Could This Happen in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod?

Would confessional Lutherans have ever fallen for the Alex Marlarkey story of dying and going to heaven and coming back to life? (Wasn’t the last name a tip-off?) Would confessional Presbyterians be so gullible for that matter?

Here’s one account of what happened:

Tyndale House Publishers has stopped production of the book and DVD of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven after the book’s coauthor and subject, Alex Malarkey, released a statement retracting the book’s contents.

In an open letter, the self-described “boy who did not come back from heaven” wrote:

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

I did not die. I did not go to heaven.

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of heaven outside of what is written in the Bible . . . not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.

In Christ,
Alex Malarkey

This isn’t simply a question of good or bad theology, pietist or confessional piety, someone who naively thinks Christians don’t intentionally mislead or someone who has a healthy respect for the ongoing effects of original sin. It is a question of ecclesiology. Belonging to a communion where pastors and others vet who gets admitted to fellowship (the Lord’s Table), where pastors receive scrutiny before being ordained, where church officers monitor what seminaries teach, and where education committees subsidize instructional materials for church members — all of these structures contribute to an identity for church members that prevents individual Christians from being at the mercy of the market and its hucksters (and the editors who enable the hucksters).

Which is to say that not only does evangelicalism lack ecclesiology. In place of the church evangelicalism has the market. The publishers, parachurch agencies, magazine promoters, conference sponsors — these are the structures that “minister” for a price to your average born-again Christian who worships at some independent tabernacle, celebration center, or even a local congregation. And without any shepherds to police the sheep and the wolves, your average Christian has to figure out for himself whether other Christians really do manipulate best-seller lists or turn the NFL into a sacred cow.

Advertisements

167 thoughts on “Could This Happen in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod?

  1. Being a bit more denominationally sectarian in reading selection has been of immense value to (all about) me.

    Even with the vetting that a confessional structure provides, the idea that something is “Christian” and therefore deemed acceptable is widespread. All you have to do is say something bad about Jesus Calling and watch the mud get slung.

    I’m always surprised when I get in the car with some church members who I assumed had given up on broad evangelicalism only to see their radio set on XM’s “The Message.”

    Like

  2. All things considered, the confessional standards of Christianity still provide the best rule of faith and life. Because Scripture.

    Now if only Lifeway could see it the same way.

    Like

  3. JAS, inasmuch as it embodies everything wrong with American-made Christianity, could a good test of confessional repentance be complete abstinence from religious broadcasting (exceptions made for serious study and/or comic relief)?

    Like

  4. Z,

    As a general, unofficial rule I’d like to think so — but there’d be too many exceptions to write it in stone.

    I’d put it in Play-Doh though.

    Like

  5. I think you are giving us (LCMS) a little too much credit. It might not get published by CPH, but I’d put the over/under for percent of congregations that use more evangelical material than CPH material right about 40%. Worse if you count noses.

    Like

  6. Mark – as an ex-LCMS I’d agree with you 100%. If you look at that link that Mike posted you’d see a minor victory celebration going on over the synod president’s recent statement about not giving in to “error” as defined in their century’s old confessions. Yet, I suspect that it will be short lived.

    I attended a 2010 conference of confessional Lutherans where the venerated Todd Wilken (at least I consider him so) was one of the speakers. He made two major points during his presentation which he decried as stagnant Lutheranism: 1) we’re LCMS Lutherans, therefore while controversies may come and go to which we’re pretty much invulnerable [because we’ve always believed the same way], and 2) God works in small ways.

    The first of these has obviously failed according to the percentages you cite, alone. Clearly, other methobapticostal forces have invaded your synod in recent years and are not about to give ground to any kind of confessionalism. The second, which is well worth consideration, is that it’s not the high, wide, and handsome highway over which God’s word progresses; rather the small, narrow, and intimate roads that some of the reformed (and Lutheran!) sideline communions have endured since their own debacles have occurred.

    Do not give up hope! Whether or not the LCMS survives as the ultimate “confessional” synod matters less than whether or not some of the smaller ones such as the ELS, WELS, ACELC, etc. continue to preach the true law and gospel and attract those the Holy Spirit has truly called. God does indeed work in small ways!

    Like

  7. While this book is admittedly false, it’s no worse than Heaven is for Real, both gobbled up by Evengellyfish and WELS cats alike. Truly malarkey.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kenny, that was nitwit material, but it does speak to your own insecurity and need for a Kenworthy church, even if it only exists in your head.

    Like

  9. It must be so nerve racking to sit back and wonder if anyone will still believe the way you do in another hundred years. How depressing.

    So let me see. We got the Council of Trent and then the about face with Vatican 2 vs. the Westminster Confession of Faith and the modern WCF without the civil magistrate supervising the church. (Hey, Trent has the pope doing the same for the universal church, so careful with the rocks Mr. Andersen Windows.)
    I’d say we’re ahead at this stage of the game, but Francis has got a shovel and a will to dig so it might get even worse.

    cheers anyway

    Like

  10. Muddy is right — stupid stuff from Ken. The RC has changed more in the last 50 year than the Reformed have changed in 500 years. Go to Spain, wear one of those black klan suits. Get loaded with the KoC at the barbecue. Or take up with some Commie Jesuits. It’s all good.

    Like

  11. Ken, you’re slow so let me translate my references for you: pagan mysticism in Spain, middle-class Republican, suburban values in Ohio, Marxist liberation theology in the third world. Oh, and don’t forget your hippie pope who has foot and mouth disease.

    Like

  12. Reformed Christians are like those parents who don’t want to vaccinate their kids. Just an annoying polemical minority that wants to argue and be “different”. It was all the rage a couple hundred years ago…. But all your kids are dying off and either losing the faith or embracing “new perspectives” on Paul and gay marriage.

    Like

  13. Kenneth Winsmann
    Posted January 26, 2015 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
    It must be so nerve racking to sit back and wonder if anyone will still believe the way you do in another hundred years. How depressing.

    Could a ever more troll-like comment ever be found?

    stop it, kenneth winsmann

    Like

  14. Two ways to deal with the narcissistic troll commenter:

    (1) Ignore them. They get pleasure from leaving their comment, but no pleasure from reading responses. They silently question why no one is loving them as much as they love themselves.

    (2) Give it right back to them good and hard. Generally not as effective as (1), but hard core cases will not get the message that everyone is ignoring them and may need to be told directly that they need to get a clue — possibly many, many, many times.

    Downside to (2): Most narcissists have few true friends and may relish whatever human interaction they are able to get, even if it is negative. Responding to them may only exacerbate the problem.

    Like

  15. @EC If a troll doesn’t take a hint after a warning or two, I think ignoring him is the only option. Fighting back just feeds them. I always worry a bit about trolls – that their obsession crosses from the commboxes to real life.

    Like

  16. Kenneth, here you go, I know you’ve been meaning to get back to the sola fide issues that separate catholics and protestants, so that’s where it left off with you and Jeff Cagle. When you want to have a serious conversation (which it seems like you are capable of), lurkers like me will be reading. Until then, cut the crap, if not for our sake, then for yours.

    Go in peace.

    Like

  17. Three cheers for the Malarkey retraction. It’s good to get these done before the Day of His appearing. I do share the concern, however, that the LCMS is more colander than steel bucket on such questions. I will spare you the whole ugly proof that came home with our child from a LCMS vbs a couple years ago.

    Like

  18. You guys are so bipolar sometimes. One second you are all proud of the idea the environment here is “rough around the edges” (to describe it charitably) the next second everyone gets their feelings hurt at the slightest comment. Just tell me how you want me to talk to you. Do I need to wear kids gloves or no?

    Daryl and chortles seem to be the only ones who can consistently have a good time and role with the punches. The rest of you swing back and forth between hard ass and cupcake. And up your mind and get back to me. I m just following your lead.

    Like

  19. sdb,

    Indeed.

    If I see a guy with a mullet at the front door, I’m running out the back.

    The guy you have to be afraid of is the non-Christian with nothing left to lose. Tom has a nice wife, so I think he’s pretty safe.

    Not too worried about Christians unless they prove otherwise. Greg the Terrible was on the edge, but he’s cleaned up his act.

    Sowers seemed harmless.

    Kenneth has a job and a wife & kids so he’s safe.

    Like

  20. Kenneth,

    The line is between those who make arguments and those who just seek to be a pest.

    You used to be in the first group. Don’t want to see you joining the second group.

    Like

  21. Ken: You guys are so bipolar sometimes.

    I have a few friends who are bipolar and it’s not really a laughing matter.

    Like

  22. Kenneth,

    Criticizing the size of a church is only valid if you can first establish that having a large number of adherents is a mark of a true church.

    Kim Kardashian has a lot more Twitter followers than Stephen Hawking. Does that make Kim smarter than Stephen?

    This is Thinking 101.

    Like

  23. Kenneth, I want you to try a thought experiment. Read each of your comments posted in this thread. Better yet, copy and paste into a microsoft word doc. Read them back to yourself in that way. Then try to imagine an OLTS regular posting those exact same words, except aimed at Roman Catholicism instead of Reformed Protestantism, and further, they are posted on CalledToCommunion.

    What do you think the reaction would be on that website? What would Dr. Bryan Cross say? Dr. David Anders?

    Curious for your thoughts, this here is your call.

    Peace.

    Like

  24. Erik, thanks.

    I thought I would save Kenneth the trouble, just for kicks and giggles, folks:

    It must be so nerve racking to sit back and wonder if anyone will still believe the way you do in another hundred years. How depressing.
    Keep kidding yourselves 🙂
    Is there really any hope for a true blue “ReformedCatholic” Christian in the 22nd century? Doubtful. There are only a tiny sliver left as things stand today. Salute to a dying breed.
    Reformed Catholic Christians are like those parents who don’t want to vaccinate their kids. Just an annoying polemical minority that wants to argue and be “different”. It was all the rage a couple hundred years ago…. But all your kids are dying off and either losing the faith or embracing “new perspectives” on Paul and gay marriage.
    You guys are so bipolar sometimes. One second you are all proud of the idea the environment here is “rough around the edges” adhering to logic (to describe it charitably) the next second everyone gets their feelings hurt at the slightest comment you are just linking me to some 10,000 word tome with over a 1,000 comments that I need to read before I can have a discussion with you. Just tell me how you want me to talk to you. Do I need to wear kids gloves or no?
    Daryl and chortles Casey Chalk and Andrew Preslar seem to be the only ones who can consistently have a good time and role with the punches. The rest of you swing back and forth between hard ass and cupcake. And up your mind and get back to me. I m just following your lead.

    Like

  25. Erik, if you find the time, since you bring up the OPC’s smallness, you may like these quotes and the article as a whole. You are in a small church too, I understand. Think about these things in relation to the URCNA:

    Although:

    He expressed the concern, shared by many former OPC interpreters, that the size of the OPC remained (in Marsden’s words) “a troubling question.”

    The article then later goes on in the end to state:

    As reframed, the OPC’s “alien” identity, for all its reputation for being isolated and uncooperative, may point in the direction of genuine ecumenicity. The OPC serves the universal church when it is steadfastly and self-consciously Reformed. When we narrate the OPC in this way, we can appreciate better the Reformed catholicity of our small church. The OPC continues to serve as a leader in shaping Reformed faith and witness for several emerging Reformed churches throughout the world. It is possible for us to imagine, along with Hodge, Machen, and Van Til, a vital ecumenical role for a confessionally precise church. source

    Like

  26. There was a scene in last nights final episode of season 1 of the americans where the lead male role, philip, impersonating an fbi investigator, meets his bride to be’s parents. they ask him how we was raised, he says, “protestant…presbyterian” and they respond “we’re lutheran..that’s not so far off.”

    My wife recently has been involved with our local mainline presby church (we are still OPC of course), the mainline down the street from us recently broke away from the PCUSA, and have gone ECO. It’s interesting, she has to explain what it means that we are conservative presbyterians, and why would we not be a part of the ECO church (women elders, hello! although she is much more diplomatic..)

    I bring these personal anecdotes in because the OPC may be small, heck, even NAPARC is quite obscure when you lump us all together. But God does not look at our church and write us off because we are small. I believe we are judged based on the purity of our doctrine, are we holding to the Gospel as proclaimed in the scriptures. We are told about narrow gates by Jesus. I could go on, but Kenneth and this talk of smallness needs some kind of refutation, it’s just utter nonsense, so much of what I read from him here.

    I’m out. Later.

    Like

  27. I care nothing about the size of my church or any other group that I’m involved in (other than wishing that more would join because I think it’s good stuff).

    The only people that care about things like that are insecure and have trouble thinking for themselves and finding their own way in the world. Stopped thinking like that around age 17.

    Like

  28. kenneth is just a jerk

    find yourself trapped, with your feet to the fire, getting interrogated by that jerk who had done his homework? Well, I’m that guy and this is my blog.

    probably upset today over the star wars prequels trilogy and how much they sucked, or something, who knows what’s driving him..

    lates.

    Like

  29. Yeah, me neither. Oldlife for some reason is really in his head, he compares Darryl to Sam Harris, Olaf the Snowman from the Disney Movie Frozen, and he’s a star wars freak who wants to come make hay with the stormtroopers (his words, not mine).

    I would love to get him, Tom Van Dyke, and Greg together with me for a foursome in golf. That would be a hoot, I’d even pay for the green fees and drinks at the 19th hole.

    Like

  30. Erik, yeah, it’s a long shot. Better to hope for a bowling match:

    not safe for work:

    it’s more the mental image i’m going for, but bowling is what we dudes around here should stick to. Consider me corrected.

    Like

  31. Erik and Andrew,

    Did you both really just reprimand me for not presenting valid arguments with sound logic and reasoning?!?! LOL I hope against hope that Bryan is reading this somewhere.

    Like

  32. Kenneth,

    Reformed Christians are like those parents who don’t want to vaccinate their kids. Just an annoying polemical minority that wants to argue and be “different”. It was all the rage a couple hundred years ago…. But all your kids are dying off and either losing the faith or embracing “new perspectives” on Paul and gay marriage.

    Funny. Typically, a church like the OPC will kick out someone who embraces the NP. Rome will endow a chair a Boston College for pagans.

    But Rome is the answer—sure, if you want a modern church where it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as it isn’t anything too traditionally Protestant (and even that’s up for grabs). Just go to mass. Reminds me of the UCC, the UMC, the PCUSA, the ELCA.

    Modern Rome=the Protestant Mainline, just with a very nominal opposition to abortion. Today affirming abortion won’t get you ordained, but you can embrace it and still receive Christ in the Eucharist. It’s a big big tent with lots and lots of room.

    Like

  33. Kenneth,

    “Na-na-na-boo-boo” is not a valid argument.

    We’ll be happy to change you & Tom’s diapers, though, if you shart while you’re having these periodic outbursts.

    Like

  34. The beauty of the internet is that it archives all the boasting that Bryan and his pied piping followers made years ago.

    They have to learn the way the world has changed around them.

    Like

  35. I appreciate the advice Kenny, but seriously? Don’t take myself too seriously?

    Did you catch where I compared you to the guy questioning vader’s religion, when you told us all our reformed children are dying off?

    Get a grip, my friend. And compare more of us to Disney characters, it’s your strong suit bud (wink).

    Do take care. Until next time..

    Like

  36. Andrew’s found his niche keeping Tom & Kenneth in line.

    I’m liking it.

    And Kenneth, the difference between Bryan & me is the flat cap, the squareness, and the vastly varying levels of joie de vivre.

    Apples & oranges.

    Don’t consider it a logic lesson, consider it a lameness lesson.

    Like

  37. Andrew’s found his niche keeping Tom & Kenneth in line.

    Erik, I get to be chewbacca, Tom and Kenny get to fight over which one of them gets to be batgirl.

    Just keepin’ the peace, yo.

    Like

  38. When I write again, it will be for you, I hope – just in a different form. I need to decompress and get healthy for a while; but I won’t disappear as a writer.

    Imagine Bryan Cross saying words like that, re: blogging.

    anyway, interesting piece, and speaking of Dr. Bryan Cross, you know, if he ever wrote a book, despite all we say around here, I may even buy it and read it. Or at least listen to the audio book on my commute.

    But I digress..

    Like

  39. Robert,

    The very fact that you can so easily identify people who dissent from Church teaching serves as evidence that the official teachings of my communion are crystal clear. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know who to pick out as examples of heterodoxy.

    Like

  40. Erik,

    So lack of logic in argumentation is lame? I’ll bookmark these comments from you and Andy for the next time Bryan pops up and you all start throwing bombs. Really made my day.

    Like

  41. Kenneth,

    The very fact that you can so easily identify people who dissent from Church teaching serves as evidence that the official teachings of my communion are crystal clear. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know who to pick out as examples of heterodoxy.

    Let me give you a newsflash, since you don’t seem to get it. Its as equally easy to identify the official teachings of the Missouri Synod, the OPC, or the PCA. I’m happy to grant that its relatively easy to grasp what Rome teaches—today—if one is willing to read today’s Magisterium according to standard reading practices. Problem is, you all refuse to do that for us. But if you are going to pretend that Rome is so much clearer and absolute, then you have to stop overlooking the fact that the OPC doesn’t tolerate heterodoxy but Rome does.

    IOW, if you are going to read the Magisterium the way that Protestants read Scripture, you can make no complaint about Protestant division or authority structures. Because all you are is a Roman Catholic who employs a Protestant hermeneutic to noninspired documents. You ain’t a full-on Roman Catholic.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Robert, and it’s also easy to see how converts like loser Ken duck Richard McBrien. How did a guy with those views — so distant from church teaching — rise so high or come to be so adored by U.S. RC’s?

    Like

  43. Kenneth,

    I have no idea who is dissenting from your church’s teaching.

    Does that make your church’s official teaching as clear as mud?

    Funny how what I think would have any impact one way or the other…

    Like

  44. Kenneth,

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2013/10/called-to-communion-welcomes-jason-stellman/

    “Called To Communion is glad to welcome Jason Stellman to our team of contributors. Jason needs no introduction to regular readers of CTC.”

    You think for yourself. If you were Bryan would you not swallow your pride and do something as the main man at Called to Communion to backtrack now that Jason is drunk, dropping F-bombs, using “jizz” as a verb, and speaking about what “they” believe when referring to Catholics?

    Or do you just join Bryan in circling the wagons?

    Like

  45. Robert,

    Let me give you a newsflash, since you don’t seem to get it. Its as equally easy to identify the official teachings of the Missouri Synod, the OPC, or the PCA. I’m happy to grant that its relatively easy to grasp what Rome teaches—today—if one is willing to read today’s Magisterium according to standard reading practices. Problem is, you all refuse to do that for us. But if you are going to pretend that Rome is so much clearer and absolute, then you have to stop overlooking the fact that the OPC doesn’t tolerate heterodoxy but Rome does.

    I agree that it is easy to know the teachings of those communions! However, because those groups are only claiming to fallibly interpret scripture it does very little good. Maybe they have the Canon right…… But then again maybe not. Maybe they have justification right…. But then maybe not. Recognizing the teachings of the OPC gives us no certainty of doctrine GIVEN the OPCs own principles and claims. See the contrast? If you grant RC principles and claims then the ability to recognize Church teaching DOES produce certainty of doctrine. That’s the whole difference. That’s why our ecclesiology is such a cool selling point.

    Like

  46. Erik,

    I wasn’t thrilled with Jasons choice. But he is his own man. He has told me that he does not wish to be anyone’s role model any longer. He doesn’t want people to look to him as a spiritual role model. He wants to love God and neighbor and let the cards fall where they may. If that’s what he wants to do, then more power to him. I don’t see any reason to “circle the wagons”. I also don’t see any reason for him to still be considered a contributor for calledtocommunion.com…… But that’s not my call or my business.

    Like

  47. loser ken, “bad discipline on our part.”

    Move along. Now back to the conversion stories scalps.

    If you’re communion is going to think of itself as so essential to God’s saving plan, then shouldn’t we hear a little more than “my bad.” (Have we even heard that from any one with a charism?)

    Like

  48. kW, beat this:

    2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.

    I double dog dare you.

    Like

  49. kW, you joined vader, and didn’t take that great leap. Until you do, you will forever have olts on the brain.

    join us (leave the callers), and together, we’ll make hay with your stormtroopers, yo.

    just playing here, let the H.S. do the work. but seriously, the OPC has a superior ecclesiology than your church because we don’t have to answer for Trent or VatII. See Robert’s comments, they are spot on.

    Lates.

    Like

  50. Kenneth,

    But admitting that Jason is not fit to be a Contributor to Called to Communion would entail Bryan backpedaling, admitting a mistake, admitting he might have been hasty, or – God forbid – admitting that something that he or “we” have said might have been incorrect.

    Will Bryan’s pride and hubris allow him to do that?

    I personally look forward to chronicling the next 100 Drunk Ex-Pastors podcasts, always addressing Jason as “Jason Stellman, Called to Communion contributor, now drunk.”

    Bryan can make this all go away with a little humility, though.

    Like

  51. One also has to ask the question, why did Jason appear to be doing fine regarding holiness when he was a Presbyterian minister and has now fallen to these lows as a Catholic?

    I thought The Superior Paradigm was supposed to help a man, not hurt him?

    If it hurts him, how is it Superior?

    Like

  52. Erik, it’s superior because the catholic side never allows itself to see it is wrong, or was wrong, or will be wrong.

    We’d excommunicate Jason with no hesitation and provide instruction on how to be able to rejoin.

    Like

  53. Daryl,

    Probably so….

    Andrew,

    You can only have that assurance if you are certain of your denominations teaching on salvation and perseverance. Your denomination only claims to offer a *possible* interpretation. Could be wrong though…. Hence, no slam dunk on assurance of salvation. Further, how can you know that you are numbered among the elect? Did God tell you this? Has God ever said “Andrew is forever secure in salvation”. Your communion teaches perseverance of the elect….. But it makes no claims as to who is numbered among those…. Unless you have an E divinely stamped on your chest

    Like

  54. Kent,

    Obviously your comment presupposes that the Church as erred doctrinally in the past. Which is exactly what would be up for debate.

    That’s your lesson in “lameness” for the day. Curtousy of Erik Charter.

    Why should anyone care if some tiny fallible denomination is faithful in diligently excommunicating people? That excommunication is meaningless. If it ever even comes….. Leithart doesnt seem to be losing any sleep

    Like

  55. But kW, what does the Bible say?

    You should follow along with Darryl as he reads his Scriptures and blogs on it.

    You have much to learn, young padawan.

    Like

  56. Kenneth,

    I agree that it is easy to know the teachings of those communions! However, because those groups are only claiming to fallibly interpret scripture it does very little good. Maybe they have the Canon right…… But then again maybe not. Maybe they have justification right…. But then maybe not. Recognizing the teachings of the OPC gives us no certainty of doctrine GIVEN the OPCs own principles and claims. See the contrast? If you grant RC principles and claims then the ability to recognize Church teaching DOES produce certainty of doctrine. That’s the whole difference. That’s why our ecclesiology is such a cool selling point.

    You are a smart man, but this is not a smart argument. The only kind of certainty of doctrine that Rome can produce is that “Rome certainly teaches x.” It can’t provide you certainty that what Rome believes is actually true any better than the OPC can provide you with certainty that what the OPC believes is actually true.

    You evaluated the evidence, found Rome to be most agreeable, and joined Rome. You weren’t infallible in doing that. You could have been wrong. Which means that every single thing you believe after that could be wrong as well. It’s laughable that Rome produces a certainty that is somehow qualitatively different than the certainty Protestants have in affirming the infallibility of Scripture.

    The ecclesiology of Rome isn’t attractive to anyone who actually stops for a second and realizes that Rome can’t assure you that what you believe is actually the truth. Your entire edifice of certainty is based on your personal opinion that Rome is the true church. And yet that’s not a problem for you but it’s a problem for Protestants.

    If you guys want to play the skepticism card, be consistent. Go radical postmo and claim you can’t know anything for certain. Because when you say, as Cletus does, that Rome and Protestants start at the same point and that there is no change in certainty until after one submits to Rome, you have grounded certainty not ultimately in Christ but in your own ability to weigh the evidence. And that can never give you certainty. It can only give you probability. On the other hand, if you actually believe in the self-authenticating ministry of the Holy Spirit, you have certainty because at the end of the day it is not based on my ability to weigh the evidence but on the ministry of the Spirit. Hence we have infallible assurance. It’s not based on probability but on the divine persuasion through the presentation of evidence. Not this nonsense of considering objective evidences apart from the self-authentication of the Spirit or even the church, because I don’t see any of you claiming that the church is self-authenticating.

    Protestantism balances the subjective/objective aspects of human existence. Rome can’t. It tries to be full on objective with the so-called motives of credibility, but once you become a Romanist, the objective evidence is thrown out the window. It can never be used to question what Rome says. And you can never be sure that you made the right decision because it wasn’t God that persuaded you, it was your own efforts.

    Like

  57. Are Ken and Curt on the payroll at OLTS?

    They must spend 2 hours a day worrying about it.

    Are you hiring, DGH? I could use a part time job as well as my ratrace gig.

    Like

  58. Robert, if we can just convince Kenneth that Rome is the evil empire, and we protestants the scrappy rebels, we’ll color him a convert to our cause.

    Until then, it’s the dark side for him.

    Like

  59. All of my contributions are charitable and free of charge

    that’s rich, katniss:

    But all your kids are dying off and either losing the faith

    Charitable? Indeed..

    Or am I just being too serious now?

    Much to learn, does this one have.

    Like

  60. Robert,

    “It can’t provide you certainty that what Rome believes is actually true any better than the OPC can provide you with certainty that what the OPC believes is actually true.”

    *Granting* Rome’s claims, it can provide more certainty that what it holds is actually true better than the OPC can *granting* the OPC’s claims. If the OPC could provide just as much certainty, it would make similar claims as Rome does instead of actively rejecting them and priding itself on semper reformanda.

    “You evaluated the evidence, found Rome to be most agreeable, and joined Rome. You weren’t infallible in doing that.”

    An NT believer evaluated the evidence, found Christ/Apostles claims to authority credible, and submitted to them. He wasn’t infallible in doing that. That does not mean he has no more certainty now than if he had chosen to “submit” to some random Jewish OT teacher not claiming and actively rejecting any divine authority to define infallible teachings/interpretations. Nor does it mean Christ/Apostles’ claims to authority were irrelevant and superfluous, which your argument entails.

    “You could have been wrong. Which means that every single thing you believe after that could be wrong as well.”

    Confuses order of being with order of knowing. By this logic, the infallibility of biblical authority can never be greater than the fallibility of the person who decides to follow it. Indeed, the authority of God could never be greater than one’s fallible decision to submit to God.

    Like

  61. Kenneth – Jason as previously a heretic and is now in the Church established by Christ. I would say that’s a pretty big step forward.

    Jesus –

    Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

    You Will Know Them by Their Fruits

    15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

    I’ll go with Jesus.

    Like

  62. Isa W.,

    If you’re looking for Kuyper you’ve stumbled onto the wrong site.

    You want http://ironink.org., Worldview Resources International, The Christian Reformed Church, Calvin College, the City of Grand Raids, Terry Gray, or a subscription to “Christian Renewal”.

    Hope that helps!

    Like

  63. Cletus,

    *Granting* Rome’s claims, it can provide more certainty that what it holds is actually true better than the OPC can *granting* the OPC’s claims. If the OPC could provide just as much certainty, it would make similar claims as Rome does instead of actively rejecting them and priding itself on semper reformanda.

    Rome at the end of the day cannot eliminate your fallibility of knowledge or your fallibility of assurance. It depends ever and always on your own cooperation with Rome, which cooperation can be killed via mortal sin. Your certainty and assurance depends finally on your ability to work up enough cooperation and enough assent. Its a radical subjectivism that rivals what the Mormons could dream up. Mumbo-jumbo about motives of credibility and what not doesn’t change that in the least.

    An NT believer evaluated the evidence, found Christ/Apostles claims to authority credible, and submitted to them. He wasn’t infallible in doing that. That does not mean he has no more certainty now than if he had chosen to “submit” to some random Jewish OT teacher not claiming and actively rejecting any divine authority to define infallible teachings/interpretations. Nor does it mean Christ/Apostles’ claims to authority were irrelevant and superfluous, which your argument entails.

    And here is the rub. Christ and Apostles do not equal the Magisterium. Even Rome *nominally* admits this. If you want to admit that the Magisterium is divinely inspired in the *same* way that Christ and the Apostles were and that it is in the final analysis, self-authenticating, then you can make this claim. Until then, the claim of infallibility is actually quite hollow

    This approach you take really should lead you into Mormonism or any number of other cults that claim to be inspired in the same way that Jesus and the Apostles were. You can’t divorce inspiration and authority. You keep trying, unsuccessfully.

    Rome’s claim to authority isn’t irrelevant or superfluous. It’s a starting point but it’s insufficient. The truth of this claim and how it can actually do anything for you is the heart of the matter. You wed a non-divinely-inspired claim (Rome doesn’t claim, on paper, to be inspired like Christ and the apostles are) to a synergistic system that can’t really persuade you but depends entirely and fully on your fallible assent, not on the effectual and irresistible working of the Holy Spirit and want to tell me that as a result, you have a greater certainty of faith. Congratulations, the reason you believe is because you convinced yourself.

    Confuses order of being with order of knowing. By this logic, the infallibility of biblical authority can never be greater than the fallibility of the person who decides to follow it. Indeed, the authority of God could never be greater than one’s fallible decision to submit to God.

    I’m not the one grounding my certainty in a claim that even Rome itself says isn’t inspired the way Christ is. I’m not the one denying the effectual, persuasive work of God Himself in favor of my own subjective judgment and then pretending that you can get certainty of faith from mere probability.

    In Rome, there’s no “believe because of the evidence and because of the work of the Spirit in you,” which is the model Christ gives. It’s “look at the evidence through the lenses Rome gives you and then you can’t even use THAT selective evidence to call into question anything Rome ever says, no matter what it is.”

    Like

  64. Robert,

    You are a smart man, but this is not a smart argument. The only kind of certainty of doctrine that Rome can produce is that “Rome certainly teaches x.” It can’t provide you certainty that what Rome believes is actually true any better than the OPC can provide you with certainty that what the OPC believes is actually true.

    You evaluated the evidence, found Rome to be most agreeable, and joined Rome. You weren’t infallible in doing that. You could have been wrong. Which means that every single thing you believe after that could be wrong as well. It’s laughable that Rome produces a certainty that is somehow qualitatively different than the certainty Protestants have in affirming the infallibility of Scripture.

    Cletus already beat me to it, but I’ll give it a go anyways. What we are doing is assuming the truth of each communions principles and ecclesiology. If a paradigm could be describes as “the lenses through which we view reality”, you and i would be trading glasses in this instance. I am granting the claims of any given protestant sect and they are granting mine. IF your paradigm is correct, ASSUMING the truth of your ecclesiastical worldview, we are left without certainty of doctrine. Because “the OPC certainly teaches X” does not translate into “X is a divinely revealed truth”. On the other hand, if you were to try on a pair of RC lenses, you would see that once we know “Rome certainly teaches X” we also know that “X is a divinely revealed truth”. Hence, the selling point.

    The ecclesiology of Rome isn’t attractive to anyone who actually stops for a second and realizes that Rome can’t assure you that what you believe is actually the truth. Your entire edifice of certainty is based on your personal opinion that Rome is the true church. And yet that’s not a problem for you but it’s a problem for Protestants.

    This paragraph highlights just how badly you are understanding the argument. No one is saying that we don’t have to make personal judgments in deciding who to submit ourselves to. What we are evaluating is what kind of doctrinal certainty those judgments give us after we make them. If i evaluate the evidence and decide to adopt a protestant worldview, I am left without certainty on matters of doctrine GIVEN protestant principles. Each generation everything is up for grabs. Semper Reformanda. If I decide that the RCC is established by Christ and submit to the STM triad, we have certainty of doctrine on many points (the canon for example). Again, this is the whole selling point.

    Like

  65. Robert,

    You continue

    Rome at the end of the day cannot eliminate your fallibility of knowledge or your fallibility of assurance. It depends ever and always on your own cooperation with Rome, which cooperation can be killed via mortal sin. Your certainty and assurance depends finally on your ability to work up enough cooperation and enough assent. Its a radical subjectivism that rivals what the Mormons could dream up. Mumbo-jumbo about motives of credibility and what not doesn’t change that in the least.

    No one has claimed that “Rome” transforms us into omniscient beings. What in the world are you even talking about here? We are saying that IF YOU GRANT our principles one enjoys certainty of doctrine. IF WE GRANT YOURS we are left without certainty. You are making this way harder than it needs to be. Its not complicated. I’ll let Cletus mop up the rest of your comment. You’ve been away for to long. Off your game 🙂

    Like

  66. @KW You are assuming a particular hermeneutic (one that a lot of conservative prots agree with which is why you, RC Sproul, etc.. all seem to agree about what Rome teaches while McBrien and liberal prots may not) that is not embedded in the magisterium – thus you get RC theologians who disagree with how you engage with the magisterium to begin with.

    Now you may claim that in your opinion McBrien is misapplying his hermeneutic and thus a formal heretic, but then you might be mistaken. His Bishop does not agree with you that he is a formal heretic and seems to think that his approach is acceptable. Your certainty requires an extra-magisterial assumption (and will always require one). Sweeping it under the rug won’t do…

    Like

  67. Could This Happen in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod?
    By D. G. HART | Published: JANUARY 26, 2015
    Would confessional Lutherans have ever fallen for the Alex Marlarkey story of dying and going to heaven and coming back to life? (Wasn’t the last name a tip-off?) Would confessional Presbyterians be so gullible for that matter?

    Here’s one account of what happened:

    Tyndale House Publishers has stopped production of the book and DVD of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven after the book’s coauthor and subject, Alex Malarkey, released a statement retracting the book’s contents.

    In an open letter, the self-described “boy who did not come back from heaven” wrote:

    Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

    I did not die. I did not go to heaven.

    I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

    It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of heaven outside of what is written in the Bible . . . not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.

    In Christ,
    Alex Malarkey

    This isn’t simply a question of good or bad theology, pietist or confessional piety, someone who naively thinks Christians don’t intentionally mislead or someone who has a healthy respect for the ongoing effects of original sin. It is a question of ecclesiology. Belonging to a communion where pastors and others vet who gets admitted to fellowship (the Lord’s Table), where pastors receive scrutiny before being ordained, where church officers monitor what seminaries teach, and where education committees subsidize instructional materials for church members — all of these structures contribute to an identity for church members that prevents individual Christians from being at the mercy of the market and its hucksters (and the editors who enable the hucksters).

    Which is to say that not only does evangelicalism lack ecclesiology. In place of the church evangelicalism has the market. The publishers, parachurch agencies, magazine promoters, conference sponsors — these are the structures that “minister” for a price to your average born-again Christian who worships at some independent tabernacle, celebration center, or even a local congregation. And without any shepherds to police the sheep and the wolves, your average Christian has to figure out for himself whether other Christians really do manipulate best-seller lists or turn the NFL into a sacred cow.

    Share/Bookmark
    This entry was posted in Are They On Their Meds?, Because Someone Has to Provide Oversight, Evangelicalism, Piety with Excitement and tagged Alex Malarkey, Christianity Today, confessional Protestantism, ecclesiology, free markets, Tyndale House Publishers. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
    « Social Gospel Coalition Unraveling?Set Your Sights Even Higher »
    117 Comments
    Isa W.
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
    I wonder if Kuyper would have found anything redemptive or redeemable in the OLTS comments section. Wow.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
    ec, remember, the superiority is all on paper or in Bryan’s head. It has nothing to do with the real world. Keep holiness abstract.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
    loser ken, Jason’s right there among Richard McBrien and Cardinal Martini.

    I guess discipline in your communion is death.

    Jason should be careful.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
    Kent, I could arrange a non-paid internship.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
    Isa, don’t hold back. Redeem this place. I double-dare ya.

    Cletus van Damme
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
    Robert,

    “It can’t provide you certainty that what Rome believes is actually true any better than the OPC can provide you with certainty that what the OPC believes is actually true.”

    *Granting* Rome’s claims, it can provide more certainty that what it holds is actually true better than the OPC can *granting* the OPC’s claims. If the OPC could provide just as much certainty, it would make similar claims as Rome does instead of actively rejecting them and priding itself on semper reformanda.

    “You evaluated the evidence, found Rome to be most agreeable, and joined Rome. You weren’t infallible in doing that.”

    An NT believer evaluated the evidence, found Christ/Apostles claims to authority credible, and submitted to them. He wasn’t infallible in doing that. That does not mean he has no more certainty now than if he had chosen to “submit” to some random Jewish OT teacher not claiming and actively rejecting any divine authority to define infallible teachings/interpretations. Nor does it mean Christ/Apostles’ claims to authority were irrelevant and superfluous, which your argument entails.

    “You could have been wrong. Which means that every single thing you believe after that could be wrong as well.”

    Confuses order of being with order of knowing. By this logic, the infallibility of biblical authority can never be greater than the fallibility of the person who decides to follow it. Indeed, the authority of God could never be greater than one’s fallible decision to submit to God.

    Andrew
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
    triple dog dare you, tell me about my certainty again, katniss.

    Erik Charter
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
    Kenneth – Jason as previously a heretic and is now in the Church established by Christ. I would say that’s a pretty big step forward.

    Jesus –

    Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

    You Will Know Them by Their Fruits

    15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

    I’ll go with Jesus.

    Erik Charter
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
    Robert,

    So you’re saying Kenneth quoting Susan and Susan quoting Kenneth isn’t a good strategy?

    Oh, and I forgot Tom Van Dyke helping them both.

    Erik Charter
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
    Isa W.,

    If you’re looking for Kuyper you’ve stumbled onto the wrong site.

    You want http://ironink.org., Worldview Resources International, The Christian Reformed Church, Calvin College, the City of Grand Raids, Terry Gray, or a subscription to “Christian Renewal”.

    Hope that helps!

    Erik Charter
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
    D.G. – Kent, I could arrange a non-paid internship.

    Robert
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
    Cletus,

    *Granting* Rome’s claims, it can provide more certainty that what it holds is actually true better than the OPC can *granting* the OPC’s claims. If the OPC could provide just as much certainty, it would make similar claims as Rome does instead of actively rejecting them and priding itself on semper reformanda.

    Rome at the end of the day cannot eliminate your fallibility of knowledge or your fallibility of assurance. It depends ever and always on your own cooperation with Rome, which cooperation can be killed via mortal sin. Your certainty and assurance depends finally on your ability to work up enough cooperation and enough assent. Its a radical subjectivism that rivals what the Mormons could dream up. Mumbo-jumbo about motives of credibility and what not doesn’t change that in the least.

    An NT believer evaluated the evidence, found Christ/Apostles claims to authority credible, and submitted to them. He wasn’t infallible in doing that. That does not mean he has no more certainty now than if he had chosen to “submit” to some random Jewish OT teacher not claiming and actively rejecting any divine authority to define infallible teachings/interpretations. Nor does it mean Christ/Apostles’ claims to authority were irrelevant and superfluous, which your argument entails.

    And here is the rub. Christ and Apostles do not equal the Magisterium. Even Rome *nominally* admits this. If you want to admit that the Magisterium is divinely inspired in the *same* way that Christ and the Apostles were and that it is in the final analysis, self-authenticating, then you can make this claim. Until then, the claim of infallibility is actually quite hollow

    This approach you take really should lead you into Mormonism or any number of other cults that claim to be inspired in the same way that Jesus and the Apostles were. You can’t divorce inspiration and authority. You keep trying, unsuccessfully.

    Rome’s claim to authority isn’t irrelevant or superfluous. It’s a starting point but it’s insufficient. The truth of this claim and how it can actually do anything for you is the heart of the matter. You wed a non-divinely-inspired claim (Rome doesn’t claim, on paper, to be inspired like Christ and the apostles are) to a synergistic system that can’t really persuade you but depends entirely and fully on your fallible assent, not on the effectual and irresistible working of the Holy Spirit and want to tell me that as a result, you have a greater certainty of faith. Congratulations, the reason you believe is because you convinced yourself.

    Confuses order of being with order of knowing. By this logic, the infallibility of biblical authority can never be greater than the fallibility of the person who decides to follow it. Indeed, the authority of God could never be greater than one’s fallible decision to submit to God.

    I’m not the one grounding my certainty in a claim that even Rome itself says isn’t inspired the way Christ is. I’m not the one denying the effectual, persuasive work of God Himself in favor of my own subjective judgment and then pretending that you can get certainty of faith from mere probability.

    In Rome, there’s no “believe because of the evidence and because of the work of the Spirit in you,” which is the model Christ gives. It’s “look at the evidence through the lenses Rome gives you and then you can’t even use THAT selective evidence to call into question anything Rome ever says, no matter what it is.”

    Kenneth Winsmann
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink
    Robert,

    You are a smart man, but this is not a smart argument. The only kind of certainty of doctrine that Rome can produce is that “Rome certainly teaches x.” It can’t provide you certainty that what Rome believes is actually true any better than the OPC can provide you with certainty that what the OPC believes is actually true.

    You evaluated the evidence, found Rome to be most agreeable, and joined Rome. You weren’t infallible in doing that. You could have been wrong. Which means that every single thing you believe after that could be wrong as well. It’s laughable that Rome produces a certainty that is somehow qualitatively different than the certainty Protestants have in affirming the infallibility of Scripture.

    Cletus already beat me to it, but I’ll give it a go anyways. What we are doing is assuming the truth of each communions principles and ecclesiology. If a paradigm could be describes as “the lenses through which we view reality”, you and i would be trading glasses in this instance. I am granting the claims of any given protestant sect and they are granting mine. IF your paradigm is correct, ASSUMING the truth of your ecclesiastical worldview, we are left without certainty of doctrine. Because “the OPC certainly teaches X” does not translate into “X is a divinely revealed truth”. On the other hand, if you were to try on a pair of RC lenses, you would see that once we know “Rome certainly teaches X” we also know that “X is a divinely revealed truth”. Hence, the selling point.

    The ecclesiology of Rome isn’t attractive to anyone who actually stops for a second and realizes that Rome can’t assure you that what you believe is actually the truth. Your entire edifice of certainty is based on your personal opinion that Rome is the true church. And yet that’s not a problem for you but it’s a problem for Protestants.

    This paragraph highlights just how badly you are understanding the argument. No one is saying that we don’t have to make personal judgments in deciding who to submit ourselves to. What we are evaluating is what kind of doctrinal certainty those judgments give us after we make them. If i evaluate the evidence and decide to adopt a protestant worldview, I am left without certainty on matters of doctrine GIVEN protestant principles. Each generation everything is up for grabs. Semper Reformanda. If I decide that the RCC is established by Christ and submit to the STM triad, we have certainty of doctrine on many points (the canon for example). Again, this is the whole selling point.

    Kenneth Winsmann
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
    Robert,

    You continue

    Rome at the end of the day cannot eliminate your fallibility of knowledge or your fallibility of assurance. It depends ever and always on your own cooperation with Rome, which cooperation can be killed via mortal sin. Your certainty and assurance depends finally on your ability to work up enough cooperation and enough assent. Its a radical subjectivism that rivals what the Mormons could dream up. Mumbo-jumbo about motives of credibility and what not doesn’t change that in the least.

    No one has claimed that “Rome” transforms us into omniscient beings. What in the world are you even talking about here? We are saying that IF YOU GRANT our principles one enjoys certainty of doctrine. IF WE GRANT YOURS we are left without certainty. You are making this way harder than it needs to be. Its not complicated. I’ll let Cletus mop up the rest of your comment. You’ve been away for to long. Off your game 🙂

    sdb
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
    @KW You are assuming a particular hermeneutic (one that a lot of conservative prots agree with which is why you, RC Sproul, etc.. all seem to agree about what Rome teaches while McBrien and liberal prots may not) that is not embedded in the magisterium – thus you get RC theologians who disagree with how you engage with the magisterium to begin with.

    Now you may claim that in your opinion McBrien is misapplying his hermeneutic and thus a formal heretic, but then you might be mistaken. His Bishop does not agree with you that he is a formal heretic and seems to think that his approach is acceptable. Your certainty requires an extra-magisterial assumption (and will always require one). Sweeping it under the rug won’t do…

    Andrew
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:15 pm | Permalink
    kenneth should check out these mad growth stats of our denom. we’re on the up and up!

    dying off, my @$$

    Kenneth Winsmann
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:25 am | Permalink
    Andrew,

    According to those stats…. There are roughly 28k opc people on planet earth. That’s like the same amount of people that show up to see Joel Osteen every Sunday. Lol,?

    Aw, “kenloses”–as Dr. Darryl G. Hart disgraces himself and his religion by addressing you that way– you’re winning on substance. You’re actually feeding their conceit that the church Christ left, and thse he saved on the Cross is limited to a select and minimum few. [Them.]

    You’re winning, sir. Christ died for us all, and left a church behind. Don’t fall for their clever baiting. Darryl baits Bryan Cross into his little spider web here all the time. Surely you’ve noticed his game.

    Darryl and the Sneerers are part of Christ’s church too. Not the best part, mind you, but I don’t expect to see them in hell. I hope I’m the only one there.

    Like

  68. Sbd,

    You write: You are assuming a particular hermeneutic (one that a lot of conservative prots agree with which is why you, RC Sproul, etc.. all seem to agree about what Rome teaches while McBrien and liberal prots may not) that is not embedded in the magisterium – thus you get RC theologians who disagree with how you engage with the magisterium to begin with.

    I respond: nonsense. The New York Times headlined the death of McBrian as “dissenting theologian dies at 78”. How did the Times know that he was dissenting? Did they also arbitrarily pick out the same hermeneutic as Sproul,
    Horton, Michael Krueger, etc? No, it is clear to anyone who would care to know what hermeneutic Catholics employ. Even Robert admitted that it was easy to know what “Rome” teaches.

    You write: Now you may claim that in your opinion McBrien is misapplying his hermeneutic and thus a formal heretic, but then you might be mistaken. His Bishop does not agree with you that he is a formal heretic and seems to think that his approach is acceptable. Your certainty requires an extra-magisterial assumption (and will always require one). Sweeping it under the rug won’t do…

    Lack of discipline does not entail confusion on dogma. McBrian KNEW he was dissenting. So did everyone else in the world. They just didnt do anything about it which is a shame.

    Like

  69. Kenneth Winsmann
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:25 am | Permalink
    Andrew,

    According to those stats…. There are roughly 28k opc people on planet earth. That’s like the same amount of people that show up to see Joel Osteen every Sunday. Lol,?

    Aw, “kenloses”–as Dr. Darryl G. Hart disgraces his church by calling you that– you’re winning on substance.

    Christ died for all men, and left a church behind. The rest is details.

    Like

  70. loser ken, “lack of discipline does not entail confusion of dogma.”

    I know this is comforting. But the entire Jason and the Callers project is built on the idea that the magisterium knows the truth and explains it. But then you have bishops who don’t think McBrien is outside the pale even if the editors at the New York Times know what’s going on.

    Nothing changed. Sure. But none of the bishops seem to care (except for marriage, divorce, contraception, and abortion).

    That’s comforting to you that you have all this dogma that hasn’t changed – from Moses to Sandy Kofax – and none of the bishops seem worried that a major U.S. RC university employs folks like RM to teach Roman Catholicism.

    Have you ever heard of the PCUSA? Their dogma hasn’t changed.

    Like

  71. loser ken,

    Joe M. recommends among others the history by Thomas Woods. Here’s one reader’s reaction:

    If I were rich, I’d buy a copy of this book for every neo-conservative Catholic priest, theologian, religious, and layperson in the world.
    While liberal Catholics aren’t even in the ballpark and wouldn’t dream of letting dogma interfere with their libidos, neo-conservative Catholics truly do love the Church, but are so sadly ignorant about the nature and scope of papal infallibility, and the immutability of eternal truths. This book is their medicine. Every Catholic who’s worthy of the name simply must come to terms with what this book presents and fight with all s/he has to “stand fast and hold the traditions” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
    If you come across a Catholic who just loves praying with Protestants, Jews and Muslims, give them a copy of Pope Pius XI’s “Mortalium Animos” — and this book. If you meet another Catholic who calls the Holy Father (John Paul II as of this writing) a “conservative,” give them a copy of Pope St. Pius X’s “Lamentibili Sane” — and this book. If you hear (yet another) Catholic gush on about the wonders of Vatican II, give them a copy of Pope Gregory XVI’s “Mirari Vos” — and this book. A lot of what’s coming from the Vatican and our local Bishops these days isn’t Catholic, as this book shows clearly; the sooner we face up to it, the healthier the Church Militant will be.
    Another good thing about reading this book is the emotional affirmation given to traditional Catholics who are sick, tired, and fed up with being referred to as “integrist,” “schismatic,” or — I’ve seen this, folks — “Protestant” (how one can be a traditional Catholic, believing every single dogma and doctrine held by the Saints, even Popes of 50 years ago, and be a “Protestant” is beyond me, but so it goes…). Drs. Wood and Ferrara give these sorts of accusations “the ole one-two” so soundly that the traditional Catholic actually feels vindicated, rather like having seen a bully get his comeuppance.

    Sounds like you.

    Mock the OPC if you want. All 28k of us sleep at night. All 1.2 billion of you don’t — either out partying or worried that Francis will finally show what’s going on.

    Like

  72. Or perhaps dissent is the highest form of patriotism faithfulness. I’ll check with the NYT for an authoritative explanation.

    Like

  73. Or perhaps his dissent about how the magisterium should be interpreted wasn’t something the magisterium spoke to so that his bishop didn’t feel the need to discipline him.for his dissent… but infallible!!! In your opinion of course.

    Like

  74. Darryl and the Sneerers are part of Christ’s church too. Not the best part, mind you, but I don’t expect to see them in hell. I hope I’m the only one there.

    Tom, go to church this weekend.

    Like

  75. Kenneth,

    Cletus already beat me to it, but I’ll give it a go anyways. What we are doing is assuming the truth of each communions principles and ecclesiology. If a paradigm could be describes as “the lenses through which we view reality”, you and i would be trading glasses in this instance. I am granting the claims of any given protestant sect and they are granting mine. IF your paradigm is correct, ASSUMING the truth of your ecclesiastical worldview, we are left without certainty of doctrine. Because “the OPC certainly teaches X” does not translate into “X is a divinely revealed truth”. On the other hand, if you were to try on a pair of RC lenses, you would see that once we know “Rome certainly teaches X” we also know that “X is a divinely revealed truth”. Hence, the selling point.

    But Kenneth, what you and Cletus miss is that we can’t just assume each communions principles. I could theoretically come up with a religion that when the glasses are put on, provides even more of the kind of certainty you think Rome provides. Others have already done it. The Mormons, for one, go one better by having a professed infallible source of ongoing revelation. You guys don’t, on paper. Rome actually is a provider of continuing revelation but I digress.

    To borrow your analogy, I can go to a drawer and find dozens and dozens and dozens of glasses, but unless those glasses have a means to convince me that they are the right glasses, its useless. A better analogy might be a cabinet full of medicine. I’m sick and there’s only one medicine that will save me. All the rest will certainly kill me. If the medicine in itself cannot tell me that it is the right one, I’m gambling on probability. And probability in this case will kill me 99 times out of 100. No thank you.

    I’ve said in the past that Protestants and Romanists are at the same point when they make their decision. I have to qualify that. Protestants have an infallible means of assurance to tell them they’ve chosen the right medicine. The Holy Spirit speaking through His Word. Rome denies self-authentication at the point of decision, as far as I am aware, however.

    The situation between us is far different. Both of us can investigate what actually led to the creation of the various medicines, but there’s nothing on the medicine bottle of Rome to prove it is the right one. What I am saying is that the “Protestant” medicine bottle does. I realize that might sound too fideistic to some, and it would be if my decision were made apart from objective evidences. This is no Mormon “burning bosom.” In fact, my decision is far less fidestic than yours because you have to jump through hoops with those motives of credibility. You have to ignore the unholiness of the Roman Church. You have to ignore the capitulation to modernism. You have to ignore that Rome doesn’t teach everything that has always been believed by all. You have to invent development of doctrine and then deny it to all other communions. It’s a fool’s errand and impossible.

    This paragraph highlights just how badly you are understanding the argument. No one is saying that we don’t have to make personal judgments in deciding who to submit ourselves to. What we are evaluating is what kind of doctrinal certainty those judgments give us after we make them. If i evaluate the evidence and decide to adopt a protestant worldview, I am left without certainty on matters of doctrine GIVEN protestant principles. Each generation everything is up for grabs. Semper Reformanda. If I decide that the RCC is established by Christ and submit to the STM triad, we have certainty of doctrine on many points (the canon for example). Again, this is the whole selling point.

    Once more, you can’t get certainty of Rome based on a calculation that Rome is probably the church Christ founded. Which is all you have apart from self-authenticating assurance.

    Protestant principles give us infallible assurance. The fact that we don’t say that the church gives it is the real problem for you. You guys simply cannot conceive of Christ working through His Word. It’s really quite ironic. You have all sorts of room in Rome for Mary to give assurance by appearing in reflections on the sides of buildings, in the shape of potato chips, and other such nonsense.

    And quite frankly, right now everything is up for grabs for Rome. Its up for grabs whether or not I’m going to heaven. Most Romanists would say that I am. And they’d say the same for Mohammed. It’s up for grabs how much longer your teaching on contraception and abortion will continue in its current form. You have a pope telling people not to breed like rabbits, the vast majority of the laity practicing birth control, and high profile RC Democrats pushing to remove all restrictions on the practice. If you don’t think the “charism of the laity” will finally win the day, you’re naïve. The only way it won’t is if your church excommunicates about 1 billion people. But then there goes the “you Presbyterians are an insignificant sect” argument. You can’t have it both ways. Don’t laud the size of Rome when 95 percent or more of Rome don’t know or practice what Rome teaches. Moreover, it’s pretty clear your church has no interesting in excommunicating anyone. Your bishops cannot even do their job.

    Which brings me to an important point—you cannot have ecclesiastical infallibility without consistent ecclesiastical discipline. I can grant a certain kind of certainty to knowing what Rome teaches. If I’m fair about it and apply GHM exegesis to your documents, I come up with a relatively conservative Romanism. So do you. But the problem is, neither of us are the organs of infallibility. So when I see Rome not towing the line on my conservative reading, there are only a few possible consequences:

    1. My reading is wrong.
    2. Satan has taken over the Magisterium, in which case there goes my assurance that Rome is infallible.

    And on either case, there goes my certainty. No matter how hard I try, since I’m not the organ of infallibility, I can’t know what the truth is with certainty. This is the problem with your radical skepticism and the notion that the only way to have certainty of doctrine is via an institution that is infallible whenever it says it is infallible.

    I simply don’t have that problem because I don’t invest in mere creatures what is the prerogative of God alone. I don’t invest my certainty in my own abilities or in the abilities of mere men but finally in the Holy Spirit speaking through His Word. The means of infallible assurance aren’t purely external (Rome) or purely internal (Mormonism). They’re both. This is how God made human beings to work. This is how human knowledge happens. Rome’s apologetic and claims actually, at the end of the day, are almost entirely out of touch with the constituent nature of human beings.

    All of that is to say is that I make things quite simple: If the means that provides me with certainty cannot in itself assure me that it is the means, that means should be rejected. Now if you all want to backtrack and claim some kind of self-authentication for Rome, then go ahead. But if Rome can be self-authenticating, then Scripture can be self-authenticating, and I simply don’t need an infallible Magisterium to give me certainty of faith.

    Like

  76. Universalist Tom – Christ died for all men, and left a church behind. The rest is details.

    Erik – So if Christ died for all men and if all men are going to heaven, then the church you join (or don’t join) is also one of the (unimportant) details using your logic.

    Like

  77. Erik, this is most certainly Tom:

    Darryl and the Sneerers are part of Christ’s church too.

    I’d love to see Kenneth square off with Tom on this one.

    By the way, any readers here from Tripp County, Grant County, or Hutchinson County in the Dakotas? You folks have the most Orthodox Presbyterians per capita, wonder how it’s faring out there.

    Anyway, that stats site is great, love the youtube vidoes they give for each of the respective communions analyzed, the family trees for the various christian denominations, it’s great. Our bio is spot on:

    The Orthodox Presbyterian Church was founded in 1936 by J. Gresham Machen, previously an outstanding theologian of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The church is a member of the International Conference of Reformed Churches.

    Toodles.

    Like

  78. another good one appears to be adherents dot com, for Tom:

    Religious Affiliation of the
    Founding Fathers
    of the United States of America

    Episcopalian/Anglican 54.70%
    Presbyterian 18.60%
    Congregationalist 16.80%
    Quaker 4.30%
    Dutch Reformed/German Reformed 3.70%
    Lutheran 3.10%
    Catholic 1.90%
    Huguenot 1.90%
    Unitarian 1.90%
    Methodist 1.20%
    Calvinist 0.60%

    See what you can communicate when you practice your HTML.

    Ok, enough stats. Apologies..

    Like

  79. @AB What’s a “Calvinist” in that context? Was there a denomination called that? It is strange to see it listed among Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Dutch/German Reformed, and Huguenot.

    Like

  80. sdb, yeah, who knows, I thought the same thing. When I went to wikipedia to figure out who the “thearda dot com” was (the other website I was posting about, stats-wise), it mentions other websites, such as patheos, and the wiki page also referenced that adherents dot com.

    the reason I brought up stats in the first place was because Kenneth really came out swinging in this thread (all reformed children dying off, losing the faith, for example), which was really interesting, because it gave us a window into his own insecurities it would seem (reference Muddy Gravel’s comment waayyyy up after this went out of control).

    Kenneth’s comments seemed very troll-like, and then it seemed to take a better route, but then again, Kenneth decided to compare the OPC to Joel Osteen based on our numbers.

    As I keep saying about Kenny boy, the padawan has much to learn. There, I’ve said to much.

    Ciao!

    Like

  81. Compared the RCC with the PCA, Kenny boy is always talking about how his side is winning, being the traditionalists. He may want to look into the PCA instead, they seem more interested in maintaining tradition (just a thought I had..)

    Religious Beliefs Catholic Presbyterian Church in America

    Percent that view God as an impersonal force 30% 22%
    Percent that believe in God or a universal spirit 97.20% 98.70%
    Percent that believe in Hell 60.20% 71.90%
    Percent that believe in Heaven 82.20% 83.30%
    Percent that agree: Angels and demons are active in the world 69.20% 77.40%
    Percent that believe in reincarnation — —
    Percent that believe in life after death 77% 81%
    Percent that say religion is a very important part of their life 56.10% 63.60%
    Percent that believe that their church or denomination should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices 35.50% 47.60% source

    Like

  82. Robert,

    But Kenneth, what you and Cletus miss is that we can’t just assume each communions principles. I could theoretically come up with a religion that when the glasses are put on, provides even more of the kind of certainty you think Rome provides. Others have already done it. The Mormons, for one, go one better by having a professed infallible source of ongoing revelation. You guys don’t, on paper. Rome actually is a provider of continuing revelation but I digress.

    You say that you can not just assume the principles of Catholicism in your evaluation, but why not? Kenneth Samples wrote an important book called “A World of Difference”. In this work he lays out 9 criteria for evaluating any give worldview. According to Samples, we can judge a world view by the following criteria

    1 Logical consistancy
    2 Balanced (not too simple or complex)
    3 explanatory power and scope
    4 Correspondance to well-established facts
    5 Be verifiable (truth claims can be verified or falsified)
    6 Be applicable to real life
    7 Fill existential needs
    8 Provide a cumulative and comprehensive approach
    9 Compete in the marketplace of ideas

    So to use your example of Mormonism, we could grant Mormon principles and perhaps see that (according to you) they might have a strong score on criteria 3 when it comes to authority. However, we would also see that they fail miserably on 1, 4, 5, 8, and 9. My point is that we could see them fail all of these while granting the principles that hold up and support their worldview.

    So I dispute your premise here that we just can’t grant principles when evaluating each others paradigm. I think that we can, and that we should, because in doing so we can get a very good evaluation on exactly what we are dealing with. Our contention is that from your perspective, granting your principles and all that comes with your paradigm, Christians are left with very little certainty of doctrine. The proposition “the OPC teaches X about scripture” does not entail that “scripture teaches X”. The proposition “the PCA believes Y to constitute the canon” does not entail that “Y constitutes the canon”. This is a huge weakness, and in my opinion leaves the protestant paradigm failing 1, 3, 8 and 9. I explained why in my blog post “Theology and mathematics”

    Imagine a pyramid of mathematical truths; Each stone and theorem rests atop the next and every generation picks up where the last has left off. Mathematicians have been building this pyramid for centuries now. It is because algebra has been proven so reliable that we can perform calculus. Once calculus is mastered we discover the complex world of physics. Physics then opens the door to quantum mechanics and so on and so forth. It has occurred to me that theology is very similar to mathematics, in that each theological truth builds upon the next. All of the uninteresting “little things” add up to form a coherent and systematic religious worldview. Divine aseity (doctrine of God) informs our view of the fall of man. The fall of man helps to inform the doctrine of the incarnation. The incarnation of Christ informs the doctrine of the atonement… etc. etc. When any of these doctrines are altered, the effects ripple down and impact the entire worldview systematically….. Now imagine attending a math class in which 33,000 different approaches were presented on how to perform algebra. Many of the formulas were similar, but all of them had their own unique flair or “spin” at some point in the equations. See the problem? On this view, no one could ever arrive at phyiscs with any certainty. Even if they had a comprehensive understanding of all the formulas used up to that point, so long as the results are subjective there can be no certainty. This certainty is what makes progress and development possible. This certainty is exactly what protestantism lacks.

    It is for this reason I believe that theologians in protestant denominations are doomed before they even get started. You paradigm is not set up for success. Thats a huge problem.

    You write:

    To borrow your analogy, I can go to a drawer and find dozens and dozens and dozens of glasses, but unless those glasses have a means to convince me that they are the right glasses, its useless.

    The way you would be convinced is by “trying them on” and seeing how clear your vision is with them in place. The criteria given by Samples would be a good way to “test your vision”

    The situation between us is far different. Both of us can investigate what actually led to the creation of the various medicines, but there’s nothing on the medicine bottle of Rome to prove it is the right one.

    So, your saying that God told you to be protestant? Am I understanding you correctly here? You seem to be saying that God enlightened your mind so that you could look at evidence and come to the correct conclusion. Like looking at the medicine cabinet and just having the Holy Spirit guide you in the right direction. That’s great. But there is no way for me to verify that experience. So now you have also failed number 5 on Samples list.

    Protestant principles give us infallible assurance. The fact that we don’t say that the church gives it is the real problem for you. You guys simply cannot conceive of Christ working through His Word.

    I can conceive of it, but whenever i do, it fails the worldview test miserably

    And quite frankly, right now everything is up for grabs for Rome…. It’s up for grabs how much longer your teaching on contraception and abortion will continue in its current form. You have a pope telling people not to breed like rabbits, the vast majority of the laity practicing birth control, and high profile RC Democrats pushing to remove all restrictions on the practice. If you don’t think the “charism of the laity” will finally win the day, you’re naïve.

    Soooo….. everything is up for grabs because doctrine might change one day. Heretics have been waiting for that pipe dream to come to fruition for thousands of years….they are all in their graves, and the Church still stands.

    Your bishops cannot even do their job.

    We have never claimed that our bishops would always be impeccable. The Church has taught from the beginning that the Church could fail in discipline or prudential judgment. You keep on repeating this same silliness over and over again like its news to anyone on our side. We have never claimed that we have infallible discipline.

    Which brings me to an important point—you cannot have ecclesiastical infallibility without consistent ecclesiastical discipline. I can grant a certain kind of certainty to knowing what Rome teaches. If I’m fair about it and apply GHM exegesis to your documents, I come up with a relatively conservative Romanism. So do you. But the problem is, neither of us are the organs of infallibility. So when I see Rome not towing the line on my conservative reading, there are only a few possible consequences:

    1. My reading is wrong.
    2. Satan has taken over the Magisterium, in which case there goes my assurance that Rome is infallible.

    You forgot

    3. Bishops do not always toe the line impeccably

    Until some Organ of the magesterium gives you a reason to believe your reading was incorrect everything is fine and dandy.

    No matter how hard I try, since I’m not the organ of infallibility, I can’t know what the truth is with certainty. This is the problem with your radical skepticism and the notion that the only way to have certainty of doctrine is via an institution that is infallible whenever it says it is infallible.

    One does not have to be infallible to be certain. I can be certain the 2+2 is 4 without being an infallible organ of mathematics. So your argument here is nonexistent. We could have certainty of doctrine without a living magesterium, just as we can have certainty of other things in our lives. The problem is that the bible alone can not provide that as it is in reality. It was never meant to.

    If the means that provides me with certainty cannot in itself assure me that it is the means, that means should be rejected.

    Well, duh! Thats the whole point of the motives of credibility.

    Like

  83. @Andrew I would take those survey results with a very large grain of salt. The sample size of the pew survey was about 30,000 households. Since there are about 100,000,000 households in the US, and about 100,000 of them are PCA, I would expect there to be something like 30 or so PCA’rs in their sample. It doesn’t take very many loosely affiliated presbyterians (those who don’t know the difference between the PCA and PCUSA) to really skew the results. I’d be very shocked if almost 1/4 of the members of the PCA really believed that God is an impersonal force and that there is no heaven. I could be wrong of course, but I am skeptical.

    Like

  84. Kenneth,

    Just FYI, one of my favorite discussions over at Bryan’s call to communion (read: dialogue, not the catholic church) is the discussion where Dr. Mark Hausam argues that a church even smaller than the OPC, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland of aroud 1k members, i think, is the de jure catholic church” from which all other denominations are in schism,. Here’s Bryan:

    As I read through your reasons for believing that the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is the “de jure catholic church” from which all other denominations are in schism, your way of determining this as you traced the history of this denomination seemed to be on the basis of your interpretation of Scripture. What’s not clear to me is why members of every other Presbyterian or Reformed denomination couldn’t also stipulate on the basis of the degree of conformity with their own interpretation of Scripture that their denomination is the one to which all others should be in full communion, and from which all others are in schism.

    You should read it, I got my name on that thread for kicks and giggles.

    Size may matter, or it may not. We just don’t know. If it does, then sure, we should all become members of your church.

    Prove that numbers matter, and until you do, you are just pouding sand. Have fun.

    Like

  85. Thanks, SDB. Reformed churches are doing great, 85 mil per wiki, and yeah, who knows whether we can trust these websites.

    Kenneth’s a big numbers guy, he should become an accountant.

    Like

  86. Sdb,

    The Magesterium does give us a hermeneutic. I don’t know what you are talking about. The reason why Sproul uses the hermeneutic he does when evaluating RCs is because he goes to the most authoritative documents the Church offers and reads them according to their own principles. This is not rocket science.

    DGHART,

    Nothing has changed….. But then you have bishops doing bad things and dissent everywhere. OK….. And your point is what?

    Like

  87. Kenny, even Tom knows you should cut the church statistics stuff. Then again, he’s a Machen fan:

    But this new Reformation for which we
    long will not be brought about by human persuasions,
    or by consideration of consequences, or by those who
    seek to save souls through a skfllful use of ecclesiastical
    influences, or by those who refrain from speaking the
    truth through a fear of “splitting the Church” or of
    making a poor showing in columns of Church statistics.
    How petty, in the great day when the Spirit of God
    again moves in the Church, all such considerations will
    seem! No, when the true Reformation comes, it will
    come through the instrumentality of those upon whom
    God has laid His hand, to whom the gospel has become
    a burning fire within them, who speak because they are
    compelled to speak, who, caring nothing for human in-
    fluences and conciliation and external Church combina-
    tions and the praise or blame of men, speak the word
    that God has given them and trust for the results to
    Him alone. In other words, it will be brought about
    by men of faith. source

    Like

  88. You know you’ve arrived on this site when someone launches into a 5,000 word explanation of how Catholicism is true and you barely have to twitch your finger to race right past it…

    Like

  89. Kenneth, I think you are (6) Authority:

    (6) Authority – Many appeal to papal infallibility, as over against the theological schisms in Protestantism, that they believe offers a stability in which their souls/minds might find rest in an uncertain and irrational age. In other words, it is the allure of a purported unshakable voice of authority that puts to rest countless and otherwise irresolvable theological disputes that draws so many to Rome. The idea of a Spirit-led, authoritative teaching office, known as the Magisterium, brings a measure of relief to those who’ve grown weary of arguments, debates, and doubts about what the Bible means and how we should live.

    Or do you just like really, really, really big churches, yo?

    Like

  90. loser ken, how many times do you have to ask, why don’t the bishops or dissenters care? The PCUSA hasn’t changed on doctrine. Haven’t you heard. Words don’t change. Interpretations or neglect do change the words.

    But if you want to be logocentric like Luther and Calvin, have at it.

    Like

  91. Erik, nice history link, some good comments on that authority thread, mikelmann referencing the “borg apologetic, ahh, just like ol’ times.

    Here’s more reading material for our padawan.

    Enjoy, kW!

    Like

  92. kenny, more reading material, over at reformed reddit, a catholic stumbles in sometimes looking to debate justification. just fyi, it’s interesting to see how the lightening rounds transpired (and how their use of meme generators helps ligthen the mood).

    just for fun. toodles.

    Like

  93. DGHART,

    how many times do you have to ask, why don’t the bishops or dissenters care?

    Free will, sin, reprobation, ignorance.

    Take your pick.

    On a side note, have you ever worked with Dr Samples? He has always been one of my favorite Reformed guys.

    Like

  94. Kenneth,

    You say that you can not just assume the principles of Catholicism in your evaluation, but why not? Kenneth Samples wrote an important book called “A World of Difference”. In this work he lays out 9 criteria for evaluating any give worldview. According to Samples, we can judge a world view by the following criteria

    1 Logical consistancy
    2 Balanced (not too simple or complex)
    3 explanatory power and scope
    4 Correspondance to well-established facts
    5 Be verifiable (truth claims can be verified or falsified)
    6 Be applicable to real life
    7 Fill existential needs
    8 Provide a cumulative and comprehensive approach
    9 Compete in the marketplace of ideas
    So to use your example of Mormonism, we could grant Mormon principles and perhaps see that (according to you) they might have a strong score on criteria 3 when it comes to authority. However, we would also see that they fail miserably on 1, 4, 5, 8, and 9. My point is that we could see them fail all of these while granting the principles that hold up and support their worldview.

    One big problem here is that you are treating a revealed religion as an abstract philosophy. Reminds me of Bryan Cross. I guess #4 mitigates this some, so I’ll play.

    The only thing Mormonism really fails is #4 and #5. Mormonism is logically consistent as far as I can tell. As you know, however, one can be logically consistent and still be false. Mormonism provides as comprehensive an approach as anything Rome could dream up, and it continues to find converts in the marketplace.

    So I dispute your premise here that we just can’t grant principles when evaluating each others paradigm. I think that we can, and that we should, because in doing so we can get a very good evaluation on exactly what we are dealing with. Our contention is that from your perspective, granting your principles and all that comes with your paradigm, Christians are left with very little certainty of doctrine. The proposition “the OPC teaches X about scripture” does not entail that “scripture teaches X”. The proposition “the PCA believes Y to constitute the canon” does not entail that “Y constitutes the canon”.

    And my contention from my perspective is that if Rome can’t provide the principled means it demands of Protestants to separate dogma from opinion at THE most important point of decision in your system, then you don’t have certainty. The best you have is probability. The proposition “Rome is probably the true church” that you must accept in the process of assenting to Rome does not entail “Rome is the true church.” The proposition “I fallibly trust a church that claims infallible” doesn’t entail “the church is actually infallible.”

    You can’t go from probability to certainty. Thus, you have no “certainty of faith” in your system, at least not any more than anyone else does. All you have is a claim to infallibility that at best is probably true. And I’m being generous. Rome’s claims are exceedingly improbable and can only be sustained by ignoring even what the top Roman biblical and historical writers that are approved by the Vatican teach.

    This is a huge weakness, and in my opinion leaves the protestant paradigm failing 1, 3, 8 and 9. I explained why in my blog post “Theology and mathematics”

    Actual Magisterial Protestantism is as consistent as Rome (1), explains why the world is the way it is and why even those who share the same faith can disagree (3), continues to win converts in the marketplace of ideas (9). If you’re a hardcore 2Ker, you might say Protestantism fails (8). I’m more Kuyperean, so I say Protestantism fulfills it.

    The way you would be convinced is by “trying them on” and seeing how clear your vision is with them in place. The criteria given by Samples would be a good way to “test your vision”

    Let’s do it:

    1 Logical consistency—Rome says Molinism and Thomism are equally valid. Rome says it doesn’t change dogma, but once it said all Protestants were anathema and now I’m a separated brother on my way to glory. Rome cannot provide a logically consistent way to determine everything it has thus far declared infallibly. It’s so bad even your bishops and top theologians can’t agree on it. Epic Fail.

    2 Balanced (not too simple or complex)—Catechisms that are thousands of questions long. Dense dogma that requires the average person to have an advanced knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy to even begin to make sense of it all. Jumping through hoops to explain away the Great Schism, the lack of a monarchical bishop in Rome before the end of the second century… Epic fail.

    3 explanatory power and scope—Can’t explain why those who are not totally depraved cannot overcome a merely wounded nature. Can’t even explain how to figure out what is infallible dogma and what isn’t, and it makes infallible dogma the selling point of the system. Epic fail.

    4 Correspondence to well-established facts—Epic fail. See #2. Add to it transubstantiation.

    5 Be verifiable (truth claims can be verified or falsified)—Epic fail. Transubstantiation can’t be verified. The Assumption of Mary cannot be verified. The unbroken line of bishops going back to Peter can’t be verified. Can’t even get agreement on it.

    6 Be applicable to real life—On the one hand yes. On the other hand, Roman teaching on matters such as contraception is so utterly divorced from real life that your own people think they can reject it with impunity. Not sure of this one.

    7 Fill existential needs—Can’t provide me with peace with God, but only a cease fire. Can’t provide me with a way to determine where the Magisterium is teaching infallibly, which is your selling point. Epic fail.

    8 Provide a cumulative and comprehensive approach—If by comprehensive you mean able to absorb nearly any idea or religious practice ever devised by man, then sure.

    9 Compete in the marketplace of ideas—This one I’m not sure of. On the one hand, I can say yes. On the other hand, since Rome has relied so heavily on the sword to maintain its power historically and since most professing Romanists don’t know or believe what their church teaches, this looks to be a fail. At best you have “barely meets this criteria.”

    So, your saying that God told you to be protestant? Am I understanding you correctly here? You seem to be saying that God enlightened your mind so that you could look at evidence and come to the correct conclusion. Like looking at the medicine cabinet and just having the Holy Spirit guide you in the right direction. That’s great. But there is no way for me to verify that experience. So now you have also failed number 5 on Samples list.

    What I am saying is that the final reason I believe is not my fallible reasoning, so I don’t have the same kind of problem trying to pull certainty out of probability as a Thomist or other RC does.

    I can conceive of it, but whenever i do, it fails the worldview test miserably.

    Why, because of Protestant disagreement? This from a man whose “consistent” church says that Molinism and Thomism are equally valid options. Beautiful, keep unity and huge numbers by not disciplining anyone or enforcing any of the stands you take. And you think Rome is logically consistent?

    Soooo….. everything is up for grabs because doctrine might change one day. Heretics have been waiting for that pipe dream to come to fruition for thousands of years….they are all in their graves, and the Church still stands.

    Um, you have noticed that I am a separated brother on my way to heaven. So are the atheists Francis has talked about. So are the Muslims. Well, the last two aren’t separated brethren, but they’re still absolutely golden. Just ask Karl Rahner. Your doctrine of the church and how one is united to it has fundamentally changed. V2 was a real watershed in that regard.

    We have never claimed that our bishops would always be impeccable. The Church has taught from the beginning that the Church could fail in discipline or prudential judgment. You keep on repeating this same silliness over and over again like its news to anyone on our side. We have never claimed that we have infallible discipline.

    I realize that you haven’t claimed infallible discipline. What you all don’t get is that apart from infallible discipline, it’s up to the individual’s private judgment as to whether Rome is pro-abortion or anti-abortion, pro-denying the Trinity sends you to hell or pro-denying the Trinity is adiaphora, etc. In a system that demands that a church must be infallible for one to be certain of the truth, you can’t just simply assume that your reading of the Magisterium is correct when, as we’ve all pointed out, your bishops are as happy to give you the Eucharist as they are to give it to everyone who repudiates your particular conservative brand of Romanism. You are just a layman. Why should I trust your private judgment over the local bishop or priest who tells me I’m just fine staying Protestant. Your private judgment is trustworthy in matters of faith but mine isn’t? Have you heard of the word hubris?

    You forgot
    3. Bishops do not always toe the line impeccably

    Until some Organ of the magesterium gives you a reason to believe your reading was incorrect everything is fine and dandy.

    The same organ that says I’m going to heaven along with Muhammad? The Magisterium is giving me reason to think the Trinity is an irrelevant doctrine with that one. Its giving me reason to think that I’m wrong on my reading of the Magisterium on abortion. When was the last time a prominent abortion-promoting Roman Catholic member of Congress was refused the Eucharist? How about a theologian?

    If the organs of the Magisterium are an ecumenical council and the pope, then you’ve got the same “problems” as you think Protestants have. A council is only going to produce written/verbal statements that you as an individual have to interpret and apply. Same with the pope. And its pretty clear, Kenneth, that your interpretation of these things is in the minority. I’m willing to grant that under any honest principles of interpretation, you are more likely to be right on some of these things than other RCs, but that only if you grant that you’re in the essential same boat as any Protestant, namely, having to fallibly interpret infallible documents. I’m not holding my breath.

    One does not have to be infallible to be certain. I can be certain the 2+2 is 4 without being an infallible organ of mathematics. So your argument here is nonexistent. We could have certainty of doctrine without a living magesterium, just as we can have certainty of other things in our lives.

    So an infallible Magisterium is not necessary for certainty of doctrine. Thank you for granting my point. There goes the “advantage” you guys keep talking about.

    The problem is that the bible alone can not provide that as it is in reality. It was never meant to.

    Well if by this you mean that God intended the Bible to work primarily within an ecclesiastical context, then I agree. Where I disagree is that this necessitates ecclesiastical infallibility. But since you have now agreed on this, why are you Roman Catholic again?

    Well, duh! Thats the whole point of the motives of credibility.

    The motives of credibility aren’t neutral when Rome gets to define what catholicity and holiness means. By excluding anything that doesn’t sound Roman Catholic enough as being part of sacred tradition, you end up with a circular argument. This goes back to the point about the glasses having to be able to tell you to wear them. You guys pretend that the MoC are neutral criteria that lead you inexorably to Rome when they are far more circular in their nature than anything any radical fideistic Protestant has ever said.

    Like

  95. Robert – The motives of credibility aren’t neutral when Rome gets to define what catholicity and holiness means. By excluding anything that doesn’t sound Roman Catholic enough as being part of sacred tradition, you end up with a circular argument. This goes back to the point about the glasses having to be able to tell you to wear them. You guys pretend that the MoC are neutral criteria that lead you inexorably to Rome when they are far more circular in their nature than anything any radical fideistic Protestant has ever said.

    Erik – You’ve obviously never seen the Nuns Gone Wild swimsuit calendar.

    Beauty is obvious to everyone.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s