Deciphering Discipline and Doctrine

Speaking of the peaceful and Christlike Bryan Cross, I wonder if he needs to be responsible for all the Roman Catholic interwebisites out there since others admit that the distinction between doctrine and discipline can be tough to ascertain.

Here is one relatively simple explanation:

When discussing our Catholic faith, we must understand the difference between doctrine and discipline and be able to distinguish which of the two any particular matter may be.

Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia defines “discipline” as an “instruction, system of teaching or of law, given under the authority of the Church [which] can be changed with the approval of proper authority, as opposed to doctrine, which is unchangeable” (334).

Discipline, then, is man-made and can be changed as often as the Church desires. This is not to say that the authority to enact discipline is man-made. In fact, Scripture itself records the Church’s God-given authority to enact discipline: “[W]hatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18; see also 16:19). Now, this power to bind and to loose extends beyond discipline, but it certainly includes the authority to enact discipline as well.

Doctrine, on the other hand, is the teaching of the Church on matters of faith and morals. All such teaching—or at least the basis for it—was handed down to the Church by Jesus and the apostles prior to the death of the last apostle. Scripture refers to doctrine as “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). As mentioned before, doctrine can develop over time as the Church comes to understand it better—but it cannot change. No one—not even the pope—has the authority to change doctrine.

But what happens when the pope classifies a discipline as a doctrine? And what happens when another pope disagrees?

Another common example within the Church today concerns the changes to the way the Mass is celebrated that were promulgated by Pope Paul VI in the late 1960s. There are some today who question the pope’s authority to institute the liturgical changes he did because they claim that in 1570, Pope St. Pius V defined certain elements of the Mass’s celebration as doctrine. Pius’ directives were promulgated “in perpetuity” and are said by some to be unchangeable doctrine.

In actuality, Pius V’s Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum concerned disciplinary matters, not teachings on faith or morals. Evidence of this is that teaching on faith or morals would not—indeed, could not—allow for such exceptions as “unless approval of the practice of saying Mass differently was given” or “unless there has prevailed a custom of a similar kind” or “We in no wise rescind their above-mentioned prerogative or custom.” Such matters of Church discipline always remain subject to future change by equal or greater authority. In light of this, wording such as “in perpetuity” must be understood as “from now on, until this or another equal or greater authority determines otherwise.” Pope Paul VI certainly held equal authority to that of Pope St. Pius V. Therefore, changes to the Mass under his authority were licit and valid and were an example of disciplinary changes, not doctrinal changes.

If doctrinal and disciplinary matters can be so confusing among Catholics who have the tri-part authority of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium to guide us, how much more confusing must such matters be for our non-Catholic brothers and sisters who rely entirely on their own interpretations of Scripture alone?

So perhaps Bryan could summon up a little more peace and Christlikeness?

Then again, disciplines are binding on the consciences of Roman Catholics, which suggests that to deviate from a discipline is sin:

In addition to teaching authority, Christ gave the apostles authority to govern His Church (Mt 18:16). “Discipline” refers to the exercise of this authority. The Church needs rules to preserve inner unity here on earth, help her members achieve perfection, and provide a protective framework within which doctrinal teaching can be lived. Disciplines, the rules promulgated by the magisterium, provide this (see FAITH FACT on Necessity of Law and Right Order for further discussion). Discipline includes such things as Canon Law, priestly celibacy, and certain liturgical norms, and does not come directly from the deposit of faith but from the prudential decisions of the magisterium. Disciplines are authoritative and binding in conscience for as long as the magisterium affirms them. Disciplinary forms can be changed when the magisterium deems this necessary, i.e., allowing the reception of Communion in the hand. Prudence is to be exercised, however, for disciplines can be closely related to doctrinal concerns. Only the magisterium has the authority to “bind and loose” in the domain of discipline, and this extends to bishops’ conferences and individual bishops in certain circumstances (cf., for example, Congregation for Divine Worship, “Ceremonial of Bishops,” no. 7).

The magisterium can, in addressing the changing needs of the Church, change or modify a discipline or Church law which no longer seems to address a specific need, i.e., veils for women in Church or the 24-hour fast before Communion. The magisterium cannot change dogma or doctrinal truth which originates from the teachings of our founder, Jesus Christ, e.g., divorce, (Mt 5: 32) or homosexual activity (Rom 1:18-32 and 1 Tm 1:10).

My problem may be an inveterate Protestant logocentrism. But isn’t logos close to logic?

Or maybe Bryan functions as his own interpreter of things Roman Catholic:

. . . when Catholics dissent from the teaching of the Magisterium, either about theological doctrines such as transubstantiation or women’s ordination, or about moral issues such as contraception, abortion or the essential heterosexual character of marriage, they separate themselves from the unity of the Church’s faith. Although they do not harm or diminish the unity of the Church or the bond of unity in the profession of one faith by the Catholic faithful, dissenting Catholics do give scandal by their dissent, by obscuring to the world the unity that is to be a testimony of the unity of the Father and the Son, and of Christ’s having been sent from the Father.20 In short, both kinds of disagreement leave intact both the unity of the Catholic faith as well as the unity of the Catholic Church.

Where then does the “Catholics are divided too” objection go wrong? The objection mistakenly assumes that the unity of the Catholic Church is the degree of agreement concerning matters of faith among all who call themselves Catholic or receive the Eucharist, rather than recognizing that the unity of the Catholic faith is determined by the unity of the doctrine taught by the Magisterium. In this way the objection implicitly presupposes that there is no difference in teaching authority between the laity and the Magisterium. It treats Catholic unity through the Protestant paradigm’s way of judging unity, and thus presupposes the falsehood of the Catholic faith.

Silly me. Wrong paradigm.

99 thoughts on “Deciphering Discipline and Doctrine

  1. It is interesting to consider the above in light of the Reformation. Originally, the reformation was an “in-house” reform movement until it was put outside by the church on pain of death and eternal damnation.

    Cross, in the last quote cited in the above article, claims that there can be theological disagreements w/in the RCC that do not threaten the unity that the church enjoys.

    Rome always blames the Protestants for separating, but yet they were the ones who drove out and then persecuted our forefathers in the faith. The RCC has the blood of tens of thousands of Reformed Christians on its hands. So much for tolerating theological disagreement.

    Trent is doctrine, not discipline (I think), and it is still theologically binding for RCs. Yet Rome now wants to play nice with Protestants and CtC supposedly wants to engage in “ecumenical” talks.

    So is Rome’s discipline (Vat II, maybe Catholic Catechism?), which is binding yet mutable, now in conflict with Rome’s doctrine (Trent), which is binding and immutable?

    If so, which has authority over the other? How can the Pope and the Catholic Catechism have such a rosy picture of Protestantism and yet be faithful to Trent’s eternal condemnations?

    Seems to me like a lot has changed. 500 years ago the Jesuits were inventing new ways to torture Reformed Protestants and now we are merely estranged brothers in Christ. And if the Reformed have divorced themselves from “unity” with Rome, as Cross claims, just who is to blame for that?


  2. Darryl,

    This would warrant a response if you actually made some kind of argument. What you’ve done instead is just past together a bunch of quotations.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan


  3. I like this sarcasm. Newbigin on Romanism—“that though a Church be besotted with corruption, bound to the world in an unholy alliance, rent with faction, filled with false teaching, and utterly without missionary zeal, God’s mercy is big enough to cover these defects and they do not destroy its claim to be regarded as part of the Church; but that though a Church be filled with all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, if it lack the apostolic succession it is no part of the Church and all the mercy of God is not enough to make it so. “The Household of God” p 82

    and even if it lacks the “proper administration of the sacraments”?

    it’s discipline to exclude those who exclude for merely doctrine’s sake?


  4. D.G.,

    I don’t know you personally. Honest question. When you write

    So perhaps Bryan could summon up a little more peace and Christlikeness?

    and again

    the peaceful and Christlike Bryan Cross

    , what is your intention? Are you being sarcastic or are you complementing Bryan? I’m assuming sarcasm (based on the rest of your writing).

    I know Bryan personally and I would describe him as both peaceful and extremely Christlike.

    I’m wondering though if the intent of your sarcasm is to hide the fact that you don’t actually have an argument? I understand that when the Reformed paradigm lacks an adequate response snickering and sneering at the Catholic is an option. But when it becomes your only option, that’s just sad.


  5. Jeremy, not speaking for Daryll, but I’m not sure what kind of dialogue is expected when mutually exclusive premises are understood(sola ecclesia-sola scriptura) and your left to observable phenomenon, ‘realty’ . RC; “thousands of denominations”, prot; ” a paper unity, Spirit of Vat II vs. trads”. We’ve all attempted back and forth dialogue only to be “question begged” into oblivion or snarked into dismissal. Sometimes fences make good neighbors too. Personally I’m ok with irreconcilable premises, what I’m not ok with is a reinventing of Vat II RC from a bunch of converts who weren’t there to ” catch more than you learn”. I think most of have listened and read, so it’s not a matter of CtC being dismissed out of hand, for me I know where the boundary lines are drawn with the prot-catholic and there isn’t a dialogue to be had.


  6. Jeremy,
    Evidently the inconsistencies of Rome don’t strike you as obvious and as ridiculous as they do to the motley crew hanging out at OL (even some who are more than well nozzled in the hegelian/jesuitical dialect than the king of the filosophers hisself).
    Fine, but don’t get too self righteous about it.
    And puhleeze don’t start another beef session and then tell us you have to go.

    FTR Bryan’s got the Potiphar’s wife complex.
    Any objection to Rome is question begging, meanwhile ex P&R that he is, he still can’t give us a confessional view of SS even before he starts to deconstruct it.
    Jase hasn’t read an early church father by the name of Augustine who could tell him all about the difference between the sign and the thing signified and is off on another tear.
    Kenneth doesn’t know yet that Mortara was not a sin on the pope’s part, but was standard operating procedure according to totalitarian temporal supremacy, which if it was still operative would hammer down on Bryan for piping up without the correct imprimatur.

    But hey, that’s the innurnet for yuh.
    Combine Roman infallibility wich rubs off evidently upon adherents along with equal parts of Scriptural, historical and logical illiteracy/ignerunce and we’re good to go. Hence the CtC enthusiasts.
    But we’re not supposed to notice. That would be unkind.



  7. but was standard operating procedure according to totalitarian temporal supremacy

    but was in accord with the standard operating principles of totalitarian temporal supremacy, i.e the pope answers to nobody.

    The last of which the romanists surely have to grant.


  8. J, we already know him quite well in his effusive and elusive defenses of the individual Lord Acton called the fiend behind the crucifix.
    IOW above and beyond the personal stories/tragedies whether regarding your uncle or Bryan’s son, there is such a thing as truth, we can know it and it is worth being defended.
    Rome says you can’t know it, you just need to believe what the church tells you, hence all the little helpers and apologists for the fiend over at CtC and here.
    No thanks.


  9. Bryan, again, let me help you out with words outside logical premises and conclusions. You seem to think that anyone should know the difference between doctrine and discipline. But lots of Roman Catholics don’t know and those aware of the distinction have trouble making sense of it.

    So again, I don’t see great improvement of Roman Catholicism over Protestantism (was that so hard?).


  10. Jeremy, have you no clue? You come here with Jack Chick like assertions about Rome and the wonders of the Eucharist, as if readers here will hardly be impressed. What is your point? To show how pious you are?

    And what is Bryan’s point to school us in logic and paradigms and never really engage pastorally or humanly and then sign off “in the peace of Christ.” Were you never put off by ostentatious piety? Are you really that tone deaf?

    If you want to call anyone to communion, you may need to get off the high church horse.

    BTW, for all that you know of Bryan, if you don’t find his responses at times to be a bit mechanical, I don’t know how well you’re embracing all of that humanism that Rome trumpets. Tell Bryan to be more like Chesterton.


  11. Jeremy, Protestantism must be pretty good if Bryan can have all that insight into the nature of Christian suffering 10 years before ever converted to Rome.


  12. D.G.,

    Engage pastorally? Humanly? Bryan does. Again, check out the link I just provided.

    You’re an OPC elder and your main method of engagement is sarcasm. If anyone read the whole series of exchanges between you and Dr. Cross they would have to conclude that he is the one who engages pastorally and humanly. It bothers you that he doesn’t have to resort to sneering and sarcasm. Understood.


  13. Jeremy, don’t shoot the messenger. When something is ludicrous, it is. We are not in the 1890s anymore. Maybe it’s time to update the apologetic.

    Better yet, your own church has done that. It’s called Vatican 2 and there your infallible magisterium said I was a separated brother and that the church needed to put its teaching in a more positive manner.

    You and the other callers are being unfaithful to your own hierarchy.

    Something wrong with that picture. Then again, if you think zealotry is going to be appealing to the unconvinced, you should keep up the schtick.


  14. Darryl,

    You seem to think that anyone should know the difference between doctrine and discipline.

    No, that’s not what I think. Nor does anything I have said entail that.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan


  15. Dr. Hart,

    If you are right that my heirarchy has shot itself in the foot then I would not be able to be a Christian anymore; my ontological need, your ontological need would crumble. But I’m not protecting the infallible magisterium so that I can have a place to lay my implicit faith. Vatican I and II are not saying contrary things.


  16. Susan,

    If you are right that my heirarchy has shot itself in the foot then I would not be able to be a Christian anymore; my ontological need, your ontological need would crumble. But I’m not protecting the infallible magisterium so that I can have a place to lay my implicit faith. Vatican I and II are not saying contrary things.

    But if your hierarchy has shot itself in the foot, that means nothing for us. We’re not Roman Catholics. V2’s contradiction of V1 doesn’t even necessarily spell the end of RC. What it does do is put to death ecclesiastical infallibility and relativize Rome to being one denomination among many. Calling us “separated brethren” is essentially a giveaway that Rome realizes she is just one denomination among many. The CTC apologetic is what is out of place.


  17. If I hold a belief that it outside of the church’s teaching I am either mistaken by not having sufficient understanding or I am completely unaware. If I am mistaken by lack of understanding, I will let myself stand corrected on whatever aspect I didn’t understand clearly. If I was completly unaware I will also let the faith inform me. If I did know some doctrine of the faith and deliberately deny it by action or profession, then I have denied my faith and I face judgement.

    I began to understand the difference between discipline and doctrine when I for the first time read the entirety of the Athanasian Creed. I don’t know if the URC of which I was a member left out the first two lines when we recited it, or if I had just missed it all those years. Anyhow, I am very grateful that my Reformed faith taught me what the church must profess.

    **Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly***

    Now, I was oblivious to this creed for all of my Christian life, so when I read it I freaked out. I didn’t know and keep whole and undefiled what the church taught. I didn’t even recite the creeds until I became Reformed! Crap, you mean to tell me that I would have perished everlastingly if I can’t articulate the Trinity? What about children or the mentally ill, or senile, or those with retardation? I was invincibly ignorant, but if the questions are put to me, I can say that I don’t have to figure it out. I don’t quite understand it, but since the church says it, teaches it, then I fully submit to her teaching. Now, I will seek to understand my faith, but I don’t get to make-up my faith.

    And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.

    Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; **And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.**


  18. The difference between doctrine and discipline can oftentimes be difficult to decipher. Fr. Gronden explains the distinction well

    Doctrine is a truth that comes to us through either divine revelation or natural law. Doctrine is something held to be a truth and thus must be believed. Doctrine cannot change since truth cannot change. Jesus cannot be God one day and then just a prophet the next. Whatever the Church teaches as doctrine is always true and must always be believed.

    Discipline is something that the Church asks of us for spiritual enrichment or orderly running of affairs. For example, there is nothing inherently wrong with eating meat on a Friday. It is a discipline of the Church that on Fridays in Lent we abstain from eating meat for our spiritual enrichment. Disciplines, because they are not truths, can change. At one time the Church discipline was to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays of the year.

    In the case of celibacy, there is nothing inherently wrong with married priests. In fact, the Eastern Catholic Churches has always had married priests. In the Western/Latin Church we have also had exceptions such as married Anglican clergy who converted to become Catholic priests and are married. The traditional discipline of celibacy has been asked of priests as an imitation of Jesus Christ. It spiritually connects the priest to his ministry in a way that is unique. A priest of the Latin Church is spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc. given completely over to his priestly ministry through the visible sign of celibacy.

    I think its awesome that DGHART goes to catholic answers tracts for information when he gets stumped. Visit that site a little more often and you might find yourself with your swim trunks on swimming across the Tiber.


  19. Darryl,

    I’m not positive, but what I have talked about above might be the difference between doctrine and discipline.


  20. Obnoxious Bob,

    I can’t let the Augustine red hearing go by without at least one comment in Jasons defense.

    Phillip Schaff-Yet this great church teacher at the same time holds fast the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in the Supper. He says of the martyrs: ‘They have drunk the blood of CHRIST, and have shed their OWN blood for Christ.’ He was also inclined, with the Oriental fathers, to ascribe a SAVING VIRTUE TO THE CONSECRATED ELEMENTS.” (pg 500)

    Ambrose speaks once of the flesh of Christ ‘which we today ADORE in the mysteries,’ and Augustine, of an ADORATION [at least “in the wider sense” of bowing the knee in respect] preceding the participation of the flesh of Christ [footnotes #2 and #3 gives the original Latin from these Fathers].” (pg 502)

    JND Kelly-
    “If Ambrose’s influence helped to mediate the doctrine of a physical change to the West [we’ll cover this exhaustively later], that of Augustine was exerted in a rather different direction. His thought about the eucharist, unsystematic and many-sided as it is, is tantalizingly difficult to assess. Some, like F. Loofs, have classified him as the exponent of a purely symbolical doctrine; while A. Harnack seized upon the Christian’s incorporation into Christ’s mystical body, the Church, as the core of his sacramental teaching. Others have attributed receptionist views to him.

    “There are certainly passages in his writings which give a superficial justification to all these interpretations, but a balanced verdict must agree that HE ACCEPTED THE CURRENT REALISM. Thus, preaching on ‘the sacrament of the Lord’s table’ to newly baptized persons, he remarked [Serm 227],

    ‘That bread which you see on the altar, sanctified by the Word of God, IS CHRIST’S BODY. That cup, or rather the contents of that cup, sanctified by the Word of God, IS CHRIST’S BLOOD. By these elements the Lord Christ willed to convey HIS BODY AND BLOOD, which He shed for us.’

    “‘You know,’ he said in another sermon [Serm 9:14], ‘what you are eating and what you are drinking, or rather, WHOM you are EATING and WHOM you are DRINKING.’ Commenting on the Psalmist’s bidding that we should adore the footstool of His feet, he pointed out [Enarr in Ps 98:9] that this must be the earth. But since to adore the earth would be blasphemous, he concluded that the word must mysteriously signify the FLESH which Christ took from the earth and which He gave to us to EAT. Thus it was the EUCHARISTIC BODY WHICH DEMANDED ADORATION.

    “Again, he explained [Enarr in Ps 33:1:10] the sentence, ‘He was carried in his hands’ (LXX of 1 Sam 21:13), which in the original describes David’s attempt to allay Achish’s suspicions, as referring to the sacrament:


    “One could multiply texts like these which show Augustine taking for granted the traditional identification of the elements WITH THE SACRED BODY AND BLOOD. There can be NO DOUBT that he shared the REALISM held by almost ALL his contemporaries and predecessors.”

    (Kelly, EARLY CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES, pg 446-447)

    what was that you were saying about signs and things signified? Or maybe you’re confused about his views on baptism? Just let me know and your fav D student will be happy to educate you some more


  21. AAK,
    You missed the point entirely. Par for the course but whatever.
    Previous to A’s doctrine on the sacraments, he tells us that while a word (sign) represents something, it is not that thing.
    So when Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 12:13 that we have been ‘baptized into one body and made to drink one Spirit by the same Spirit’, Jason’s whole thesis of insisting any time the word “baptism” occurs in the NT unmodified, it has to be referring to the actual physical sacrament of baptism per Rome’s dogma of baptismal regeneration.

    John 3:8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    Nevertheless Rome thinks it has a handle and a lock on the Holy Spirit and (depending on among other things, having apostolic bones) therefore can dispense the grace of the Holy Spirit at will in her sacraments ex opere operato.
    But this is babycake, elementary stuff.
    So why do you ask?

    Which is why I ask. To point out that by and large those touting the supposed benefits of the Roman faith don’t really know what it is that they so adamantly champion. The discussion, such as it is, has been going on here for some time, much more since the Reformation and before and it would behoove the newbs to bring their knowledge up to speed with their zeal. If and I use that word advisedly – if they expect to be taken seriously, rather than by the ridiculous showing they usually make.



  22. For anyone wanting a good debate on whether post Vatican II Popes are legitimate, [thus, whether V1 contradicted V2], listen to following debates:

    #1 Peter Dimond vs William Albrecht []

    #2 John Lane vs Robert Sungenis

    #3 Vinny Lewis vs Peter Dimond

    The sedevacantists clearly out-muscled the Vatican II apologists in each one. Debate #3 in particular, was the biggest massacre.


  23. Speaking of massacres, regarding the 16th century killing of heretics, what is the basis for those actions and did they fall under discipline or doctrine?

    Has the RCC ever apologised to the Protestant world about it?

    I was wondering because I saw a Youtube video about RCC child abuse and the RCC had apologised for that, but someone suggested that the RCC apologise for the killing of Protestants, which an RC commenter replied: “Why should they apologise for that? The protestants are just wrong”.



  24. Bryan, your words:

    But Protestant critics of Catholicism often approach Catholic documents the same way these critics approach Scripture, namely, as if they are self-explanatory and self-interpreting, not realizing that these documents, like Scripture, were written within a Tradition, and are rightly interpreted only within and by the light of that Tradition. Once again (surprise!) the problem is presupposing a Protestant paradigm [this time at the level of how writings are to be interpreted and understood] when criticizing Catholicism, and thus begging the question.

    You know, you seem to think that with all of the logic that you bring to comments, you can never be misinterpreted or misunderstood. It is the same way you apparently read papal documents. And I thought Protestants were supposed to be literalists.


  25. @Rooney

    Yes they have apologized May 1995 for the role in starting the religious wars that followed the formation of Protestantism. In December 1999 they apologized for the execution of Hus (a proto-Protestant leader). Most importantly they have done a 180 on their strong support for state terror.

    The conservative Catholics like CtC on the other hand seem to mostly agree that the church was in the right in those situations. They still defend the church’s actions even though the church itself admits it was in the wrong.


  26. KENLOSES, but Fr. Gronden is not part of the magisterium. Where is this distinction in the Syllabus of Errors, in Vatican I, in the Fourth Laternan Council? How do you know that transubstantiation is doctrine and Jews wearing gold stars is discipline?

    I’m glad you’re so easily satisfied. Makes sense your church is in the state it is. ‘s’all good ‘s’always.


  27. rooney, the question would be how many of the pope’s own soldiers killed Protestants. Otherwise, if Charles V or Francis I is killing heretics, it’s simply what governments do.


  28. Darryl,

    You know, you seem to think that with all of the logic that you bring to comments, you can never be misinterpreted or misunderstood.

    No, I don’t think that, and never have thought that. And nothing I have said entails that. Instead of repeatedly presuming what I think, and then finding out that this is not what I think, a better approach is simply to ask me what I think.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan


  29. @Bryan

    And nothing I have said entails that. Instead of repeatedly presuming what I think, and then finding out that this is not what I think, a better approach is simply to ask me what I think.

    Your group (though not you personally) get’s rather rude when people try that approach. They simply refuse to answer even basic questions about what they think. One thus is forced to infer and presume.


  30. DGHART,

    Because transubstantiation “means” something doctrinally. It has doctrinal content. Jews wearing gold stars doesn’t have any content doctrinally. Neither does ecumenism mean anything doctrinally. I can describe ecumenism….. Like I can describe an elephant or a new wearing gold stars or priestly celibacy…. But I can’t tell you what those things MEAN from a doctrinal standpoint because they have no doctrinal content. They are not a defined theological truth or dogma but are merely prescriptive disciplines and pastoral programs. V2 changed many disciplines but no dogma. Is there some infallible list somewhere of all the dogmas and disciplines of the Church? No. Is it always easy and simple to tell the difference? No. BUT! If ever there is some controversy or confusion on one of these matters and agreement can not be reached the magesterium has the authority and duty to step in and decide the matter for the faithful! As Cross would say “we have a principled means” of knowing what is dogma and what isn’t IF any controversy arises. What does the OPC have to offer? If controversy arises in the OPC and two groups charge the other with biblical unfaithfulness what will happen? Schism and division that is what will happen. No side will have any right to tell the other who is in error and who is correct. Which is why, ultimately, DGHART and Kenneth Copeland are in the same boat. The bishopless, priestless, popeless, non authoritative, barely a shadow of a church cruise ship.


  31. Rooney,

    you are nuts if you think Sungenis lost that debate! He also handles Peter Diamond fairly easily in their debate on Vatican 2.


    Yes, Augustine did teach that, but you aren’t understanding what he meant. For example,, as I’m sure you know, Augustine clearly believed on baptismal regeneration (in the same way that it is understood by RCC) and the sacrifice of the mass, real presence, etc…… So where do all these symbolic signs come in to play? What is Augustine talking about when he talks about signs and what they signify? You have twisted Augustine and scripture to your own destruction…. Which is exactly what scripture teaches will happen when you endeavor to interpret the scriptures on your own accord apart from the Church.


  32. Dr. Hart,

    I don’t put any hope in princes, thank you very much. It sure would be nice to be listened to with the purpose of understanding what I really believe and why I must believe it. I mean, if I’m locked into my paradigm your equally locked into yours. You don’t seem to want to put a lot of effort into seeing that there is such a thing as a paradigm. We cannot both be right so there has to be a reason that we keep talking past each other. I already know your paradigm, maybe try to see mine?

    Your sense of humor is great expect when it degenerates. No Catholic is commenting here because they like harrassment. We honestly believe we have some answers to offer you, as our separated brothers.
    You may not like us and you may want to keep our walls firmly in place, but it does grieve us and should grieve us that we are separated. Some sport in sparring is loads of fun, but a gentleman knows when he has crossed the line. Personally I’m appalled at the ad hominems and rudeness( no telling you that you are begging the question is not a personal attack). You make fun of Bryan because he doesn’t have the charisma that you want him to have, and you ignore an argument at the same time, all with a hoot and holler and a kick of the heels.
    Is Bryan Cross’s swooning when his baby son’s casket was lowered into the ground enough proof to you that he is human? Bad form Darryl. And if any readers here have an ounce of decency they will recognize this.
    You don’t not get that kind of treament at CTC. No way do any of you get treated meanly.

    Believe it or not, no Catholic is commenting here because they like harrassment.


  33. Darryl,

    Bryan, do you think the Roman Catholic Church is healthier today than it was in 1960?

    In order to answer that question, I would have to know what you mean by “healthier,” specifically what criteria you have mind when you ask about the “health” of the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan


  34. KENLOSES, wow, you really think Jewish-Christian relations have no theological content attached to them. You do read the Bible, right? Judaizers? Ring any bells? And so the church’s teaching on Jews might actually have something to do with biblical teaching.

    Before you sniff so mightily in the direction of the OPC, we have a church council every single year, something that your hierarchy refused to do after the Council of Constance, and that was only supposed to be every 10 years. Councils had to save your church from three popes all at the same time. And if Francis has his way, you may be looking at a papal council running things. The same council whose principled means of determining church practices on sexuality is to send out a survey.

    You may have formal unity, but remember Bryan Cross thinks that within your church are many heretics and material Roman Catholics. Seems like fake unity to me, but it gets you through the day.


  35. Susan, did I miss something? No Catholic is commenting here? You’re not Roman Catholic?

    I do get the same treatment here as at CtC, which is lots of points about logic and paradigms, but never an acknowledgement that Protestants might have a point, that Rome has some problems, and that finally you trust the hierarchy because you trust the hierarchy (and your putting your hopes on that one). It is really fool hardy to think that you can come to a Reformed site and think that your pious bromides of wonder at Rome’s glory is going to have any plausibility. I am more than willing to admit that Protestantism has its problems. I think I can answer some of its critics’ points. I don’t presume to answer them all. Nor do I believe logic will make it all better. In the end of the day, I trust the word of God as ministered by those who belong to Reformed churches. I don’t expect that to convince you. But if you’re going to try to convince me, you really do need to do better than express sheer delight in all things Roman Catholic.

    And believe it or not, it is not very sporting for you to use the death of Bryan’s son to score points against me or any Protestant (Bryan was a Protestant, btw, when he worked out the loss of his son. Is that sporting of me?) I could link to my post about the deaths of my parents within five weeks of each other. What possibly does that prove?


  36. Susan,

    It is a shame that Rome and the Reformed are separated. We are ready to welcome back all RCs to the true church; indeed, we would rejoice to see the RCC become a true church.

    Our earlier attempts at effecting such a reform and maintaining the unity of the church were, however, met with condemnation and persecution.

    The good news, Susan, is that there is hope for unity in the truth. All you have to do is recant, repent, and confess the gospel as it was handed down to the church by the Apostles.

    Until such a time as Rome chooses to end the separation we must unfortunately remain separated, and not brothers.


  37. @Susan —

    I don’t like the cheap shots towards Bryan either. I think it is a very bad characteristic that this sort of behavior is encouraged.

    That being said, yes people on CtC get treated meanly. Just go back to my threads last month on Creed what was that but a long series of ad-hominum attacks to which the Catholics were fully supportive. A few years ago I got treated far worse on CtC invited to respond to a thread and then personally attacked, then deliberately misrepresented and then told I was upset about being personally attacked and lied about because of my moral flaws. And I’m not the only one whose had those sorts of problems. Your side treats people terribly.

    Also throwing out the child death is sort of a cheap shot. No one mocked Bryan’s humanity towards his kids.


  38. Susan, nobody here I’m familiar with, would take comfort, glee or advantage of another person’s family loss. I’m not sure anyone read the link, I didn’t. This has to do with meaningful dialogue and pushing back against recruitment propaganda, spin and patronizing behavior. More than a few of us have been trained from our youth in the ways and whys of Rome and have ready access to to priestly and doctoral interpretation.


  39. Yeah AAK, I wonder why I bother. But it’s called a teaching opportunity. So listen up and listen good.
    A wrote a book about interpreting Scripture. It has stood the test of time and is a classic.
    Read it.
    Then he interpreted Scripture. On the sacraments, grace, salvation, the church.
    Which one over rides? Which is more fundamental? (Duh).

    Two, Jason, contra 1 Cor. 12:13 wants to say every time there is the bare mention of “baptism” in the NT it necessarily refers to water baptism, hence it necessarily accomplishes what the baptism fy the Holy spirit accomplishes; hence the Roman view of bapt. regeneration ex opere operato is correct/biblical. (IOW the prosecutor of Leithart himself doubles down on the defendant’s “The Baptized Body” with a vengeance.)

    But the Scripture says otherwise.
    It is through the Spirit 1 Cor. 12:13. And Christ says the Holy Spirit blows where it will Jn. 3:8.

    But how is it, all the self appointed apologists for Rome over here know not these things Jn. 3:10?
    IOW romanists deny/can’t admit that the Holy Spirit can lead us into any kind of truth unless it is strictly mediated through Rome and her “sacraments”.
    Even as they vainly appeal to our private judgement that we ought to submit to their private judgment about Rome.

    Need one say more?
    The roman paradigm clearly contradicts itself to protestants, whether in regard to Scripture, history or reason, which is why it finds no takers.
    The Bible, much more the words of Christ, clearly contradict what Rome clearly teaches. But Rome professes to believe Scripture and Christ, even as she usurps infallibility and perspicuity for herself alone. Go figure.

    Even further, from the prot POV, papists come off as little wanna be authoritarians who can’t stand any appeal over their head to whom they claim to represent.

    Either that or they play the hurt card.

    But Christ must increase and we must decrease Jn.3:30.
    Which means you got to make your case from Scripture alone – the Word of Christ – and not your opinions or feelings.
    That hasn’t happened yet.



  40. Dr. Hart,

    Your problem might be that you are not assuming the Roman paradigm when it comes to judging faithfulness. You assume the Protestant paradigm that faithfulness means actually believing what history can tell you and operating in line with Scripture. You are thereby begging the question. Don’t you understand that it is impossible for the Roman Church to be more or less faithful on the dogma.

    In the principled paradigm of pretentious papalism.


  41. Kenneth:
    ” If controversy arises in the OPC and two groups charge the other with biblical unfaithfulness what will happen? Schism and division that is what will happen. No side will have any right to tell the other who is in error and who is correct. Which is why, ultimately, DGHART and Kenneth Copeland are in the same boat. The bishopless, priestless, popeless, non authoritative, barely a shadow of a church cruise ship.”

    Roman Trad Unity; Oh, the humanity.

    “The Rev. Christian Bouchacourt, the South America leader of the Society of Saint Pius X, said Wednesday that the protesters belong to his organization and that they have a right to feel outraged when rabbis preside over a ceremony in a cathedral. “I recognize the authority of the pope, but he is not infallible and in this case, does things we cannot accept,” Bouchacourt said in an interview with Radio La Red.
    “This wasn’t a desire to make a rebellion, but to show our love to the Catholic Church, which was made for the Catholic faith,” Bouchacourt added. “A Mass isn’t celebrated in a synagogue, nor in a mosque. The Muslims don’t accept it. In the same way, we who are Catholics cannot accept the presence of another faith in our church.”
    The Vatican spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment emailed by The Associated Press.
    The Society of St. Pius X has no legal standing in the Catholic Church. It’s a schismatic group of traditionalist Catholics who are attached to Latin Mass and follow the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who founded the Swiss-based society in 1969 in opposition to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican II meetings made a point of reaching out to Jews and people of other faiths.
    Pope Benedict made reconciling with the society a priority, but Pope Francis has made clear he has little interest in courting the traditionalists. Francis has disparaged “restorationist” groups as being out of touch with today’s Catholic Church, and his decades-long friendships with Argentine Jews is a testament that he is fully a pope of the Vatican II church.”

    Spin spin spin spin, and the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round……and the people on the bus go up and down, up and down, up and down…………………………..


  42. Robt.
    The Borg is simply disgusting and your attempt to derail the discussion and drag it through the dirt is simply despicable. (And when’s that chick going to get that stupid thing out of her eye? That’s so fakey. You would think it is a movie.)

    But it’s what I and others have come to expect from people like you and I am sure glad I am not like you. So there.

    Now Bryan who has never apologized for misrepresenting the prot SS paradigm will have grounds/credible motives to take his ecumenical bat and ball and go home for good.
    IOW back to good old incredulous combox discussions like this from one of the other infallible principals of the CtC:

    “Scripture” makes no claim that it is an inerrant record of divine revelation.
    To accept it as such, one must accept, as divine and thus infallible, the authority of those who wrote the works it contains and of those who collected those writings into a canon. Such authority is personal; the authority of a library–which is what Scripture is–is entirely contingent on such personal authority; a library per se has no such authority, because it is merely a composite, inanimate object produced by persons, who alone are a fit subject of such authority

    The patronizing spin of the propaganda indeed. It does have a way of seducing its adherents.
    Yet if Scripture is not an inerrant record of – if not infallible – divine revelation, it is nothing.

    But let God be true and all men liars. What does the Scripture actually say contra the private interpretations of the communion of the confused?

    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart Heb. 4:12.

    Yup. Sounds like an inanimate library to me, that has no such per se authority like Mikey’s lib h.crit PJ does.
    Ya gotta admire the chutzpah and hubris of the holy water joes though.
    To bad it ain’t one of the cardinal virtues in anything other than the false church.



  43. Darryl and all,

    You and a few other are at OLTS are the crowd that keeps making personal attacks. You call Catholics falsely pious, like you believe that we have no clue that we are sinners too. I personally claim no moral high ground. You also refer to new converts as “Callers” lumping everyone together and I’m sure that it isn’t a term of endearment. You have also called Bryan an automaton, a stoic, Dr. Spoc… These ad hominems have nothing to do with our differences, and are not helpful

    My rash shortsightedness wasn’t able to see that you are right and that I did bring up the loss Dr. Cross’s son in a way that I shouldn’t have, and I am so deeply sorry for this. I didn’t mention it to score points. I don’t even see the back and forth that we have as tit-for tat. But I definately did not need to mention his grief to prove to anyone that Bryan is human.

    Dr. Cross,
    Forgive me. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your beautiful son.

    I’m very sorry that you lost your parents.


  44. CD Host,

    If you have received poor treatment at CTC, I am sorry to hear this. I hope that you would go back and continue to dialogue.

    ‘Also throwing out the child death is sort of a cheap shot. No one mocked Bryan’s humanity towards his kids.”

    That was terrible of me, and I’m very ashamed. I wasn’t able to see the error. But it wasn’t meant to be ammunition.


  45. You and a few other are at OLTS are the crowd that keeps making personal attacks.

    Nothing personal Susan, but I personally resent the insinuation/attack.
    As ex rc I think the arguments of guys like Bryan are so hypocritical, they are hilarious.
    Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
    The guy leads with his solemn and self righteous paradigm of respecting your opponents paradigm in order for there to be true ecumenicism and he’s the biggest violator of his own rules.
    (As a philosophy prof – unless he’s incompetent/blind to his own biases – he’s got to know that the principium cognoscendi for prots is Scripture and for papists, it’s the church.)
    Can you say Potiphar’s wife Gen. 39?
    Sure you can.
    For some of us, the infallible charism, such as it is, seems to have worn off on the self appointed curia – contra official Roman dogma – and they can’t/don’t see it. So we get to remind them of how ridiculous their arguments are.
    Because some of them never seem to get it and will crow even louder if they get half an excuse.
    And all we get for our thanks is disagreement and criticism.
    Which makes my feelings hurt and sad and I don’t like it at all.
    But I will say your avatar is way cuter than Bryan’s or DGH’s, so that’s a big plus.

    And another thing, if you were invincibly ignorant, you couldn’t confess it.


  46. Kenneth,

    Why do you think Sungenis defeated Lane?
    I dont remember hearing Sungenis interacting with Lane’s main points brought up at the start of the debate.
    Another fact about the debate is that John Lane wanted cross-examination but Sungenis didnt agree to it.


  47. Darryl,

    Doctrines are principles, eternal unchanging truths. Practices simply cannot teach doctrine; practice by definition deals with specific cases, and one can’t define an eternal unchanging principle from a single case. The Jews with badges cannot in itself be a doctrine – it might be a practice that is reflecting a doctrine or moral precept, but there is a difference between moral precepts and the prudential application of those precepts. So if you want to argue that there was some doctrinal teaching given that inexorably resulted in Jews wearing badges, that would be a better avenue than simply claiming the act itself of Jews wearing badges was a doctrine.


  48. Darryl,

    Bryan, healthy means faithful. Was the Roman Catholic Church more faithful to God in 1960 than today?

    That only pushes back the question: What do you mean by faithful? Are you asking about the average number of sins committed per day by Catholics, or about the fidelity of Catholics to the Church’s teaching, or about the magnitude of the virtue of faith possessed by the average Catholic, or about the fidelity of the Magisterium to Scripture, or about the degree of sinfulness of members of the Magisterium? You’ll need to specify what exactly what you mean by your terms, in order for me to know exactly what question you are asking.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan


  49. Bryan, healthy means faithful. Was the Roman Catholic Church more faithful to God in 1960 than today?

    That only pushes back the question: What do you mean by faithful? . . .

    I can’t speak for Darryl, but I doubt he had this kind of cat and mouse scenario in mind. Even further, I am willing to say he is ahem, a gracious enough interlocutor to let Bryan answer the question as he sees fit, just so long as he doesn’t hem and haw around to the point of evasion.

    Wait a minute, isn’t that ….

    Seriously, Mr. Cross to my memory in my fallible opinion only responds in the highly tendentious parsing mode and generally proffers the minimum of any kind of a infallible positive declaration in these kinds of circumstances.

    But what do the hoi polloi know when they only have access to their private judgement- if even that – and are forever barred from knowing any infallible dogmatic truth due to their ecclesiastical separation from the fount of all knowledge, wisdom and righteousness, i.e. the CTC Roman church?

    We is no prophet, but our money is on the proposition that when all is said and done, somebody will punt. What we are watching now is the warm up before the eventual studied, if not nuanced decline of substantive engagement.



  50. Susan, thanks.

    The point stands that you and other callers are tone deaf. If I go to a Democrat blog, I don’t expect to be taken seriously if I criticize Obama. But you guys somehow expect us to marvel at how wonder Rome is and, oh by the way, how inferior Protestantism is (please remember 18 months of Stellman’s posts).

    Are you really that clueless?


  51. Cletus, was it not at one point a sin to eat meat on Friday? The quotes I found say that the church can bind consciences on practices, meaning that practices have a moral component. But the church can change practices which have moral aspects? It’s a nice distinction to get out of the way of some whacky papal practices, but I don’t think you’ve though this through.

    I never claimed Jews wearing badges was a doctrine. Jews wearing badges does relate to the doctrines that separate Christians and Jews. So again, it’s not so neat and tidy to say one is a practice, one is a doctrine. I mean, why did the church think this was a pastoral matter that needed comment — the attire of Jews? Does the magisterium just like to hear itself talk?


  52. Bryan, you are being evasive. What do you think is a faithful church? Was Rome more faithful by that definition in 1960 that it is today? It’s not that complicated.


  53. Bryan: That only pushes back the question

    DGH: Bryan, you are being evasive. …

    Darryl — this is his whole method. “Push back the question” — he can until you come to the point at which you have some mythical (and completely presupposed, on his part) “Church that Christ founded”. Presuppose that Christ founded “the Roman Catholic Church” and then trace that supposed structure through history and the “schisms” off of it.

    However, if you don’t presuppose the “Roman Catholic Church”, if you start with a real, historical starting point, and you look at the actual history of the actual people, and what the actual church actually was, you can see the minute accretions of both legitimate and illegitimate moves that various Roman bishops and commentators made over the centuries, and you can see how “the Roman Catholic Church” was rolled up and created in time, then you can feel free to reject the illegitimate portions (tested as illegitimate against the Scriptures, and even against human decency), and Bryan is left with dust.

    What was “healthy” should be defined by what was Scriptural. What was “faithful” should be defined by what was Scriptural.

    This is the point at which he should be challenged, and this is the point at which his “method” comes up a complete failure.


  54. Darryl — Once you’ve got Bryan starting in history, starting with the actual texts which talk about actual people and actual authority and actual notions about that authority, then Bryan has got to respond to some real questions, for which his only response will be to invoke the wax nose of “Tradition”.

    This was Robert Reymond’s treatment of just one element of the Roman Catholic apologetic (albeit an important one), Matthew 16:18, and the actual role of Peter (before any question of a “successor” is brought up). These are the kinds of objections, when starting from the beginning, that Bryan must be able to address, to the reasonable person’s satisfaction and in accordance with Scripture:

    1. Why do Mark and Luke, while they also recount the Caesarea Philippi conversation between Jesus and Peter (“you are the Christ”), why do they omit all reference to the all-important commission of Peter? Why do they omit all reference to that part of Jesus’ conversation which grants to Peter his alleged priority over the other apostles. This is, for the “Roman Catholic”, the very heart and soul of the Lord’s teaching ministry. Omitted.

    2. Why does the New Testament record more of Peter’s errors AFTER the Caesarea Philippi confession, than of the errors of any of the other apostles? (he lists 9 specific errors of Peter).

    3. Why, after Caesarea Phillipi, do the disciples continue to dispute among themselves who was the greatest? [This must be the first instance of “development,” eh? They just didn’t get it.]

    4. If Peter was the head of the church, why was he the one “sent” [and “by whom”] to investigate the Samaritan revival, instead of being the one doing the sending (Acts 8:14)?

    5. If Peter was in fact the undisputed head of the church, why did the other apostles and the brotherhood in general feel they could challenge his involvement in the Cornelius incident?

    6. Why does Paul list Peter as only one of the “pillars” in Jerusalem, and second after James at that? And why at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15, over which James quite obviously presided, is Peter merely the first speaker and not the president of that council?

    7. Why can Paul say of the Jerusalem leadership (James, Peter, and John), those “reputed to be pillars,” that they only “seemed to be something”. “What they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality (Gal 2:6)

    8. If Peter was Bishop and Pastor of Rome, and if it was Paul’s established missionary practice “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation,” why does Paul declare that he had longed to come to Rome and had purposed many time to come there “so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong,” and “in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles”. Would not such activity among them on Paul’s part have been both a denial of his own missionary policy and an affront to Peter’s ministry? Do his words not suggest that Paul knew of no apostle having labored in Rome?

    9. Why, in 1 Peter, does Peter describe himself as simply “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” as one among many “living stones” and “the fellow elder” with other elders?

    10. Why, if Peter was the living, earthly head of the church at that time, does he disappear completely from Luke’s history after Acts 15, with very few references to him, apart from his own two letters, in the rest of the New Testament?

    11. Why in the earliest patristic literature is Paul venerated as often as Peter, a fact admitted by Roman Catholic scholars. [A related point: why does Paul then drop out of sight? Ignatius has Peter AND Paul in Rome; Irenaeus has Peter AND Paul founding the church in Rome — which is a historical inaccuracy, by the way. Where does Paul go in the Roman scheme of things?

    12. Would John, the “beloved disciple” and apostle, who apparently outlived Peter, have been subject to the bishop of Rome (Linus or Clement) who succeeded to Peter’s chair?

    13. Why did no Roman bishop before Callistus (223), who by the way, countenanced a form of modalism, use the Matt 16 passage to support the primacy of the Roman bishopric; and when he did, why was he rebuked so harshly by Tertullian, who totally rejected the notion that Jesus’s saying applied to later bishops at all? (And Cyprian and Firmilian both harshly rebuked Stephen for the same thing?)

    14. This raises the larger and more principled question, namely, while the church at Rome was no doubt influential, why is there NO indication in the first couple of centuries that the rest of the church recognized the Roman church or acceded to Rome any sovereignty over Christendom? [This is development in the extreme — a pure conversion from ~A to A. Not bad for something “immediately given” and “ever believed”]

    15. Why did the councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon all rule (a) varying degrees of authority for Rome and (b) ALWAYS give the reason for Rome’s primacy as political– that is, because it was the “old Capital”?

    16. How does Roman Catholic theology in this entire matter avoid the charge of petitio principii — or “begging the question”, if you will — “Rome is in charge because Rome says that Rome is in charge”?

    The question of the truth of the Christian church in history is not one of “who suffered more”. It’s a question of understanding real evidence, and understanding it within the context of the character of God in the history of Israel and the Old Testament, This line of questioning will take Bryan far off of his game. And his defense of the RCC is a very bad game.


  55. Darryl,

    Bryan, you are being evasive.

    Either that, or I’m actually telling the truth when I say that I don’t know exactly what you mean by your term ‘faithful,’ and thus do not know what question you asking. It is easier to go the ad hominem route when someone can’t read your mind, but doing so isn’t necessarily the most fruitful route.

    What do you think is a faithful church?

    As I mentioned in my previous comment, the term ‘faithful’ can be used in many different ways.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan


  56. Bryan — I do guess you are “telling the truth” when you say “I don’t know exactly what you mean by your term ‘faithful,’ and thus do not know what question you asking.” But if you don’t know “exactly” what he means (and how can anyone know a thing “exactly”?), then given your legendary intelligence, I’d wager that, given Darryl’s other perspectives, that you know very closely what he’s talking about.

    So it seems likely to me that this is why folks think you are “evasive”. You have a methodology that you’re employing — the methodology itself has been used historically; you’re putting your own touches on it — but you rarely get off message with that methodology. Thats why Old Lifers think you’re evasive. Because you never really answer questions (“I don’t know EXACTLY”), unless the answers can feed someone into your methodological process.

    What do you think of my analysis of your methodology, above? Sure, I’ve taken some shortcuts. But this is just a comment thread on a discussion board, not a complete scholarly doctrinal outline. Without commenting on my motives, would you say that I’ve been accurate in describing the procedure you follow?

    Sure, I’ll grant that you can’t know EXACTLY what I’m saying, but conversations proceed when people are being honest with each other.


  57. If I appointed myself lord grand teacher of theology for the internet, I’d have some rough idea of what “faithful” meant.


  58. @Susan —

    I do really appreciate the apology, you are the first CtC regular who has offered one! That being said, you weren’t posting there yet so you individually had nothing to do with it. I think the best thing to do is to step in the next time you see it happening.


  59. @John

    However, if you don’t presuppose the “Roman Catholic Church”, if you start with a real, historical starting point, and you look at the actual history of the actual people, and what the actual church actually was, you can see the minute accretions of both legitimate and illegitimate moves that various Roman bishops and commentators made over the centuries, and you can see how “the Roman Catholic Church” was rolled up and created in time


    And let me just add one more to your list

    Peter is the central figure in 1st century Roman Catholic theology, the first Bishop of Rome. In Catholic history Bishop Serapion of Antioch has a congregation in Rhossus which is using the Gospel of Peter. Other churches in the area believe Gospel of Peter is Marcionic and complain. Serapion contacts a Rhossus Docetic church to get a timeline, believing they predate Marcion. Evidently the Catholics and the docetic church are on friendly terms even though Serapion is not docetic. He gets from the entire Petrine corpus and kicks it up the chain of command. How could the Catholic church not have had the Petrine corpus until almost the 3rd century if it were founded by Peter? Why would the status of Peter’s writings not be known? Why does Bishop Serapion need to go to docetic Christians to get the history of Catholic church’s founders?


  60. Darryl,

    Yes the church can change practices which have moral concepts – they can change the prudential application. The person who was giving Jews badges was performing a moral action. That was wrong – just like we agree many actions by godly Protestants was wrong in hindsight when we are much farther removed and in a different time. Can we charge those godly Protestants with the same culpability as if they lived now, or do we judge their culpability according to the context in which they lived?

    Jews wearing badges does relate to the doctrines that separate Christians and Jews, you said. Exactly right. That’s the unchanging doctrine – there is a separation between Christians and Jews. Now as I said before, does the doctrine that Christians and Jews are separate lead *inexorably and necessarily* to Jews wearing badges? Obviously not – the prudential application here is governed by fallible men in their own context and time (here driven partly by the traditional conclusion drawn from Matt 27:25 at the time). In history though, it just took a long time to figure out how to view this “other” appropriately, given the deepest Christian principles – just as it did in the case of slavery or religious liberty.


  61. CD – I do really appreciate the apology, you are the first CtC regular who has offered one!

    Erik – The Magisterium has determined that apologies are not necessary when insults have been made in the malevolence of Christ.


  62. CD, your question about “the entire Petrine corpus” is not a good one. Serapion was also aware [because of the recency of the document] that (a) it was not one of the fourfold gospels (see Hengel) and (b) that ruled out its possibility that it was among the works written by Peter.

    I’m one of the first to acknowledge that there were many forgeries and pseudepigraphical materials written (especially with Peter’s name), but the history of this document is not at all clear.


  63. @John —

    There is a problem with your theory. If Serapion knew of and accept the fourfold gospels doctrine then Gospel of Peter wouldn’t have been a contentious issue for him. He wouldn’t have had to conduct the investigation. It just isn’t part of the canon.

    Moreover we know for sure that Serapion doesn’t believe like Hengel that Peter dictating to John Mark the gospel of Mark since he doesn’t consider Mark part of the Petrine corpus at all. If Hengel is right about the origins of the gospels then the Catholic church is ignorant in 200 CE about their apostolic authorship. Which is evidence the apostles weren’t Catholics. So I don’t see how Hengel helps the case he rather makes it much worse.


  64. Bockmuehl cites Serapion as well — “We, brother, accept Peter and the other apostles just as Christ; but as experienced people we reject the writings falsely written in their names, knowing that we did not receive such things (“Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory”, pg 42). So Serapion “expressly states that he is aware of the scriptural books ‘handed down to us’, and the Gospe of Peter isn’t one of them” (Kruger, pg 263).

    So Hengel isn’t the only one making the argument that Gospel of Peter was known to be spurious apart from its docetic characteristics.

    In any event, we don’t need to rely on what Serapion thought about the relationship between Peter and Mark to fix our understanding that Peter was used as a source by Mark.

    In any event, we don’t need any of this to be explained exegetically the way that Roman Catholics can’t exegetically respond to Reymond’s questions on Matt 16:18. You’ve merely introduced a rabbit trail.


  65. Things have gone silent here – and not to pile on, but that is after all what malevolent and incorrigble protestants do – quoting Reymond’s sixteen points contra Rome reminds us of Bayly’s remarks in his bestseller of 1611, The Practice of Piety when the reformation was still fresh in the memory of living men.

    Which same truth is still timeless, whether the current crop of malcontents, misfits and legendary innernet intelligences, have ever heard of it, never mind addressed it, but all question begging aside, there’s no time like the present:

    Now whether the cause of our Seminary priests and Jesuits be so holy, true, and innocent, as that it may warrant their conscience to suffer death, and to hazard their eternal salvation thereon, let Paul’s epistle written to the ancient Christian Romans (but against our new antichristian Romans) be judge. And it will plainly appear that the doctrine which St. Paul taught to the ancient church of Rome is ex diametro opposite in twenty-six fundamental points of true religion to that which the new church of Rome teacheth and maintaineth; for St. Paul taught the primitive church of Rome—

    1. That our election is of God’s free grace, and not ex operibus prævisis (Rom. ix. 11; xi. 5, 6.)

    2. That we are justified before God by faith only, without good works (Rom. iii. 20, 28; iv. 2, &c.; i. 17.)

    3. That the good works of the regenerate are not of their own condignity meritorious, nor such as can deserve heaven (Rom. viii. 18; xi. 6; vi. 23.)

    4. That those books only are God’s oracles and canonical Scripture, which were committed to the custody and credit of the Jews (Rom. iii. 2; i. 2; xvi. 26;) such were never the Apocrypha… .

    5. That the holy Scriptures have God’s authority (Rom. ix. 17; iii. 4; xi. 32, compared with Gal. iii. 22.) therefore above the authority of the church. . . .

    The rest is here.


  66. Cletus, so Fourth Lateran was wrong about Jews. How do you know Trent wasn’t wrong about Protestants, or Vatican I wrong about the papacy? Remember, the advantage of Rome is that you have a magisterium that protects the church from error. Now you’re telling us the magisterium was wrong about Jews?

    Sure you thought this through?


  67. The way the Roman doctrine of ecclesiastical infallibility is parsed, I would not at all be surprised if one day the CTC guys note that the only thing in V1 that meets the standard of infallibility is the letter A in second line of the third canon but then only when it is pronounced using the short A sound. At which point, we’ll hear the pronouncement that Rome never changes its dogma, as is proven by the infallibility of its use of the letter A in that canon with the short sound. That will be followed by an accusation of begging the question and uncharitableness, followed by a “in the peace of Christ.”


  68. @John

    Bockmuehl says the exact opposite of what you are quoting him as saying. He goes on at great length about how Seraphon of Antioch does not possess any specific knowledge of what was or was not written by Peter but rather argues that Gospel of Peter is not orthodox hence not original to Peter. Moreover he talks about how there were several reversals, the quote you gave is a after Seraphon conducts the investigation I was talking about. We all agree that the church in the end decided that Peter didn’t write Gospel of Peter, the question is why this was difficult to determine. Bockmuehl is supporting my contention that Seraphon has no idea what Peter wrote.


  69. CD-Host: Bockmuehl says the exact opposite of what you are quoting him as saying.

    I didn’t quote Bockmuehl at all. I merely used his citation from Serapion.

    In fact, Bockmuehel has no interest in what “your contention” is. He is comparing “living memory” vs “received memory” (i.e., Serapion is appealing to a received tradition with respect to the canonical status of the “Gospel of Peter”).

    Your point that “the question is why this was difficult to determine” (that the “Gospel of Peter” is not one a real Gospel) has nothing to do with what Matt 16:18 says. It seems to me that you are introducing this rabbit trail merely to try to bring up your own personal agenda in a place where it’s really not relevant.


  70. @John —

    Of course it has a lot to do with Matthew 16:18. If Peter was not a Catholic leader at all, then even if one assumes the Catholic interpretation of Matt 16:18 it still doesn’t help their case.


  71. I’m not going to deny that Peter was important. He can be important without having ever been thought of as “pope”, nor any supposed “successors” as having the importance that Peter had.

    Your use of the word “Catholic” is problematic here. It is “catholicism” which is a later development. What’s at issue is not Peter as important, per se, but whether anyone thought that “succession” amounted to a hill of beans at that time.


  72. It is interesting to consider the above in light of the Reformation. Originally, the reformation was an “in-house” reform movement until it was put outside by the church on pain of death and eternal damnation.

    I don’t think that’s quite accurate. There are 3 types of reformers.

    1) Political reformers who wanted to change the people running the church. Whether it be financial corruption, moral corruption, a desire for the church to be more subservient to the state governments they didn’t like the what the church was doing and who they were. Prince Frederick (Luther’s patron), Henry VII or Elizabeth of York (Henry VIII’s mother) would haven fallen into this group.

    2) Doctrinal reformers who wanted minor doctrinal reforms but wanted to keep the structure of the Catholic religion mostly intact. Calvin and Luther are in this group.

    3) Radical reformers. Who hated the Catholic church and wanted to create an entirely different type of structure for Christianity.

    It my position that for 5 centuries there were 3 groups of reformers / rebels existed. They mistrusted each other, they disliked each other and during those centuries they worked with the Catholic church in holding each other down. What happened in the Reformation, what made it unique from the rebellions prior to it, is these groups decided to work together to achieve their objectives. They felt there was enough urgency that they were willing to risk the dangers they saw in each other.


  73. Darryl,

    Councils have both disciplinary and doctrinal matters – it’s not all of the same cloth. Did the church always obey the canons of the first 4 ecumenical councils in the first 1000 years? No, things changed – it wasn’t like all of a sudden Rome (or the Eastern sees) was scrambling around when they wanted to change some discipline/practice of the church that had been defined in a prior council – this distinction has been around since the beginning. Or do you think the East and West really thought every canon of every council was a doctrinal matter?

    Yeah, I’m telling you the magisterium was wrong about actions against the Jews – it was not wrong about the doctrine that Jews and Christians are separate. Frightening. Just like the magisterium was wrong about practices concerning slavery and religious liberty at times. Scandalous. Once again, practice, even with moral components, is not unchanging doctrine.

    Trent defined doctrine and discipline/practice. It wouldn’t be wrong on doctrine, it could be either wrong or just indifferent in terms of discipline or practices endorsed. Here’s a discipline it endorsed: “Faculties for not being promoted shall not exceed a year.” Is this doctrine? Of course not. It’s not necessarily wrong, though, just eligible for change. Is there something from Trent related to Protestants you think has changed that should really be considered doctrine and not just practice?


  74. CVD, so when Rome condemned the publishing of books and the Bible without the approval of bishops, and when it created an Index of Books, was it wrong? How was that not related to doctrine, as in protecting souls from heretical views? Now the church thinks it’s okay for believers to be exposed to heretical views?


  75. Darryl,

    There was a moral component to the condemnations of heretical works, but it was still practice – it wasn’t a doctrine itself. The doctrine would be the condemnation of the heresies themselves, not the books or the reading of such books (even if a book is heretical, is every sentence heretical? doubtful). So yes that was a matter of prudential application (the Church thought it prudent to protect souls by banning such works), and now given our current climate and context, it does not think such an action is prudentially necessary or wise. Could it ever issue another banning? Sure. Once again prudential application/practice can change. It could never revoke the heresies that lead to such banning though.


  76. @John —

    I’m not arguing Peter was unimportant to some sects. He shows up too often in too many early sources to have been inconsequential. The question whether he was a Catholic leader or not.
    Serapion is Catholic
    Serapion lives in an area where the Peter is prominent
    Serapion does not know for sure basic facts about Peter from “the deposit of faith” like whether the authored a gospel of not.

    Any American historian knows which books were authored by any of the 44 presidents. They know exactly which papers were authored by George Washington. We know of the one book he authored. We know what was in his journal…. Organizations keep accurate records on their founders.

    If Serapion does not basic facts about Peter then that’s strong evidence that Peter did not found Serapion’s organization. If Peter is a historical figure then while he likely was (proto-)Christian leader and not a Catholic. Catholics later appropriated him. If the Catholics were around in the time of Peter why would they have appropriated him and not used one of their own founders? That’s fairly strong evidence they came later.


  77. @Internet:

    If those commenting on this thread from a few days ago are still around, know that the topic of losing a loved one in a family is indeed a very serious matter. I grew up having lost a sibling, and it was very hard on our family, especially my parents. This book, written by a pastor who reflects on the passing of this children and wife, was of help to me. I read this last year as I reflected on this death that occurred in my family, while I was growing up.


  78. CD-Host, first, I don’t accept your assumptions here about “…sects…“, and second, you are imputing modern sensibilities about history to the second century, where its not clear that they existed. You use of the terms “(proto-)Christian” and “Catholic” is also problematic. I don’t doubt that later generations (especially in Rome) misappropriated what Peter was. You seem to know a lot of stuff, but you use it poorly.


  79. Bryan – Darryl,

    This would warrant a response if you actually made some kind of argument. What you’ve done instead is just past together a bunch of quotations.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Erik – Reminds me of when Bryan, when asked about the priest sex-abuse scandal, linked to 5 articles that he had written, none of which addressed the scandal that I could tell.


  80. Looks like the magisterium needs to help Pope Francis:

    The term ‘invalid marriages’ is misleading here, as it is generally used to refer to marriages entered into by Catholics in due form but later found to be invalid due to some diriment impediment whose existence was not recognised at the time the marriage was celebrated. It is not used to refer to persons who enter into a civil marriage with someone other than their spouse, which is the case being addressed here.

    2. ‘I have repeatedly made the point that the rules governing reception of Communion are disciplinary, not doctrinal.’

    This is incorrect. Whatever is contained in divine revelation is doctrine. This content includes disciplinary regulations, and therefore the fact that some rule is disciplinary does not imply that it is not doctrinal. Disciplinary regulations for the reception of the Holy Eucharist are set forth by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians ch. 11. Indeed, since the Holy Eucharist is a supernatural mystery not knowable by natural reason, how else could the basic disciplinary rules for its reception be known save through divine revelation? It thus cannot be maintained that the rules governing reception of the Eucharist are disciplinary and hence are not doctrinal. Familiaris Consortio 84 acknowledges the divinely revealed basis of the discipline of not admitting adulterers to Holy Communion: ‘The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.’


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