This Is Embarrassing

The Protestants who I enjoy criticizing are clear at the same time that Roman Catholics are not. And the editors at First Things are caught.

First, a recommendation of the evangelicals who produced the Nashville Statement:

[Several] critiques have merit, and are especially significant since they come from within the evangelical movement. But in our era of theological mushiness and cultural transformation, even the most imperfect attempt at clarity and doctrinal solidarity is better than soft-spoken obfuscation. Christians committed to historic, biblical doctrine on sexuality should be disposed to approve of efforts to make orthodoxy clear, unequivocal, and pastoral.

Perhaps, as many have said, the timing of the Nashville Statement was insensitive. Waiting a couple weeks after the initial images from Houston had appeared might have muted this criticism. But can we foresee a season when such a clear statement of traditional doctrine would not offend, alienate, or divide?

I suspect that what has turned off many people to the Nashville Statement is its clarity. The document’s fourteen affirmations and denials are short, unequivocal, and to the point.

But Roman Catholics, not so much. Aside from the ongoing dilemma of marriage and divorce that Pope Francis and his synods introduced into the magisterium, individual priests, like James Martin, are signaling virtue but in a very sensitive way:

Fr. Martin notably seeks peace. He speaks reassuring phrases in soothing tones. He prefers the familiarity of a sweater vest and dad jeans to the strangeness of the soutane. In ways superficial and profound, he seeks to render Christianity inoffensive. At a certain level, I understand this desire. The Church may be a sign of contradiction, but it is also a source of consolation. Sometimes we need a Church built on sharp, gothic lines, and at other moments we seek the calm harmony of the classical.

But Fr. Martin’s proposed renovation goes beyond mere ornament, to require the restructuring of the whole Christian edifice. Fr. Martin never says this outright, but the logic of what he does say demands it. Approval of homosexuality is now considered the bare minimum of politeness in the world’s respectable precincts (where one hundred years ago, it would have been thought intolerably rude). If Christianity is to have the manners Fr. Martin values—if is to exhibit perfect “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” in the eyes of world—it must not only change its phrasing but reverse its teaching on sex.

Fr. Martin is no idle vandal of the Church, even if his critics often take him for one. Though I disagree with his conclusions, I believe that Catholics have something to learn from his argument that the Church treats homosexuality unfairly.

Catholic teaching has not changed, but at the practical level the Church today has made peace with heterosexual desire. Praise of virginity and warnings against lust in the marriage bed have given way to anxious reassurances that Catholics do not hate and fear sex. The Church has largely ceased to speak of sex as dangerous and requiring restraint, even where it is licit. We hear of the dangers of pre-marital sex, of extramarital sex, sometimes even of homosexual sex—but very rarely of sex simply.

Of course, doctrine hasn’t changed. You hear that a lot from those who have to live with modernists — those who won’t live by, defend, or recommend the doctrine that hasn’t changed. But something has.

And I suspect some converts to Rome are having trouble arguing for Rome’s superiority to Nashville.

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66 thoughts on “This Is Embarrassing

  1. Highplainsparson,
    Did the Nashville Statement also include that attraction to other people of the opposite sex while one is married is also sin?

    The vagueness I find in the Nashville Statement is akin to insisting on orthodox beliefs about God, Christ, and salvation while allowing for freedom of religion in society. Is the Nashville Statement condemning supporting equality for the LGBT community?

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  2. Jeff Cagle says: Is temptation sin?

    Amen Jeff. I thought your aim, highplainparson, is “carrying fresh water buckets to the thirsty” ?

    Don’t we all have proclivity to sin every day this side of eternity, even as new creations, that’s one of the reasons we groan.

    The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation. Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. But those on the rocky soil with no firm root, believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.

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  3. “Don’t we all have proclivity to sin every day this side of eternity, even as new creations, that’s one of the reasons we groan.” Yes, because we’re sinners. That condition is sin. It is to be repented of and mortified and not to pretend as though it’s a morally neutral identity trait.

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  4. When Protestant leaders seriously grapple with the contraceptive mentality (ie, the right to pregnancy-free coitus), then I might be able to agree with you here. As it stands, many of them are sinning against the Sixth Commandment (and possibly the Fifth) without even realizing it. And the problem is institutionalized. As long as this continues, I do not see how Christians can make serious headway against the rest of the sexual revolution. Of course, many Catholics are sinning in this same way, but I take comfort in the fact that it is not institutionalized.

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  5. everybodys, Okay, you go first. You clean up your churches on the second (your first) commandment.

    Actually, we already forbid abortion.

    So what’s Rome’s problem?

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  6. VV, the Sixth Commandment historically included all kinds of sexual sin besides the obvious sin of adultery, such as fornication, masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, and contracepted coitus. The Catholic Church has retained all of those prohibitions in principle, while all other Christians have removed one or more. The underlying reasoning is that God intented our sexual energy to be used in a very specific context with specific purposes that can’t be separated from each other without creating disorder within the individual, the family, and society.

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  7. Everybodys,

    As far as I know, the historic Reformation teaching is that yes, the Roman Catholic Church teaches idolatry. The Reformers, and their heirs, are aware of the qualifications but generally speaking, we don’t buy them. At the very least, even if the qualifications are reasonable and thus idolatry does not technically happen, only the theologians actually grasp the distinction and idolatry is the actual practice on much of the lay level around the world.

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  8. You already know the essence of my reply. Do you think that in this comment section of this blog post, there is a realistic chance that we will bridge the difference of what you and I believe on the matter?

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  9. From long experience … No, sadly.

    Your perspective will obviously be different, but from mine, it doesn’t matter how many times we point out that the commandment forbids making idols and bowing proskuneo to them, the RC respondant points to church tradition as establishing the right and responsibility to do exactly that.

    The tradition trumps the plain command through a claim to authority to interpret the command.

    So how is that gap possibly bridgable?

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  10. Tu quoque, my brothers? 😉

    First, let me point out that it is impossible to have a Bible without having Bible interpretations. I hope this is self-evident. If not, I will elaborate.

    Second, I want those who may be reading over our shoulders to be clear about the question, which can be summarized thusly:

    “The Catholic Church teaches explicit idolatry by teaching people to worship graven images; the Catholic Church is the only Christian institution which teaches the full, historic understanding of the Sixth Commandment, even in the face of social pressure created by widespread acceptance of aspects of the Sexual Revolution.”

    For me, that seems like an unlikely combination. One of the things that persuaded me to begin considering the other claims of the Catholic Church is it’s prohibition on contraception. This is because I finally understood that the prohibition on contraception was actually upholding the fullness of the “one-flesh” teachings of Scripture. I wrote about this aspect of my conversion here: https://everybodysdaughter.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/i-used-to-be-pro-contraception/

    There is much more I can say regarding this point.

    Third, in order to address explicitly the question regarding idolatry, I see two ways I can procede: drawing upon explicit Catholic teaching, or drawing upon the Bible alone. It seems prudent for me to utilize the latter method, since you don’t accept the former. I will start by posing a question in order to open some dialog on a related matter:

    What do you make of the OT scriptures when people are bowing down to or towards something that they are not worshipping?

    Let me be clear about the purpose of this question. I am going to point out that people can bow to something in such a way as to not be worshipping what they are bowing to or toward. Such a demonstration is not a violation of the First Commandment.

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  11. The act of bowing to a graven image is prohibited of itself, in addition to worshiping any other god.

    Do you have any approved examples of bowing to an image?

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  12. The act of bowing to a graven image is not prohibited in the New Covenant, because bowing alone is not worship. That is self-evident, is it not? If bowing *is* worship, then I would have to agree with you. But the Bible has plenty of examples of people bowing without worshipping. We also have the example in Rev. 3:9, where the Lord says he will command others to proskyneo his followers.

    Not that this really matters, but if you had made this argument against the Eucharist, I would have personally found that more interesting. This is because the Catholic Church does teach us to worship Christ in the consecrated bread and wine. And if somebody worships bread and wine that is unconsecreaated, this is taught as idolatry! See this link for an example of what I mean:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2017/03/ask-father-hosts-brought-to-altar-at-communion-not-before-consecration/

    There is no explicit teaching to worship Christ in a statue, yet there is a teaching to worship Christ in the consecrated Eucharist. So the line of demarcation between the statue and the Eucharist is much more clear, at least to me.

    And to answer your question: I do not have an example of an approved image of bowing to an image. Doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exist, I am just not certain of what you ask or how to find one if I did understand what you ask.

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  13. Everybodys,

    First, let me point out that it is impossible to have a Bible without having Bible interpretations. I hope this is self-evident.

    Sure. Its impossible to have a Bible, church tradition, a Magisterium, any body of data without having interpretations of the data set

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  14. EsD: The act of bowing to a graven image is not prohibited in the New Covenant, because bowing alone is not worship.

    It’s interesting. Just minutes ago, the Caglets were asking (for completely different reasons), “Why do Catholics worship Mary?”

    And I took pains to explain things from your point of view — that you do not worship Mary per se, but that you pray to her because you believe that she has special favor in God’s sight, and as a friend, she is able to intercede on your behalf.

    In the end, we all agreed that we are very Protestant in our outlook, and that we really don’t think you should be doing it anyways. (quoth the Caglet: “But isn’t Jesus our only intercessor?”, etc).

    But the point is, I get the fact that we are approaching this from two very different points of view, and that makes it hard to hear each other.

    So when you say, “because bowing alone is not worship”, it shows that we have not fully communicated. Yes: bowing alone is not worship. But this does not help your case, for both bowing (alone) and worshiping (alone) are both prohibited in Ex 20.5:

    You shall not bow down to them or serve them

    If you want to argue that this command has changed character in the New Covenant, has been superseded or abolished, then you will need to show why and where in the NT that this one command out of all of the ten commandments has been altered.

    And that brings us back to my question: Where, either in the NT or the OT, can you find an example of someone bowing to an image with God’s approval? It’s easy enough to find examples of someone bowing to an image with God’s disapproval; but with His approval?

    Yes: there are approved examples of bowing to people. But bowing to people is not prohibited in the commandment, while bowing to images is.

    So if we want to establish that there has been a change in commandment in the New Covenant, it would seem that you should be able to point to an example of that change. Can you?

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  15. This has been an interesting discussion. I just looked up the Hebrew for this verse (Ex. 5:20), for the word/phrase in question (rendered as bow down here previously). Evidently, it can be rendered as bow down or worship (Reference: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/tishtachveh_7812.htm). The Catholic interpretation in either case is worship. This explains why I was insisting on the standard being worship. That was my instinct, and I do believe it is correct on this point. I know that God does care about what we do with our bodies, as should be clear by my previous discussion about the Sixth Commandment. But the word can be rendered as worship, and is rendered as such in some English translations. So this indicates an attitude in the heart that goes beyond a bodily gesture.

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  16. I think our disagreement can be summarized like this: you say the commandment refers to a specific bodily gesture that has nothing whatsoever to do with what is inside somebody’s mind and heart; I say (and I believe I am representing Catholic teaching correctly here) that the specific bodily gesture is permitted as long as the mind and heart are not giving to the image what is supposed to be given only to God.

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  17. everybodysdaughter says: One of the things that persuaded me to begin considering the other claims of the Catholic Church is it’s prohibition on contraception.

    Interesting – in that you mention a particular specific doctrine drawing you in – bringing to mind a recent post (link below) that discusses that Roman Catholic theology and practice is an entire worldview and culture and not just discrete, disparate doctrines; and is grounded on two axioms, at its heart -1) the nature, grace interdependence and 2) the Christ, church interconnection.

    Important in the Roman Catholic system, according to the first axiom, is that nature (elements – water, oil, bread, wine, etc) -created by God is capable of receiving,communicating, transmitting, and infusing grace – and grace MUST be concretely infused through natural elements; And that there must be a mediating subject between these the two realms of nature and God’s grace and that mediating subject is the Roman Catholic church.

    The second major axiom of Roman Catholic theology and practice is the Christ, church interconnection. The Roman Catholic Church believes in the principle of incarnation – Jesus first, but now too, the Roman Catholic Church self identifies as the continuation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ – meaning the Roman Catholic Church subsists the divine nature, the human nature, and the body of Jesus. This is seen in the priesthood -the pope is called the vicar of Jesus Christ – the human representative of Jesus Christ on earth. When a priest celebrates baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance and the other sacraments, he stands before Catholics in the person of Jesus Christ, so that e.g, when he baptizes, it is Christ Himself who baptizes that infant.

    All this to say, the lecturer, though he says we should not overlook the commonalities of doctrines in our faiths, yet says our worldviews are ‘light years removed from one another’ and we must recognize this – ie the Reformation is not over.

    Roman Catholics and Protestants: Commonalities and Differences
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/roman-catholics-and-protestants-commonalities-and-differences

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  18. Ali,

    Christ and the Church are one (Eph. 5:32). Does “one flesh” mean one or does it mean something else? Christ does not contracept himself from the Church, and neither does she to he. The two are one. This is why Catholics see no difficulty with what you stated there regarding the mediating subjects.

    Reformation is never over. O my Protestant brothers! Come home and reform from within! Reform never ceases but it would be better for you to come home and work within the Church rather attempt reformation while in incomplete communion with Her. Come home my brothers! The Church is much larger on the inside than on the outside, and more beautiful as well! Come home! We need you!

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  19. Everybodys,

    Christ and the Church are one (Eph. 5:32). Does “one flesh” mean one or does it mean something else? Christ does not contracept himself from the Church, and neither does she to he. The two are one. This is why Catholics see no difficulty with what you stated there regarding the mediating subjects.

    One Flesh—I don’t become my wife and she doesn’t become me. There is unity but still distinction. So it is with Christ and the church.

    Really, if you take this idea far enough, then it should be no problem to worship any church member. But Rome says you don’t worship Mary or the saints. So what is it? Are Christ and the church identical or not?

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  20. EsD: But the word can be rendered as worship, and is rendered as such in some English translations.

    Which ones?

    It would be odd for a translation to read “Do not worship and do not worship them.”

    And again, if your interpretation is correct, then it should be easy to find an example of bowing to an image in either the OT or the NT. If not, this casts significant doubt on your understanding.

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  21. Jeff,

    If bowing, or any other reference, is tied to worship then it would be idolatrous. If one bows to a king becuase of his high place, that wouldn’t be worship. However If a king declared himself a demigod then offering incense or bowing to him directly or to an his image would be idoltorous.
    The church says very clearly that Mary is a creature, but also the hightest among creatures being that she is the mother of god and the queen mother of the new david, so it is proper to show her high reverence. Not showing her reverence is to deny the honor that Jesus endowed to her. God has arranged the world in such a way that analogy is how we understand the reality of the supernatural realm( King, father, familial). IOW, the idea, “king”, is concretized in human beings( like Saul, David, Solomon) to instruct us in how God intends his ordered creation. It would be wrong not to honor a king that was in the lineage of David. It would be wrong not to honor the queen mother of Solomon, of whom Mary is the fulfilled type.
    Does that help?

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  22. @ Susan:

    I appreciate the effort. I really do.

    Unfortunately, your comments don’t help because they do not address the actual command as given.

    Nowhere does God command “do not bow to persons.” And in fact, there are many places in Scripture where God’s people lawfully bow to persons (and others where they refuse — Mordechai).

    But here in Ex 20.5, God explicitly says “do not bow to images, and do not worship them.”

    Any number of instances of bowing to persons makes no difference, for that is not the command.

    Now, you and EsD (and CVD in past posts) have posited, without argument or evidence, that the command “do not bow” really means “do not bow for the purpose of worship.”

    So what is needed, what would really help here, is an argument that “do not bow to them and do not worship them”, which is what the Hebrew and Septuagint both say, actually should mean “do not bow in order to worship.” That is, you must establish that the first command is subordinates to the second.

    I’m open to hearing such an argument, but I will dismiss (fair warning!) all such irrelevancies as “we bow to human rulers” or “bow can mean worship sometimes (in other verses).” It’s not being mean; it’s just trying to think clearly.

    For example, we know that the command in Ex 20.4 “do not make for yourself graven images…” is subordinated to 20.5 “do not bow and do not worship.”

    How? Because we have approved examples of making images that are not bowed to and not worshiped.

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  23. Jeff,

    It seems to me that if it is understood as strictly as you propose someone could offer incense on the technicality that it isn’t “bowing” and get away with it.

    People worship what they believe is god because they are ignorant about who God is.

    “The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype,” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.”70 The honor paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone:

    Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.” CCC

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  24. @ Susan:

    Unusual reasoning. “Forbidding bowing to images is so strict that it permits burning of incense.” That must explain why Reformed churches burn … wait — they don’t do that either.

    Susan, both you and EsD have been reluctant to take this head-on. Why are there no approved examples of veneration of images in either OT or NT? No instructions for doing so?

    It’s not like the Hebrews lacked proper objects of veneration. Moses, Abraham, the angels are all worthy of honor. So if it were permissible and even necessary to show proper honor by creating images and revering the being through the image, God would have given instructions for doing so. We would see examples of doing so.

    Yet no example is in Scripture that I am aware of.

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  25. Jeff,

    It seems to me that since there is a clear law against worship and since bowing in veneration is not worship, there then is no need for an explicit example of people enjoined in approved veneration.
    But if you are prone to interpret the way you do and outside of the church and her tradition no less, what do you make of:
    “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below”?

    In light of:

    Whatever one may understand the mysterious ephod and theraphim to have been, there was the brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9), not destroyed till Ezechias did so (2 Kings 18:4), there were carved and moulded garlands of fruit and flowers and trees (Numbers 8:4; 1 Kings 6:18; 7:36); the king’s throne rested on carved lions (1 Kings 10:19-20), Iions and bulls supported the basins in the temple (1 Kings 7:25, 29). Especially there are the cherubim, great carved figures of beasts (Ezekiel 1:5; 10:20, where they are called beasts), that stood over the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18-22; 1 Kings 6:23-8; 8:6-7, etc.). But, except for the human heads of the cherubim (Ezekiel 41:19, Exodus 25:20, the references to them when combined seem to point irresistibly to some such figures as the Assyrian winged bulls with human heads), we read nothing of statues of men in the lawful cult of the Old Testament. In this point at least the Jew seems to have understood the commandment to forbid the making of such statues, though even this is not clear in the earlier periods. The ephod was certainly once a statue of human form (Judges 8:27; 17:5; 1 Samuel 19:13, etc.), and what were the theraphim (Judges 17:5)? Both were used in orthodox worship.

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  26. Susan: It seems to me that since there is a clear law against worship and since bowing in veneration is not worship, there then is no need for an explicit example of people enjoined in approved veneration.

    Two questions about that:

    (1) Are you venerating or worshiping Christ through a crucifix?

    (2) If veneration is not worship, why is it performed in a worship service?

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  27. everybody, “First, let me point out that it is impossible to have a Bible without having Bible interpretations.”

    Same goes for papal infallibility. Unless you’ve got a papal app that interprets everything, you know, the way Google does, you have to discern what the pope means. And that gives lots of RC bloggers a life.

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  28. everybody, imagine if Nadab and Abihu had only bowed to the strange fire.

    If you worry about idolatry and blasphemy, if you don’t presume God’s favor, maybe you err on the side of not having statues or bowing.

    That’s the way RC’s avoid contraceptives. How can you be so clear about condoms but so squishy on statues?

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  29. everybodydaughter – “The Catholic Church has retained all of those prohibitions in principle, while all other Christians have removed one or more. The underlying reasoning is that God intented our sexual energy to be used in a very specific context with specific purposes that can’t be separated from each other without creating disorder within the individual, the family, and society.”

    This flies in the face of all Christian teaching outside of maybe the past 500 years or so of the Roman Catholic Church. Aside from the fact that there are no prohibitions of contraception anywhere in Scripture, the vast majority of Christian teaching (and Jewish, for that matter) has promoted sex for pleasure as well as procreation. As I explained to Susan in a previous thread, the Catholic teaching on contraception is derived from a simple misunderstanding of biology. Until the process of sperm fertilizing an egg was discovered some 150(ish) years ago, it was believed that sperm were tiny humans that were planted and grew inside a woman’s “ripened” womb. Thus contraception would be intentionally killing sperm and would be tantamount to taking human life. Based on their limited knowledge, it was reasonable for them to believe contraception was sinful. Now that we know the correct biology of reproduction, it’s hard to find a reasonable objection to most forms of contraception. You can pretend the RCC is “preserving” traditional Christian teaching, but really it is simply imposing an unnecessary layer of moralism.

    On the other hand, I’ll back you on idolatry. Robert is correct that despite official Church teaching, many Catholics practice de facto idolatry. Still, I don’t necessarily blame the Church for the sins of its congregants.

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  30. Proto– Rome calls Augustine a doctor and saint but largely rejects what he taught. Protestants venerate Augustine and yet in truth only accept a portion of what he taught. Was he a Protestant? No. Augustine was a Catholic and yet not entirely Roman Catholic. Augustine is the famous originator of the ‘compel them to come in’ argument… one of the great tragedies of Church history. The North African theologian infamously used the Luke 14 parable as an argument, even a mandate for the magistrate to use violence to force people into the Catholic Church.

    Proto–The message of Ecclesiastes is highly problematic to the Dominion-builder who seeks to manifest the Holy Kingdom here on Earth. The history of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, heroes and villains largely disappears. Augustine would say that history points to the return of Christ. But in terms of the ups and downs, the rises and falls of men and their kingdoms… a coherent metanarrative is absent from Scripture. The struggles of this age may be contended with, interacted with and spoken of. But they are not ‘our’ wars. The heroes of these conflicts are not ‘our’ heroes. That which is esteemed in the eyes of the world is abomination in the sight of God. Winston Churchill, George Washington, Grant and Lee are not Christian heroes. Figures such as Richard the Lionheart, Charlemagne and Constantine are more servants of the enemy that citizens of Mt. Zion.

    http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2017/09/interpreting-augustines-city-of-god.html

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  31. Scott Clark—For Romanists, the Christian religion is entirely about the outward or external ministry of the church. They do not know the Scriptures. They do not even know the Roman catechism but they do know their local priest or the priest who catechized them, the bishop who confirmed them, the priest who administers communion, who baptized their children. They cannot explain Roman doctrine but they trust that “holy Father” (the Bishop of Rome) knows, that the councils have decided, that the church has an unwritten tradition from the Apostles so they do not have to know these things. They may not even be sure that they themselves actually believe it all but it seems safer to act as if it is all true than to act as if it is not. They trust or at least they hope that the Roman sacramental system of baptism, confirmation, reconciliation (confession), communion, marriage (for laity), ordination (for priests), anointing of the sick (extreme unction) does what it does because it is what it is. For many inside (and outside) of Rome, the ministry of the church is magic. https://heidelblog.net/2017/09/between-magic-and-mere-memory/

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  32. Jeff,

    (1) Are you venerating or worshiping Christ through a crucifix?

    Just as you do not worship leather binding and typed ink, or vocal sounds, syllables, construction, genre… but rather the message that declares who God is and what his intentions are towards his creatures, Catholics do not worship wood, resin, paint, metal, artistic design, but rather Who is symbolized through the medium.

    Since Christ is God and the crucifix is a symbol of his love toward us, we worship Him through the sign.

    (2) If veneration is not worship, why is it performed in a worship service?

    I’m not sure what you mean. Holy liturgy does not include veneration of other images.

    Again, Catholics and EO include iconography in our churches and in our homes. Protestants are not following the churches tradition( except at Christmas when Jesus, Mary and Joseph are venerated). You also have other images that you hallow:
    http://apostles-creed.org/history-confessional-christian-theology/the-reformation-monument/

    Second Council of Nicea 787:

    To summarize, we declare that we defend free from any innovations all the

    written and
    unwrittenecclesiastical traditions that have been entrusted to us.{Council formulates for the first time what the Church has always believed regarding icons}One of these is the production of representational art; this is quite in harmony with the history of the spread of the gospel, as it provides confirmation that the becoming man of the Word of God was real and not just imaginary, and as it brings us a similar benefit. For, things that mutually illustrate one another undoubtedly possess one another’s message.
    Given this state of affairs and stepping out as though on the royal highway, following as we are

    the God-spoken teaching of our holy fathers and
    the tradition of the catholic church —
    for we recognize that this tradition comes from the holy Spirit who dwells in her–
    we decree with full precision and care that,
    like the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross,
    the revered and holy images,
    whether painted or
    made of mosaic
    or of other suitable material,
    are to be exposed
    in the holy churches of God,
    on sacred instruments and vestments,
    on walls and panels,
    in houses and by public ways,
    these are the images of
    our Lord, God and saviour, Jesus Christ, and of
    our Lady without blemish, the holy God-bearer, and of
    the revered angels and of
    any of the saintly holy men.
    The more frequently they are seen in representational art, the more are those who see them drawn to remember and long for those who serve as models, and to pay these images the tribute of salutation and respectful veneration. Certainly this is not the full adoration {latria} in accordance with our faith, which is properly paid only to the divine nature, but it resembles that given to the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, and also to the holy books of the gospels and to other sacred cult objects. Further, people are drawn to honour these images with the offering of incense and lights, as was piously established by ancient custom. Indeed, the honour paid to an image traverses it, reaching the model, and he who venerates the image, venerates the person represented in that image.
    So it is that the teaching of our holy fathers is strengthened, namely, the tradition of the catholic church which has received the gospel from one end of the earth to the other.
    So it is that we really follow Paul, who spoke in Christ, and the entire divine apostolic group and the holiness of the fathers, clinging fast to the traditions which we have received.
    So it is that we sing out with the prophets the hymns of victory to the church: Rejoice exceedingly O daughter of Zion, proclaim O daughter of Jerusalem; enjoy your happiness and gladness with a full heart. The Lord has removed away from you the injustices of your enemies, you have been redeemed from the hand of your foes. The Lord the king is in your midst, you will never more see evil, and peace will be upon you for time eternal.Therefore all those who dare to think or teach anything different, or who follow the accursed heretics in rejecting ecclesiastical traditions, or who devise innovations, or who spurn anything entrusted to the church (whether it be the gospel or the figure of the cross or any example of representational art or any martyr’s holy relic), or who fabricate perverted and evil prejudices against cherishing any of the lawful traditions of the catholic church, or who secularize the sacred objects and saintly monasteries, we order that they be suspended if they are bishops or clerics, and excommunicated if they are monks or lay people.
    Anathemas concerning holy images
    If anyone does not confess that Christ our God can be represented in his humanity, let him be anathema.
    If anyone does not accept representation in art of evangelical scenes, let him be anathema.
    If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and his saints, let him be anathema.
    If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema.

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  33. Susan – Dr. Clark is correct in terms of what a large number of Catholics believe about the church, especially outside the US. What he says may not be official church doctrine, but it is the practice of a very large number of Catholics.

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  34. VV,

    I want to apologize for speaking without adding an explanation. I shouldn’t have just reacted.
    I am sad and perturbed that Dr. Clark didn’t work harder on his rhetorical invention to show that he understood the arguments of those he disagrees with. His use of “Romanist” and “entirely” and”they” demonstrate that he is speaking about most everyone who is Catholic and he is doing it in a derogatory way.

    Even if He is correct, it doesn’t change that the church is the place to go to seek instruction if someone else( priest or lay) gives wrong answers.
    The question really is, “Is the Catholic Church true?”, not ” How many people don’t know everything the church teaches”. If the church is wrong then it is to their credit that they disagree with the Pope. If the church is right then they are safe to follow her precepts even if they don’t understand what is available to them through learning.

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  35. VV,

    I use to have conversations with the elders in the Dutch Reformed church where I was a member, and I learned that I knew more than they did about scripture and the confessions, but that neither proved or disproved that the Reformed church was the true church.

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  36. Jeff,

    Yes. My point, however, is that a person’s knowledge about the doctrines of the denomination in which he finds himself does not determine if it is the church Jesus founded.
    I had some knowledge of history, but mostly I could no longer suppose the denomination model. Since “the church” is Jesus’s idea it had to begin right away and it could not be derailed. If a person is in the church begun by God Himself then neither their lack of knowledge about the Catechism nor their intelligence matters, for they will still have access to the sacraments, the reason for the church to start with.

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  37. @ Susan:

    So your answer to (1) is yes, you worship Christ through the crucifix.

    (I do understand that you are not worshiping the wood or stone)

    Question (2) was unclear, and that was my fault. There is an ambiguity between “worship” as in adoring and serving God, and “a worship service”, consisting of many acts (all of which should be acts of worship).

    So my question was better put this way: if veneration is not an act of worship (in the first sense), why is it included in a worship service (in the second sense). Your answer is, it isn’t — except at Christmastime.

    But is that true? Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum…

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  38. Coming back to gnaw at my question like the little dog at the ankle:

    What argument do you have that do not bow to them and do not worship them should mean do not bow in order to worship them?

    Let’s review and then I want to add thoughts.

    * You have argued that if my reading were correct, then Ex 20.4 would prohibit all artwork.

    My response: We know that all artwork is not forbidden because we have approved examples of artwork. By contrast, we have no approved examples of bowing to statues. Hence, Ex 20.4 is subordinated to 20.5; but it is not yet clear that 20.5 consists of a single command.

    — as a subpoint, you have argued that since veneration is not strictly worship, it needs no approved example. We haven’t explored this yet, but I see several problems on the horizon for you here.

    * You have appealed to Nicea 2 to show that veneration is the tradition of the whole church.

    But that is precisely the question here. Is the tradition of the church in fact consistent with God’s Word? It must be, if it is genuine doctrine. Yet we see a contradiction on its face: “do not bow to them” over against “you must bow to them, or be anathema.”

    So the appeal to Nicea 2 simply raises the stakes, but settles nothing.

    So what is still lacking on your part is an exegetical argument that do not bow to them and do not worship them actually intends do not bow for the purpose of worshiping them

    Here are a couple of additional thoughts.

    (1) Judicially, the command would have been enforced in Israel based on the action of bowing alone. I am sure that you are not the first to say “I was bowing but not worshiping.” But the internal actions of worshiping and venerating cannot be distinguished from the outside.

    So it is extremely unlikely that the command was interpreted in OT times as “you may bow to venerate, but not to worship.”

    (1a) And in fact, we lack any evidence that I know of that the Jews ever approved of venerating by means of statues.

    (2) The ancients who did commit idolatry (worshping Baal, Zeus, Minerva) did not worship the wood or stone, either. They, too, believed themselves to be worshiping the deity through the statue.

    For this reason, I would argue that the act of worshiping Christ through the crucifix is precisely the act forbidden in the command: bowing and worshiping. No-one intentionally worshiped the little object alone.

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  39. vv, “This flies in the face of all Christian teaching outside of maybe the past 500 years…”

    Not sure a guy arguing for leniency on pre-marital sex wants to trot out five centuries.

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  40. Susan, is the church right about the bodily assumption of Mary?

    Is the church right to fib about pederast priests?

    Sometimes the church is wrong. And when that happens, you begin to wonder when it’s right.

    THINK!

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  41. Susan, why not find some of that chutzpah with your priests and bishops? You know everything when it comes to elders, but then you go all submissive when it comes to guys wearing gowns. Are you serious?

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  42. DGH – “Not sure a guy arguing for leniency on pre-marital sex wants to trot out five centuries.”

    Fair enough, but everybodysdaughter was making the claim that the RCC maintains the “true” Christian teaching on contraception and the purpose of sex for procreation only, while all other Christian traditions have abandoned it. My point is the current RCC view of sex has only been the prevailing view within the RCC itself, and only then for about 500 of its 2000 years of existence.

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  43. Susan says:
    …for we recognize that this tradition comes from the holy Spirit who dwells in her–we decree with full precision and care that
    ..Therefore all those who dare to think or teach anything different, or who follow the accursed heretics in rejecting ecclesiastical traditions, or who devise innovations, or who spurn anything entrusted to the church (whether it be the gospel or the figure of the cross or any example of representational art or any martyr’s holy relic), or who fabricate perverted and evil prejudices against cherishing any of the lawful traditions of the catholic church,
    Anathemas concerning holy images
    -If anyone does not confess that Christ our God can be represented in his humanity, let him be anathema.
    -If anyone does not accept representation in art of evangelical scenes, let him be anathema.
    -If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and his saints, let him be anathema.
    -If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema.

    Interesting. Ironclad.
    -this tradition comes from the holy Spirit who dwells in her
    -we decree with full precision and care.
    -Anathemas concerning holy images–If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema.

    Glad, in the end, there is no lying to the Spirit that will go unaccountable (though sobering for us each and all)

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  44. VV,

    Now that we know the correct biology of reproduction, it’s hard to find a reasonable objection to most forms of contraception.

    And it’s also worth noting that RCC does approve one method of contraception—the rhythm method. I’m pretty sure you noted this elsewhere, as well as the fact the fact that there really is not substantial difference between rhythm methods and barrier methods. You need a lot of mental contortions to pretend that one instance of intentionally acting to prevent pregnancy (rhythm) is different than another (barrier).

    Like

  45. Hi folks, been busy with other matters. Am back but just for a bit. Lots to address here. I’d like to read and address every comment but I just don’t have time. I did see this, and it seems to be as close to the heart of the matter as I could quickly find:

    “Susan, both you and EsD have been reluctant to take this head-on. Why are there no approved examples of veneration of images in either OT or NT? No instructions for doing so?”

    There doesn’t need to be an example in the Bible of somebody venerating images in order for it to be a legitimate practice. To say otherwise is to draw a conclusion based on an absence. Consider these scenarios:

    Bowing approved with no scriptural examples.
    Circumcision eliminated with no scriptural examples (done when the only scripture was OT).
    Dietary restrictions removed with no scriptural examples (done when the only scripture was OT).
    Day for rest and worship moved to Sunday with no scriptural examples (done when the only scripture was OT).
    NT codified with no scriptural examples (Jesus did not commission 26 books of the NT and the OT contains no list of NT books).

    This is just what I could quickly put together off the top of my head.

    Now, as we all agreed at the very beginning, we’re not going to settle this matter on this blog post. Given that, I think this is my final comment on the matter. Take care folks, and I wish you all the best. God bless! ❤

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  46. EsD,

    The lack of examples seriously undercuts your claim that Ex 20.5 means “do not bow in order to worship.” It means that the *only* evidence for your view is church tradition.

    I wish God’s blessings upon you, too. I appeal to you to listen to God’s word in the Scripture and be guided by it as the sole, final statement of what God wants from us in worship.

    Take care

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  47. Dr Truman on pbs last night assured us that the holocaust would have happened anyway without Martin Luther’s ideas. Servetus would have been killed anyway even if Calvin had not approved of the idea of a city church. On the other hand, there would have been no gospel today without Martin Luther’s ideas. And possibly no American “democracy”.

    And without the ideas of John Calvin, we still would have had already the true saving water baptism of Roman Catholicism but we would have never had the true church and confession and catechism.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2017/04/version-new-luther-movie/

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  48. @Jeff In thinking about your challenge regarding Ex 20:5, it occurs to me that Moses is commanded to cast a bronze snake and raise it on a pole so that those who “look” on it (behold in the KJV) may be healed. Now this isn’t exactly bowing, but I’m not sure it is simply “glancing at” either. We see this from the parallel that Jesus draws between those who looked upon the serpent and were healed and those who look to him and thus gain eternal life.

    That being said, we also see that people began to make offerings to the snake (venerate?) and thus Hezekiah destroyed it (and was commended for it).

    Thus it seems to me that it complicates the reading of Ex 20:4-5 in that a graven images was constructed and people were to look to it expectantly for healing (part of their repentance it seems in the context of Numbers 21 and John 3), but they were not to venerate it and they did thus it needed to be destroyed (2Kings18).

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  49. @ SDB:

    It’s an excellent example, and it demonstrates again the way in which 20.4 is subordinated to 20.5. The making of images for purposes other than generation was entirely acceptable, but for the purpose of bowing or worshiping was not.

    Like

  50. s/generation/veneration

    Posted from, natch, my iPhone

    PS sent an email today to someone named Orville. The trusty ol iPhone started it with “Hi, horrible,”

    Caught it before sending…

    Like

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