Founders Obsession

American conservatives have it. The Constitution and the founders who wrote, debated, and ratified it are the key to American identity. If we can only go back there, America can return to its greatness. (If only we could get rid of the subsequent 37 states and occupy the geo-political significance of say, the Netherlands.)

Presbyterians have it. The Westminster Assembly is the beginning of all true Presbyterianism and if we only follow the Confession and Catechisms, Presbyterians will return to their greatness. (Never mind that the Westminster Assembly’s documents were never adopted by the English or that the Scots had just a bit of a struggle pulling off Presbyterianism in the British Isles.)

Roman Catholics have it. Rome is the church Jesus founded. Nuf said. Everyone else is a poser.

But that is not what Roman Catholic historians say. The Christian centuries; a new history of the Catholic Church by J. Danielou and H. Marrou does not start with Rome (surprise):

In this way the Church of Jerusalem assumed its own special structure. The Apostles were the witnesses of the resurrection and the trustees of the fullness of power, and Peter appeared as their head. At the beginning, they directly presided over and administered the Church of Jerusalem. But they took associates to work with them. At first there were the presbyters who looked after the Hebrews; they formed a college with James as president, and James shared in the apostolic powers to a special degree. The Apostles also instituted a similar organisation for the Hellenists in which the Seven corresponded to the Hebrew presbyters through it is diffcult to know whether Stephen was their equivalent of James. In any case the departure of the Hellenists was to make the college of presbyters the sole hierarchy in Jerusalem. (16)

So perhaps the best way to think about the church of Rome is as the Church of Jerusalem in exile and that for the claims of authenticity to ring true, the Bishop of Rome needs to take over the diocese of Jerusalem and govern from there (won’t that be a happy development in the Middle East).

When Danielou and Marrou finally get to Rome, it’s on page 51, Christ and the apostles are gone, and specifics are spotty:

For the Church of Rome, we have no information for the period following the persecution of Nero. It was probably then that Mark wrote down Peter’s catechesis. The list of the bishops of Rome given by Irenaeus shows, at this period, Linus and Cletus, who are mere names to us. Things change about 88, when Clement took charge of the Church. . . . So the structure of the Roman community appears very similar to that of the Church of Antioch. The bishop is both the first of the presbyters and the head of the deacons. Clement represents in Rome the same type of personality as Polycarp in Asia. Irenaeus tells us that he had know the Apostles; doubtless he is thinking chiefly of Peter and Paul. . . .

Little is known about events in the first two decades of the second century. Irenaeus’s list records that Evaristus and Alexander were bishops at that time. It was under the latter, about 115, that Ignatius wrote to the Romans and extolled the dignity of their Church. Under the pontificate of Sixtus (115-125) discussions took place in Rome between Christians of Asiatic origin and the rest about the date of the celebration of Easter. Again the complexity of the Church in Rome at this date is evident. (51, 52)

Not a lot in the historical record to substantiate the claims of the apologists who insist that Roman Catholicism was the communion that sprung up directly from Jesus and Mary. Neither knew Rome and it’s not very clear that Peter or Paul knew much of Rome beyond their chains. What is clear is that the original church in the history of the world was the Church of Jerusalem.

Apologists need not thank me for this free service of product evaluation. Just consider it one servant serving servers.

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61 thoughts on “Founders Obsession

  1. But Darryl, nothing you have said is incompatible with RC apologists as long as you squint real hard, ignore contrary evidence, and purge the fallacy that you are able to interpret the actual history apart from Rome. It’s easy, as long as you are being charitable about your paradigm and all.

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  2. OL cats, pay no attention to the RC church historians behind the curtain. This is clearly some kind of feint or eggheads gone rogue. Maybe we’ve found the RC equivalents of DGH — not, of course, to be trusted. Keep calm and pray the rosary, etc.

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  3. For the Church of Rome, we have no information for the period following the persecution of Nero. It was probably then that Mark wrote down Peter’s catechesis. The list of the bishops of Rome given by Irenaeus shows, at this period, Linus and Cletus, who are mere names to us. Things change about 88, when Clement took charge of the Church.

    Wow, Dr. Calvinism: A History found a book from 1964 to grab an excerpt from that sort of suits his attacks on the legitimacy of Catholic Church.

    But not really–88 CE is a still much better claim than the rest of Christianity has to continuity with the apostolic age, esp “Protestantism,” whatever that means.

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  4. DGH – Most American conservatives are obsessed more with the Founding documents, especially the Declaration (ask Arnn, he’ll tell you all about it) and the Constitution because they wish to see free, constitutional government flourish. Likewise, most Presbyterians (at least in the OPC) are much more devoted to the catechisms and confessions because they (I) believe they are the most faithful to the description of Christ’s church found in Scripture. For all of the talk of the achievements of the 18th and 17th centuries respectively I see much more devotion to principle than I do to mindless antiquarianism or longing for a mythologized golden age.

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  5. Kent, It’s origins are too disparate. Low countries and Palatinate in the 1560s and then just to 1618. Too complicated to turn into one founding. Plus, it’s a polyglot founding, Flemish (?), German, and Dutch.

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  6. Publius, not so sure. I think there’s a heavy dose of golden age in there, more than antiquarianism. Please know those adjectives are not mine but yours — “mindless” and “mythologized.”

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  7. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 17, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, you twiddle away with Old Life and PP continues its work.

    Yes, but worse than doing nothing, you subvert the efforts to stop them.

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  8. The land of my people just will not accept Westminster Standards, even with the large amount of expats from Scotland

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  9. Darryl,

    But Robert, what if I go to a Roman Catholic university where they teach contrary to what Roman Catholics wish?

    Easy, you just suck it up and go to mass, content that somewhere out there somebody infallibly knows something and that it is somehow embodied in Rome. And remember, nothing an approved RC historian says is incompatible with the fairy tale that Rome used to endorse as binding dogma about Peter, the keys, his founding the church of Rome, etc.

    Simple, eh?

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  10. Robert
    Posted August 17, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
    Darryl,

    But Robert, what if I go to a Roman Catholic university where they teach contrary to what Roman Catholics wish?

    Easy, you just suck it up and go to mass, content that somewhere out there somebody infallibly knows something and that it is somehow embodied in Rome. And remember, nothing an approved RC historian says is incompatible with the fairy tale that Rome used to endorse as binding dogma about Peter, the keys, his founding the church of Rome, etc.

    Simple, eh?

    Actually, the “Protestant” colleges are now far worse.

    Algiers50 • 5 days ago
    Duke University bylaws in 1924:

    “The aims of Duke University are to assert a faith in the eternal union of knowledge and religion set forth in the teachings and character of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; to advance learning in all lines of truth; to defend scholarship against all false notions and ideals; to develop a Christian love of freedom and truth; to promote a sincere spirit of tolerance; to discourage all partisan and sectarian strife; and to render the largest permanent service to the individual, the state, the nation, and the church. Unto these ends shall the affairs of this University always be administered.”

    Duke University’s modern version (adopted in 2014) :

    “The aims of Duke University (the “University”) were originally set forth in a statement that President John C. Kilgo wrote for Trinity College in 1903. Kilgo’s statement, which grounded the University’s purposes in the Christian tradition of intellectual inquiry and service to the world, was adapted for Duke University upon its establishment in 1924. [see above] Recognizing its origin in this tradition, its continuing relationship to The United Methodist Church, and the diverse constituency that has developed since its founding, the University is committed to creating a rigorous scholarly community characterized by generous hospitality towards diverse religious and cultural traditions. The University therefore pursues the following aims: to foster a lively relationship between knowledge and faith; to advance learning in all lines of truth; to defend scholarship against all false notions and ideals; to develop a love of freedom and truth; to promote a respectful spirit of dialogue and understanding; to discourage all partisan and sectarian strife; and to further the advancement of knowledge in service to society. The affairs of the university will always be guided by these ends.”

    Note that what is most important is “diversity”… (and “Jesus” –that one name that can’t be mentioned in public education and barely mentioned in private education– is omitted entirely…)

    See also

    http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/08/the-perils-of-preferred-peers

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  11. Tom,

    Duke is a nonsectarian university, so try again. Meanwhile Boston College is a Jesuit University that for decades allowed Mary Daly, a RC hating feminist lesbian pagan, to teach religion classes. And when she was finally booted, it wasn’t because she was a heretic but because she violated state and federal equal access rules by refusing to let men take her classes.

    But in any case, Protestants don’t claim infallibility. When you claim infallibility of doctrine and then turn a blind eye to anti-RC doctrine being taught at official RC institutions, your professed claim has failed spectacularly. This the problem to which Darryl refers.

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  12. Robert
    Posted August 17, 2015 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    Duke is a nonsectarian university, so try again.

    I don’t have to try again. I just showed how Jesus Christ was cut out of a Christian university’s mission statement. Look up the histories of Harvard and Princeton!

    This is not to say the Catholic universities are not screwed up. But your example of one teacher at BC just doesn’t hold up.

    The Catholic universities are trying to avoid becoming Christian ghettoes like Calvin College or Wheaton. But in standing in the marketplace of ideas as a full participant, there are indeed problems.

    http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/08/the-perils-of-preferred-peers

    At a major Catholic institution like the University of Notre Dame, for example, administrators use the term “preferred peers” to refer to universities like Duke, Stanford, and Princeton, suggesting that these are the benchmarks by which Notre Dame measures its own aspirations to excellence.

    By the current standards of American higher learning, Duke, Stanford, and Princeton are indeed excellent schools. But is their excellence the excellence to which a Catholic institution of higher education should aspire? Are they the benchmarks by which a Catholic university with dreams of glory should measure itself?

    I doubt it. Boasting vast endowments, many very fine teachers, and excellent programs in some fields, Duke, Stanford, and Princeton nonetheless participate in the intellectual incoherence that is the chief hallmark of 21st-century American higher education. None of the three has a serious, demanding core curriculum, in which students absorb the intellectual patrimony of the West and are thus equipped to meet and engage other cultures. Duke has an excellent divinity school and a glorious chapel; but it would be a stretch to say that serious theology and an appreciation of human beings as innately worshipping creatures are hallmarks of a Duke undergraduate education. Princeton has the great Professor Robert P. George, but its philosophy department is adept at turning out graduates who doubt that there is anything properly describable as “the truth.” As for Stanford, its response to the decadence of campus life today has been to institute a monitored regime of political correctness that would be risible if it were not sinister.

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  13. Tom,

    This is not to say the Catholic universities are not screwed up..

    So the point would be, then?

    But your example of one teacher at BC just doesn’t hold up.

    That one teacher is emblematic of the vast majority of RC schools in this country. Heck, they can’t even fire homosexual teachers at their parochial schools without the students and their families complaining and the dioceses hemming and hawing about it, San Francisco, ironically, being the exception.

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  14. It is generally the practice of the OPC to accept Roman Catholic baptism as fulfilling the requirement for baptism. The reasoning behind this practice is that the sanctity of the ordinance does not depend on the character of the person performing the baptism. The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way: “The grace exhibited which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit and the word of institution” (27:3). Also see Matthew 10:8, in which Jesus gave authority to the 12 disciples to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, etc. Judas was one of them and doubtless performed these wonders. Yet he was an apostate. (See John 12:12 and Acts 1:25.) These miraculous works in Jesus’ name were not negated by Judas’ defection. There are some in the OPC who question RC baptism on the basis of the Roman Catholic belief in baptismal regeneration. So, as a matter of conscience, the session or the applicant for membership might call for re-baptism. However, I know of no instances that I can quote

    http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=106

    We know that the Donatists are tares because the Donatists not only believed in water regeneration but also presumed to already see the difference between wheat and tares. But at least we don’t kill the Donatists anymore.

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  15. vd, t, great defense. See Protestants are as bad as Roman Catholics. Yes, that will get me to cross the Tiber.

    But will it get you to go to church? Or your wife to flee the wickedness of Hollywood?

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  16. Robert, don’t forget that vd, t is a RC apologist who doesn’t believe in one of the church’s infallible dogmas, promotes evolution contrary to Pius X (for starters), and — wait for it — doesn’t go to church.

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  17. Robert
    Posted August 17, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    This is not to say the Catholic universities are not screwed up..

    So the point would be, then?

    But your example of one teacher at BC just doesn’t hold up.

    That one teacher is emblematic of the vast majority of RC schools in this country. Heck, they can’t even fire homosexual teachers at their parochial schools without the students and their families complaining and the dioceses hemming and hawing about it, San Francisco, ironically, being the exception.

    Yes, you said that. We shall see what happens. This institutionalization of homosexuality was unthinkable a decade ago. Now some churches have institutionalized it ecclesiastically! Imagine that.

    Lesbyterians!

    http://www.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2009/03/20/san-francisco-lesbyterian-seeks-ordination

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  18. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, great defense. See Protestants are as bad as Roman Catholics. Yes, that will get me to cross the Tiber.

    But will it get you to go to church? Or your wife to flee the wickedness of Hollywood?

    Shut up about my wife, Dr. Hart. You’re way out of line.

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  19. TVD
    Posted August 17, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
    D. G. Hart
    Posted August 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, great defense. See Protestants are as bad as Roman Catholics. Yes, that will get me to cross the Tiber.

    But will it get you to go to church? Or your wife to flee the wickedness of Hollywood?

    Shut up about my wife, Dr. Hart. You’re way out of line.>>>>>

    This is a new low. Leave people’s families out of it. I can’t believe you said that. You should be ashamed of yourself, Dr. Hart.

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  20. Darryl,

    Robert, don’t forget that vd, t is a RC apologist who doesn’t believe in one of the church’s infallible dogmas, promotes evolution contrary to Pius X (for starters), and — wait for it — doesn’t go to church.

    Which is why his continued presence to point out how bad Protestants are and how superior Romanism is to the alternatives confuses me.

    I mean, I’ve known plenty of nominal RCs. Typically, they could care less about what Rome says or does, or about her superiority. A nominal RC who is fiercely committed to the one true church, except for the parts he doesn’t like, is perplexing. Maybe the paradigm isn’t so superior after all?

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  21. Robert
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink
    Darryl,

    Robert, don’t forget that vd, t is a RC apologist who doesn’t believe in one of the church’s infallible dogmas, promotes evolution contrary to Pius X (for starters), and — wait for it — doesn’t go to church.

    Which is why his continued presence to point out how bad Protestants are and how superior Romanism is to the alternatives confuses me.

    Actually, the point is that most every one of Dr. Hart’s habitual attacks on the Catholic Church are on something that’s exponentially worse in “Protestantism,” and often in Presbyterianism.

    He remains ironyproof.

    Dr. Hart is also abominably ignorant [or just dishonest] about Catholicism, such as here with his oracular bleat on Pius X in 1909, who in fact did not preclude evolution. As our putative historian surely knows, his idol HL Mencken noted

    [The advantage of Catholics] lies in the simple fact that they do not have to decide either for Evolution or against it. Authority has not spoken on the subject; hence it puts no burden upon conscience, and may be discussed realistically and without prejudice.

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  22. “Protestants have not universally defined themselves over-against Catholicism, but it has been done by some Protestants at some times, with ugly and tragic consequence.”

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2015/08/anti-catholicism-and-religious-freedom

    I wonder if Leithart ever read Calvin’s sermons on Galatians.

    The idea of the pope addressing congress shows the confusion of “church” and state continues, every bit as much as the confusion of “church” and the Zionist state and its prime minster

    The freedom not to have the pope address the politicians comes second to the freedom of the politicians to engage in idolatry?

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  23. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 6:23 am | Permalink
    vd, t, you publicly boast at your websites that you’re married to an actress.

    Using my wife in your personal attacks is out of line, Dr. Hart, and even your fans know it.

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  24. vd, t, I do think the irony is all yours.

    Old Life distinguishes between good and bad Protestantism and encourages Protestants to form and maintain healthy communions to that end.

    Roman Catholics have to distinguish between good and bad Roman Catholics but then have to act like such a distinction doesn’t exist and that the church is all one. Garry Wills, Michael Sean Winters, and you are all good RC’s even though none of you follow the magisterium (Winters does the most of the three).

    The further irony is that when we try to remedy a communion that is bloated and deceitful about its health, you consign us to being divisive even though you distinguish between the real and the fake all the time.

    The biggest irony of all is that you don’t go to church.

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  25. Tom, I agree with you 120%. And I think, in a show of righteous indignation and protest and for Darryl’s own sanctification, you should boycott OL. Just drum up that RC resolve from when you were baptized and knock that OL dust off your sandals and walk on, bruther.

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  26. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, I do think the irony is all yours.

    Old Life distinguishes between good and bad Protestantism and encourages Protestants to form and maintain healthy communions to that end.

    No you don’t. You just attack, be it Catholic or Protestant. You have no healthy communions.

    And your ignorance/dishonesty about Catholicism remains abominable, and until you ban me, I’m going to keep calling out your distortions.

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  27. vd, t, I see you’re still at it, huh? You do know that being an insufferable troll on a blog doesn’t count as penance, right? I can almost guarantee Fr. McCavity won’t be impressed.

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  28. TVD
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
    D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, I do think the irony is all yours.

    Old Life distinguishes between good and bad Protestantism and encourages Protestants to form and maintain healthy communions to that end.

    No you don’t. You just attack, be it Catholic or Protestant. You have no healthy communions.

    And your ignorance/dishonesty about Catholicism remains abominable, and until you ban me, I’m going to keep calling out your distortions.>>>>>>

    If I weren’t already a Christian, just by reading this blog I would have no idea of what being a Christian even means. I guess it means trashing everyone except maybe John Calvin.

    Otherwise, everyone from the Pope to Tim Keller to John Piper to the PCA to, well, everyone.

    Brother Hart cannot have gotten his 2K from Calvin, or from Machen exactly, so where is all this confusion coming from? Some people like it, and that is a very “Protestant” way to think, since it is Protestantism in all its forms that is all about meeeeee! Or in this case, all about Brother Darryl and what he finds interesting. He doesn’t seem to find Jesus very interesting.

    The Bible is not very interesting to him, either, for all the sola scriptura talk.
    —————————-
    D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, so far on this thread you haven’t mentioned a single distortion. It’s all shoot the messenger.

    You must be a fun spouse.>>>>>

    Funny, Brother Hart. I was thinking that about you. How much fun can Brother Hart be to actually live with. I don’t want to shoot the messenger, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what your message is.

    Jesus Christ and Him crucified, like with the Apostle Paul?

    Beloved, let us love one another like that Apostle John?

    Be holy, beloved children, like the Apostle Peter?

    What is the message, Brother Hart? How about one Spirit, one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is in all, over all, and through all.

    Of course, maybe you are not claiming to be a Christian blogger. You are a Christian, but we should not assume that this is a Christian blog. Sure. Christians participate, but they should not be participating as Christians. Is that it?

    How far do you take the compartmentalization of your faith, Brother Hart?

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  29. The Indomitable World Wide Webfoot says: How far do you take the compartmentalization of your faith, Brother Hart?

    Really? And you’re the one defending an internet troll who doesn’t even have the stones to go to church? If you want compartmentalization of one’s faith, talk to vd, t, Webby.

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  30. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, so far on this thread you haven’t mentioned a single distortion. It’s all shoot the messenger.

    You must be a fun spouse.

    I am.

    And you distorted Pius X on evolution. Educate yourself, Dr. Hart. There’s no excuse for misleading your little flock.

    Seth
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
    The Indomitable World Wide Webfoot says: How far do you take the compartmentalization of your faith, Brother Hart?

    Really? And you’re the one defending an internet troll who doesn’t even have the stones to go to church? If you want compartmentalization of one’s faith, talk to vd, t, Webby.

    Oh look, you fooled another one, Darryl. For the record, sir, Dr. Hart just guesses at my religion, which I decline to discuss due to his propensity for personal attack.

    The embarrassment is yours, not mine.

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  31. @Webfoot
    “If I weren’t already a Christian, just by reading this blog I would have no idea of what being a Christian even means. I guess it means trashing everyone except maybe John Calvin.

    Otherwise, everyone from the Pope to Tim Keller to John Piper to the PCA to, well, everyone.”

    Pot, meet Kettle. If you can, do a search for your comments about Luther on this blog

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  32. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, louder!

    D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, so far on this thread you haven’t mentioned a single distortion. It’s all shoot the messenger.

    YOU DISTORTED PIUS X ON EVOLUTION. EDUCATE YOURSELF. DR. HART. THERE’S NO EXCUSE FOR MISLEADING YOUR LITTLE FLOCK.

    😉

    perhaps someone should shoot the messenger in this case

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  33. Seth
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, call it creative license, but your words sound more and more shrill every day.

    I don’t like wasting time on darryl’s surrogates, but FTR, he asked for louder. We aim to please. 😉

    In the meantime, when it comes to Dr. Hart on Catholicism, you should always double-check. His knowledge is only Google-deep, and often he misreads what he finds, like recently when he totally screwed up what’s in the Rosary.

    Caveat emptor.

    “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”― Fulton J. Sheen

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  34. Not sure if what DGH said about what Pius ☓ said about evolution would be a deal breaker for my Reformed brother

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  35. Tom,

    Actually, the point is that most every one of Dr. Hart’s habitual attacks on the Catholic Church are on something that’s exponentially worse in “Protestantism,” and often in Presbyterianism.

    Darryl isn’t “attacking” Rome. He’s pointing out where the call to communion is at best naive and at worst dishonest. He’s not saying Protestantism is without problems. He’s saying that if you don’t like Protestant disunity, dissension, and so forth, Rome isn’t going to give a better answer because it has the exact same problems.

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  36. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, Pius X condemned modernism, that includes you.

    Another wretched guess about my beliefs, and another gaseous attempt to cover your screwup about the Catholic position on evolution.

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  37. Robert
    Posted August 18, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    Actually, the point is that most every one of Dr. Hart’s habitual attacks on the Catholic Church are on something that’s exponentially worse in “Protestantism,” and often in Presbyterianism.

    Darryl isn’t “attacking” Rome. He’s pointing out where the call to communion is at best naive and at worst dishonest. He’s not saying Protestantism is without problems. He’s saying that if you don’t like Protestant disunity, dissension, and so forth, Rome isn’t going to give a better answer because it has the exact same problems.

    I know that’s Dr. Calvinism: A History’s argument, but it doesn’t hold, and that’s what I continually point out. “Presbyterianism” has had more schisms in its brief history than the Catholic Church has had in 2000 years.

    Dr. Hart’s own “Orthodox Presbyterian Church,” the result of a schism in 1936, promptly had a schism of its own in 1937. [The first ordained minister in the new “Bible Presbyterian Church? Francis Schaeffer!]

    Unlike the Catholic Church, in “Protestantism,” schism is the rule, not the exception. This is why an a historical level alone I continue to challenge Dr. Hart’s attempt to make an equivalency with the “dissent” in Catholicism. Dissent–heresy!–has been the rule, not the exception, in Christianity from the first.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_heresies

    I object and will continue to object to Dr. Hart trying to lump–conflate–the ecclesiastical schism inevitable in “Protestantism” with the inevitable theological disagreements in the Church that date back to the Acts of the Apostles.

    Thx for your courteous reply, Robert, and in case you missed it when it happened, I’m sorry for getting too personal with you awhile back. My bad.

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  38. I object and will continue to object to Dr. Hart trying to lump–conflate–the ecclesiastical schism inevitable in “Protestantism” with the inevitable theological disagreements in the Church that date back to the Acts of the Apostles.

    I maintain that the explosion of denominations in the US is the result of secular factors such as political freedom, plurality, individualism, entrepreneurialism, etc… it isn’t just Christian denominations that have expanded – we’ve seen the same thing happen with non-Christian denominations. Your model that protestantism has some characteristic that distinguishes itself from catholicism (e.g., sola scriptura) and thus has fractured does not explain the proliferation of Buddhist, muslim, and jewish sects unique to the US. My explanation is more parsimonious.

    In addition to the proliferation of protestant sects, the RC church is not holding on to her own. While most may not leave to start a new denomination (though a few clergy have), you need to distinguish RCs leaving the church and creating denominations of 1 and groups leaving and forming denominations >1 for your distinction to matter (and thus meaningfully criticize dgh’s approach).
    The assertion that a nano-denomination of a “spiritual-but-not-religious-recovering-Catholic” is not the same thing as a micro-denomination of reformed Christians doesn’t explain how the RCC is less fractured. While you can point to official church stats that don’t show decline, that is largely because when an RC leaves the faith, they are rarely are taken off the books (I know, I know sociology, but your comparison of schism vs disagreement is a sociological question for which there is evidence that undermines your criticism).

    At the end of the day, what you have going for you is that the RCC is the biggest. I don’t agree that bigger is necessarily better. It is not obvious why (theologically, exegetically, or sociologically) we should expect so…

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  39. b, sd, and vd, t selectively forgets the national parishes that dominated U.S. Roman Catholicism and that divided congregations into their linguistic and ethnic origins. Neither Jew nor Greek my arse. Then you have the National Catholic Reporter and The Wanderer.

    But when the demands of unity are so light, no wonder it’s so possible. Just imagine vd, t. He’s in communion with Bryan and the Jasons but doesn’t go to church.

    Seems to me there’s a rationale for reformation in there somewhere.

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  40. Tom,

    I know that’s Dr. Calvinism: A History’s argument, but it doesn’t hold, and that’s what I continually point out. “Presbyterianism” has had more schisms in its brief history than the Catholic Church has had in 2000 years.

    Dr. Hart’s own “Orthodox Presbyterian Church,” the result of a schism in 1936, promptly had a schism of its own in 1937. [The first ordained minister in the new “Bible Presbyterian Church? Francis Schaeffer!]

    Unlike the Catholic Church, in “Protestantism,” schism is the rule, not the exception. This is why an a historical level alone I continue to challenge Dr. Hart’s attempt to make an equivalency with the “dissent” in Catholicism. Dissent–heresy!–has been the rule, not the exception, in Christianity from the first.

    But it isn’t equivocal or a false comparison when the dissenters continue to be treated as orthodox Roman Catholics or at least are allowed to think that they are because there is no discipline. You don’t have the formation of individual ecclesiastical bodies, you have visible unity that is essentially meaningless.

    There has been a lot of schism in Protestant history, it is true. But unless the church has really gone off the rails, at least in modern times it isn’t as if the PCA doesn’t consider the OPC to be a true church, or the Missouri Synod a true church, or the local SBC a true church. It’s easy for Rome to claim unity when every body that schisms from it is considered either not to be a true church (Protestants) or a quasi-true church.

    I object and will continue to object to Dr. Hart trying to lump–conflate–the ecclesiastical schism inevitable in “Protestantism” with the inevitable theological disagreements in the Church that date back to the Acts of the Apostles.

    But they aren’t being unjustifiably conflated. The Apostles kicked out the heretics. Rome doesn’t really do that anymore. That’s part of the problem. In what meaningful sense is the church united when many of her own bishops want to change the unchangeable?

    Thx for your courteous reply, Robert, and in case you missed it when it happened, I’m sorry for getting too personal with you awhile back. My bad.

    I did see your apology, and I accept it. No worries. I apologize for when I’ve been intemperate with you or others.

    Like

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