Have You Guys Heard of Assemblies?

Maybe not among the Eastern Orthodox bishops or the Anglican ones, but it’s not as if Protestants don’t regularly meet to find a consensus on what the Bible means. Even so, Alan Jacobs and Rod Dreher repeat the Roman Catholic charge that you need tradition to augment Scripture (when in fact tradition comes all balled up in the magisterium — read bishops).

Jacobs worries:

The elevation of method to magisterial principle was supposed to make it possible for scholars to discern, and then agree on, the meaning of biblical texts. Instead it merely uprooted them from Christian tradition and Christian practice — as Michael Legaspi has shown in a brilliant book — and left many of them unequipped to understand the literary character of biblical texts, while doing nothing to promote genuine agreement on interpretation. In fact, the transferring of the guild of interpreters from the Church to the University, given the University’s insistence on novelty in scholarship, ensured that no interpretative consensus would be forthcoming.

But if Christians are supposed to take their cues less from the university and more from churches, the latter still exist and provide interpretive consensuses. Maybe the mainstream media and scholars who identify with the academic guild are not impressed by church synods and councils (though they sure were attentive to the Ordinary Synod of Rome; maybe you need special get ups to gain journalists and scholars’ attention, or you need to meet in buildings suffused with Renaissance art — so much for poor church for the poor). But it’s not as if those assemblies even among Protestants have gone away. Given a recent reminder about the illusion of respectability, maybe the work that existing churches still do could receive more credit.

Rod makes Jacobs’ point with flair:

what Protestant churches and organizations are really doing in these debates are trying to find out if its membership wants to change, and if so, how much change will it accept. The truth is, says Beck, is that Protestantism is a “hermeneutical democracy,” in which the individual consciences of believers determine what is true and what is false. This, he says, is the “genius of the tradition,” and having to do all this “relational work” is a key part of what it means to be Protestant. The Bible doesn’t speak for itself; it has to be interpreted, and for Protestants, that means that everybody gets a vote.

“Own your Protestantism,” he says. “The ultimate authority in Protestantism isn’t the Bible, it’s the individual conscience.”

Well, it’s not as if hermeneutical democracy doesn’t afflict churches that have episcopal authoritative structures (where exegeting the Bible is not as important as reading the times’ signs). All churches, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox are in the same boat of having members who regularly pick and choose, cafeteria style, what they believe and that they don’t. Having tradition, bishops, or councils doesn’t fix any of this. What would fix this is having magistrates who enforce religion and where civil penalties are bound up with religious teaching and practice. But wouldn’t that be Islamic?

At least give Protestants credit for trying to discern what God revealed through the prophets and apostles. Adding tradition to Scripture has generally meant the dog of tradition wagging the tail of the Bible.

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1,414 thoughts on “Have You Guys Heard of Assemblies?

  1. This is the Achilles’ heel of Sola Scriptura and means that eventually it becomes Solo Scriptura. There is no doubt the doctrine causes divisions amongst Christians, even well meaning, educated, committed, holy, Christians.

    I can order four different books on the meaning of Protestant baptism all written by respected scholars in their fields, all with much more training, education, knowledge of the scriptures, and history of the topic than I could ever have and they put the same data in and come out with four very different views.

    So is it any wonder that the average Evangelical joins the church where the music, childcare, or other programs are better than their current church and not necessarily about the theology?

    I know this fact is extremely frustrating to those who think that Christians should pick their church on theology first. The new member should read thousands of pages of history, theology, and then armed with this knowledge make a choice, but this isn’t how it happens because there’s so much information easily available now it’s impossible to read it all and if you manage to read through half a dozen, very dry, but informative books on theology there’s little agreement beyond the barest of fundamentals of the faith.

    So what’s a Protestant to do?

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  2. JetStar,

    if you manage to read through half a dozen, very dry, but informative books on theology there’s little agreement beyond the barest of fundamentals of the faith.

    So what’s a Protestant to do?

    Define true churches according to that agreement without necessarily endorsing all of them.

    E.G., The PCA can say that the SBC is a true church, albeit a confused one.

    It’s what Rome does vis a vis the East. The East is a true church because it has the bare essentials, but it’s a confused one.

    But the Sola Scriptura devolving to solo Scriptura doesn’t really hold. Other traditions have the same achilles heel. Everyone except mental zombies stays in their church only insofar as it lines up with their particular views. So you have the same issue with RCs. Thinking RCs are RCs because RCism agrees with their private and personal reading of the sources. Non-thinking RCs are just going through the motions. The same phenomenon is true in Protestantism.

    It’s the consequence of freedom of thought and separation of church and state.

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  3. Jet Fuel – I could be mistaken, but I thought the whole idea behind “confessional” protestant denominations was the fact that they rally around their confessions, using them as the lens through which they ALL agree (it’s called “unity”) they can view scripture correctly. These confessions, developed over a lengthy period time by many theologians meeting and discussing, translating, and interpreting the scripture ALL agree the best understanding. This “should” leave out any guess work or the need to dig around for commentaries written by people who think along different lines.

    I suppose that one could argue, “well, that’s just what Rome does!” Except that Rome incorporates traditions, superstitions, and other non-scriptural sources into their belief structure and imposes it from a single source.

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  4. Paul Zahl, “Low-Church and Proud.” —-For myself, both a systematic theologian by training and an Episcopal cathedral dean by day, I cannot be both. I cannot be Protestant and Catholic. I cannot be evangelical and ecclesiologically “high.” A house divided cannot stand. It has to fall. It always does. [p. 214]

    Zahl, “No individual hears the gospel collectively.”

    Trying to construct a liberal catholicism rarely satisfies, because it is a construct for people to have their cake and eat it too. Liberal views of authority and Scripture and cultural rapprochement do not finally cohere with a historic, catholic view of the church. …Bible-anchored evangelicals are bound to be disappointed. I can almost guarantee that” (p. 216).

    Falling for the aesthetics and hierarchy of high-church bodies seems like a reaction to something that was missing or kinked in childhood, a compensation to make up for an earlier loss. For those who are compulsively attracted to high-church form, why not go all the way. Pull a Cardinal Newman. Be consistent:

    http://derevth.blogspot.com/2013/07/paul-zahls-unecclesiology.html

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  5. Robert,

    The difference of the RCC, is right or wrong they claim their interpretation of their tradition and scripture is directly apostolic from Jesus. If they are right, then they have a very firm foundation for their tradition because the Magisterium cannot err on theological matters. For the Protestant there’s no foundation besides their current “hermeneutical democracy” of their denomination. A Protestant has to say that their entire theological system could have massive, perhaps catastrophic errors in it to the detriment of their members. If the RCC is correct then their foundation is firm, if a Protestant is correct their foundation is a matter of group conscience. Sure all members are cafeteria Christians, but you might not even be in the right serving line if you are Protestant.

    George,

    Why would that leave out any guess work? There are different confessions and I still have to examine them all in hopes of finding the right church as best I can tell. The confessions will obviously conflict so how do I choose one especially if I kind of agree with a lot of them? We are right back to the “great youth group” for the deciding factor.

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  6. JetStar,

    The difference of the RCC, is right or wrong they claim their interpretation of their tradition and scripture is directly apostolic from Jesus. If they are right, then they have a very firm foundation for their tradition because the Magisterium cannot err on theological matters.

    But practically speaking, this devolves into whatever the Magisterium of the moment says. It’s a hermeneutical democracy with fewer voting members. You have to accept whatever the Magisterium says today no matter how outlandish or contradictory it is with what came before because you, not being a part of the Magisterium, are not equipped to know the truth. The only truth you can know is that Rome is the church, so shut up and keep going. At least that was the way in the old days. Now liberalism means there is no firm foundation because no one is willing to actually make a binding decision and enforce it.

    For the Protestant there’s no foundation besides their current “hermeneutical democracy” of their denomination.

    See above.

    A Protestant has to say that their entire theological system could have massive, perhaps catastrophic errors in it to the detriment of their members.

    Not any more than a mathematician has to say that the discipline of mathematics could have massive, perhaps catastrophic errors in it to the detriment of society.

    If the RCC is correct then their foundation is firm, if a Protestant is correct their foundation is a matter of group conscience.

    But the individual RC, being fallible, has no assurance that His apprehension of Rome is correct. If we’re going to talk about provisionality meaning no foundation, we must apply it equally to Rome. The Roman system could be correct, but because its adherents are not infallible or omniscience, they have no way of knowing WHAT Rome actually claims with any more certainty than a Protestant has that his foundation is correct. The problem isn’t simply that the individual RCC can’t know if Rome is true, the problem is that if you go down this road, logical consistency means that the individual RC can’t even know what Rome teaches with any certainty. This is the great epistemological failure of the RC stress on “we’re infallible and have a foundation.”

    But once you have admitted that one does not need to be infallibility to know truth and have assurance of it, then you’ve undercut the accusation against Protestantism. Rome tries to admit the former with regard to its assent to the church and then take it away for everything after that. But if fallible apprehension of truth is good enough to identify the source of truth (in Romanism), then it’s good enough in Protestantism.

    But in any case, it is overly simplistic to say that the foundation is merely group consensus in Protestantism. The foundation is the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture. What people seem to want is a red light to go off whenever we’re sure that happened. But not even the people who saw Jesus in the flesh had that.

    Sure all members are cafeteria Christians, but you might not even be in the right serving line if you are Protestant.

    This is no less true of RCC. The mere claim doesn’t make it the right serving line. But in any case, if you press the whole fallibility angle far enough, then the individual RCC can never know if he is in the right serving line even if he is. It’s the ultimate in blind faith.

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  7. See above.

    The inconsistency of the Magestrium certainly undercuts it’s authority. You are completely right, you have to turn off your discernment and just go with the flow if they are the final arbiter.

    I disagree with your example of the axioms of a mathematical system because you can test it through engineering. But I want to leave the RCC behind here and point out once again the very real problem the average Protestant is faced with in deciding which church to join. Which due to the easy and cheap availability of information you can either decide to sift through thousands of pages of theology history and then decide, or do a little or none of that and decide on other factors.

    So then I pray for guidance. I’m assuming that everyone here did that when they joined their church, but if you aren’t of the same denomination as I am then either you ignored the Spirit’s advice, He didn’t give you advice, I ignored the advice, or He didn’t give me any advice, or possibly we both listened and He sent you to the right denomination and me to a confused one, even though the right one was down the road–but I wouldn’t know that because I believe He sent me to the right one.

    That’s why I keep coming back to the fact that Catholic or Protestant the vast majority of all Christians join a church for reasons other than specific theology, and if you look too hard, for me at least, the decision of the right denomination or church because of particular theology becomes less clear, not more.

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  8. JetStar, here’s Calvin’s answer:

    Therefore, lest all things should be thrown into confusion by our folly and rashness, he has assigned distinct duties to each in the different modes of life. And that no one may presume to overstep his proper limits, he has distinguished the different modes of life by the name of callings. Every man’s mode of life, therefore, is a kind of station assigned him by the Lord, that he may not be always driven about at random. So necessary is this distinction, that all our actions are thereby estimated in his sight, and often in a very different way from that in which human reason or philosophy would estimate them. There is no more illustrious deed even among philosophers than to free one’s country from tyranny, and yet the private individual who stabs the tyrant is openly condemned by the voice of the heavenly Judge. But I am unwilling to dwell on particular examples; it is enough to know that in every thing the call of the Lord is the foundation and beginning of right action. He who does not act with reference to it will never, in the discharge of duty, keep the right path. He will sometimes be able, perhaps, to give the semblance of something laudable, but whatever it may be in the sight of man, it will be rejected before the throne of God; and besides, there will be no harmony in the different parts of his life. Hence, he only who directs his life to this end will have it properly framed; because free from the impulse of rashness, he will not attempt more than his calling justifies, knowing that it is unlawful to overleap the prescribed bounds.

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  9. JetStar,

    I disagree with your example of the axioms of a mathematical system because you can test it through engineering.

    But you can test a theological system by Scripture, history, etc., unless you hold that Scripture is helplessly unclear. I’d also say you can’t trust all axioms of a mathematical system by engineering but only what might fall under “necessary for a functioning whatever” axiom. In that case, you could find many different Protestant churches. Is the Reformed doctrine of predestination necessary to make a church a church? I don’t think so. I think it is necessary for the healthiest church, but the Wesleyan church’s lack of it doesn’t mean it is not a church.

    But I want to leave the RCC behind here and point out once again the very real problem the average Protestant is faced with in deciding which church to join. Which due to the easy and cheap availability of information you can either decide to sift through thousands of pages of theology history and then decide, or do a little or none of that and decide on other factors.

    I don’t think you can set the RCC behind, though. Any person without a church background has to hold up the RCC alongside the Prots and decide which claims are better. The RCC claim to infallibility doesn’t give it an out that makes it automatically a better or surer choice. I don’t know if you’re arguing that, however. In any case, the RCC has to decide among as many competing versions of the church as the Prot. does. All they have is nominal visible unity between factions. That’s it.

    But I agree, it isn’t easy.

    So then I pray for guidance. I’m assuming that everyone here did that when they joined their church, but if you aren’t of the same denomination as I am then either you ignored the Spirit’s advice, He didn’t give you advice, I ignored the advice, or He didn’t give me any advice, or possibly we both listened and He sent you to the right denomination and me to a confused one, even though the right one was down the road–but I wouldn’t know that because I believe He sent me to the right one.

    Or, because all churches are mixtures of truth and error, it’s wrong to think of the Spirit directing some to the right church and some to the wrong one. I’m just thinking out loud here. I’d be hard pressed to say that the PCA is the right choice and the OPC the wrong one, and vice versa. It gets more complicated than that once the differences become more pronounced. But maybe in a town where the only church that even tries to submit to Scripture is the Wesleyan one, the Spirit directs you there because that’s the only good option.

    Sometimes I wonder if different denominations exist partly because God knows we all have different personality differences and that some churches are just more conducive to helping person A grow spiritually than others.

    I guess I just wonder if “Holy Spirit leading me to the right church” is the wrong category to start off with. It assumes that there is only one right church, which Protestant confessions don’t teach. There’s true churches and false churches, and among true churches you have better and worst churches. Maybe the Spirit leads Jim to the SBC and Bob to the PCA in their town because those are the best options for those individuals.

    Of course, that could become relativistic real quick, but it doesn’t have to. Even within the same denominations people move from parish to parish based on their station of life and what they might need at a given time. If I’m a single guy in the PCA, I might go to the PCA church of 5,000 with the large singles ministry that is across town but once I am married go to the 300 member PCA church down the street. But an example like that touches on your next point.

    That’s why I keep coming back to the fact that Catholic or Protestant the vast majority of all Christians join a church for reasons other than specific theology,

    Now that is undoubtedly true.

    and if you look too hard, for me at least, the decision of the right denomination or church because of particular theology becomes less clear, not more.

    I don’t know. Seems pretty clear that an individual can at least conclude which tradition is best for them. Picking a church within that tradition might be more difficult. It does take some work, however.

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  10. Jet Fuel – if it makes you feel any better, I myself was a life-long confessional (read LCMS) Lutheran until the middle of the last decade. I had always taken for granted that the Lutheran confessions represented the last word in the world of protestantism. But nearing the turn of the century I began to see all of this apocalyptic, end times stuff show up in “Christian” book stores – tapes, books, how-to-survive, etc. Working in a profession that brought into play many of the electronic, media, computer oriented things that the nay-sayers predicted were going to go all awry at the turn of midnight, Dec. 31, 1999, I just couldn’t see the sense of any of it and mainly knew better by occupation.

    Near the same time I had begun to listen to Bible Answer Man broadcasts and one of them featured an interview with a fellow named Kim Riddlebarger who was working on a book on “amillennialism,” an eschatological view with which I had been previously unfamiliar. His comments, however, convinced me that many of the doom-sayers were speaking without any firm scriptural basis, so I began to research what my own Lutheran confessions had to say about it. Not surprisingly, I found that neither Luther nor Calvin, for that matter, had much to say about Revelation, in particular. So I probed further into matter, eventually found that Riddlebarger had a blog site (and I bought his book, too!), and found all kinds of resources and references there. Those led me to people like Michael Horton, Scott Clark, and Darryl Hart, all of which caused me to re-think some of my precious Lutheran tenets, especially in the matters of baptismal regeneration (of infants), the dual presence (consubstantiation) in the communion elements, covenant soteriology, etc. So I eventually abandoned my life-long Lutheranism for a Reformed tradition.

    I hate to admit it, but much of this reeks of C.S. Lewis’ hallway with many doors, where one explores the various views under protestantism. And, of course, we’re all constantly under attack by those who like to point out all the foibles of protestant Christianity by virtue of its thousands of different denominations, but all I can say is that it’s the way it worked for me.

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  11. Bottom line, if John 4:23 is true:

     But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

    His seeking is not in vain.

    God’s grace is irresistable.
    Those who have been given to the Son will come and in nowise be cast out.
    Something our papist apologists have yet to integrate into their free will paradigm.

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  12. Mark,

    How would those attracted to low-church forms “go all the way” and “be consistent”?

    Forgive me if I prefer, say, the Book of Common Prayer to nonsensical hootin’ and hollarin’. Is it ok with you if I want to be able concentrate when I worship? I do not say that high-church forms are the only way, but I reject the idea that aesthetics and language are antithetical to God.

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  13. Dr. Hart,

    Catholics have invented quite a few stretchers and chalked them up to Tradition. However, I am not sure what’s wagging who’s tail when it comes to certain core Protestant doctrines. Let’s say that Scripture Alone decides that Faith Alone is wrong (I think it has), you’ll no doubt bitterly cling to your own man made ideas, no? Try answering the question without sounding like a tortured Catholic apologist.

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  14. I apologize for my snarky tone in the above comment.

    I see only two options: I can be a bad Catholic or bad Protestant. In all seriousness, how do I resolve this problem?

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  15. I think this search for doctrinal purity for the average guy in the pew can definitely lead to unbelief, either intentionally or unintentionally. You are raised SBC, end up in the PCA when you move, start to wonder if the SBC was right or wrong on a lot of stuff, accept the WCF as better than the Baptist 1698, then you need to move again and the best option in the small town you are in is a Wesleyan church or a Catholic Church, or you just try to home church your family. Your kids now have been through three denominations, each one claiming to have the best interpretation of scripture. You might retreat to, “Just the basics are true”, or you might just throw up your hands and wonder how much if any of it is true.

    I think there’s a definite pattern in the US of the latter, in which people go from a small church to a larger one due to the programs, then decide doctrine hardly matters because they can’t figure it out, then eventually stop going when they don’t like a person or program any more.

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  16. JetStar:I can order four different books on the meaning of Protestant baptism all written by respected scholars in their fields, all with much more training, education, knowledge of the scriptures, and history of the topic than I could ever have and they put the same data in and come out with four very different views.

    >>>>> I can do that on any topic under the sun. That doesn’t mean I dismiss a given topic offhand, well I guess I can if I really don’t care in the first place.

    So is it any wonder that the average Evangelical joins the church where the music, childcare, or other programs are better than their current church and not necessarily about the theology?

    >>>>>> I can’t argue about average E’s, but those who don’t want these things break out and find places where theology is a priority. It is a bad dungeon to be in though, one gets the impression they have nowhere else to go from their happy-clappy E church. The internet and iTunes have made alternatives widely available for those who want decent theology.

    I know this fact is extremely frustrating to those who think that Christians should pick their church on theology first. The new member should read thousands of pages of history, theology, and then armed with this knowledge make a choice, but this isn’t how it happens because there’s so much information easily available now it’s impossible to read it all and if you manage to read through half a dozen, very dry, but informative books on theology there’s little agreement beyond the barest of fundamentals of the faith.

    >>>>> we are called to various and diverse gifts and talents and temperaments. There IS a place though for E’s who always or suddenly got the urge to hit the books and worship accordingly. Sometimes they are officers in such churches and set up a forum of exchange like this one.

    You dismissal is very shallow and basically stupid. Hate to tell you that some people like to READ seriously for their leisure hours, to learn and to stretch and to grow.

    You can do it too, maybe.

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  17. JetStar,

    I don’t think you are putting up enough possibilities. Instead of “just the basics are true” or “is any of it true?” there’s at least one other option—God doesn’t want us to be equally sure about every jot and tittle of doctrine but what he does want us to know without a doubt is clear to anyone who is willing to put in the work necessary.

    Not all people are going to have the time or inclination to study theology vigorously. That’s a fair point. But for those people it’s enough to find a church where the Bible is actually treated as God’s inerrant Word and there are guidelines to follow for the leaders.

    If you set out to study theology in depth without really believing that the Bible is the Word of God, yeah, you’ll probably end up in unbelief. But I don’t know anyone who believes the Bible to be Scripture and has embarked on study and concluded “I’m never gonna get any of this stuff.”

    But these are good matters to consider.

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  18. well I guess I can if I really don’t care in the first place.

    Yes, I read a lot of information on topics I don’t care about. That’s how I roll. Too bad you don’t see me dismissing it out of hand besides your imagination.

    The internet and iTunes have made alternatives widely available for those who want decent theology.

    I think you have reading comprehension problems, I specifically stated that the problem isn’t lack of information but too much of it.

    You dismissal is very shallow and basically stupid. Hate to tell you that some people like to READ seriously for their leisure hours, to learn and to stretch and to grow.

    You can do it too, maybe.

    Are you on the Evangelicalism committee in your church? I’m sure it’s doing great by telling people who are confused about theology that they are stupid and lazy.

    But, without a doubt you are the stupid one here because you missed my points which I’ll spell out in very carefully the the reading challenged, you.

    1. Very smart theologians and historians have wildly differing claims about core Christian doctrines like justification. (I’m limiting this to Christian theologians and historians–they already accept Christianity, just obviously disagree about the particulars)
    2. This is all easily available to people now due to the internet with very inexpensive and free material.
    3. It’s literally impossible to go through it all, so at best you have to go through some of it.
    4. This makes deciding more difficult, not less.
    5. Knowing that you have incomplete information from very good sources you do eventually just have to make choice to the best of your ability, though it’s obviously not a permanent choice.
    6. Faced with this, some if not many Christians will simply cease to put a priority on the particulars and instead focus on the practical–like the great youth program.

    In your haste to call me stupid, you didn’t read well and didn’t ask to know what I have gone over, or my history so let me tell you that I have three shelves full of theology besides dozens of books on my Kindle, I was raised in a confessional church, and have read it all of my life, but certainly if I have trouble discerning the Word of God or theology it’s because I’m lazy and stupid. If I could only be so sure like you.

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  19. but what he does want us to know without a doubt is clear to anyone who is willing to put in the work necessary.

    Would you then say that God wanted the devout Arminian, or Catholic to be clear about it after putting in the work?

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  20. Josh C, but when did your church’s views become divine made? And they’re saying it’s so is convincing?

    Can we at least do some exegesis based on God’s word?

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  21. As for the sins of Catholicism, those of Protestantism tend to be glossed over.

    Finally, More presented a vision of the origin and fate of heresy which served to underpin a negative view of Protestant character, supplying a motivation for the irrationality of Protestant claims.

    He deals with such Englishmen accused of heresy as Richard Hunne and Thomas Bilney,
    but the model case is that of Luther. More presents Luther as a man of irrational pride, who
    received a license to sell indulgences from the pope and saw it taken away again. He “fell to
    railing” against “all pardons,” contradicting himself at every turn. In spite of his irrationality,
    Luther’s ravings were persuasive. The people quickly realized that Luther’s heresies freed them
    from the normal obligations and duties of civilized society, and forgot that the social disorder
    resulting from this indiscipline would hurt them. Lords found it advantageous to use Luther’s
    ideas as an excuse to seize church lands, and so the heresy grew. The doctrine of predestination
    was part of this devilish mix, and led the Lutheran soldiers in Italy to believe that they were not
    responsible for their own actions, but might impute any sin to God. When they took Rome, then,
    as forces of the Holy Roman Empire, they committed all kinds of horrors, some of which More
    describes: old men are hung up by their “privy members,” women raped, and children roasted on
    spits.

    Take that, Edgardo Mortara.

    http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/moretyndale.pdf

    ___________________
    *”For my part, I should not believe the gospel except moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.” (Augustine, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus 5, 6; NPNF 1, Vol. IV, 131)

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  22. Dr. Hart,

    I am not convinced that the Catholic church’s views are divine made. Not sure it’s my church anymore, either.

    If church teaching has gone astray, it should go back to biblical exegesis, I agree. But that goes for the Reformation church, too. James White and R.C. Sproul are mirror images of their Catholic apologetic sparring partners. Everybody starts with a given doctrine and tries like heck to defend it, no matter how strained the argument or acrobatic the logic.

    Did I read somewhere that you are writing a book about why conservatives should be Protestant, or something like that? If so, will it be published soon?

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  23. Jetstar,

    “I think this search for doctrinal purity for the average guy in the pew can definitely lead to unbelief, either intentionally or unintentionally. You are raised SBC, end up in the PCA when you move, start to wonder if the SBC was right or wrong on a lot of stuff, accept the WCF as better than the Baptist 1698, then you need to move again and the best option in the small town you are in is a Wesleyan church or a Catholic Church, or you just try to home church your family. Your kids now have been through three denominations, each one claiming to have the best interpretation of scripture. You might retreat to, “Just the basics are true”, or you might just throw up your hands and wonder how much if any of it is true.

    I think there’s a definite pattern in the US of the latter, in which people go from a small church to a larger one due to the programs, then decide doctrine hardly matters because they can’t figure it out, then eventually stop going when they don’t like a person or program any more.”

    I think this is a correct analysis.

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  24. Tom,

    More’s argument applies equally well to Rome. It’s not self-evident that Rome has a better claim than anyone else. You have to do a whole lot of research and trust historians and others to even begin to make sense of the data. And modern RCs are at a huge disadvantage because there isn’t any RC historian who will argue that Christ instituted the papacy, and we know that many RC distinctives aren’t that much older than the medieval period. This isn’t a uniquely Protestant thing; it’s taught in RC universities.

    The church of today is not More’s church.

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  25. Susan – I think he (Jetstar) has a correct analysis, too. To that end, since he seems to think along the lines of anything goes mainline protestant liberalism, I plan to ask my in-law relative when we have to get together at Christmas if he likes to play golf and if the town he lives in has Lions or Kiwanis clubs. And if so, mightn’t he be better off golfing on Sunday AM and performing his “social justice” duties under the auspices of one of those community services organizations. After all, his theological beliefs and validation of the scriptures are so shallow and meaningless that he may as well spend his time interacting with his fellow man in one of those secular settings.

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  26. Robert
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    More’s argument applies equally well to Rome.

    You’re not following the argument. Rome claims the authority of the Church that Christ founded and the Holy Spirit descended upon at Pentecost. Your theology leans on individual discernment. If you figure your denomination has gone wrong, you go off and start a new one.

    This is not the Catholic conception of the “Church,” not Augustine’s.

    The church of today is not More’s church.

    That’s idiotic, but even if true, yours is clearly not More’s church either so it’s irrelevant.

    Like

  27. I think there’s a definite pattern in the US of the latter, in which people go from a small church to a larger one due to the programs, then decide doctrine hardly matters because they can’t figure it out, then eventually stop going when they don’t like a person or program any more.

    Just to thrown in another wrinkle, the Mrs wants to be RC while hubby is happy with the mega-nondenom church… Kids raised in a home where the parents don’t share the same adherence (only one goes to church or they go to different churches) are far less likely to identify with a church as an adult. A big part of this is reinforcement by a stable peer group – if mom and dad aren’t committed to the same church, they aren’t likely to require jr. to commitment to a church and form the peer group that plays a major role in determining adult religious practice.

    Like

  28. TVD,

    The person who is deciding on Rome or a Protestant church still has to pick the authority in the same way. In the best scenario one studies theology, history, prays about it, and then makes the choice. This has nothing to do with Rome’s authority, or Sola Scriptura but the process by which one makes the choice itself. In the end you have to pick one.

    George,

    I most certainly don’t think anything goes, and I don’t think for the average Evangelical anything goes. I think that they actually do care deeply about theological particulars as much as their gifts allow for, all of the way until they don’t out of exacerbation. Sure, some people only care about the music, but I think most care about a whole lot more than that. The problem arises like I said before that when after decades of believing one thing you are put in a situation in which you question your previously beliefs after a great deal of study, or your logistics don’t allow for anything but a church which is very different than your last.

    It’s easy to throw stones at the people in the pews, “Silly laity, you are in that seat because of the band, not the theology. Educate yourself, read some theology morons.” But many have read a lot, and they’ve been to three different denominations in their lives and they care deeply about it, but there they are, sitting in that pew at a new church and they don’t even know if they should be there or not because they don’t totally agree with everything in the confession or even who’s confession is more accurate.

    Like

  29. Tom,

    You need to get out more. All of churches claim to be the church Chrisr founded and to possess the authority of the church that he gave. We disagree that the kind of authority Rome claims is the actual kind of authority Christ gave the church.

    Now it is true we expect more out if out people. We’re not satisfied with nominal adherence like Rome is. And of course, any RC is welcome to start his own church as well. He’d be a separated brother like we are, a concept of which More would have hardly known.

    Like

  30. vd, t, “As for the sins of Catholicism, those of Protestantism tend to be glossed over.”

    Look, a squirrel divided into 33k parts.

    Look, a lesbian Presbyterian squirrel.

    Look, a squirrel that is tiny compared to Roman squirrels.

    Look, a squirrel that is theologically incoherent.

    Like

  31. “Just to thrown in another wrinkle, the Mrs wants to be RC while hubby is happy with the mega-nondenom church… Kids raised in a home where the parents don’t share the same adherence (only one goes to church or they go to different churches) are far less likely to identify with a church as an adult. A big part of this is reinforcement by a stable peer group – if mom and dad aren’t committed to the same church, they aren’t likely to require jr. to commitment to a church and form the peer group that plays a major role in determining adult religious practice.”

    Speaking about my own situation, I left a congregation of about 300 of some of the best people you will ever meet to become Catholic. I knew others who left this congregation because they wanted their families to have programs or to serve the larger community, or because they felt like they didnt get enough instruction in living a Christian life.

    I completely agree about the importance of a peer group.

    But there are many combinations to this “divided” scenario without even having to include an agnostic to the mix.
    That is the sad thing about having so many doctrinally divided congregations; its confusing and hard to figure out who is right.

    Like

  32. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, “As for the sins of Catholicism, those of Protestantism tend to be glossed over.”

    Look, a squirrel divided into 33k parts.

    Look, a lesbian Presbyterian squirrel.

    Look, a squirrel that is tiny compared to Roman squirrels.

    Look, a squirrel that is theologically incoherent.

    I Am the Squirrel
    by D.G. Hart

    coming soon to a remainder bin near you

    Like

  33. Robert
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    You need to get out more. All of churches claim to be the church Chrisr founded and to possess the authority of the church that he gave.

    We’ve been examining that claim. Certainly by abandoning episcopal succession you’ve forfeited Augustine’s view of the claim–if not the Bible itself.

    “If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement . . . In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found” (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

    You can fill in “Calvinist” for “Donatist” for the purposes of this discussion. You abandoned “episcopal succession.”

    Like

  34. George( cute gravatar),

    Say their is a family where the dad became Catholic the mother Reformed and the children are getting to an age where their asking questions about the differences. What counsel do you have for children in such situations?

    Like

  35. This blog is kind of like a religiously mixed family that’s learning to get along despite our differences. More respect would be helpful.
    Its a little national lampoon like but I think we still really care about the other 🙂

    Have a good weekend.

    Like

  36. Susan – but the analogy is false. The father came from a liberal baptistic background where he apparently learned next to nothing about anything scriptural and his wife came from a pietistic ELCA (formerly LCA, ALC, ULC, take your pick of pietistic Lutheran synods) background where nothing much mattered beyond the run-of-the-mill social justice nonsense (these days, gay ordination, female clergy, low view of scripture – take your pick).

    Their kids, however, have gone to half way decent “Christian” schools of higher learning and have taken a different view of their parent’s (or parents in-law’s) loose, liberal views and are confronting them. These kids have, in fact, come to me with concerns about their parent’s (especially their dad’s) low view of anything scriptural and are worried about his faith. So…what would YOU do in that situation.

    Like

  37. George
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:23 pm | Permalink
    Susan – but the analogy is false. The father came from a liberal baptistic background where he apparently learned next to nothing about anything scriptural and his wife came from a pietistic ELCA (formerly LCA, ALC, ULC, take your pick of pietistic Lutheran synods) background where nothing much mattered beyond the run-of-the-mill social justice nonsense (these days, gay ordination, female clergy, low view of scripture – take your pick).

    Their kids, however, have gone to half way decent “Christian” schools of higher learning and have taken a different view of their parent’s (or parents in-law’s) loose, liberal views and are confronting them. These kids have, in fact, come to me with concerns about their parent’s (especially their dad’s) low view of anything scriptural and are worried about his faith. So…what would YOU do in that situation.

    Great post. I was wondering about that. Pendulums swing. American “fundamentalism” itself began in the first place as a reaction to theological liberalism.

    http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3806.html

    [The irony of course being that putative conservative Darryl Hart has sided with the liberals against the fundamentalists under the guise of correcting them. On liberalism, his opposition so “goes without saying” that he is mute (and thus moot).]

    As Jeanne Kirkpatrick said about Cold War-era tyrannies, conservatives have the capability of reform, but radicals/revolutionaries have nowhere to go. Radicalism is a one-way ticket: Once a church [the Presbyterian Church of the USA, 1.8 million members] ordains lesbian “couples,” reform [counter-reformation?] is impossible.

    It looks like the fit might hit the shan for 4 million Lutherans

    LGBT Lutherans and their allies stand at a pivotal point in the ELCA’s growth, with the next Churchwide Assembly scheduled for August 2016.

    But eventually they’ll ordain lesbian couples too. Rust never sleeps. Will Lutheranism ever be able to “counter-reform” and return to its previous self-conception of being the True Church that Christ founded? Not without declaring ecclesiastical jihad on the ELCA and other counterfeits claiming to be “Lutheranism.”

    Or by swallowing the now-obligatory “run-of-the-mill social justice nonsense (these days, gay ordination, female clergy, low view of scripture – take your pick).” “Lutheranism” has already punched its one-way ticket; it cannot be [counter-]reformed.

    [So too “”Presbyterianism.”]

    There is nowhere for these kids to go.

    Outspoken theologian ousted from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

    Becker’s ouster has led some to raise questions about the direction of the Missouri Synod, as well as leaders such as Harrison, who is up for re-election next summer.

    Although Harrison could not be reached for comment, he has spoken publicly about Becker, including on a widely circulated Facebook post.

    “I am saying that if my synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless,” Harrison wrote in January.

    While many agreed with Harrison, others argued that as a member, Becker had the right to question church teachings on women’s ordination.

    “It seems now we can’t even talk about it,” said Robert Hartwell, senior pastor at Village Lutheran Church in Bronxville, N.Y., who referring to women’s ordination. “That’s what makes this so scary.”

    These kids are so screwed.

    Like

  38. Tom,

    We’ve been examining that claim. Certainly by abandoning episcopal succession you’ve forfeited Augustine’s view of the claim–if not the Bible itself.

    Of course, if Augustine’s view is wrong…

    Like

  39. Robert
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    We’ve been examining that claim. Certainly by abandoning episcopal succession you’ve forfeited Augustine’s view of the claim–if not the Bible itself.

    Of course, if Augustine’s view is wrong…

    Cool, now we’re getting somewhere, Robert. You just stipulated Augustine [354-430]. And relinquished the Protestant/Calvinist claim to the Early Church Fathers as well.

    This is the point here. You play straight. For your version of the Christian religion to be right, Augustine must be wrong.

    “If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement . . . In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found” (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

    You see how this fragments and atomizes, forever and ever, amen. There is no Church, there can be no Church. Only opinions.

    Like

  40. TVD
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:24 am | Permalink
    Robert
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    We’ve been examining that claim. Certainly by abandoning episcopal succession you’ve forfeited Augustine’s view of the claim–if not the Bible itself.

    Of course, if Augustine’s view is wrong…

    Cool, now we’re getting somewhere, Robert. You just stipulated Augustine [354-430]. And relinquished the Protestant/Calvinist claim to the Early Church Fathers as well.

    This is the point here. You play straight. For your version of the Christian religion to be right, Augustine must be wrong.

    “If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement . . . In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found” (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

    You see how this fragments and atomizes, forever and ever, amen. There is no Church, there can be no Church. Only opinions.>>>>>

    See, it is a mistake for Calvinists to claim they are following St. Augustine. Some of us will go back and start reading him and realize that he was Catholic. In fact, I started to read the Church Fathers, and they were all Catholic! It is undeniable.

    I finally got to St. Thomas Aquinas after some time. It finally dawned on me that all the theologians I loved the most were Catholic.

    So what was I doing on the outside looking in?

    Like

  41. I apologize for my snarky tone in the above comment.

    Tommy, you takin’ notes?

    I see only two options: I can be a bad Catholic or bad Protestant. In all seriousness, how do I resolve this problem?

    Widen your horizons.
    You got more options.
    Start with the Bible:

    WCF I.7
    All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16):
    yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105).

    Finally, More presented a vision of the origin and fate of heresy which served to underpin a negative view of Protestant character, supplying a motivation for the irrationality of Protestant claims. . . .

    Come on Tom, first we learn that Augustine was an infallible apostle and now T. More.
    When will the breathtaking breakthroughs cease?

    You’re not following the argument. Rome claims the authority of the Church that Christ founded and the Holy Spirit descended upon at Pentecost. Your theology leans on individual discernment. If you figure your denomination has gone wrong, you go off and start a new one.

    Argument?
    Individual discernment?

    2 Cor. 13:5  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

    Does that sound like the ignorant implicit faith of Romanism to your individual discernment or was Paul only talking to the Corinthians individually, nobody else? Come on. Take a wild stab. We won’t tell Francis.

    We’ve been examining that claim. Certainly by abandoning episcopal succession you’ve forfeited Augustine’s view of the claim–if not the Bible itself.

    Note the implicit crimethink mentality there, the whole “provisional” sleight of argument, assuming what needs to be proved: “if not the Bible itself”.

    Which is what is missing in the claimed argument. Other than an occasional and nominally provisional appeal to Scripture, Rome doesn’t go there. It’s all about Tradition and the Magisterium – which is equal to Scripture, if not in fact Scripture in their neck of the woods.
    Cause we said so.

    Cool, now we’re getting somewhere, Robert. You just stipulated Augustine [354-430]. And relinquished the Protestant/Calvinist claim to the Early Church Fathers as well.

    Cool, now we’re getting somewhere Tom. A is not only apostolic and inspired, he is the sum total of all the ECFs plural. Got a love that jesuitical casuistry that is able to leap a non sequitur in a single bound.

    Like

  42. vd, t, Oh no! An Augustine-is-in-error squirrel!!

    What will come of the human race?

    So Augustine’s letters must be true, but infallible dogma about the bodily assumption of Mary — meh.

    Like

  43. Mermaid, “it is a mistake for Calvinists to claim they are following St. Augustine.”

    So the standard is that we must follow Augustine even in his letters.

    So what’s up with you not following the Fourth Lateran Council on Jews?

    This following the fathers business is the standard by which you must operate. You can’t use it as a club against Protestants and then act like all the statements of popes and councils are just background noise.

    But go ahead. Shrug. It’s fetching to see a woman in fins crunch her shoulders.

    Like

  44. Tom,

    Cool, now we’re getting somewhere, Robert. You just stipulated Augustine [354-430]. And relinquished the Protestant/Calvinist claim to the Early Church Fathers as well.

    This is the point here. You play straight. For your version of the Christian religion to be right, Augustine must be wrong.

    For my “version” of the Christian ecclesiology to be right, Augustine must be wrong about Apostolic succession. That doesn’t mean he can’t be right about other things. Nor does it mean that Rome of today is the church of Augustine. That’s always assumed by Romanists. It’s an incorrect assumption. Augustine didn’t hold to jurisdictional primacy of the papacy, and its not clear that he believed that the church was always protected from error when it met in ecumenical council.

    Overall, Augustine’s ecclesiology is a bit of a mess. It’s finally incompatible with His doctrine of grace. You can’t have ex opere operato sacramentalism and believe in something like a desire for baptism that saves. It’s horribly inconsistent.

    The very best Rome can say is that its ecclesiology closer to Augustine’s than mine is. Big whoop. If Augustine was wrong about ecclesiology, then that’s no point in favor of RCism. The actual historical evidence is that the notion of Apostolic succession as Rome and the East hold it was a post NT development, and then only a late second century one at best, and then only in response to others who were claiming succession as well (gnostics). There’s no notion that you identify the church primarily by an “unbroken” chain of ordained monoepiscopal bishops in the actual verifiable Apostolic tradition that we do have. Paul believes ordination is useless if those ordained are teaching heresy. Doctrine has primacy, actual Apostolic doctrine, not “developed” dogma that one can identify.

    Where anyone after the Apostles is correct, we hold to them. Where they are wrong, we reject them. Same EXACT thing Rome does. Rome’s adherence to the Augustinian theology of grace is extremely tenuous and contradicted by its declaration that Molinism and other views are just as orthodox.

    You see how this fragments and atomizes, forever and ever, amen. There is no Church, there can be no Church. Only opinions.

    In a sinful world, people will leave the church and start their own. The only thing that has any effectiveness in stopping it is the possession of the sword, which Rome no longer has.

    Rome is no less fragmentized or atomized than Protestantism. All it has is nominal same-home-office unity wherein the only real thing you need to do is show up every so often for mass. You don’t need to believe anything Rome teaches as long as you don’t actively oppose it. And even then, you might be declared a brother bishop by the current who-am-i-to-judge pope.

    All I have is my opinion of what Rome teaches, which is different than yours and different than CVD’s et alia. And I have no other recourse to settle it besides consulting church documents. The Magisterium certainly isn’t going to excommunicate anyone.

    All you have is your opinion. Welcome to your finitude.

    Like

  45. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink
    Mermaid, “it is a mistake for Calvinists to claim they are following St. Augustine.”

    So the standard is that we must follow Augustine even in his letters.

    So what’s up with you not following the Fourth Lateran Council on Jews?

    This following the fathers business is the standard by which you must operate. You can’t use it as a club against Protestants and then act like all the statements of popes and councils are just background noise.

    But go ahead. Shrug. It’s fetching to see a woman in fins crunch her shoulders.>>>>

    Oh, the Church Fathers were just following the Traditional Apostolic Teachings handed down to them through the the process the Apostle Paul spoke to Timothy about. Obviously Paul was talking about more than just the words he had written down. Here you also have an oral tradition that was backed up by the written Word.

    2 Timothy 2:2
    and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    Calvin tried to co-opt that process and set up his own teaching magisterium, as you well know. If not, what in the world was The Institutes of the Christian Religion all about? He believed he was not only reforming Catholic Christianity, but defining it for future generations.

    You are the historian on this. Am I right or not? What did Calvin think he was doing?

    With Luther it is more ambiguous. Did he really set out to establish his own church? Not so clear. In fact, it is more likely that he wanted reform, not revolution. …and what happened, happened. Would he be happy with the results? Probably not, at least not with the direction Lutheranism has taken. Would he have 97 theses for today’s Lutheranism? I kind of think he would have.

    And the popes and councils are not just background noise. Nancy Pelosi is just background noise, as are the progressive religious.

    While everyone obsesses about what Francis did or did not say, did or did not do, what has he been up to? He’s been in the hell hole called the Central African Republic encouraging the people of God. Funny the press didn’t follow him there as much as they follow him everywhere else. Why not?

    In your Presbyterian religion, the progressives are the only noise that is being heard. They drown out everyone else. You can’t do a thing about it. It is not likely for that to ever change back to a more solid foundation.

    I’m not happy about that. No, not at all. Maybe you will be able to save your little corner of the Christian world from the onslaught of apostasy. I truly hope so. No, even more, I hope that you will join the battle with your brothers and sisters on the inside of the Catholic Church – who are fighting the same enemies from within.

    Machen did the best he could, and I am grateful to him for being there for a lot of us that were not Presbyterian. Even though the word “fundamentalist” has taken on a new, almost exclusively negative connotation, Machen’s idea of adherence to a body of beliefs called “the fundamentals of the faith” was a brilliant move on his part.

    And I do thank Calvinists for talking so much about Augustine.

    Like

  46. Mermaid,

    Obviously Paul was talking about more than just the words he had written down.

    Prove it. Prove that what Timothy heard was different from or included teachings that never got written down.

    What’s obvious is that Timothy was to hand on Paul’s teaching. What isn’t obvious is that there’s some secret undefined teaching that never got written down. That’s gnostic.

    Like

  47. Mermaid, right. Just ignore the Fourth Lateran and change the subject to Protestantism’s departure from Rome.

    Still haven’t seen you or any of your co-religionists respond to Those Days. And yet, you guys beat us up for neglecting Rome’s history. When we bring up that history, crickets.

    “In your Presbyterian religion, the progressives are the only noise that is being heard.”

    And you don’t hear Old Life? Do you (and Susan) THINK!?!

    Calvin believed he was following the teaching of the apostles, the very teaching that gave your bishops any authority. But Those were the Days.

    I get it. Rome’s apologetic is “we’re not as bad as Protestants.” Such a low bar. You can do better.

    Like

  48. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink
    Mermaid, right. Just ignore the Fourth Lateran and change the subject to Protestantism’s departure from Rome.>>>>

    You know that Protestantism departed from Rome. Of course, you say that Rome departed from Christianity. Protestantism was supposed to set the Church back on its foundation.

    So, what is your foundation now? Think about it. The foundation of provisional knowledge and the best propositions you are able to put forward.

    The resurrection of Christ itself is put in the provisional knowledge category, but then used as a presupposition for your theology.

    Provisional epistemology + presuppositions that can be challenged = Reformed “faith.” That is starting to look less and less like the rock Jesus spoke of in the passages I have kindly cut and pasted below my comment.

    Think about it, and then we can talk.

    BTW, Machen was trying to do on his own what the Council of Nicea did for us a long, long time ago. You want fundamentals of the faith?

    Matthew 16:13-20English Standard Version (ESV)

    Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
    13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

    Matthew 7
    Build Your House on the Rock
    24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

    Like

  49. Mermaid,

    So, what is your foundation now? Think about it. The foundation of provisional knowledge and the best propositions you are able to put forward.

    Cletus already gave the game away in the other greed when he said that his lack of infallibility and omniscience doesn’t mean that he has “provisional” knowledge. So we can stop with the whole “RCs don’t have provisional knowledge but Protestants don’t schtick.” Our lack of infallibility doesn’t mean that we are provisional in the way you think we’re provisional.

    Provisional epistemology + presuppositions that can be challenged = Reformed “faith.

    Bull. Just because presuppositions can be challenged, and ANYONE’S presuppositions can be challenged doesn’t mean it can be done so successfully.

    That is starting to look less and less like the rock Jesus spoke of in the passages I have kindly cut and pasted below my comment.

    There’s an elementary difference between the rock and our apprehension of the rock that for some reason you RCs think doesn’t apply as soon as Rome says boo.

    BTW, Machen was trying to do on his own what the Council of Nicea did for us a long, long time ago. You want fundamentals of the faith?

    As if Rome gives a hoot about Nicea. Brother Muslims? Kissing Qur’ans? Nicene orthodoxy is essentially irrelevant to Rome’s view of salvation. All roads now lead to heaven.

    Like

  50. Robert, you can stop if you wish or continue.

    If you or Brother Hart are willing to change your presuppositions if the bones of Peter really are in Rome, then let’s talk.

    There is a better way, actually. We are all in the battle against common enemies.

    Oh, and BTW, do you know why Pope Francis called Muslims our brothers and sisters or how he differentiated in the same speech between our brotherhood with them and the special filial relationship that Christians enjoy?

    No, you don’t, because you did not read the whole thing, and you do not really understand the Pope’s context.

    Like

  51. Mermaid,

    Bones of Peter? Last time I saw there was a fairly good case to be made that they are in Rome. Not sure what the relevance of that fact is, however. The fact that the bones of Peter might be in St. Peter’s basilica doesn’t prove any of Rome’s claims except the claim that the bones of Peter are in St. Peter’s basilica.

    As for Francis, why don’t you point me to the passage where he says that Muslims are not children of God and are going to hell unless they repent and trust in Christ.

    Like

  52. Mermaid,

    If you think provisional knowledge is so uncertain, then why do you eat? After all, you only provisionally know that eating is necessary, or that your food isn’t poisoned?

    Why do you trust in the RC church and not the EO? You only provisionally know that the RC church is Christ’s church.

    Why do you recite the Nicene creed? You only provisionally know that the words you recite are a correct translation.

    The point is that in spite of your disparagement of provisional knowledge, you routinely rely on your own provisional knowledge in matters secular and religious. All.The.Time.

    Until you can admit to that, you won’t understand the Protestant position. Your entire critique rests on a foundation of meringue.

    Like

  53. Naw, Jeff. That’s your shtick. All provisionality all the time. If it works for you, then make it work for you.

    You turned provisionality into sand when you applied it to the Resurrection. That’s the point of sand, not what I might eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

    What I eat or don’t eat is of no consequence in the great scheme of things. The Resurrection cannot be put in the same category as though all provisionality were the same provisionality.

    If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature, and that if a Protestant decides after studying the evidence and coming to his or her own conclusions based on their own conscience and reasoning abilities that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired is your application of provisional knowledge to the canon meaningful.

    Like

  54. Mermaid,

    So, what is your foundation now? Think about it. The foundation of provisional knowledge and the best propositions you are able to put forward.

    It is the word of God, the one that you cite. Odd how believing in an infallible pontiff drinking the koolaid gives you cart blanche to quote the Bible authoritatively.

    In the end, your trust is in an office. History suggests that trust is misplaced. But you keep shrugging.

    Where was the church before you believed? Mermaid says — doesn’t matter, I believe.

    Like

  55. Mermaid,

    The Resurrection cannot be put in the same category as though all provisionality were the same provisionality.

    Since you are neither infallible nor omniscient, your idea that either Rome, the Scripture, or I teach the resurrection is provisional. You provisionally apprehend that Rome teaches the resurrection and that it matters.

    As Jeff said, you are relying on your provisional knowledge to establish the claim that Rome is true. That doesn’t mean you are necessarily wrong. It does mean you are limited and your knowledge is provisional and that if it’s okay for you to rest on it, it’s okay for Protestants to rest on their provisional knowledge.

    CVD has already admitted that the lack of his infallibllity and omniscience doesn’t mean his submission is provisional in the sense of “maybe its true or maybe its not” and that it doesn’t entail skepticism on his part. He’s exactly right. Now he needs to apply that to Protestantism and drop the argument he and the rest of you are making.

    Like

  56. Mermaid, ah yes. Provisionality only applies to your opponents. Why don’t you follow your infallible pontiff?

    In the Catholic church we have some — many — who believe they possess the absolute truth and they go on sullying others through slander and defamation and this is wrong. Religious fundamentalism must be combated. It is not religious, God is lacking, it is idolatrous.

    Like

  57. Mermaid: … as though all provisionality were the same provisionality.

    You mean not all provisionality is the same? Say more.

    Like

  58. The Little Mermaid
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature, and that if a Protestant decides after studying the evidence and coming to his or her own conclusions based on their own conscience and reasoning abilities that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired is your application of provisional knowledge to the canon meaningful.

    Yes, they have no answer for that. According to their own standards, everybody gets to pick what to put into their own personal Bible.

    Like

  59. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid,

    So, what is your foundation now? Think about it. The foundation of provisional knowledge and the best propositions you are able to put forward.

    It is the word of God, the one that you cite. Odd how believing in an infallible pontiff drinking the koolaid gives you cart blanche to quote the Bible authoritatively.

    In the end, your trust is in an office. History suggests that trust is misplaced.

    Actually what history proves is that the “Reformation” led to theological anarchy. Show me in the Bible that’s what Christ.*

    If the Catholic Church is a mess [and it is], it still goes on. “Protestantism” is a mess that’s not even a church.
    ______________
    * He didn’t. Do you people ever read this thing?

    20″I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22″The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one…

    Like

  60. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid: … as though all provisionality were the same provisionality.

    You mean not all provisionality is the same? Say more.>>>>

    You are the one who puts everything you know on the same level of provisionality. All knowledge is provisional knowledge in your epistemology. You are the one who has to defend it.

    It makes your theology of an infallible rule of faith and practice out to be nonsense. In your system, you can only make such a statement provisionally, which you have argued cannot be infallible.

    So, untangle yourself from the web you have woven for yourself.

    TVD
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
    The Little Mermaid
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature, and that if a Protestant decides after studying the evidence and coming to his or her own conclusions based on their own conscience and reasoning abilities that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired is your application of provisional knowledge to the canon meaningful.

    TVD:
    Yes, they have no answer for that. According to their own standards, everybody gets to pick what to put into their own personal Bible.>>>>>

    Exactly! Every person his or her own Pope. Every person his or her own Holy Spirit, even.

    No such thing as a Church. It’s all invisible. Nothing is really real.

    Like

  61. Mermaid: You are the one who puts everything you know on the same level of provisionality. All knowledge is provisional knowledge in your epistemology.

    You are mistaken. I have argued otherwise, repeatedly.

    Answr the question, please. Are all provisional beliefs equally uncertain?

    Like

  62. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid: You are the one who puts everything you know on the same level of provisionality. All knowledge is provisional knowledge in your epistemology.

    You are mistaken. I have argued otherwise, repeatedly.

    Answr the question, please. Are all provisional beliefs equally uncertain?

    This observer has no idea what you’re on about either, nor does it have anything to do with the Christian religion–only with your own solipsistic version of it. This is a web of your own creation and not even your fellow Protestants here are setting foot in it. Sorry, but that’s the fact. Nobody will get anywhere near her question because your whole system of sola scriptura collapses if you give an honest answer.

    If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature, and that if a Protestant decides after studying the evidence and coming to his or her own conclusions based on their own conscience and reasoning abilities that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired is your application of provisional knowledge to the canon meaningful.

    Like

  63. TVD: This observer has no idea what you’re on about either

    Utterly unsurprising. You and Mermaid have been misrepresenting our position for so long that you can’t tell the difference between what we believe and what you’ve made up whole cloth.

    Lack of reading comprehension on your part does not constitute confusion on my part.

    Like

  64. <i.Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
    TVD: This observer has no idea what you’re on about either

    Utterly unsurprising. You and Mermaid have been misrepresenting our position

    Nobody knows what it is, neither is there an “our.” You’re on your own here.

    Answer the question. Show your cards.

    If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature, and that if a Protestant decides after studying the evidence and coming to his or her own conclusions based on their own conscience and reasoning abilities that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired is your application of provisional knowledge to the canon meaningful.

    Like

  65. Tom and Mermaid:

    If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature, and that if a Protestant decides after studying the evidence and coming to his or her own conclusions based on their own conscience and reasoning abilities that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired is your application of provisional knowledge to the canon meaningful.

    Wrong. Fallibility doesn’t equal uncertainty or that one has the spiritual right to obey ones conscience when it is wrong or that everything is up for grabs or that we can’t know an invalid argument or…

    You all are the ones claiming infallibility equals no way to evaluate spiritual truth. That’s fine if you want to go there as long as you apply your standard to yourselves. Which I’ve yet to see happen.

    Like

  66. Robert
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Wrong. Fallibility doesn’t equal uncertainty or that one has the spiritual right to obey ones conscience when it is wrong or that everything is up for grabs or that we can’t know an invalid argument or…

    Where is all this “provisionality” stuff in the Bible?

    Test everything; hold fast what is good. Until you find something better.

    And you didn’t answer the question either, Robert. If the canon is closed, who closed it? By what authority?

    You guys keep uncoupling the Holy Spirit from your train of thought, which renders everything you say ontologically invalid. You have no defense from reducing the Christian religion to rationalism.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12652a.htm

    Like

  67. TVD: You guys keep uncoupling the Holy Spirit from your train of thought

    You keep saying that, but it keeps being false.

    Like

  68. Tom,

    Where is all this “provisionality” stuff in the Bible?

    Test everything; hold fast what is good. Until you find something better.

    If that were actually our understanding of falliblity and “provisionality” that would be nice. But as we keep pointing out, that’s not true.

    And you didn’t answer the question either, Robert. If the canon is closed, who closed it? By what authority?

    The Holy Spirit closed the canon ca. 90 AD when the last NT book was written. Simple.

    You guys keep uncoupling the Holy Spirit from your train of thought, which renders everything you say ontologically invalid.

    As Jeff said, this simply isn’t true. I’ll add that the claim itself only makes sense if you think the Holy Spirit equals people with funny hats doling out grace in dollops through sacraments that don’t require conscious faith.

    You have no defense from reducing the Christian religion to rationalism.

    Hey, my church hasn’t embraced Enlightenment Darwinism. Rome on the other hand…

    Like

  69. TVD: If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature

    Yes, meaning that theoretically evidence could come along to demonstrate that the boundary of the canon needs to move.

    It would be a foolish bet to hold out for it.

    TVD: and that if a Protestant decides after studying the evidence and coming to his or her own conclusions based on their own conscience and reasoning abilities that the Deuterocanonical books are inspired is your application of provisional knowledge to the canon meaningful.

    No. That’s not what “provisional” means. You’re thinking of “solipsistic.”

    Your turn: Are all provisional beliefs equally uncertain?

    Like

  70. Robert
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    “Where is all this “provisionality” stuff in the Bible?

    Test everything; hold fast what is good. Until you find something better.”

    If that were actually our understanding of falliblity and “provisionality” that would be nice. But as we keep pointing out, that’s not true.

    You keep denying the logical result of you philosophy, which replaces the Holy Spirit with your own reason. Neither can you find any Biblical clarification for whatever you’re trying to say, because it’s not there.

    And you didn’t answer the question either, Robert. If the canon is closed, who closed it? By what authority?

    The Holy Spirit closed the canon ca. 90 AD when the last NT book was written. Simple.

    Simplistic. Show us a Bible from 90 AD or even 190 AD. You can’t. None exists. You are glossing over the process of how the Holy Spirit created the Bible in its present form. This is useless. I doubt even your own church agrees with any of this.

    Like

  71. Tom,

    You keep denying the logical result of you philosophy, which replaces the Holy Spirit with your own reason. Neither can you find any Biblical clarification for whatever you’re trying to say, because it’s not there.

    Incorrect. The Holy Spirit’s leading of the church does not necessitate that the church always and everywhere gets things right. The church is still led by sinners.

    And you didn’t answer the question either, Robert. If the canon is closed, who closed it? By what authority?

    Yes I did answer it. The canon was closed as soon as the last book of the NT was written. There’s a difference between closing the canon and recognizing the canon. I do not accept the premise that the church closes the canon. The church merely recognizes it.

    Simplistic. Show us a Bible from 90 AD or even 190 AD. You can’t. None exists. You are glossing over the process of how the Holy Spirit created the Bible in its present form. This is useless. I doubt even your own church agrees with any of this.

    When you can get it through your thick skull that my church denies that the church determines or creates the canon, then we can talk. The church recognizes the canon by the authority of the Holy Spirit when it gets the canon right. You want a red light to go off when that happens. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles promised that.

    But if you want the earliest full canon, it was actually delineated by Origen who gave a list of books in ca. 250 AD: http://michaeljkruger.com/what-is-the-earliest-complete-list-of-the-canon-of-the-new-testament/

    But of course, that doesn’t mean he was the first to recognize it.

    Rome imprisons the Holy Spirit in the sacraments and in the musings of men who have had no problem persecuting Jews, killing Protestants, kidnapping children, selling salvation, and sending child molesting priests to new parishes where they would have access to more children. It turns “my sheep hear my voice” to “We, the corrupt hierarchy and lousy for power Magisterium will tell you when the Spirit speaks, we’ll never be wrong about it, and pay no attention to the fact that we include full-on liberals in our ranks.” You’ll perhaps forgive us for laughing at Magisterial claims.

    Like

  72. Mermaid: Every person his or her own Holy Spirit, even. No such thing as a Church. It’s all invisible. Nothing is really real.

    Dear mermaid-l’unite’-lover, now you’re really de-unificating
    Are you saying that every believer doesn’t personally have the indwelling Holy Spirit – ‘cause THAT is the true unity of which the Lord speaks -Christ’s body, the Σ of every believer each having His indwelling Spirit, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph 1:23)

    Can we praise the Lord for giving us His word, of which we do agree https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/canon.cfm

    Can we say as Paul does Who the convincer is: …if in anything you have a different attitude, GOD will reveal that also to you (Phil 3:15)

    “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself;
    And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
    Little children, guard yourselves from idols” ( from 1 John 5)

    Like

  73. also re unity- can we also agree we all love squirrels

    To A Squirrel At Kyle-Na-No

    Come play with me;
    Why should you run
    Through the shaking tree
    As though I’d a gun
    To strike you dead?
    When all I would do
    Is to scratch your head
    And let you go.”
    ― W.B. Yeats

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  74. Robert and Jeff, you really got nothin’ I can see that even remotely resembles the kind of faith Jesus talks about.

    All you have is provisional knowledge which leads to provisional “faith.” Jesus would call that unbelief. I do not believe that is how you actually operate. If it is, you are lost.

    See, Robert, when you were consistent in your application of provisional knowledge even to Christ’s resurrection, you showed the foolishness of this epistemology as applied to matters of settled dogma.

    The evidence is abundantly clear in the NT you say you accept as infallible. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Read the evidence. Submit to what the Bible says. If you do, you are a believer in Christ. If you don’t, you are not.

    There is no foolish talk in the NT about “if we find the body of Jesus Christ, then we will quit believing.” Unbelievers argue that way – and argued that way. The Jews thought they could tell a story about how Jesus’ disciples came and stole the body and that’s why they couldn’t find one.

    You have borrowed this idea of provisional knowledge from the philosophy of science. It may work quite well if consistently applied to the sciences. We know it is not, but as a philosophy, it may be quite sound.

    You have tried to marry it to the kind of thing Luther advocated – an appeal to human reason and human conscience. The big problem is that both human reason and human conscience in your theology are so terribly fallen that they can never be relied on to bring the kind of certainty that faith demands. Even you say that we rely on revealed truth, not on human reasoning.

    I am not really sure what role the Holy Spirit plays in your coming to faith. I know that in your ordo, the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit called regeneration comes before anything else. Without regeneration, no one is able to believe. That is true.

    The Bible is also clear – and the Catholic Church affirms – that the Holy Spirit was given to the Body of Christ on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. That is when and where the Holy Spirit descended on and filled God’s people just as Jesus promised in John 16 and Acts 1.

    You never talk about Him except to say that of course you believe in Him. You get insulted when asked. Then you go back to trashing Catholicism. So, go ahead. Tear down the Catholic Church. Burn her to the ground. Many have tried both from the inside and from the outside. Many are trying from the inside and outside right now. You add your voices to the many who are working as hard as they can to bring about her demise.

    And? Then what? What do YOU have? Are you going to go into all the world and preach the Gospel of “based on provisional evidence, we provisionally believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead until and unless His body is found”?

    What are you going to preach on Easter Sunday? “We are gathered here today because we are 99.999% sure that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. We base that on provisional knowledge, but if His body is ever found – and it just might be someday – we will quit calling ourselves Christians. So, today we have a cause for rejoicing, knowing that until further notice, Christ rose from the dead!”

    If you are not going to preach like that, then away with your nonsense! Here is how Paul preached the resurrection of Christ. It is of first importance. It is the heart of the Gospel message. Unless you believe this, you are not a Christian. Unless this is true, you are still dead in your sins and there is no hope of eternal life.

    If you really believe this, Robert and Jeff, then preach it as though your life depended on it – because it does.

    1 Corinthians 15
    3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

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  75. Mermaid,

    Robert and Jeff, you really got nothin’ I can see that even remotely resembles the kind of faith Jesus talks about.

    The kind of faith that Jesus doesn’t talk about is “believe what ever the church tells you to believe and don’t ask too many questions,” which I’m afraid is the view I’m sensing from you in your comments and your refusal to actually hear what we are saying.

    All you have is provisional knowledge which leads to provisional “faith.” Jesus would call that unbelief. I do not believe that is how you actually operate. If it is, you are lost.

    All YOU have is finite, fallible knowledge. Which means it is theoretically possible that what you interpret as “I, the Roman church is infallible” is really “I, the Roman church was founded by Green Martians,” or “I, the Roman Church am not a true witness to Christ,” etc. You, theoretically could be the only person that exists and we’re all just figments of your imagination. There’s all sorts of things that are possible in theory but impossible in reality. You don’t have to be infallible to know that.

    And that is really all we’re saying. It is theoretically possible for the church to be wrong on the Trinity, etc., but in reality its essentially impossible given the evidence, etc. THAT is what the Protestant means by fallibility. NOT “we’re fallible so we’re clueless about what is true and what is not.”

    The only reason I am going down this road is because YOUR SIDE as represented here (though it is not illustrative of the majority of RCs) keeps saying that fallibility means everything goes, no foundation, etc. That’s really fine if you want to believe it, but if so, you MUST apply it to yourself as well and recognize that EVEN IF ROME’S CLAIMS ARE TRUE, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CLAIM AND YOUR APPREHENSION OF IT, WHICH IS FALLIBLE. And that means that you are in the exact same position of any Protestant if fallibility means foundationless, ever-changing, can’t know for sure, etc.

    See, Robert, when you were consistent in your application of provisional knowledge even to Christ’s resurrection, you showed the foolishness of this epistemology as applied to matters of settled dogma.

    The evidence is abundantly clear in the NT you say you accept as infallible. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Read the evidence. Submit to what the Bible says. If you do, you are a believer in Christ. If you don’t, you are not.

    I submit to what the Bible says and have certainty that it is true without having to believe that church is infallible. CVD’s point on the one hand is that there is no warrant for that if there is no infallible church, but then he gave the store away when he admitted that our finitude and fallibility does not mean we can’t know or be sure of things.

    There is no foolish talk in the NT about “if we find the body of Jesus Christ, then we will quit believing.” Unbelievers argue that way – and argued that way. The Jews thought they could tell a story about how Jesus’ disciples came and stole the body and that’s why they couldn’t find one.

    “If Christ is not risen your faith is in vain. Eat, drink, and be merry.” Paul is laying out the logical consequences if the theoretical possibility of Christ not being raised is true. But it’s a theoretical possibility that is impossible in reality. Which is EXACTLY the point we are making in regard to the fallible church. Every doctrine is theoretically possible to be wrong, but given the evidence it is impossible for at least some of them to be wrong. This, despite our finitude.

    You have borrowed this idea of provisional knowledge from the philosophy of science. It may work quite well if consistently applied to the sciences. We know it is not, but as a philosophy, it may be quite sound.

    I don’t all of a sudden become infinite when I encounter religious truth claims. Provisionality=finitude not “everything goes.” That’s your argument, not mine. As long as I am finite, there is a degree of provisionality/fallibility to my knowledge. Even if the claim is true and infallible, my apprehension of it is fallible, so there is no difference at the level where it matters epistemologically. You could theoretically be wrong, as could I. RC is in the same boat.

    You have tried to marry it to the kind of thing Luther advocated – an appeal to human reason and human conscience. The big problem is that both human reason and human conscience in your theology are so terribly fallen that they can never be relied on to bring the kind of certainty that faith demands.

    According to CVD, thinking that human reason and conscience brings certitude of faith is rationalistic Pelagian and your momma is ugly thinking. So Rome has the same problem.

    Even you say that we rely on revealed truth, not on human reasoning.

    Correct. But the revealed truth doesn’t make ME infallible. And that’s the key.

    I am not really sure what role the Holy Spirit plays in your coming to faith. I know that in your ordo, the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit called regeneration comes before anything else. Without regeneration, no one is able to believe. That is true.

    You just defined the role of the HS in my coming to faith. You know exactly what we believe, so stop saying we’re Pelagian or don’t have a space for the Spirit.

    The Bible is also clear – and the Catholic Church affirms – that the Holy Spirit was given to the Body of Christ on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. That is when and where the Holy Spirit descended on and filled God’s people just as Jesus promised in John 16 and Acts 1.

    In one sense this is true, but the Holy Spirit also filled God’s people under the old covenant. Pentecost is an increased measure of the Spirit, but not a qualitatively new thing. Which means that if the OT people of God could recognize the canon apart from infallibility and be expected to have certainty of faith about it (and Jesus does so expect that), so can we.

    You never talk about Him except to say that of course you believe in Him. You get insulted when asked. Then you go back to trashing Catholicism.

    That’s a lie or at best a betrayal of your failure to read.

    So, go ahead. Tear down the Catholic Church. Burn her to the ground. Many have tried both from the inside and from the outside. Many are trying from the inside and outside right now.

    You’ve just made the best argument for RC fallibility that has yet been offered on this blog.

    And? Then what? What do YOU have? Are you going to go into all the world and preach the Gospel of “based on provisional evidence, we provisionally believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead until and unless His body is found”?

    Non sequitr. We preach what we believe is true boldly. My finitude and fallibility does not impact the truth of the claim. And that’s the point.

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  76. Robert:
    Non sequitr. We preach what we believe is true boldly. My finitude and fallibility does not impact the truth of the claim. And that’s the point.>>>>

    The point is that you do not apply the principle of provisional knowledge to your faith. That concept is borrowed from a philosophy of science. It presumes skepticism, BTW, or it would not be what is commonly called science in our day.

    I do not believe you do. It’s not because I believe you to be a liar. No, not at all. It’s not because I believe you are consciously telling a lie. I do not believe that you, Robert, actually think that way about the resurrection in real life.

    That is my point.

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  77. See, Robert, you and I believe in the ressurrection not based on any kind of provisional knowledge. We believe because.:

    1. The women were the first to witness to the resurrection and carry the message of the angel to the apostles. They learned it from angelic messengers who were sent by God to tell them.

    2. Mary Magdalene saw the risen Lord and talked briefly with Him.

    3. When the apostles heard the news, Peter and John went to see for themselves. Peter was the first to enter the tomb and see the bodiless shroud.

    4. They went back to tell the apostles.

    and so forth as per 1 Cor. 15:1ff

    So, it was the apostles who had been given the authority to teach the truth. You believe that while they were alive, and even their testimony until this day is authoritative.

    You believe in the ressurrection of Jesus Christ based on the authority that had been given to the apostles. If you believe for any other reason- convinced by your own reason and conscience – then that undermines the authority of the apostles and that of Jesus Himself as well.

    You put your own reason and conscience above the authority of the apostles. You lose if you do that.

    Like the demons said to the 7 Sons of Sceva.

    ““Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
    -Acts 19:11-17

    Even the demons see the foolishness of reliance on one’s own authority. Reliance on one’s own ability to sort through provisional knowledge and made decisions about Truth is not what the NT endorses as faith.

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  78. Note that I’m not questioning the Scripture. I’m questioning how *you* know what you claim to know. How do you know that you have read the Scripture correctly?

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  79. The point is that you do not apply the principle of provisional knowledge to your faith. That concept is borrowed from a philosophy of science. It presumes skepticism, BTW, or it would not be what is commonly called science in our day.

    I’m not borrowing anything from the philosophy of science. I’m simply acknowledging that I cannot know every fact nor how every fact is related to every other fact. Therefore, there will always be a degree of provisionality to my knowledge, even with respect to my faith. Provisionality is inherent to being a creature. But provisionality isn’t something that eradicates a foundation for the warrant of faith. That’s your and CVD’s claim, which is absurd on the face of it because it reduces to skepticism. I’m just trying to get you to follow out the logical end of your claim.

    We believe because.:
    1. The women were the first to witness to the resurrection and carry the message of the angel to the apostles. They learned it from angelic messengers who were sent by God to tell them.
    2. Mary Magdalene saw the risen Lord and talked briefly with Him.
    3. When the apostles heard the news, Peter and John went to see for themselves. Peter was the first to enter the tomb and see the bodiless shroud.
    4. They went back to tell the apostles.
    and so forth as per 1 Cor. 15:1ff
    So, it was the apostles who had been given the authority to teach the truth. You believe that while they were alive, and even their testimony until this day is authoritative.

    Yes.

    You believe in the ressurrection of Jesus Christ based on the authority that had been given to the apostles. If you believe for any other reason- convinced by your own reason and conscience – then that undermines the authority of the apostles and that of Jesus Himself as well.

    I don’t follow you here. I believe based on the authority of the Apostles because I exercised my reason and conscience to interpret their words. I don’t set aside my reason when I believe. I can’t believe unless my reason has some kind of content to work on. I mean to put it bare bones: Apostolic teaching plus my reasoning through it plus the effectual enablement of the Holy Spirit=Robert has faith. If I lose any of that, I don’t have faith.

    You put your own reason and conscience above the authority of the apostles. You lose if you do that.

    Not true. My reason and conscience are the means, or at least some of the means, by which I receive the authoritative claims of the Apostles. I can’t believe without exercising reason, but my reason is finite and fallible because I am not God or an organ of special revelation. The same is true of you.

    There is a distinction between the content/meaning of the revelation and my apprehension of it. This is undeniable. Without the Vulcan mindmeld I’m relying on my own mind, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit to know and interpret the content. So are you.

    This is why Rome’s claim to infallibility doesn’t provide any inherent assistance to you. There is a distinction between the claim and your apprehension of that claim. So if you want to go down the road of “you have no warrant/certitude of faith without an infallible claim,” you have to explain how you have such warrant when what you are believing is your fallible reading of an infallible claim. It’s something that no RC has yet done except to say, “Just ignore that reality and assume Rome is correct, and we’re self-evidently better.” I mean I can play that game with crazy Dave the prophet who says every word that comes out of his mouth is infallible. Well, I got to throw Rome out for consideration because it limits its infalliblity. It’s a dumb argument, and frankly it seems that it’s offered only because you guys think that religious truth is somehow indiscernible through other means or you are so insecure about yourselves that you need some extra assurance. But then you trust yourself to rightly divine the most important spiritual truth in your system, namely Rome is what she is. It’s inconsistent and illogical.

    Even the demons see the foolishness of reliance on one’s own authority.

    Correct. Which is why I don’t relay on my own authority. I do have to rely in some measure on my own reason, however. And so do you.

    Reliance on one’s own ability to sort through provisional knowledge and made decisions about Truth is not what the NT endorses as faith.

    I don’t even know what this means. You relied on your own ability and reason to sort through evidence and make a decision about Christ and the church, unless you want to tell me you put no thought into the decision. But other comments indicate you did. It seems like you are endorsing some kind of radical antithesis between faith and reason, which certainly isn’t traditional Roman Catholicism. But it is difficult to understand what you are saying.

    Like

  80. Mermaid, “Robert and Jeff, you really got nothin’ I can see that even remotely resembles the kind of faith Jesus talks about. All you have is provisional knowledge which leads to provisional “faith.” Jesus would call that unbelief.”

    Imagine Pope Francis saying that. I can’t:

    Francis had the same message for a mostly Christian crowd of 3,700 in a refugee camp at a CAR Catholic parish, saying, “We want peace. There is no peace without forgiveness, without tolerance. Regardless of ethnicity, social status, we are all brothers.”

    Why don’t you at least act like a Roman Catholic?

    Like

  81. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink
    vd, t, so the Holy Spirit was still inspiring the Bible after 190?

    Coherent up.

    Nice try, tough guy, but a distortion.

    “Simplistic. Show us a Bible from 90 AD or even 190 AD. You can’t. None exists. You are glossing over the process of how the Holy Spirit created the Bible in its present form.”

    In its present form. Sorting out for man what is canonical and what is not canonical, as well as which source texts to translate and canonize [for instance, the Septuagint or the Pharisees’ later “Masoretic” version of the OT?].

    http://oodegr.co/english/protestantism/masoretic_vs_septuagint.htm

    Unless you want to say that Martin Luther did it all on his own authority. [Which he kinda did.* Which leaves you in the pickle that your friends are conspicuously avoiding, the one that’s actually relevant to the discussion.]

    Once again, you’re nowhere near the zone, Dr. Hart. But you do have a gift for infantilizing any discussion you intrude upon. Well done, sir.

    ____________
    *”But to return to the matter in hand! If your papist wants to make so much fuss about the word sola (alone) tell him this, “Dr. Martin Luther will have it so, and says that a papist and an ass are the same thing.” Sic volo, sic jubeo; sit pro ratione voluntas. We are not going to be the pupils and disciples of the papists, but their masters and judges. For once, we too are going to be proud and brag with these blockheads; and as St. Paul boasts over against his mad raving saints [II Cor. 11:21ff.], so I shall boast over against these asses of mine. Are they doctors? So am I. Are they learned? So am I. Are they preachers? So am I. Are they theologians? So am I. Are they debaters? So am I. Are they philosophers? So am I. Are they dialecticians? So am I. Are they lecturers? So am I. Do they write books? So do I.

    I will go further with my boasting. I can expound psalms and prophets; they cannot. I can translate; they cannot. I can read the Holy Scriptures; they cannot. Blahblahblahblah

    Like

  82. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid, “Robert and Jeff, you really got nothin’ I can see that even remotely resembles the kind of faith Jesus talks about. All you have is provisional knowledge which leads to provisional “faith.” Jesus would call that unbelief.”

    Imagine Pope Francis saying that. I can’t:

    Francis had the same message for a mostly Christian crowd of 3,700 in a refugee camp at a CAR Catholic parish, saying, “We want peace. There is no peace without forgiveness, without tolerance. Regardless of ethnicity, social status, we are all brothers.”

    Why don’t you at least act like a Roman Catholic?

    She acts like a Christian, anyway, enduring your abuse without smacking you back.

    Keep on keeping holy the Lord’s Day, Elder Hart. I guess this is how one acts when they’re a Presbyterian.

    Like

  83. Simplistic. Show us a Bible from 90 AD or even 190 AD. You can’t. None exists. You are glossing over the process of how the Holy Spirit created the Bible in its present form. This is useless. I doubt even your own church agrees with any of this.

    More incompetent and contradictory ex prot blathering.
    Rather in obedience to the command in Scripture to explicitly and implicitly preach and teach sound doctrine (Tit. 1:9, 2:1, Tim. 1:10) WCF 1:8 says:

    The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical (Matt. 5:18); so as, in all controversies of religion,the Church is finally to appeal unto them (Isa. 8:20).

    IOW while we don’t have the original inspired autographs, the church has always had faithful copies (apographa) of Scripture. It didn’t just drop out of the sky at at Trent.

    If you really believe this, Robert and Jeff, then preach it as though your life depended on it – because it does.

    Maybe Snow White could look in the mirror.

    1 Corinthians 15
    3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve . . .  Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

    Why do we so believe? Because it is “according to the Scripture” and however it might escape our novices, 1 Cor. 15, which she quotes, is also Scripture.

    Note bene, note well. There is no mention of the Church, the Magisterium, Tradition or even the pope as the basis for why we are to believe Paul’s gospel which is the NT gospel.
    Even our papist inconsistently recognizes that.

    And then returns to accusing prots – , who admit to being fallible – of never being able to come to a true knowledge of the infallible truths of Scripture. This all the while she implicitly, if not explicitly claims that cats – who are also fallible – can truly know the infallible truths of popery.
    Hypocrisy much?

    Because protestantism acknowledges that their claims to correctly understanding Scripture (the pope?) are always open to examination in the light of Scripture, reason and history, romanists see fit to equivocate and throw the weasel word of “provisional” around with abandon. It necessarily means in their one sided critique, that protestant provisionalism necessarily is in error and that only and all the time.

    Rather for prots doctrinal progress is like climbing a mountain. Each generation ideally begins the journey higher up than the previous generation, but progress is slow; dead ends, detours and backsliding abounds. But on some issues the church doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, such as with the truly ecumenical creeds regarding the Trinity and the deity of Christ.

    Likewise the Reformation. Trent cemented Rome’s apostasy on the authority of Scripture and justification by faith alone, returning to a semi pelagian vomit and mishmash of justification and sanctification, faith and works however much she tried in Vat 2 to make nice and talk about “separated brethren”.

    True, cats don’t agree with this paradigm; for them the ultimate question is does one have implicit (albeit ignorant) faith in the Church or no, period. IOW Sola Ecclesia.

    Regardless, that doesn’t justify the roman lies/misrepresentions of the prot position.

    Like

  84. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid, when did Christianity become a graduate seminar in epistemology? When did Descartes become the one to set the agenda?

    You should be posing this to Jeff and Robert. They’re the ones doing this “provisionality” bit.

    Like

  85. Bob S
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Likewise the Reformation. Trent cemented Rome’s apostasy on the authority of Scripture and justification by faith alone, returning to a semi pelagian vomit and mishmash of justification and sanctification

    Bob, normal people don’t talk like this.

    Like

  86. TVD: You should be posing this to Jeff and Robert. They’re the ones doing this “provisionality” bit

    Au contraire. We are perfectly happy to say that normal people are able to read the Bible and derive meaning from it, and by the work of the Spirit believe.

    Now comes you or Mermaid or CVD and wants to know ‘by what authority?’ and tries to throw doubt on even the possibility of finding meaning in the text.

    You guys brought this to the table.

    But I notice that neither you nor Mermaid has answered the question:

    Is all provisional knowledge equally uncertain?

    I answered your question. Fair’s fair.

    Like

  87. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
    TVD: “You should be posing this to Jeff and Robert. They’re the ones doing this “provisionality” bit”

    Au contraire. We are perfectly happy to say that normal people are able to read the Bible and derive meaning from it, and by the work of the Spirit believe.

    That does not address “provisionality”; it dodges it.

    You cannot say what the Bible even is. Robert’s ready to cut the story of the adulteress out based on philology. And of course once you introduce modern Biblical criticism, the sky’s the limit.

    http://listverse.com/2015/08/11/10-bible-passages-that-might-be-totally-bogus/

    Plus you once again avoided the question of the Septuagint vs. the Masoretic OT as the proper source for the Christian Bible. You cannot even establish your premises, let alone your argument.

    Now comes you or Mermaid or CVD and wants to know ‘by what authority?’ and tries to throw doubt on even the possibility of finding meaning in the text.

    You guys brought this to the table.

    That’s because it shows you did not establish your premise.

    But I notice that neither you nor Mermaid has answered the question:

    Is all provisional knowledge equally uncertain?

    I answered your question. Fair’s fair.

    No, you didn’t answer. Nor is anyone anxious to step into the little snare you’re laying with a question that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit dispense “provisional” knowledge?

    If so, you have not dared to attempt any Biblical proof for that idea.

    If not, you’re just arguing human reason and epistemology, which would make Dr. hart 180 degrees wrong once again, attacking the wrong person, Ms. Mermaid, for playing the epistemology game. That would be you.

    Like

  88. Plus you once again avoided the question of the Septuagint vs. the Masoretic OT as the proper source for the Christian Bible. You cannot even establish your premises, let alone your argument.

    That’s a lie. MsWf has only repeatedly repeated the exploded nonsense of Susan. Because the Greek NT quotes the Septuagint OT which also contains the Deuterocanonical books, ergo, the Greek NT quotes the DC. Not.
    As in demonstrate, not assert i.e name it, claim it, your fundamental MO.

    WCF 1:8 The OT in Hebrew . . . not Greek.

    No, you didn’t answer. Nor is anyone anxious to step into the little snare you’re laying with a question that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit dispense “provisional” knowledge?

    Distinguish for one, O wise one, between inspiration and illumination.
    Much more that the Roman church has got the Holy Spirit bottled up and on tap in the sacraments, ex opere operato.
    IOW the lesbian squirrels truly partake of Christ if they get into the sanctuary and there are any crumbs that didn’t get swept up and put in the sacristy.
    Of course normal people don’t talk that way. They aren’t romanists.

    Like

  89. TVD: No, you didn’t answer.

    I absolutely did. I gave you a direct Yes to the first part, with reason, and a No to the second part, with reason. here.

    TVD: Nor is anyone anxious to step into the little snare you’re laying with a question that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.

    So are you afraid to answer the question?

    Like

  90. Tom,

    You cannot say what the Bible even is. Robert’s ready to cut the story of the adulteress out based on philology. And of course once you introduce modern Biblical criticism, the sky’s the limit.

    The irony is that some of the most radical works on biblical criticism that I have read were written by Roman Catholic priests and had the imprimatur that nothing in the book contradicted RC dogma.

    Does the Holy Spirit dispense “provisional” knowledge?

    The Holy Spirit gives infallible revelation that we, because we are finite and sinful, fallibly apprehend. This isn’t hard. If you really believe you infallibly apprehend divine revelation, then you are an organ of revelation and need to either start writing another book of the NT or start your own religion.

    Like

  91. Robert
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    “You cannot say what the Bible even is. Robert’s ready to cut the story of the adulteress out based on philology. And of course once you introduce modern Biblical criticism, the sky’s the limit.”

    The irony is that some of the most radical works on biblical criticism that I have read were written by Roman Catholic priests and had the imprimatur that nothing in the book contradicted RC dogma.

    Imprimaturs do not bestow the authority of the Church. You don’t quite get this distinction, and you really have to start acknowledging it, Robert. You’re working a false premise.

    An imprimatur is not an endorsement by the bishop of the contents of a book, not even of the religious opinions expressed in it, being merely a declaration about what is not in the book. In the published work, the imprimatur is sometimes accompanied by a declaration of the following tenor:

    “The nihil obstat and imprimatur are declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the nihil obstat or imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.”

    You’re the one who’s ready to cut out the story of the adulteress out of the Gospel of John. This is impossible in Catholicism, “Biblical criticism” or no.

    “Does the Holy Spirit dispense “provisional” knowledge?

    The Holy Spirit gives infallible revelation that we, because we are finite and sinful, fallibly apprehend.”

    Who is “we?” You keep avoiding that that means every Protestant is his own pope, and your Holy Spirits are all disagreeing with each other.

    It also means you can’t even trust what you yourself believe because you are fallible and sinful. I’m not sure even your church teaches that, and if so, please do show us where.

    Like

  92. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:52 pm | Permalink
    TVD: If you are willing to say that your canon is only provisional in nature

    Yes, meaning that theoretically evidence could come along to demonstrate that the boundary of the canon needs to move.

    So your Bible–the foundation of your religion–is indeed merely provisional, subject to the razor blade. So who wields the razor blade? By what authority?

    Every man for himself? 100s of millions of different Bibles?

    You haven’t answered the question atall, you have merely begun.
    ______________________

    TVD: Nor is anyone anxious to step into the little snare you’re laying with a question that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.

    So are you afraid to answer the question?

    Not afraid atall. But it is a snare, because it’s based on another false premise

    Is all provisional knowledge equally uncertain?

    since anything “provisionally” held isn’t knowledge, it’s a theory. Your “religion” is actually just an ad hoc collection of theories. Get enough people together who subscribe to the same theories, whip it up into a “Confession,” and voila, you call it a “church.”

    But this is not Catholicism’s–Augustine’s–concept of what Christ meant by “My Church.”

    For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manichæus, how can I but consent?

    We can safely fill in Luther or Calvin for “Manichæus.”

    Like

  93. Tom,

    Thanks for your answer. You say,

    But it is a snare, because it’s based on another false premise … since anything “provisionally” held isn’t knowledge, it’s a theory.

    It would help a bit if you would become conversant with the distinction between the terms hypothesis, law, and theory, all of which are provisionally known.

    But back to the main point. You are taking your daughter in for a flu shot. She asks, “Will it hurt?” You reply (truthfully!) “Only a little bit.” She asks, “How do you know?”

    Are you going to tell her, “I don’t know, but I have a theory?”

    Are you fully consistent with your rhetoric?

    You get into the car and turn the key. Are you surprised when it starts? If the gas gauge hits E, are you at all motivated to find a gas station?

    See, Tom, this isn’t about trapping people. I’m just trying to get you to really look at the disconnect between what you say and how you actually live.

    If that makes you feel trapped, well, I’m sorry — but I didn’t lay that trap for you.

    If your view was on a more solid foundation, you wouldn’t feel quite so trapped.

    Like

  94. Or even more to the point, when you say the creed in church, do you think to yourself, “It is only a theory that this is the correct translation of the Nicene creed?”

    I’m betting not, and you would rightly regard anyone who did so as a hopeless case.

    Like

  95. Tom,

    Imprimaturs do not bestow the authority of the Church. You don’t quite get this distinction, and you really have to start acknowledging it, Robert. You’re working a false premise.

    An imprimatur is not an endorsement by the bishop of the contents of a book, not even of the religious opinions expressed in it, being merely a declaration about what is not in the book. In the published work, the imprimatur is sometimes accompanied by a declaration of the following tenor:

    “The nihil obstat and imprimatur are declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the nihil obstat or imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.”

    You’re the one who’s ready to cut out the story of the adulteress out of the Gospel of John. This is impossible in Catholicism, “Biblical criticism” or no.

    I quite understand the (meaningless) distinction. But now you can perhaps explain why philology is so bad when the imprimatur means the work is free of moral or doctrinal error and yet the work says that John didn’t write the Pericopae Adulterae. If the church says that story is part of the canonical gospel of John, infallibly defined, but the work doesn’t, then either the imprimatur is wrong or Rome’s perfectly fine if you want to take out the Pericopae Adulterae.

    Who is “we?” You keep avoiding that that means every Protestant is his own pope, and your Holy Spirits are all disagreeing with each other.

    No more so than the fact that two Roman Catholics don’t agree. You don’t even agree that the Assumption or transubstantiation are important and relevant doctrines to Roman Catholicism, an opinion that I’m quite sure the Magisterium doesn’t agree with. Well, I’m not so sure with the current pope, but you get the drift.

    It also means you can’t even trust what you yourself believe because you are fallible and sinful. I’m not sure even your church teaches that, and if so, please do show us where.

    It only means that IF you take the absurd tack that provisional apprehension equals an ever-shifting sand of uncertain opinion. That’s not the tack I take. But you all do, criticizing us and telling us that we can’t have certainty or knowledge because our system is fallible but then turning tail and denying what that means for your own admitted fallibility.

    Fallibility simply doesn’t mean lack of certainty or that everything goes. If it does, then you have no certainty about Rome or anything else you purport to believe. It’s the achilles heel of the argument. If fallible=provisional=all up for grabs, then every single RC’s understanding of Rome and submission to her claims is completely the same with regards to its provisionality as mine is, and you get nothing.

    Now if we can finally drop the argument that fallible Protestantism equals all is up for grabs, then I can stop pressing you to embrace what that means for the individual RC.

    Like

  96. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    Thanks for your answer. You say,

    “But it is a snare, because it’s based on another false premise … since anything “provisionally” held isn’t knowledge, it’s a theory.”

    It would help a bit if you would become conversant with the distinction between the terms hypothesis, law, and theory, all of which are provisionally known.

    But back to the main point. You are taking your daughter in for a flu shot. She asks, “Will it hurt?” You reply (truthfully!) “Only a little bit.” She asks, “How do you know?”

    Are you going to tell her, “I don’t know, but I have a theory?”

    Are you fully consistent with your rhetoric?

    You get into the car and turn the key. Are you surprised when it starts? If the gas gauge hits E, are you at all motivated to find a gas station?

    See, Tom, this isn’t about trapping people. I’m just trying to get you to really look at the disconnect between what you say and how you actually live.

    If that makes you feel trapped, well, I’m sorry — but I didn’t lay that trap for you.

    If your view was on a more solid foundation, you wouldn’t feel quite so trapped.

    Thanks for the concern but I don’t feel trapped atall. Augustine’s foundation is the Church, not his own “provisional” “knowledge.” This is the Catholic position, Christ’s promises to His Church as recorded in the Bible

    http://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/promises.html

    that “I will always be with you,” not wallowing in error for a millennium-plus until Luther and Calvin come to rescue it. That’s what’s not in the Bible.

    As for the definition of “knowledge,” you have just blown up the concept. The point is that Catholicism’s truth claims are not offered as provisional and you say yours are. Pick any words you want to delineate the difference. This is not about “rhetoric.”

    Like

  97. But Tom,

    You don’t infallibly know Christ’s promises to the church as recorded in the Scripture, for several reasons.

    (1) You don’t have the original manuscripts, so you don’t infallibly know what was written in Scripture.
    (2) Even if you ignore this and canonize the Vulgate, you don’t have the Vulgate. And if you did, you couldn’t read Jerome’s Latin anyways. So you have to rely on … a fallible translation.
    (3) Even if you ignore this, you don’t have an infallible understanding of Christ’s promises to the Church. After all, you and I read the same promises, yet understand them differently. Are you infallible?
    (4) Even if you ignore this and claim that Augustine infallibly understood those promises, you have no infallible translation of Augustine.
    (5) Even if you ignore this and claim that the church has provided you will an infallible translation of Augustine, you have no guarantee that you understand it as Augustine originally meant it.
    (6) Even if you ignore this and believe that a priest has infallibly transmitted Augustine’s original meaning to you, you have no guarantee that you have infallibly understood it.

    So many things can go wrong, Tom. If you insist on standing by your claim that “provisional knowledge” is no knowledge at all, then I have very, very bad news for you.

    You don’t know anything

    That’s not an insult. It is a direct consequence of your own position applied to your own state of knowledge.

    See, I can know things to varying degrees of certainty. I know that objects will fall when I drop them, the Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow, and you will continue to beat your head against this stone wall.

    You can’t know anything, because you first require non-provisionality in order to have knowledge. And you never get it. Even if I grant that … something … in the RC church is infallible, YOU can never have any of that infallible knowledge because you can’t infallibly apprehend it.

    It is not provisionality but your Quixotic opposition to provisionality that destroys knowledge.

    You don’t know anything — at least not on your own terms.

    Like

  98. Robert
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink
    But now you can perhaps explain why philology is so bad when the imprimatur means the work is free of moral or doctrinal error and yet the work says that John didn’t write the Pericopae Adulterae.

    Because the ontological question [the only one that matters] is one of authority, not philology, as Thomas More pointed out 500 years ago, because few human beings will ever become experts in Hebrew, Greek and philology. Dr. Hart scoffs

    Mermaid, when did Christianity become a graduate seminar in epistemology?

    but he should be scoffing at you. The question remains untouched

    So your Bible–the foundation of your religion–is indeed merely provisional, subject to the razor blade. So who wields the razor blade? By what authority?

    Every man for himself? 100s of millions of different Bibles?

    I ask

    “Who is “we?” You keep avoiding that that means every Protestant is his own pope, and your Holy Spirits are all disagreeing with each other.”

    You reply

    “No more so than the fact that two Roman Catholics don’t agree.”

    But that’s not Catholicism. Whichever one agrees with the authoritative Church teaching is the correct one. The other is in error, ipso facto. Each man is not his own pope.

    But your “provisional” truths mean that the opinions [not ‘knowledge’] of any two disagreeing Protestants are of equal validity. Accept TULIP, or reject it, or be a 4-point Calvinist, or a TUL or a TU, what’s the difference? Each letter is provisional, yes? Isn’t all provisional knowledge equally uncertain?

    Like

  99. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:39 pm | Permalink
    But Tom,

    You don’t infallibly know Christ’s promises to the church as recorded in the Scripture, for several reasons.

    (1) You don’t have the original manuscripts, so you don’t infallibly know what was written in Scripture.
    (2) Even if you ignore this and canonize the Vulgate, you don’t have the Vulgate. And if you did, you couldn’t read Jerome’s Latin anyways. So you have to rely on … a fallible translation.
    (3) Even if you ignore this, you don’t have an infallible understanding of Christ’s promises to the Church. After all, you and I read the same promises, yet understand them differently. Are you infallible?
    (4) Even if you ignore this and claim that Augustine infallibly understood those promises, you have no infallible translation of Augustine.
    (5) Even if you ignore this and claim that the church has provided you will an infallible translation of Augustine, you have no guarantee that you understand it as Augustine originally meant it.
    (6) Even if you ignore this and believe that a priest has infallibly transmitted Augustine’s original meaning to you, you have no guarantee that you have infallibly understood it.

    So many things can go wrong, Tom. If you insist on standing by your claim that “provisional knowledge” is no knowledge at all, then I have very, very bad news for you.

    You don’t know anything.

    That’s not an insult. It is a direct consequence of your own position applied to your own state of knowledge.

    See, I can know things to varying degrees of certainty. I know that objects will fall when I drop them, the Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow, and you will continue to beat your head against this stone wall.

    You can’t know anything, because you first require non-provisionality in order to have knowledge. And you never get it. Even if I grant that … something … in the RC church is infallible, YOU can never have any of that infallible knowledge because you can’t infallibly apprehend it.

    It is not provisionality but your Quixotic opposition to provisionality that destroys knowledge.

    You don’t know anything — at least not on your own terms.

    You seem to think people are disagreeing with you. Nobody is. But you’re arguing withing the bounds of unassisted human reason–epistemology and philology. Augustine and Thomas More both realized that when it comes to Christ, both are inadequate, and you’re illustrating why.

    You don’t know anything either, on your own terms. That’s why there are dozens if not 100s of versions of Protestantism. That’s why both Augustine and Thomas More [and Aquinas] argued that there must be a Church, a theological authority.

    History seldom reveals its alternatives, but the theological chaos that the Protestant Reformation wrought proves it.

    [Perhaps that’s why the Holy Spirit permitted it. Interesting thought.]

    Like

  100. vd, t, so where was the church before 1150, around the time that papal infallibility became a going concern of popes and canon lawyers.

    You can assert till your blue in the face that Christ founded the papacy, but that is a historical claim subject to historical judgment. And so far, Mr. make fun of historians who use theology, all your doing is spouting what the nuns drilled into your knuckles.

    Granted, the commbox is no historical seminar, but you have fundie view of the church — as if it simply fell down from the sky and didn’t develop (except when you need to explain the incoherence of post-Vat 2 Roman Catholicism).

    Try reading Brian Tierney and August Hasler, both Roman Catholic historians.

    Like

  101. Another way of seeing this is that you cannot be free from your own senses. Either there is a Vulcan mindmeld in which infallible ideas transmit themselves from mind to mind without loss, or else ideas, even infallible ones, must be transmitted through the senses. That one fact alone makes all of your propositions fallible. Not wrong, but able to be wrong.

    Like

  102. TVD: You don’t know anything either, on your own terms.

    Yes, actually, I do. On my terms, as I said before, I’m able to know quite a lot. What I have to give up is absolute certainty, but what I gain is the ability to actually know anything. So instead, I can know things with relative certainty, which is very often good enough.

    Consider Abraham on Mt Moriah. He was commanded to sacrifice Isaac. He also knew that God had promised that Isaac would be the one through whom the promise was reckoned.

    So he reasoned, says Hebrews, that God would raise Isaac back from the dead.

    Did he know this infallibly? No, he did not. In fact, he was wrong: God did not raise Isaac from the dead, except in the loosest of metaphorical senses.

    Yet he trusted God in faith and was commended for it.

    Abraham had provisional knowledge that was good enough for commendable faith. It was not necessary for him to first have infallible knowledge.

    Like

  103. TVD: You seem to think people are disagreeing with you. Nobody is.

    So you agree that you don’t know anything? I’m surprised.

    Like

  104. Yeah, or “The Pope or Hume.”

    This crowd thinks that science isn’t knowledge at all. Yet they confidently use computers.

    Like

  105. Tom,

    I ask

    “Who is “we?” You keep avoiding that that means every Protestant is his own pope, and your Holy Spirits are all disagreeing with each other.”

    You reply

    “No more so than the fact that two Roman Catholics don’t agree.”

    But that’s not Catholicism. Whichever one agrees with the authoritative Church teaching is the correct one. The other is in error, ipso facto. Each man is not his own pope.

    And I have two RCs that disagree on what the authoritative church teaching and both assert that they are agreeing with it. And those two RCs can find a bishop each with whom they agree. Oh dear, whatever shall we do?

    Wait for it—trust our fallible reason and senses to interpret the church teaching and figure out which one is correct and which isn’t. Or, wait for the Magisterium to come in and make a decision, and then use our fallible reason and senses to interpret the church teaching.

    A whole lot of Tom relying on his fallibility and putting his confidence in his fallible apprehension.

    Kinda like Protestantism.

    But your “provisional” truths mean that the opinions [not ‘knowledge’] of any two disagreeing Protestants are of equal validity.

    Incorrect.

    Accept TULIP, or reject it, or be a 4-point Calvinist, or a TUL or a TU, what’s the difference?

    The difference is between good, consistent theology and poorer, inconsistent theology, not the difference between true church and false church.

    Each letter is provisional, yes?

    In the sense that I’m sure I could come up with some scenario that could possibly change it, yes. In the sense that there’s any real chance of this happening, no.

    Isn’t all provisional knowledge equally uncertain?

    No. There are hierarchies of truth. Some are more foundational or fundamental than others.

    Like

  106. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, so where was the church before 1150, around the time that papal infallibility became a going concern of popes and canon lawyers.

    You can assert till your blue in the face that Christ founded the papacy, but that is a historical claim subject to historical judgment.

    “Historical judgment” is inadequate to the task. The ontological question is more quid sit deus, “if Christ did found a Church, what would it be?” Or, surveying the Christian landscape in 2015, which.

    And if you are going to apply unassisted human reason, “historical judgment,” your church has no history atall.

    Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
    Another way of seeing this is that you cannot be free from your own senses.

    Yeah, Dr Johnson handled this one 300 years ago, Jeff.

    57. Refutation of Bishop Berkeley
    After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”
    Boswell: Life

    You’re really not talking Christianity, Jeff, and so are using the wrong tools for the job. Most of your valid objections against Catholicism can be turned right around on “Protestantism,” and it still remains that for the rest, the two are not ontologically equivalent because Catholicism is not “provisional.”

    “I give you the keys to kingdom of Heaven, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and what ever you loosen on earth will be loosened in Heaven.”

    Not provisional.

    Like

  107. Jeff,

    This crowd thinks that science isn’t knowledge at all. Yet they confidently use computers.

    I’m actually quite confused by it. They seem to think that natural revelation is self-authenticating but supernatural revelation isn’t. I don’t get it other than the fact that apparently some strains of epistemologically naive RCism (CTC) believes this is the knock-down argument against Protestantism.

    Like

  108. Robert
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    And I have two RCs that disagree on what the authoritative church teaching

    One of them is wrong. Mebbe both.

    Accept TULIP, or reject it, or be a 4-point Calvinist, or a TUL or a TU, what’s the difference?

    The difference is between good, consistent theology and poorer, inconsistent theology, not the difference between true church and false church.

    This is where you hang on your own gallows, except instead of one Catholic Church, you get God knows how Many “Protestantisms.”

    And I have two RCs that disagree on what the authoritative church teaching and both assert that they are agreeing with it. And those two RCs can find a bishop each with whom they agree. Oh dear, whatever shall we do?

    Wait for it—trust our fallible reason and senses to interpret the church teaching and figure out which one is correct and which isn’t. Or, wait for the Magisterium to come in and make a decision, and then use our fallible reason and senses to interpret the church teaching.

    Except you have no magisterium, no last resort.

    And I have two RCs that disagree on what the authoritative church teaching and both assert that they are agreeing with it. And those two RCs can find a bishop each with whom they agree. Oh dear, whatever shall we do?

    Wait for it—trust our fallible reason and senses to interpret the church teaching and figure out which one is correct and which isn’t.

    “Trust our fallible reason and senses?”

    I don’t think this is Calvinism or any Protestant church I’m aware of. Maybe the unitarians. All yours, Dr. Hart.

    Like

  109. TVD: Yeah, Dr Johnson handled this one 300 years ago, Jeff.

    57. Refutation of Bishop Berkeley
    After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”
    Boswell: Life

    Yet here is Tom Berkeley, 300 years later, making a similar argument. Nothing learned?

    Berkeley, btw, I have a certain affection for. He gave Newton a really hard time about the calculus because of Newton’s arbitrary way of handling limits and infinitesimal quantities. He was technically correct — but Newton kept getting the right answers to questions, and so ignored Berkeley.

    Like

  110. TVD: You’re really not talking Christianity, Jeff, and so are using the wrong tools for the job. Most of your valid objections against Catholicism can be turned right around on “Protestantism,” and it still remains that for the rest, the two are not ontologically equivalent because Catholicism is not “provisional.”

    Catholicism rests upon the premise that the Church in Rome is Christ’s Church. That premise is not infallibly proved; hence, provisional.

    Your whole system is provisional, contingent upon your having made the right choice in assenting to the motives of credibility.

    Sorry to break the news.

    Like

  111. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink
    TVD: Yeah, Dr Johnson handled this one 300 years ago, Jeff.

    57. Refutation of Bishop Berkeley
    After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”
    Boswell: Life

    Yet here is Tom Berkeley, 300 years later, making a similar argument. Nothing learned?

    Yes, I did refute you

    Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
    Another way of seeing this is that you cannot be free from your own senses.

    as Dr. Johnson did Berkeley. This is tiresome, Jeff. Every time you argue Christian religious belief and the Church without including the Holy Spirit, you’re off-topic. Mercy.

    Like

  112. Or even more to the point, when you say the creed in church, do you think to yourself, “It is only a theory that this is the correct translation of the Nicene creed?”

    Jeff, Tom doesn’t go to church, remember? He’s the religious version of the swinging bachelor telling all the (Protestant) marrieds what crappy husbands and wives they are.

    Like

  113. Jeff:
    Yes, actually, I do. On my terms, as I said before, I’m able to know quite a lot. What I have to give up is absolute certainty, but what I gain is the ability to actually know anything. So instead, I can know things with relative certainty, which is very often good enough.>>>>

    You can only be relatively certain that it is very often good enough.

    Now, if you are willing to get in the pulpit on Easter Sunday and explain how you are relatively certain that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that’s good enough, then that would prove how much faith you put in your theory of provisional knowledge.

    You act as though you had absolute certainty in your relative uncertainty. It just doesn’t work, Jeff.

    I don’t think your epistemology is a necessary part even of Reformed theology.

    You have taken the authority of the Rock out of your faith. You try to keep the authority of Scripture, but without the Rock you have huge problems. You have to find something to replace it. You found sand instead.

    The faith you are talking about is not the faith of Abraham, the father of faith. He did not weaken in faith. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God. He was fully convinced.

    Abraham’s faith blows your theory all the pieces.
    ————————

    Romans 4
    18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
    19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness[c] of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

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  114. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm | Permalink
    TVD: You’re really not talking Christianity, Jeff, and so are using the wrong tools for the job. Most of your valid objections against Catholicism can be turned right around on “Protestantism,” and it still remains that for the rest, the two are not ontologically equivalent because Catholicism is not “provisional.”

    Catholicism rests upon the premise that the Church in Rome is Christ’s Church. That premise is not infallibly proved; hence, provisional.

    Asserted but not proved [esp the unprovable] is not “hence” provisional. [That’s an assertion!] We will never prove Christ’s resurrection [though some try]. The same goes for the Real Presence, and Christ’s founding of the Church.

    As articles of faith, they are not pro tem, subject to be changed later–making the use of “provisional” here useless because that’s what it means. Your premises remain faulty.

    Like

  115. Mermaid: He did not weaken in faith. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God. He was fully convinced.

    Abraham’s faith blows your theory all the pieces.

    Somebody’s theory is in ruins.

    Well, y’all have a nice night. Next time you say the creed, ask yourself how you infallibly know that the words you are saying are truth.

    Meanwhile, I will continue to read Scripture and affirm it as God’s truth because I am highly confident in the fallible combined witness of the fathers.

    Someone seems to have taken The Matrix too seriously.

    Like

  116. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid: He did not weaken in faith. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God. He was fully convinced.

    Abraham’s faith blows your theory all the pieces.

    Somebody’s theory is in ruins.

    Well, y’all have a nice night. Next time you say the creed, ask yourself how you infallibly know that the words you are saying are truth.

    Meanwhile, I will continue to read Scripture and affirm it as God’s truth because I am highly confident in the fallible combined witness of the fathers.

    And Jesus told the woman, “Your high confidence has saved you; go in peace.”

    Vaya con Dios, brother. For the time being, subject to change, of course. ;–)

    Like

  117. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
    Yeah, or “The Pope or Hume.”

    This crowd thinks that science isn’t knowledge at all. Yet they confidently use computers.>>>>>

    That’s crazy talk, Jeff. In fact, I have said that I can see that the concept of provisional knowledge may have its place.

    It’s just not the Holy Spirit. Provisional knowledge cannot do the job of the Holy Spirit.

    Deciding to get a vaccination doesn’t require the work of the Holy Spirit at all. Using a computer has nothing to do with having the indwelling Spirit of God.

    The Holy Spirit was not poured out into the scientific community on the Day of Pentecost. He was poured out on the Church. All present were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.

    The faith of Abraham is the Biblical standard for saving, sustained faith. He did not waver. He did not doubt. That is the kind of faith that comes down from above as a good and perfect gift. (James 1:17) That is the faith that Paul talked about in Ephesians 2. Remember how that chapter begins with regeneration? IOW, with the work of the Spirit in the heart of the person who has been given faith.

    Faith does not demand omniscience. God requires that we believe what He has clearly revealed. We put our faith in the One He has revealed. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture. He was buried. He rose again on the third day according to the Scripture. He appeared to Peter. See 1 Cor. 15:1ff

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Science as has been defined in our age begins with provisional knowledge. Big difference. (Prov. 9:10) Science does well what it does well. It defines what it defines. It is not so great at Christian theology since it does not recognize the work of the Holy Spirit or the reality of the Body of Christ, His Church.

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  118. Tom,

    This is where you hang on your own gallows, except instead of one Catholic Church, you get God knows how Many “Protestantisms.”

    There are God knows how many Roman Catholicisms. Pelosi’s, Mother Teresa’s, Luke Timothy Johnson’s, Bryan Cross’, Pope Francis’, Kasper’s, Catholics for Choice’s, Catholic Answers’

    Except you have no magisterium, no last resort.

    We have Scripture and the Holy Spirit and we trust Him to accomplish His purposes and confirm His truth to His elect. That’s not enough for those who walk by sight.

    I don’t think this is Calvinism or any Protestant church I’m aware of. Maybe the unitarians. All yours, Dr. Hart.

    Now you’re really being dense. You are trusting your fallible reason to figure out that Protestantism is wrong. We trust our fallible reason and fallible senses every day. No one ever said anything about absolute trust in our reason/senses.

    When you can tell me how you’ve achieved the Vulcan mind meld such that you don’t have to exercise your fallible reason, then you’ll have a better point. Until then, you are relying on your fallible reason to figure out what Rome has said. Kinda like Protestants use theirs to read Scripture.

    Exact same boat.

    Like

  119. Mermaid,

    It’s just not the Holy Spirit. Provisional knowledge cannot do the job of the Holy Spirit.

    You continue to miss the very elementary epistemological distinction between fact and one’s apprehension of fact. The Holy Spirit’s revelation is infallible. Your apprehension of it is not unless and until you achieve omniscience.

    That’s fine and doesn’t undercut your ability to have knowledge until you start saying that infallibility is necessary for knowledge that gives you warrant for faith, etc. If that’s so, you yourself personally will never have warrant for faith because you remain completely fallible, at least at this time.

    The attack on provisional knowledge doesn’t in itself undermine Roman Catholicism. What it undermines is your ability ever to know that the Roman Church is in fact the true church.

    Like

  120. Mermaid, you still haven’t answered Jeff’s question about how you know the women discovered the resurrection.

    You have a habit of doing that — all bluster and no answer.

    Like

  121. Mermaid, “Deciding to get a vaccination doesn’t require the work of the Holy Spirit at all. Using a computer has nothing to do with having the indwelling Spirit of God.”

    But vd, t says its all about ontology.

    But how do you know the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost? You get pneumatological alerts from the Vatican?

    Like

  122. Mermaid, do you know — I mean, really know — if this is really Jesus’ foreskin?

    The Holy Prepuce (Christ’s foreskin) – stolen in the 1980s

    Since the Middle Ages 19 churches have claimed to possess the foreskin of Jesus. It is often said that St Catherine of Siena wore one as a ring.

    The earliest recorded relic of the Prepuce was when Charlemagne presented one to Pope Leo III in the year AD 800.

    Charlemagne claimed that it had been brought to him by an angel while he was praying in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

    In 1527 the relic was stolen from the Basilica of St John Lateran, during the Sack of Rome. It was recovered from a soldier’s prison cell in 1557.

    Later the relic was reposed in Calcutta, where a 10-year indulgence was attached to making a pilgrimage of veneration.

    The last time this particular prepuce was seen was during a procession on the Feast of the Circumcision in 1983. Shortly afterwards it was reported stolen.

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  123. TVD:Except you have no magisterium, no last resort.
    Robert: We have Scripture and the Holy Spirit and we trust Him to accomplish His purposes and confirm His truth to His elect. That’s not enough for those who walk by sight.

    amen

    1 John 5
    13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
    20 we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
    21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

    εἴδωλον -eidolon from eídos “An idol is not only a heathen image; the literal significance of the word “idol” is “what is seen”; it signifies not only that which would engage the attention of the physical eyesight, to the detriment of the use of our spiritual faculties, but also any false conception which would engross the mind to the obscuring of the vision of faith. We are to guard ourselves against everything that would mar the spiritual life which Christ would live out in us, everything of self which would interrupt the power and effect of that life, every teaching which masquerades as truth, but which on spiritual examination is found to contain that which is contrary to Scripture, and therefore denies in any measure the attributes of God, the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Vine commentary

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  124. Ali, that’s why we don’t even have a cross in our church building. Or flags. Or banners. The Convert-o-Cats cannot (or will not) fathom the chasm that separates our faith and practice from theirs.

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  125. My favorite line from that linked article is found in the conclusion:

    Whilst studies will undoubtedly identify some relics as counterfeit or misidentified,

    Get out. But the infallible church gives us certainty???

    Think of how many RC altars around the world contain false relics.

    And note the shrug of the statement. Many relics are false. Oh well

    others may be confirmed as originating from the time and place where the holy person lived. It will certainly give the veneration of relics more credibility.

    How does the authentication of a relic give its veneration more credibility. It can tell us if said body part actually is from the person in question, but how does it tell us that the practice of veneration is proper.

    Like

  126. Cw il Unificatorio :Ali, that’s why we don’t even have a cross in our church building.
    CW: To be fair, we have our own creeps and sometimes they are hosted by PCA churches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD4y48bDQzg

    Thanks cw (sincerely)
    1) don’t’ think I have a problem with crosses, though I have been convicted not to wear cross jewelry – What wear expensive bedazzled crosses representing the excruciating sacrifice of our Lord – don’t think so
    2) I found nothing in the utube that was an error. Did you? It was actually quite beautiful

    shalom “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.”
    even now cw, and one day, fully. It’s a promise.

    -Isaiah 54:10“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the Lord who has compassion on you.
    -Eph 2: 14 For He Himself is our peace; our Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
    -Isa 26:12 LORD, You will establish peace for us, since You have also performed for us all our works.
    -Isa 26:3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.

    so cw, may, grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 2 Peter 1:2
    -And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 1 Thess 5:23-24
    -and may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen Heb 13:20-21

    and for many we pray because:
    When He (Jesus) approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. Luke 19:41-42

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  127. I don’t blame you guys for changing the subject. No, not at all.

    I have learned from you guys that.:

    1. No one can be 100% sure that Christ rose from the dead. There exists a possibility that His body will be discovered. “Faith” in the resurrection is based on provisional knowledge. After all, no one can know everything. So no one can say that Christ was raised from the dead except provisionally. To think otherwise is fideism.

    2. Faith of Abraham? Provisional knowledge. The big problem is that Paul does not describe the faith of Abraham in provisional terms. No matter. No one can be 100% certain that we have the words that Paul wrote. Provisional knowledge informs us that everything he said was really said provisionally. We cannot know everything, after all.

    3. John 17 and Ephesians 4:1ff? Nothing was said about these passages by the guys here – and I can’t blame them at all. Maybe Ali would be willing to read those passages and explain what the Bible means. What was Jesus talking about? What was Paul talking about? Anybody?

    Sure, your knee-jerk reaction will be “it can’t be the Catholic Church!” Well, what is it, then? “One body” has to mean something.

    4. I am seeing more clearly that sola scriptura is just a myth, since what we all have in our hands is not the real scripture. What someone says is the Bible is not really the infallible Word of God. So, the infallible rule of faith and practice exists only in theory. The Bible one holds is a provisional Bible. It can be changed – and must be changed – as further textual studies are done.

    5. Sola fide? Not so much. Abraham’s faith was based on provisional knowledge. When Paul said he did not waver in his faith, Paul didn’t mean that he did not waver. Abraham could not have had anything but a faith based on provisional knowledge. He could have been mistaken.

    He didn’t think he was mistaken, but that doesn’t matter. Provisional knowledge explains everything, no matter how self contradictory the principle may be when applied to matters of faith and practice.

    6. The Rock that Christ built HIs Church on? The wise man who built his house on a rock? No clue as to what that means to the OL guys. They are not telling, not even provisionally.

    7. Holy Spirit? MIA.

    It seems that people who base their whole system on the ever shifting sands of provisional knowledge would not be so dogmatic.

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  128. Mermaid,

    1. No one can be 100% sure that Christ rose from the dead. There exists a possibility that His body will be discovered. “Faith” in the resurrection is based on provisional knowledge. After all, no one can know everything. So no one can say that Christ was raised from the dead except provisionally. To think otherwise is fideism.

    You really need to do some more reading in epistemology and the concept of certainty. There exists a possibility that you do not exist as an independent personal being and that you are actually the result of some hyper-big cosmic computer run by the alien invaders of Galactic Squadron 4. Do you have good reasons to be certain this is not the case. Absolutely. Does that mean your certainty is based on a level of apprehension that escapes you fallibility. Absolutely not.

    2. Faith of Abraham? Provisional knowledge. The big problem is that Paul does not describe the faith of Abraham in provisional terms. No matter. No one can be 100% certain that we have the words that Paul wrote. Provisional knowledge informs us that everything he said was really said provisionally. We cannot know everything, after all.

    You keep making the error of assuming that what we mean by provisional is “the real possibility of error in every sense of the word.” As long as you hold to that, you will not understand what we are saying.

    3. John 17 and Ephesians 4:1ff? Nothing was said about these passages by the guys here – and I can’t blame them at all. Maybe Ali would be willing to read those passages and explain what the Bible means. What was Jesus talking about? What was Paul talking about? Anybody?

    Sure, your knee-jerk reaction will be “it can’t be the Catholic Church!” Well, what is it, then? “One body” has to mean something.

    I’ve said plenty about those passages. But let me repeat myself. They are calls for church unity. I even grant that they are prayers for visible unity. They are calls for Christians to pursue visible unity. What they are not, however, are guarantees that this unity will be accomplished on this side of glory. Maybe it will; maybe it won’t. It’s an eschatological hope. One of Roman Catholicism’s fundamental problems is an over-realized eschatology: Jesus prayed for unity, therefore unity absolutely must exist now. The problem is that nobody in the early church shared your understanding of what this visible unity must be, i.e., guaranteed by the pope.

    4. I am seeing more clearly that sola scriptura is just a myth, since what we all have in our hands is not the real scripture. What someone says is the Bible is not really the infallible Word of God. So, the infallible rule of faith and practice exists only in theory. The Bible one holds is a provisional Bible. It can be changed – and must be changed – as further textual studies are done.

    When Rome abandons the practice of textual criticism, you can complain about this. Until then, you need to be reminded again and again that some of the top textual scholars in the world are Roman Catholic priests who would share my views of such things as the Pericopae Adulterae. You need to know your church better.

    5. Sola fide? Not so much. Abraham’s faith was based on provisional knowledge. When Paul said he did not waver in his faith, Paul didn’t mean that he did not waver. Abraham could not have had anything but a faith based on provisional knowledge. He could have been mistaken.

    He didn’t think he was mistaken, but that doesn’t matter. Provisional knowledge explains everything, no matter how self contradictory the principle may be when applied to matters of faith and practice.

    You all started it by saying that without infallibility, Protestants have no secure foundation. We get that such is what you believe. But if you are going to make that argument, you must explain how you can have certainty that Rome is what she says she is given your fallibility. If you can have certainty that Rome is what she says she is apart from becoming infallible, then the epistemological argument Roman Catholics have advocated here is false.

    IOW, you all continue to fail to see that the conclusions you just drew are a consequence of accepting the presuppositions of your argument and defining provisional knowledge in a particular way and not at all a consequence of actually listening to us.

    6. The Rock that Christ built HIs Church on? The wise man who built his house on a rock? No clue as to what that means to the OL guys. They are not telling, not even provisionally.

    Actually, the traditional answer is Peter’s confession of faith is that rock. There are even some Reformed theologians that could say that the rock actually is Peter as long as we have a proper understanding of what that means.

    7. Holy Spirit? MIA.

    Sorry. Distinction between the Holy Spirit’s speaking and your apprehension of it continues to elude you. Maybe an example will help. Consider a Christian who is seeking the true church. Along the way he is Lutheran then Reformed then Eastern Orthodox then Baptist and then finally RC. Does the fact that he lands in any of those places mean that the Holy Spirit is not speaking infallibly to lead him to Rome? Of course not. But it means that when he becomes Lutheran and is quite happy there for decades and believes Rome is a false church, He has failed to apprehend the Holy Spirit’s voice correctly.

    So the Protestant position is actually that the Holy Spirit is guiding His church but that sometimes the church mishears him, but that neither means the church has ceased to be a church or that there is no foundation of non-negotiable truth. All we’re lacking is the red light that you all expect should go off when the church has gotten something right. God has never worked that way, sorry.

    It seems that people who base their whole system on the ever shifting sands of provisional knowledge would not be so dogmatic.

    Only because you fail to grasp what we are saying. We’ve all said it a number of different ways, so I don’t think at this point it is a failure of clarity on our part, though that’s possible. I think the fault is that you really are unwilling to consider the logical end of your own epistemological position and what seems to be a somewhat cult-like obeisance toward Rome. I don’t mean to be cruel, but when CVD can at least admit that there are some things that would cause him to stop being RC but you can’t, then there are problems with your view of truth.

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  129. Mermaid:Maybe Ali would be willing to read those passages and explain what the Bible means.

    Mermaid, I can only reiterate what Robert, Jeff were saying –walk by faith, not by sight -and rejoice mermaid. All of His ways and plans are perfect and hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? (Rom 8:24-25) But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. For now, both the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest.

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  130. Robert, if you like your epistemology, you can keep your epistemology.

    I don’t think you understand the full implications of how the concept of provisional knowledge will affect the faith of your people when you honestly preach it on Easter morning.

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  131. cw – I don’t know if I can forgive you for you posting that video. My skin is still crawling. I will be airing this grievance come Festivus.

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  132. Publius (and cw) did you really watch it and just miss the part about the accuser accusing day and day.

    and re: My skin is still crawling. – don’t forget how much Zrim hates just sentimentality.
    The question was : I found nothing in the utube that was an error. Did you?

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  133. Ali
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink
    Mermaid:Maybe Ali would be willing to read those passages and explain what the Bible means.

    Mermaid, I can only reiterate what Robert, Jeff were saying –walk by faith, not by sight -and rejoice mermaid. All of His ways and plans are perfect and hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? (Rom 8:24-25) But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. For now, both the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest.>>>>

    Faith in what? What is faith? The Bible does not talk about provisional knowledge. Jesus does not ask us to base our trust, our hope, our lives on provisional knowledge. That is what these guys are asking of you, that you admit you know nothing for sure. Admit that you can know nothing for sure. Admit that you cannot know for sure that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Admit that you cannot trust the Holy Spirit to lead anyone into all truth about anything at all.

    Does that sound like faith? I am not asking you to become Catholic. I am asking you to compare what these guys are teaching to what the Bible actually says.

    I am asking you not to swallow these lies. You know, this is not recognizable even as Reformed theology.

    Listen to some Dr. James Boice or Donald Grey Barnhouse to get some faith-filled Reformed preaching that will not leave you wondering what is true after all. Their messages can be found at The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Some of these men claim to be Confessional.

    On the Catholic side, listen to some Dr. Hahn and Bishop Robert Barron. These men believe what they teach. No nonsense about the possibility of finding Jesus’ body someday! Think about it.

    Heck, it’s all on You Tube.

    Provisional knowledge does not inspire true faith in Christ. It is nonsense.

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  134. Mrs.Webfoot,

    What you are saying to Robert is very clear.I almost lost faith in Christianity because of Protestantism’s provisionality. If Catholicism claimed the same uncertaity I would have walked away completely, so that’s proof that both are not claiming the same thing ontologically. So it’s not true that Catholics are provi tionally trusting since the claims demand certainty.

    Also, I don’t think Ali realizes that the Reformed don’t approve of her owning a bible and making her own church, but the irony is that she’s just doing what their founders did; that is, obeying her conscience.

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  135. Susan,

    <i.So it’s not true that Catholics are provi tionally trusting since the claims demand certainty.

    The difference in claims doesn’t mean that your trust is any less provisional. You are still fallible.

    The point isn’t that we don’t make different claims. The point is that the difference in the claims doesn’t make the nature of your fallible submission any different than our fallible submission.

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  136. Mermaid,

    I don’t think you understand the full implications of how the concept of provisional knowledge will affect the faith of your people when you honestly preach it on Easter morning.

    I don’t think you understand the full implications of being a finite creature. The people in the pews of my church do. And nobody is literally believing, “You know, I have no idea or confidence that Jesus rose from the dead.”

    Because again, if certainty of faith means escaping provisional knowledge, you have to become omniscient and infallible yourself. Until then, you are trusting in your fallible apprehension of what Rome claims, and that’s even before you have to fallibly sift through the evidence for and against the claim.

    But being fallible is okay. It’s who the Holy Spirit works with—if they can first admit their own fallibility.

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  137. “I don’t think Ali realizes that the Reformed don’t approve of her owning a bible…”
    What?!?!!!!

    I know, eh?

    that’s what passes around here from the “other side…”

    pray…

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  138. Looks like CVD isn’t going to take up Jeff’s invitation to clarify his understanding of our argument. That is unfortunate as I think it would have given us the opportunity to clarify things. I will say that all this talk about provisionality is really not very clear.

    Note that the WCF makes our theological understanding, including those understandings expressed by church councils, provisional on accurately summarizing the Word of God. The infallibility of the Word of God is not provisional *within* the reformed system. One may become convinced that the Bible is not God’s Word, but then you have left the reformed system (not unlike a Catholic becoming convinced that the RCC is not the true church).

    Second, provisionality does not apply to ontology in any system. This is a category error. Either Jesus rose from the dead or he did not rise from the dead. My knowledge of this event is based on trust (enabled by the Holy Spirit). This knowledge is provisional – if I am not enabled by the Holy Spirit, I may wander from the truth and lose that knowledge.

    Third, the provisionality of the canon is a provisionality in principle, not in fact. Just as belief in Rome as the true church is provisional – there are conditions under which your belief could (in principle) change (and for many has). The underlying reality we perceive is not provisional – rome is or isn’t the true church independent of what I or anyone else believe about it. Once one rejects Rome (or the canon), one is not longer in the system though.

    Fourth, infallibility is not a necessary condition for arriving at truth. My math book is not infallible, but one can learn true things about math from it and be quite confident about what one learns from it nonetheless. A teacher may not be infallible, but she can still teach you true things about the Bible. A confession may not be infallible, but it can still accurately summarize the scriptures. Further, we see that God used flawed people to advance his purposes – even speaking through decidedly non-infallible sources. He uses broken vessels to advance his kingdom.

    Fifth, infallibility is not a sufficient condition for adequate transmission of truth. The bible may be infallible, but my understanding of it is not. The may also be true for data, a pope’s ex cathedra statement, or council’s decision – my understanding of all of these things is fallible, so my knowledge is provisional on my proper understanding. The means by which one arrives at a proper understanding is separate from the reliability of the source.

    Sixth, to be infallible in any meaningful sense, one must a priori be *incapable* of error. It is a grave abuse of language to assert that one is infallible when one speaks under certain conditions identified after the fact. This reduces infallibility to “happened to have gotten it right”. The pope is not infallible because he has erred. Councils are not infallible because they have gotten it wrong before. Defining them as subsequently illegitimate in hindsight is not compelling.

    Seventh, One can have adequate knowledge of the truth and still be wrong about a lot of things. Verisimilitude is a helpful concept here. F=ma is false, but it is close enough to the truth to be reliable for building bridges, launching spacecraft, and getting your house to pass inspection. But it isn’t true. There are truer descriptions of gravity, and we can definitively rule out certain things. But we do not have the true theory of gravity. That doesn’t mean that we know nothing or that everything is up for grabs. This recognition is at the heart of the reformed understanding of perspicuity of scripture. We do not believe that all of scripture is equally plain or that we have a perfect summary of it. We believe it is a sufficient understanding of the gospel for salvation. The fact that we don’t have a perfect summary does not mean that anything goes (any more than the fact that F=ma is off a bit means that one is justified in believing in a flat earth).

    OK, this isn’t as thorough as Jeff’s summary of the RC position, but lunch break is about over. I’d be interested in hearing about how I have misconstrued the reformed position and getting that right (similarly for the RC presentation) before defending or criticizing either.

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  139. Sdb,

    A boast of Protestantism is that because of the invention of the printing press, people can have their own bibles and don’t have to listen to the Catholic Church, right? Thats what i was told.
    What I’m saying is that they must also not have counted on later protestant groups not listening to the interpretation of earlier Reformed Protestants, bcause the Reformed and the evangelicals are not in the same church.
    In fact I’ve also been told that reformers consider evangelicals closer to Catholicism because we both are works centered. Haven’t you heard this?
    Nobody wants to take away another persons bible, they just don’t want them interpreting it differently than their community does.

    Its interesting though that the first printed bible was a Catholic bible and the Gutenberg was a Catholic.

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  140. Okay, I am really worried for anyone listening to Robert.

    Is there any Protestant challenging his provisional knowledge thing?

    Robert, so you dont believe in truth? You are on this blog arguing for the right of everyone to believe what they want? Do you go to church and identify as a Christian? If you do, why?

    Lord have mercy.

    Like

  141. Susan
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink
    Mrs.Webfoot,

    What you are saying to Robert is very clear.I almost lost faith in Christianity because of Protestantism’s provisionality. If Catholicism claimed the same uncertaity I would have walked away completely, so that’s proof that both are not claiming the same thing ontologically. So it’s not true that Catholics are provi tionally trusting since the claims demand certainty.

    Also, I don’t think Ali realizes that the Reformed don’t approve of her owning a bible and making her own church, but the irony is that she’s just doing what their founders did; that is, obeying her conscience.>>>>>

    This is eye opening for me, Susan. I still have a hard time believing that this is true Reformed teaching, but these men are officers in their churches.

    Yes, the claims of Christ demand certainty AND obedience. The obedience of faith. That is what Abraham had. He believed and he obeyed. He did not waver because of unbelief. He was strong in faith. He glorified God. See Romans 4.

    What I saw in Protestantism was the dogmatism based on whatever one group wanted to promote as dogmatic. Like here. If all their apprehension of knowledge really were provisional, then why make such dogmatic pronouncements about everyone else’s faith? They pretend to have a confidence they really do not have, even about their own faith. Yet they use their teachings to judge everyone else – and that means everyone.

    Robert does play straight. He is willing to follow his epistemology to its logical conclusion- we can only say provisionally that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

    Notice this. It is not just that he accepts the resurrection as being provisional. He is saying that we cannot know for certain that it actually happened. After all, someone might find Jesus’ body someday.

    See 1 Cor. 15:1ff for refutation of Brother Robert’s epistemology.

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  142. Robert, so you don’t believe in truth?

    Don’t be a dolt like the rest of the romanists, Susan. Robert doesn’t believe that truth is because Rome says it is the truth and or that the only way that he can know Francis is the (true) pope if by either being the pope or piggybacking on his coat tails.

    In short this whole black/white mischaracterization which started with Bryan and the CtC geese is a joke. All men can know truth; not perfectly or infallibly but adequately in order to live and die before God.

    As well as pierce the veil that Romanism throws over the eyes of its converts, much more discern whether the Roman church and gospel matches up to that set out in Scripture.

    pax

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  143. Bob,

    If you can’t know truth absolutely then you don’t know if what you know is truth.

    You c. an’t know if Luther was right about changing the Canon of scripture or adding a word to a translation just because he thought it would work. But I guess that is the underlining reason Protestantism sought changes in the first place……. No one knows anything so let’s start again.

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  144. Bob S., the question I have for Robert is “Do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead because Paul said it?” Paul didn’t just say it. He made it THE Gospel, along with Christ’s death for our sins and His appearance to many.

    Provisional knowledge? Hardly. Provisional event, as Robert has stated numerous times? No way, no how.

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  145. @ SDB: ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, and ding.

    Susan: If you can’t know truth absolutely then you don’t know if what you know is truth.

    I think this articulates your position the best out of anything that’s been said here.

    What Catholics here desire is not merely to know the truth, but also to have absolute knowledge that the truth is the truth.

    In which case, Ali’s refutation is the best: Where is the faith?

    Ali: Mermaid, I can only reiterate what Robert, Jeff were saying –walk by faith, not by sight -and rejoice mermaid. All of His ways and plans are perfect and hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? (Rom 8:24-25) But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. For now, both the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest.

    Further, Susan, wouldn’t you yourself have to be infallible in order to have infallible certainty in your own knowledge?

    For the life of me, I still can’t see how you get around your own creatureliness.

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  146. Dear Jeff,

    Walking by faith doesn’t mean that I dont know anything about matters of faith. In fact, that someone will take responsibility as witness of apostolic faith( without provisionality or by having competing doctrines) is the only way to “know” what articles of faith.

    I cannot see Jesus in the bread and the wine without having faith. If I don’t have faith and worship the Lord of the Universe under the species of bread and wine I have no reason to enter a Catholic building at all. My Catholic faith says that if Jesus is not present during the sacrifice of the Mass then there is no salvation for the world. Believing in the tenets of the Catholic Church requires faith that everything she teaches is true. I dont believe it because I see it, I believe it because it is true. That’s what faith is.

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  147. But Protestantism wants to tear down Catholic faith and insert its own provisional ideas. The Catholic Church has always walked by faith in God and in the revealing of the Godhead, of the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit. This is truth that no one can call provisional without destroying himself.

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  148. If you can’t know truth absolutely then you don’t know if what you know is truth.

    Oh please S. Don’t be stupid. Scripture is the absolute infallible truth. I don’t know it absolutely or infallibly, but I can know it adequately and do.
    The pope is antiChrist. Luther didn’t change the canon and the DC are not Scripture.

    No one knows anything so let’s start again.

    If you are speaking for yourself, yeah you don’t know anything.
    If you are speaking as a romanist speaking for prots again, yeah you don’t know anything about protestantism.

    If you want to talk about Scripture, reason and history, different story.

    TLM, the question for you is do you believe Paul because he said so in Scripture or because Rome said so? Hint, the correct answer is the latter because Rome claims to get to determine Scripture.

    Why? Short answer, because Rome thinks she can know God on the basis of natural reason and not that the preaching of the apostolic Word supernaturally called the NT church into being and then that church was entrusted with the inscripturated Word because the apostles had died and the apostolic canon was closed. Consequently she thinks she is boss over the Word, whereas in reality, if God hadn’t given the Word oral or written there would be no church to begin with nor would it obviously be able to continue and spread.

    Psalms 115:4-8, Jeff.

     Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands . . .  They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

    When you worship a piece of bread i.e. transubstantiation, in the judgement of God your theology becomes shake n’ bake. You get given over to nonsense.
    But this discussion doesn’t prove that?

    Wait this just in:

    Walking by faith doesn’t mean that I dont know anything about matters of faith

    Wait a minute. Don’t be a hypocrite or a liar, Susan. You are requiring absolute knowledge from us, but now you must just know something, not everything.
    Contradiction much?

    I know at one time the Roman church thought it was OK to break faith with heretics, but now that we are just “separated brethren” , we deserve better than this.

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  149. Re: “reformers consider evangelicals closer to Catholicism because we both are works centered.”

    Fwiw, from the eeee-perspective, the eeee-side would say that Reformed are closer to Cats because Reformed are bigger on sacramentology and Paedo baptism than eeee’s are.

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  150. Bob,

    Is the content of scripture known by natural reason?

    Listen Catholicism was doing what it was doing before the reformation thought it could throw out everything. I more trust in the Spirit guiding the church through time that in the nomimalism and provisionality of Luther.

    I need to go before I have nervous breakdown.

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  151. Petros,
    “LFwiw, from the eeee-perspective, the eeee-side would say that Reformed are closer to Cats because Reformed are bigger on sacramentology and Paedo baptism than eeee’s are”

    Well there you go. Eveybody “else” in Protestantism is wrong ,so says the bible.

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  152. Ali – Well, as kent said, there is the whole 2nd commandment thing at :01. Beyond that? I really couldn’t follow the smarmy, breathy, emoting so I just turned it off.

    But AVos did say elsewhere, “Miracles happen whenever I look for shoots of Jesus’ love everywhere – because this grows deep roots in Jesus’ love for everyone.”

    So, yeah, um, translate that to English if you can.

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  153. S while the content of Scripture is known through our reason by the way of our fallible senses, it is only believed/assented to by faith, which is the gift of God. While we again choose/believe, the ability or desire to do so is of the Holy Spirit. One has to be born again, born from above, regenerated. It is not natural.

    Yup, romanism was doing what it was doing before the reformation, but that doesn’t make it right or the early perfect apostolic church. We only know that by looking at the apostolic Bible.
    For starters, popery, mariolatry, image worship etc. is not found therein.

    Besides your argument had a nervous breakdown a long time ago. If you or any other romanist here could adequately/consistently/truthfully define nominalism or provincialism for just once, we might get somewhere, but until then,
    ciao

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  154. Robert,

    “The point isn’t that we don’t make different claims.”

    No, that is the point. The point is seeing what is consistent with the consequences and implications of those different claims.

    “The point is that the difference in the claims doesn’t make the nature of your fallible submission any different than our fallible submission.”

    So those under rabbi Levi in the NT were in no different epistemological position or position of faith than those under Christ or the Apostles. Since adherents of both groups were fallible even though Levi made far different claims to authority and ability than Christ or the Apostles.

    “I don’t think you understand the full implications of being a finite creature.”

    The full implications are not “we’re finite, so skepticism is true, therefore fideism and presuppositionalism obtain”. The full implications are not the church today or the apostles preaching, “Thus saith the Lord! I think.”

    “Because again, if certainty of faith means escaping provisional knowledge, you have to become omniscient and infallible yourself.”

    Nope. Are the laws of logic provisional? Is your statement that “if certainty of faith means escaping provisional knowledge, you have to become omniscient and infallible yourself” provisional itself?

    “Until then, you are trusting in your fallible apprehension of what Rome claims, and that’s even before you have to fallibly sift through the evidence for and against the claim.”

    The motives of credibility are not identical to the motive of faith. The order of being is not identical to the order of knowing.

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  155. Susan, not saying anyone else is “wrong”. It’s a diff of opinion on what an eeee would view to be a secondary, or discretionary, matter. Not a big deal.

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  156. Susan,

    Robert, so you dont believe in truth?

    Are you paying attention? How many times have I said that the position I’m trying to outline, which is shared by all the other Prots here even if they use different words, does not deny the existence of objective truth and is not subjective relativism.

    Let’s try again. There is truth and then their is the individual’s apprehension of the truth. This is an elementary distinction. Your apprehension is not identical to the truth if for no other reason than because the truth of at least some things existed before you did. But now you and Mermaid are coming along and trying to equate the two with some kind of absolute knowledge. But absolute knowledge is impossible for a creature. It requires omniscience. I don’t even know that Rome would claim absolute knowledge of any fact because there can be elaboration and growth in understanding. Absolute knowledge and growth in understanding are antithetical.

    I believe truth exists. I believe human beings can know truth. I believe human beings know truth all the time. I don’t believe that the individual human being achieves infallible knowledge of truth. This is why I deny that Rome’s claim makes it superior. When Rome can make ME infallible, then we can talk. Until then, I’m having to sort through evidence just like everyone else and rest in my fallible apprehension because the only apprehension I have is creaturely apprehension. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong, and it doesn’t mean I can’t have certainty, and it doesn’t mean that there is no role for the Holy Spirit, which is some absurd claim that Mermaid has thought I and others are proposing. There’s actually no theological system that I know of that has a bigger role for the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual than the Reformed system.

    You are on this blog arguing for the right of everyone to believe what they want?

    ??? Politically, yes, as long as they don’t hurt anyone. Spiritually, no. No one has the spiritual “right” to believe error. The only spiritual “right” we have is to believe the truth. But what you all want is a red light or flag or something to pop up whenever the church gets something right. I’m sorry, but that is never been how God confirms truth.

    Do you go to church and identify as a Christian?

    Yes. I also lead Bible studies, teach people confidently that the only way to be saved is to trust in Christ, read lots of systematic theology and Bible commentaries, and a whole lot more. But none of that makes me infallible.

    If you do, why?

    The ultimate answer is that the Holy Spirit has persuaded me. My reason plays the subservient role, which is why it doesn’t matter that I’m fallible or that the church is fallible. The church fallibly points me to Christ, and the Spirit persuades me that He is the Son of God. None of that means that I think there is any real possibility that Christ didn’t rise from the dead, that God is a Trinity, that God has an elect, etc. Simply put, I recognize my creatureliness (perhaps inconsistently) and that a claim of infallibility is neither necessary or sufficient to have confidence/certainty. God is able to confirm His Word to His people. Just like he did to Abraham when He first called Him out of Egypt. There was no “Abraham, infallible God here.” Abraham heard a voice, either audibly or mentally, and he was able to discern that it was in fact God speaking without God having to say, “this is God here.” Later on He did so, but at Abraham’s initial call He didn’t. And the Bible says it was an act of faith for Abraham to hear God fallibly, know it really was God speaking, and obey. There’s none of the Thomistic first truth, or you can’t know anything unless the system claims infallibility, or any of the other stuff that you all are hanging your hats on.

    Belief always has an intellectual content to it, so I have to use my mind and reason to sort through it. No RC should have any problem with that. But I don’t trust in my reason finally, I trust in the effectual call of the Spirit.

    There are other reasons why I believe: Christianity alone makes sense of the world, the power of Scripture, the changed lives of professing Christians, the coherence of truly Christian (Reformed) theology, the evidence of the empty tomb and Apostolic testimony, the perseverance of the church, etc. etc. etc. But none of those are the final reason. The final reason is that the Holy Spirit calls His people effectually and irresistibly.

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  157. Susan: Walking by faith doesn’t mean that I dont know anything about matters of faith.

    Certainly I agree! I’m just having trouble seeing how you say that, without additional premises that y’all have previously denied.

    Let me be as clear as I can.

    Our position does not, and has never, entailed radical skepticism about faith claims.

    Rather, we claim that provisional knowledge is (a) as good as it gets on this side of glory, and (b) is sufficient ground for faith.

    You deny, saying that provisional knowledge is no knowledge at all. You further argue that the only possible categories are provisional or infallible knowledge.

    OK, so I ask whether you guys know infallibly that the English words of the Nicene creed are an infallible copy and translation of the original. And … no answer.

    It would seem to me that actually, you guys have faith in a lot of articles that you don’t know infallibly. You deny it, but I don’t see how you get around it.

    But actually, there’s another problem. For previously, it has been argued here by CVD and Tom and you and Mermaid that it is improper to place faith in anything known provisionally.

    But now, you seem to argue that we know non-provisionally by means of faith. So you need non-provisional knowledge to get to the point of faith, but you need faith to get to the point of non-provisional knowledge.

    That seems circular.

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  158. Clete,

    Robert,

    No, that is the point. The point is seeing what is consistent with the consequences and implications of those different claims.

    No it’s not the point. We know you make a different claim. We also know that you basically deny self-authenticating truth/supernatural revelation. Thus, all you are finally trusting is in your reason.

    So those under rabbi Levi in the NT were in no different epistemological position or position of faith than those under Christ or the Apostles. Since adherents of both groups were fallible even though Levi made far different claims to authority and ability than Christ or the Apostles.

    The claim doesn’t do anything unless and until it can overcome the limitations of my creatureliness. The most you can say based on the mere existence of the claim is that Rome’s claim is stronger than the Protestant’s. And that’s only if you can trust your fallible reason enough to give you some kind of foundation with which to recognize and evaluate Rome’s claims accurately. But your argument finally denies that to the individual, so that it is incredibly consistent for Roman Catholics to claim that at the end of the day, the infallible church believes FOR you, in your place.

    The full implications are not “we’re finite, so skepticism is true

    Not on Protestant assumptions, no. But the stress on the necessity of an infallible system makes skepticism true for the individual RC if you follow it out. You personally have no infallible access to the infallible system, assuming it exists. And THAT’S the point. Thus, it is absolutely silly to stress the system’s infallibility. The problem is compounded when we see the one whom your system commends as the Savior endorsing people for believing on faith matters that according to you could not have been dogmas of faith until the church came.

    , therefore fideism and presuppositionalism obtain”.

    The most fideistic and presuppositional arguments being advocated here are being advocated by the “nice Catholic ladies” Mermaid and Susan.

    The full implications are not the church today or the apostles preaching, “Thus saith the Lord! I think.”

    I don’t know who’s saying this.

    Nope. Are the laws of logic provisional? Is your statement that “if certainty of faith means escaping provisional knowledge, you have to become omniscient and infallible yourself” provisional itself?

    Provisional is your word, not mine. I’m only using it because I like you. The laws of logic are finite and have limitations. The other statement is finite. I could think of some possible scenario in which they could be falsified that I am unable to rule out empirically. Good thing I’m not a fierce empiricist.

    The motives of credibility are not identical to the motive of faith. The order of being is not identical to the order of knowing.

    I guess this means that the motive of faith is the claim to infallibility. But that’s (one of the) motive(s) for Protestants as well. We’re just not asking you to trust in the church or for you to have the church to believe for you or for the church to give you faith. That’s what really sets us apart.

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  159. Susan, you’re impatient and you walk by sight:

    For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25 ESV)

    Subdue your inner Descartes.

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  160. Susan, the problem also exists on your side thanks to Vat 2. Have you ever noticed that the Doctors of your church are the ones that the Vatican 2 theologians put in storage?

    The feasts of the four Latin Doctors were not added to until the sixteenth century, when St. Thomas Aquinas was declared a Doctor by the Dominican St. Pius V in his new edition of the Breviary (1568), in which the feasts of the four Greek Doctors were also raised to the rank of doubles. The Franciscan Sixtus V (1588) added St. Bonaventure.

    St. Anselm was added by Clement XI (1720), St. Isidore by Innocent XIII (1722), St. Peter Chrysologus by Benedict XIII (1729), St. Leo I (a well-deserved but belated honour) by Benedict XIV (1754), St. Peter Damian by Leo XII (1828), and St. Bernard by Pius VIII (1830). Pius IX gave the honour to St. Hilary (1851) and to two more modern saints, St. Alphonsus Liguori (1871) and St. Francis de Sales (1877). Leo XIII promoted (1883) the Easterns, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St. John Damascene, and the Venerable Bede (1899).

    Leo XIII, when, in 1882, he introduced the simplification of double feasts, made an exception for Doctors, whose feasts are always to be transferred.

    Balthasar, de Lubac, Rahner?

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  161. Balthasar, de Lubac, Rahner?

    Cross, Stellman and Preslar?

    Remember, you heard it here first.
    The canonization lifts the lowly above their paygrade due to their sanctimony, but only after they go to purgatory for awhile, from which it provisionally rescues them.

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  162. Darryl,

    “you’re impatient and you walk by sight:”

    Cath Enc on Faith:

    The light of faith. — An angel understands truths which are beyond man’s comprehension; if then a man were called upon to assent to a truth beyond the ken of the human intellect, but within the grasp of the angelic intellect, he would require for the time being something more than his natural light of reason, he would require what we may call “the angelic light”. If, now, the same man were called upon to assent to a truth beyond the grasp of both men and angels, he would clearly need a still higher light, and this light we term “the light of faith” — a light, because it enables him to assent to those supernatural truths, and the light of faith because it does not so illumine those truths as to make them no longer obscure, for faith must ever be “the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not” (Hebrews 11:1). Hence St. Thomas (De Veritate, xiv, 9, ad 2) says: “Although the Divinely infused light of faith is more powerful than the natural light of reason, nevertheless in our present state we only imperfectly participate in it; and hence it comes to pass that it does not beget in us real vision of those things which it is meant to teach us; such vision belongs to our eternal home, where we shall perfectly participate in that light, where, in fine, in God’s light we shall see light’ (Ps. xxxv, 10).”

    The necessity of such light is evident from what has been said, for faith is essentially an act of assent, and just as assent to a series of deductive or inductive reasonings, or to intuition of first principles, would be impossible without the light of reason, so, too assent to a supernatural truth would be inconceivable without a supernatural strengthening of the natural light “Quid est enim fides nisi credere quod non vides?” (i.e. what is faith but belief in that which thou seest not?) asks St. Augustine; but he also says: “Faith has its eyes by which it in some sort sees that to be true which it does not yet see—and by which, too, it most surely sees that it does not see what it believes” [Ep. ad Consent., ep. cxx 8 (al. ccxxii), P.L., II, 456].

    That temptations against faith are natural and inevitable and are in no sense contrary to faith, “since”, says St. Thomas, “the assent of the intellect in faith is due to the will, and since the object to which the intellect thus assents is not its own proper object — for that is actual vision of an intelligible object [i.e. no walking by sight this side of heaven] — it follows that the intellect’s attitude towards that object is not one of tranquillity, on the contrary it thinks and inquires about those things it believes, all the while that it assents to them unhesitatingly; for as far as it itself is concerned the intellect is not satisfied” (De Ver., xiv, 1).

    Smith’s Faith and Revealed Truth:
    “But although the certitude of faith is supreme, supreme as is the divine authority upon which it is based, yet the mind of the believer is not completely satisfied. Under the influence of the will it holds firmly to the truth; but within the truth it does not see; and nothing save vision can satisfy the mind. Faith is an evidence–i.e., a firm conviction–but it is a conviction “of things that appear not.” As long, then, as intrinsic evidence is denied, the mental assent is not spontaneous and requires the concurrence of the will. Hence it is misleading to compare the state of mind of the believer with the complete repose of the mind in a truth clearly demonstrated, or with the evidence of the senses. In the latter case there can be little or no temptation to doubt. The believer, on the other hand, precisely because he does not see within the truth, may be subject to many such temptations. But temptations are not doubts, and the believer is able by an effort of will to dispel them, to concentrate his attention upon the infallible motive of his faith, and thus to achieve a state of security from error as superior to that of human knowledge as the Truth of God infinitely transcends the fallible reason of man.”

    Walking by faith does not entail provisionality, nor does the lack of provisionality entail walking by sight.

    “Subdue your inner Descartes.”

    Your side is the one that should be taking this advice, not the RC side. Cath Enc: “”Methodic doubt”, that is, provisional doubt of every truth, was put forward by Descartes as the proper course for the discovery of truth.” Maybe Christ wasn’t raised. Maybe cows can jump over the moon. One side argues this, the other doesn’t.

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  163. CvD:
    Walking by faith does not entail provisionality, nor does the lack of provisionality entail walking by sight.>>>>>

    Walking by provisionality when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus Christ is no faith at all.

    Brother Hart, I think:
    “Subdue your inner Descartes.”

    CvD:
    Your side is the one that should be taking this advice, not the RC side. Cath Enc: “”Methodic doubt”, that is, provisional doubt of every truth, was put forward by Descartes as the proper course for the discovery of truth.” Maybe Christ wasn’t raised. Maybe cows can jump over the moon. One side argues this, the other doesn’t.>>>>

    Yes. I was wondering where this was coming from. It comes from Descartes.

    I don’t think that either Luther or Calvin ever argued this way, but it does seem to be a logical outcome of what they began.

    Thanks.

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  164. Petros
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
    Susan, not saying anyone else is “wrong”. It’s a diff of opinion on what an eeee would view to be a secondary, or discretionary, matter. Not a big deal.>>>>>

    Making the ressurrection of Jesus Christ a matter of provisional knowledge is the difference between faith and not faith. Remember, it is not just that from a person’s point of view, he or she cannot say definitively that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The event is provisional, since there exists the possibility of finding His body.

    Now, that is unbelief. If you wish to defend this little point that Robert made several times, then have at it.

    I would ask you. Do you believe the Jesus Christ rose from the dead based on the infallible testimony of the Apostle Paul?

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  165. ”Methodic doubt”, that is, provisional doubt of every truth, was put forward by Descartes as the proper course for the discovery of truth.” Maybe Christ wasn’t raised. Maybe cows can jump over the moon. One side argues this, the other doesn’t.

    1 Cor. 11:28  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
    2 Cor. 13:5  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
    1 John 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

    Trust, but verify your implicit faith.
    It’s not as hard as you keep telling us it is.

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  166. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink
    Mermaid, you’re still swimming away from Jeff’s question. Nice touch of shoving it back in our faces. Just like your holy father.

    Dr. Hart conspicuously avoids uttering the slightest agreement with Jeff and Robert’s rather odd “provisional” “faith” riff, isn’t remotely part of the discussion, but still swoops in and does his pals’ dirty work with his sneaky little surprise attacks.

    Happy Pearl Harbor Day, Darryl. Jesus is so proud of you. Tora! Tora! Tora!

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  167. Jeff, I walk by faith, not sight. I am among those who did not see with my own eyes, but I believe. I am blessed. I don’t need to see the nail prints in His hands and feet. I don’t need to put my finger in them. I accept and submit to the infallible record of Scripture as it has been infallibly preserved through the Traditions of His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    Refute that.

    John 20:24-29English Standard Version (ESV)

    Jesus and Thomas
    24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

    26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

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  168. Cletus van Damme
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
    Darryl:

    “Subdue your inner Descartes.”

    Your side is the one that should be taking this advice, not the RC side. Cath Enc: “”Methodic doubt”, that is, provisional doubt of every truth, was put forward by Descartes as the proper course for the discovery of truth.” Maybe Christ wasn’t raised. Maybe cows can jump over the moon. One side argues this, the other doesn’t.

    Another of Dr. Hart’s stink bombs blows up in his face.

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  169. Publius: Ali – Well, as kent said, there is the whole 2nd commandment thing at :01.

    Don’t really get your @.01 = 2nd commandment violation. Would you and/or kent explain?

    Publius: Beyond that? I really couldn’t follow the smarmy, breathy, emoting so I just turned it off.

    Well, at least then, you have an excuse for closing your ears to the word of God. And I was going to say, interesting you’ve had no complaint about other type (inappropriate) youtubes here, but then I remembered, oh yeah, wait, r2k.

    Publius: But AVos did say elsewhere, “Miracles happen whenever I look for shoots of Jesus’ love everywhere – because this grows deep roots in Jesus’ love for everyone.”So, yeah, um, translate that to English if you can.

    just gossip/hearsay until you can link, quote where

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  170. Bob S.:
    Trust, but verify your implicit faith.>>>>

    Yeah, like that’s in the Bible. It’s right up there with “God don’t like ugly”.

    I would ask you. Do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead based on the infallible testimony of the Apostle Paul? The resurrection is in the Bible and it has been infallibly verified.

    Do you submit to the infallible words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1ff as the Holy Spirit breathed them out and you can read them even in your own language?

    You don’t need the autographs or even need to be an expert in Greek or philology.

    Yes, or no. Will you believe and obey the truth?

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  171. @susan

    Sdb,
    A boast of Protestantism is that because of the invention of the printing press, people can have their own bibles and don’t have to listen to the Catholic Church, right?

    I don’t think this is quite right. Better to say that the printing press made the democratization of religion inevitable via the democratization of information. Part (but not only) of the reason that Luther succeeded while previous attempts (Hus, Wycliff,Tyndale) failed was that information could be disseminated much more cheaply and widely.

    Thats what i was told.

    You were told wrong.

    What I’m saying is that they must also not have counted on later protestant groups not listening to the interpretation of earlier Reformed Protestants, bcause the Reformed and the evangelicals are not in the same church.

    They didn’t count or discount it. This wasn’t something that was centrally planned. I might add that much to the chagrin of not a few around here – the evangelicals and the reformed share very many churches.

    In fact I’ve also been told that reformers consider evangelicals closer to Catholicism because we both are works centered. Haven’t you heard this?

    Never. I don’t think most reformed would consider most evangelicals “work centered”. Indeed, most reformed (rightly or wrongly) consider themselves evangelicals. The criticism of evangelicalism is not so much based on soteriology as it is in ecclesiology…

    Nobody wants to take away another persons bible, they just don’t want them interpreting it differently than their community does.

    Well the first phrase is a relief. The second is tautological isn’t it? Who would *want* one to interpret the bible differently from what you think the correct approach is?

    Its interesting though that the first printed bible was a Catholic bible and the Gutenberg was a Catholic.

    Not really. Gutenberg died in the mid-1400’s. You were either Catholic, quiet about your dissent, or cooked.

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  172. James Young, like Sean says, you’re quoting from the 1912 Encyclopedia would be a lot less embarrassing for you if your bishops in Rome still thought infallibility was important. Sure, nothing changed. Neither did the WCF in 1929.

    And what’s really pathetic. You were probably born after 1965. So impressionable.

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  173. Ali – The 2nd commandment violation is the creche in the lower left corner of the video that contains an idol – a man made representation of our Lord.

    Here is a link to the Qs & As relating to the 2nd commandment from the WLC w/ proof texts: http://www.esvbible.org/resources/creeds-and-catechisms/article-the-westminster-larger-catechism/

    With regards to the quote from Ann Voskamp that I included earlier, here is a link directly to the quote in her book, Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. Hearsay? I wish.

    http://bit.ly/1RB1BaS

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  174. ali – Well, at least then, you have an excuse for closing your ears to the word of God. And I was going to say, interesting you’ve had no complaint about other type (inappropriate) youtubes here, but then I remembered, oh yeah, wait, r2k.

    I’m pretty sure that AVos doesn’t qualify as the Word of God. Right?

    Other than cw posting AVos, I don’t know anything about any inappropriate “youtubes” here, r2k, r2d2, or otherwise. But hey, it’s almost Festivus, so let’s cut cw some slack.

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  175. Clete,

    Do you hold everything provisionally? Or do you not?

    If non-provisionality means that there is no possibility at all that I could be wrong in any possible world, then yes. Otherwise, everything I hold is provisional in the sense, “In theory I could be wrong.” Just as it is with you.

    And saying we are finite does not mean we do hold and must hold everything provisionally.

    Sure it does. There is a kind of weak provisionality to all human knowledge. You do not have access to every piece of possible evidence and you do not know how every piece you do have relates to the others and to the whole. To escape provisionality, you must be omniscient. You have to have knowledge of all things that never changes. The very possibility of change indicates provisionality and contingency.

    You yourself have said that you would abandon Rome if they found the body of Jesus. The very fact that you can hold such a theory at all indicates a degree of provisionality. You seem to be a thinking person. Like all thinking people who weigh claims, you believe unless and until something that better explains the evidence comes around. If you want to have any meaningful interaction with us, at some point you have to at least ask the question “Is it possible that the Prots are correct?” Even if you were brought up RC, if your faith is truly your own, you had to wrestle with the question at some point. Hello provisionality. It’s possible you could be wrong, at least theoretically. You’ve admitted as much.

    You don’t need the absolute absence of the possibility of being wrong to have certainty, and that’s the point. You’ve admitted it. Game over.

    If the motives of credibility are as you characterize, then those who rejected them in the NT were not culpable for doing so – they were justified because of their “interpretation” you offer that “’Well, that’s unusual. Perhaps we all have that ability but haven’t been able to access it’ or some other such thing.” concerning the Resurrection. Christ and the Apostles arguments are nonsense then.

    We are never justified in rejecting God’s interpretation of facts. But we have to accept that interpretation in order for the motives of credibility to be, well, credible. In itself, the resurrection proves nothing. Van Til was not right on everything, but he was certainly correct that there are no such things as bare, uninterpreted facts. The resurrection has meaning as a pointer to Christ only if you accept His interpretation of it. So the arguments of Christ and the Apostles aren’t nonsense. They are assuming that you must accept their interpretation of the event along with the event itself.

    If that were true, then there would be no rational way to adjudicate between competing truth claims.

    That does not follow. The rational way is to find the interpretation that explains the evidence at hand. Interpreting the resurrection as simply an extraordinary event for which we may yet find a naturalistic explanation does not make sense is finally irrational because, among other things, it doesn’t explain the evidence we have.

    Saying you don’t know if cows may already have or maybe able to jump over the moon is skepticism.

    No. It’s “I don’t know absolutely because I haven’t seen every cow in existence nor can I nor can I rule out a series of genetic mutations that may one day make it possible.” That doesn’t mean I have any GOOD reason to actually think it will happen or that cows can jump over the moon.

    “If a cow jumps over the moon, it is not of its own powers – we would *know* it was assisted in some way outside its own powers – we wouldn’t say “well, maybe the cow was assisted, maybe he wasn’t” and just live in perpetual ignorance.”

    Until of course you examine it and discover that cow acquired the necessary genetic mutation. Remember, it’s your communion that has embraced St. Darwin, not mine.

    But you are right, we wouldn’t live in perpetual ignorance. Our empirical senses are reliable enough to tell us that a cow can’t do it, but that’s still a provisional judgment apart from omniscience. Omniscience is the only way out of provisionality. But you don’t need omniscience for certainty or confidence. Your major epistemological error is thinking that provisional apprehension is incapable of bringing certainty.

    Saying “How do we determine natural limitations of something except by natural observation? Have you examined every possible cow? Has anyone? Is that even possible?” is skepticism.

    No, it’s a recognition of my finitude. It’s a recognition that I need more than just empirical observation. I also need to accept some philosopher’s account of reality that says things have fixed natures. IOW, I have to accept someone else’s interpretation of the evidence. Welcome to having to assume Rome for the motives of credibility to be credible.

    Saying “Reason isn’t a realm of neutrality.” is skepticism.

    If reason were a realm of neutrality, two reasonable people would never disagree.

    Saying we must hold room for doubt on everything is skepticism.

    I don’t recall saying that. If I did, I meant it in a trivial sense. I have to trust my own reasoning at some point, but I also know I am fallible. So I can’t trust myself or my apprehension absolutely. The thing is, my fallible apprehension is involved in my faith.

    Saying things that prompt Bryan’s reply to you of “The philosophical mistake in your argument is making God’s way of knowing something, the standard for what counts as knowledge in humans. Hence, since we cannot know the way God knows, then (according to your reasoning) we humans cannot know anything at all. Thus skepticism. The mistake there is in the very first premise.

    God’s way of knowing something isn’t the standard for what counts as knowledge in humans. And I don’t recall ever saying that it was. God’s way of knowing something IS the standard for escaping fallibility and provisionality in our apprehension.

    Humans can and do attain knowledge, even if they do not know in the way God does. Our inability to know as God knows does not mean that we cannot attain knowledge,

    Agreed

    including the knowledge of the essences of things, or that we cannot attain certainty, or that our knowledge is always “provisional and fallible.” Skepticism does not justifiably follow from the truth that humans cannot know just as God knows.”

    Agreed, as long as you acknowledge the human being’s dependence on God’s interpretation of reality. No such thing as an isolated fact.

    which is exactly what you’ve still been arguing in these threads – “you’re finite and not God!”

    Provisionality entails changeability, and your knowledge is changeable and always will be changeable. The only way out of it is to acquire unchanging knowledge—omniscience. But provisionality/finitude doesn’t mean no certainty. That’s your error.

    I’ve listened to what you, sdb, and Jeff have said on provisionality, as well as what your confessions and theologians have said on things like authority and semper reformanda. All of my arguments have cited your positions multiple times.

    You haven’t once accurately portrayed them, as Jeff noted elsewhere. That’s the problem. Semper Reformanda is held out as more of a theoretical possibility than anything else, and that to prevent things like the corrupt Roman hierarchy.

    But even so, you’ve admitted that there are things that COULD happen that would get you to leave Rome. So your submission is provisional. The only people round here who are evidencing anything remotely resembling non-provisional submission are the nice Catholic ladies who are telling us absolute knowledge is required. And you’re faulting me for saying omniscience is necessary to escape provisionality? They recognize it even if they are substituting the world “absolute” for “provisional.”

    Right, thus it’s not divine or supernatural faith. Thus the Pelagian/rationalist charge. As vat1 said: This faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church professes to be a supernatural virtue, by means of which, with the grace of God inspiring and assisting us, we believe to be true what He has revealed, not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself, who makes the revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived.

    But of course we do believe things based on the authority of God Himself. That’s kind of what self-authentication means. But you’ve already said that are things that could get you to leave Rome, which means you accept the theoretical possibility that you could be wrong, which means you don’t have supernatural faith I guess.

    So the NT isn’t necessary to know Jesus role and mission, but it’s necessary for other things?

    The NT makes His role and mission clearer, but His role and mission is outlined in the OT, which Jesus expected people to recognize under a system with no profession of infallibility.

    That seems strange – Christ is just a secondary footnote to the NT? What are these “other things” that take precedence over Christ that gave necessity to the NT?

    One of the main things is the instruction on how we are to live in light of the new covenant. Another would be the clarification that inauguration and consummation of the kingdom would be separated. There’s more, but that’s enough for now.

    So when Christ affirmed Genesis was scripture, that wasn’t an infallible statement from Him?

    Sure it was. But Christ wasn’t like, “Okay guys, I know you’ve believed Genesis is Scripture for about 1500 years now. But you had no real reason for the certainty of faith. So really, you were a bunch of Pelagian fideists whose mom dressed funny. Now that I’m here, you know. Once I thought fideism was the bees’ knees, cause that’s what you had. Now, not so much.”

    Christ and the Apostles very frequently say “You know what the Scripture says,” assuming an unspoken agreement between them and their Jewish audience as to what Scripture was. IOW, they expected them to know Genesis was Scripture before and therefore apart from their infallible statements.

    It really makes hash of your argument because you have Jesus inexplicably expecting the certainty of faith for something that would be impossible until Jesus if you are correct.

    Right, but there was a claim they were part of a people divinely confirmed by an infallible authority.

    Well if that’s it, that’s what Protestants claim.

    Right, motives of credibility. Without the miracles or other divine confirmation, there would be no reason to give the spies the time of day. That’s the point.

    Rahab didn’t see the miracles herself. She was relying on fallible reports of people who were not organs of revelation or claimed to be organs of revelation (ie, the pagans who did see). So her faith was based on people fallilby setting forth claims. And she was commended for it. That’s the point.

    If Protestant ministers were claiming miracles confirming them or their authority, the conversation would shift – you’d at least have some supposed motives of credibility to be considered. That was part of the point of RC apologists during the Reformation.

    The claim is the authority of God’s Word. And no, the Reformers didn’t claim miracles, largely because they didn’t think seeing Mary’s face in a piece of toast was a miracle. When Rome raises the dead, we can talk about miracles as motives of credibility for Rome. Otherwise, the biblical miracles are motives of credibility for Scripture, which as the divine Word has authority that Protestants convey when they interpret it rightly.

    Okay, so you don’t need an infallible canon for SS to work. So can you please explain how Scripture can be the sole ultimate standard against which proposed teachings and doctrines are to be ever-evaluated, when the identified extent/scope/content of Scripture is never defined as infallible and subject to revision and correction? Would SS work if we take out the NT? How about just a few books? What about one chapter?

    First tell me how STM can work as a rule of faith without an infallible list of at least all the writings that make up tradition and an infallible list of all the true bishops, etc.

    Rome who never taught it. RCism defines the church as being in communion with the church and bishop of Rome. You can’t just say “yeah, but Arianism had followers” as a rejoinder.

    So tradition is whatever Rome says it is after the fact. Sola Ecclesia.

    No – it was not part of the faith of the church. That some bishops and sees embraced it is not relevant to Rome’s claims any more than Unitarians and Word-of-Faithers existing today is relevant.

    Wow. Not only sola Ecclesia, but sola papalia. That one leg of your triad has to do an awful lot of work.

    I see – so the laity rising up in Rome, the massive controversy Arianism sparked which spurred the council, and Athanasius’ statements during the controversy attesting to STM, were just a coincidence.

    Wait, now it matters what Athanasius said? You need to get it straight whether the Magisterium can be limited to one bishop or not and then if that’s the pope. Because I keep hearing from you guys “The pope never succumbed to Arianism,” and “Well, he never formally TAUGHT that even though there’s every evidence to believe he wasn’t even regenerate.” It really does get confusing. An infallible list of infallible papal utterances sure would be helpful.

    We’ve been over this. Rome can’t tomorrow define Romans is uninspired or Arianism is true or the eucharist can be discarded from the liturgy or Orange actually affirmed Pelagianism or the book of mormon is inspired. So it’s not sola-M, it’s STM-triad.

    It’s sola M if your knockdown defense for why Arianism isn’t tradition is because Rome never went Arian. Well, except for Liberius when apparently signing confessional documents isn’t teaching authority. Why? As a matter of convenience, cause we want to make sure we jump up and down and note those times when he spoke more correctly cause ya gotta bolster a role for Rome that no one at the time thought Rome had.

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  176. Darryl,

    A substantive reply. So does Dei Verbum contradict what Cath Enc and Smith wrote on the topic I cited? Does Fides et Ratio? How about the current catechism? Anything from Benedict? Or will we get more NCR journalists? Youre contending the certitude of faith and infallibility is incompatible with walking by faith, and yet the very sources you say care about infallibility and certitude (since they were pre Vat2) are the same ones upholding walking by faith. Try to get your wires uncrossed (again).

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  177. @cvd Just to make sure we are clear on one another’s I’m offering a condensed version of Jeff’s summary of your argument. MTX (and maybe Susan if I am remembering correctly) indicated that he (they?) thought it was a fair summary of what I’ll refer to as RCE (catholic epistemology). Do you agree that this fairly represents you position? The full version is available here.

    (Belief Categories) 1. Beliefs fall into two categories: irreformable and provisional
    2. Beliefs are irreformable if and only if they are infallible.
    (Authority Axiom) 3. The ground of belief is authority. That is, proposition P is believed because of the authority of the speaker of P.
    (Assent of Faith Criterion) 4. The assent of faith should be given only to infallible = irreformable propositions
    (Equivalence of Provisionality and Uncertainty) 5. The alternative to believing on the ground of the infallible authority of the RC Church is to be unsure about everything, which is logically equivalent to liberalism.
    (Voluntarism Axiom) 6. Faith is an act of the will: One chooses to place one’s faith into X authority.
    (Foundationalism Axiom) 7. Beliefs are arranged foundationally, each implying the next in logical order.
    (Church teaching is STM) 8. For the Catholic, the teaching of the Church is found in the Scripture-Tradition-Magisterium-triad.

    By way of contrast, I have summarized the reformed perspective above. Here is an abbreviated listing of my propositions for comparison:

    1) Our theological understanding, including those understandings expressed by church councils, is provisional on accurately summarizing the Word of God (the only source of special revelation).
    2) provisionality does not apply to the ontology. There is a unique, true description.
    3) Provisional is equivalent to falsifiable. To say that belief is provisional is to say that there is a condition under which that belief *could* be falsified. That condition may have been ruled out in fact, but it does not make the belief any less provisional (i.e., provisional in principle not in fact).
    4) Infallibility is not a necessary condition for arriving at truth including about divine revelation.
    5) Infallibility is not a sufficient condition for adequate transmission of truth.
    6) Infallibility entails that one must a priori be *incapable* of error.
    7) One can have adequate knowledge while those beliefs are not strictly true.

    These statements have arisen in a conversation about the following question: who is better off epistemologically, the RC assuming RCism is true or the RP assuming RPism is true?

    I make no claim to these being complete. Jeff seems to think I have offered an adequate summary. If your understanding of our stance is different, it would be good to clarify that. I’m not arguing for or against either stance at this stage. I just want to be sure that we are on the same page. I can already see a few ways I would like to append the prot statements, but I don’t want to make things any more unwieldy than they already are.

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  178. Jeff,

    “It has been argued here by CVD and Tom and you and Mermaid that it is improper to place faith in anything known provisionally.”

    No its been argued it is improper to place faith in anything offered as admittedly provisional. Thus the contrast between RC and Protestant claims.

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  179. TLM
    heerree weee gooo agaiinnn.
    I believe the Bible because it is the Bible, not because Rome tells me so.
    Your slip is showing, i.e. you need to expurgate your residual protestantism.

    I know. Augustine’s famous quote of how he wouldn’t have believed unless the church had said so.

    Which is no more that to say what the Samaritans said.
    At first they believed on account of the woman at the well Jn. 4:39, but then having heard Jesus for themselves they said:

    Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world Jn. 4:42.

    Big diff there.
    If you can’t make the distinction, you’re incompetent to the discussion.
    Sorry.

    Yup, here it comes. The old bugaboo of provisional now rears its ugly head.
    Prot view is that our grasp of the truth is not infallible, but adequate. It can be fine tuned, but the things necessary to be saved are so plainly taught in Scripture that anybody by the due use of the ordinary means, can come to the saving knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ. WCF 1:6 (2 Pet. 3:16, Ps.119: 105, 130)

    Implicit faith is not ugly, its just stupid and unScriptural i.e. sinful, but that’s the problem for romanists, not prots.

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  180. JRC: “It has been argued here by CVD and Tom and you and Mermaid that it is improper to place faith in anything known provisionally.”

    CVD: No its been argued it is improper to place faith in anything offered as admittedly provisional.

    Well, we need some clarification, then. Because we on this side have repeatedly said that God’s word is infallible, yet provisionally known. And it is that formulation that you reject as “not even the Christian faith.”

    So you aren’t being consistent here with your argument.

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  181. James Young, and my answer is the same. The PCUSA is modernist and still confesses the Westminster Confession. Your assertion that nothing changed is all in your head. I try to keep telling you the real Roman Catholic world is different.

    The remedy could be simply for you to give up your claims of superiority and embrace the suck that is the church militant (except that your magisterium said Rome was the perfect society — oops).

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  182. James Young, if Protestants were heretics and became separated brothers, Vat 2 entered the world of provisionality (and worse according to Andrew Preslar).

    You’d be on much firmer ground if Vat 2 hadn’t happened. But we noticed. Yup (and you probably wouldn’t have permission from your bishop to read Old Life).

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  183. Jeff,

    Well, we need some clarification, then. Because we on this side have repeatedly said that God’s word is infallible, yet provisionally known. And it is that formulation that you reject as “not even the Christian faith.”

    Seems to me that one of the linchpins is that for some reason, Cletus is allowed to assume that divine revelation is infallible by definition but that we aren’t allowed to assume that divine revelation is infallible by definition. It’s part of what makes the winding argument hard to follow.

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  184. I would like to add a couple of things on the Protestant side to clarify just a couple of the many misconceptions out there.

    (8) Faith in the Reformed understanding consists of assensus, notitia, and fiducia: Assent, understanding, and trust.

    When we speak of provisional knowledge, we are speaking of our assent and our understanding of the truth.

    The provisionality is not in any way a fallibility on the part of God or His word, but on our apprehension of it.

    (9) The work of the Spirit is to create faith in the believer. This may include any of the three aspects, but especially fiducia. That work is infallible in the sense that one who is effectually called will believe and will be saved; but it does not create in the believer an infallible assensus or notitia. Defects in understanding may remain.

    (10) With regard to notitia, beliefs may be more or less certain, in keeping with the notion of provisionality. Many beliefs are so certain as to be practically infallible.

    E.g.: Bats will not fly out of my nose. I know this — provisionally, but with great certainty.

    E.g.: It is hypothetically possible (as Paul suggests) that Christ might not be raised. But the probability of such a thing is so low that it is practically infallible. To be so, it would have to be that all of the apostles, and the 500 witnesses, and Paul himself would all have to be wrong.

    E.g.: The boundaries of the canon might shift with additional evidence. However, 99%+ of the canon is “practically infallible.”

    The major point is that infallible (mathematical) certainty is not the only certainty in town.

    Accordingly, provisionality is no obstacle to fiducia.

    E.g.: I cannot offer infallible proof of the resurrection. But I believe it.

    The Catholics here have badly misunderstood this point, sometimes apparently to the point of willful misrepresentation.

    To wit:

    * It is false to say that something known provisionally is not known at all. Johnson kicks the stone, Tom. Berkeley is wrong — as are you, who make his argument.

    * It is false to say that Protestant beliefs are “up for grabs.”

    * It is false to say that Protestants don’t hold to beliefs with certainty. They most certainly do (see what I did there?), but that certainty is not of a mathematical or infallible nature.

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  185. Here is a point that needs clarification and that I think lies at the heart of the arguments here. I’m officially migrating over from the SAS thread.

    CVD quotes Scheeben: In eliciting the act of Faith man’s freedom is elevated to the supernatural order. This supernatural dignity and excellence lead to a supernatural and Divine freedom of the mind, the freedom of the children of God, the freedom from error and doubt, the full and perfect possession of the highest truth in the bosom of the Eternal Truth. Its childlike simplicity is really the highest sense, and leads to the highest intellectual attainments, whereas infidelity leads only to folly.

    In this passage, it appears that the act of faith

    * “Elevates man’s freedom to the divine order” — what, specifically does this mean?
    * Creates freedom from both error and doubt in the mind.
    * Creates full and perfect possession of truth
    * Creates intellectual achievement in the mind.

    So I asked CVD,

    JRC: “It seems to go well beyond Vulcan mindmelding and into omniscience on the part of the believer.”

    CVD: No need for omniscience. Scheeben is affirming the certitude of faith, hence his reference of Eph 4:14. To that you could add many more NT texts. If it entailed omniscience, that would mean there could be no development of doctrine. It would make the notion of “faith seeking understanding” an oxymoron and preclude the virtue of intellectual humility. It would also mean we walk by sight, not by faith – believers are not in the same state as those in heaven. Asking questions is not equivalent to calling into question, or doubting.

    So let me ask more precisely. It appears that this is saying that the act of faith creates in the believer an infallible understanding. Is that correct?

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  186. Publius: Ali – The 2nd commandment violation is the creche in the lower left corner of the video that contains an idol – a man made representation of our Lord.

    Here is a link to the Qs & As relating to the 2nd commandment from the WLC w/ proof texts: http://www.esvbible.org/resources/creeds-and-catechisms/article-the-westminster-larger-catechism/

    With regards to the quote from Ann Voskamp that I included earlier, here is a link directly to the quote in her book, Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. Hearsay? I wish. http://bit.ly/1RB1BaS

    Other than cw posting AVos, I don’t know anything about any inappropriate “youtubes” here, r2k, r2d2, or otherwise.

    Hmm. agree strange wording on that AV quote, Publius

    glad your eyes/ears are so sensitive and attuned about it all;
    well… maybe not ‘about it all’ …but selectively, as suits one’s will and according to the occasion …speaking of, thanks for the WCF link …Q1: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God

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  187. Hmm. agree, strange wording on that AV quote, Publius (but understand the sentiment)

    glad your eyes/ears are so sensitive and attuned about it all;

    well… maybe not ‘about it all’ …but selectively, as suits one’s will and according to the occasion

    speaking of, thanks for the WCF link …Q1: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God

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  188. Robert:
    The only people round here who are evidencing anything remotely resembling non-provisional submission are the nice Catholic ladies who are telling us absolute knowledge is required.>>>>

    No. My problem has to do with what you said about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    You didn’t just say that a person might believe something that is wrong and have to change because they have been proven to be wrong. You said that the resurrection itself might not be true because the body of Christ might be found someday.

    Is your infallible rule of faith and practice really fallible, even if only in theory?

    You are saying more than just human beings are fallible and often wrong.

    See, one thing that Reformed theology emphasizes is the fact that it is not man centered. However, this theory of provisional knowledge puts man’s inability to know anything for certain right at the center of your theology.

    How is that not man centered? How is that not idolatrous?

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  189. Hi Robert,

    You said to Cletus( James?),
    “If non-provisionality means that there is no possibility at all that I could be wrong in any possible world, then yes. Otherwise, everything I hold is provisional in the sense, “In theory I could be wrong.” Just as it is with you.”

    But we are not taking about another dimension or a hypothetical situation. We’re talking about things that God has revealed. And you can’t say that Jesus as God intended to reveal that he fullfilled OT prophecy but failed to make it clear to the very people He called who were eye witnesses that Jesus did for and came out of the grace three days later.
    You are saying that there is a break in the chain somewhere of you contend that the information that has reached is today is only provisionally known.

    I’d be interested to hear your definition of relativism.

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  190. That was: ” that Jesus died for our sins and came out of the grave three days later”
    You probably figured that out:)

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  191. Mermaid: However, this theory of provisional knowledge puts man’s inability to know anything for certain right at the center of your theology.

    I can see how you might think this, in that it might appear that what we are saying is that all truth is a matter of opinion.

    But this is actually not so, and at a very deep level.

    Before I explain why, stop and think about the fact that science abandoned the Aristotelian method in favor of empirical methods (Bacon, Pascal, others). Why would they do that, since Aristotle promised guaranteed truth using logic to reason from foundational axioms?

    There must be something about the empirical methods that works better than Aristotelian logic, at least in the realm of physical phenomena. That’s a paradox. Empirical methods don’t guarantee absolute truth but only provisional truth. Yet, they turn out to be superior guides, in the physical realm, than the supposed infallible guide of Aristotelian logic.

    Don’t misunderstand. I’m not disrespecting logic, which I strive to teach to all of my students. My job, in fact, is to teach one large body of logic (calculus) to high-schoolers who have varying degrees of comfort with logical thinking.

    But in the physical realm, we found that logic had its limits. And the limit is easy to see:

    It turns out to be impossible to get the right axioms a priori

    That’s why Aristotle was wrong about so many physical phenomena. He began with seemingly obvious axioms (all objects naturally tend to rest; objects made of earth naturally fall to the earth) and nevertheless ended up with wrong conclusions because his starting point was incorrect.

    What we found that worked better was to test our conclusions against experiment. If those conclusions lead us to challenge even our axioms, then so be it. That’s a rare event — but it happened twice in the 20th century in physics.

    Why did the change in method from purely logical to emprical+logical help matters? Because it allowed us to clearly distinguish between models and reality The models are the human element, the perceptual understanding of nature.

    Reality is what God’s creation actually does.

    In the Aristotelian method, model and reality were commingled in such a way that the human element, the fallible element, could not be clearly seen for what it was.

    In the current method, model and reality are much less commingled (NOT perfectly so, I need to rush to add), so that analysis of physical phenomena is much less based on human guesswork and much more based on the data itself.

    Now, how does this relate to theology?

    It might seem that the right way to proceed is to get God’s infallible truth and reason on that foundation. That’s self-evident, right?

    Here’s the catch. God’s infallible truth (which we agree is infallible, else God is a liar, which we agree is impossible) comes to us through a human delivery system.

    What does Paul say? Faith comes through the sacramentally appointed magisterium? No. Faith comes through hearing, and hearing comes from the Word of God.

    I’m sure you agree that when you receive the word of God, you receive it through your fallible senses. That fact doesn’t make the Word fallible. It does make your understanding of it fallible.

    Now. In your model, you want to posit that, having found the right authority to interpret, you trust that authority, and as a result you have infallible truth.

    What your model does is to commingle the human and divine elements so that you cannot properly distinguish them.

    Hence, when I bring up the true fact that you don’t have the original Nicene creed, but a fallible copy of a fallible translation of a fallible copy of the Nicene creed, you struggle to account for that fact. Not putting you down here, but observing that you and Tom and CVD all get to this point and just quit: “red herring” “you destroy the faith” etc.

    Somehow in your mind, the work of the Spirit enables you to transcend the various human elements to apprehend the infallible truth contained in the creed.

    Well if that’s so, then why does the EO disagree with you about the meaning of the creed? Granted, the difference is small (“and the Son”) — but we’re talking about infallible truth here. There should be no difference whatsoever. Does the Spirit do fallible work in them? And if so, then why is that they say the original creed and you say the modified creed?

    The answer is obvious: The EO disagrees with the RC about the creed because the limits of human understanding, not the limits of the Spirit’s work, prevent the EO or the RC or both from having an infallible understanding of divine truth.

    The human elements are not transcended by faith. Instead, they get smuggled in under the guise of divine truth, and the two are commingled improperly.

    So here comes the Protestant method, and for all its limitations it does one thing really well: It draws a hard line between the Word of God and the word of man. The former is infallible; the latter is always fallible.

    In drawing that hard line, what we are doing is actually being more clear and frank and honest about the human elements in our theological method. And the purpose of that honesty is not to be human-centric at all. Rather, it is to identify the human elements so that we do not put our trust in those human elements.

    Let me say that again.

    The Protestant method is less human-centered than the Catholic because it clearly identifies the human elements and tags them as fallible, whereas the Catholic method incorporates the human elements as “divine truth” and loses track of which is human and which is divine.

    The separation is not perfect. CVD is not entirely out to lunch when he questions the difference between divine Scripture and a humanly recognized canon.

    But the Protestant separation of Word of God from word of man, imperfect as it may be, is nevertheless a better and less human-centered way of doing theology because it does not enshrine human interpretation of Scripture as if it were the Scripture itself.

    Truth is not a matter of man’s opinion. It is matter of facts and causation and true relations between facts. But man’s opinions about facts are man’s opinions, and the Protestant forthrightly acknowledges this to be so in order to keep facts and opinions separate.

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  192. Susan: I’d be interested to hear your definition of relativism.

    Relativism: Actual truth is relative to the framework of the observer.

    The old SEP article was really good and had a trenchant critique of relativism. The new article is disappointing in that it tries to defend it.

    Oh, here we go. I had fun teaching this upon a time.

    Weak truth-value relativism escapes many of the dangers of self-refutation, since it does not allow one and the same thing to be true in one framework and false in another. But if normative truth-value relativism is intended as a view that is true simpliciter, it metastasizes very quickly. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that truth is relative to a person’s (or group’s) conceptual framework (for ease of exposition we consider individuals, but the point generalizes easily). Then, the relativist tells us, the very same belief (or sentence), call it p, can be true in Wilbur’s framework, W, but false in Sam’s framework, S. But if truth is relative in the strong sense, it can also be true in Wilbur’s framework W that p is true in W and false in Sam’s framework S that p is true in Wilbur’s framework W. There is not even any objective fact about what is true in any given framework.

    Worse is in store. There could be frameworks in which it is true that Wilbur’s current belief has the content that grass is green and other frameworks in which his belief has the content that snow is white. There could be frameworks in which it is true that Wilbur’s framework is W and other frameworks in which it is false that Wilbur’s framework is W, and so there is no objective fact about what framework anyone has. Furthermore, it may be true in Wilbur’s framework that the frameworks W and S are identical (W = S) but true in Sam’s framework that W and S are distinct (W ≠S). It may also be true in Wilbur’s framework that W itself is a framework and true in Sam’s that W is not a framework. It may be true in Sam’s framework that there are no frameworks, or that everything is true in every framework, or that nothing is true in any. It may also be true in some frameworks (e.g., ones without concepts of physical objects or persons) that Wilbur and Sam do not exist.

    In short, there is no fact about whether there are frameworks, about what frameworks are, about what is true in any particular framework, about what framework anyone has, about what anyone even thinks his own framework is like, or about anything else. It is quicksand all the way down. The metastasis is total. The meltdown is complete.

    http://stanford.library.usyd.edu.au/archives/spr2009/entries/relativism/#5.9

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  193. Susan: We’re talking about things that God has revealed.

    Yes.

    Susan: And you can’t say that Jesus as God intended to reveal that he fullfilled OT prophecy but failed to make it clear to the very people He called who were eye witnesses that Jesus did for and came out of the grace [sic] three days later.

    You are saying that there is a break in the chain somewhere of you contend that the information that has reached is today is only provisionally known.

    I usually correct people’s spelling without comment because politeness, but this was a great example of infallible truth being conveyed fallibly!

    I knew what you meant. And the reason I knew what you meant is that as a well-read adult English speaker, I have context clues to be able to say, “She certainly meant grave there.”

    Do I say that fallibly? Absolutely. Provisionally? Yes again. Is there any doubt in my mind? Nope.

    Provisional does not mean doubtful.

    That one fact right there makes this whole line of reasoning go away. Provisional does not mean doubtful. You undoubtedly meant “grave” in your sentence.

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  194. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink
    James Young, if Protestants were heretics and became separated brothers, Vat 2 entered the world of provisionality (and worse according to Andrew Preslar).

    You’d be on much firmer ground if Vat 2 hadn’t happened. But we noticed. Yup (and you probably wouldn’t have permission from your bishop to read Old Life).

    Darryl Hart and his attacks on the Catholic Church remain irrelevant at the discussion at his own blog.

    Cletus van Damme
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm | Permalink
    Jeff,

    “It has been argued here by CVD and Tom and you and Mermaid that it is improper to place faith in anything known provisionally.”

    No its been argued it is improper to place faith in anything offered as admittedly provisional. Thus the contrast between RC and Protestant claims.

    Brother Jeff does not understand this statement.

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  195. Robert, you wouldn’t know that Scripture is infallible if the church hadn’t told you, I mean the Holy Spirit teaching through the new revelation magisterium of the church which is infallible except when it’s not.

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  196. Jeff, Protestant beliefs have to be “up for grabs.” Why else would you convert to Rome? It wouldn’t have anything to do with where you stand on that great day unless, of course, my A in the epistemology seminar makes me righteous in God’s sight.

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  197. Jeff, “What your model does is to commingle the human and divine elements so that you cannot properly distinguish them.”

    Except for James Young’s blankie of the pope. There you have the divine and human inerrancy comingled, except when the popes err.

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  198. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink
    Jeff, “What your model does is to commingle the human and divine elements so that you cannot properly distinguish them.”

    Except for James Young’s blankie of the pope. There you have the divine and human inerrancy comingled, except when the popes err.>>>>>

    The resurrection of Jesus Christ – provisional knowledge or infallible knowledge? It can’t be both.

    Are you willing to commingle human provisionality with divine, infallible revelation?

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  199. Jeff:
    The Protestant method is less human-centered than the Catholic because it clearly identifies the human elements and tags them as fallible, whereas the Catholic method incorporates the human elements as “divine truth” and loses track of which is human and which is divine.

    The separation is not perfect.>>>>>

    Actually, when applied to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the separation is not only imperfect, but it is heretical.

    Resurrection of Jesus Christ – provisional knowledge or infallible knowledge?

    For Van Til – whom you guys think would be on your side – the resurrection of Jesus Christ is presuppositional knowledge. His I recognize as legitimate Reformed theology. Yours, not so much.

    For Van Til, it is assumed that Jesus Christ Himself is testifying to Himself through His apostle, Paul. If you read his article, you will see that in Van Til’s thinking – and all Reformed theology I have ever read – it is the natural man who cannot understand and believe in the resurrection because of his natural resistance to the truth of the Gospel.

    In arguing for an epistemology of provisional knowledge that even extends to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are arguing from the point of view of the natural man.

    Provisional knowledge contradicts the presuppositionalism that Van Til championed. In the following, you see his consistency. He does not put his infallible rule of faith and practice in the ledger of provisional knowledge. You are once again leaving the work of the Holy Spirit out of your thinking. I am really starting to worry about you, Jeff.

    I like you guys. I consider you guys to be my brothers in Christ. However, your consistent appeal to the way that the natural man perceives knowledge, even applying it to foundational beliefs is quite troubling to me. I am praying for you. I do love you guys.

    http://www.the-highway.com/articleMar09.html
    Jesus Christ Speaks to Us

    Christ himself told his disciples—and through them, his church— how to confess him before the world. To obey this command the church must first sit down at Jesus’ feet to hear from him just who he is, what he did, and what he is doing to save the world. The New Testament constitutes this witness of Christ both to himself and to his work of redemption. Moreover, the New Testament, which is Christ’s witness to himself, is based upon and presupposes the Old Testament. “Search the scriptures,” said Jesus to the Jews, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Again, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:45-47).

    Commissioned by Christ as the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul says “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3,4)…

    No one can accept the Son except the Father should “draw him” John 6:44). The Father will draw men, and the Son will then, like the Father, quicken them: “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:21).

    No man believes unless the Father draws him, unless the Son quickens him, and unless the Holy Spirit regenerates him. The triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, work together within the hearts of the natural man to enable him to believe. Christ gives unto men of his Spirit to make his Word of reconciliation effective among them.

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  200. Mermaid,

    Actually, when applied to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the separation is not only imperfect, but it is heretical.

    Sorry, but the separation between fact/truth and one’s perception of the truth is elementary epistemology. You need to stop denying it.

    Resurrection of Jesus Christ – provisional knowledge or infallible knowledge?

    The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an event that either happened or it didn’t. My apprehension that it did indeed happen and means what the Apostles say it means remains fallible, but not uncertain. I can be certain that a fact is true despite my fallibility. CVD has admitted this, so game over. My fallible apprehension does not mean I can’t know truth, be it supernatural or natural. Thus, the confession that the Protestant church is fallible doesn’t mean the Prot. Church can’t know truth or have proper certainty about truth claims.

    For Van Til – whom you guys think would be on your side – the resurrection of Jesus Christ is presuppositional knowledge. His I recognize as legitimate Reformed theology. Yours, not so much.

    Indeed. But presuppositional doesn’t mean the one holding the knowledge is infallible. Van Til is also willing to adopt the unbeliever’s position in theory in order to demonstrate its incoherence. Thus, he can hold out the theoretical possibility that the resurrection did not happen even though he doesn’t believe that such is actually the case or ever has a true possibility of being the case. That’s not at all inconsistent with what we are saying. And it indicates a degree of provisionality to all human knowledge.

    You seem to be stuck on the word provisional as if it means “who knows if we might be wrong.” It doesn’t mean that. It simply means that my understanding may possibly change, not that it will or should.

    For Van Til, it is assumed that Jesus Christ Himself is testifying to Himself through His apostle, Paul. If you read his article, you will see that in Van Til’s thinking – and all Reformed theology I have ever read – it is the natural man who cannot understand and believe in the resurrection because of his natural resistance to the truth of the Gospel.
    In arguing for an epistemology of provisional knowledge that even extends to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are arguing from the point of view of the natural man.
    Provisional knowledge contradicts the presuppositionalism that Van Til championed. In the following, you see his consistency. He does not put his infallible rule of faith and practice in the ledger of provisional knowledge. You are once again leaving the work of the Holy Spirit out of your thinking. I am really starting to worry about you, Jeff.

    Mermaid, you are either clueless when you read or are deliberately lying about what Jeff has said. You have been corrected so many times on this point that it’s getting tiresome. To say he’s leaving out the Holy Spirit shows either an astounding degree of reading incomprehension or outright dishonesty.

    Van Til never advocated a position that means the individual’s apprehension/knowledge is infallible. That would blur the Creator/creature distinction which is the heart of his apologetic.

    I like you guys. I consider you guys to be my brothers in Christ. However, your consistent appeal to the way that the natural man perceives knowledge, even applying it to foundational beliefs is quite troubling to me. I am praying for you. I do love you guys.

    In Romanism, the natural man must first apprehend the motives of credibility in a fallible manner, so the criticism applies actually to the Romanist’s admittedly foundational belief that his senses are fallible but trustworthy. Your foundation is no less fallible.

    But it is improper, really, to speak of the foundation as fallible. People are fallible/infallible. Better to say the foundation is without error but that we fallibly apprehend it.

    Omnisicence remains the only way to fully escape fallibility. It’s why the Apostles had to be protected from teaching error; namely, their inherent fallibility. Contrary to CVD, however, none of us is saying that escaping fallibility is required for the possibility of true knowledge. The argument you all are making is nonsensical and requires finally the infallibility not only of the church but also of the individual submitting to it.

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  201. Mermaid: I consider you guys to be my brothers in Christ.

    In what way mermaid? With all due respect, you are weighed down that we get right on unwavering faith, yet seem unconcerned after that, that your faith says something else must be added?

    “It is only with a proper understanding of the faith that we are able to put the Church’s teaching on this issue in its proper context, without avoiding excess or defect. For that same reason, it is worth noting that the Church has always condemned the following as errors opposed to the faith: …
    Fourth error: “Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.”“
    http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/currenterrors/bapdesire.htm

    it behooves us all to find out God says ‘pleases God’

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  202. Robert:
    But it is improper, really, to speak of the foundation as fallible. People are fallible/infallible. Better to say the foundation is without error but that we fallibly apprehend it.>>>>

    You are speaking like a natural man, Robert. You need to rename Van Til. Call him Van ’Til further notice. He would not agree with you. He would see as I see that you are arguing like a natural man, not a spiritual man.

    The natural man is unable to infallibly apprehend the truth of Christ’s resurrection. The spiritual man is indeed enabled to apprehend it. In fact, only the spiritual man is able to do so.

    Your epistemology needs some tweaking.

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  203. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink
    Jeff, “What your model does is to commingle the human and divine elements so that you cannot properly distinguish them.”

    Except for James Young’s blankie of the pope. There you have the divine and human inerrancy comingled, except when the popes err.>>>>>

    What say you, Brother Hart? Are you going to rename Van Til, calling him Van ’Til Further Notice? Are you going to side with the super fundamentalist, Van Til – whom I respect even though now I reject his anti Catholicism?

    I am quite sure that he would tell you that you have some commingling of your own going on here. You cannot claim the fundamentalism of Machen and Van Til on the one hand, and then turn around and argue like a relativist.

    Resurrection of Jesus Christ – provisional or infallible? The spiritual man – able to apprehend this truth fallibly or infallibly?

    Maybe some of you guys need to do some remedial work on the fundamentals of the faith before you continue with your anti everyone else corrective mission. You are losing your own foundation, here. It’s freakin’ me out. I know what a fundamentalist is, and it’s not lookin’ good for y’all.

    “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    Be what you claim to be, or claim something else.

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  204. What is really priceless about you guys is that you argue both Karl Barth AND Cornelius Van Til in the same com-box. Truly priceless.

    Now, I have a certain respect for both men, but please do not confuse one with the other.

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  205. Mermaid,

    You are speaking like a natural man, Robert. You need to rename Van Til. Call him Van ’Til further notice. He would not agree with you. He would see as I see that you are arguing like a natural man, not a spiritual man.

    The natural man is unable to infallibly apprehend the truth of Christ’s resurrection. The spiritual man is indeed enabled to apprehend it. In fact, only the spiritual man is able to do so.

    Your epistemology needs some tweaking.

    Well here we go. The individual RC becomes infallible at the point of revelation. Tell me, Mermaid, when are you going to start giving us Scripture or be anointed as an infallible priestess by the pontiff?

    And Van Til endorses a view that would destroy the Creator-creature distinction.

    You can’t make this stuff up. You really can’t.

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  206. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink
    Mermaid, so is it tradition or Scripture that makes you so certain of the resurrection? Or do you have visions?>>>>

    This is about you, Dr. Hart. Has Westminster Seminary changed its views on neo-orthodoxy? Is Karl Barth now in charge of epistemology in the OPC?

    You are the biographer of Machen. What say you? It looks like his analysis of Barth is pretty fair – acknowledging the good that can be found in it. It is precisely his epistemology that Machen found troubling.

    Does the OPC and the Westminster Seminary still find Barth’s epistemology to be troubling?

    It’s not my epistemology. I have nothing personal against Barth. He lived out his faith in a really difficult time and I would not say he was an unbeliever – not at all. He was trying to help people not lose their faith in a world that had gone mad.

    Is it your epistemology? Even more to the point, is it the OPC’s?

    —————————————————————————-
    http://files1.wts.edu/uploads/images/files/WTJ/Machen%20-%20Theology%20of%20Crisis.pdf

    But on the other side is to be put the strange epistemology of the Barthian school, which makes us wonder whether these men are not in danger of falling into a skepticism even more complete than that against which they are protesting in the modern world, and the strange indifference to questions of literary and historical criticism with regard to Jesus Christ, an indifference so great that even Bultmann, with his extreme skepticism in the historical sphere, can apparently be regarded as a real member of the Barthian school.

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  207. OK, I’ve put Jeff’s and my points together. Robert do you see anything missing here. I added a few comments in [[]]] to a few of Jeff’s points.

    1) Note that the WCF makes our theological understanding, including those understandings expressed by church councils, provisional on accurately summarizing the Word of God. The infallibility of the Word of God is not provisional *within* the reformed system. One may become convinced that the Bible is not God’s Word, but then you have left the reformed system (not unlike a Catholic becoming convinced that the RCC is not the true church).

    2), provisionality does not apply to ontology in any system. This is a category error. Either Jesus rose from the dead or he did not rise from the dead. My knowledge of this event is based on trust (enabled by the Holy Spirit). This knowledge is provisional – if I am not enabled by the Holy Spirit, I may wander from the truth and lose that knowledge.

    3), the provisionality of the canon is a provisionality in principle, not in fact. Just as belief in Rome as the true church is provisional – there are conditions under which your belief could (in principle) change (and for many has). The underlying reality we perceive is not provisional – rome is or isn’t the true church independent of what I or anyone else believe about it. Once one rejects Rome (or the canon), one is no longer in the system. Here I think falsifiable is better than provisional (or perhaps even conditional). The belief that the earth rotates is falsifiable – one can test this belief using Foulcault’s pendulum. That doesn’t mean that the rotation of the Earth ceases to be falsifiable.

    4) Infallibility is not a necessary condition for arriving at truth. My math book is not infallible, but one can learn true things about math from it and be quite confident about what one learns from it nonetheless. A teacher may not be infallible, but she can still teach you true things about the Bible. A confession may not be infallible, but it can still accurately summarize the scriptures. Further, we see that God used flawed people to advance his purposes – even speaking through decidedly non-infallible sources. He uses broken vessels to advance his kingdom. The blind man who was healed was not infallible, but what he said was true.

    5) infallibility is not a sufficient condition for adequate transmission of truth. The bible may be infallible, but my understanding of it is not. The may also be true for data, a pope’s ex cathedra statement, or council’s decision – my understanding of all of these things is fallible, so my knowledge is provisional on my proper understanding. The means by which one arrives at a proper understanding is separate from the reliability of the source.This is made very clear in Jesus’s discussion of his parables where he points out that the proper understanding of his words was hidden from those he spoke to.

    6) to be infallible in any meaningful sense, one must a priori be *incapable* of error. It is a grave abuse of language to assert that one is infallible when one speaks under certain conditions identified after the fact. This reduces infallibility to “happened to have gotten it right”. The pope is not infallible because he has erred. Councils are not infallible because they have gotten it wrong before. Defining them as subsequently illegitimate in hindsight is not compelling.

    7) One can have adequate knowledge of the truth and still be wrong about a lot of things. Verisimilitude is a helpful concept here. F=ma is false, but it is close enough to the truth to be reliable for building bridges, launching spacecraft, and getting your house to pass inspection. But it isn’t true. There are truer descriptions of gravity, and we can definitively rule out certain things. But we do not have the true theory of gravity. That doesn’t mean that we know nothing or that everything is up for grabs. This recognition is at the heart of the reformed understanding of perspicuity of scripture. We do not believe that all of scripture is equally plain or that we have a perfect summary of it. We believe it is a sufficient understanding of the gospel for salvation – and that this level of understanding is sufficient for anyone who hears the Word of God. The fact that we don’t have a perfect summary does not mean that anything goes (any more than the fact that F=ma is off a bit means that one is justified in believing in a flat earth).

    (8) Faith in the Reformed understanding consists of assensus, notitia, and fiducia: Assent, understanding, and trust. When we speak of provisional knowledge, we are speaking of our assent and our understanding of the truth. The provisionality is not in any way a fallibility on the part of God or His word, but on our apprehension of it. [[[I think another way to frame this is that I wouldn’t bother having a conversation with someone who believed something really crazy – say that the earth is flat. I’d tell them they are wrong and ignore whatever else it was they had to say (and perhaps call a mental health clinic). But dialog presupposes that there is something to be learned – my view may need to be modified in some way. This doesn’t entail that everything is up for grabs – indeed, this is borne out by the remarkable consistency in belief across a broad array of Christians who hold to Sola Scriptura (not all non-RCs do of course). ]]]

    (9) The work of the Spirit is to create faith in the believer. This may include any of the three aspects, but especially fiducia. That work is infallible in the sense that one who is effectually called will believe and will be saved; but it does not create in the believer an infallible assensus or notitia. Defects in understanding may remain.

    (10) With regard to notitia, beliefs may be more or less certain, in keeping with the notion of provisionality. Many beliefs are so certain as to be practically infallible. [[[I think a better way to frame this is as falsifiable – there are things we know definitively. They could have been wrong, but after investigation we see they are correct. For matters of faith, I think we could say something more or less parallel – we know theological belief is correct because it is consistent with scripture. When we investigated the scriptures and tested that claim, it was possible that view could have been found incorrect. It remains falsifiable – perhaps testable communicates this idea even better?]]]]

    E.g.: Bats will not fly out of my nose. I know this — provisionally, but with great certainty.

    E.g.: It is hypothetically possible (as Paul suggests) that Christ might not be raised. But the probability of such a thing is so low that it is practically infallible. To be so, it would have to be that all of the apostles, and the 500 witnesses, and Paul himself would all have to be wrong.

    E.g.: The boundaries of the canon might shift with additional evidence. However, 99%+ of the canon is “practically infallible.”

    The major point is that infallible (mathematical) certainty is not the only certainty in town. Accordingly, provisionality is no obstacle to fiducia.

    E.g.: I cannot offer infallible proof of the resurrection. But I believe it.

    The Catholics here have badly misunderstood this point, sometimes apparently to the point of willful misrepresentation.

    To wit:

    * It is false to say that something known provisionally is not known at all. Johnson kicks the stone, Tom. Berkeley is wrong — as are you, who make his argument.

    * It is false to say that Protestant beliefs are “up for grabs.”

    * It is false to say that Protestants don’t hold to beliefs with certainty. They most certainly do (see what I did there?), but that certainty is not of a mathematical or infallible nature. [[[I would go a step further and say they aren’t of a probabilistic nature either – rather they are contingent on congruence with the Word of God. My beliefs can be refined and made better, and our denomination can refine its beliefs. And of course, the opposite is true – because of sin I can cloud my belief. ]]]

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  208. Mermaid: The resurrection of Jesus Christ – provisional knowledge or infallible knowledge? It can’t be both.

    Why can’t it?

    The problem is that you are being sloppy here and equivocating on the word “knowledge.”

    Does God know infallibly where you will be tomorrow at 8:00:00AM EST?

    Do you?

    See, that one fact is known infallibly by God but known fallibly by you. So it is entirely possible for one fact to be both known infallibly by some and infallibly by others. I deny the premise of your question.

    The resurrection of Jesus is known infallibly by God, has been since before the creation of the world.

    The resurrection of Jesus was known fallibly and with great uncertainty by believing Jews before Christ because they saw the signs in the ceremonial Law and believed what those signs foretold.

    The resurrection of Jesus was known fallibly yet with great certainty by the apostles, who saw Him with their own eyes.

    Some of them (Paul, John, Peter) proclaimed that resurrection under the influence of the Spirit, thereby producing the infallibly word of God in the original autographs.

    Those original autographs were fallibly copied and translated, and have come now to you. You read, and you believe. But you don’t have infallible knowledge before you believe, and you don’t gain infallible knowledge through belief. If you did, you would know as God knows.

    Mermaid: In arguing for an epistemology of provisional knowledge that even extends to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are arguing from the point of view of the natural man.

    Incorrect.

    What does Paul say? The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

    Am I arguing that the resurrection is foolishness? Am I arguing that the resurrection cannot be understood?

    No. You’re off-base.

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  209. JRC: (10) With regard to notitia, beliefs may be more or less certain, in keeping with the notion of provisionality. Many beliefs are so certain as to be practically infallible.

    SDB: [[[I think a better way to frame this is as falsifiable – there are things we know definitively.

    A quick appeal for my original wording

    (1) In the context of our discussion, the term “certainty” is of prime importance, whereas “falsifiability” is technical and doesn’t communicate.

    (2) Even “falsifiability” is not the last word in the scientific world. Many are moving on beyond Popper.

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  210. Brethren,

    What really matters is whose knowledge of the resurrection we receive. The right knowledge of the resurrection secures eternal justification for sinners, and it comes by apostles only:

    “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 4:25-5:1).

    Mormons believe in the resurrection, but are they justified by the resurrection? No, they receive their beliefs in the resurrection from their religious authority.

    “we, the Latter-day Saints, take the liberty of believing more than our Christian brethren: we not only believe … the Bible, but … the whole of the plan of salvation that Jesus has given to us. Do we differ from others who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? No, only in believing more.”

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/what-mormons-believe-about-jesus-christ

    So too it appears the RC commenters believe “more” in the resurrection, not because of the apostolic testimony, but because they find their witness an insufficient means for their justification. They require an additional witness for an infallible faith, a witness they receive in tradition and Magisterium.

    So when a Pope gets the gospel wrong, he is reflecting the “more” RC infallible faith:

    “Is it not an unworthy concept of God to imagine for oneself a God who demands the slaughter of his son to pacify his wrath? Such a concept of God has nothing to do with the idea of God to be found in the New Testament and it is an unworthy concept of God…”

    J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, p.222, 2nd edition paperback.

    I doubt you will win the epistemology debate; you can’t even get terms defined. But you can make clear the difference of who knows the gospel, who knows the resurrection, and who doesn’t.

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  211. Jeff,

    “what, specifically does this mean?”

    Grace elevates and builds on nature. Faith is a supernatural virtue – “the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself.” as CCC states. Supernatural faith is not the product of human reason but a divine gift.

    “It appears that this is saying that the act of faith creates in the believer an infallible understanding. Is that correct?”

    No. Believers aren’t made omniscient. They aren’t made infallible. As I said, “Scheeben is affirming the certitude of faith, hence his reference of Eph 4:14. To that you could add many more NT texts. If it entailed omniscience [or infallible understanding], that would mean there could be no development of doctrine. It would make the notion of “faith seeking understanding” an oxymoron and preclude the virtue of intellectual humility. It would also mean we walk by sight, not by faith – believers are not in the same state as those in heaven. Asking questions is not equivalent to calling into question, or doubting.”

    One can have the virtue of faith and still be in error – although such error would not stem from faith – as Aquinas says, “Now it has been stated (1) that the formal aspect of the object of faith is the First Truth; so that nothing can come under faith, save in so far as it stands under the First Truth, under which nothing false can stand, as neither can non-being stand under being, nor evil under goodness. It follows therefore that nothing false can come under faith.”

    Scheeben again:
    “The high degree of certitude which belongs to the act of Faith is attained and completed by means of the supernatural light of Faith which pervades all the elements of the act. This light, being, as it were, a ray of the Divine Light, participates in the Divine infallibility and cannot but illumine the truth. The certitude produced by it is therefore Divine in every respect, and so absolutely infallible that a real act of Faith can never have falsehood for its subject-matter. This has been defined by the Vatican Council, repeating the definition of the Fifth Lateran Council: “Every assertion contrary to enlightened Faith (illuminatae fidei, i.e. Faith produced by Divine illumination) we define to be altogether false“ (sess. iii., chap. 4). The words “illuminatae fidei “ signify the Faith as it is produced in the believer, as distinct from the external objective proposition of revealed truth, and also as distinct from the act of human faith. In like manner the Council of Trent states that Faith affords a certitude which cannot have falsehood for its subject-matter (cui non potest subesse falsum). The light of Faith cannot be misapplied to belief in error; nevertheless it is possible for man to mistake an act of natural faith in a supposed revelation for a supernatural act elicited by the aid of the light of Faith. Some external criterion is needed whereby we may distinguish the one from the other. Such a criterion is supplied by the Faith of the Church, which cannot err.”

    Aquinas:
    Objection 1. It would seem that faith is not more certain than science and the other intellectual virtues. For doubt is opposed to certitude, wherefore a thing would seem to be the more certain, through being less doubtful, just as a thing is the whiter, the less it has of an admixture of black. Now understanding, science and also wisdom are free of any doubt about their objects; whereas the believer may sometimes suffer a movement of doubt, and doubt about matters of faith. Therefore faith is no more certain than the intellectual virtues.

    Objection 2. Further, sight is more certain than hearing. But “faith is through hearing” according to Romans 10:17; whereas understanding, science and wisdom imply some kind of intellectual sight. Therefore science and understanding are more certain than faith.

    Reply to Objection 1. This doubt is not on the side of the cause of faith, but on our side, in so far as we do not fully grasp matters of faith with our intellect.

    Reply to Objection 2. Other things being equal sight is more certain than hearing; but if (the authority of) the person from whom we hear greatly surpasses that of the seer’s sight, hearing is more certain than sight: thus a man of little science is more certain about what he hears on the authority of an expert in science, than about what is apparent to him according to his own reason: and much more is a man certain about what he hears from God, Who cannot be deceived, than about what he sees with his own reason, which can be mistaken.

    and, showing how a believer can be in error and still hold faith as opposed to a heretic who is also in error without faith:
    “if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error.”

    and more on certitude:
    “It is necessary for man to accept by faith not only things which are above reason, but also those which can be known by reason: and this for three motives. First, in order that man may arrive more quickly at the knowledge of Divine truth. Because the science to whose province it belongs to prove the existence of God, is the last of all to offer itself to human research, since it presupposes many other sciences: so that it would not by until late in life that man would arrive at the knowledge of God. The second reason is, in order that the knowledge of God may be more general. For many are unable to make progress in the study of science, either through dullness of mind, or through having a number of occupations, and temporal needs, or even through laziness in learning, all of whom would be altogether deprived of the knowledge of God, unless Divine things were brought to their knowledge under the guise of faith. The third reason is for the sake of certitude. For human reason is very deficient in things concerning God. A sign of this is that philosophers in their researches, by natural investigation, into human affairs, have fallen into many errors, and have disagreed among themselves. And consequently, in order that men might have knowledge of God, free of doubt and uncertainty, it was necessary for Divine matters to be delivered to them by way of faith, being told to them, as it were, by God Himself Who cannot lie.”

    Smith again:
    “But although the certitude of faith is supreme, supreme as is the divine authority upon which it is based, yet the mind of the believer is not completely satisfied. Under the influence of the will it holds firmly to the truth; but within the truth it does not see; and nothing save vision can satisfy the mind. Faith is an evidence–i.e., a firm conviction–but it is a conviction “of things that appear not.” As long, then, as intrinsic evidence is denied, the mental assent is not spontaneous and requires the concurrence of the will. Hence it is misleading to compare the state of mind of the believer with the complete repose of the mind in a truth clearly demonstrated, or with the evidence of the senses. In the latter case there can be little or no temptation to doubt. The believer, on the other hand, precisely because he does not see within the truth, may be subject to many such temptations. But temptations are not doubts, and the believer is able by an effort of will to dispel them, to concentrate his attention upon the infallible motive of his faith, and thus to achieve a state of security from error as superior to that of human knowledge as the Truth of God infinitely transcends the fallible reason of man.”

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  212. Jeff,

    – No its been argued it is improper to place faith in anything offered as admittedly provisional.
    “Well, we need some clarification, then. Because we on this side have repeatedly said that God’s word is infallible, yet provisionally known. And it is that formulation that you reject as “not even the Christian faith.” So you aren’t being consistent here with your argument.”

    I don’t recall saying “not even the Christian faith” anywhere. I understand you have repeatedly said that God’s word is infallible. The issue again is why I should accept that teaching as divine revelation based on your system’s own disclaimers to any type of authority or ability to identify/define divine revelation. That’s why, based on your disclaimers, anything you offer remains provisional and subject to revision – hence my statement.
    Saying I’m fallible and you’re fallible (i.e. that we are humans) is irrelevant and not engaging the argument (for the millionth time).

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  213. @cvd

    The issue again is why I should accept that teaching as divine revelation based on your system’s own disclaimers to any type of authority or ability to identify/define divine revelation.

    Our system does not deny the ability to identify divine revelation.

    That’s why, based on your disclaimers, anything you offer remains provisional and subject to revision – hence my statement.

    You are overdrawing what the WCF “disclaims”. The “subject to revision” is based on God’s Word. If you reject God’s Word, you have left the system.

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  214. sdb,

    “Our system does not deny the ability to identify divine revelation.”

    Divine revelation is infallible as everyone agrees. So a system identifying something as divine revelation, then at the same time saying anything it identifies or defines is provisional and subject to revision and can only be at best “99%” likely or whatever arbitrary number you want to pull out is incompatible with the supposed ability to identify divine revelation – whatever is being identified isn’t divine revelation, by its own standard.

    “The “subject to revision” is based on God’s Word.”

    And you’re exempting the starting doctrines of Protestantism from its disclaimers to authority and ability. Doctrines such as the teaching that divine revelation exists, it is confined to writing alone, this writing is inspired and inerrant, this writing is limited to the books in the Protestant canon, this writing is the sole ultimate authority, this writing is perspicuous and doctrine is to be drawn from ghm exegesis, and there is no further revelation after its completion are all fallible teachings in the Protestant system. They are, as has been repeatedly said by all on your side, provisional in principle and always shall be, being consistent with the claims of your system.

    You don’t get to just handwave those doctrines and apply the disclaimers exclusively after the fact to “interpretation” of God’s word. That’s just ad hoc and special pleading.

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  215. CVD: I don’t recall saying “not even the Christian faith” anywhere.

    That would be Mermaid, for whom (apparently) the ability to infallibly understand infallible articles of faith has now become of gospel importance.

    CVD: I understand you have repeatedly said that God’s word is infallible.

    Good, thanks.

    CVD: The issue again is why I should accept that teaching as divine revelation based on your system’s own disclaimers to any type of authority or ability to identify/define divine revelation.

    Two misunderstandings here. One is mine — when you say “that teaching” do you refer to “the teaching that God’s word is infallible” or “God’s word”?

    One is yours: “disclaimer to any type of authority or ability”

    That’s not so. I disclaim neither authority or ability. Rather, I disclaim that either is infallible. If you want to add “and therefore not authority or ability at all”, then you may do so — but you are then leaving the Protestant system and evaluating it not according to its own premises. You are combining the Protestant system with your own beliefs, which is not the Protestant system any longer.

    I claim that the church has authority. I claim that the church has ability. In fact, it has enough ability that you or I would be fools to bet against the canonicity of Matthew.

    It just doesn’t have infallible authority.

    CVD: That’s why, based on your disclaimers, anything you offer remains provisional and subject to revision – hence my statement.

    Right, but your statement assumes (without proof) that this is actually a problem. Within the Protestant system, it is not.

    I have no problem saying that I have a reliable, non-infallible copy of the Scripture on my shelf.

    CVD: Saying I’m fallible and you’re fallible (i.e. that we are humans) is irrelevant and not engaging the argument (for the millionth time).

    And for the million-and-oneth time, it is relevant and of central importance.

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  216. Cletus,

    You’ve said in the past that divine articles of faith are infallible by definition. I assume you mean by that the notion that such is a properly basic belief, i.e., you don’t need the RCC to tell you that. It’s inherently true.

    If I am correct on that, then divine revelation is infallible by definition as well. So why don’t Protestants get to start with the premise “divine revelation is infallible” but you get to start with an equally basic premise “divine articles of faith are infallible by definition”?

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  217. So a system identifying something as divine revelation, then at the same time saying anything it identifies or defines is provisional and subject to revision…is incompatible with the supposed ability to identify divine revelation – whatever is being identified isn’t divine revelation, by its own standard.

    This is an interesting statement…to be divine revelation, a group has to be able to identify it as such perfectly. Yet you also say,

    Saying I’m fallible and you’re fallible is irrelevant and not engaging the argument.

    It absolutely is relevant. If you are fallible, then your understanding could be subject to revision. But if your identification of revelation (say the STM triad) is subject to revision then whatever it is you are identifying isn’t divine revelation…according to what you wrote above. I’m sure this isn’t what you meant to communicate, but it is entailed by what you have written.

    And you’re exempting the starting doctrines of Protestantism from its disclaimers to authority and ability. Doctrines such…are all fallible teachings in the Protestant system. They are, as has been repeatedly said by all on your side, provisional in principle and always shall be, being consistent with the claims of your system.

    If something is provisional, then it is always provisional (at least as we are using the word here…I think “falsifiable” is the better word and regret adopting your word provisional as it has caused a great deal of confusion). However, you insist on wrenching what you call the “disclaimer” in the WCF out of context. The context of the disclaimer is simply that those doctrines must be held to the standard of God’s Word. All of those doctrines you list come from the exegesis of scripture with the exception of the scope of the canon – this is taken to be a properly basic belief on the part of the WCF. It is an identification of revelation that must be treated differently (much like the MOC for the RCC).

    You don’t get to just handwave those doctrines and apply the disclaimers exclusively after the fact to “interpretation” of God’s word. That’s just ad hoc and special pleading.

    In context, the disclaimers you refer to do apply exclusively after the fact to the interpretation of God’s word. Further, it is true in practice for how bodies that hold to SS actually function. I don’t see why you think that is special pleading…

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  218. Robert,

    You can start with the premise divine revelation is infallible by definition. When have I denied you that ability? That’s exactly what I’ve pointed out both sides agree on.

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  219. sdb,

    “to be divine revelation, a group has to be able to identify it as such perfectly.”

    No, to be divine revelation, an authority has to be able to offer it as infallible and irreformable – since as we both agree, divine revelation is infallible. No such authority or ability obtains in Protestantism, per its disclaimers. Fallible and provisional teachings, semper reformanda, and “99%” likelihoods don’t cut the mustard.

    “If you are fallible, then your understanding could be subject to revision.”

    Correct. Just as was the case for NT believers under Christ and the Apostles. But no Protestant church, body, or confession claims divine apostolic authority or the ability to identify/define divine revelation (i.e. infallible teaching). Rome does. So personal fallibility of the submitting agent is not relevant (again).

    “If something is provisional, then it is always provisional”

    Right. And divine revelation is not provisional. So Protestantism can’t offer it, by your own admission.

    “The context of the disclaimer is simply that those doctrines must be held to the standard of God’s Word.”

    The disclaimers I am referring to are the ones to ecclesiastical authority and ability. The statements where it explicitly rejects the type of authority and ability Rome claims.

    “All of those doctrines you list come from the exegesis of scripture with the exception of the scope of the canon – this is taken to be a properly basic belief on the part of the WCF.”

    The canon identified by WCF doesn’t get to be exempted from WCF’s disclaimers to authority/ability any more than the other doctrines I listed and any more than the interpretation of the writings in that canon. If you want to argue the Protestant canon (including whatever contents you currently hold as inspired versus the disputed ones) should form a “properly basic belief” for all – have at it. I fear you might not be successful in such an endeavor.

    “It is an identification of revelation that must be treated differently (much like the MOC for the RCC).”

    The MOC are not treated as “properly basic beliefs” in RCism.

    “In context, the disclaimers you refer to do apply exclusively after the fact to the interpretation of God’s word. Further, it is true in practice for how bodies that hold to SS actually function. I don’t see why you think that is special pleading…”

    The disclaimers to authority and ability to identify and define divine revelation only apply to the interpretation of God’s word? That’s strange. So the doctrines I listed taught by WCF are infallible and divine revelation, but any teaching offered within Protestantism afterwards all of a sudden becomes fallible and provisional? What happened? I guess this means that none of the teachings I listed are consequences of or based on interpretation of Scripture either. Your position on exempting the starting doctrines from WCF’s and Protestantism’s disclaimers on authority and ability, but not the interpretations Protestantism offers after the fact is not consistent, but ad hoc and special pleading.

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  220. CVD: Divine revelation is infallible as everyone agrees. So a system identifying something as divine revelation, then at the same time saying anything it identifies or defines is provisional and subject to revision and can only be at best “99%” likely or whatever arbitrary number you want to pull out is incompatible with the supposed ability to identify divine revelation – whatever is being identified isn’t divine revelation, by its own standard.

    This is not self-evident.

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  221. Mermaid,

    Check this out. Prots believe in the certainty of what they fallibly believe in to the point that Rome condemns prots when it comes to their affirmation of an infallible assurance of faith.

    IOW you might want to check the fine print and read up on Trent (because it is the same thing as Vat 2 – which is why it was necessary to call Vat 2 or something like that) and find out what you really bought into by swimming the Tiber.

    CANON XVI.-If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema. Session VI, Council of Trent.

    So there you have it. According to Rome, as a romanist you have an infallible knowledge of infallible truth, but you have no infallible assurance or certainty of salvation based on that knowledge. (Bait and switch?)

    Unless you get special revelation.
    Go figure/have you got yours yet?
    Do you have to be a canonized saint first?
    Doesn’t that usually happen after you die and go to purgatory for awhile?

    And all this can’t have anything to do with “pray, pay and obey” can it?
    Of keeping the serfs in bondage, carnal and spiritual to Mother Rome?

    Bottom line, you can argue all you want about how prot knowledge is deficient, but in the end, you can’t truly know if you are saved according to Rome. That doesn’t sound like good news.

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  222. @ CVD: Thanks for taking the time to continue to explain the nuances of Catholic understanding of faith. This will not be a quick discussion, it seems.

    So in plain terms, the believer is confronted with divine revelation (which we agree is infallible). On your account, there is then an act of Faith that illumines that divine revelation.

    However, this act of Faith does not create either infallible understanding NOR omniscience on the part of the believer.

    So it is possible for a believer to continue to misapprehend the truth. In that case would you say that there is “light of Faith” working alongside “acts of natural faith”?

    Scheeben: The light of Faith cannot be misapplied to belief in error; nevertheless it is possible for man to mistake an act of natural faith in a supposed revelation for a supernatural act elicited by the aid of the light of Faith. Some external criterion is needed whereby we may distinguish the one from the other. Such a criterion is supplied by the Faith of the Church, which cannot err.”

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  223. Cletus,

    an authority has to be able to offer it as infallible and irreformable – since as we both agree, divine revelation is infallible.

    We’ve been over this. God offers His Word as infallible and irreformable, to wit all the “thus saith the Lords”

    Now does every single book make the direct explicit claim “Thus saith the Lord” or “I am infallible divine revelation.” No. But if you make that your standard, then Rome’s case either falls about or is only reduced to a handful of dogmatic statements that have been clearly identified as such. You end up with a standard of dogma that is equivalent to the number of biblical books that make a direct claim of inspiration.

    But more importantly, Jesus doesn’t seem to agree with your premise of an authority having to make a direct claim of infallibility and irreformability. He and the Apostles can say “the Scripture says” because their audience knew what they were talking about even before they said it. IOW, it gets back to the fact that the Jews were expected to know that Genesis was Scripture and believe it with the certainty of faith long before any one made an infallible claim that it was. If you are right, then no one had any warrant to believe Genesis was Scripture until Jesus said it was. It kind of invalidates your whole claim that something must be offered as infallible in order for the warrant of faith to obtain.

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  224. I have no problem saying that I have a reliable, non-infallible copy of the Scripture on my shelf.

    Huh?

    Jeff, not sure where you are going with this, but the Hebrew and Greek are infallible in both form and substance, the translations only in substance.

    CVD it would help if you would learn to do the caret and slash thing for italicizing combox text if you are serious about wanting people to be able to follow your rabbit trail.

    thank you

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  225. @ Bob: Just that when the Adulterer’s Bible was printed (1631), it illustrated the ability of Bible printers to err.

    “Fallibility”, which is the center of the RC apologetic here, is a remarkably weak condition. The idea that we can drive a truck through it and get to “you can’t know anything!” is a strikingly strange tactic.

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  226. Jeff,

    “One is mine — when you say “that teaching” do you refer to “the teaching that God’s word is infallible” or “God’s word”?”

    When you or Protestantism say “God’s word is infallible”, what are you saying – you are saying: Divine revelation exists. God’s word exists and is infallible and inerrant. It consists solely of the Protestant canon and contents therein.

    “I disclaim neither authority or ability. Rather, I disclaim that either is infallible.”

    Right, so you and every Protestant church/body disclaim to “any type of authority or ability to identify/define divine revelation.” If you did claim such authority/ability, you wouldn’t actively reject Rome’s authority/ability, and you would offer irreformable dogma, not provisional teaching. But doing so would be inconsistent with your disclaimers.

    “In fact, it has enough ability that you or I would be fools to bet against the canonicity of Matthew.”

    The canonicity of Matthew is offered as a provisional teaching by your system. The contents of Matthew or Mark are also offered as provisional by your system. Divine revelation is not provisional as we both agree.

    “Within the Protestant system, it is not.”

    So is divine revelation infallible or not?

    “it is relevant and of central importance.”

    Notice that not one of my points to you or sdb hinged on your or my personal fallibility or the fallibility of the submitting agent. So no it’s still not relevant.

    “This is not self-evident.”

    Feel free to offer a counterargument.

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  227. Seems to me that the RC argument really boils down to this:

    “Look, I really can’t tell you if Mormonism or Roman Catholicism or the Watchtower Society is the church Jesus founded. But I can tell you for sure that Protestantism isn’t a contender.”

    Seems awfully convenient that the group that actually had success in breaking Rome’s dominance in the West is the group that gets ruled out.

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  228. Cletus,

    When you or Protestantism say “God’s word is infallible”, what are you saying – you are saying: Divine revelation exists. God’s word exists and is infallible and inerrant. It consists solely of the Protestant canon and contents therein.

    No, at the starting point, all we’re saying is that divine revelation is infallible. The other claims come later. You want one infallible truth on which Protestantism is based, there it is.

    All you are really doing is adding more professedly infallible dogmas. The submission of the individual in both systems is not categorically different except perhaps in the quantity of what must be believed.

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  229. Robert,

    We agree “divine revelation is infallible” – that’s by definition. Saying “God’s word is infallible” is not identical to saying “divine revelation is infallible”. By saying, “God’s word is infallible”, you’re already presupposing doctrines – doctrines that are offered as provisional in your system.

    “All you are really doing is adding more professedly infallible dogmas”

    If that were true, then Rome and Protestantism would make the same type of claims to authority/ability. Rome would then just have more or different professedly infallible dogma than Protestantism. But Protestantism does not make the same type of claims to authority/ability – it rejects them, and consistent with that, doesn’t offer infallible dogma, but just admitted provisional teachings. So, no that is not all RCism is really doing.

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  230. “to be divine revelation, a group has to be able to identify it as such perfectly.”
    No, to be divine revelation, an authority has to be able to offer it as infallible and irreformable – since as we both agree, divine revelation is infallible. No such authority or ability obtains in Protestantism, per its disclaimers.

    Sorry to be so thick, but before moving on, I want to understand this. We agree that divine revelation – what God chooses to reveal to somebody is by definition infallible. Why *must* an authority be able to offer that revelation as infallible? I don’t get the need for the infallible middle man in other words.

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  231. Notice that not one of my points to you or sdb hinged on your or my personal fallibility or the fallibility of the submitting agent. So no it’s still not relevant.

    Really? What’s this bit about needing an authority to offer divine revelation as infallible all about then?

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  232. sdb,

    You can claim that God is directly revealing things to you. Then the conversation would shift. But you don’t claim that.

    “What’s this bit about needing an authority to offer divine revelation as infallible all about then?”

    The authority is different than the submitting agent. None of my points have hinged on the fallibility of the submitting agent – that would be silly if they did because everyone is human.

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  233. “The context of the disclaimer is simply that those doctrines must be held to the standard of God’s Word.”
    The disclaimers I am referring to are the ones to ecclesiastical authority and ability. The statements where it explicitly rejects the type of authority and ability Rome claims.

    In context those “disclaimers” as you call them reference the role of scripture as God’s special revelation. 31.3 points out that councils must be constant with the word of God. 31.4 is the disclaimer you keep pointing to. Here are the proof texts that go along with it:

    EPH 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
    ACT 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
    1CO 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    2CO 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

    The clear implication being that a council’s declarations are contingent on following God’s revelation. You are misreading 31.4.

    The canon identified by WCF doesn’t get to be exempted from WCF’s disclaimers to authority/ability any more than the other doctrines I listed and any more than the interpretation of the writings in that canon.

    Since the disclaimer is that the council must be judged by the scripture, then anything that could be judged by the scripture would be exempted. One might then ask how one knows what the scripture is. But that’s a different discussion.

    “It is an identification of revelation that must be treated differently (much like the MOC for the RCC).”
    The MOC are not treated as “properly basic beliefs” in RCism.

    I don’t claim that the MOCs are properly basic. Only that that they are treated differently from dogma within the RCC.

    I wrote,

    The context of the disclaimer is simply that those doctrines must be held to the standard of God’s Word. All of those doctrines you list come from the exegesis of scripture with the exception of the scope of the canon…

    To which you respond:

    The disclaimers to authority and ability to identify and define divine revelation only apply to the interpretation of God’s word? That’s strange…

    You’ll need to try again. This isn’t responsive. There is a difference between identifying the data and interpreting the data. This isn’t special pleading.

    Divine revelation is infallible as everyone agrees. So a system identifying something as divine revelation, then at the same time saying anything it identifies or defines is …subject to revision…is incompatible with the supposed ability to identify divine revelation – whatever is being identified isn’t divine revelation, by its own standard.

    Divine revelation is divine revelation independent of whether it has been identified (infallibly or otherwise) as such. When someone happens across a bible that knows nothing of the church, that bible does not cease to be God’s word until someone comes along and says so.

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  234. You can claim that God is directly revealing things to you. Then the conversation would shift. But you don’t claim that.

    Sure I do. He speaks directly to me through his Word.

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  235. The authority is different than the submitting agent. None of my points have hinged on the fallibility of the submitting agent – that would be silly if they did because everyone is human.

    What’s a submitting agent in this context? I presume that’s the church?

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  236. Just one last tidbit before I call it for a while:

    You said,

    You can claim that God is directly revealing things to you. Then the conversation would shift. But you don’t claim that.

    And I responded,
    “Sure I do. He speaks directly to me through his Word.”

    Here is how the Westminster Divines put it:
    “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.”

    1JO 2:20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

    JOH 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

    1CO 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    ISA 59:21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.

    Of course I don’t always listen so well (sin) or understand so well, so he gives us the church to teach us and so forth. But that church isn’t infallible. Whatever is taught by people must be judged against the scriptures.

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  237. sdb,

    “The clear implication being that a council’s declarations are contingent on following God’s revelation. You are misreading 31.4. ”

    Right. And the teaching of the identification/definition of “God’s revelation”, not just the teaching of interpretations of it, remains provisional in your system. Why? Because of the disclaimers of 31.4 and 25.5.

    “One might then ask how one knows what the scripture is. But that’s a different discussion.”

    One might also first ask, does God’s revelation exist? Is it confined to writing alone? Is this writing to serve as the sole ultimate authority? Has revelation ended? Then after they answered that, they might ask what Scripture is. And all of the answers to these questions are offered as and remain provisional in your system.

    “You’ll need to try again. This isn’t responsive. There is a difference between identifying the data and interpreting the data. This isn’t special pleading”

    You’re not just identifying the data. The teaching that the Protestant canon is the “data” is just one of the many starting doctrines of Protestantism I listed – all of which remain provisional. It’s special pleading to assert that the teaching of the identification of the data is not provisional, but the teaching of any interpretation of that data after identification is provisional. The disclaimers of WCF 31.4 and 25.5 apply just as much to the identification of the data and the other starting doctrines I listed as they do to interpretations of that data after the fact. And considering your SS position entails those starting doctrines are derived by “good and necessary consequence” from Scripture – that is the *interpretation* of Scripture, it is special pleading to then exempt those doctrines when you already freely admit that any teaching derived from “interpreting the data” is provisional. It’s inconsistent and special pleading.

    “Divine revelation is divine revelation independent of whether it has been identified (infallibly or otherwise) as such.”

    Yup. But if something is offered as divine revelation, it needs to be offered as infallible – not provisional. Protestantism rejects the authority/ability to do such.

    “When someone happens across a bible that knows nothing of the church, that bible does not cease to be God’s word until someone comes along and says so.”

    No one has argued that. That Bible someone finds came from an authority that claims the ability to identify/define infallible revelation – whether the person acknowledges it or not. What if someone comes across a gnostic or marcionite bible, or a bible with no asterisks on the disputed passages, or one with the deuterocanonicals? Is that God’s word?

    “Sure I do. He speaks directly to me through his Word.”

    So you have the authority and ability to define/identify divine revelation? Have you exercised it and let others know they should listen to you by virtue of your direct revelation you are recieving from God? Are others who disagree with you not receiving direct revelation?

    “What’s a submitting agent in this context? I presume that’s the church?”

    No. It’s those following the church. The church isn’t fallible in identifying/defining divine revelation contra WCF. That’s the point.

    “Here is how the Westminster Divines put it:”

    Which is offered as nothing more than provisional.

    “Of course I don’t always listen so well (sin) or understand so well, so he gives us the church to teach us and so forth. But that church isn’t infallible.”

    Right. The church isn’t infallible in Protestantism. WCF 31.4 and 25.5. So it rejects the authority/ability to identify or define divine revelation – all teaching, not just interpretations, remains provisional.

    “Whatever is taught by people must be judged against the scriptures.”

    Which is a teaching that itself is admitted as provisional in your system. Thus it cannot be divine revelation, given we both agree divine revelation is infallible by definition.

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  238. Cletus,

    I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but we are telling you that you aren’t correctly stating our position.

    More listening would help here.

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  239. Jeff, now Scheeben is an authority?

    Scheeben’s mind reveled in speculating on Divine grace, the hypostatic union, the beatific vision, the all-pervading presence of God; he was a firm believer in visions granted to himself and others, and his piety was all-absorbing. Very few minds were attuned to his. His pupils were allegedly overawed by the steady flow of his long abstruse sentences which brought scanty light to their intellects; his colleagues and his friends but rarely disturbed the peace of the workroom where his spirit brooded over a chaos of literary matters.

    Seems pretty back bench when you have all that STM on which to draw. Infallibility anyone?

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  240. James Young, “so you and every Protestant church/body disclaim to “any type of authority or ability to identify/define divine revelation.” If you did claim such authority/ability, you wouldn’t actively reject Rome’s authority/ability, and you would offer irreformable dogma, not provisional teaching. But doing so would be inconsistent with your disclaimers.”

    So when Paul told Timothy:

    I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sounda teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    Should he have run this by Peter, his own bishop in Jerusalem? Why didn’t he bother to clear up the epistemological problem before telling Timothy to preach? And why didn’t he tell Timothy to check his STM?

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  241. b, sd, “Why *must* an authority be able to offer that revelation as infallible?”

    So James Young can feel superior to Protestants?

    So he can claim on judgment day that his church identified infallible dogma?

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  242. b, sd, WCF 31 also says that the power of synods is an ordinance of God even when not conformity to the word. The church has power because it is an institution that God established, sort of like a tyrant is a minister of God — something that all medieval theologians acknowledged.

    And look, a church can have authority without infallibility.

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  243. Darryl,

    imagine how provisional it was when Paul told Timothy to preach “the word.” Eee gads. What word?

    Easy. The word passed on is whatever the current Roman church says it is. Course, we really have no reason to trust them unless they say its infallible, and Lord knows they’re aren’t going to do that. But don’t worry, the infallible principled means is around and speaking clearly. Just ask Andrew Preslar.

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  244. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
    Cletus,

    I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but we are telling you that you aren’t correctly stating our position.

    More listening would help here.>>>>

    Actually, more defining of your terms would help, Jeff. I have Googled “provisional knowledge” and found it to be part of the philosophy of science. It is how scientists approach the information they gather and how they process that information. They conduct experiments; do studies; test hypotheses; modify their understanding; conduct more tests; do more studies; and so forth.

    They should always be willing to modify their understanding based on what they perceive to be the facts and the results of their experiments. In that way it is all provisional knowledge. They know that they will have to change their ideas as new information presents itself.

    You are taking that epistemology and applying it to Biblical studies. It is a search for truth, but one can never say with 100% certainty that the truth is ever found in an absolute way. Sure, truth is probably absolute, but our perception of it is never absolute or omniscient like God’s perception of Himself – or whatever.

    So, this epistemology based on the idea of all knowledge being provisional from a human point of view is all it is able to proffer. It really cannot be used to say anything about faith, since it is not about faith at all.

    We cannot say that a cow could never jump over the moon, or that the body of Jesus could never be found. We just don’t know for sure because we are not omniscient.

    I get it. I just don’t accept it. It is full of flaws, not the least of which is what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit’s ability to reveal truth to the spiritual man.

    Then, do I have to point out again that if everything we know is provisional in nature, then that applies to what you are saying. It applies to the epistemology itself.

    The epistemology of provisional knowledge itself claims to be able to explain everything about how knowledge is gathered and understood. Well, then, that makes the epistemology absolutist in its claims. It is a tacit claim to infallibility, then, and therefore self contradictory.

    The epistemology of provisional knowledge undermines the very idea of the Bible being the only infallible rule of faith and practice. The epistemology becomes the infallible rule, not the Bible.

    It tends towards unbelief because the epistemology of provisional knowledge presupposes skepticism which is antithetical to faith. The Bible presupposes faith as a requirement to receive and understand the truth of God’s Word. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:1ff)

    It is just wrong, Jeff and Robert, for matters of faith and practice. Give it up.

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  245. One might also first ask, does God’s revelation exist? Is it confined to writing alone? Is this writing to serve as the sole ultimate authority? Has revelation ended? Then after they answered that, they might ask what Scripture is. And all of the answers to these questions are offered as and remain provisional in your system.

    Nope and this is why you earn the right to be called Catholicus Von Doofus.
    You don’t get to claim that 2+2=4 is wrong, because I previously admitted I am not infallible.
    The veracity of 2+2=4 gets determined on it’s own merits, not your ability to traffic in non sequiturs.

    For that matter you aren’t infallible either, so your claim that 2+2=4 is wrong iwould itself automatically wrong.
    Get hoisted by your own petard much?

    IOW make up your mind. You either want to play ball or you want to brawl.
    (Though either way we are bold to say, you are going to lose, even if you claim you are doing the opposite of what you really are doing).

    This is not rocket science, Werner Von Braun.
    Stop flaming out.

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  246. Mermaid,

    Provisional knowledge is not originally our term. I’m only using it to indicate that human beings are fallible and that we remain fallible even once the Spirit grants us faith. The only people in history to attain infallibility are organs of divine revelation, and then it is not the person themselves but their words.

    I’ll say it again—CVD has admitted that under certain circumstances he would have to give up Christianity, one of those being the discovery of the body of Jesus. That indicates provisionality/fallibility/finitude. He has accepted in some provisional way that Christianity is true.

    You could go the route you are going and say that there is absolutely nothing that could cause you to stop being a Christian, but in order for that not to be cult like, you have to claim infallibility for yourself. But that requires absolute knowledge, which you will never have even in eternity.

    None of that means we can’t know what is true or that we can’t be certain in faith. All it is is a confession of human limitations. We aren’t God. That’s all it is.

    You all are all about faith and reason. Provisionality simply means “I can conceive of a scenario in which I could theoretically be wrong but I have no evidence or warrant to believe that I am.”

    You can’t absolutely rule out bats flying out of your nose (to borrow Jeff’s example) can you? There’s no scenario under which that would be impossible? Of course not. There are all kinds of scenarios under which I could see bats flying out of your nose or mine. Does that mean I am uncertain about it. No. I’m quite certain it will never happen.

    Are there theoretical scenarios under which I could conceive of Prots getting the canon wrong? Sure. Am I certain it will never happen? Yes, I’m quite certain that the Prots have gotten the canon correct. What’s my evidence for that—one among many is that Jesus thought the Jews had the canonicity of Genesis right and rightly trusted in it even though they had no infallible guide to tell them that.

    And my certainty/assurance is finally based not on my reading of the evidence but on the gift of the Spirit. Which is where you seem to be leaning but which Cletus says makes us Prots into Mormons. You guys need to have a meeting in order to figure out which it is.

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  247. Bob,

    The veracity of 2+2=4 gets determined on it’s own merits, not your ability to traffic in non sequiturs.

    Ding ding ding.

    Like

  248. Robert
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid,

    Provisional knowledge is not originally our term. >>>>>

    I know it is not. I have said that it is borrowed from the philosophy of science. It comes with its own set of presuppositions if you wish to talk like Van Til. The main one being that ultimate truth about any subject is unknowable. In fact, there very likely is no ultimate truth at all and all that we call truth is relative. The best investigators can do is make fairly accurate guesses based on knowledge that is obtained through experimentation and analysis of data. The knowledge obtained is provisional in that the hypotheses and theories are in constant need of modification as new data comes to light.

    In order for science to work, one has to assume that there even is such a thing as knowledge. There seems to be, so it seems to be safe to make that assumption. Nature probably consistently works in predictable ways. It seems to as far as we know. So, it is safe to assume that something called evidence and information can be gathered.

    The very idea of having an infallible rule of faith and practice is based on a different set of presuppositions.

    You invoked Van Til. He was all about presuppositions.

    Now, as you know, Karl Barth borrowed the epistemology of provisional knowledge for his theology. As you also must know, Van Til had no use for Barth’s epistemology.

    You have to decide which guy you will go with. The provisional knowledge of Karl Barth or the presuppositionalism of Van Til?

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  249. Darryl,

    Paul’s teaching wasn’t provisional. He didn’t offer it as such. He offered it as divinely protected from error. Which Protestant body guarantees its teachings are divinely protected from error? Which Protestant body affirms its teachings are infallible and irreformable and rejects its teachings are provisional or subject to revision?

    Bob,

    “You don’t get to claim that 2+2=4 is wrong, because I previously admitted I am not infallible.”

    I didn’t claim 2+2=4 or any of the teachings I outlined were wrong. I pointed out that they are offered as provisional in your system. Is 2+2=4 provisional for you? Do you hold room for doubt on 2+2=4?

    Robert,

    “I’m only using it to indicate that human beings are fallible and that we remain fallible even once the Spirit grants us faith.”

    Humans being fallible does not entail every belief they hold is and must be provisional or open to doubt/revision. This is skepticism.

    “You can’t absolutely rule out bats flying out of your nose (to borrow Jeff’s example) can you? ”

    Yes, we can, just as we can rule out cows jumping over the moon. You’re still presupposing skepticism.

    “Yes, I’m quite certain that the Prots have gotten the canon correct.”

    Is the extent and scope of the Protestant canon offered as irreformable and infallible teaching? Or is it taught as provisional and subject to revision?

    “And my certainty/assurance is finally based not on my reading of the evidence but on the gift of the Spirit.”

    So affirm the certitude of faith, instead of rejecting it as illegitimate or impossible. What would be different about your certainty/assurance if it was not based on the gift of the Spirit, but instead on the reading of the evidence?

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  250. Robert:
    You can’t absolutely rule out bats flying out of your nose (to borrow Jeff’s example) can you? >>>>>

    Holy batmobile, Robert! You wish! Actually, I can rule that out. There. I just did.

    Robert:
    And my certainty/assurance is finally based not on my reading of the evidence but on the gift of the Spirit. Which is where you seem to be leaning but which Cletus says makes us Prots into Mormons. You guys need to have a meeting in order to figure out which it is.>>>>

    Finally a Calvinist that talks more like one. 😉 Now, I don’t know what CvD said earlier, but the following is what he said now. :

    CvD:
    So affirm the certitude of faith, instead of rejecting it as illegitimate or impossible. What would be different about your certainty/assurance if it was not based on the gift of the Spirit, but instead on the reading of the evidence?>>>>>

    I like that. The certitude of faith. That is the gift God gives, the one that comes down from above like every other good and perfect gift. Eph. 2:1ff and James 1:17.

    Hey, see you later, D.V.

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  251. Come on, CVD, point out where WCF 1 errs.
    The DC are Scripture?
    Scripture includes M & T?
    The church is infallible?
    The Word of God didn’t call the church into existence, but the church the Word?
    The Vulgate is inspired?
    There are four meanings to Scripture?

    Didn’t think so.
    On the basis of Scripture alone, your attempt to reduce protestantism to nothing but ignorance, error and provisional poppycock doesn’t fly.

    Not that we couldn’t go on and on in this vein.
    The true church is built upon the possession of the holy apostolic bones, toenail clippings etc.?
    Transubstantiation, mariolatry and image worship is sanctioned, but not obligated in Scripture?

    Nice try though.
    Gotta ontologically admire the epistemological chutzpah.

    But what happened to your buddy Andrew?
    Is he sulking or just coaching you on the sly?

    cheers

    Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31,32

    And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. John 10:4,5

    And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3

    But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:20, 21

    And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 1 John 5:20

    Like

  252. DVC, w. Jeff and Robert, I have never argued that 2+2=4 is provisional in the skeptical sense that you continually proffer. That is your weasel word term and your argument. Not mine. You need to own it.

    But since as you admitted, you’re fallible.
    So maybe the little green men from Mars really are putting thoughts in your head when you aren’t looking.
    Yup, that would explain it.

    Like

  253. (Sorry the weasels objected and threatened a lawsuit.)

    That is your specious term and your argument. Not mine. You need to own it.

    But since as you admitted, you’re fallible.
    So maybe the little green red men from Mars really are putting thoughts in your head when you aren’t looking.
    Yup, that would explain it.

    Like

  254. Bob,

    “Come on, CVD, point out where WCF 1 errs.”

    Is the teaching of WCF 1 offered as provisional and subject to revision in your system? Or is it offered as infallible teaching?

    “DVC, w. Jeff and Robert, I have never argued that 2+2=4 is provisional in the skeptical sense ”

    So 2+2=4 is not provisional? Jeff and Robert have argued that the impossibility of bats flying out noses and cows jumping over the moon are provisionally taught and known; we can’t rule it out. So do you rule out the possibility that 2+2=4 is false?

    Thank you for the citations of John. They affirm the certitude of faith. Something your side continues to argue is illegitimate and impossible.

    Like

  255. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
    Cletus,

    I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but we are telling you that you aren’t correctly stating our position.

    More listening would help here.

    At Called to Communion they don’t whine about being misunderstood. They try and try to get their argument across.

    At Old Life they flatter themselves that they’re misunderstood, as if what they’re saying is some sort of genius theology that eludes people who read Augustine and Aquinas. Their biggest fear is to be NOT misunderstood, for that would show them for the pretentious mediocrities they are.

    I notice Professor Dr. Darryl G. Hart PhD steers way clear of your “provisionality” theologizing. His conspicuous lack of support is confirmation that you’re bullshit, bro.

    Stop fighting with the Catholics. Ask Darryl Hart to support what you’re saying. He will not.

    He laughs at you like he laughs at everyone else, you poor fool.

    Like

  256. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    CVD: Divine revelation is infallible as everyone agrees. So a system identifying something as divine revelation, then at the same time saying anything it identifies or defines is provisional and subject to revision and can only be at best “99%” likely or whatever arbitrary number you want to pull out is incompatible with the supposed ability to identify divine revelation – whatever is being identified isn’t divine revelation, by its own standard.

    This is not self-evident.

    CVD takes the time to quote Aquinas and Jeff ignores it, then Jeff steals my “self-evident” line when what CVD said is clearly self-evident.

    Old Life rules! Darryl Hart has taught his minions well. You must be so proud, D, especially since Jeff’s BS theology would get you thrown out of your own church.

    Aquinas:
    Objection 1. It would seem that faith is not more certain than science and the other intellectual virtues. For doubt is opposed to certitude, wherefore a thing would seem to be the more certain, through being less doubtful, just as a thing is the whiter, the less it has of an admixture of black. Now understanding, science and also wisdom are free of any doubt about their objects; whereas the believer may sometimes suffer a movement of doubt, and doubt about matters of faith. Therefore faith is no more certain than the intellectual virtues.

    Objection 2. Further, sight is more certain than hearing. But “faith is through hearing” according to Romans 10:17; whereas understanding, science and wisdom imply some kind of intellectual sight. Therefore science and understanding are more certain than faith.

    Reply to Objection 1. This doubt is not on the side of the cause of faith, but on our side, in so far as we do not fully grasp matters of faith with our intellect.

    Reply to Objection 2. Other things being equal sight is more certain than hearing; but if (the authority of) the person from whom we hear greatly surpasses that of the seer’s sight, hearing is more certain than sight: thus a man of little science is more certain about what he hears on the authority of an expert in science, than about what is apparent to him according to his own reason: and much more is a man certain about what he hears from God, Who cannot be deceived, than about what he sees with his own reason, which can be mistaken.

    and, showing how a believer can be in error and still hold faith as opposed to a heretic who is also in error without faith:
    “if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error.”

    and more on certitude:
    “It is necessary for man to accept by faith not only things which are above reason, but also those which can be known by reason: and this for three motives. First, in order that man may arrive more quickly at the knowledge of Divine truth. Because the science to whose province it belongs to prove the existence of God, is the last of all to offer itself to human research, since it presupposes many other sciences: so that it would not by until late in life that man would arrive at the knowledge of God. The second reason is, in order that the knowledge of God may be more general. For many are unable to make progress in the study of science, either through dullness of mind, or through having a number of occupations, and temporal needs, or even through laziness in learning, all of whom would be altogether deprived of the knowledge of God, unless Divine things were brought to their knowledge under the guise of faith. The third reason is for the sake of certitude. For human reason is very deficient in things concerning God. A sign of this is that philosophers in their researches, by natural investigation, into human affairs, have fallen into many errors, and have disagreed among themselves. And consequently, in order that men might have knowledge of God, free of doubt and uncertainty, it was necessary for Divine matters to be delivered to them by way of faith, being told to them, as it were, by God Himself Who cannot lie.”

    Smith again:
    Aquinas:
    Objection 1. It would seem that faith is not more certain than science and the other intellectual virtues. For doubt is opposed to certitude, wherefore a thing would seem to be the more certain, through being less doubtful, just as a thing is the whiter, the less it has of an admixture of black. Now understanding, science and also wisdom are free of any doubt about their objects; whereas the believer may sometimes suffer a movement of doubt, and doubt about matters of faith. Therefore faith is no more certain than the intellectual virtues.

    Objection 2. Further, sight is more certain than hearing. But “faith is through hearing” according to Romans 10:17; whereas understanding, science and wisdom imply some kind of intellectual sight. Therefore science and understanding are more certain than faith.

    Reply to Objection 1. This doubt is not on the side of the cause of faith, but on our side, in so far as we do not fully grasp matters of faith with our intellect.

    Reply to Objection 2. Other things being equal sight is more certain than hearing; but if (the authority of) the person from whom we hear greatly surpasses that of the seer’s sight, hearing is more certain than sight: thus a man of little science is more certain about what he hears on the authority of an expert in science, than about what is apparent to him according to his own reason: and much more is a man certain about what he hears from God, Who cannot be deceived, than about what he sees with his own reason, which can be mistaken.

    and, showing how a believer can be in error and still hold faith as opposed to a heretic who is also in error without faith:
    “if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error.”

    and more on certitude:
    “It is necessary for man to accept by faith not only things which are above reason, but also those which can be known by reason: and this for three motives. First, in order that man may arrive more quickly at the knowledge of Divine truth. Because the science to whose province it belongs to prove the existence of God, is the last of all to offer itself to human research, since it presupposes many other sciences: so that it would not by until late in life that man would arrive at the knowledge of God. The second reason is, in order that the knowledge of God may be more general. For many are unable to make progress in the study of science, either through dullness of mind, or through having a number of occupations, and temporal needs, or even through laziness in learning, all of whom would be altogether deprived of the knowledge of God, unless Divine things were brought to their knowledge under the guise of faith. The third reason is for the sake of certitude. For human reason is very deficient in things concerning God. A sign of this is that philosophers in their researches, by natural investigation, into human affairs, have fallen into many errors, and have disagreed among themselves. And consequently, in order that men might have knowledge of God, free of doubt and uncertainty, it was necessary for Divine matters to be delivered to them by way of faith, being told to them, as it were, by God Himself Who cannot lie.”

    Like

  257. BobS, have you ever noticed Darryl Hart avoids you like the plague?

    He clearly thinks you’re an embarrassment but as long as you do his dirty work against the Catholic Church he lets you rant on.

    If you actually want a conversation, you should try to talk to him about all your ideas instead of spitting all over the Catholics. Good luck with that, you poor tool. You’re being used, brother.

    Bob S
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:11 am | Permalink
    Come on, CVD, point out where WCF 1 errs.
    The DC are Scripture?
    Scripture includes M & T?
    The church is infallible?
    The Word of God didn’t call the church into existence, but the church the Word?
    The Vulgate is inspired?
    There are four meanings to Scripture?

    Didn’t think so.
    On the basis of Scripture alone, your attempt to reduce protestantism to nothing but ignorance, error and provisional poppycock doesn’t fly.

    Not that we couldn’t go on and on in this vein.
    The true church is built upon the possession of the holy apostolic bones, toenail clippings etc.?
    Transubstantiation, mariolatry and image worship is sanctioned, but not obligated in Scripture?

    Nice try though.
    Gotta ontologically admire the epistemological chutzpah.

    But what happened to your buddy Andrew?
    Is he sulking or just coaching you on the sly?

    cheers

    Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31,32

    And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. John 10:4,5

    And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3

    But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:20, 21

    And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 1 John 5:20

    Bob S
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:21 am | Permalink
    DVC, w. Jeff and Robert, I have never argued that 2+2=4 is provisional in the skeptical sense that you continually proffer. That is your weasel word term and your argument. Not mine. You need to own it.

    But since as you admitted, you’re fallible.
    So maybe the little green men from Mars really are putting thoughts in your head when you aren’t looking.
    Yup, that would explain it.

    Bob S
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:26 am | Permalink
    (Sorry the weasels objected and threatened a lawsuit.)

    That is your specious term and your argument. Not mine. You need to own it.

    But since as you admitted, you’re fallible.
    So maybe the little green red men from Mars really are putting thoughts in your head when you aren’t looking.
    Yup, that would explain it.

    Like

  258. Clete,

    Humans being fallible does not entail every belief they hold is and must be provisional or open to doubt/revision. This is skepticism.

    So you have absolute knowledge? You have comprehensive understanding of all facts and how all facts relate to all other facts?

    There’s also an equivocation between doubt and revision. They aren’t identical.

    And in any case, you have said that under certain conditions you would leave the RCC. Your submission therefore has a degree of provisionality. Until you can tell me that there is no possible scenario under which you would give up the RCC or Christianity, then the belief you hold is provisional and open to revision.

    Yes, we can, just as we can rule out cows jumping over the moon. You’re still presupposing skepticism.

    Yes we can rule out cows jumping over the moon, but I cannot say absolutely that they will never develop a genetic mutation that will convey upon them all the abilities necessary to do so. I don’t have absolute knowledge of what is possible genetically.

    But in any case, no one is offering any scientific theory as irreformable and infallible teaching. And yet you base your life in large measure on the assumption that if you jump off a cliff, you’ll hit the ground.

    Is the extent and scope of the Protestant canon offered as irreformable and infallible teaching? Or is it taught as provisional and subject to revision?

    In all I’ve read on the subject, the question “Did we get it right?” is always answered basically in this way: “Well, I can imagine some scenario under which we might have to tinker with the canon but we have no good reason to believe this scenario will ever take place.”

    Kind of like your admission that you would leave Rome if she would contradict herself but then you go right on to say “Rome can’t deny the Trinity.”

    So affirm the certitude of faith, instead of rejecting it as illegitimate or impossible.

    I still am not sure what certitude of faith means in the RC system. If certitude of faith means that there is no conceivable scenario under which I could have gotten things wrong, which seems to be what Mermaid is confessing, then no I don’t affirm it.

    What would be different about your certainty/assurance if it was not based on the gift of the Spirit, but instead on the reading of the evidence?

    Certainty based only on the reading of the evidence is impossible. Induction has its place, but it is no final foundation. Which is why the WCF and other Prot confessions affirm the illumination/convincing power of the Holy Spirit.

    Like

  259. James Young, “Which Protestant body guarantees its teachings are divinely protected from error? Which Protestant body affirms its teachings are infallible and irreformable and rejects its teachings are provisional or subject to revision?”

    Timothy didn’t ask Paul those questions when Paul referred to “the word.”

    Weak sauce. Cool.

    Like

  260. Bob, James Young asks, “Is the teaching of WCF 1 offered as provisional and subject to revision in your system?”

    He wins.

    God will welcome him on judgment day for “winning”.

    Like

  261. CVD,

    There is a massive disconnect for me in your discussion of ontology and epistemology. Let me see if i get this right:

    Ontology

    Catholic: God’s Word exists (and is confirmed by MOC)
    Protestant: God’s Word exists (and is confirmed by MOC)

    Epistemology

    Catholic: God’s Word is *unknown* without an infallible interpreter
    Protestant: God’s Word is *known* with a fallible interpreter.

    So Protestants affirm that God’s word exists and is knowable, yet, you say,

    Humans being fallible does not entail every belief they hold is and must be provisional or open to doubt/revision. This is skepticism.

    As far as I am aware, this is a novel definition of the word “skepticism.” Why do you define skepticism as disclaiming infallible knowledge?

    In the Stanford encyclopedia entry on skepticism there is a helpful introductory passage which explains there is a difference between ordinary incredulity and and philosophical skepticism. Channeling and quoting Wittgenstein the article notes,

    The point here is that in this case, and in all ordinary cases of incredulity, the grounds for the doubt can, in principle, be removed. As Wittgenstein would say, doubt occurs within the context of things undoubted. If something is doubted, something else must be held fast because doubt presupposes that there are means of removing the doubt.[2] We doubt that the bird is a robin because, at least in part, we think we know how robins typically fly and what their typical coloration is. That is, we think our general picture of the world is right—or right enough—so that it does provide us with both the grounds for doubt and the means for potentially removing the doubt. Thus, ordinary incredulity about some feature of the world occurs against a background of sequestered beliefs about the world. We are not doubting that we have any knowledge of the world. Far from it, we are presupposing that we do know some things about the world. To quote Wittgenstein, “A doubt without an end is not even a doubt” (Wittgenstein 1969, ¶ 625).

    Using Wittgenstein’s categories, the type of “provisionality” that we are talking about is “ordinary incredulity” and not philosophical skepticism.

    As I understand your position, however, regarding the clarity & function of Scripture, it appears to be entrenched in the same type of foundationalist skepticism as Descartes. Without certain (AKA infallible) knowledge, everything else supposedly unprincipled. You need to build the indubitable foundation and build from there. The less clear things, like the Assumption of Mary, are built upon the edifice of your indubitable foundation.

    I understand that you’re not talking about all knowledge in general, but of Divine revelation in particular, which distinguishes your views from Descartes, but they are remarkably similar, IMO. This is why I find it confounding that you continue to claim Protestants are skeptics. It seems such a label applies more appropriately to the position you are advocating than Protestantism.

    Like

  262. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink
    Mermaid, “I have Googled “provisional knowledge” and found it to be part of the philosophy of science.”

    Is that an infallible website?>>>>>

    Who is your homeboy? Barth or Machen? Does Westminster Seminary still have the same position they used to have on Karl Barth? Have they now accepted his epistemology of provisional knowledge?

    Like

  263. @TLM

    Provisional knowledge is not originally our term. >>>>>
    I know it is not. I have said that it is borrowed from the philosophy of science.

    You misunderstand. CVD has asserted that the implication of the WCF is that it is provisional. If by provisional he has in mind conditional, which is what I understood him to mean originally, then of course – our beliefs are conditional on being consonant with God’s Word. This is our “disclaimer”. If by provisional, he has in mind that our beliefs are a temporary place holder until we change our mind, then our views are absolutely *not* provisional. This is why I noted earlier that falsifiable or conditional are better descriptors.

    So I’ll say it again – our beliefs are conditional on being consonant with the Word of God. This is always true. Our belief that Jesus rose from the dead, bodily and literally, derives from the gospel accounts and Paul’s words in 1Cor15. If Paul had written in 1Cor15 that the stories of Christ’s resurrection were just metaphors for how we need to be self sacrificing, then our doctrine would have to be reformed. But he didn’t say that, so our view doesn’t need to be reformed. But it remains conditional on the Biblical account. This is the “disclaimer” that cvd asserts makes all of our beliefs provisional which is of course nonsense.

    Like

  264. Is the teaching of WCF 1 offered as provisional and subject to revision in your system?

    WCF 1 is conditional on being consonant with the scriptures. If the scriptures said something other than what they say, then of course the WCF would have to be revised.

    Like

  265. You’re not just identifying the data. The teaching that the Protestant canon is the “data” is just one of the many starting doctrines of Protestantism I listed – all of which remain provisional.

    No! All of those items derive from scripture and are conditional on scripture being properly read. Provisional is the wrong word here as I said before. It obscures rather than clarifies.

    It’s special pleading to assert that the teaching of the identification of the data is not provisional, but the teaching of any interpretation of that data after identification is provisional. The disclaimers of WCF 31.4 and 25.5 apply just as much to the identification of the data and the other starting doctrines I listed as they do to interpretations of that data after the fact. And considering your SS position entails those starting doctrines are derived by “good and necessary consequence” from Scripture – that is the *interpretation* of Scripture, it is special pleading to then exempt those doctrines when you already freely admit that any teaching derived from “interpreting the data” is provisional. It’s inconsistent and special pleading.

    The identification of God’s word is in a different class from what God’s word teaches. I didn’t claim that all of those other doctrines were exempt being consistent with scripture. The measuring stick is scripture – it has to be treated differently than the things it is measuring. I know you think you are on to something here, but you are utterly misconstruing the WCF.

    “When someone happens across a bible that knows nothing of the church, that bible does not cease to be God’s word until someone comes along and says so.”

    No one has argued that. That Bible someone finds came from an authority that claims the ability to identify/define infallible revelation – whether the person acknowledges it or not. What if someone comes across a gnostic or marcionite bible, or a bible with no asterisks on the disputed passages, or one with the deuterocanonicals? Is that God’s word?

    That authority is the Holy Spirit of course.

    “Sure I do. He speaks directly to me through his Word.”
    So you have the authority and ability to define/identify divine revelation? Have you exercised it and let others know they should listen to you by virtue of your direct revelation you are recieving from God? Are others who disagree with you not receiving direct revelation?

    Of course. As a father, I am instructed to teach my family God’s Word and thus have the authority to identify God’s Word and teach it to them. I do so fallibly, but God has ordained that fathers do this. They should listen to me by virtue of the authority God has given (children obey your parents). The direct revelation I receive from God is none other than his Word that I teach them. Their submission to my teaching is conditional on it being consistent with God’s word. If they disagree with this then they are not obeying God’s direct revelation to them…

    “What’s a submitting agent in this context? I presume that’s the church?”
    No. It’s those following the church. The church isn’t fallible in identifying/defining divine revelation contra WCF. That’s the point.

    But of course the church is the body of all believers and we are fallible. We err – just like Peter did. When we stray from what God’s word teaches, we have to be corrected and drawn back (by the Holy Spirit speaking through God’s living and active word).

    “Here is how the Westminster Divines put it:”
    Which is offered as nothing more than provisional.

    No. It is conditional on being consonant with God’s Word. So just like the Bereans were commended for testing Paul to make sure what he said was consonant with the scriptures they had and John instructed his followers to test the teachings as false teachers arise, and that we are not to be bound by traditions of men, but solely by the word of God – the teachings of councils and other church leaders are conditional on being consonant with the word of God.

    “Of course I don’t always listen so well (sin) or understand so well, so he gives us the church to teach us and so forth. But that church isn’t infallible.”
    Right. The church isn’t infallible in Protestantism. WCF 31.4 and 25.5. So it rejects the authority/ability to identify or define divine revelation – all teaching, not just interpretations, remains provisional.

    The church does not reject the authority or the ability to identify divine revelation. All teaching is the interpretation of scripture and remains conditional on being consonant with the Word of God.

    “Whatever is taught by people must be judged against the scriptures.”

    Which is a teaching that itself is admitted as provisional in your system. Thus it cannot be divine revelation, given we both agree divine revelation is infallible by definition.

    Like

  266. sdb:
    So I’ll say it again – our beliefs are conditional on being consonant with the Word of God. This is always true. Our belief that Jesus rose from the dead, bodily and literally, derives from the gospel accounts and Paul’s words in 1Cor15. If Paul had written in 1Cor15 that the stories of Christ’s resurrection were just metaphors for how we need to be self sacrificing, then our doctrine would have to be reformed. But he didn’t say that, so our view doesn’t need to be reformed. But it remains conditional on the Biblical account. This is the “disclaimer” that cvd asserts makes all of our beliefs provisional which is of course nonsense.>>>>>

    Howdy, sdb,

    How’s it going? All is well here.

    What you say is what I understood the function of the WCF to be. What I don’t recognize as Reformed is what Robert and Jeff are arguing when applied specifically to the resurrection. Thank you for your strong statement about the Gospel – 1 Cor. 15:1ff.

    I would ask you this. Why do you need the WCF when the Apostle Paul clearly states in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ died for our sins, was buried, rose again the 3rd day, then appeared to a series of eye witnesses? The evidence is in the NT. You claim the Bible as the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

    Okay, here’s something else that is bothering me. Is the Bible itself reformable? Do you really trust the Bible you have in your hands as being the infallible Word of God? I think that the average non Catholic Bible Christian sitting in the pews thinks they have the infallible Word of God in their hands. Is that just an illusion for them?

    The WCF did not give you the Bible, so what role does it play in defining the canon of Scripture? Also, what good is an infallible rule that may not be communicated to us infallibly because we do not have the autographs?

    BTW, I liked studying Reformed theology and was built up in my faith by doing so. I love many of the Reformed teachers and preachers, especially those associated with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. I am grateful to them all, esp. Dr. James Boice and Dr. Carson.

    I keep going back to Peter Kreft’s testimony. What can I say? Like him, I fell in love with the Whore of Babylon. Well, I obviously don’t have the learning that he has or the learning or brains that you guys have. I recognize that, but I can learn stuff.

    Here is something I really love about the Catholic Church.

    “For everyone is to have faith and few can be learned, and their learning doesn’t give them a superior kind of faith. Everyone is to run: and few are road sweepers.”
    – G.E.M. Anscombe

    Like

  267. Brandon,

    Can cows jump over the moon or bats fly out of your nose? Do you rule that out? Or do you only hold to it provisionally and leave room for correction? When someone asks you if cows can jump over the moon, do you reply “Based on all the evidence we have so far, it would seem that the answer to your question would be no.”
    If someone says we can rule out cows can jump over the moon, do you reply “Have you examined every possible cow? Has anyone? Is that even possible?”

    Do you agree with others that “Reason isn’t a realm of neutrality”
    and that “Christ’s resurrection is evidence for Christianity only if you accept the Apostolic interpretation of the event. Otherwise, it’s just an as yet unexplained event.”
    and “[Facts/evidence] are meaningless without interpretation and chiefly without God’s interpretation of them”
    and that “Maybe [Christ] just came to life through heretofore undiscovered natural means”
    and that “the heart cannot restart by its own power after three or more days of the person being dead … is something that one believes because one has accepted the biblical or ecclesiastical interpretation of the return of Christ from the grave. No one has done enough research, and probably cannot do enough research to prove conclusively that the heart cannot restart three days after it has stopped.”

    Like

  268. @TLM

    I would ask you this. Why do you need the WCF when the Apostle Paul clearly states in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ died for our sins, was buried, rose again the 3rd day, then appeared to a series of eye witnesses? The evidence is in the NT. You claim the Bible as the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

    As the WCF states in Article 1, not everything in scripture is equally clear. The fact that this passage is clear and the resurrection is clear doesn’t mean everything is. So fast forwarding to Article 31, councils have the authority to resolve controversies. Of course our submission to that authority is contingent on being inline with God’s Word.

    lunch time is over…more later…maybe.

    Like

  269. CVD: Can cows jump over the moon or bats fly out of your nose?

    No and no.

    CVD: Do you rule that out?

    Yes.

    CVD: Or do you only hold to it provisionally and leave room for correction?

    Also yes.

    See, this is where familiarity with inductive reasoning would really help you.

    Like

  270. Jeff,

    Here’s what I’ve heard your position is:
    JRC: “Divine revelation is infallible.”
    “What provisionality means… For a Protestant, it simply means “revisable in theory.””
    “So if we find something that is provisional, we understand that its provisionality is human, not divine.”
    “For the Protestant, being authorized confers the right in the temporal realm to render judgment, but not the ability to define truth.”
    “The canon is our best effort at identifying the Scripture. Its accuracy is provisional.”
    “Translations are our best effort at rendering meaning. Their accuracy is provisional.”
    “Exegesis and sermons are our best efforts at communicating meaning. Their accuracy is provisional.”
    “I do have a problem affirming the “certitude of faith” in the sense you mean it. ”
    “On the theological side, I think the kind of certitude you demand is really a demand for God to remove our “seeing through a glass darkly.” You want a kind of knowledge that we can’t have, yet have wanted since Eve was tempted.”
    “Belief on the basis of authority is a logical fallacy. God Himself, who is omniscient and cannot lie, is an infallible authority.”
    “Which is only a problem IF being able to “define or identify infallible or irreformable dogma” is a necessary condition for articles of faith. In the Protestant system, it is not”
    “In the Protestant system, claiming to be able to “define or identify infallible or irreformable dogma” is not even possible for fallible humans.”
    “CVD: Further, can you give me an irreformable doctrine then?
    – JRC: It’s hard to answer your question”
    “CVD: Then they also assert: “All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. …” Which of course includes the WCF itself and men behind it and Article 1. So the disclaimer applies not only to you, but to any confessional and Protestant church teaching, including any identification and interpretation of Scripture they offer.
    – JRC: Naturally. Who’s on first.”
    “If 99.9% is not good enough for you, then I have bad news.”
    “An inductively derived proposition with 99.9999% confidence (which is the confidence level required in particle physics) is not certain”
    “[The claim that] it is highly likely beyond any reasonable doubt that the Protestant canon is the correct identification of the Word of God … is provisional.”
    “CVD: Everything is and remains provisional. That’s not a “problem” for you. That’s fine, but it’s a stunning admission.
    JRC: Stunning? Our “side” admitted that in 1647 at the latest. Where have you been, my man?”

    WCF:
    “All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”
    “The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan.”

    Like

  271. Jeff,

    So you might be wrong about cows’ inability to fly over the moon and bats flying out of your nose. Is there anything you might not be wrong about?

    Like

  272. Clete,

    You are missing my point. My point is that the final reason why I believe in the resurrection is not empirical evidence but because of the testimony of God Himself. The motives of credibility in your system can’t carry the weight that Bryan thinks they can unless he adds to them the testimony of the church. Thus, Rome in the end confesses something very similar to self-authentication.

    The resurrection in itself doesn’t prove Christianity. God could have raised Jesus and the Apostles could have been completely wrong that such proves His deity/Messiahship. It could just prove that Jesus was a special man whom God loved very much. It could just be a heretofore unexplained medical event. People have been revived after being dead even hours later. Actually clinically dead and then back to life. As far as I know, we have no medical documentation of someone coming back to life as long as a few days later, but it also could be that their was a unique combination of factors in the case of Jesus’ death that haven’t been replicated and which could extend the possible time of resuscitation longer than just mere hours.

    Only if you accept the authority of the Apostles and their infallibility is the resurrection indisputable proof for Christianity. In your case, you add the church as a necessary agent to accept the authority of the Apostles and their infallibility, but no matter, the result is the same. The reason why you believe the resurrection proves Christianity is because you have accepted someone else’s interpretation of the evidence. The evidence doesn’t “speak” for itself.

    You can sit down with a Jewish person and talk about fulfilled Messianic prophecies until you are blue in the face, but unless they accept Jesus’ and the Apostle’s authority, they will not believe that said prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus. And I’m talking about a Jewish person who is reasonable and willing to weigh the evidence as objectively as possible. They aren’t “motives of credibility” without the interpretation.

    Rome must offer the motives of credibility and tell you what they mean AND you have to accept Rome’s definition and interpretation in order for them to be credible. No such thing as brute facts.

    Like

  273. It does occur to me that CVD’s argument really helps us understand why the church did what it did with Galileo. The Roman church ultimately claims to possess absolute knowledge, it claims to know as God knows. It has to if it wants to sustain its claims. So along comes Galileo who dares to question the notion that the church has absolute knowledge…

    Like

  274. I’m wondering if the inability to grasp the arguments by the Romanists here is supposed to be an object lesson for protestants. No matter how clear or how often you make your point, some people just can’t grasp it. Sola Scriptura, therefore, can’t be true, and the evidence is right before our noses. Some people need to be told explicitly how to think because understanding written communication on one’s own is completely unattainable for some people.

    Anyway, I think it is remarkable how this debate continues on when I don’t know how both sides could be considered to be making arguments in good faith. Props to you folks. I’m of the opinion that when someone resorts to rhetoric after argument that they are indicating that they have lost the argument and are trying to hide the fact. This happens time and time again here.

    Like

  275. CVD,

    You’re carrying on a number of conversations, but let’s take a step back so we can move forward in the right direction together.

    When you are charging Protestants with skepticism you’re thinking of something, but I’m not quite sure what it is. Based on conventional understandings of “skepticism,” your arguments border on a form of philosophical skepticism–Cartesian foundationalism. Can you explain what you mean when you claim Protestants are skeptics?

    My proposal is that you do these two things:

    1. Provide substantiation from an external source [to verify for me this is not idiosyncratic]
    2. An explanation of why the Protestant position is “skepticism” and how your paradigm avoids it [We affirm our epistemology provides meaningful understanding of ontology. You claim that your epistemology cannot (due to revelations supernatural origin) lead to an understanding of ontology unless it it is grounded in an external, infallible epistemological source.]

    Like

  276. CVD,

    I’ll read up, but you still haven’t addressed the question. And in reading the intro and conclusion, it seems that the linked article merely discusses the perils of Descartes mental exercise. I agree Descartes desire to identify an irrefutable foundation for all other beliefs is a form of skepticism, but this is precisely what I believe you’re doing. If you could provide even a summary argument of why this is not the case, it’d be helpful as a starting point.

    Like

  277. Joel
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
    I’m wondering if the inability to grasp the arguments by the Romanists here is supposed to be an object lesson for protestants. No matter how clear or how often you make your point, some people just can’t grasp it.>>>>>

    Actually, I have a pretty good grasp on what both Robert and Jeff are saying. If I don’t, then please tell me where I misunderstood. What I do with it is reject it specifically as it relates to the Gospel – 1 Cor. 15:1ff. Putting the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the category of provisional knowledge is really a reflection not of man’s inability to grasp truth in an infallible way.

    It is a statement about God’s inability to communicate infallible truth in an infallible way to the heart and mind of the spiritual man. Even the spiritual man is supposed to hold the fact of the resurrection provisionally.

    That is not faith. That is skepticism. You don’t get it. Not only that, but the infallible Word of God is infallible only in theory. We have it until further studies are done and the textual critics tell us that what we have is probably the real Bible – within a margin of error of maybe 2%. That’s good enough.

    Well, it’s good enough if you are willing to admit that what you have in your hands is not the infallible rule of faith and practice. You cannot know that rule. It is hidden from you. It exists out there somewhere. You are searching for it like Mulder and Scully.

    Joel:
    Sola Scriptura, therefore, can’t be true, and the evidence is right before our noses.>>>>

    Sola Scriptura cannot be an infallible rule of faith and practice. It can come within an acceptable margin of error, which makes it infallible only in theory – only provisionally.

    Joel:
    Some people need to be told explicitly how to think because understanding written communication on one’s own is completely unattainable for some people.>>>>

    Oh, come on, Joel. Don’t sell yourselves short. In spite of all the efforts to obscure what is being said, the message has come across. I get it. I reject it.

    Joel:
    Anyway, I think it is remarkable how this debate continues on when I don’t know how both sides could be considered to be making arguments in good faith. Props to you folks. I’m of the opinion that when someone resorts to rhetoric after argument that they are indicating that they have lost the argument and are trying to hide the fact. This happens time and time again here.>>>

    Oh, it’s not about good or bad faith. It is about disagreement. I honestly disagree with my brothers here. In fact, sdb is the only one so far that makes a recognizably Reformed argument.

    When you have some of your guys arguing that the faith in the ressurrection of Jesus Christ is only based on our ability to grasp the information provisionally, then I am shocked that more of you don’t jump in quickly to correct that grave error.

    Well, unless you have all gone neo orthodox and don’t even know it. I suppose neo orthodoxy is a logical progression even for Reformed theologians.

    Like

  278. Brandon Addison
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
    CVD,

    I’ll read up, but you still haven’t addressed the question. And in reading the intro and conclusion, it seems that the linked article merely discusses the perils of Descartes mental exercise. I agree Descartes desire to identify an irrefutable foundation for all other beliefs is a form of skepticism, but this is precisely what I believe you’re doing. If you could provide even a summary argument of why this is not the case, it’d be helpful as a starting point.

    The Holy Spirit guides the Church. The rest is details.

    Protestants rely on their own reason, which explains why they have dozens or 100s of competing versions of the Christian religion.

    Like

  279. Tom,

    I know you want fairness and consistent from the Protestant side, so hopefully you can at least concede I want to affirm the Holy Spirit guides the church. I don’t believe, however, the Spirit’s guidance makes the church (or, even more specifically, one bishop in one geographic locale) infallible.

    CVD,

    One thing I also forgot to mention is if you could disambiguate your use of the term “skepticism.” Understanding what you mean by it is important for the conversation to move forward, IMO.

    Like

  280. Mermaid,

    It is a statement about God’s inability to communicate infallible truth in an infallible way to the heart and mind of the spiritual man.

    That sounds an awful lot like infallible assurance, which we all accept on the Reformed side but which Rome says is impossible for anyone except certain saints.

    Like

  281. Brandon Addison
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    I know you want fairness and consistent from the Protestant side, so hopefully you can at least concede I want to affirm the Holy Spirit guides the church. I don’t believe, however, the Spirit’s guidance makes the church (or, even more specifically, one bishop in one geographic locale) infallible.

    __________________

    Goes without saying. Personal subjective religious beliefs are not at issue here, only clarifying positions.

    Like

  282. Brandon,

    “the type of “provisionality” that we are talking about is “ordinary incredulity””

    Okay, is there any belief you hold as non-provisional?

    “Without certain (AKA infallible) knowledge, everything else supposedly unprincipled. ”

    No. Without an infallible authority, there is no principled way to distinguish provisional opinion from infallible divine revelation. RCs are not the ones confusing order of being with order of knowing.

    “This is why I find it confounding that you continue to claim Protestants are skeptics”

    I am not calling all Protestants skeptics. I am calling people who aren’t sure whether cows can jump over the moon skeptics. As I said before, Robert is repeating the same assertions that Bryan and others took time to show led to skepticism and self-refutation – http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2013/11/lawrence-feingold-the-motives-of-credibility-for-faith/#comment-147179 at comment 69 onwards to the end.

    “It seems such a label applies more appropriately to the position you are advocating than Protestantism.”

    This could be taken 2 ways. Either RCism itself endorses skepticism by virtue of its affirmation of the certitude of faith and its concept of faith and infallibility and authority. This would entail Augustine, Newman, Aquinas, Vatican 1, various papal condemnations, Trent, Scheeben, Smith, Catholic Encyclopedia who have all been cited in support of the RC position concerning certitude and infallibility and faith endorse skepticism. This would also mean the catholic author of the article I linked to above refuting skepticism in the light of Thomism was oblivious to the skepticism he was really endorsing by being a Catholic.
    Or, you think RCism’s affirmations of infallibility and certitude of faith do not endorse skepticism, but the position I am advocating does – i.e. the arguments made are expendable and not reflective of or integral to the RC system.

    If the latter is the case, I would like to know where the skepticism lies in this point I made earlier:

    Divine revelation is infallible as everyone agrees. So a system identifying something as divine revelation [if it was unclear, I mean not only the canon and nature of Scripture, but all doctrines of faith], then at the same time saying anything it identifies or defines is provisional and subject to revision and can only be at best “99%” likely or whatever arbitrary number you want to pull out is incompatible with the supposed ability to identify divine revelation – whatever is being identified isn’t divine revelation, by its own standard.

    or
    JRC: It has been argued here by CVD and Tom and you and Mermaid that it is improper to place faith in anything known provisionally.
    CVD: No its been argued it is improper to place faith in anything offered as admittedly provisional. Thus the contrast between RC and Protestant claims.

    Like

  283. Robert
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid,

    It is a statement about God’s inability to communicate infallible truth in an infallible way to the heart and mind of the spiritual man.

    That sounds an awful lot like infallible assurance, which we all accept on the Reformed side but which Rome says is impossible for anyone except certain saints.>>>>>

    How can you accept infallible assurance if the knowledge it is based on is always provisional? Maybe you need to explain how you are using the term “provisional.” There are lotsa’ words, but where is your definition of terms?

    I went ahead and found a definition on my own based on what y’all are saying. As far as I can tell, you are borrowing the term from the philosophy of science and using it for matters of faith. My “whoa Nelly” has to do with the Gospel – 1 Cor. 15:1ff. You cannot put that in a category of provisional knowledge. It is not delivered to us that way. It has to be communicated and received infallibly or you cannot even begin to call the result “faith.”

    Then there’s that Barth and neo orthodoxy “thing” that I hope y’all will clear up.

    I don’t care about cows and moons, bats and noses. Though those images are both humorous and disturbing.

    Now, I think you misunderstand the Catholic concept. The focus of our sainthood is on the grace of perseverance. Yours is, too, but Calvin went a step farther than Augustine, Aquinas, and even Luther.

    You would say that if there is no perseverance of the saint, then there never was faith in the first place. None of those men would. See the quote below for a clarification of the Catholic position. I think it is consistent with how John in his first Gospel expresses the continual, present tense aspect of true faith. “Believe” and “abide” are in the present tense throughout most of his epistle. It is not believe, and it’s done. It is about a continual abiding, a continual believing, which requires continual grace.

    Catholic teaching is that you can be given the grace of initial faith, but a person may not be willing to continue in the grace necessary for perseverance. See the Parable of the Sower. Not all who have initial faith persevere. Some do. Not all who hear the Word have faith at all.

    So, those who are given the grace of final perseverance are being saved right now through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. They will see the beatific vision. They will see Christ as He is and they will be like Him, as John tells us in his 1st Epistle.

    We believe initially by grace through faith. We persevere by grace through faith. We will see the glory of the Lord in all its fullness. That is our hope and our goal.
    —————————————————————————————–
    The Church formally teaches that there is a gift of final perseverance. [43] Aquinas (and even Molina) said this grace always ensures that a person will persevere. [44] Aquinas said, “Predestination [to final salvation] most certainly and infallibly takes effect.” [45] But not all who come to God receive this grace.

    Aquinas said the gift of final perseverance is “the abiding in good to the end of life. In order to have this perseverance man…needs the divine assistance guiding and guarding him against the attacks of the passions…[A]fter anyone has been justified by grace, he still needs to beseech God for the aforesaid gift of perseverance, that he may be kept from evil till the end of life. For to many grace is given to whom perseverance in grace is not give.” [46]

    The idea that a person can be predestined to come to God yet not be predestined to stay the course may be new to Calvinists and may sound strange to them, but it did not sound strange to Augustine, Aquinas, or even Luther. Calvinists frequently cite these men as “Calvinists before Calvin.” While they did hold high views of predestination, they did not draw Calvin’s inference that all who are ever saved are predestined to remain in grace. [47] Instead, their faith was informed by the biblical teaching that some who enter the sphere of grace go on to leave it.

    If one defines “saint” as one who will have his “saintification” completed, a Catholic can say he believes in a “perseverance of the saints” (all and only the people predestined to be saints will persevere). But because of the historic associations of the phrase it is advisable to make some change in it to avoid confusing the Thomist and Calvinist understandings of perseverance. Since in Catholic theology those who will persevere are called “the predestined” or “the elect,” one might replace “perseverance of the saints” with “perseverance of the predestined” or, better, with “perseverance of the elect.”

    In view of this, we might propose a Thomist version of TULIP: T=total inability (to please God without special grace); U=unconditional election; L=limited intent (for the atonement’s efficacy); I=intrinsically efficacious grace (for salvation); P=perseverance of the elect (until the end of life).

    There are other ways to construct a Thomist version of TULIP, of course, but the fact there is even one way demonstrates that a Calvinist would not have to repudiate his understanding of predestination and grace to become Catholic. He simply would have to do greater justice to the teaching of Scripture and would have to refine his understanding of perseverance. [48]

    Like

  284. TVD, you need to get this provisionally perfectly straight.
    Nobody gets to talk to me unless you talk to me first.
    But I am so busy talking to myself I don’t listen anyway. To you or them.
    So it doesn’t make any difference, and they stop talking to me.
    Capiche?
    So why do you keep talking to me?
    cheers

    (And what’s with the brother jazz? You think there’s a family resemblance to your avatar?)

    Kind of like what we tell you, CVD and Andrew.
    But since I provisionally think the latter just took over as the Director of Implicit Faith for all the monkeys, imbeciles and idiots

    Like

  285. Cletus,

    Without an infallible authority, there is no principled way to distinguish provisional opinion from infallible divine revelation.

    We’re all still waiting for you to give us a principled way to distinguish your opinion about what the Magisterium means from what the Magisterium actually means. And that’s ultimate a question about how YOU distinguish provisional opinion from infallible divine revelation because you ain’t the Magisterium, nor do you have a Vulcan mindmeld with it.

    The thing is that by introducing all this skepticism, you finally leave your fallible self having to figure out what Rome means. And you can ask questions till the cows come home (after jumping over the moon 🙂 ) and still get different answers from different bishops as well as vastly different opinions about matters from different Romanists. So you finally rely on your fallible understanding to figure it all out. Just like Protestants do.

    Like

  286. “When you have some of your guys arguing that the faith in the ressurrection of Jesus Christ is only based on our ability to grasp the information provisionally, then I am shocked that more of you don’t jump in quickly to correct that grave error.”

    Hmm, I’ve never heard any Reformed person argue that humans are unable to err in our thinking about anything. Now, on the other hand, I do remember being badgered as an evangelical about whether I was 100% certain about everything I believe, not just 99%. “If you are only 99% certain, then you don’t understand the Gospel.” Are you sure you aren’t confusing us with the pray-Jesus-into-your-heart people?

    Like

  287. IOW CVD, what you are telling us is that since the WCF admitted it could err, therefore 31:4 should read:

    All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred do not err, nor can they err. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or and practice; but to be used as and not just a help or mere pious advicein both.

    But isn’t that the roman position?
    That you aren’t infallible, but the Magisterium is?

    Thanks for sharing.

    Brandon, TVD has been The Véronian Disciple for as long as he’s been hanging around and CVD is the up and coming understudy. The skepticism aka papal pyrrhonism only goes one way of course, but you already knew that.

    Like

  288. Mermaid: Actually, I have a pretty good grasp on what both Robert and Jeff are saying. If I don’t, then please tell me where I misunderstood.

    No, actually, you have not given evidence of understanding.

    Two pieces of evidence:

    (1) You continue to assert that I “leave out the work of the Holy Spirit” when I have repeatedly and explicitly included it.

    (2) You have not demonstrated understanding of the difference between “provisional” and “uncertain.” You continue to equate the two.

    Sorry. I agree with Joel. It may be that you are trying in good faith, but to me you come across as deliberately trying to have a bad conversation.

    Like

  289. Maybe you need to explain how you are using the term “provisional.” There are lotsa’ words, but where is your definition of terms?

    If I may, Mrs. (Ethel) Merman, (please forgive me if I didn’t get your name right. I am fallible, i.e. “provisional” as the case may be. See below.)

    CVD’s definition of “provisional” means if I tell him 2+2=4, he’ll say it’s not true/I can’t know that.
    How he knows that, nobody knows and if he does know it, we can’t understand anyway.

    Nothing that a little holywater dabbed on the forehead can’t fix, but the good book does say something about adding drunkeness to thirst.

    Go figure/do the math.

    Like

  290. CVD: Here’s what I’ve heard your position is:
    JRC: “Divine revelation is infallible.”
    “What provisionality means… For a Protestant, it simply means “revisable in theory.””…

    Thanks for taking the time on this.

    A couple of points that are absolutely necessary to understand.

    You have placed emphasis on the various quotes of mine that push the “might be wrong” concept.

    Let’s summarize that as

    (1) Humans, absent divine enablement, do not have infallible knowledge

    They might be wrong, unless of course the Spirit is speaking through them.

    BUT

    You have omitted quotes of mine that qualify provisionality. Not all provisional beliefs are particularly doubtful; in fact, many are not. I’ve given examples both scientific and theological.

    Cows cannot jump over the moon

    This is known provisionally because it is based upon our experience and understanding and not upon divine revelation. Despite that, it is certainly a correct statement.

    Matthew is canonical

    This is known provisionally because it is based on our 21st century records of the collective witness of the early church. Despite that, it is certainly a correct statement.

    Let’s summarize the point

    (2) Provisional statements range in certainty from 0 to 100% certain.

    This is really the point that your side keeps on leaving out of our position, mainly because you disagree with it. And you’re welcome to disagree with it — but you aren’t welcome to omit it.

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  291. CVD: I am calling people who aren’t sure whether cows can jump over the moon skeptics.

    Good thing there aren’t any of those around here.

    Like

  292. Here, BobS, what you should have written, and saved us all the trouble.

    Bob S
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
    TVD, you need to get this provisionally perfectly straight.
    Nobody gets to talk to me unless you talk to me first.
    But I am so busy talking to myself I don’t listen anyway. To you or them.
    So it doesn’t make any difference, and they stop talking to me.
    Capiche?
    So why do you keep talking to me?
    cheers

    (And what’s with the brother jazz? You think there’s a family resemblance to your avatar?)

    Kind of like what we tell you, CVD and Andrew.
    But since I provisionally think the latter just took over as the Director of Implicit Faith for all the monkeys, imbeciles and idiots

    ___________

    Now back to business:

    The Little Mermaid
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
    Robert
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid,

    It is a statement about God’s inability to communicate infallible truth in an infallible way to the heart and mind of the spiritual man.

    That sounds an awful lot like infallible assurance, which we all accept on the Reformed side but which Rome says is impossible for anyone except certain saints.>>>>>

    How can you accept infallible assurance if the knowledge it is based on is always provisional? Maybe you need to explain how you are using the term “provisional.” There are lotsa’ words, but where is your definition of terms?

    Provisional: For the time being, subject to change. The Church of Maybe, Maybe Not. Check back with us tomorrow.

    Like

  293. Brandon, “the linked article merely discusses the perils of Descartes mental exercise”

    See, infallibility answers Descartes, 1600 years after our saviors Ascension.

    Like

  294. CVD,

    Or, you think RCism’s affirmations of infallibility and certitude of faith do not endorse skepticism, but the position I am advocating does – i.e. the arguments made are expendable and not reflective of or integral to the RC system.

    Bingo. I think the issue is with your apologetic against Protestantism and not necessarily a problem with Catholicism as a whole. And I want to be clear that I’m simply trying to understand what you’re saying and I am open to correction on this point.

    Let me quote you again and I’ll explain where I see the disconnect,

    Divine revelation is infallible as everyone agrees.

    Great, so in terms of ontology, we both agree. This is something we affirm *before* making our faith commitments, even though in retrospect those commitments clearly impact how we view revelation in retrospect. And our agreement doesn’t just end here, we have almost the exact same canon which numerous theologians agree was God’s Word at the moment of inscripturation and did not require the Magisterium’s authentication but rather the Magisterium’s recognition. So whatever deficiencies our respective methodologies employ,I think we can recognize we seem to have arrived at the same place through different methodologies.

    So a system identifying something as divine revelation then at the same time saying anything it identifies or defines is provisional and subject to revision and can only be at best “99%” likely [and] is incompatible with the supposed ability to identify divine revelation – whatever is being identified isn’t divine revelation, by its own standard.

    Here is where I see confusion on your part. You start with epistemology “identifying…divine revelation” and end with ontology, “[it] isn’t divine revelation.” Why is (ontology) Scripture not Divine revelation according to you? Because the epistemic mechanism of comprehension, by its own standard is fallible “at best 99%” This formulation, however, conflates epistemology with ontology.

    My epistemic fallibility does not mean God’s Word ceases being God’s Word. I think that in light of this you may want to argue that it’s not that God’s Word changes its ontological status because of our fallibility. Rather, your point is that without the Magisterium divine revelation imperceptible. This is, presumably, why you claim that what the Protestant identifies “is not divine revelation.”

    And this gets to the heart of what I believe is an underlying foundationalist skepticism in your argument. Without the indubitable infallible foundation, you claim there is no basis for believing or identifying anything. Bryan Cross takes this and argues that without the Magisterium, Christians cannot know if sexual promiscuity, getting stoned, or drinking Pinesol are encouraged/prohibited by God. I hope you don’t affirm that kind of silliness, but I don’t see how your position doesn’t entail that.

    So…can you try to explain to me what skepticism is? Again, finding an external source will be helpful so that we can evaluate it together and find what is agreeable to it. I also believe it will help you focus your particular criticism of Protestantism.

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  295. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
    Robert, but James Young’s argument does not help us understand what happened to the Index of Books.

    IOW, DG Hart doesn’t agree with a word you say [if he eaven reads it], but you’re a useful tool to attack the Catholic Church so he lets you natter on.
    ______

    D. G. Hart
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
    Mermaid, pound it.

    Outclassed intellectually, Dr. Darryl G. Hart is reduced to talking tough to the nice Catholic lady. Jesus is proud.

    Like

  296. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, “Protestants rely on their own reason”

    So when you reject the bodily assumption of Mary, on what do you rely?

    Careful squirrel man.

    I havenever addressed my personal belief on the matter here. Stop fabricating, Dr. Hart. You’ve beclowned yourself enough for one day.

    Like

  297. sdb,

    “WCF 1 is conditional on being consonant with the scriptures”

    And the identification of the scriptures – that is, the standard to be compared against – is provisional in your system yes? It’s not just provisionally apprehended by you, it’s provisionally offered by your churches/bodies/confessions/etc correct?

    “All of those items derive from scripture”

    So these items derive from Scripture: Divine revelation exists, it is confined to writing alone, this writing is inspired and inerrant, this writing is limited to the books in the Protestant canon, this writing is the sole ultimate authority, this writing is perspicuous and doctrine is to be drawn from ghm exegesis, and there is no further revelation.

    That’s obviously debateable. And further, you already agree the teaching that “this writing is limited to the books in the Protestant canon” is supposed to be treated differently and “properly basic”. But let’s grant it all for now.

    So, “All of those doctrines [I] list come from the exegesis of scripture”, but you claim all interpretation of Scripture is offered as provisional in your system. So every doctrine I listed, plus all doctrines after establishment of those starting doctrines, are provisional. And yet you demur in saying those starting doctrines are provisional, even though you also assert they “derive” and “come from the exegesis” of Scripture – which you already said yields provisional teachings (e.g. “the disclaimers you refer to do apply exclusively after the fact to the interpretation of God’s word”). So it seems inconsistent to exempt them from the disclaimers given what you’ve said.

    “The measuring stick is scripture – it has to be treated differently than the things it is measuring. ”

    Sure, I understand that. But if the identification of Scripture and the role/function of those writings (e.g. it is the sole ultimate authority, it is inerrant, etc) is offered as provisional by all Protestant bodies, since they reject any ability/authority to infallibly identify, define, teach such doctrines, then you have an ever-provisional “measuring stick” subject to revision – which is no standard at all.

    That’s the point. I do not mean to misconstrue WCF – I am affirming its active rejection of any divine and infallible authority/ability to identify or define divine revelation or offer any teaching as infallible.

    “That authority is the Holy Spirit of course.”

    The Holy Spirit identified and defined the canon for you? I believe the HS infallibly guided and protected the church in identifying and recognizing the canon. But your system rejects any divine guarantee the church is protected from error.

    “I do so fallibly … I don’t always listen so well (sin) or understand so well … They should listen to me by virtue of the authority God has given”

    And what about those in all the Protestant bodies I listed earlier who disagree with your views and teachings concerning divine revelation? Since you claim no infallible or divine authority, why should they feel compelled to assent to your views over their own you reject as in error?

    “The church does not reject the authority or the ability to identify divine revelation.”

    Okay, so it should offer infallible teaching since divine revelation is infallible by definition as we agree. Has any Protestant church ever done so? Such an action would seem to conflict with their rejection of the types of claims to authority Rome makes, and assertions such as “he gives us the church to teach us and so forth. But that church isn’t infallible”, and also conflict with the disclaimers of WCF 31.4 and 25.5 and semper reformanda.

    “All teaching is the interpretation of scripture and remains conditional on being consonant with the Word of God.”

    Which is a teaching that itself (along with the identification of the “Word of God”) is admitted and offered as provisional in your system. Thus it cannot be divine revelation, given we both agree divine revelation is infallible by definition.

    Like

  298. Yeah, TVD scrolling back, I saw that I gummed up the post before you did.
    So what?
    Bryan, Jason don’t talk to me either.
    (Evidently I am not the kind of ecumenical naif that the dialectic requires. As for Andrew, he’s still undecided.)
    So why do you keep talking to me?
    Do you have something to say?
    Are you sure?
    (Careful, CVD is waiting to pounce.)
    cheers

    Like

  299. Brandon,

    “Here is where I see confusion on your part. You start with epistemology “identifying…divine revelation” and end with ontology, “[it] isn’t divine revelation.””

    No, I start with the authority doing the identifying/defining/teaching. A “system” as I explicitly called out is not “me” or “you” or “our understanding”. No Protestant body/church/confession offers any teaching, definition, identification as infallible. It only offers admitted provisional teaching subject to revision. Since divine revelation is infallible by definition as we agree, such a system fails to cut the mustard as one that can ostensibly define, identify, teach divine revelation.

    “This formulation, however, conflates epistemology with ontology.”

    It should be clear from above I hope now that is not the case. What I have seen from your side is plenty of “we’re fallible, so the certitude of faith is illegitimate and impossible and everything must be held provisionally and subject to revision” or “you submitted to Rome based in part on your evaluation of MoC, therefore Rome’s authority and your certitude based on that authority can never be greater or stronger than your fallible initial evaluation of MoC”. That is a conflation.

    “Without the indubitable infallible foundation, you claim there is no basis for believing or identifying anything.”

    I am claiming an authority that can distinguish divine revelation from provisional opinion. If there is a mechanism Protestantism offers for distinguishing divine revelation from human opinion, we’re all ears. If there was such a mechanism, you would think its churches would be more forthcoming about being able to infallibly define/identify divine revelation, rather than admitting all teaching they offer remains provisional and subject to revision and “highly likely” or “99%” true.

    Still waiting for answers to my earlier questions to you to clarify your position.

    Like

  300. CVD,

    Since divine revelation is infallible by definition as we agree, such a system fails to cut the mustard as one that can ostensibly define, identify, teach divine revelation.

    My friend, just because you keep insisting or repeating something doesn’t make it so. Why can’t a Protestant church teach Divine revelation if we both agree that the Bible is God’s Word? The teaching of the church is fallible, but that doesn’t mean that it is wrong or that it cannot define, teach, or identify. You only believe this because you are conflating ontology and epistemology and using your notions of what *ought to be* into Protestant doctrine.

    I am still waiting for you to interact in a meaningful way with my comments. Until then, however, I think the conversation has hit an impasse.

    Like

  301. Bob,

    “CVD’s definition of “provisional” means if I tell him 2+2=4, he’ll say it’s not true/I can’t know that.
    How he knows that, nobody knows and if he does know it, we can’t understand anyway.”

    So you hold 2+2=4 as non-provisional correct? That’s good – I agree. Unfortunately most others here don’t agree with you. We are fallible and finite remember. So we need to hold 2+2=4 as provisional and subject to revision, and same with cows flying over the moon and bats flying out of noses.

    Like

  302. Brandon,

    “My friend, just because you keep insisting or repeating something doesn’t make it so.”

    Divine revelation is infallible, by definition.
    Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as infallible, but provisional and subject to revision.
    Divine revelation is not provisional and subject to revision, by definition.
    Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as divine revelation.

    “Why can’t a Protestant church teach Divine revelation if we both agree that the Bible is God’s Word?”

    Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teaching that “the Bible is God’s Word” is not offered as infallible teaching, but provisional and subject to revision.
    And we don’t agree on the canon – which illustrates the point. Nor do Protestants themselves – hence the asterisks and disputed passages today and truncated/expanded canons of groups throughout history. It remains provisional and subject to revision.

    “I am still waiting for you to interact in a meaningful way with my comments.”

    Seriously dude. I answered your questions and replied to subsequent posts. You initially accused me of running around with unfounded charges of skepticism. I asked you simple questions – questions that spurred my original charge of skepticism against certain people – to get where you were coming from and to clarify your position regarding skepticism. Then you don’t answer them. Not interested in one-way convos.

    Like

  303. CVD:
    (1) Divine revelation is infallible, by definition.
    (2) Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as infallible, but provisional and subject to revision.
    (3) Divine revelation is not provisional and subject to revision, by definition.
    (4) Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as divine revelation.

    (1) Yes
    (2) Yes, but subject to the caveat above. The WCF is not infallible, but it is a relatively certain understanding of divine revelation. Some parts are more certain than others.
    (3) Yes.
    (4) Correct, but they are offered as good and necessary inference from divine revelation, which makes them relatively certain. It would be a bad bet to disagree with them.

    BA: “Why can’t a Protestant church teach Divine revelation if we both agree that the Bible is God’s Word?”

    CVD: Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teaching that “the Bible is God’s Word” is not offered as infallible teaching, but provisional and subject to revision.

    Brandon has the better argument there for two reasons. “Subject to revision” does not mean “unreliable.” It could be — and is the case — that the Protestant canon is a reliable declaration of those texts that are God’s word. Theoretically, there is a danger that someone might place faith in a text that is not Scripture (e.g.: “They shall handle snakes”). In practice, this is rare. Snake handlers are a highly visible but tiny minority.

    Second of all, since you actually agree to the canonicity of every book in the Protestant Bible, it’s unclear that you have standing to challenge Brandon’s claim that those books are Scripture.

    CVD: <i.And we don’t agree on the canon – which illustrates the point. Nor do Protestants themselves – hence the asterisks and disputed passages today and truncated/expanded canons of groups throughout history. It remains provisional and subject to revision.

    You are vastly overstating the case. How many disputed passages? How many Protestant canons?

    Like

  304. CVD: No Protestant body/church/confession offers any teaching, definition, identification as infallible. It only offers admitted provisional teaching subject to revision. Since divine revelation is infallible by definition as we agree, such a system fails to cut the mustard as one that can ostensibly define, identify, teach divine revelation.

    This is a core mistake in your critique. Let’s break it down.

    No Protestant body/church/confession offers any teaching, definition, identification as infallible. It only offers admitted provisional teaching subject to revision.

    Yes.

    Since divine revelation is infallible by definition as we agree,

    Yes.

    such a system fails to cut the mustard as one that can ostensibly define, identify, teach divine revelation.

    Doesn’t follow.

    Define? Yes. I agree. A provisional system cannot infallibly define truth.

    Identify? Teach? Why not?

    The canon was not infallibly defined (in your system) until Trent. Until that time, Catholics did not have an infallible understanding of which books were canonical (again, in your system). Yet that did not prevent them from identifying which books were canonical and also teaching them. Did they make mistakes? Yes — either Cardinal Cajetan OR Trent was mistaken about the deuterocanonicals. Let’s say it was Cajetan. But that didn’t mean he didn’t have authority to identify and teach the Scripture.

    Like

  305. TVD: At Called to Communion they don’t whine about being misunderstood.

    Hm. I recall differently upon a time.

    Like

  306. Jeff,

    “Provisional statements range in certainty from 0 to 100% certain.”

    Okay, and we have, “What provisionality means… For a Protestant, it simply means “revisable in theory.””

    Is a 100% certain statement subject to revision? What does a “100% certain revisable-in-theory statement” mean to you? Can you tell me the difference between a “50% certain revisable-in-theory statement”, a “100% certain revisable-in-theory-statement”, a “0% certain revisable-in-theory statement”, a “0% certain statement”, and a “100% certain statement”?

    And why are we at 100% now? In all your previous statements, you say things like “highly likely”, “99%”, and “An inductively derived proposition with 99.9999% confidence … is not certain”. But now we see 100%? I thought “If 99.9% is not good enough for you, then I have bad news” – is 100% better now?

    “Cows cannot jump over the moon
    – This is known provisionally because it is based upon our experience and understanding and not upon divine revelation. Despite that, it is certainly a correct statement.”

    So is your statement that “cows cannot jump over the moon” subject to revision? Do you assert you might be wrong on it? Is it a 0%, 50%, 99%, or 100% certainty? What’s the mechanism for deriving this percentage of certainty? Are those who don’t share your percentage of certainty for a given statement irrational?

    And why is there a contrast with “based upon divine revelation”? Aren’t all teachings offered by Protestantism, and apprehended by you, provisional in both respects – the offering and the apprehension?

    “Matthew is canonical
    – This is known provisionally because it is based on our 21st century records of the collective witness of the early church. Despite that, it is certainly a correct statement.”

    So Matthew and Mark’s canonicity is not subject to revision, nor are their currently identified contents subject to revision? But “The canon is our best effort at identifying the Scripture. Its accuracy is provisional.”

    Like

  307. TVD at Bob: IOW, DG Hart doesn’t agree with a word you say [if he eaven reads it], but you’re a useful tool to attack the Catholic Church so he lets you natter on.

    Actually, he lets Bob natter on for the same reason that he lets you natter on. “Comments are open” is the policy.

    Like

  308. CVD, Mermaid, TVD:

    Cletus linked to this article that discusses skepticism, perception, and more.

    Questions:

    (1) Do you agree with the article in toto?
    (2) Do you believe that this theory of perception is necessary for Catholic theology?

    Like

  309. Jeff,

    No to both. I was pointing it out merely to rebut claims that RCisms views of authority, infallibility, faith, knowledge, certitude, and so forth entails skepticism.

    Like

  310. CVD,

    Jeff’s answer to your questions mirrors my own.

    Regarding skepticism, I don’t see anything that you’ve posted that has addressed the question. I think that’s the real issue here and you need to first define skepticism. Then, I’d be interested to see how your definition does not condemn yourself, given your arguments.

    Like

  311. Thanks Jeff.
    Now I’ll go eat some worms.

    So you hold 2+2=4 as non-provisional correct? That’s good – I agree. Unfortunately most others here don’t agree with you. We are fallible and finite remember. So we need to hold 2+2=4 as provisional and subject to revision, and same with transubstantiation, the rosary, mariolatry, image worship etc.cows flying over the moon because the pope sucked it all out of his thumb and bats flying out of noses.

    There CVD. Fixed it for you.
    Remember?
    You’re not infallible like the pope. He just might have a different take than you do.
    But maybe not. You can’t know.

    Divine revelation is infallible self defining and self attesting, by definition.
    Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as [the] infallible final Word, which would not only make them tantamount to Scripture, but would add to Scripture contra the same but rather they are provisional and subject to revision in the light again of that infallible Word.
    Divine revelation is not provisional and subject to revision, by definition.
    Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as divine revelation but again as faithful summaries and witnesses to divine revelation and truth.

    There. Fixed it. Again. However redundant.

    Since divine revelation is infallible by definition as we agree, such a system fails to cut the mustard as one that can ostensibly define, identify, teach divine revelation.

    Or in so many words:

    Since divine revelation is infallible by definition as we agree, such a system [as protestantism] fails to cut the mustard as one that can ostensibly define, identify, teach divine revelation [because protestantism is not infallible, but fallible/provisional].

    But now comes one CVD, who self admittedly is not infallible, but who is ostensibly (authoritatively) defining, identifying and teaching about divine revelation.
    Ergo DVC fails to cut mustard.
    No tartar sauce for him.

    Maybe VDC could ketchup w. the implications of his argument that undercut the same if he wants Brandon to buy him a Happy Meal, no?

    Like

  312. Cletus,

    You might want to reconsider the notion that a system that cannot infallibly identify or define revelation can’t give you the warrant of faith. I just realized that you believe Rome cannot infallibly identify or define tradition, at least not completely. Ergo, tradition is either not divine revelation or Rome fails your test.

    Like

  313. Bob,

    I agree I don’t cut the mustard.
    So are the statements that 2+2=4, bats don’t fly out of noses, and cows don’t jump over moons subject to revision for you?

    And a church with the divine authority and ability to infallibly define, identify, interpret, teach divine revelation does not entail they are generating new revelation.

    “Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as divine revelation but again as faithful summaries and witnesses to divine revelation and truth.”

    Faithful summaries subject to revision. Divine revelation and truth, the identification of which remains subject to revision. “[because protestantism is not infallible, but fallible/provisional]”

    Like

  314. And a church with the divine authority and ability to infallibly define, identify, interpret, teach divine revelation does not entail they are generating new revelation.

    Because you say so DVC?
    You’ve already told us you are finite and fallible, i.e. provisional.
    Next.

    Jeff, hunting snarks comes after dinner w. the worms and feeding the squirrels, but before the brandy and cigars. Just wait. We’ll get there.

    Like

  315. Cletus,

    And a church with the divine authority and ability to infallibly define, identify, interpret, teach divine revelation does not entail they are generating new revelation.

    Actually, the burden of proof is on you to prove this, given the precedent. Before Jesus, only the prophets infallibly defined, identified, interpreted, and taught divine revelation and while doing so they gave new revelation. With Jesus and the Apostles you have the same thing. What is odd is this claim that Rome infallibly does everything you want it to do without generating new revelation. Even odder is that it does it without the same kind of Apostolic and prophetic inspiration that made the Apostles and prophets infallible.

    I mean, it’s nice to have a theory that you need an infallible identifier of revelation that is not a generator of new revelation for the warrant of faith, but once you start looking at what your side has infallibly identified as revelation, the actual evidence doesn’t match your theory. Jesus expected the Jews to believe lots of things that had never been infallibly identified as revelation. Rahab had faith based on fallible reports of miracles and fallible claims made by spies. And the list goes on.

    Like

  316. … And also who were not sacramentally authorized. Robert, you mentioned the spies. I’ve talked before about Balaam’s donkey as well as Amos.

    Here’s another:

    After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to meet him. 21 But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22 Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.”

    — 2 Chr 35

    Apparently, authority is not even necessary for speaking infallibly…

    Like

  317. James Young,

    I start with the authority doing the identifying/defining/teaching. A “system” as I explicitly called out is not “me” or “you” or “our understanding”.

    So you’re in Timothy’s church and he starts to preach and you leave for Rome because he’s only doing what Paul told him to do — who didn’t run it by the bishop of Rome.

    Like

  318. James Young, “Divine revelation is infallible, by definition. Protestant churches/bodies/confessions teachings are not offered as infallible, but provisional and subject to revision.”

    Could you put that to a tune? We might have an easier time remembering.

    Like

  319. Brandon, come on. It’s either the papacy or Descartes. That binary is subject to development, of course, depending on who’s teaching the next epistemology seminar.

    Like

  320. @cvd
    ” That’s obviously debateable. And further, you already agree the teaching that “this writing is limited to the books in the Protestant canon” is supposed to be treated differently”
    Of course. I thought the point was to grant one another’s systems and ask who was on firmer ground. Obviously if all council definitions are conditional on scripture, identification of scripture must be treated differently and that difference is spelled out in wcf 1.

    I remain at a loss as to what an infallible middle man brings. He is neither necessary or sufficient. You keep asserting otherwise as if this point we are debating is self evident. It is clearly not.

    Like

  321. @dgh Funny. The first seminar I attended in grad school was presented by Fr.Ernan McMullin on whether Decartes was a closeted atheist. He concluded know and was quite a fan.

    Like

  322. Cletus,

    Divine revelation is infallible.
    Protestant confessions make no claim to be divine revelation,
    therefore it is no problem that Protestant confessions are fallible.

    Divine revelation is infallible.
    The Magisterium does not claim to be divine revelation (says you)
    Therefore, RC confessions are fallible.

    Or:

    Divine revelation is infallible.
    Roman Catholic confessions are divine revelation.
    Therefore, RC confessions are infallible.

    You really need to come out and say that the Magisterium IS divine revelation. It’s really the only way your argument is consistent.

    Like

  323. I start with the authority doing the identifying/defining/teaching. A “system” as I explicitly called out is not “me” or “you” or “our understanding”.

    Oops, missed that DVC.
    IOW your understanding is not systematic in any way?
    I never could have guessed.

    Hey, wait a minute. The Roman system is all about deny, deny, deny.
    That’s not you though, right?
    You sure?

    Like

  324. CVD: And why are we at 100% now? In all your previous statements, you say things like “highly likely”, “99%”, and “An inductively derived proposition with 99.9999% confidence … is not certain”. But now we see 100%? I thought “If 99.9% is not good enough for you, then I have bad news” – is 100% better now?

    Because I was lazy and didn’t want to say that 100% is a limit point of an open set. If I had, would that have made a difference?

    CVD: So is your statement that “cows cannot jump over the moon” subject to revision?

    It’s fallible. I can’t forsee any possible way that it would be revised. Can you? Do you want to suggest a way that cows might jump over the moon? Are you arguing for moon-jumping cows? Or are you arguing for divine revelation concerning cows?

    CVD: Do you assert you might be wrong on it? Is it a 0%, 50%, 99%, or 100% certainty? What’s the mechanism for deriving this percentage of certainty? Are those who don’t share your percentage of certainty for a given statement irrational?

    Fair question. Start here

    Like

  325. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
    Jeff, James Young’s position is better (because he says so) because his doctrine develops and yours is only subject to revision

    in addition to a logic course Dr. Hart sorely needs a dictionary

    Like

  326. Joel
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink
    “When you have some of your guys arguing that the faith in the ressurrection of Jesus Christ is only based on our ability to grasp the information provisionally, then I am shocked that more of you don’t jump in quickly to correct that grave error.”

    Hmm, I’ve never heard any Reformed person argue that humans are unable to err in our thinking about anything. Now, on the other hand, I do remember being badgered as an evangelical about whether I was 100% certain about everything I believe, not just 99%. “If you are only 99% certain, then you don’t understand the Gospel.” Are you sure you aren’t confusing us with the pray-Jesus-into-your-heart people?>>>>>

    Joel. Focus. What about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Is the Holy Spirit able to infallibly communicate the Gospel to regenerate human beings such that they are enabled to believe infallibly? Think of infallible as unable to fail. Relate what I am saying to your soteriology.

    Like

  327. Jeff Cagle
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
    CVD, Mermaid, TVD:

    Cletus linked to this article that discusses skepticism, perception, and more.

    Questions:

    (1) Do you agree with the article in toto?
    (2) Do you believe that this theory of perception is necessary for Catholic theology?>>>>>

    Is there anyone in Protestantism who you can quote saying the same things you say? The other side quotes Augustine and Aquinas, but all you seem to do is claim to be misunderstood.

    Can you put this in anybody else’s words that might make more sense to people?

    Jeff, I didn’t read the whole article, but the part about skepticism caught my eye. I think it might apply to what you are arguing about with the bats flying out of my nose.

    I lean towards calling the application of an epistemology of provisional knowledge “unbelief” when applied to the resurrection.

    I can see how your epistemology pretty much has to be the one that science uses to gather information.

    I can see that in many matters its use could be neutral, even. Not everything is equally important even in matters of Christian faith and practice.

    I get the feeling that it is an epistemology that is stretched past its useful limits when applied to essential doctrines. You can’t believe everything provisionally. People don’t really function that way anyway.

    Like

  328. vd, t, so the Declaration of Independence was a development of the English tradition of listing rights, right? Odd how it was a development of doctrine that ruptured a political order.

    You don’t even know the American creation.

    Like

  329. James Young, Mark Shea has you covered (and figured out). You absolutize infallibility to prevent disillusionment:

    Here’s reality: No creature—be it luck, money, power, connections, sex appeal, charm, a hero, a lover—is going to see us through or satisfy us. Some will betray us. All will sooner or later leave us frustrated and unfulfilled. But that is a feature, not a bug. For as Paul says, “the creation was subjected to futility”(Romans 8:20).

    In short, in our sin-weakened state, we are as Martin Luther famously observed, like drunks who fall off one side of the horse and then climb back up and fall off on the other side. We ricochet from presumption (that creatures will make us happy) to despair (that happiness cannot be found) while remaining oblivious to the fact that both of these extremes are the enemies of Hope (that happiness is found only in Christ).

    Getting our bearings means realizing that we are to live in Hope, just as St. Paul does when he continues, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:22-25).

    To live in Hope is to set our sights on eternity where Christ dwells and to realize that he teaches us to regard this world as “passing” not permanent. The reason this world awakens desires in us that it can never fulfill is because this world has been designed to do so by the Creator. It is sacramental and is meant to lead us to Christ, not to itself. Therefore, disillusionment, futility and what the pagans called “the tears of things” is, sooner or later, part of the package and is, surprisingly, a good gift of God lest we fall into the sin of idolatry (which is the worship of the creature instead of the Creator). Indeed, so strong is our urge to latch on to creatures and make them into substitute gods that even in a world where everything comes to futility, we can still barely be restrained from doing it. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the smartest thing we can do with disillusionment is thank God for keeping us on track and teaching us to set our hearts on Him and not on creatures.

    If you keep repeating infallibility, you don’t have to reckon with the light show.

    We’re here for you. Yup.

    Like

  330. Mermaid: Is there anyone in Protestantism who you can quote saying the same things you say?

    WCF 1.7: VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

    WCF 1.10 The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture

    WCF 31.4: All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both

    You might also Google the van Til-Clark controversy, since you are interested in van Til. Clark argued in a manner similar to you that God’s truth must always be infallible, hence exegesis was always a matter of deductive reasoning, and the results of theology when properly done were infallible truth.

    van Til argued to the contrary that human knowledge is always analogical, and that there are mysteries that cannot be fully understood, and that creaturely knowledge is always limited by man’s finitude.

    In other words, van Til, while affirming inerrancy and the proper basic infalliblity of Scripture, distinguished strongly between Scripture (infallible) and our understanding of it (fallible).

    Mermaid: The other side quotes Augustine and Aquinas, but all you seem to do is claim to be misunderstood.

    I get that you like rhetorical flourishes, but that’s ridiculous. I have quoted Scripture, made arguments, quoted relevant Catholic catechisms, church fathers.

    Please attend to ordinary truth.

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  331. <