
    they are use as Scripture by many Church teachers throughout history prior to the 1500(I just know of things I have read they are right in their(St Athanasius, St Cyril, St John Chrysostom, St Augustine, St Thomas, St Francis, St Anthony),
    the councils of Church leaders such as Hippo(393)&Carthage(397) list the 73 books[which was basically uncontested until the Reformation, to my knowledge],
    the 73 are read as Scripture throughout Church history(to my knowledge on the subject),
    the Guetenburg Bible(before the Reformation bible) has them in it,
    the Counsel of Florence(1440s) had them all listed as inspired by the Holy Spirit[This council was dealing with the division with the Eastern Orthodox],
    the German translation by Luther has them in a index, but he also has James, Jude, Hebrews and Revelation indexed separately,
    the KJV(1611) had them in it(though in a separate category),

    I’m sure I could keep rummaging my brain but I think that gives you a bit of my thoughts to rummage through.

    Here is sort of why Sola Scriptura’s place in this in important to me. If we are to operate Sola Scriptura then we must be seeking to harmonize all the Scriptures, so we must know what they are to do so. We can’t drop books which are inspired books to uninspired status because they do not fit our current interpretation of things elsewhere. This is what I see happening during the Reformation period, not books which were never considered inspired being added to the canon.
    I really hope this helps you see where I am. There of course could be books written on the details of all this. So I hope you will forgive the crude glazing over.

    Blessings,
    Michael

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  345. Sean,
    Then your assertion is that the verses in Malachi proclaim,”the existence of the prophetic office in conjunction with the administration of the covenant” removed. Is this right?

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  346. Michael,

    I’m going to try to summarize what I understand you to be saying so that we can be clear on this. So, if I understand you correctly, you are holding to the idea of a pre-Christian Magisterium that defined the canon for the OT church at that time. It seems that you’re most likely identifying that body as the scribes and the Pharisees according to Christ’s words concerning their teaching office, though you didn’t definitively say that such was the case. At the same time, you don’t feel that you can really point to a great deal of evidence for this pre-Christian Magisterium defining the canon and so you are open to the possibility that such was not the case and therefore don’t take a definitive stance one way or the other. However, based on the evidence you do have, you believe that the testimony of history, and particularly that of the catholic church, lends itself to the Roman canon whether there was a pre-Christian Magesterium or not. I hope this accurately portrays your position, if not please feel free to correct me on where I haven’t fairly represented you or if I’ve left anything out.

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  347. Michael, I’m not following your wording. Malachi is anticipating John the Baptist, this is not controversial, and Macc notes this absence of the prophets in the time frame of the deuterocanon, before John the Baptist. Following treaty form and the appointment of prophets per Deut 18:15, exodus 4:16, 7:1, you have no execution of the covenant as regards new lawsuit, new charges, new verdicts among other things, during the time frame under consideration, because there is no prophet to execute such a ministration. As a result, you don’t have generation of new/additional canonical documents recording such events.

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  348. Drew,
    That is relatively well put. The preChristian authoritative voice of Israel would have been able to speak for God in such matter. If they did or what was proclaimed on the matter would be a matter for historic evidence, which in my current knowledge is indeterminate. Though the LXX(250ishBC) having more books seems to lend credence to the longer authorized canon.
    To clarify a question possibly raised by this premise of a OT teaching office, this what I would understand gets removed by the rejection of Christ(many prophets were rejected/now the Lord is rejected) This authority now lives in the teaching offices of the Church because of the belief and acceptance of Christ. This is the sending of the Apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing, practicing the “do this in remembrance of me”, and being the for disciples to “take it to the Church,” etc. I would think the final decisive last point of the dual authority structure would be either the rending of the veil or 40 years later with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. I’m not decisive on that point, but it is an unnecessary point for our discussion. Being there are authoritative writings of the Jews denouncing Jesus and Messiah as Christians we know they don’t speak for God now.

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  349. Sean,
    Sorry, I didn’t see your post yesterday.
    In my 2:53 post I was trying to repeat what I heard your point to be and the ask if I have it right. That is why I said,”Is this right?”
    Anyway, I’m not catching you purpose for Exd 7:1. 4:6 does give us the standard to judge prophets and Duet 18:15 give us the prophecy of Christ. I have no problem with what you are saying about Malachi prophesying the coming of John the Baptist. I am just having a problem with that being what necessarily closes the canon. I still see administration of the covenant being exercised by God’s favor in the Maccabees. It is just happening with a party more like how Israel was while claiming the land. I don’t see there having to be a prophet in the land as a necessary element to canonical books. At least I don’t see that a reasonable enough yet. Our common Wisdom books of Proverbs, Ecclessiastes, and Song of Song had no active prophets in the land as far as I know. My Biblical history could be wrong on this. I haven’t timelined out the deaths of the prophets. But, Job isn’t even pertaining to the land or the nation or the family of God’s people yet it is canonical. This seems to contradict the idea of “you have no execution of the covenant as regards new lawsuit, new charges, new verdicts”=no canonical documents. I’m not seeing this being a solid enough framework yet. You seem to be saying the Maccabees isn’t part of the canon out of hand while it speaks the truth to the situation in Israel and records God’s faithfulness to His part of the covenant while exicuting judgement on those who were breaking the covenant by making covenants with the Gentiles to prevent evils from coming upon them by the differences because of keeping the Law.[Mac 1:11-15] Also, isn’t Baruch in the timeline with Jeremiah. And, the parts removed in accepted books a different issue.
    Just wanting to see where and if the idea ties together. Is the no prophet=no books issue addressed in depth in Kline’s book?

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  350. Michael, Ezekiel gives creedence to the inclusion of Job in Ez. 14:14. Just off the top of my head, Solomon is given credit for authorship of the wisdom books you cited and Nathan was the prophet. The prophet angle is just one angle but it is of relevance to the deuterocanon and it’s relation to canon intrinsic to treaty form(covenant). And yes Kline covers this ground, though, like I mentioned he doesn’t deal directly with apocrypha at every consideration of canonical markers. The deut. and exodus citations point to the establishment of a prophetic office which was in fact a treaty stipulation as representatives and agents of Yahweh-Suzerain.

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  351. Michael,

    While I think I’ve come to understand where you’re coming from better, it looks like your position is a non-starter when it comes to being able to discuss the issue of the canon. It seems that you’re committed to and arguing for concluding with the Roman view but that you’re not so much committed to the view for the sake of debating the issue. You have contended that the only way we can know what the canon is, and unless I’m mistaken therefore whether any book is or isn’t the word of God, is by means of the authority given by God to the Magisterium and Tradition (M&T). So, taking that to its logical conclusion and supposing a pre-Christian M&T stands to reason. What is baffling and maddening for the purposes of discussing the issue then is why you would feel the need to hedge your bets and say that it is possible that there was no such body that delineated the canon before Christ. If such were the case, this would only leave you with the option that it was not possible for people prior to the church’s rendering of the canon to know what the word of God was or else you’re being disingenuous when you tell us that the M&T are a necessity since it clearly wouldn’t have been the case prior to Christ. So, perhaps you’re not willing to commit one way or the other but it really takes the bite out of your position if you don’t. Either the M&T is necessary for all people at every instance of the history of written revelation for people to infallibly know what the word of God is and therefore no people ever have hope of knowing without it or it’s not and it is, or at least was, possible to know God’s revelation by other means. If you’re going to argue for the necessity of the M&T then you’re going to have to be willing to die on that hill.

    The stance that you take on the issue greatly influences the way we can go about the discussion moving forward. If the M&T are a necessity, then historical or any other kind of evidence or argumentation is irrelevant to the truth of your position since everything ultimately depends on the infallibility of the church on this issue. So, for the purposes of discussing your position, our time would be far better spent and your argument much better framed by establishing from Scripture the validity of the M&T as conceived by you since any argument that doesn’t do away with those conceptions cannot bring any weight to bear on their definition of the canon as far as you’re concerned. If you want to bring in other forms of argumentation in your critique of Protestantism, as you have, that, of course, makes sense but I don’t think it promotes understanding or even supports your position to employ such measures in defending your own stance.

    So, I’m certainly willing to continue to refine the conception of your starting position and listen to any reasons you might have as to why you might object to my thoughts on how you should make your case but once we’ve reached that point of understanding, I think the best way for our discussion to proceed would be in one of two directions. First, we could seek to evaluate the Protestant position, in which case I think the best place to start would be for you state your foundational premises concerning Scripture and the canon so that we can evaluate those and see if we can build a consensus for evaluating the Protestant position. Or, we could evaluate the Scriptural texts that you believe teach the necessity of M&T and look at them exegetically and see if we make any headway there. What are your thoughts?

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  352. I see how Ezekiel gives credence to Job’s inclusion, but it would be included because of some other standard than the ANE treaty form. This type of reference would also make us need to include a book like Enoch because of its NT reference.
    What was the name of Kline’s book again?

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  353. Michael, even if Job is pre-mosaic it’s still within the scope of ANE treaty form whether historic prologue or covenantal lawsuit indictment and explication as Ezekiel references it. Kline: Structure of Biblical authority.

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  354. I really would like to proceed in grasping a solid reason to explain having only the 66 book canon, but I see that being difficult while you think I’m possibly being disingenuous. So, can you email me so I can give you my phone number then we could talk and hopefully proceed from there. michaeltx2013 gmail com

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  355. Michael,

    I’m willing to continue our discussion in a different forum if that’s what you’d prefer but let me clarify. I don’t believe that you’re not being genuine; my experience with you thus far is actually quite the opposite. So, if I’m coming off as hostile or distrusting, I apologize, that is not the spirit with which I am posting (the only partial exception to that would be that I was somewhat skeptical about whether you would address my questions concerning the status of the canon prior to Christ’s advent but you have since graciously laid that out, even if there are still some details I’d like straightened out). The reason I’m proceeding in the manner that I am is for the sake of clarity. I started this conversation for a number of reasons but one of them was that I didn’t see the coherence of the Roman position and wanted to be able to interact with someone who would answer my questions regarding them. Thanks to our interactions, I have a much better understanding of where you’re coming from. But it seems to me that our conversation has little hope of being fruitful if we don’t have clear starting points and objectives.

    So, I’m trying to go through the process by which we both know where the other stands on the issue, we determine clear starting points for discussing the issue, and we are then able to proceed based on that foundation. I think we’re pretty close to getting there. My most recent post is me trying to push a little more to get definitive positions from you on areas that I think are vague or contradictory in how you’ve presented your position. For example, from the outset of our discussion, it has been my understanding of your position that the M&T are necessary for it to be known what is and isn’t Scripture yet, I see you arguing that it is possible (though perhaps not probable) that this was not necessarily true always. These 2 things are incompatible. They could be made compatible by amending certain parts of the statements so that you could say something like: there was a time when the M&T were not the means by which God determined the books of Scripture to be known but since the advent of Christ, He has determined that it only be done by the virtue of the M&T. That statement is possible and we could proceed to evaluate it but it is a far different thing from saying that the M&T are necessary for to knowing what Scripture is. But it’s very hard for me to be able to engage your position if it’s being argued that the M&T are necessary but maybe they weren’t always.

    Similarly, I’m trying to sort out arguments that I don’t see as being germane to what we’re discussing. For example, if your position is that the only authority on the canon is the M&T, then not much is accomplished in citing history in describing that position since history doesn’t have the authority to determine the issue according to that position. History can be legitimately used for other purposes but it only muddies the waters as far as establishing that position as far as I’m concerned. Now, if I’ve misunderstood your position and it is not only the M&T that has the authority to determine the canon, then engaging in this part of the discussion will be helpful to clarify that. Similarly, if you don’t agree with me that history is not germane to the position I’ve attributed to you but rather think that it has an essential role in your position, it would certainly help to hear you clarify why that is.

    Now, perhaps you’re not willing to box yourself in in the ways I’m asking for and, if so, then we’ll have to see if there is still a way to have a productive discussion. But, please don’t understand me as questioning your motives or anything like that. It is just very easy for there to be confusion between us on this issue and for us to get sidetracked into unhelpful discussions so I want to try as best I can to avoid those things.

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  356. Drew,
    All that sounds like good things for me to try and clarify. I will probably work through it and get back with you. It may be Monday or so. I don’t mind the format, here. It makes it where if anyone truly has an added understanding that can be added then they can. I will kindly ask one thing of you if you believe me genuine, Drew. Please don’t add things like “…or else you’re being disingenuous when you tell us..” I can work to help clarify things even if those are added, but its is a added pain to me which I want to be resolve in our discussion if we can. I don’t consider you a big “us” that I’m talking to and if you wish to address concerns of my ingeniousness please ask. My email is always for any communications you wish to have outside of OLT.
    Blessings in Christ,
    Michael

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  357. Michael,

    Sorry for the use of disingenuous there, it wasn’t the appropriate word for me to use and conveyed the wrong idea. Thank you for accepting my apology.

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  358. Hey Drew,
    If you didn’t get a chance to read over me and Sean’s discussion of some of this over on Unexpected Loophole” then at “Unexpected Development”, here is a good place to start. I’m working on putting things together for you. Hope the reading over there may help with some background.
    First here:
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-2/#comment-83614
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-2/#comment-83631
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-2/#comment-83642
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-2/#comment-83646
    Then mainly and finally here: https://oldlife.org/2013/05/development-of-loophole/comment-page-3/#comment-83740
    Then over to “Unexpected Development” for a couple of pages starting @:
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/unexpected-development/comment-page-3/#comment-84043
    Continuing here with a lot right after it until the end of the posts:
    https://oldlife.org/2013/05/unexpected-development/comment-page-4/#comment-84426

    Hope those help, Drew.

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  359. Hey MichaelTX,

    I’m happy to help respond to some of this too (I clicked on some of your links, about disagreeing with WCF). I am in a position of subscribing to the confession as an officer of the OPC (a deacon). So I’m willing to defend my vow. It’s not something that I have done, lightly, nor do I take it lightly. Anyway, looks like interesting stuff you are asking about, although I will confess, I’m finding Isaac Asimov’s Foundation pretty interesting too, I’ve never read it.

    Until later,
    Andrew

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  360. MichaelTX,

    Were I able to help you in your questions about canon and WCF, just know from the outset I have sympathies with Klinean thought, but the others you are talking with here have studied more. In other words, I won’t be offended if you don’t ask me any questions. I’m justglad I was able to point you to this blog, so you could find people with more time abe experience than me.

    Always glad to see you “hanging out” with us, around here, and I don’t mean to be flippant.

    Andrew

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  361. Thanks AB,
    Happy to have you reviewing our thinking. I like Kline’s thoughts too. I’ve found them quite helpful in helping me coalesce my thoughts. No deacon over here of course, Just walking it out day by day. I’m trying to put myself out here to Drew. Maybe he can sort through this mad mind of mine. Back to the drawing board.
    Peace friend,
    Michael

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  362. Michael, I’ll try to take a closer look at your thoughts, or, feel free to try to ditill down your main points. When you and I spoke, you wanted me to read the CTC writing about Solo/Sola from 2009. And you appear to be continuing about the books that the Catholic church and WCF disagree on canonical status. My mentioning being a deacon is not to be superior (more of a jack and coke guy, not top shelf over here….), but only that I’ve considered these things for several years. In fact, the membership how for the OPC hit me square against the teaching of Barth and Tillich I encountered in high school philosophy. It means I’ve considered these things now since teenage years, and affirm WCF 1 as very very helpful, personally. Enough about me. Back to Asimov…….

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  363. Yeah this area of having the Scriptures to operate under a Sola Scriptura framework is still baffling me as to how it can work without a authoritative living voice. My post next I’m putting together for Drew may have some decent distillations of things. But we haven’t got to where you are talking about yet.

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  364. Michael,

    I’m barely making it as a poor layman

    I hear ya, 4+ chaps of Scritpure via M’Cheyne, prayer, and the latest theology books help me. Just finished Darryl’s latest, FYI.

    But it is by God’s grace alone we proceed.

    Good night,
    Andrew

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