Is It Too Much to Ask?

For honesty?

Why can’t Roman Catholic apologists be as realistic as Boniface (on Synod 2015)?

(5) Speaking of “failed marriages”, let us remember that marriage is a sacrament. Sacraments do not fail. Are there “failed” baptisms, “failed” ordinations, “failed” confirmations? One is either baptized or one is not. One is either confirmed or one is not. One was either ordained or one wasn’t. Similarly, one is either married or one isn’t. You cannot have a valid, sacramental marriage which has “failed” in the sense that the problems of one marriage can render it null and permit a person or persons to be subjectively convinced that they are now free to remarry. Sacraments do not fail. A marriage is a marriage. It is not an ideal that only the perfect arrive at. It is not “an authentic conjugal project.” It is a sacrament – a sacrament which more or less grace may be available depending on the disposition of the spouses, but a sacrament nonetheless – and it is brought into being in its fullness and immediacy by the consent of the parties before the Church’s minister. We must all be on guard against the subtle transformation of marriage from a fact to a mere ideal, and an excessive focus on its natural aspects versus its sacramental character. . . .

(8) The Kasperite Thesis is based on the theory that two people can be sleeping with each other whenever they want to without any intention to stop and not be responsible for doing so. This is what is mean by invoking “limitations on culpability.” The idea of the bishops who promote it is that people are oftentimes trapped in a situation where they do not wish to sleep with each other but find they have no choice–a kind of lack of consent. That’s rather demeaning to the couple, isn’t it? “Well, honey, we’re not really married, and, as a Catholic in the State of Grace, I love God above all things, but I am slave to our circumstances, unable to make a free choice, and so I am going to sleep with you, not as a free agent engaging in a personal act, but as an animal coerced by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in.” Very romantic, huh? No. Actually, it’s pretty much rape. It is the old liberal talking point that sin is inevitable.

(9) The Pope may be moving towards permitting the question of absolution for those living in an adulterous second union to eventually be answered by episcopal conferences. He said:

“[W]e have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion” (Papal Homily, 10/24/15)

This may in part be a reference to the fact that the African Bishops (and others, such as the American Bishops, for the most part) rejected the Kasperite thesis vociferously. . . .

(11) Though Synod I was a conservative “victory” and though Synod II did not incorporate the worst of the Kasperite heresy in its final document, we should not in any sense these Synods as successes. This 2014-2015 Synod on the Family was probably the most disastrous thing that has happened to the Church since Vatican II. It will take centuries for the damage to be undone – and the damage is already done, regardless of what the final document says, because it has given the impression that fundamental moral doctrines are up for debate. And either way, we should remember that in Synod I, the majority of bishops voted for the pro-homosexual passages; they were not included because the vote did not reach the requisite 2/3, but it did reach a simple majority. This should appall us. Similarly, the fact that one conservative commentator estimated that at Synod II not more than 35% of the episcopate would vote for the Kasper thesis should horrify us. for these numbers mean that between 1/3 and 1/2 of our global episcopate lacks the most basic understanding of Catholic moral theology. Our pastors. . . .

(13) However, while appealing to the memory of John Paul II and Familiaris Consortio may have helped save the day, traditionalist Catholics should not fall into the practice of opposing John Paul II or even Benedict XVI to Francis. Some Catholic blogs still like to paint Benedict as a traditionalist and compare the Benedictine “restoration” to Francis’ lio. But who appointed these Kasperite bishops? Who put these heretics in office? Blaise Cupich was appointed by John Paul II. Kasper was made a bishop by John Paul as well, years after his heretical views were known. Maradiaga was also a John Paul II appointment. Nunzio Galatino, the Secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference – you know, the one who told the Italian newspaper La Nazione that “My wish for the Italian Church is that it is able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favour of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality” – he was an appointment of Benedict XVI. Reinhard “Kirchensteuer” Marx, the arch-heresiarch of Germany, was appointed by John Paul II and elevated to the cardinalate by Benedict XVI. This nonsense about affirming the good things in homosexual relationships was started by Benedict XVI himself. If you are appalled at the apostasy of these liberals, blame John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They appointed or elevated them. The entire global episcopate – at least at its senior levels – is the creation of John Paul II. I know John Paul II and Benedict XVI look pretty good now compared to Frankie Uno, but John Paul II and Benedict XVI were innovators, too. Taking refuge from the chaos of Francis in the example of John Paul II will get us nowhere.

(all about) I feel Boniface’s pain. He understands he lives in a church militant. Bad things happen and Christians need to beware (even ones who think that papal infallibility solves everything or keeps Roman Catholics from being as inferior as Protestants).

I can’t feel Susan’s joy, Mermaid’s naivete, or James’ hyper-assurance. It doesn’t make sense of the real world.

If only the blogosphere had more voices like Boniface’s. We wouldn’t agree on the church or salvation. But we would agree about the importance and value of being circumspect.

Postscript: I listened to a very good interview with the person behind the pen-name and his experience as mayor of a small Michigan city. Turns out it’s hard to be an exceptionalist about the United States if your realistic about the church. But I’d vote for this guy. Augustinians all.

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94 thoughts on “Is It Too Much to Ask?

  1. The strangest thing about Catholic marriage teaching is that marriage is actually stronger than the spiritual reality it symbolizes.

    Scripture clearly indicates, and Catholics agree, that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church.

    Yet in Catholic teaching marriage is permanent, indissoluble even by mutual consent; while a believer’s relationship to Christ is not.

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  2. @Jeff Given the breadth of justifications for an annulment, it seems like the RCC has already pretty much given up on the indissoluble nature of marriage. Given the state of marriage teaching in much of Europe, it is hard to believe there are any marriages that wouldn’t qualify for an annulment.

    Yet in Catholic teaching marriage is permanent, indissoluble even by mutual consent; while a believer’s relationship to Christ is not.

    To be fair, I’m pretty sure you don’t get to join in the Eucharist if a believer has dissolved his relationship with Christ.

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  3. SDB,

    To be fair, I’m pretty sure you don’t get to join in the Eucharist if a believer has dissolved his relationship with Christ.

    I think that is official teaching. The problem is that Rome doesn’t provide the “principled means” to distinguish the individual believer’s opinion of his spiritual state with the truth of it. So he’s left blind, if we are to believe CVD.

    And of course, will the priest refuse you the Eucharist if you in fact are a Buddhist? The masses I’ve been to basically will serve anyone who comes to the front. No questions asked. Maybe it’s different in smaller parishes.

    I still don’t get why all the weight in infallible dogma without discipline. If I lack the means to discern truth from opinion about dogma and Rome can give it, then it seems to me if you’re going to put all your eggs in that “no provisional certainty” basket, anyone who is allowed to take the Eucharist is by definition orthodox. Either that or Rome’s pastoral care sucks. Methinks that in practice those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

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  4. I can’t feel Susan’s joy, Mermaid’s naivete, or James’ hyper-assurance. It doesn’t make sense of the real world.

    Of course you don’t feel it. Your church is only 80 years old. The Catholic Church has survived much worse than this.

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  5. Darryl,

    Why is this synod all of a sudden chicken little sky is falling for RCism? It’s not like this type of scenario is news.

    Pius VII to Napoleon “Oh my little man, you think you’re going to succeed in accomplishing [destroying the church] what centuries of priests and bishops have tried and failed to do!”

    Chrysostom (attributed): “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.”

    Sheed: “We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the Cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point”

    That little thing of the Arian crisis. And so on.

    An RC’s “hyper-assurance” (is that different than regular assurance?) is not in the pope, it’s in Christ’s promises.

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  6. James Young, so Christ’s promises determine which dogma are infallible? How exactly does that work? You wave a card of Christ’s promises and a buzzer goes off over papal infallibility and bodily assumption of Mary.

    Really really lame.

    It’s the infallible pope who claims infallibility for which you have been arguing all along as the mechanism for determining infallible truth which make Roman Catholicism superior to Protestantism.

    Now you’re going to pull out Christ’s promises like any 8 year old catechized Sunday school student.

    Again, I say lame. All that philosophy and the best you come up with is Christ’s promises. Luther and Calvin claimed that against your popes.

    And they were authoritative without being infallible, just like President Obama.

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  7. Cletus van Damme
    Posted October 30, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
    Darryl,

    Why is this synod all of a sudden chicken little sky is falling for RCism? It’s not like this type of scenario is news.

    Pius VII to Napoleon “Oh my little man, you think you’re going to succeed in accomplishing [destroying the church] what centuries of priests and bishops have tried and failed to do!”

    heh heh

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  8. Darryl,

    Infallibility is not confined to the Pope who only exercises said infallibility in a limited capacity. That’s why it’s not sky-is-falling when we see conflict within a synod or when popes give certain remarks and why comments of yours like “oh you only got 2 dogmas” are misfires. There has been conflict in practically every ecumenical council, so why a synod would be assumed or expected to be exempt where those weren’t, let alone that such a conflict indicates sky is falling, is just naive.

    “Now you’re going to pull out Christ’s promises like any 8 year old catechized Sunday school student.”

    What do you mean, now I’m going to? Christ’s promises apply to the church’s infallibility and authority – they are what grounds and enables it in the first place.

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  9. I don’t disagree with DGH’s ongoing observations about Rome. Even so, I wonder whether evangelical Reformed communions aren’t guilty of many of the same things.

    I found out today that I’ve been banned from commenting on the Gospel Coalition blog, the semi-official blog of the OPC, the PCA, and a few like-minded Baptists. I looked back to see what comment earned the ban. It turns out that I was banned for a comment in response to a piece that asserted that the American practice of contractual marriage and no-fault divorce had Bolshevik roots. In a comment, I pointed out that the American practice emerged quite independently from any Bolshevik influence. Further, I pointed out that the New England Puritans actually practiced contractual marriage and permitted divorce on terms akin to no-fault divorce. In short, I was banned for telling the truth–on a website that speaks highly of the truth and uses the term “gospel” in its title.

    Before you continue throwing tomatoes at Rome, perhaps you need to reflect on whether many of your own evangelical Reformed institutions don’t engage in much the same kind of duplicity.

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  10. Bobby,

    Isn’t the significant difference that we don’t claim to be infallible? Rome claims to be infallible; the Gospel Coalition doesn’t. CtC is claiming that we need the infallible Magisterium to have more than opinion and then it gives us a very fallible and duplicitous Magisterium. Evangelical Protestants don’t claim the former, and we’re pretty honest that church can and does mess up doctrinally and morally.

    Now what exactly happened with you and the GC and its propriety I don’t know enough about to comment. I do know that GC is 1. not a church and 2. doesn’t claim infallibility for itself.

    The tomatoes aren’t thrown merely for Rome being a moral failure. The tomatoes are thrown for CtC’s claim that doesn’t match reality.

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  11. Bobby, TGC prefers cheerleaders. On Twitter they’ve been known to block critics. They are pretty much a PR machine, not people looking for a dialogue. But don’t blame us for them.

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  12. James Young, and Christ’s promises are what ground Protestant belief in sola Scriptura.

    So you’ve got nothing on us. You’re in no better a position because you’re relying on Christ’s promise. Papal infallibility is subordinate to Christ’s promise.

    It sure took you a long time to get there (and to sell the Vatican farm).

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  13. Robert,

    So, lying is ok as long as I don’t claim to be infallible? The TGC author stated something that was false. Perhaps he did so initially out of carelessness. But a number of other commenters and I pointed out the problems with the thesis. But, instead of correcting the falsehoods, TGC simply deleted the comments that disclosed the errors in the piece and blocked the people who had made the comments.

    Further, the Catholic doctrine of infallibility is much more narrow that you’re supposing. You’re arguing against a straw man. You’re making TVD look winsome, which is tough to do.

    Lastly, most conservative Reformed folk indeed believe in a form on infallibility, which is stated most explicitly in the Second Helvetic Confession. By that doctrine, conservative Reformed folk believe that, in the act of preaching, the Spirit so moves the minister such that the minister’s words are not his own words but are in fact the very words of God and are to be taken as such by the members of the church.

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  14. @DGH

    Yes, the problem is complicated by the para-church nature of TGC. Or, are you suggesting that sessions and presbyteries have no jurisdiction to institute discipline for errant proclamations of the “gospel” carried out on the websites of para-church ministries? If I may recall, many in the OPC didn’t take that view when it came to Misty Irons.

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  15. I found out today that I’ve been banned from commenting on the Gospel Coalition blog, the semi-official blog of the OPC, the PCA, and a few like-minded Baptists.

    Um, no Peg. TGC is a PR machine for the celebrity preacher set in the SBC and the congregationalist evangelicals. There are a few PCA guys thrown in there, not the least of which is the Bishop, TKNY (a co-founder, I know), but it is far from the semi-official blog of the OPC or even the PCA.

    And they don’t like people who disagree with them. They are sensitive flowers who are attuned to the slightest micro-aggression. But don’t worry – they don’t have to many problems with Driscoll or Mahaney.

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  16. Bobby,

    That’s not my point. It’s wrong to sin whether you claim infallibility or not. And we know the “narrow” definition of infallibility, it’s just so narrow that the people advocating it can’t agree on what it covers. In practice, every RC decides for himself what dogma is infallible and what’s not. The problem we have is that the people doubling down on infallibility: James, Mermaid, CtC, et all are oblivious to that fact. Which wouldn’t be so irritating if it wasn’t presented as the foolproof solution to every Protestant being his own pope.

    I’m not defending the GC; but what I refrained from earlier is noting how boneheaded it is to complain about Darryl et all throwing tomatoes at Rome when the GC is blocking you. In case you haven’t noticed, Darryl and most of the guys here aren’t what you would call GC cheerleaders.

    But well done on the Second Helvetic. It’s different from Rome, however, in that only the accurately reached Word of God is the Word of God. And the group that infallibly affirms when that has happened isn’t the Reformed Magisterium.

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  17. @Publius

    I was not aware that there was tension between TGC and Old Life? Keller, yes, but TGC is far broader than Keller. In fact, most of the top leaders in the PCA play an active role in overseeing TGC. These luminaries include Bryan Chappell, Kevin DeYoung, Dan Doriani, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, Harry Reeder, George Robertson, and Phil Ryken. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in implicating the OPC. For some reason, I thought that Carl Trueman was a TGC guy. I was wrong. Even so, I find it a bit peculiar that this set of PCA luminaries would lend their support to a project that uses the word “gospel” in its name and that rarely speaks of Christ, perpetuates blatant falsehoods, and silences those who seek in good faith to tell the truth.

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  18. Robert,

    There’s nothing in the Second Helvetic that limits the infallibility to accurate averments. The only qualification is to lawful calling.

    “Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.”

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  19. Bobby –

    I can’t speak for anyone else around here, but in general I think there is a certain skepticism of parachurch groups, celebrity worship, and the mega-conference circuit. Except for C’dubs. He loves it.

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  20. I’m a confessional Presbyterian in an ECO church (don’t ask). I’m no fan of TGC.

    Funnily enough, I just finished Keller’s book on church planting for seminary. Good stuff but too much bone for my taste.

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  21. Bobby, “I find it a bit peculiar that this set of PCA luminaries would lend their support to a project that uses the word “gospel” in its name and that rarely speaks of Christ”

    duh.

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  22. Bobby, simple — TGC is evangelicalism with a better website, revivalism with no gravy on its time. That’s all. So, naturally, many in the PCA are drawn to TGC like an Xian moth to a gospel-centered flame. Not too hot, though — dontcha know?

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  23. and can we just continue and perpetually agree to call each other hypocrites and can we say we sure like to think the worst of each other

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  24. Bobby,

    There’s nothing in the Second Helvetic that limits the infallibility to accurate averments. The only qualification is to lawful calling.

    It’s certainly implied. Nobody who wrote or signed the Second Helvetic thought that when you use Scripture to teach Arianism you are preaching the infallible Word of God.

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  25. Bobby,

    In fact, most of the top leaders in the PCA play an active role in overseeing TGC. These luminaries include Bryan Chappell, Kevin DeYoung, Dan Doriani, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, Harry Reeder, George Robertson, and Phil Ryken.

    I could be mistaken, but the appearance of a name on the TGC Council doesn’t necessarily mean they play an active role in overseeing TGC. It’s not entirely clear to me how the group actually functions besides being a clearing house for teaching resources and sponsoring conferences, and there’s a handful of paid staff that would coordinate all of that. The council is so large that there is no way that everyone on it is providing “active oversight.” At best a smaller group is setting policy that the council members later vote on.

    The way certain things have happened have made it clear that not everyone on the council is necessarily on the same page.

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  26. aw cw, “humorless shrew”, that’s unkind , but also anyway, if the only unrighteousness you take exception to is lower-casing, I’m off the hook pretty easy

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  27. You know I tend to lean trad (understatement), but on this synod I just don’t see that the hyperventilation and outrage is warranted. It was just more V2 style ambiguity. Heretics will be allowed to read it how they want and conservatives can squint and do the same. Nothing to see here.

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  28. So an atheist friend, divorced with two kids, hooked up with a Catholic woman who goes to mass but had no trouble shacking up with him for a few years.

    Then she felt guilty and insisted on marriage, which he went through.

    Then she insisted he had to annul his first marriage, so he went in and said it was “a mistake” and the Catholic church annulled it, his children weren’t too thrilled with that one.

    I have 6 other stories just like this, some even more outrageous… .

    Some holiness going on there…

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  29. Robert,

    I agree that that’s an implied qualification in the Second Helvetic. But similar such implied qualifications are present in the Roman doctrine of infallibility. But you insist on jousting with a straw man of your own concoction.

    I generally try to be as generous as possible in construing the beliefs of other Christians. Every branch and sub-branch of Christendom has its theological strengths and shortcomings. In general, I believe that it behooves us to find points of unity, and to be charitable concerning our disagreements. As a conservative Presbyterian mainliner (of the ECO/EPC persuasion), that’s something that’s always perplexed me a bit about the more fundamentalist/evangelical branches of the Reformed world: Folks in these quarters seem to resist finding points of unity with other Christians, and seem to go out of their way to elevate any differences to tenets of orthodoxy. In the end, much of these groups’ theology morphs into a self-serving narrative that does little more than justify their isolation and flatter their leaders.

    I point to TGC because that’s the place that most ECO/EPC-oriented mainliners are likely to go if they want to learn more about what folks in the PCA and OPC believe. It strikes me that there’s a well-funded effort to convince PCA/OPC laity that their nearest neighbors are Calvinistically-oriented folks in the SBC. Thus, a huge effort is made to downplay the theological significance of any differences between the PCA/OPC and the SBC. Meanwhile, immense effort is taken to exaggerate the differences between the PCA/OPC and the CRC, ECO, EPC, and conservative elements of the RCA. TGC is the main mouthpiece of that effort. Even so, when churches leave the PCA, they rarely leave for the SBC; they generally leave for the RCA or the EPC. In making that move, churches generally embrace a stronger confessional orientation and eschew certain evangelical distinctives (inerrancy, patriarchal gender roles, and the whole “biblical worldview” project).

    And that’s what confuses me about the whole “old life” project. It tips its hat to Reformed confessionalism. But when push comes to shove, old lifers can’t quite muster the strength to wean themselves from evangelicalism. They’d rather be the cantankerous uncles within an evangelical and fundamentalist world than carve out a home within a broadly confessional mainline-ish Presbyterianism.

    I wonder whether this has more to do with upbringing and ethos than anything else. My EPC church has recently absorbed 1-2 dozen families from a nearby PCA church. I’m going through the membership class with these folks. Without exception, these folks are educated professionals who had no prior exposure to evangelicalism before coming to the PCA. Most of them were raised in conservative mainline Reformed (PCUSA or RCA) or Lutheran backgrounds. When their PCA church hired a new pastor and shifted in a more TGC-oriented direction, they felt out of place. It strikes me that, for old lifers, the converse may apply. Even though most of you don’t have high regard for the Chicago Statement, the Danvers Statement, or the whole revivalist schtick, you largely grew up in church environments where these ideas prevailed. So, you’re far more comfortable operating as a cranky minority within a subculture where these ideas prevail.

    In some ways, I wonder whether the relevant question is “Who don’t you want to see at church on Sunday?” rather than “Who do you want to see at church on Sunday?” For me, as a child of the Protestant mainline, I have no desire to interact with the TGC crowd on any regular basis. They’re a foreign element to me, even as I’m quite comfortable interacting with angry feminists. Why is this? I suspect that it’s because the angry feminist and I move in circles outside of the church that have a fair bit of overlap. We probably both shop at the same stores, eat at the same restaurants, visit the same vacation spots, etc. I may not believe that she’s oppressed by a male-centric world, but we both consume kale smoothies for breakfast, do spinning on a regular basis, and go to the Caribbean every January. Denny Burk and Al Mohler likely do none of those things. Like it or not, we’re often more willing to forgive theological differences when those holding those differing views share many other cultural similarities with us. We may frame our differences in terms of theology, but that’s just a cover for predilections that are far more petty. After all, I suspect that, for evangelical churches, the chief benefit of inerrancy is that it keeps kale-eating, spinning-class-attending, Aruba-vacationing folks like me from sticking around.

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  30. @DGH

    I somehow doubt that the Keller and the Mohlerites are big users of moisturizing creams. That might cost them their biblical manhood cards. I’m not really anyone’s fanboy, although I’m partial to Nick Wolterstorff and Miroslav Volf.

    As for me, yes, I use moisturizer, and toner too. I recommend the Aveda tourmaline charged hydrating creme [sic].

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  31. Bobby – Don’t get your skinny-jeans in a bunch. I think you’re projecting.

    Besides, Darryl loves kale. It’s what food eats.

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  32. @DGH

    I’d suggest that those are apposite comparisons.

    PCA = Southern Baptists who sometimes baptize their infants.
    OPC = Paedobaptist variant of Reformed Baptists.

    I think that explains why there’s something of an ethos mismatch between conservative mainliners and folks in the PCA and OPC. We may not know exactly what we are, but we surely know that we’re not cotton-patch Baptists.

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  33. Baptists aren’t normative. Trying to use them as a baseline doesn’t get you anywhere.

    For the most part people in the OPC know who they are and why. It’s why we have a confession, catechisms, and membership vows.

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  34. EXACTLY. Ratzinger, for example, is/was about as “conservative” as Karl Barth. read his “Introduction to Christianity,” if you can figure out exactly what the hell he is saying there. Even as I miss him, I think his culpability is apparent. As are all the ignorant cardinals who blithely voted for an Argentine who is about as Catholic as Tony Campolo with persistent hangups about going progressive.

    Strange era when the Pope’s devotional utterances routinely discourage people who honestly want to be Catholic. Vatican II, the gift that keeps giving bitchslaps to believers, In Catholicism, it remains Good Times.

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  35. Bobby,

    I agree that that’s an implied qualification in the Second Helvetic. But similar such implied qualifications are present in the Roman doctrine of infallibility. But you insist on jousting with a straw man of your own concoction.

    The problem:

    1. The way Bryan Cross et al double down on infallibility means that they see no qualifications. For them it is absolutely impossible for the church ever to teach error when it says, “Right here, we’re teaching no error.”

    2. From a conservative reading of RC documents, as well as the history of the church in persecuting dissenters, it seems like Bryan et al are rightly reading the Magisterium and how it saw itself up to at least through V2. If Rome says this is infallible, it is infallible. By definition, there can’t be any qualification when the pope speaks ex cathedra. That’s not analogous to the Second Helvetic.

    3. In fact, traditionally speaking, the individual RC doesn’t have the right to say to the pope when he speaks ex cathedra “you are not preaching the Word of God.”

    4. Now admittedly, things since V2 are much more cloudy. The problem is that Cletus, Bryan Cross, et al do not admit that. Everything is dandy, the pope keeps teaching infallibly, etc.

    5. Which in one sense is fine if you want to believe that. The problem is the false picture of epistemology and the church today that they present. Probably the vast majority of RCs today, to the extent they think about such things, would agree that the pope is not preaching the Word of God when he teaches error. But they would also agree that it is up to the individual to discern when and where this is happening. The model of Romanism presented by the RCs here cannot give the individual that power/ability.

    6. So its a distinction between actual theory and practice.

    But in sum, if you are a traditional Romanist, I don’t see how you can ever have grounds for true dissent. If the pope were to deny the Trinity tomorrow and said he was doing so infallibly, then according to V1 you can’t question it. Whether he would actually do that so explicitly is another question. From my point of view, he already has if not denied the Trinity, made it irrelevant in the Christian view of God. It’s essentially an optional belief because Muslims et al can go to heaven even while denying the Trinity.

    In short, there is a sharp bifurcation between official theology and common practice in Romanism. Only a few conservatives care about the official theology, and the Magisterium is not majority conservative. All of the critiques here stem from the fact that Bryan Cross et al don’t acknowledge that.

    If you read enough posts, you’ll see that Darryl has a lot of respect for those Roman conservatives how are honest about what is going on. It’s the dishonesty and how it’s used to win converts based on a false philosophical foundation that avoids history that is the problem.

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  36. Hi, Kenneth,

    It was just more V2 style ambiguity. Heretics will be allowed to read it how they want and conservatives can squint and do the same.

    But this is the problem that we keep pointing out. The reality does not match the claims. There’s no way to argue for epistemological superiority when ambiguity is all the rage.

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  37. Robert, but some of us who came out of something like the CRC (the Dutch mainline) for something more NAPARC do indeed worry about the earnest theology, piety, and practice we continue to bump into and how so often dovetails with TGC. Bobby may be out of his element, but he does have a point.

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  38. Zrim,

    That’s basically my point. Much of the criticism of Catholicism here relates to the fact that conservative Catholics are willing to affiliate with a communion that includes people with whom Old Lifers wouldn’t want to affiliate on Sunday, or that they’re willing to accept leadership that may be a bit squishy on historic Catholic theology.

    But the same thing goes on in the evangelical Reformed world. Folks in the OPC and PCA know that you have to appeal to TGC-type pietists to fill the pews. There’s an OPC church near my house. I like the pastor, and agree with him on most theological points. But his church is filled with a bunch of ex-Baptists who want to hear TGC-type stuff. So, he gives them what they want in varying degrees, and holds his nose while doing it.

    There aren’t enough Old Lifers in either the OPC or the PCA to keep the doors open in a local church. So, you have to be willing to tolerate someone besides yourselves on Sunday morning. Because most growth in the OPC and the PCA has come from the Baptist direction, you make the pragmatic choice to welcome ex-Baptists into your fold. And for that reason, you’re forced to treat conservative mainliners like lepers because that’s what the pew-filling ex-Baptists expect you to do.

    My point is this: You will make the same compromises this morning that Bryan et al. make this morning. You will go to church with people who disagree with you. The difference is the nature of the compromises you’re willing to make. You can poke fun at TGC all you want. Even so, the OPC and PCA would collapse financially if all the ex-Baptists departed. Like it or not, guys like Greg the Terrible is what keep your doors open. And, like it or not, clueless liberals play the same role in the Protestant mainline. Further, my guess is that our choice of one group or the other probably has little to do with theology and more to do with class-based predilections. You can tolerate worshiping with guys like Greg because you grew up in churches full of guys like Greg. And I tolerate the angry feminist for the same reason. But let’s put aside the pretense that we’re doing this for theological reasons.

    Like

  39. Robert

    But in sum, if you are a traditional Romanist, I don’t see how you can ever have grounds for true dissent. If the pope were to deny the Trinity tomorrow and said he was doing so infallibly, then according to V1 you can’t question it.

    Old Life’s anti-Catholicism is based on this idiocy. The sensus fidei would reject the pope’s obvious insanity and his action would be null and void.

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  40. Bobby, the point I think you have is that the confessionalists are still a relative minorities even in NAPARC churches where the culturalists and pietists more or less dominate. Where I think you may be out of your element is to suggest that this owes to more cultural than doctrinal issues. And the problem the callers have is that they maintain that an infallible magisterium settles theological disputes. Well, if that’s true then why is The Bryan going to church with anyone who disagrees with him this morning? What’s it mean to be settled if there are still so many differences from pew to Bishop and back down again? I know I go to church and worship with those with whom I have differences, but I don’t claim the Bible settles everything. And that’s because human sin still clings in such a way that even the sole infallible resource can’t fix it. I don’t see that kind of honesty coming from the callers.

    And the criticisms leveled at the resident Catholic converts has more to do with their using Protestant methodologies to come to Catholic conclusions. It just doesn’t work, at least no better than holding an inflated balloon under water. Take Stellman as an example. How he finds biblical justification for a denial of sola fide takes the same kind of calisthenics required to be a 3-point Calvinist or a Reformed Baptist. More credibility would come in dropping the residual Protestantism that needs a biblical justification for anything and fading into the Catholic woodwork.

    Like

  41. Zrim,

    Yes, I agree that those heading to Rome looking for certainty are going to be disappointed, to say the least. Of course, they’re going to be disappointed wherever they land this side of heaven.

    But the false advertising that lured them to Rome is not substantively different from the false advertising that one observes in the evangelical Reformed world. You may not believe that the Bible settles every difference, but I’d hazard a guess that the majority of those in your OPC or PCA church do believe that. And I’d hazard a guess that your pastor isn’t going out of his way to disabuse them of those notions.

    Yes, the angry feminist may well deny certain portions of Nicene orthodoxy. That’s a problem. The middle-class culture warrior, by contrast, has no apparent dispute with Nicene orthodoxy, but denies its significance by redefining orthodoxy around a whole set of ancillary questions. I see no sound theological reason for saying that the former is worse than the latter. After all, implicit denial of something is no better than explicit denial of it; in fact, it may be worse. Thus, I’d suggest that the choice of one over the other has more to do with non-theological factors than not. And the same probably goes for why someone chooses Catholicism over any form of Protestantism.

    So, yes, it’s foolish for Bryan et al. to suppose that Catholicism offers some kind of perfected form of Christianity. But it’s no more foolish than the OPC’s hagiographic “only perfect church” schtick.

    Like

  42. Bobby
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink
    Zrim,

    That’s basically my point. Much of the criticism of Catholicism here relates to the fact that conservative Catholics are willing to affiliate with a communion that includes people with whom Old Lifers wouldn’t want to affiliate on Sunday, or that they’re willing to accept leadership that may be a bit squishy on historic Catholic theology.

    But the same thing goes on in the evangelical Reformed world. Folks in the OPC and PCA know that you have to appeal to TGC-type pietists to fill the pews. There’s an OPC church near my house. I like the pastor, and agree with him on most theological points. But his church is filled with a bunch of ex-Baptists who want to hear TGC-type stuff. So, he gives them what they want in varying degrees, and holds his nose while doing it.

    There aren’t enough Old Lifers in either the OPC or the PCA to keep the doors open in a local church. So, you have to be willing to tolerate someone besides yourselves on Sunday morning. Because most growth in the OPC and the PCA has come from the Baptist direction, you make the pragmatic choice to welcome ex-Baptists into your fold. And for that reason, you’re forced to treat conservative mainliners like lepers because that’s what the pew-filling ex-Baptists expect you to do.

    My point is this: You will make the same compromises this morning that Bryan et al. make this morning. You will go to church with people who disagree with you. The difference is the nature of the compromises you’re willing to make. You can poke fun at TGC all you want. Even so, the OPC and PCA would collapse financially if all the ex-Baptists departed. Like it or not, guys like Greg the Terrible is what keep your doors open. And, like it or not, clueless liberals play the same role in the Protestant mainline. Further, my guess is that our choice of one group or the other probably has little to do with theology and more to do with class-based predilections. You can tolerate worshiping with guys like Greg because you grew up in churches full of guys like Greg. And I tolerate the angry feminist for the same reason. But let’s put aside the pretense that we’re doing this for theological reasons.

    And of course, they’re putting up with you unreformable traditionalist cementheads in return. 😉

    Awesome piece, sir.

    Like

  43. Bobby, read Between the Times and get back to me about “only perfect schtick”?

    Seriously, this we’re better because confessional Protestants suck is not much of an apologetic. But it does come with a moisturizer.

    Like

  44. A peek at the truth hiding behind your own curtain, O Great & Powerful Oz. Whose Calvinism is it anyway?

    But the same thing goes on in the evangelical Reformed world. Folks in the OPC and PCA know that you have to appeal to TGC-type pietists to fill the pews. There’s an OPC church near my house. I like the pastor, and agree with him on most theological points. But his church is filled with a bunch of ex-Baptists who want to hear TGC-type stuff. So, he gives them what they want in varying degrees, and holds his nose while doing it.

    There aren’t enough Old Lifers in either the OPC or the PCA to keep the doors open in a local church.

    Like

  45. Zrim,

    My intent isn’t to defend TGC necessarily. If they’re doing what he says, they’re wrong unless they have some kind of defined comment policy that everybody knows going in. The problem is in thinking that the people here have any say over what happens at TGC, don’t criticize TGC, AND acting as if the different claims made by Rome and TGC have no relevance when both are doing the same sort of things.

    Like

  46. TVD:

    “But the same thing goes on in the evangelical Reformed world. ”

    Whose the man behind the curtain now…. Are you kidding me? Reformites may be ignorant of the moribund and doctrinal vacuous state of normal parish life, but not I. You won’t find anything — anywhere — nearly as orthodox or harmonious as even a splintery, Baptist-infested OPC or PCA church within Catholicism unless you drift so far right on the map you fall into a ‘receive on the tongue,’ veil-wearing FSSP Chapel (and how many of those are there, 100 total?).

    “Conservative Catholics are willing to affiliate with a communion that includes people with whom Old Lifers wouldn’t want to affiliate on Sunday, or that they’re willing to accept leadership that may be a bit squishy on historic Catholic theology.”

    1. “Willing to affiliate…” Given the ‘run for the exits nature’ of Sunday worship in Catholicism’s sacramental filling stations, that’s an utterly bogus choice of phrase. Evangelicals do fellowship. Catholics do bingo if they do anything.

    2. “Accept leadership that may be a bit squishy…” A bit squishy. HAHAHAHAHA! I can’t even type out much of a rejoinder to such disingenuous description. The typical parish is closer to Oprah than even Karl Rahner.

    Like

  47. Bobby – You guesses expose your own prejudices and predilections way more than anyone elses.

    Even so, the OPC and PCA would collapse financially if all the ex-Baptists departed. Like it or not, guys like Greg the Terrible is what keep your doors open. And, like it or not, clueless liberals play the same role in the Protestant mainline. Further, my guess is that our choice of one group or the other probably has little to do with theology and more to do with class-based predilections.

    The ex-Baptists I know in the OPC are just that – ex-Baptists. They’re not crypto-Baptists. Just like our ex-atheists, are no longer atheists. They are confessional, presbyterian Christians. That the mainline has largely abandoned its confessions and in some cases its faith in no way indicts other denominations.

    And your Marxist, class-based pseudo-analysis has no foundation in fact and is as insulting to people you should be calling brothers and sisters in Christ as it is ill-informed. You have made a point of telling us that you are more comfortable with angry feminist, kale-eating, yoga practioners than with us rubes in NAPARC churches. But I think you are telling us more about yourself, your priorities, and your commitments than you are enlightening us about our own congregations.

    Like

  48. Publius- of course, Bobby’s consumeristic approach to the fellowship of the saints also reveals his (implicit) denial of passages such as Ephesians 2-4, Galatians 3, etc.

    Like

  49. LoserStar –

    And to quote Bobby, “…implicit denial of something is no better than explicit denial of it; in fact, it may be worse.”

    Like

  50. My experience with the PCA in my neck of the woods is that it largely apes TGC. Confessionalists are suspect but generally tolerated, unless you actually open your mouth and dissent on anything. If you like Keller, C.S. Lewis, and Paul Tripp and want to structure your worship like a Mumford and Sons concert, you’re a perfect fit. The leadership model is also weirdly non-transparent and top-down with lots of HR, corporate mumbo jumbo to describe vision, values, etc. And the small group is now the third sacrament. A Machen or a Calvin would not be welcome for very long.

    Like

  51. …it’s an important difference you’re missing. To say one’s church is unable to err in whatever it decides to teach is a long way from saying one’s church confesses a simultaneously superior but imperfect reading of the Bible. It’s the same difference between arrogance and confidence. They may often be confused, but surely you’d say that there is a significant difference between an arrogant man and a merely confident one. But if you don’t, then, yeah, I guess you’re right.

    Like

  52. sean,

    I’m sure my revelation caught you completely by surprise. Sorry to burst your Machen-Warrior-Child-bubble.

    Like

  53. ………..yet weirdly non-transparent.

    All this vulnerability and being incarnational until it comes to the prima donna(gentrified pastor). “I’ve never heard anyone talk to a pastor like that”

    Me: Uhh, hmmm, where are you from? As all my engagements with priests and religious and even just non-coddled people flash through my mind.

    Like

  54. mboss – You may be right about the PCA though my understanding is that mileage varies widely between churches and regions. My OP congregation has a number of former PCA folks. Some moved to the OPC for reasons you describe and some moved from other areas of the country and are shocked/horrified to hear that there are PCA churches of the type you mention. That said, we are brought together by Christ and a devotion to reformed doctrine, piety, and practice not by economics or social status as Bobby suggests. The idea of someone joining the OPC based on social or class concerns is laughable to anyone familiar with your average OPC congregation (or congregant!).

    Like

  55. Me too, Publius, ex-baptist who is a committed confessional NAPARC, took a decade of complete disaffection to start renewing my mind

    up in Canada the Presby church is very liberal, aside from UK Free Presby (no thanks) I can’t think of a good one in my city of millions

    Like

  56. I don’t think you can say NAPARC pews are dominated by closet TGCers. Let’s not exclusively appeal to the YRR. There’s just as many, if not more, MacAruther-ites and Ligoni-ers. Habits (and people) take a long time to die.

    Like

  57. Publius said: “The idea of someone joining the OPC based on social or class concerns is laughable to anyone familiar with your average OPC congregation.”

    You can keep telling yourself that, but it won’t make it true.

    Like

  58. Robert,

    Been a while! Anyways, where were we….

    Yes, just where we left off, V2 and epistemological superiority! The claims don’t match up with reality because you aren’t paying attention to the claims. The epistemic advantage is huge even while the claim itself is modest. The weeds have crept into the garden these past 50 years. Things are confusing. Happily, we have a mechanism to deal with the confusion. Even while I may not live to see the controversy settled at some point it will be. Infallible settled. Meanwhile, the split Ps will just multiple and multiply on and on and on and on until there is no one left to care.

    Thanks

    Like

  59. Kenneth,

    Holding on to the tradition while the Magisterium goes where no Magisterium has gone before is what Luther and Calvin did. 🙂

    Like

  60. Loser Ken, “Happily, we have a mechanism to deal with the confusion. Even while I may not live to see the controversy settled at some point it will be. Infallible settled. Meanwhile, the split Ps will just multiple and multiply on and on and on and on until there is no one left to care.”

    Fox News Roman Catholicism. We are great no matter what happens. Don’t rinse just repeat and repeat.

    Like

  61. Kenneth,

    The epistemic advantage is huge even while the claim itself is modest. The weeds have crept into the garden these past 50 years. Things are confusing. Happily, we have a mechanism to deal with the confusion. Even while I may not live to see the controversy settled at some point it will be. Infallible settled.

    But if it isn’t settled in your lifetime, what advantage is it for YOU? You simply do not know that the church will settle things in your favor, so you could be eventually be guilty of heresy. I guess since you may not be alive to see that happen, you can always say at the pearly gates, “Peter, they didn’t say my beliefs were heretical until AFTER I died. So I’m golden, right?”

    And of course there’s the Avignon papacy. None of the people who lived during it benefitted from the infallible Magisterium telling them who the pope was. Nobody knew. Then when the council settles it, it turns out none of the living popes were the right one. Yeah, that’s comforting. Put all your hope for salvation in the church whose unity and catholicity depends on the see of Peter, but the see of Peter can’t be determined.

    The more I think about it, the more I understand the complete doctrinal apathy of the people in the pew. They’ve imbibed the fact that things won’t be settled in their lifetime but that doesn’t matter because the church isn’t about dogma. The whole infallible means to separate fact from opinion is a construct to make converts feel better. The church is simply a one stop refueling stop to get your grace tank topped off. Believe what you want or nothing at all. You can always claim invincible ignorance and blame the Magisterium for not being clear when you reach heaven’t door.

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  62. It’s all ex post facto reasoning: the doctrines that don’t get disturbed are the ones that are traced back to infallibility. Until they are, then scratch those off the list. So you can make the claim and always have a back up plan. Cool.
    _____

    Bobby, joining an OPC for class and social concerns? Don’t do drugs. Or share them.

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  63. Zrim: They may often be confused, but surely you’d say that there is a significant difference between an arrogant man and a merely confident one. But if you don’t, then, yeah, I guess you’re right.

    You gotta admit, though, that our sinful flesh always has the predisposition of attitude to exalt itself by comparing and having to put another down in a sinful way- so the battle is always on about this –just look at some of our comments

    Like

  64. Publius,

    I was actually making a broader point, that is, that people in any given church generally move in overlapping social circles outside of the church walls. For some, those social circles may include the country club, although that’s probably not the case for many in the OPC. It’s not even the case for me. I do triathlons, not golf. But when it comes to secondary and tertiary doctrines, I’d suggest that those choices are often as affected by non-theological factors as theological factors. Those non-theological factors may include social factors. They may also include psychological factors. For example, I’d guess that a preponderance of evangelicals fall on the J side of the J-P spectrum on the MBTI. By contrast, I score off the charts on the P side of things. Incidentally, when we recently went through our annual MBTI testing at work, I was surprised to discover that my 4-5 closest colleagues were all INTPs.

    By my observation, evangelicals have a preference for low-context social environments, where the boundaries between right and wrong are explicit. By contrast, the cognitive elite generally tend to operate within higher-context social environments where the boundaries between right and wrong are fuzzier and are articulated in fuzzier terms.

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  65. Screwed up my last sentence…

    By contrast, the cognitive elite generally tend to operate within higher-context social environments where the boundaries between right and wrong are fuzzier and are articulated via implicit cues. See, e.g., Ross Dothan’s NYT piece, “Social Liberalism as Class Warfare”.

    Like

  66. This INTP sees you bare way to extroverted in here to be introverted.

    Must be an easier test these days to find that many INTPs at once

    I’ve met maybe there others in my life in meeting thousands of people

    Like

  67. This INTP sees you as way too extroverted in here to be introverted.

    Must be an easier test these days to find that many INTPs at once

    I’ve met maybe there others in my life in meeting thousands of people

    Like

  68. Bobby: MBTI
    MGTI: “The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.”

    Not that we don’t each have our unique gifts from the Lord (Eph 4:7-8) nor that man’s tools (MBTI) aren’t helpful but re: perceiving and judging – we are all to do this by the word of God and the power of the Spirit

    Phil 1: 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

    At least MBTI does say this:
    All types are equal: The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people. As all types are equal, there is no best type.

    The MBTI instrument sorts for preferences and does not measure trait, ability, or character.

    http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

    Like

  69. Ali, sure, but that’s not the point. The point is that Catholic ecclesiology is inherently arrogant, while Protestant ecclesiology is inherently humble. It doesn’t matter if the former comes with V2-ish stuff about “separated brethren” and a pope who advertises his humility–it’s still inherently arrogant. And it doesn’t matter if the latter comes with all sorts of gadflies who roam earth seeking to dare others to knock batteries off their shoulders–it’s still inherently humble.

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  70. Bobby, I’m a proud INTJ. Shouldn’t I be in a cave (or mountain top) somewhere? You’re sounding like the culture warriors in the gay debate on both sides where being human is only about sexuality. It’s more complicated than that. So is church adherence.

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  71. Zrim: Ali, sure, but that’s not the point. The point is that Catholic ecclesiology is inherently arrogant, while Protestant ecclesiology is inherently humble. It doesn’t matter if the former comes with V2-ish stuff about “separated brethren” and a pope who advertises his humility–it’s still inherently arrogant. And it doesn’t matter if the latter comes with all sorts of gadflies who roam earth seeking to dare others to knock batteries off their shoulders–it’s still inherently humble.

    Agreed Zrim. Wasn’t really looking at specific content around it, just the principle

    and latest from Everything in Moderation, Including Gullibility:, The Little Mermaid: “Who is relying on the word of man? “
    indeed: mariology, purgatory, annulment, indulgences, justification?, priesthood, papacy, etc.

    Like

  72. @kent

    I’m not a strong I. Further, I’m an attorney who works in private equity, which explains the high density of INTPs in my work environment.

    Like

  73. Robert,

    It’s not of any use too me when it comes to the matter at hand. However, I do get the benefit of all the controversies settled before my lifetime. Justification, Grace, the nature of Christ, the Trinity, the Cannon, etc. These things have been “put down” in our circles while they are forever up for grabs in yours. Hence, superiority.

    Thanks.

    Like

  74. “Your church is only 80 years old.”

    Obnoxious. Esp. given Rome is only 50 plus years old now, considering its quit obvious reinvention at Vatican II (“Bro, what’s an anathema?”) Would Pius XII kiss Francis’ ring… Really, TVD, get a clue.

    Like

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