Jason Stellman Tells His Conversion Story

Mar 21st, 2013 | By Bryan Cross | Category: Blog Posts

Regular readers of Called To Communion are familiar with Jason Stellman. In September of last year we posted an article he wrote for us titled “I Fought the Church, and the Church Won.” In November of last year, I interviewed Jason regarding his conversion from Presbyterian pastor to Catholic, and posted the podcast of that interview here. On March 9 of this year, Jason Stellman gave a talk at the Holy Family Conference at Holy Family Parish in Kirkland, Washington. Jason had been planning to talk about “The cruciform life” during that session of the conference. But in the hour before his talk was scheduled to begin, he had lunch with Scott Hahn, who convinced him to tell his conversion story instead. So he did, and thankfully the event was recorded:

 

Download the mp3 by right-clicking here.

Jason blogs at CreedCodeCult.com.

Tags: Conversion Stories

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  1. So I found this post at 1:35 a.m. on a worknight. Thanks a lot C2C. Clicking play now.

  2. Thanks, Bryan, (et. al.).
    Very sad to hear him.

  3. “…That moment when you say ‘look, I can fit that verse into my paradigm, but someone holding my paradigm would never say that.'” (22:40)

    Bingo. That paradigm shift is a wild ride.
    Nice to have you on board Francis’ boat Jason.

  4. Jason, I can’t believe you didn’t find my “We’re “ƒ%#@!” answer satisfying.

  5. I appreciated the task of reading the NT again and highlighting phrases and passages that wouldn’t be said if the author held your paradigm. I’d love to see your notes on this. Even if it only got to Mt 18. Has anyone else here made a similar list?

  6. Jason, I listened to all 3 of your recent conversion accounts from your blog. As an ex-“truly reformed” Christian, I can relate to much of what you went through. Your observations on the Catholic bloggers/authors attitudes, in general, contrasted with the reformed attitudes, in general, resonated powerfully to my wife and I. I’ve commented here previously that the arrogance sometimes displayed by many popular reformed apologists (which I was encouraged to read by the reformed to get “both sides”) did contribute to my conversion. Thanks for your testimony.

  7. Hugh (#2):

    What is sad to you about this testimony? He sounds to me to be full of the Lord’s joy. Finding the True Church is in no ways at odds with finding Jesus Himself; quite the contrary, I’d say.

    isaiah.

  8. Did I understand correctly that his wife and kids are still with the PCA, or did they eventually the Church?

  9. Isaiah,

    He sounds like Luther in reverse – running away from the light of Christ to structure, hierarchy, centralized authority, sacred tradition, no eternal assurance, but plenty of temporal and temporary assurance (until he morally sins again), etc.

    Gullible, Jason, you are gullible. Deceiving and being deceived, as Paul put it. There is no way to prove this, any more than you can prove your side.

    You claim no one had a good argument against your queries. I would maintain that you simply don’t believe the arguments of your professors and others. (I loved the reference I believe to Steve Baugh!)

    So be it. Seeing eyes and hearing ears must be granted one from above. May God have mercy on you.

  10. Hugh McCann,

    Why would you speak that way to Jason? You didn’t lay out a single argument as to why your paradigm is preferable to his. No one had good arguments for my queries either, and I was honestly alarmed that its been this long since the Reformation and the Reformed System has so many glaring holes that even a lay person like myself could spot them. I don’t blame the Magisterial Reformers, but I sure was surprised that so much has gotten past so many for so long.
    Since there is no such thing a universal salvation, how do you know that you are not one of those “who went of from us because you were not among us?”
    You’d think that since he can’t help it that God wasn’t merciful to him like He was to you because he doesn’t have seeing eyes and hearing ears, his haters would be really kind so as to win him back with the love of Christ, or ignore him altogether.

    This behavior is so cruel, and people hurt. Please seek to make it right.

    Susan

  11. Hugh,

    Did the Apostles believe in an authority structure? If they did and if they began churches with a structure for authority, then was this authority the kind which can just spring up anywhere and at anytime through the proper understanding of Scripture? If so, which of the many communities which have done this has the structure which if of divine authority that make up the varied groups of Protestantism today? If you are thinking along the lines that all the diverse communities have the number of the elect scattered and sub-grouped within them, then can all the Elect have mutually exclusive understandings about the gospel? If they cannot, then this means that only a sub-groups out of all the protestant groupings are within your standard of being able to be saved or elect. If then there are only a sub-group of communities which are protestant wherein a person who submits to the ecclesiastical teaching authority (which Hebrews 13:7 teaches) can be genuinely saved, which groups are these? How can you know these groups are the ones whom God accepts alone?

    It is clear that you believe that Catholics, who believe in Catholic theology, are lost and condemned because of their doctrine. If this is the case, then you have applied a certain standard to be able to put Catholics on the “hell-bound” line unto the final judgement. If this is case as well, then you have a standard by which to put the Elect on the “heaven-bound” line unto the final judgement. Since there is no choice for you but to accept this logic (unless you deny it in the name of some invisible revelation to the inner senses), could you be a loving person and share with us what the standard of doctrine determining whether someone “can” be saved or definitely lost.

    If you see all these questions as superfluous and inferior to the inner revelation which the Holy Spirit alone gives to man, then do you reject Protestant apologetics to the unsaved? If you reject Protestant apologetics to the unsaved, does this not require the use of reason and fine questioning? If you accept Protestant apologetics, why would you denounce the same kind of logic which undermines and falsifies the protestant conception of the gospel? If you accept Protestant apologetics, then you believe there are arguments which can potentially lead one to see that Catholicism has demonic doctrine, using logic and reason, while not resting on logic and reason as the foundation of persuasion. If you believe that logic and reason can and will do this, given that the person is illuminated by the Holy Spirit, then why would you not provide some reason as to why you believe what you believe?

  12. This is a good time to remind everybody of our posting guidelines.

    That means that you may not criticize or insult or belittle or judge or mock any person, his character, intelligence, education, background, or motivations. Attacking persons is fallacious and uncharitable and will not be permitted here.

  13. Hey Matthew,

    You understood correctly, my wife and kids are still attending Exile Pres, which I planted.

  14. Thanks, Jason. I’m glad Scott talked you into this.

    I can tell you from personal experience that as a new convert, you will come under attack from the Enemy, trying to convince you to leave the Church, or not to pursue it so deeply. So, I will be praying for you and the strength of your family!

    God bless.

  15. I’m listening to your talk now Jason so you may cover this but was your wife willing to convalidate your marriage so you could enter the Church?

  16. That has got to be tough, Jason. Do your wife and children not share your views on Catholicism?

    How do y’all work out your differences in your family life?

    I apologize if this is too personal. I’m in a similar spot myself, almost ready to make the leap, without wife and children.

  17. Dan,

    No, they do not share my convictions. My wife is awesome and totally respects me, but she also thinks I’m kind of nuts!

  18. Jason, I have followed your story for some time now and have prayed for you and your family and also requested prayers for you from our Adoration teams. I came back to the one holy catholic and apostolic church after over 25 years of fully embracing Evangelicalism/Protestism. I am back in the church today for many of the same reasons that you converted. Like you it hasn’t always been easy and many of my friends and family think I have lost my mind and thats ok because to lose myself is to gain Christ. Once the scales fell from my eyes I honestly had no other choice. I finally know true peace and God is sculpting me one day at a time. Thank you for sharing your story. God be with you and grant you peace. P.S. It took 14 years but Tim Staples family finally converted and his brother became a Priest. ; )

  19. (Re #16-18): St. Monica, pray for us!

  20. Jason,

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful testimony. Please know there are so many praying for your job search and your family during this time. We all are so excited to see your vocation in the Church take flight.

    Peace of Christ,

    Patrick

  21. Thanks Susan. To your concerns: Why would you speak that way to Jason? You didn’t lay out a single argument as to why your paradigm is preferable to his.
    >You’re right – I wasn’t arguing at all. I wasn’t posting to argue as had Mr Stellman’s seminary profs (many of whom I had in the late 1990s).

    Since there is no such thing a universal salvation, how do you know that you are not one of those “who went of from us because you were not among us?”
    >Only by faith. :)

    You’d think …his haters would be really kind so as to win him back with the love of Christ, or ignore him altogether.
    >No, Ma’am. You might think that, but not we all. But if Mr Stellman wishes to report his being hurt, I will gladly reconsider my comments. As to winning him with the love of Christ – that was laid out by better, more sanctified, more erudite, and I expect certainly more loving teachers of the Word than I; and they (we) all have failed. You last option is a good one. But we also believe that men who defect from Christ (just as your church teaches about those who defect from Catholicism) are actually under God’s curse, barring their repentance & returning to the biblical faith. I won’t try to argue it here. It appears such is a lost cause @ CTC. But I wanted to address your concerns. We are of different spirits, different gospels, different Christs.

    You’d think that since he can’t help it that God wasn’t merciful to him like He was to you because he doesn’t have seeing eyes and hearing ears, his haters would be really kind so as to win him back with the love of Christ, or ignore him altogether.
    >I am close to this last suggestion of yours.

    This behavior is so cruel, and people hurt. Please seek to make it right.
    >You have also made assertions w/o argumentation, just as I have. I believe that unless we violate some other criterion of this site’s posting policy, we are both free to do so.

  22. Thanks for clarifying, Jason.

  23. Hey, Erick (#11),

    Did the Apostles believe in an authority structure?
    >Sure – they instituted bishops and deacons.

    If they did and if they began churches with a structure for authority, then was this authority the kind which can just spring up anywhere and at anytime through the proper understanding of Scripture?
    >Yes, in many cases there are no missionaries to stay behind. Natives have to fend for themselves with only God’s Word – which claims self-sufficiency.

    If so, which of the many communities which have done this has the structure which if of divine authority that make up the varied groups of Protestantism today?
    >Couldn’t tell you. You guys love tidy packaging, I know. Sorry.

    If you are thinking along the lines that all the diverse communities have the number of the elect scattered and sub-grouped within them, then can all the Elect have mutually exclusive understandings about the gospel?
    >You define ‘gospel’ much differently than I. By PAUL’S gospel (1 Cor. 15:3f), no, the elect cannot have “M.U.E.” about the gospel. The gospel and the gospel alone is the way of salvation: Christ dying and rising again for his own.

    If they cannot, then this means that only a sub-groups out of all the protestant groupings are within your standard of being able to be saved or elect. If then there are only a sub-group of communities which are protestant wherein a person who submits to the ecclesiastical teaching authority (which Hebrews 13:7 teaches) can be genuinely saved, which groups are these? How can you know these groups are the ones whom God accepts alone?
    >Answered above. One must believe the true gospel about the true Christ to be saved. S/he may differ with others on baptism issues, church polity, eschatology, etc.

    It is clear that you believe that Catholics, who believe in Catholic theology, are lost and condemned because of their doctrine. If this is the case, then you have applied a certain standard to be able to put Catholics on the “hell-bound” line unto the final judgement. If this is case as well, then you have a standard by which to put the Elect on the “heaven-bound” line unto the final judgement. Since there is no choice for you but to accept this logic (unless you deny it in the name of some invisible revelation to the inner senses),
    >Sounds sound.

    could you be a loving person and share with us what the standard of doctrine determining whether someone “can” be saved or definitely lost.
    >Yes, as the Apostle says in 1 Cor. 15:3f – keep in mind THAT gospel, and you’ll be saved.

    If you see all these questions as superfluous and inferior to the inner revelation which the Holy Spirit alone gives to man, then do you reject Protestant apologetics to the unsaved? If you reject Protestant apologetics to the unsaved, does this not require the use of reason and fine questioning? If you accept Protestant apologetics, why would you denounce the same kind of logic which undermines and falsifies the protestant conception of the gospel? If you accept Protestant apologetics, then you believe there are arguments which can potentially lead one to see that Catholicism has demonic doctrine, using logic and reason, while not resting on logic and reason as the foundation of persuasion. If you believe that logic and reason can and will do this, given that the person is illuminated by the Holy Spirit, then why would you not provide some reason as to why you believe what you believe?
    >”Protestant apolgetics” is a wide field. I reject empiricism and evidentialism. I embrace Scripturalism.
    >You’ll have to be specific about “the same kind of logic which undermines and falsifies the protestant conception of the gospel.”
    >One reason not to go too far in arguing, is that it is fruitless with those who have been trained in Reformed theology, and have even argued for it. Think of Mr Cross or Mr Stellman, for example. But what exactly do you want?
    >Thank you.

  24. Hugh:

    Do you have life in you?

    Keep in mind that in order to have life in you and be raised up on the last day, Jesus says you must eat His flesh and drink His blood.

    Do you, in absolute point-of-fact, do that?

    The Scriptures are perfectly and plainly literal on this point, you know. And it’s the only thing that allows Christianity’s connection with the Old Testament to make sense!

    The people of Israel remained under the covenant and in the people of God because when they celebrated the Passover, they ate the lamb. Christ our Paschal lamb has been sacrificed; we are the People of God; we are bidden to come enjoy the feast; we must therefore Eat The Lamb.

    Likewise we must drink His blood. The Old Testament is very specific: The life is in the blood. God, who never intended to fill His people with the merely organic life of an animal or a man, forbade the drinking of the blood of animals or of men. It is not that kind of life that we are to drink. He desires something better for us: He specifically promises to give us Eternal Life. Not merely everlasting life, mind you, such as every human soul has, but Eternal Life: No beginning, no end. Only one such has that life: God Himself. Is it any wonder that He bids us drink His blood, so that we might have life in us, and be raised up at the last day?

    Nor is this any novel interpretation of Scripture. It’s the way the first-century Christians interpreted it, according to their own writings. And the second-century Christians, according to theirs. And the third-century Christians. And the fourth. And the fifth. And, and, and, and…it is only those who came along fifteen hundred years later, plagued with the errors of human reasoning and divorced from the Jewish roots of Christianity by a vast cultural gap, who are confused enough to see it any other way. It is their modernism, their secularism, their theological liberalism, which prompts them not to Take Christ At His Word, and to deny that He Said What He Meant And He Meant What He Said.

    So I ask you, Hugh: Do you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood? Do you have life in you?

    Or do you have a 16th-century anachronism derived from a watered-down, modernized, and secularized institutional memory? Are you, like Luther, a theological liberal?

    Respectfully, I exhort you: The Lord Jesus Christ thinks it matters.

  25. Hugh,

    Thank you for your responses. I happen to be very open to Protestant arguments, as I do not always appreciate the arguments that Catholics give in response. I particularly have a bit of difficulty with how Protestants can maintain their view of the the Scriptures with a robust logical exegesis of the texts. I happen to believe the texts of Scripture lean more toward a the traditional way of understanding Christianity. If you had to nail it down, what makes you believe that Catholics are hell-bound if they really do believe in Catholic doctrine?

    Is it justification? Well, even as a Protestant, you cannot subjectively “know” you are justified (depending on which reformed church you are in) until you have reached a certain confirmation that your “fruit-bearing” or “repentance” is of a God-accepting level. If you come from a protestant camp which is more reformed baptist or independent baptist (Richard Owen Roberts, etc,etc), you are constantly warned of “false-conversion” or “counterfeit repentance”, to the extant that one is always doubting and questioning one’s own conversion and repentance. If you are hyped up in this kind of “holiness” environment, then your assurance of your acquisition of Christ’s righteousness is not stable, but always dependent upon you passing the bare minimum level of which you think is “true” repentance. At times, the level of your standard can go down or up, depending on what you’ve been learning or who you’ve been influenced by. For instance, those who love RC Sproul and Burk Parsons have a bit of a more easy way of balancing the Christian life so that the person has assurance and yet is still under the fear of God and obligation to live in holiness. But others, who dive into Matthew Meade’s Almost Christian, may find themselves going through a doubting depression for years. You yourself may be in the camp which says, “Amen! The Christian life is Hard! And one must really sacrifice all the desires of the flesh for the glory of God!”…..but you see……one wonders what effectiveness this more “grace-filled” gospel has in the life of the human being. You are consistently taught that human works have no cause in the salvation of the human being, and yet you are constantly being told that only works evidence the prior work of God, and then even more constantly reminded that there are so many counterfeit versions of the evidence, and that there is a very difficult, even impossible, single and genuine evidence which can grant one assurance of salvation. And it becomes an even more difficult rubix cube when a Person who has been serving Christ in this way for years, and then dives into a couple of years of fornication. And the worst part about it is this, God is controlling everything. God is ordaining the doubt in salvation. If you are truly lost, despite all the energy and effort to be saved, this is also an immutable energy of God working in the life of the person.

    At this point, one wonders how Protestants consider themselves to have more “grace” in their gospel. Catholics believe that Jesus loves all people and wishes all to be saved. He doesn’t think that his cross loses glory because some of those for whom He died reject him ultimately and go to hell, because it remains a loving act towards the world, something that is in the heart of God (John 3:16). Calvinists are so proud of protecting God in His glory in the unmitigated and undiluted sovereignty and predestination of God, that sometimes you really do not know if God loves you or if you are one of those Christians who are self-deceived (in the truest sense) for 50 years and then by 51 years of age you become a reprobate, and all along God has hated you and purposed you for wrath and destruction. You take away the very thing which human beings are to know about God, that He loves them and cares for them and wishes them to be saved, by this sovereign salvation and damnation apart from human works. It is almost as if since works play no part in the predestination of the elect, works also play no part in the predestination of the wicked. There is a settled determination before all creation, and everything in our time is simply an outplay of this pre-determined plan. This creates much confusion with the theology of the Old Testament, Jesus, and the apostles.

    What else is it? The Papacy? The wickedness? The lukewarmness? The false holiness? The praying to the dead?

  26. Still waiting for Jason to answer my question in #15 I have a very good reason for asking it so if you could do so I would be most appreciative?

  27. Wayne, (re: #26)

    You may have a very good reason for asking your question. But rather than insist that Jason publicly answer a personal question before laying out that reason, a more charitable approach on your part would be simply to explain your reason, and let Jason see whether it applies to his case.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  28. Dear Susan (@ #10),
    I appreciate your post the more I think about it.
    Prov. 15:1 & 2 Tim. 2:23ff came to mind as I read Titus 2:7-9 today.
    Many thanks for your admonition to caritas!
    Hugh

  29. Erick #25: I will try to reply ASAP, and as I am allowed to here,
    but perhaps we &/ or the moderator may want us to discuss this
    in emails rather than here @ CTC.

    R.C. #24: I will likewise try to reply to you ASAP.

    Both your posts are great, and I am honored to be asked these things.

    Thank you.

  30. Sure Bryan. I am considering converting to the Church but my wife refuses to convalidate our marriage so I may have to seek a radical senation from the Bishop. And yet this situation has also given me pause and I am proceeding with caution as I know I am the Spiritual Leader in our home.

    Hope that helps and my apologies if my question was too personal and would be happy to receive a reply privately.

    In His Blessed Name,

    Wayne

  31. Hugh:

    I find your position rather mystifying. On the one hand, you claim that neither side can “prove” the superiority of its interpretive paradigm as applied to the Bible; on the other, you claim the Bible is “self-sufficient.” How the Bible can be self-sufficient if it doesn’t decisively settle the question which paradigm to adopt for its interpretation is rather mystifying, wouldn’t you say?

    Best,
    Mike

  32. Michael #30,

    The Bible, the Faith, is only discernable to those whose eyes and ears it opens. Faith comes by hearing* the Word of God.

    *That hearing is not from one’s free will, nor a Spirit-aided freed will, but regeneration must precede belief. By proclaiming the true Word of God, we have confidence that it w/ the Spirit will enliven and saved whom God will, and harden whom he will. See 1 Cor. 1:18-2:16.
    Thank you.

  33. Hence, the Bible is self-sufficient and decisively settles the question for those who are first enlivened to believe it.

  34. Hugh:

    I agree with everything you say in #32, but I don’t think what you say in #33 follows at all. In fact, the latter is incompatible with the former.

    You write:

    Hence, the Bible is self-sufficient and decisively settles the question for those who are first enlivened to believe it.

    If something beyond just reading the Bible with literary understanding is necessary for understanding the truth conveyed by the Bible, then the Bible alone does not suffice for understanding the truth it conveys. Indeed, according to you, the grace of the Spirit is also necessary for understanding the truth conveyed by the Bible–a claim I agree with. But in that case, something beyond just reading the Bible with literary understanding is necessary for understanding the truth conveyed by the Bible. Hence, “the Bible” is not self-sufficient for the purpose stated.

    If we can agree on that much, the next question becomes: “How does one know when one is interpreting the Bible by the grace and light of the Spirit?” Your statement: “The Bible, the Faith, is only discernable to those whose eyes and ears it opens” won’t do, for two reasons. First, even though that statement is true, it doesn’t answer the question; second, it assumes one of the very theses at issue, which is whether the contents of the Bible are identical with “the Faith.” Thus your statement is question-begging in two ways.

    Best,
    Mike

  35. Hey Wayne,

    That’s rough, buddy. Have you tried the romance approach: be really sweet, go on lots of dates, dial up the affection? Also, is there a way to bing her to social events in which she will encounter and befriend happy, faithful Catholic women?

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  36. Mike @34 – You are rockin’ it!

    If something beyond just reading the Bible with literary understanding is necessary for understanding the truth conveyed by the Bible, then the Bible alone does not suffice for understanding the truth it conveys. Indeed, according to you, the grace of the Spirit is also necessary for understanding the truth conveyed by the Bible–a claim I agree with. But in that case, something beyond just reading the Bible with literary understanding is necessary for understanding the truth conveyed by the Bible. Hence, “the Bible” is not self-sufficient for the purpose stated0.

    Great point. I erred here. The Bible is sufficient as to things here on Earth – no magisterium or pope (in- or semi-fallible) necessary.

    If we can agree on that much, the next question becomes: “How does one know when one is interpreting the Bible by the grace and light of the Spirit?” Your statement: “The Bible, the Faith, is only discernable to those whose eyes and ears it opens” won’t do, for two reasons. First, even though that statement is true, it doesn’t answer the question; second, it assumes one of the very theses at issue, which is whether the contents of the Bible are identical with “the Faith.” Thus your statement is question-begging in two ways.

    One knows anything spiritual by the Spirit. One knows he is interpreting the Bible by the grace and light of the Spirit by the Spirit’s witness/ testimony, just as one knows his adoption/ sonship per Romans 8:14ff ~ For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

    Are these helpful? I’m not sure I am answering you to your satisfaction.
    Thank you.
    Hugh

  37. > Do you have life in you?
    Hey, R.C. (@24),
    Yep! :)

    > Keep in mind that in order to have life in you and be raised up on the last day, Jesus says you must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Do you, in absolute point-of-fact, do that?
    By faith alone [not transubstantiation]: John 6:35, 40, 47f.

    > The people of Israel remained under the covenant and in the people of God because when they celebrated the Passover, they ate the lamb. Christ our Paschal lamb has been sacrificed; we are the People of God; we are bidden to come enjoy the feast; we must therefore Eat The Lamb.
    “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life” (John 6:40). That is to “eat Jesus Christ.”

    > Likewise we must drink His blood. The Old Testament is very specific: The life is in the blood. God, who never intended to fill His people with the merely organic life of an animal or a man, forbade the drinking of the blood of animals or of men. It is not that kind of life that we are to drink. He desires something better for us: He specifically promises to give us Eternal Life. Not merely everlasting life, mind you, such as every human soul has, but Eternal Life: No beginning, no end. Only one such has that life: God Himself. Is it any wonder that He bids us drink His blood, so that we might have life in us, and be raised up at the last day?
    No, sir.

    > So I ask you, Hugh: Do you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood? Do you have life in you?
    Yes & yes.

    > Or do you have a 16th-century anachronism derived from a watered-down, modernized, and secularized institutional memory? Are you, like Luther, a theological liberal?
    Acc. to you, I guess so!
    Thank you.
    …we may not criticize or insult or belittle or judge or mock any person, his character, intelligence, education, background, or motivations. Attacking persons is fallacious and uncharitable and will not be permitted here.

  38. Hugh, relating to your comment 33,

    Please enlighten me, Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and Wesley had some pretty strong differences on the nature of salvation.
    Calvin, Luther, and Wesley believed that baptism was necessary and that infant baptism baptism was valid. Zwingli did not on either account.
    Calvin believed in once saved always saved. Wesley believed you could lose your salvation.
    Calvin and Luther practiced devotions to Mary and saw this as laudable, but Zwingli saw it as a hell-worthy abomination.
    There are dozens of other salvation related issues which they disagreed.

    These are issues of salvation so one cannot claim they agreed on the essentials and disagreed on the nonessentials.

    Your understanding of salvation also contract Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and Wesley.

    So my question to you is, which of you are Spirit-aided and have truly listened to what scripture says? Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and Wesley all seem pretty sincere in their convictions and you do also, and all believed they were listening to the Holy Spirit. But clearly someone has to be mistaken, since you can’t all be right.

    So how do *you* know you are correct an they are wrong?

  39. Hi Jason S. We have to meet sometime! I just had coffee recently with Fr. Bryan Ochs –this week.
    I am entering the Church next WEEK in fact.

    My wife is not opposed, but neither is she 100% supportive. She is NOT anti-Catholic by any means, she just doesn’t see the point. After all, can’t we just simply be GOOD Protestants. She was fine as long as Catholicism was merely “interesting”. It was only when I started talking about it as if were TRUE that she started to have a problem.

    It hurts for my wife and family to NOT see the beauty and fullness of Catholicism. I’m praying daily she’ll warm up to it.

    I have never heard of “convalidating” a marriage before. Maybe someone could fill me in on that. Our RCIA director didn’t mention anything like that to me.

  40. Wayne,

    I highly recommend that you write the diocesan marriage tribunal for your local diocese and describe in detail the circumstances of your marriage regarding:
    – baptism (or not) of each party
    – previous marriages if any
    -were any of the previous marriages in the Catholic Church
    – whether either party has ever been Catholic
    – whether the marriage was civil or religious

    In addition it will probably be very helpful to speak to a priest at a local parish, and possibly contact a canon lawyer. You could also call Catholic Answer apologists off-air and they will get you started 619-387-7200
    Monday–Friday, 9 AM–4:45 PM, Pacific.

    Still the Diocesan Tribunal is the highest authority and deals with this all the time. Local Priests and knowledgeable can sometimes be misinformed or not aware of certain conditions.

    I hesitate to offer any solid guidance because there are nuances I don’t understand always and I am not an expert BUT…

    In general the Catholic Church does recognize marriages of other Christians as valid. There are however two types of marriage: Simply a valid marriage, or Sacramental Marriage. If I understand correctly your marriage may not be Sacramental without convalidation, but it is very possible that your marriage would be recognized as valid and you would be able to participate in the sacramental life of the Church.

    Particularly, if this is a first marriage for both of you and neither of you was baptized in a Catholic Church and neither of you has ever been Catholic, you probably have a valid marriage from what I understand.

    Non-Catholics are not subject to Canon law, and are not subject to the requirements the Church places upon Her members regarding marriage. Marriage is a Sacrament that is properly instituted by the Couple themselves, not by the priest. The Priest is a witness and blesses the marriage and the Mass is for the marriage and celebrates and solemnizes the occasion, but the marriage itself is contracted entirely between the two partners.

    Sorry for my in-expertise. I hope I am sure I have this mostly correct, but you are best served by going to the tribunal.

    Prayers for you! And really, regardless of your marital status, the Church is still the True Church. In my mind, better to be imperfectly a member and bear the cross of an irregular situation than to remain outside of visible communion with Christ’s Church.

  41. To Hugh and To Wayne

    Dear Hugh,

    Glad you are interested in doing what is good. Your change of heart has touched mine:)
    I can commiserate to some degree, because while I didn’t plant a church and I don’t have his position as authority nor his amount of learning, I am in a situation near to his. I entered that Catholic Church this past December, and I am the only person in my family to go this route. My husband and children still attend a Reformed church in Southern California. We go our separate ways every Lord’s Day and it is terrible hard.
    Those people at their church have been very kind to my family but it I do’t see any of them in social settings anymore. I haven’t seen my former pastors since last summer. The whole situation is very weird.
    I know that I am always welcome to any social situation, but I feel that they think I have the plague:) I don’t want to deal with people showing me sorrowful eyes as if they pity me for my poor choice. I am pleased to have found the Church! But, I also understand how they view me now. They are mistaken however, and so I hand onto the truth, I have received by faith. Also, happy to hear that you desire to continue communicating on this site! Blessings to you.

    Dear Wayne,

    My husband was extremely hostile to me before I converted. He didn’t attend my reception and first communion. It has gotten easier. The yelling has stopped( from both of us) ,and he puts up with my Catholic books. I haven’t even tried to ask him for any icons…it’s too soon.
    He was not willing to have our marriage convalidated, but since we had both been baptized after we were married, it wasn’t needed.
    Hang-in there and keep being a loving husband.
    I will pray for your situation.

    ~Susan

  42. Hi Wayne,

    It really depends on your wife. Scott Hahn converted long before before his wife agreed, and Kimberley Hahn admitted that she was so fixed in her intellectual views that she would have stonewalled his conversion forever if Scott Hahn didn’t act unilaterally. The unilateral conversion forced her to be serious about examining the claims of the Catholic Church.

    For other women (e.g. more “Heart Christian” than “Head Christian”), a hard unilateral approach is the worse possible thing you could do and might do irreparable damage to your marriage. For these women, it is critical that you don’t pressure them and it is important that you first live the Catholic life (i.e. attend mass but abstain from the Eucharist, practice Catholic devotions, care for the family from the Catholic perspective, etc) and give her space before even attempting a conversion. Eventually she will see that Catholicism is “safe”, that you are a better husband, father, and person for being Catholic, and see your suffering at not being able to receive the Eucharist or go to confession that she will support you as a Catholic and all obligations you have as a Catholic. This may take years, the suffering of waiting and constant prayer for full reconciliation will not go to waste.

    You know your wife better than anyone here. But in either case, you can’t force your wife to convert. If it happens, it is by God’s grace and you’re personal piety will play an crucial part in lowering the barriers to her conversion.

  43. Wayne,

    Feel free to write me privately: j(dot)stellman(at)comcast(dot)net.

  44. Michael Liccione: you wrote: “you claim that neither side can “prove” the superiority of its interpretive paradigm as applied to the Bible; on the other, you claim the Bible is “self-sufficient.” How the Bible can be self-sufficient if it doesn’t decisively settle the question which paradigm to adopt for its interpretation is rather mystifying, wouldn’t you say?”

    But how can the pope settle anything when Garry Wills is on the loose?

  45. Sean Patrick (or whomever), RE #36 – thanks! ;)

  46. Dear Anil @38 ~

    Please enlighten me, Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and Wesley had some pretty strong differences on the nature of salvation.
    >I believe that I am in essential agreement with Luther and Calvin, but am not conversant with Zwingli and am not in essential agreement (as far as I know of him) with John Wesley.

    There are dozens of other salvation related issues which they disagreed.
    >Yes. Some issues of salvation and some not. You & i would probably disagree on which these are.

    These are issues of salvation so one cannot claim they agreed on the essentials and disagreed on the nonessentials.
    >That’s your opinion, and you have the right to hold that opinion, but with due respect, I believe it is incorrect. >Infant baptism is not an issue of salvation. But could otherwise good men err on this?

    Your understanding of salvation also contract Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and Wesley.
    > You mean “contradict”? How? I may disagree with Wesley, but how do I differ from Calvin & Luther?

    So my question to you is, which of you are Spirit-aided and have truly listened to what scripture says?
    Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and Wesley —
    >That seems a fair Best-to-Worst rating, as far as I know. :)

    So how do *you* know you are correct an they are wrong?
    >I believe that I am in essential agreement with Luther and Calvin, but am not conversant with Zwingli and am not in essential agreement (as far as I know) with John Wesley.
    >To the best of my knowledge, I am in agreement with Paul and Jesus. Infinitely more important. :)
    >Thank you.

  47. Thanks to each of you who provided me with counsel, prayers, and recommendations above in my particular circumstance. It’s been quite the struggle over the past year or so but God is in control.

  48. Jason, Susan, and Wayne,

    I am very sorry to read of the marital problems your conversions to Rome are causing (exposing or exacerbating). I am writing the following sincerely.

    Given that you are leaving a grace-only religion (that holds orthodox Trinitarianism & Christology), and that claims that one can know whether s/he is destined for heaven through her/ his faith in Christ Jesus, why not for the sake of peace and marital harmony stay in the “lesser” church?

    Rome claims that we’re separated brethren, not the heretics Trent threatened to burn, right? Then why not for your family’s sake stay in communion with your spouse & children in a Presbyterian or Baptist or Reformed church?

    I grant you that Rome has the corner on venerability, incense, liturgy, Latin rite, bonus Bible books, catechism, canons, councils, decrees, dogmas, and promises of sacramental grace, but no sure eternal hope, only maybes.

    Why go where eternal life is merely a possibility (if you’re good enough) and not stay where faith in Christ as the soul’s sole Mediator is the watchword?

    Why leave a church where the family is united, and grace is secure, and separate the family for “maybe”?

  49. Hugh (#36):

    I appreciate your humility, and I mean that. I do not often encounter theological opponents who actually admit they’ve erred when I point out their error. You refresh! Thank you.

    Even so, I’m not sure you’ve taken my larger point. You write:

    The Bible is sufficient as to things here on Earth – no magisterium or pope (in- or semi-fallible) necessary.

    I think what you mean is that no ecclesial teaching authority is necessary for interpreting the Bible correctly, but only the Holy Spirit. At least that’s what I take your position to be; it’s the position of many Protestants. But it doesn’t really answer my question: How you know when you are interpreting the Bible by the Spirit, who has divine authority, and not just according to your own or some other people’s understanding, which has no authority?

    You seem to be getting at an answer by quoting Romans 8:14ff and commenting:

    One knows anything spiritual by the Spirit. One knows he is interpreting the Bible by the grace and light of the Spirit by the Spirit’s witness/ testimony, just as one knows his adoption/ sonship…

    Very well then: How do you distinguish between “the Spirit’s witness” and those of people who just happen to agree with you about how to interpret the Bible for doctrinal purposes? It won’t do to cite the fact–if indeed it is a fact–that you “know” your adoption as a child of God. I too believe I am an adopted child of God (though I hold that belief by faith, not as an item of knowledge), but I don’t think that status guarantees that I’ll be able to tell the difference between the Spirit’s authoritative witness and my own or others’ merely human interpretive opinions. For that, I look to the Magisterium; as a Catholic, I believe the bishops are successors of the Apostles, to whom Jesus Christ gave his divine teaching authority, and who passed that authority on to their successors. To whom or what do you look for the Spirit’s authoritative witness?

    Best,
    Mike

  50. Hey, Mike,

    > I think what you mean is that no ecclesial teaching authority is necessary for interpreting the Bible correctly, but only the Holy Spirit. At least that’s what I take your position to be; it’s the position of many Protestants.
    Yes sir!

    > How you know when you are interpreting the Bible by the Spirit, who has divine authority, and not just according to your own or some other people’s understanding, which has no authority?
    > …How do you distinguish between “the Spirit’s witness” and those of people who just happen to agree with you about how to interpret the Bible for doctrinal purposes?

    > To whom or what do you look for the Spirit’s authoritative witness?

    Again, the Rom. 8 & 1 Cor. 1-2 refs. give us proof that we can know certain terribly important spiritual things.

    I only have the clear passages to help me with the less clear ones. As one Prot. Confession (from Jason’s ex-denom) put it in chapter 1:

    The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    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.

  51. Hey, Mike,

    How you know when you are interpreting the Bible by the Spirit, who has divine authority, and not just according to your own or some other people’s understanding, which has no authority?
    …How do you distinguish between “the Spirit’s witness” and those of people who just happen to agree with you about how to interpret the Bible for doctrinal purposes?
    …To whom or what do you look for the Spirit’s authoritative witness?

    I cannot believe there is a higher or holier authority than sacred Writ itself and its Author.

  52. Darryl (#44):

    But how can the pope settle anything when Garry Wills is on the loose?

    I occasionally permit myself that kind of wit, but I don’t take it as seriously as you do. Here’s why.

    Anybody who cares to can learn what the definitive teachings of the Church are. What the Church has taught definitively is thus “settled.” The technical term for that is ‘irreformable’, which does not mean ‘cannot be improved’, but rather ‘may never be contradicted’. By the same token, anybody who cares to can tell that Garry Wills rejects many irreformable teachings of the Church. Materially, he is a heretic. The only reason he isn’t formally branded a heretic by the Church is that the canonically required trial and conviction is ordinarily reserved for clerics and theologians, and even then only rarely, for what I consider sound pastoral reasons.

    Accordingly, from the fact that many “Catholics” are allowed to get away with material heresy, it hardly follows that nothing is settled. Sin and error have plagued the Church since her first generation, and will not be “settled” in the sense you mean until the Eschaton.

    Best,
    Mike

  53. Hugh (#50

    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.

    Isn’t there a problem here? Can we be sure that the things that we think less clear are not themselves necessary for salvation? Evidently the Trinity itself is not that clear; at least millions of JWs, Muslims, and, in the past, Arians, think it clear that the Bible is not Trinitarian. Would you say the doctrine of the Trinity is not necessary for salvation, since it is not clear to many?

    jj

  54. Mike, so you mean the Roman Catholic Church is not disciplined? Sounds like Protestantism.

  55. ‘morning, JJ @ 54 *

    The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture. …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.

    The doctrines necessary for salvation are not clear to those to whom these things are not given. As I referenced in 1 Corinthians (1:18-2:16); 1:18 ~ the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    And 2:14ff ~ the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    Your examples are of those who not only deny the Trinity, but also the person and work of Christ. Many other doctrines they misunderstand as well. The Confession is not speaking of things in Scripture being understood by all men, but by those whom God enlightens. Or, as I said above, those to whom he first gives eyes to see and ears to hear. Your examples are of apostate (blind) groups.

    Thank you,
    Hugh

    * How’d you do that with the #50?
    I tried copying and pasting the date & time,
    but couldn’t get it to work as a number.

  56. Darryl,

    # 54.

    Human beings are often not disciplined. Paul didn’t get out of Corinth without learning that. But what is your point? You sound like an atheist giving the classic atheist apologetic of, ‘Look at those hypocritical and sinful Christians!’

  57. Sean @56,

    We Prots never claim a boffo Magisterium or infallible Petrine chair, as y’all do.

    I expect that Herr Hart is merely just sayin’ that like Protestantism (regularly slammed by some for its splintered schizophrenia) and the vaunted papacy are more alike in their brokenness than is sometimes allowed by those who contend for protecting beastly priests b/c their office is so holy and their transubstantival ministrations so indispensable.

    Just sayin’…

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  58. Hugh (#55)

    Your examples are of those who not only deny the Trinity, but also the person and work of Christ. Many other doctrines they misunderstand as well. The Confession is not speaking of things in Scripture being understood by all men, but by those whom God enlightens. Or, as I said above, those to whom he first gives eyes to see and ears to hear. Your examples are of apostate (blind) groups.

    OK, but it seems to me this means that it is not true that, regarding the “whole counsel of God,” “…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.” “Ordinary means” are insufficient. You have to be one of those whom God enlightens. That appears to me considerably more than “ordinary means.”

    jj

  59. JJ @ 58 – Good points to clarify!

    Again from the Westminster Confession:

    CHAPTER X. Of Effectual Calling.

    All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ: enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

    This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

    …Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God.

    Thanks!
    Hugh

  60. Thanks again for sharing your testimony Jason, and thank Scott Hahn for encouraging you to do so.
    Regarding your wife and family, I just want to tell a quick story. My wife wanted to convert/revert to the Catholic faith and I just about flipped out! I told her that Christ would never be the “head of a church of pedophiles.” It was 2002 and the sex scandals from Boston were making front page news just about every week! To say I was anti-Catholic is an understatement.( I had left the Catholic faith as a young teen reading lots of Chick tracts and became a devout evangelical. ) I asked my wife to throw out all the Catholic books and tapes she had amassed in her pursuit of Truth in the Catholic Church. She never once attempted to cajole, convince or coerce me to join the Catholic faith. She said she only prayed God would allow her to become Catholic, never believing I would ever come home to the Catholic faith. Long story short, 5 years later I was on my knees in confession and then in Mass after having our marriage convalidated and receiving Christ in the Eucharist. It has been 9 years now that I have been blogging about the faith, sharing with family (to some degree) and friends, and writing and performing music about this treasure we have discovered in the Catholic Church. I would encourage you and Wayne to hang in there and pray, and I will join my prayers with others for spiritual harmony to come to your home. I offered my Communion for you and your intentions this AM at the shrine of Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal in Harrisburg. God bless

  61. Hugh:

    As I understand your last several comments, your position is that of the Westminster Confession. Very well. My problem with the WC is the same problem I have with confessional Protestantism quite generally: its interpretive paradigm is neither rationally compelling nor otherwise authoritative. Hence the foundational documents of confessional Protestantism–be it the Westminster Confession, the Augsburg Confession, or any similar confession–can only be presented as theological opinion, not as authentic expressions of divine revelation. As such, they cannot command the assent of faith at all.

    They are not rationally compelling because they fail to achieve the main purpose of any theological IP, which is to enable us to distinguish between authentic expressions of divine revelation and mere theological opinions. They fail to achieve that purpose because those who composed and profess them do not claim to be divinely protected from error in producing them and professing their contents; hence, the documents themselves cannot plausibly claim divine authority, even for their premise that the Protestant canon is divinely inspired and thus inerrant. Given that they cannot plausibly claim divine authority, such documents supply no principled criterion for distinguishing between the authoritative witness of the Spirit to what they say and the merely human belief that the Spirit witnesses to what they say. By the same token, Protestant confessions are not otherwise authoritative. They can claim no more authority than the churches that produced them and believe them, and those churches cannot plausibly claim divine authority, because they do not claim to be divinely preserved from error under any conditions.

    Best,
    Mike

  62. Darryl (#54):

    Following up on Sean’s #56, you seem to be suggesting that nothing is doctrinally settled unless the Church’s discipline ensures that there’s little or no dissensus within the Church. Sts. Peter and Paul didn’t seem to think that. Indeed, whether from a Protestant or a Catholic standpoint, accepting such a suggestion would render any criterion of orthodoxy epistemically useless. And that’s because you fail to distinguish between empirically and deontically normative conceptions of orthodoxy.

    From a Protestant standpoint, one can define “the Church” as the people who, across space and time, concur about the “correct” interpretation of Scripture on matters they deem “essential” and who aim to live accordingly. In fact, that’s what conservative Protestants typically do. And prima facie, it all sounds pretty normative. On such a picture, when people within “the Church” obstinately dissent from the “correct” interpretation of Scripture on matters deemed essential by “the Church,” they are sometimes excommunicated, thus maintaining the doctrinal purity of “the Church.” But whether they are excommunicated or not, the dissenters typically hive off to join or start another church. Having done so, they proceed to define their new church as at least part of “the Church” in the way I described above, often to the detriment of the church they left, which of course continues to claim that it, not the church joined or started by the dissenters, is orthodox. Does such a process “settle” anything, even by the criterion you suggest? Of course not. Accordingly, what counts as “orthodox” doctrine, and with it as “the Church,” becomes purely a matter of opinion, which cannot claim divine authority and thus cannot command the assent of faith. For few Protestant churches claim, and none can plausibly claim, to be divinely protected from error under certain specifiable and concrete conditions. So, what’s considered “orthodox” from a purely empirical standpoint can, does, and must vary considerably among churches, given their objective lack of divine teaching authority.

    Now if the Catholic Church conceived of her own identity and authority as conservative-Protestant churches typically conceive of their own, then she would indeed be just one more denomination, with no more divine authority to define and impose orthodoxy in a deontically normative way than any other denomination. But in point of fact, she does claim to be divinely protected from error under certain specifiable and concrete conditions, so that whatever she teaches with her full authority is inerrant and irreformable. If such a claim is correct, then no matter how many nominal Catholics dissent from such teaching or hive off to join or start another church, the divine authority, and thus the deontic normativity, of Catholic teaching remains intact, and thus with it, the epistemic utility of Catholic teaching for distinguishing between orthodoxy and heresy. Thus Catholic orthodoxy would be normative in a sense in which no Protestant “orthodoxy” can ever be.

    Of course, the above is in no sense a proof that Catholicism is true or even orthodox. Like liberal Protestants, you could always just say that religion is a matter of opinion, full stop. But what I have shown is that the Catholic Church at least has a criterion of orthodoxy that could qualify as something more than a merely empirical norm, thus constituting a truly deontic norm. And that’s what’s necessary for distinguishing between authentic expressions of divine revelation, and mere theological opinions that could turn out be wrong, pending further evidence and historical developments.

    Best,
    Mike

  63. Mike @ 61 –

    As I understand your last several comments, your position is that of the Westminster Confession.
    > Sometimes, yes. I am not wedded 100% to any of ours, but the WCF is generally very much a goody.

    Very well. My problem with the WC is the same problem I have with confessional Protestantism quite generally: its interpretive paradigm is neither rationally compelling nor otherwise authoritative.
    > Right! Only Writ.

    Hence the foundational documents of confessional Protestantism–be it the Westminster Confession, the Augsburg Confession, or any similar confession–can only be presented as theological opinion, not as authentic expressions of divine revelation. As such, they cannot command the assent of faith at all.
    > Absolutely, amen, & smiley icon here!

    They are not rationally compelling because they fail to achieve the main purpose of any theological IP, which is to enable us to distinguish between authentic expressions of divine revelation and mere theological opinions. They fail to achieve that purpose because those who composed and profess them do not claim to be divinely protected from error in producing them and professing their contents; hence, the documents themselves cannot plausibly claim divine authority, even for their premise that the Protestant canon is divinely inspired and thus inerrant.
    > Amen! I love this! Right on!

    Given that they cannot plausibly claim divine authority, such documents supply no principled criterion for distinguishing between the authoritative witness of the Spirit to what they say and the merely human belief that the Spirit witnesses to what they say. By the same token, Protestant confessions are not otherwise authoritative. They can claim no more authority than the churches that produced them and believe them, and those churches cannot plausibly claim divine authority, because they do not claim to be divinely preserved from error under any conditions.
    > Wow! This is awesome! Totally in agreement with you, man. (Darryl might take umbrage, but then he’s an Orthodox Presbyterian. To such, I am neither…)

    > We repuditate the implicit faith explicitly enjoined upon the Romish faithful in their magisterium. I agree with your Pontiff Emeritus that, “The Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church, enables us to interpret the Scriptures authoritatively. The Bible is the Church’s book, and its essential place in the Church’s life gives rise to its genuine interpretation.” But all who are born from above have the same Holy Spirit. John Chrysostom no more than I; Luther no more than Calvin. I would reverse Augustine here: I would not believe the authority of the Church had not the Spirit’s tranformational power through the gospel led me to do so.
    > So, we are opposed to the following by our biblical hermenuetic:

    …Here we can point to a fundamental criterion of biblical hermeneutics: the primary setting for scriptural interpretation is the life of the Church. This is not to uphold the ecclesial context as an extrinsic rule to which exegetes must submit, but rather is something demanded by the very nature of the Scriptures and the way they gradually came into being. “Faith traditions formed the living context for the literary activity of the authors of sacred Scripture. Their insertion into this context also involved a sharing in both the liturgical and external life of the communities, in their intellectual world, in their culture and in the ups and downs of their shared history. In like manner, the interpretation of sacred Scripture requires full participation on the part of exegetes in the life and faith of the believing community of their own time”.[86] Consequently, “since sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit through whom it was written”,[87] exegetes, theologians and the whole people of God must approach it as what it really is, the word of God conveyed to us through human words (cf. 1 Th 2:13). This is a constant datum implicit in the Bible itself: “No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet 1:20-21). Moreover, it is the faith of the Church that recognizes in the Bible the word of God; as Saint Augustine memorably put it: “I would not believe the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church led me to do so”.[88] The Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church, enables us to interpret the Scriptures authoritatively. The Bible is the Church’s book, and its essential place in the Church’s life gives rise to its genuine interpretation.

    [86] Pontifical biblical commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993), III, A, 3: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, No. 3035.
    [87] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 12.
    [88] Contra epistulam Manichaei quam vocant fundamenti, V, 6: PL 42, 176.

    But it got better:

    30. Saint Jerome recalls that we can never read Scripture simply on our own. We come up against too many closed doors and we slip too easily into error. The Bible was written by the People of God for the People of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Only in this communion with the People of God can we truly enter as a “we” into the heart of the truth that God himself wishes to convey to us.[89] Jerome, for whom “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”,[90] states that the ecclesial dimension of biblical interpretation is not a requirement imposed from without: the Book is the very voice of the pilgrim People of God, and only within the faith of this People are we, so to speak, attuned to understand sacred Scripture. An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church. He thus wrote to a priest: “Remain firmly attached to the traditional doctrine that you have been taught, so that you may exhort according to sound doctrine and confound those who contradict it”.[91] *

    [89] Cf. Benedict XVI, General Audience (14 November 2007): Insegnamenti III 2 (2007), 586-591.
    [90] Commentariorum in Isaiam libri, Prol.: PL 24, 17.
    [91] Epistula 52:7: CSEL 54, p. 426.>

    Found @ http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20100930_verbum-domini_en.html#_ftn86

    > We’re agreed that Scripture is not be read apart from wise men who’ve gone before, but none of these are absolutely authoritative when they veer from the Text. Needless to say, we Prots find much such ‘veerage’ in Rome.
    > We Prots cannot receive that there is another source of divine truth on a par with [& able to validate or confirm our understanding of] the Bible. It alone is God’s word to us.
    > Thank you,
    > Hugh
    * Jerry’s here taken from Paul to Titus, 1:9!

  64. Hey Darryl and Hugh.

    Your bible must not really be authoritative because so many Christians fall short of the bible’s precepts.

    Signed – Atheists

  65. S/b: Scripture is not to be read apart from wise men who’ve gone before…

  66. Sean’s atheists –
    Aha!
    You’ve found us out!
    Drat!
    ;)

  67. Sean @ 64,

    The syllogisms DO differ, you realize.

    The atheist claims that our Bible is bogus because some of its admirers are such dogs.
    It only proves that some of its admirers are not living up to what’s written therein.
    It does not prove that the Bible (the very standard of morality the atheist is using against us!) is unauthoritative.

    The Protestant claims that Rome’s claims to an infallible chair and Spirit-sanctioned conciliar dogmas (on a par with the inspired Book) are bogus because
    (1) the Bible doesn’t speak of such post-canonical authorities on a par with Itself, and,
    (2) the popes and councils have erred. Scripture never does.

    Hence, our sins do not vitiate the Bible – they would merely vitiate our claims to occasional infallibilty, if we made such. But your establishment’s claims to occasional infallibilty are seriously threatened by her many scandals.

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  68. Hugh McCann,

    I am happy you are interacting. I would like to hear you respond to my comment #11. The protestant gospel claims to be the gospel of grace which Paul preached, and yet I argued that it actually creates a certain bondage at times. For you are told on the one hand, that you cannot work or earn salvation and that it is faith alone which brings salvation, but then on the other hand, you are told that good works prove your faith and so unless good works are there you cannot know if you are saved or not. Therefore, there is practically the same, in theory, view of assurance between Catholicism and Protestatism. I lean more toward Catholicism providing a deeper assurance of salvation, for in Protestantism, when you are so focused on your works, you then hear a sermon which says that the proud focus on their works and the real elect rest on the works of Christ…..and then you think your faith is not real saving faith because you are so convicted over sin and trying to obey the Lord, when the real faith is recognizing that one cannot be good in themselves….etc,etc,etc. .

    Secondly, the “faith alone” conception of Protestantism makes the “faith” of the human being something which Satan and His demons can exercise. Since protestants see Romans 4:1-4 to prove that faith is has no worth or value in itself, else otherwise it would have a value to barter with God, and that faith is simply resting and trusting in the alien righteousness of Christ…..well then Satan can do this if salvation was opened to him. I understand that salvation has not been offered to fallen angels, but if we were to just compare justifying faith, which is widdled down to have absolutely no merit or worth in itself, then what makes this kind of faith different than what the demons have?

    As soon as you begin to qualify faith as an “obedient faith”, then you insert the requirement of internal righteousness as a necessary co-op to faith, which then moves you into the historic understanding.

  69. I know, I know, Erick Y!

    Yours takes more thought, prayer, & savoir faire, ya know!

    I did #11 in #23. I owe you for #25, correct?

  70. Erick – Short answer tonight for #s 25 & 68:
    The Puritans are not the zenith of Protestant thought. Sure, they got some things right, but they navel-gazed too much and failed (unlike earlier Reformers, Luther, Tyndale, Calvin) to point us to solus Christus!
    At least, the English. I am not conversant at all with the Lutherans.
    Prolly agood thing, too! ;)
    Also, the problem is not the biblical (Protestant) gospel, but in how it’s @ times misunderstood, misrepresented, and misapplied!
    I want to address your questions about assurance, too, but am very busy tonight.
    Also, please email me if you wish: HUGHMC5 [at] HOTMAIL [dot] COM
    Blessings galore,
    Hugh

  71. Sean Patrick, I am not pointing out hypocrisy. I am simply noting that converting to Roman Catholicism does not remove the problems that converts think they are leaving in Protestantism. If Protestantism is so bad, and if Rome has the same problems, then Rome is not superior. In fact, with all that authority, history, and apostolicity, you’d think Rome would be way better than it is.

    Look, people have been looking for Rome to reform itself for 500 years. How long, O Lord, how long?

  72. Mike, you wrote: “Of course, the above is in no sense a proof that Catholicism is true or even orthodox. Like liberal Protestants, you could always just say that religion is a matter of opinion, full stop. But what I have shown is that the Catholic Church at least has a criterion of orthodoxy that could qualify as something more than a merely empirical norm, thus constituting a truly deontic norm.”

    But that is just your opinion. The Eastern Church doesn’t believe this and it is as old (if not older) than Rome and has as much apostolicity. Plus, you never cited an iota of Scripture. Don’t you think it odd that when the apostles write about the assurance that believers can have (Heb. 6), they never mention the church or the apostles but actually rest their claims on the promises of God? And is it not strange that when Christ promises that his people will be preserved from error, he promises the Spirit (John 16).

    So while you keep trusting in the papacy, I’ll keep trusting in God.

  73. Sean Patrick, so you do acknowledge that Rome has a problem with error and hypocrisy. Then exactly how is it superior to Protestantism or to Eastern Orthodoxy (aside from the circular claims it makes for itself)? Communists also claimed to be superior to the liberal West and they had the philosophy and history to prove it.

  74. Erick, Per #25

    > Is it justification?
    Yes sir!
    >
    > Well, even as a Protestant, you cannot subjectively “know” you are justified (depending on which reformed church you are in) until you have reached a certain confirmation that your “fruit-bearing” or “repentance” is of a God-accepting level.
    Some may teach & believe that, but not all of us. Some merely say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”
    >
    > If you come from a protestant camp which is more reformed baptist or independent baptist (Richard Owen Roberts, etc,etc), you are constantly warned of “false-conversion” or “counterfeit repentance”, to the extant that one is always doubting and questioning one’s own conversion and repentance. If you are hyped up in this kind of “holiness” environment, then your assurance of your acquisition of Christ’s righteousness is not stable, but always dependent upon you passing the bare minimum level of which you think is “true” repentance. At times, the level of your standard can go down or up, depending on what you’ve been learning or who you’ve been influenced by.
    Amen! Sadly…
    >
    > For instance, those who love RC Sproul and Burk Parsons have a bit of a more easy way of balancing the Christian life so that the person has assurance and yet is still under the fear of God and obligation to live in holiness.
    J’appreciate Dr Sproul!
    >
    > But others, who dive into Matthew Meade’s Almost Christian, may find themselves going through a doubting depression for years. You yourself may be in the camp which says, “Amen! The Christian life is Hard! And one must really sacrifice all the desires of the flesh for the glory of God!”…..but you see……one wonders what effectiveness this more “grace-filled” gospel has in the life of the human being. You are consistently taught that human works have no cause in the salvation of the human being, and yet you are constantly being told that only works evidence the prior work of God, and then even more constantly reminded that there are so many counterfeit versions of the evidence, and that there is a very difficult, even impossible, single and genuine evidence which can grant one assurance of salvation.
    Bad news, this. It ain’t the gospel!
    >
    > And it becomes an even more difficult rubix cube when a Person who has been serving Christ in this way for years, and then dives into a couple of years of fornication. And the worst part about it is this, God is controlling everything. God is ordaining the doubt in salvation. If you are truly lost, despite all the energy and effort to be saved, this is also an immutable energy of God working in the life of the person.
    Truly God is sovereign. Absolutely.
    >
    > At this point, one wonders how Protestants consider themselves to have more “grace” in their gospel. Catholics believe that Jesus loves all people and wishes all to be saved.
    Erick – reread that sentence of yours: Think about it. How is loving for a god to love ’em all, wish (sort of) for all to make it, sends his son to die for all mankind, and then, leaves it up to them to find the Catholic Church, receive sacaramental grace, and persevere therein by their synergistic [cooperative] efforts!
    >
    > He doesn’t think that his cross loses glory because some of those for whom He died reject him ultimately and go to hell, because it remains a loving act towards the world, something that is in the heart of God (John 3:16).
    But you have a god wanting to save them, but not to the point of violating their ‘free will,’ thus it’s sadly a religion of works, with nothing but possiblities (no assurances) @ the end of the day.
    >
    > Calvinists are so proud of protecting God in His glory in the unmitigated and undiluted sovereignty and predestination of God, that sometimes you really do not know if God loves you or if you are one of those Christians who are self-deceived (in the truest sense) for 50 years and then by 51 years of age you become a reprobate, and all along God has hated you and purposed you for wrath and destruction.
    Ungospel!
    >
    > You take away the very thing which human beings are to know about God, that He loves them and cares for them and wishes them to be saved, by this sovereign salvation and damnation apart from human works.
    Your religion and the Bible paint different portraits of God. We maintain that he only loves and effectually saves only his elect.
    >
    >It is almost as if since works play no part in the predestination of the elect, works also play no part in the predestination of the wicked.
    By George, I think he’s GOT it! Per Romans 9:11 – “before they had done anything good or bad… that the purpose of God according to election might stand…”
    >
    > There is a settled determination before all creation, and everything in our time is simply an outplay of this pre-determined plan. This creates much confusion with the theology of the Old Testament, Jesus, and the apostles.
    Not really, but it’s a different paradigm, for sure!
    >
    > What else is it? The Papacy? The wickedness? The lukewarmness? The false holiness? The praying to the dead?
    All of the above are problems for us, as you know. But the core issue is what did Jesus accomplish – redemption for some or potential redemption for those who rightly exercise their ‘free will’?
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  75. Hugh,

    It is not a misunderstanding of the protestant gospel. Faith alone, understood as simply receiving benefits from an outside source all the while remaining inwardly dead and enslaved to sin is a false concept of faith. Abraham’s believing in God is his giving of Himself to the will of God and not to whatever his own mind told him. It was a virtue that God was pleased to see, just as any Father is pleased to see a son trust in Him all the way to protect him. Abraham was being tested with all the delays…and yet Abraham did not lack in faith but gave glory to God, and this is why faith was reckoned for righteousness, because He gave God his whole person, mind – body – and will. Abraham could have simply not wanted to hope for a child anymore, could have ceased any relations with Sarah, could have left Canaan for Ur, etc,etc,etc…..and yet his faith caused him to remain in God’s will…and this is why it is righteousness. God gave Abraham this faith, and he no reason to boast, for God called him out of Ur of the Chaldeans to perform for Abraham what only God could do.

    To think that faith is this completely un-virtuous and of no value with God is to say that God reckoned Abraham’s assent to the facts or even his trusting in the facts (aside from obedience) as righteousness itself. Protestants want to maintain the “gift” status of justification by excluding almost any human co-operation, but it is precisely God who calls men to repent in order to be justified. Do you not believe that repentance is a condition for salvation? That right there is giving up the immoral life of sin to live in righteousness and holiness, and such a thing is a condition for the remission of sin and a right relationship with God. Was it a work? Not an outward work, but it is an inward change of the heart whereby man detests sin and moves into the holy life of God…and this is before any works are done. God considers this act of repentance and faith as righteousness, and this puts you into the right relationship with God, and of course this relationship is not one where God controls the will. Protestants like to say that the “elect” cannot die in their sin. What keeps them from dying in their sin? The protestant says God. The Catholics asks: Well then his will is under control? The protestant says no, God is sovereign and there is a mystery to His works….He wills to never allow the elect to choose mortal sin. The Catholic confirms that this is simply a way to avoid the necessary and logical conclusion, that if the justified person cannot enter back into the slave life to sin, then his/her will is under the control of God.

    If however, our wills can re-enter the life of sin, which many protestants have done, he is cut of from Christ Jesus and is no longer a participant in the glory to come. He can regain that status through conversion to Christ, and true genuine repentance. This is the belief of the historic church.

    Protestants also wish not just to procure the responsibility to God in the salvation of sinners, but also in the damnation of the non-elect. Just as God made the decision (positively) that certain men, without considering their own life or faith or holiness or sinfulness, should be destined for salvation, so also he has pre-destined certain men, apart from their own sin, that they should enter into eternal hell. This is the salvation apart from works and the damnation apart from works which is marvelously accepted in protestant circles. In the attempt to rescue God’s glory from human works mixed in the salvation of souls, they also want to rescue God’s glory from human sin in the damnation of souls, otherwise he is not sovereign, in their minds.

  76. Erick, Per #25,
    ~ Cleaning up the italics (I hope…) ~

    > If you come from a protestant camp…the level of your standard can go down or up, depending on what you’ve been learning or who you’ve been influenced by.
    Amen! Sadly…
    >
    > There is a settled determination before all creation, and everything in our time is simply an outplay of this pre-determined plan. This creates much confusion with the theology of the Old Testament, Jesus, and the apostles.
    Not really, but it’s a different paradigm, for sure!
    >
    > What else is it? The Papacy? The wickedness? The lukewarmness? The false holiness? The praying to the dead?
    All of the above are problems for us, as you know. But the core issue is what did Jesus accomplish – redemption for some or potential redemption for those who rightly exercise their ‘free will’?

  77. Erick @ 75 ~
    > It is not a misunderstanding of the protestant gospel. Faith alone, understood as simply receiving benefits from an outside source all the while remaining inwardly dead and enslaved to sin is a false concept of faith.
    Agreed!

    Abraham’s believing in God is his giving of Himself to the will of God and not to whatever his own mind told him. It was a virtue that God was pleased to see, just as any Father is pleased to see a son trust in Him all the way to protect him. Abraham was being tested with all the delays…and yet Abraham did not lack in faith but gave glory to God, and this is why faith was reckoned for righteousness, because He gave God his whole person, mind – body – and will.
    That’s the RCC definition of faith? OK – but it ain’t ours…

    > To think that faith is this completely un-virtuous and of no value with God is to say that God reckoned Abraham’s assent to the facts or even his trusting in the facts (aside from obedience) as righteousness itself.
    The value was not in the believing or in the regeneration of Abe’s spirit, but in Christ alone, the grand object of Abe’s faith!

    Protestants want to maintain the “gift” status of justification by excluding almost any human co-operation, but it is precisely God who calls men to repent in order to be justified. Do you not believe that repentance is a condition for salvation?
    Yes, Mark 1:15. It is given us, as is faith. Regeneration precedes repentance & faith, and necessarily gives both to God’s elect.

    That right there is giving up the immoral life of sin to live in righteousness and holiness, and such a thing is a condition for the remission of sin and a right relationship with God. Was it a work? Not an outward work, but it is an inward change of the heart whereby man detests sin and moves into the holy life of God…and this is before any works are done.
    The change is God’s monergistic work, sans man’s cooperation of any kind.

    God considers this act of repentance and faith as righteousness, and this puts you into the right relationship with God, and of course this relationship is not one where God controls the will. Protestants like to say that the “elect” cannot die in their sin. What keeps them from dying in their sin? The protestant says God.
    Yes. The keeping power of Christ. AS you read John’s gospel in particular (esp. ch. 10), you’ll hear Christ promising his keeping his sheep for whom he died.

    The Catholics asks: Well then his will is under control? The protestant says no, God is sovereign and there is a mystery to His works….He wills to never allow the elect to choose mortal sin.
    We of course consider all sin to be of your ‘mortal’ variety.

    The Catholic confirms that this is simply a way to avoid the necessary and logical conclusion, that if the justified person cannot enter back into the slave life to sin, then his/her will is under the control of God.
    Right

    > If however, our wills can re-enter the life of sin, which many protestants have done, he is cut of from Christ Jesus and is no longer a participant in the glory to come. He can regain that status through conversion to Christ, and true genuine repentance. This is the belief of the historic church.
    I know; at least a big chunk of the visible, institutional part of it…

    > Protestants also wish not just to procure the responsibility to God in the salvation of sinners, but also in the damnation of the non-elect. Just as God made the decision (positively) that certain men, without considering their own life or faith or holiness or sinfulness, should be destined for salvation, so also he has pre-destined certain men, apart from their own sin, that they should enter into eternal hell. This is the salvation apart from works and the damnation apart from works which is marvelously accepted in protestant circles. In the attempt to rescue God’s glory from human works mixed in the salvation of souls, they also want to rescue God’s glory from human sin in the damnation of souls, otherwise he is not sovereign, in their minds.
    In SOME Prot circles (not enough! imho), yes. Well-stated. Cain, Esau, Pharaoh, OT Saul, Judas – all were vessels of God’s wrath made to be destroyed in the fires of hell (Rom. 9; 2 Peter 2:12).
    Thank you,
    Hugh

  78. Erick @68

    >…the “faith alone” conception of Protestantism makes the “faith” of the human being something which Satan and His demons can exercise. Since protestants see Romans 4:1-4 to prove that faith is has no worth or value in itself, else otherwise it would have a value to barter with God, and that faith is simply resting and trusting in the alien righteousness of Christ…..well then Satan can do this if salvation was opened to him. I understand that salvation has not been offered to fallen angels, but if we were to just compare justifying faith, which is widdled down to have absolutely no merit or worth in itself, then what makes this kind of faith different than what the demons have?
    “Whittled,” perhaps?
    Satan does not have salvation open to him as an option. Demonic faith is unsaving because it cannot trust Christ alone, and hence being a bogus ‘faith,’ it produces no abiding fruit. The notion that there is a God is little help, as James points out. 1 Cor. 15:3f is salvific. Much different content!

    > As soon as you begin to qualify faith as an “obedient faith”, then you insert the requirement of internal righteousness as a necessary co-op to faith, which then moves you into the historic understanding.
    Agreed. It is a faith that moves us to work, but not a faith that has works within it. Love is not a component of faith, for example, but a fruit thereof. Etc. Saving obedient faith is a redundancy. But faith that doesn’t produce works is dead, as St James saith.

    Thanks,
    Hugh
    P.S. I will never out-type you, Ybarra!

  79. Erick – let’s do this offsite, in emails.
    Hugh
    HUGHMC5atHOTMAILdotCOM

  80. Darryl,

    “Sean Patrick, so you do acknowledge that Rome has a problem with error and hypocrisy.”

    No. I did not say that Rome has a problem with ‘error.’

    As to the rest of what you’ve written, I might suggest that you actually take a moment to try to understand what the claims of the Catholic Church mean. Nobody has ever claimed that the Catholic Church is a magical place where sinners stop being sinners and all the billion Catholics in the world conform perfectly to the precepts of the Church. We did not leave Protestantism because we thought we’d escape sinful and hypocritical people.

    So, your entire line of argumentation is attacking a straw man. If you want to know why we became Catholic, all you have to do is ask. Jason Stellman described some of his reasons in this interview. Note that he did not at any point say, “Well, all the Protestant churches are full of sinful people who adhere to the bible to varying degrees and some Protestants completely disregard biblical teaching and I heard that Catholics are all better at obeying so I became Catholic.”

    If I do say so myself, you and Hugh are really quite late to the conversation here. You both are playing cards that have played by others on Called to Communion before.

    Instead of playing the same old tired typical apologetics that don’t address the issue at hand and largely rely presuppositions that what we believe is not ‘in the bible’, why not actually engage with what Jason said in his talk?

  81. # 67.

    The Protestant claims that Rome’s claims to an infallible chair and Spirit-sanctioned conciliar dogmas (on a par with the inspired Book) are bogus because
    (1) the Bible doesn’t speak of such post-canonical authorities on a par with Itself, and,
    (2) the popes and councils have erred. Scripture never does.

    All of that begs the question.

  82. Sean,

    Better late than never, as I alawys say! :)

    Et. al.,

    Seriously, and I repeat myself, I know, but the severity of the charges of just the past decade, the payoffs and even confessions, weighed against very lofty claims unheard from any other Christian communion make one dubious about Rome’s unique self-description. Can you at least, please, admit that much wickedness has been carried out under Church leadership protection in the name of holiness and piety and the need to protect the institutional machinery?

    And that this understandably doesn’t sit or play well with not just conservative Protestants, liberals, or atheists, but among the Catholic faithful as well?

    The last time I tried bringing this up, I was castigated and discouraged from posting. I am am pleading with my Romanist friends @ CTC – please own up to Rome’s disgraceful sins, and acknowledge that not all who bring it up are demons.

    The Church MUST reform itself, police itself, even the world sees it. Please.

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  83. Which question is begged, Sean?

  84. Question to all. If the Bible is the only real authority necessary for salvation, what did the earliest Christians do before there was a New Testament, fully defined and certified kosher? You tell me how many 1st and 2nd Century Christians ever saw a written scripture? Yet many were heroic martyrs, were they not saved? Even if they had pieces of the New Testament from say the letters of St. Paul in their community, they certainly never had a full Bible, Old or New Testament. Who could even afford to possess a fully written Bible or any book for that matter? They only had the verbal tradition, taught to them by their bishops and priests. Doesn’t this blow apart the whole Protestant position? Am I missing something?

  85. So God makes men for the purpose of molding them into sinners so that He is the one responsible for their wickedness?

  86. Sean, You’ve avoided my point.

    Your witty atheist gag about Prots’ Bibles is one thing.
    We claim a perfect Book, not perfect followers.

    You claim a sometimes infallible pope and cardinals.
    Yet these who call for implicit and unquestioning fealty
    and who claim to the one true church established by Christ,
    with all the deposit of the fulness of the Holy Spirit,
    with a man [today, two*] claiming to be God’s vicar on earth,
    also commit fairly heinous sins & cover-ups.

    These are quite different things, my question-begging notwithstanding.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

    * I am unclear – has Ben16 forfeited his vicarage?

  87. Darryl, (re; #71)

    You wrote:

    I am simply noting that converting to Roman Catholicism does not remove the problems that converts think they are leaving in Protestantism.

    It does if the fundamental problem one finds oneself in, as a Protestant, is being in schism from the Church Christ founded. It isn’t ultimately about whether the Catholic Church is “better;” it has ultimately to do with the Catholic Church being the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” Christ founded, and the failure within Protestantism to preserve conceptually the very possibility of schism from the Church, and thus distinguish non-arbitrarily between a schism from the Church and a branch within the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  88. Hugh,

    Question: how do you know you have a “perfect Book? Who told you that it is perfect? Prove it!

  89. Michael J. @84 – They would have had to rely on oral tradition. That was enscripturated in the biblical canon. The church recognized it years later.
    But when Paul speaks of traditions, how do you know that what’s been passed along to today are his (& the Spirit’s) direct commands?

    Erick @85 ~ Some men, yes. St Paul calls them vessels of wrath made for destruction. Romans 9 & 2 Peter 2:12.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  90. Michael @88 – I cannot do this last request, “Prove it.”
    I answered the first two questions above in #s 50, 55, 59, 63.
    Thank you,
    Hugh

  91. Must be going.
    Goodnight, all!
    Hugh

  92. I asked this very question of a leading Calvinist pastor in Geneva. I have yet to get an adequate response from him. I asked the same question of a Baptist minister, friend of mine from high school….no answer either. The reason is because they both have to admit that some early Catholic bishops in Africa said it like 1600 years ago. The New Testament is our family book, written by Catholics. A part of the truth, but not the complete truth. Yet the Protestants act as if it is the only game in town. I submit that is a form of idolatry…

  93. # 89. So Hugh you’re telling me that the earliest Christians didn’t have the “perfect Book,” and that these earliest saints didn’t have the full truth as you Protestants assert is necessary for salvation? If they did have the “Truth,” it was from their Church, taught by their bishops and priests, who learned it from the Apostles? The very same truth passed down by the very same Church to this day?

  94. #89. How can you ensure that oral tradition, which was later “enscripturated,” was at all accurate in the first place? Prove it to me….It’s the Church( with a capital C) that guarantees it. The same Church whose authority you deny! How do you know the written translations from that same dysfunctional Church weren’t corrupted at some point over the past thousands of years?
    I think that if you were to transport Calvin, Luther, Wesley, any other 16th Century Protestant “scholar” back to the 1st Century and they espoused some of their “truths,” the early Christians would stare at them like they had come from an alien planet, had three heads, or laughed them out of the catacombs!

  95. Michael,

    Just checking in – yes, we believe in the Scriptures as being the written record of all the tradition God wanted the Church to have. Nothing extra-canonical is of the same weight, of divine authority.

    We have implicit faith in the Book, while yours rests on the RCC’s recorded dogmas & rites. All taken by faith, eh?

    We’re not charting new courses, here, but no one will. It’s the ages old argument of the Reformers and Rome.

    @93 – the perfect Book was being assembled as the Apostles died off. It took the Church a few centuries to rightly acknowledge the canon.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  96. Hey Russ,

    I really appreciate your comments and encouragement.

  97. Not to change the subject, but is this the same “Hugh McCann” that taught my all-time favorite college course (Philosophy 361: Metaphysics) at Texas A&M University?

  98. Sean, who said anything about “the Catholic Church is a magical place where sinners stop being sinners and all the billion Catholics in the world conform perfectly to the precepts of the Church”? I actually brought up the Syllabus of Errors and Unam Sanctum. All I’m asking is for a little coherence from your pontiffs. And the point is that Vatican II changed that but no one on your side seems to know what to do about that.

  99. Bryan, but Jesus was never in Rome. How could Rome be the church that Christ founded? This is all based on what Roman prejudiced clerics say. You don’t find a whiff of it in Scripture. Remember John 16 — it’s about the Spirit, not about the pope.

  100. Bryan, btw, but if you’re saying that Protestants are guilty of mortal sin and so are going to hell, that’s good to hear the straight dope rather than this “separated brethren” liberalism.

  101. Hugh:

    What this centuries-old dispute is really about is the nature of divine faith. As Catholics, we hold that one can only believe God as Revealer by trusting an ongoing human authority as an embodiment of divine authority. The Apostles directly and visibly experienced the primary Authority of that form: Jesus the Christ. We who “do not see, but believe” must rely in part on a secondary extension of that authority. On that point, we are all agreed. That disagreement is about the composition of that secondary authority.

    Like all conservative Protestants, you hold that only a book constitutes that authority. I reply that the grounds for trusting that book as an extension of the Logos’ primary authority are only as strong as the grounds for trusting the human authorities who wrote, collected, and proclaimed the contents of that book as divinely inspired and thus inerrant. The belief that certain writers and not others were divinely inspired and thus inerrant would only be an opinion if the early, post-apostolic Church were not divinely protected from error in holding and teaching such a belief. If said Church could have been wrong on that matter, then said book can no more count as an object for the assent of divine faith, as distinct from that of human opinion, than the authority of the early Church herself. And the same goes for the ongoing interpretation of the Bible. Unless a particular, ongoing ecclesial authority since then is understood to be divinely protected from error when teaching under certain conditions, then neither its nor anybody else’s interpretation of the Bible for doctrinal purposes can amount to anything more than provisional human opinion. And such opinions neither command nor merit the assent of divine faith, “implicit” or otherwise. Therefore, to hold that the early Church was infallible when certifying the Bible as inerrant, but the Church thereafter is never infallible when interpreting the Bible for doctrinal purposes, is to render the Bible useless as a source of doctrine calling for the unconditional assent of faith, as distinct from that of provisional opinion.

    This is why conservative Protestantism is just liberal Protestantism waiting to happen all over again.

    Best,
    Mike

  102. Darryl (#72):

    I had written:

    Of course, the above is in no sense a proof that Catholicism is true or even orthodox. Like liberal Protestants, you could always just say that religion is a matter of opinion, full stop. But what I have shown is that the Catholic Church at least has a criterion of orthodoxy that could qualify as something more than a merely empirical norm, thus constituting a truly deontic norm.

    To that, you first reply:

    But that is just your opinion. The Eastern Church doesn’t believe this and it is as old (if not older) than Rome and has as much apostolicity.

    I’m afraid you’ve missed the point. I was not trying to establish that the Catholic Church actually does constitute the “deontic norm” of orthodoxy. I claimed only that the Catholic Church makes a key sort of claim that’s necessary for qualifying as such. I am well aware that the Eastern-Orthodox communion does the same for itself, in its own terms. And so I’m happy to acknowledge that it too makes the necessary sort of claim. But few Protestant churches do, and none can do so plausibly. So, although the argument of mine I quoted above does not suffice to validate the claim of the Roman over the EO communion to be “the” Church that teaches with Christ’s divine authority, it does suffice to rule out any Protestant church or communion.

    Doubtless you’ll want to reply that that too is a matter of opinion. And as I had said, you can always hold, like liberal Protestants, that the Christian religion in general is a matter of opinion. But even aside from ruling out the assent of divine faith altogether, that stance would be too facile. If either the Roman or the EO communion is “the” Church that teaches with Christ’s divine authority, then the assent to what is taught by said authority is that of divine faith, not of that of opinion. Thus it would be self-inconsistent of me as a Catholic to treat my acceptance of the Church’s claims for herself as a matter of opinion. You cannot say the same about yourself in relation to your own church, whatever that may be.

    You next write:

    Plus, you never cited an iota of Scripture. Don’t you think it odd that when the apostles write about the assurance that believers can have (Heb. 6), they never mention the church or the apostles but actually rest their claims on the promises of God? And is it not strange that when Christ promises that his people will be preserved from error, he promises the Spirit (John 16).

    In the present context, there are two problems with that argument.

    First, it’s a non-sequitur. From the fact that Hebrews 6 doesn’t talk about the Church, it doesn’t follow that the writer didn’t take believers’ reliance on the Church for granted. From the fact that Christ promises the Spirit to keep the Church indefectible, it doesn’t follow that an infallible teaching authority is not one of the means by which he chose to keep that promise. And your argument is that particular form of non-sequitur fallacy known as the “argument from silence.” It takes no account of other passages, such as “He who hears you, hears me” and the Church is “the pillar and bulwark of truth,” that should be understood as part of the exegetical context for the passages you quote. Of course you would want to say that the correct interpretation of the passages I’ve cited is not the Catholic. But that brings me to the second problem with your argument.

    Citing Scripture in this context is merely question-begging for either of us unless and until two things are established: the grounds for holding that Scripture is a normative record of divine revelation, and the grounds for holding certain interpretations of it are authentic conveyances of that revelation, rather than merely human theological opinions. The Catholic interpretive paradigm supplies such grounds as themselves objects for the assent of faith. Your IP does not.

    Finally, you write:

    So while you keep trusting in the papacy, I’ll keep trusting in God.

    That begs the question in two ways: first, by assuming a dichotomy between the teaching authority of the papacy and that of God, which is exactly what Catholics would deny; second, by assuming that you know, without trusting the papacy’s teaching authority, that you’re trusting God’s authority, which Catholics would deny.

    Best,
    Mike

  103. Bryan, but Jesus was never in Rome. How could Rome be the church that Christ founded?

    Is this really what the argument has come to Darryl???

    Jesus founded the Church on the apostles at Pentecost. This was not merely the ‘Roman’ church but it was the Catholic Church. One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The apostles went out from there and began to preach the gospel and baptize. Peter ended up in Rome and was the first bishop of that city. He died there and is still buried there.

  104. Hey Mike @ 101 – good morning!

    Amen and amen to your opening.

    …the grounds for trusting that book as an extension of the Logos’ primary authority are only as strong as the grounds for trusting the human authorities who wrote, collected, and proclaimed the contents of that book as divinely inspired and thus inerrant.
    > I’d say that the grounds are only as strong as the sovereign Lord who superintended the writing and collecting of his works. Again, you and I assert he’s revealed himself in different ways.

    The belief that certain writers and not others were divinely inspired and thus inerrant would only be an opinion if the early, post-apostolic Church were not divinely protected from error in holding and teaching such a belief. If said Church could have been wrong on that matter, then said book can no more count as an object for the assent of divine faith, as distinct from that of human opinion, than the authority of the early Church herself. And the same goes for the ongoing interpretation of the Bible.
    > So far, I’m with you…

    Unless a particular, ongoing ecclesial authority since then is understood to be divinely protected from error when teaching under certain conditions, then neither its nor anybody else’s interpretation of the Bible for doctrinal purposes can amount to anything more than provisional human opinion. And such opinions neither command nor merit the assent of divine faith, “implicit” or otherwise. Therefore, to hold that the early Church was infallible when certifying the Bible as inerrant, but the Church thereafter is never infallible when interpreting the Bible for doctrinal purposes, is to render the Bible useless as a source of doctrine calling for the unconditional assent of faith, as distinct from that of provisional opinion.
    > Agreed again! That’s why I haven’t said that the chruch never gets anything right, or “is never infallible when interpreting the Bible for doctrinal purposes,” but that your church has erred in many more ways than you guys allow. Most fundamentally, in the source of dogma and in the gospel of Christ.

    This is why conservative Protestantism is just liberal Protestantism waiting to happen all over again.
    :) !
    > When I [briefly] taught N.T. at an Anglo-Catholic Anglican seminary, I recall the Archbishop remarking how Calvinists degenerated into Unitarianism. There are pitfalls all around – I pray I fall into none (tho’ you all would say I’m mired in one TODAY!).

    Thank you,
    Hugh
    Feast of the Annunciation of Mary

  105. Dear Joel, @ 97,

    No, I am not Hugh J. McCann.* But I work with Robert Garcia’s mother-in-law. Does that count? :)

    All Hugh McCanns & all philosophers should read Gordon H. Clark. For my pals @ CTC may I recommend his Lord God of Truth published with “Concerning the Teacher” [De Magistro] by Augustine?

    Thank you,
    Hugh T. McCann
    (not nearly as smart as the TAMU philosopher!)
    * http://philosophy.tamu.edu/People/Faculty/McCann/

  106. Darryl (re: #99, #100)

    Bryan, but Jesus was never in Rome. How could Rome be the church that Christ founded? This is all based on what Roman prejudiced clerics say. You don’t find a whiff of it in Scripture. Remember John 16 — it’s about the Spirit, not about the pope.

    We don’t have to choose between John 16 and Matthew 16, or between the Spirit and Christ, or between the Spirit and Christ’s Vicar, or between the Spirit and Christ’s Body (i.e. the Church). That sort of false dilemma was the notion of the second century Montanist heresy, and I’ve addressed it here. Yes, Jesus was never in Rome, but He did not need to go to Rome to found the universal Church and give the keys of His Kingdom to St. Peter. St. Peter did go to Rome sometime around AD 43, and was martyred there around AD 68, being crucified — though upside down, because he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as our Lord. The Church is the Kingdom prophesied in Daniel 2 and 7, as I pointed out in comment #428 of the “Christ Founded a Visible Church” thread, and thus receives the dominion of all the kingdoms, including the fourth kingdom of Daniel’s prophecies. It is not an accident that the one who had received the keys from Jesus went to Rome, to take the fourth kingdom not with the sword, but by testifying before Caesar, and not loving his life even unto death (Rev. 12:11). Christ’s Kingdom was to be *catholic,* not merely Hebrew, and so it was to be centered in Rome, built right over the heart of the fourth kingdom of men.

    Bryan, btw, but if you’re saying that Protestants are guilty of mortal sin and so are going to hell, that’s good to hear the straight dope rather than this “separated brethren” liberalism.

    I have not said nor am I saying that Protestants are guilty of mortal sin or are going to hell. The One who sees the hearts of men will judge us all on that Day. The Catholic teaching that Protestants who have been validly baptized are attached to the Church by Baptism, but through no fault of their own remain separated from her both in doctrine and communion, are “separated brethren” is not “liberalism,” though if you have *argument* for that claim, you are welcome to lay it out.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  107. Hugh (#104):

    You write:

    I’d say that the grounds are only as strong as the sovereign Lord who superintended the writing and collecting of his works. Again, you and I assert he’s revealed himself in different ways.

    I agree with your first sentence. But since it doesn’t address the issue I’ve posed, it’s irrelevant. As to your second sentence, I do not merely “assert” my position; I’ve argued for it. You don’t give an argument for your position in the above paragraph; instead, you adumbrate such an argument in your next. Thus:

    …I haven’t said that the chruch never gets anything right, or “is never infallible when interpreting the Bible for doctrinal purposes,” but that your church has erred in many more ways than you guys allow. Most fundamentally, in the source of dogma and in the gospel of Christ.

    But the first sentence in that paragraph is irrelevant, and the second simply begs the question.

    The first is irrelevant for two reasons. For one thing, if you are indeed claiming that something called “the Church” is infallible under certain conditions, your claim is empty unless you say (a) which church is “the Church” Christ invested with his teaching authority, (b)under what conditions she exercises that authority infallibly, and (c) how you can present such infallibility as something other than the agreement of “the Church” with your interpretation of Scripture, which is itself fallible. As a Catholic, I can do (a)-(c) because the Church herself has already done so. But you have not. The other reason the above paragraph of yours is irrelevant is that no Catholic would deny that Church leaders have sometimes “erred” in the sense of “sinned,” but you haven’t shown that such moral deficiencies logically imply doctrinal deficiencies.

    Your second sentence begs the question because it merely asserts your position without arguing for it.

    Best,
    Mike

  108. Mike the Meticulous @ 107 ~

    I’d say that the grounds are only as strong as the sovereign Lord who superintended the writing and collecting of his works. Again, you and I assert he’s revealed himself in different ways.

    I agree with your first sentence. But since it doesn’t address the issue I’ve posed, it’s irrelevant. As to your second sentence, I do not merely “assert” my position; I’ve argued for it. You don’t give an argument for your position in the above paragraph; instead, you adumbrate such an argument in your next.
    > Thank you for the correction. Agreed.

    …I haven’t said that the chruch never gets anything right, or “is never infallible when interpreting the Bible for doctrinal purposes,” but that your church has erred in many more ways than you guys allow. Most fundamentally, in the source of dogma and in the gospel of Christ.

    But the first sentence in that paragraph is irrelevant, and the second simply begs the question.

    The first is irrelevant for two reasons. For one thing, if you are indeed claiming that something called “the Church” is infallible under certain conditions, your claim is empty unless you say (a) which church is “the Church” Christ invested with his teaching authority, (b) under what conditions she exercises that authority infallibly,
    > You’re looking for a visible institution. I do not.

    …and (c) how you can present such infallibility as something other than the agreement of “the Church” with your interpretation of Scripture, which is itself fallible. As a Catholic, I can do (a)-(c) because the Church herself has already done so.
    > Right.

    But you have not.
    > I don’t see how I can. Or that I want to. Or need to; except that you folks claim to have it all dialed in, and therefore want us to answer you in kind. I don’t see that we can.

    The other reason the above paragraph of yours is irrelevant is that no Catholic would deny that Church leaders have sometimes “erred” in the sense of “sinned,” but you haven’t shown that such moral deficiencies logically imply doctrinal deficiencies.
    > That there are doctrinal errors in all our communions is not denied, is it? I am not arguing that “moral deficiencies logically imply doctrinal deficiencies,” but both happen in all our communions – we don’t disagree there, do we?
    > Of course, our Prot list of Roman errors is much longer than yours.
    > Hugh

  109. Darryl (re: #98)

    All I’m asking is for a little coherence from your pontiffs. And the point is that Vatican II changed that but no one on your side seems to know what to do about that.

    If you want to ask “for a little coherence,” from our pontiffs, first you’ll need to demonstrate or establish that there is some incoherence between pre-conciliar teaching and Vatican II. You have not yet done that, or even begun to do that. I already addressed (in comment #89 of the Habemus Papam thread) your claim (in comment #87 of that same thread) that pre-conciliar teaching pointed to eternal life as something we obtain in the life to come, while post-conciliar teaches that we receive eternal life in this present life.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  110. Hugh @ 105,

    Thanks for confirming. Our textbook in that course would help Christians from all sides… like squat thrusts for the mind to prepare for theological discussions such as these… William Carter’s The Elements of Metaphysics weighs in at approximately 200 pages, is not a quick read, and will make you think about how you think… about God and how God thinks and whether or not you can even think about God on your own. Reminds me of what C.S. Lewis wrote, when recalling his debates with his logical monster of a schoolmaster, Kirk, “Some boys would not have liked it; to me it was red beef and strong beer.” (in Surprised by Joy, 1955)

  111. Mike, I know, every time I say something it’s ad hominem, a straw man, or a begged question. At least I know a place where I can get the pre-Vatican II apologetic.

    But from my paradigm, your philosophical claims are beside the point since they don’t actually address what God reveals. Sorry, but I still have great attachment for the Bible. But I know that book has not always been available to the RC laity.

  112. Bryan and Sean, but wouldn’t it be nice if you had more than one verse on which to hang your claims or through which to read the rest of Scripture. I know, I have the wrong paradigm. The right one begins and ends with Matt. 16. But given the small role that Peter plays in the rest of the NT after Acts 15 (not to mention that Mary doesn’t even make a cameo appearance), you guys better run for cover to the early church fathers.

  113. Bryan, do the current popes still affirm the Syllabus of Errors? Do they still ban books? Do they still follow Unigenitus?

    One of the great things about being a Protestant is that we have a lot less to explain. You guys have a long history that gives you so many more problems than your average Wesleyan or your kooky Unitarian.

    I recommend you take a look at pp. 281ff of Owen Chadwick’s book on the difficulties surrounding Unigenitus: http://books.google.com/books?id=fIo_5qn2o9kC&lpg=PP1&dq=popes%20and%20european%20revolution&pg=PA281#v=onepage&q=unigenitus&f=false

  114. #112

    Darryl,

    You have been posting here for about a week but I have yet to see you make an argument or present something substantial. Its quick comments that ignore paradigms, as if paradigms are not important, or otherwise stock apologetic quips that do nothing to advance the conversation. “Jesus never went to Rome so He could not have founded the Roman Church.” Sorry Darryl, but that sort of comment isn’t going to get much traction.

    Now you are moving onto stuff like, “You guys base everything on Matthew 16…!” Again, that won’t get you very far either. It begs the question and betrays the fact that the Catholic Church has never placed Her claims on one bible verse.

    The funny thing is that you will show that you’ll post stuff here all day but you won’t engage in Jason’s talk. Why is that?

  115. Joel @110,
    Much smaller but no less profound (I’ll bet) and quite biblical are the works of the aforementioned Gordon Clark – the preeminent Protestant mind of the last century.
    Please see his articles (and books) at http://www.trinityfoundation.org
    Thanks,
    This Hugh

  116. Darryl (re: #112, #113)

    You wrote:

    Bryan and Sean, but wouldn’t it be nice if you had more than one verse on which to hang your claims or through which to read the rest of Scripture. I know, I have the wrong paradigm. The right one begins and ends with Matt. 16.

    The paradigm does not begin and and end with Mt 16, but it does include Tradition, and is not merely “solo scriptura.”

    But given the small role that Peter plays in the rest of the NT after Acts 15 (not to mention that Mary doesn’t even make a cameo appearance), you guys better run for cover to the early church fathers.

    Again, see your “wrong paradigm” comment, regarding the question-begging character of trying to infer the relative importance or truth of a doctrine by the infrequency of its repetition in the New Testament or its non-explicit presence in the NT.

    Bryan, do the current popes still affirm the Syllabus of Errors? Do they still ban books? Do they still follow Unigenitus?

    Books are no longer banned by the Index, but the pastoral principles regarding the right and duty of the bishops to ensure that no harm is done to the faith and morals of the Christian faithful through social communication remain part of canon law. (see canons 822-832) And the errors pointed out in the Syllabus are still errors, and remain condemned. And the errors condemned in Unigenitus are still errors and remain condemned.

    One of the great things about being a Protestant is that we have a lot less to explain. You guys have a long history that gives you so many more problems than your average Wesleyan or your kooky Unitarian.

    Having no history is a “great” thing if the ultimate goal is to have “less to explain,” but not a “great” thing if the goal is to be in the Church Christ founded.

    I recommend you take a look at pp. 281ff of Owen Chadwick’s book on the difficulties surrounding Unigenitus: http://books.google.com/books?id=fIo_5qn2o9kC&lpg=PP1&dq=popes%20and%20european%20revolution&pg=PA281#v=onepage&q=unigenitus&f=false

    Thanks, done. Feel free to specify what you think is a “difficulty” regarding Unigenitus, and why it is a difficulty.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  117. Hear hear, Bryan.

    Darryl – please specify what you think is a “difficulty” regarding Unigenitus, and why it is a difficulty. Amen & please explain.

    Chadwick saith (p 282), “To a numerous body of men, especially in France, the bull was impossible, or only possible to to receive by a feat of intellectual gymnastics in the way of interpretation.” So, what else is new?

  118. Hugh (#108):

    I had asked you how

    …(c) how you can present such infallibility as something other than the agreement of “the Church” with your interpretation of Scripture, which is itself fallible. As a Catholic, I can do (a)-(c) because the Church herself has already done so.

    To that, you replied:

    Right. But you have not. I don’t see how I “can.” Or that I want to. Or need to; except that you folks claim to have it all dialed in, and therefore want us to answer you in kind. I don’t see that we can.

    I know well that you can’t and don’t want to. But unless and until you do it all the same, you have no reply to my arguments. And if you’re going to show that your IP is at least rationally plausible, you “need” such a reply. Of course you might see no “need” to show that your IP is at least rationally plausible. In that case, you’d be stuck in fideism–a stance which supplies no reason for anybody to prefer your beliefs to theirs, or even to share your beliefs at all. That’s not a position I want or need to be in myself, and I don’t have to be.

    Best,
    Mike

  119. Mike @ 118,

    [1] What is “IP”?

    [2] To clarify: You wrote:

    …(c) how you can present such infallibility as something other than the agreement of “the Church” with your interpretation of Scripture, which is itself fallible. As a Catholic, I can do (a)-(c) because the Church herself has already done so. But you have not.

    [3] I get you – please hear me. I am saying that I don’t believe that I can prove our claims apart from sola scriptura. No other authority for us is equal to (much less, surpasses) it. You say that you “know well” that I cannot prove our position beyond what we’ve said for centuries. I agree. Call me “stuck in fideism” (or worse), but aren’t we in agreement here? If so, please stop demanding something that you and I agree I cannot produce!

    Thank you,
    Hugh

  120. Darryl (#111),

    I know, every time I say something it’s ad hominem, a straw man, or a begged question.
    …Sorry, but I still have great attachment for the Bible. But I know that book has not always been available to the RC laity.

    You can add red herring to the list.

    From Henry Graham’s book Where We Got the Bible, Ch.11:
    http://www.catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/protestantism/wbible.htm#CHAPTER XI

    The translators of the Authorised Version, in their ‘Preface’, referring to previous translations of the Scriptures into the language of the people, make the following important statements. After speaking of the Greek and Latin Versions, they proceed:

    ‘The godly-learned were not content to have the Scriptures in the language which themselves understood, Greek and Latin … but also for the behoof and edifying of the unlearned which hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and had souls to be saved as well as they, they provided translations into the Vulgar for their countrymen, insomuch that most nations under Heaven did shortly after their conversion hear Christ speaking unto them in their Mother tongue, not by the voice of their minister only but also by the written word translated.’
    Now, as all these nations were certainly converted by the Roman Catholic Church, for there was then no other to send missionaries to convert anybody, this is really a valuable admission. The Translators of 1611, then, after enumerating many converted nations that had the Vernacular Scriptures, come to the case of England, and include it among the others.

    Much about that time,’ they say (1360), even in our King Richard the Second’s days, John Trevisa translated them into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seen that divers translated, as it is very probable, in that age . … So that, to have the Scriptures in the mother tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken up, either by the Lord Cromwell in England [or others] … but hath been thought upon, and put in practice of old, even from the first times of the conversion of any nation.’

    …people who could read at all in the Middle Ages could read Latin: hence there was little need for the Church to issue the Scriptures in any other language. But as a matter of fact she did in many countries put the Scriptures in the hands of her children in their own tongue. (I) We know from history that there were popular translations of the Bible and Gospels in Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Norwegian, Polish, Bohemian and Hungarian for the Catholics of those lands before the days of printing, but we shall confine ourselves to England, so as to refute once more the common fallacy that John Wycliff was the first to place an English translation of the Scriptures in the hands of the English people in 1382.

    Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England under Henry VIII who says: ‘The whole Bible long before Wycliff’s day was by virtuous and well-learned men translated into the English tongue, and by good and godly people with devotion and soberness well and reverently read’ (Dialogues III). Again, ‘The clergy keep no Bibles from the laity but such translations as be either not yet approved for good, or such as be already reproved for naught (i.e., bad, naughty) as Wycliff’s was. For, as for old ones that were before Wycliff’s days, they remain lawful and be in some folks’ hand. I myself have seen, and can show you, Bibles, fair and old which have been known and seen by the Bishop of the Diocese, and left in laymen’s hands and women’s too, such as he knew for good and Catholic folk, that used them with soberness and devotion.’

    Combine the above facts with the facts that ANY book in the pre printing press era was worth months of wages, and that literacy was low, and the idea the Catholic Church kept the bible from the people is really strange. In fact, even when I was Reformed, I was defending Christendom on this point against KJV only fundamentalists.

  121. [1] IP = “Interpretative paradigm” GOT IT!

    You’ve got the CIP & I’ve got the PIP!

  122. Darryl (#111):

    You wrote:

    …I know, every time I say something it’s ad hominem, a straw man, or a begged question. At least I know a place where I can get the pre-Vatican II apologetic.

    There’s nothing particularly “pre-Vatican-II” about exposing fallacies as such. And even if there were, that would not be a defect if I’m correct. And you have said nothing to show I’m incorrect.

    You wrote:

    But from my paradigm, your philosophical claims are beside the point since they don’t actually address what God reveals. Sorry, but I still have great attachment for the Bible. But I know that book has not always been available to the RC laity.

    I hardly know where to begin with that. Let’s get the snark out of the way first.

    As a Catholic, I too have “great attachment for the Bible.” Every day, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which contains psalms and Scripture readings. Every week, I conduct a Bible study incorporating various passages about timely and apposite themes of practical and spiritual interest to the participants. As an undergraduate, I studied Old Testament with Theodor Gaster, a Jewish rabbi and professor who, as much as anyone else in the world, was responsible for making the content and meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible to the general public. I studied New Testament with Elaine Pagels, a liberal Protestant who, more than any other academic writing in English, has been responsible for presenting the content and meaning of 2nd- and 3rd-century Gnostic writings accessible to the general public. I am by no means indifferent to the Bible either confessionally or academically, and I am as familiar with its larger context in the ancient world as with its content. What we disagree about is not the importance of the Bible or the study thereof, but about three other questions: (1) Why should the Bible be considered divinely inspired and thus inerrant, and (2) How should it be authoritatively interpreted? (3) Whatever the answer to (2), why should we accept it? As a Catholic, I can and do answer those questions. So far at least, you have not even attempted to do so.

    Perhaps that’s because, as you further wrote:

    But from my paradigm, your philosophical claims are beside the point since they don’t actually address what God reveals.

    That just adds another layer of question-begging, because we don’t agree on how to “address” what God reveals, nor do we even agree entirely on what God has actually revealed or on how we know it. To stop begging the question, you’d have to show why your paradigm’s not dealing with my philosophical arguments is rationally preferable to mine’s way of using them. That you have no so far done so, and show no inclination to do so, suggests that you aren’t interested in a rational comparison of paradigms. Which, of course, leaves you with nothing but question-begging.

    Best,
    Mike

  123. Hugh:

    Now that you understand that the question is which IP is the more reasonable one, you can appreciate an article I wrote a few years ago for CTC.

    Happy reading!

    Best,
    Mike

  124. David @120,

    Ron Conte writes @ Catholic Planet: “The Council of Toulouse was not an Ecumencial Council, and its order to prohibit possession of the Bible was under the temporal authority, which even Ecumenical Councils do not exercise infallibly. And their order only applied to the local area under the authority of that local Council. The reason was that certain translations of the Bible were being used to promote a particular heresy (Albigensian heresy). The order was temporary, local, and in my opinion erroneous.

    “But in any case, the order is often misrepresented by Protestants.

    Canon 14. We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless anyone from motive of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.

    “The order applies mainly to translations of the Latin Vulgate. At that time, many of the laity knew Latin, so they could possess the Vulgate for use in the aforementioned devotions. But even so, I think the Council erred in this order. Toulouse should have only condemned certain versions of the Bible, distorted by translation and by the notes (glosses) in order to promote heresy.

    O.K…

    “No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days, so that they may be burned…”- The Church Council of Tarragona 1234 AD; 2nd Canon – Source: D. Lortsch, Historie de la Bible en France, 1910, p.14.

    Both quotes found @ http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=272675

    Yours,
    Hugh

  125. Dear ‘Guest Author’ @ 123 –
    Yippee!
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  126. Hugh,

    I’ll let other do the heavy lifting, but out of curiosity I’ve been doing some research on your #124 regarding “The Council of Tarragona, 1234 AD” and D. Lortsch Historie de la Bible en France 1910. This is a new one to me so I’ve been investigating. I haven’t found much so far, but from what I’ve seen I think this instances illustrates quite well how we get so much confusion in our discussion with well intended Protestants like yourself.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I’m guessing you have never read D. Lortsch Historie de la Bible en France 1910? Also, I’m guessing you have little personal familiarity with anything to do with any council of Tarragona or events in that region c.1330 (which is no defect on your part since neither and probably only maybe 20 or 30 people in the world do).

    If my assumptions are true, then you are willing to quote a book making a claim concerning events and documents from a place and time in history that you have no real familiarity with. If I am wrong please feel free to correct me. I am not trying to offend you, or create acrimony. Rather, I want to help improve the dialogue between us all on CtC. I made the point in another thread to DGHart that we really need to go to source documents. I believe this is a particularly vivid example of why that is so.

    Now, I obviously have not read the book either, but from the beginning my “smelltest-O-meter” was in the yellow zone. A book and author I have never heard of, quoting Canons from a “Council” I have never heard of … Regardless of what the actual quotation says, and even if it supports my own case, I want to find and read this in context of what is going on in Tarragona in 1334.

    In my investigation, my first discovery is that there is no Council of Tarragona in 1334. There is a council or synod of Tarragona in 1329 and one in 1242 another in 1292. There is also a slightly more notable “Council of Tarragona in 516. The synod in 1329 was attended by at least 6 members of whom 2 are noted as Bishops. Clearly all of these are local synods (councils). My source is Landon, E. H. (1909). Vol. 2: A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church Edinburgh: John Grant.

    TARRAGONA (1329). Held on February 26th, 1329, by John, the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria, at the time administering the affairs of the Church of Tarragona. There were also present Raymond, Bishop of Valencia, Gaston of Gerona, Benignis of Tortosa, Raynaldus of Urgel, and Bernard of Lerida. Eighty-six canons were published, chiefly collected from those published in former councils.

    Landon, E. H. (1909). Vol. 2: A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church (148). Edinburgh: John Grant.

    At this point, if the quote is authentic I know it is addressing local concerns in the vicinity of Barcelona Spain. Also, the dates don’t quite match up. Lortsch could have erred or it could be a typo… The source above, MCHCC for short, mentions that in 1329 “Eighty-six canons were published, chiefly collected from those published in former councils.” MCHHC reproduces or summarizes about 20 of the canons, but does not mention Canon 2, or anything at all regarding banning the bible. That doesn’t prove that Canon 2 does not read as Lortsch quotes it, only that if it does, the editors didn’t think it was significant.

    So with a little more poking I find I don’t have the resources to get much more on a Council of Tarragona in 1329 (or 1334, or 1292) I decided to see what I can find about Lortsch and Historie de la Bible en France. Again, not much, but…. Googling I find that the nearly every single internet references to Historie de la Bible en France are from Protestant websites attacking Catholicism the few exceptions are Catholics refuting Lorscht quotes. Googling and reading about Council and Tarragona I can piece together that the Cathars were active in that region of Spain earlier in the 13th century and that there were conflicts with the Templars in that area contemporaneously with 1329 to 1334. Also, a history of King Pedro of Aragon refers to a “council” at Tarragona in 1334 associated with an armed conflict with the Templars. All in all, I can’t find anything solid either way, but the indications support 1) that (if true) this was a local matter and a decision based (ill advisedly?) on heresy and local politics and strife, and 2) there is a lot of confusion.

    What I find notable and I think you should find disconcerting Hugh, is the very large number of references to Lortsch and Historie de la Bible en France that come from Ellen G. White. It seems pretty apparent to me that this not a work that history scholars are referencing.

    To sum up regarding Lorscht: I find that quote from Historie de la Bible en France to be Highly Dubius and simply without further corroboration from some respectable source, I refuse to acknowledge that a Canon 2 from any Council of Tarragona contains the text quoted by Lorscht.

    Now, on to why I bring this up. It is clear that this text has been cited 100s of times on the internet and again, just guessing, that is where you found it. I assume that the majority of the writers also have not actually read or checked the source.

    This is what Stephen Colbert calls “Truthiness.” A piece of seemingly factual information confirms what someone feels to be true and they accept it as Truth. Unfortunately this kind of practice (by either side) is extremely unhelpful for dialogue.

  127. Hey G,

    I am not an apologist for I merely found it at the Catholic Answers blog. I am not trying to prove anything by it. Sorry if it offends. I thought these were legitimate since they were posted on a Catholic chat blog.

    As I said, Both quotes found @ http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=272675

  128. No problem Hugh. Thanks for the response. I had skimmed through that thread myself. I find Catholic forums interesting. Always a lot going on. Misguided Catholics, and fledgling appologists and bomb throwing anarchists can all coexist. After 2 decades of the online dialogue I really appreciate CtC where Bryan et. al. really make the effort to move the dialogue forward.

  129. Mike, you wrote: As a Catholic, “I too have “great attachment for the Bible.” Every day, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which contains psalms and Scripture readings. Every week, I conduct a Bible study incorporating various passages about timely and apposite themes of practical and spiritual interest to the participants. As an undergraduate, I studied Old Testament with Theodor Gaster, a Jewish rabbi and professor who, as much as anyone else in the world, was responsible for making the content and meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible to the general public. I studied New Testament with Elaine Pagels, a liberal Protestant who, more than any other academic writing in English, has been responsible for presenting the content and meaning of 2nd- and 3rd-century Gnostic writings accessible to the general public. I am by no means indifferent to the Bible either confessionally or academically, and I am as familiar with its larger context in the ancient world as with its content.”

    Me: ad hominem.

    Mike: “To stop begging the question, you’d have to show why your paradigm’s not dealing with my philosophical arguments is rationally preferable to mine’s way of using them.”

    Me: I’m not begging. I’m not even asking that question. Paul talked about the Greeks who thought the gospel was foolish according to the wisdom of the world. The Pauline-Tertullian-Augustinian-Lutheran-Reformed strain of Christianity (minus the neo-Calvinists) believe that philosophy is overrated.

    But if you want to parade your deontic claims before the working stiffs in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, have a nice day.

  130. David Meyer: this is what is so annoying about you guys. You don’t tell the whole story:

    “Question: You said that the Catholic Church forbade the common people from reading the Bible in their own language. Where’s the evidence for such a claim?

    “Answer: There were times when the Catholic Church officially deprived the common people from reading or even possessing the Bible in their own language. The historical fact is admitted by Catholic writers:

    “‘In early times, the Bible was read freely by the lay people, and the Fathers constantly encourage them to do so, although they also insist on the obscurity of the sacred text. No prohibitions were issued against the popular reading of the Bible. New dangers came during the Middle Ages. When the heresy of the Albigenses arose there was a danger from corrupt translations, and also from the fact that the heretics tried to make the faithful judge the Church by their own interpretation of the Bible. To meet these evils, the Council of Toulouse (1229) and Tarragona (1234) forbade the laity to read the vernacular translations of the Bible. Pius IV required the bishops to refuse lay persons leave to read even Catholic versions of the Scripture, unless their confessors or parish priests judged that such readings was likely to prove beneficial.’ (Addis and Arnold, Catholic Dictionary, The Catholic Publications Society Co., N.Y., 1887, p. 82).

    “The following two quotations are taken from the Council of Toulouse and the Council of Trent in the thirteenth and sixteenth century respectively.

    “‘We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old and the New Testament; unless anyone from the motives of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.’ (Edward Peters. Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, Council of Toulouse, 1229, Canon 14, p 195.)

    “‘Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them.’ (Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books, approved by Pope Pius IV, 1564).

    “This is in stark contrast to the Reformers like Wycliffe, Luther and Tyndale who laboured tirelessly to give the Word of God to the people in their own native tongue. In my country, Malta, which is intensely Roman Catholic, the first efforts to translate the Bible into the Maltese language were done by the handful of Protestants on the island. In fact the first complete Bible in Maltese was published by a Protestant society, despite all the opposition encountered from the Catholic establishment.

    “Thank God the modern Catholic Church has changed its position. I rejoice that many Catholics are now reading God’s Word for themselves, and hopefully, through the message of the Bible, many will come to experience the grace of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

    http://www.justforcatholics.org/a198.htm

  131. Darryl (#129):

    LOL! You’re not even using the phrase ad hominem correctly. I had described my interest in and qualifications for studying the Bible so as to show why your own ad hominem was baseless. That ad hominem is contained in the following, which you had written in #111:

    But from my paradigm, your philosophical claims are beside the point since they don’t actually address what God reveals. Sorry, but I still have great attachment for the Bible. But I know that book has not always been available to the RC laity.

    The dig there was that your “attachment for the Bible” is greater than mine, and your not-so-subtle implication was that, since “that book has not always been available to the RC laity,” my supposed lack of due attachment to the Bible is understandable given the ignorance of it supposedly characteristic of my Catholic background. That’s an ad hominem fallacy, since it didn’t rebut my arguments, but only sought to explain why those arguments should be ignored, given my personal lack of attachment to and understanding of the Bible. In response, I supplied the evidence that I have quite a bit of attachment to and understanding of the Bible, thus exposing your ad hominem as baseless. Now you charge me with an ad hominem for doing that! But my response was not an ad hominem; for I did not meet your argument by criticizing your person or motives, but by addressing the substance of your (fallacious) argument. So anybody with basic critical-thinking skills can see that your new move is itself a tu quoque fallacy.

    Addressing you, I had also written:

    To stop begging the question, you’d have to show why your paradigm’s not dealing with my philosophical arguments is rationally preferable to mine’s way of using them.

    To that, you reply:

    I’m not begging. I’m not even asking that question. Paul talked about the Greeks who thought the gospel was foolish according to the wisdom of the world. The Pauline-Tertullian-Augustinian-Lutheran-Reformed strain of Christianity (minus the neo-Calvinists) believe that philosophy is overrated.

    But if you want to parade your deontic claims before the working stiffs in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, have a nice day.

    So you meet my criticism that you’re begging the question by rejecting the question. But the reasons you give for doing so are irrelevant. Your citation of Paul is irrelevant because, unlike the “Greeks” he cites, I do not regard the Gospel as “foolishness” at all, while you have said nothing about my arguments that would show otherwise. Your citation of a particular strain of theology is irrelevant because it does nothing to show what it is about my arguments that the strain of theology you cite would be justified in viewing as “overrated.”

    I don’t know where you developed your critical-thinking skills, but wherever it was, you need to start from scratch.

    Best,
    Mike

  132. Mike, so is this an ad hominem? “I don’t know where you developed your critical-thinking skills, but wherever it was, you need to start from scratch.”

    BTW, I referred to your personal testimony about the Bible as an ad hominem simply to let you know how it feels. It worked.

    Now for critical thinking skills, you haven’t proved why my rejection of your philosophical questions is irrelevant. As I indicated, I am not the first saint (yes, I am) to question the merits of philosophy over the wisdom of the cross.

    Then again, it does seem that Roman Catholicism is appealing to those who like to think they are the smartest people in Christendom (which does not exist anymore). I see this impulse among the neo-Calvinists. I am sure any Van Tillian or Plantigaian could match philosophical wits with you. I am more interested in history and how Roman Catholic converts have to cover their eyes.

  133. Of RCC Bible prohibition, this thread discusses it from the Catholic perspective and gives many references: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=1604

    Of Tarragona, I there found this: After the death of Innocent III, the Synod of Toulouse directed in 1229 its fourteenth canon against the misuse of Sacred Scripture on the part of the Cathari: “prohibemus, ne libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti laicis permittatur habere”* (Hefele, “Concilgesch”, Freiburg, 1863, V, 875). In 1233 the Synod of Tarragona issued a similar prohibition in its second canon, but both these laws are intended only for the countries subject to the jurisdiction of the respective synods (Hefele, ibid., 918).

    * Online translators saith: “We forbid that they should not be permitted to have the books of the Old and New Testaments to the laity.”

  134. Mike @ 131,
    What is the proper definition of the gospel?
    (I think we’ll probably differ, so I am curious.)
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  135. All,
    Daryl wrote:

    …[I]t’s not honest to acknowledge the confusion and disorder that exists among Roman Catholics when confusion and disorder among Protestants is a reason to convert to Rome.

    I’ve been following the conversation as it has progressed and, while Daryl’s lack of philosophical argumentation (combined with your dubious historiography) is problematic, I do think he raises a good point here. I know there are many readers of this website who are currently in RCIA preparing to enter the Church this Easter – and since the “moment of truth” with respect to church membership is rapidly approaching, I hope what I write here is of some service to those persons.

    As Chesterton noted at the beginning of Why I Am A Catholic, “The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true”. Ultimately, then, converts have to assent not to the fact that Protestantism is wrong (although if Catholicism is true it is), but to the fact that Catholicism is right. There might well be a billion and one reasons why Protestantism is wrong, or bad, or unlikable – but none of those reasons will be sufficient to join the Catholic church. That’s why, on Easter night, some of you readers will be asked to say the following:

    “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

    Notice what is not being said here: You are not being asked to believe and profess that Protestants are confused and disorderly. You are not being asked to believe and profess that there are no problems in the Catholic Church, or to believe and profess that all one’s personal problems magically disappear once one becomes Catholic. In other words, don’t become Catholic because Protestantism is wrong! That’s not enough (and I think that’s what Jason was getting at in his talk when he mentioned that – even granting the problems in the Protestant position – it was still better to be a Protestant unauthoritatively right about justification than to be a Catholic whose position was authoritatively wrong).

    Instead, one should become Catholic only if you believe that the Catholic church (and hence those bishops in full communion with the bishop of Rome), constitute the Church founded by Christ. It is in virtue of holding that that one can “believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”. So in other words, don’t become Catholic because Protestants (or Protestantism) is wrong. Don’t become Catholic because we’ve got incense, or pretty windows, or you met a priest one time who was a real bang-up guy. Don’t become Catholic because you like our views on abortion, or the death penalty, or helping the poor, or whatever. Join if and only if you believe her to be the Church founded by Christ – the Church, in order words, to which you will submit even if she were to ever use her full doctrinal authority to teach something you think is wrong.

    I’m not going to lie: being Catholic rocks. The Eucharist is amazing, our cathedrals are pretty, and (especially among the younger priests), there are a lot of good homilies (sermons) to be heard. It’s by no means the spiritual wasteland I’d heard about (especially if one’s parish is on the ball). But being Catholic for any of those reasons I just listed in this paragraph is intellectually unjustifiable – as is being Catholic because Protestants are confused and disorderly. But if you believe the Catholic Church is the one founded by Christ, join up. Lord knows there’s plenty of work to be done, and a few more hands to help us out would be great…

    Yours Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin

    PS: To anyone having an existential crisis shortly before entering the Church, I found Chesterton helpful (as I usually do) when I was in the same position last Easter. I’d recommend either Why I Am A Catholic (shorter read) or The Catholic Church And Conversion (longer read).

  136. Hugh, re:#133

    Thanks for following up. Since I responded yesterday and no one else has taken up the topic, I’ll keep with it. I have not studied a lot of this in detailed history, but over the years I’ve become roughly familiar with this topic. Personally I find it more disturbing than it seems some Catholic Apologists perceptions. I hope my comments yesterday reflected that I felt the quote regarding Tarragona was plausible even though I thought it might be fake. The reason it is plausible is that there are some actual cases where similar statements are authentic.

    Apologetically the main point is these cases are LOCAL acts. The Church is UNIVERSAL. The Universal Church has never banned or discouraged bible reading. At some places and times local Churches in specific circumstances have banned private bible reading. This is an issue of a few Bishops in a certain geographic area (acting in concert with the local government) prohibiting private bible reading for the good of public order. Again, the main point apologetically is that this was a local, temporary order. Subsidiary to that main point are that the Bishops were confronting a heresy that was detrimental to the faith and the civil society. Also, subsidiary to the main point, the Bishops were also part of the local civil government. So this wasn’t solely a religious action but partly a civil action.

    In the case of the Toulouse statement, that was issued during a time period near the end of the Cathar heresy and in the midst of the Albigensian heresy. The Cathars I know less about I have some interesting ideas and feel more sympathetic towards them mainly I think I read somewhere they were peaceful and their neighbors were sympathetic towards them over the government. Many Cathars were massacred by the authorities. The Albigensians I know a bit more about. They were dualistic manicheans. They were offended by procreation both human and animal. For that reason they preferred concubinage and temporary relationships. They avoided pregnancy. They thought suicide was a good idea. Generally, in society of the middle ages they were disruptive to the order. The Albigensians were particularly strong around Toulouse. Here is the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Albigensianism for starters. The Albigensian’s ended up on the receiving end of the Albigensian Crusade – the only crusade launched on Europe itself.

    I bring this up because the Canon banning the bible in Toulouse, although not doing nearly what anti-Catholic Protestant propaganda alleges, is actually the tip of an ice berg of ugly history.

    Also, at this time the Bishops were officially part of the civil government. There was no separation of Church and state. Bishops were often appointed as favors to political families or might be younger sons of the nobility.

    I find the whole thing shameful.

    Going back to apologetics. The Catholic Church, being formally united, and having a long history, this ties directly to the “us” of Catholics today. Yes, Catholic Bishops made decisions that at least in our eyes today, look pretty bad.

    Protestants have their own historical moments. No one really want to claim Calvin’s actions in Geneva. In the USA right up through c. 1950 protestant school boards wanted to indoctrinate Catholics and opposed Catholic Schools. Catholics had to go to the Supreme Court to be given the right not to be taught Protestantism.

    The difference here is that the Catholic Church has a visible unity and continuous visible existence through history. We have a visible Hierarchy. It is possible to KNOW where (and who) the Catholic Church exists everywhere in history and today. Certainly there are episodes that seem like mistakes. But we can’t deny that they belong to us.

    You may be happier being a Protestant who can join a denomination conceived last year, or join a fragment of a denomination that split from a split, then you don’t have to personally recognize that historically, yes that was my church.

  137. Benjamin,

    Those books by Chesterton are great. The latter was especially helpful to me in those last moments when I was already convinced, but still afraid.

    Hugh (re #133),

    That information comes from the old Catholic Encyclopedia article on Scripture, and can be found in the sub-section, “Attitude of the Church towards the reading of the Bible in the vernacular.” The article provides some of the context necessary for understanding the Church’s various directives concerning the use Sacred Scripture, which are prudential judgments relative to time and place. As you know, some things in the Bible, St. Paul’s writings in particular, are hard to understand, and ignorant, unstable persons twist these things to their own destruction. In some cases, apparently, the ecclesial authorities judged that there was imminent danger of this, should the Bible be made generally available for private reading. Maybe in each case it would have been better to risk it, maybe more good would have come by taking a more liberal stance, but I don’t know enough about the circumstances to make that judgment.

    From a Protestant (and a modern) perspective, any restriction upon the reading of Sacred Scripture will seem tantamount to a restriction upon the Christian life itself. But from a Catholic point of view, those restrictions, even if they were unnecessary or counter-productive (again, I don’t know enough about the circumstances to make that judgment), do not necessarily amount to a restriction on the Christian life, since it is in the liturgy of the Eucharist that the Word of God comes to us in the fullest way (in this life), as spiritual food and drink. At Mass / Divine Liturgy, we step into the world of the Bible, we are (mystically) in the Garden of Eden, walking with God during the cool of the day, with Christ and the disciples in Bethlehem, Galilee, and Judea, at Calvary, and with the saints and angels before the heavenly Throne and the Lamb standing as though it had been slain.

    Ultimately, the Word of God is not words on a page, but the Word made flesh, and he is our life. I like to read, and I love being able to read my Bible at home, whichever version I like best (provided it has 73 books; I don’t use the abridged versions). Still, I don’t want to end up like the theologian who, upon death, was offered the alternative of going to Heaven or going to hear a lecture on Heaven and chose the latter. Anyway, I’m glad to have access to the Word both in the Church’s liturgy and in the privacy of my own home, via the printed page. Bible study in my recliner with coffee and a good monograph on, say, the Abrahamic Covenant in the writings of St. Paul is great; but when its time to go to Liturgy, I don’t stay home for all that.

    Darryl,

    The reforms of Vatican II were certainly changes in the life of the Church, and of course the abuses that accompanied these reforms have not been helpful. I think that Bryan earlier alluded to the difference between a development and a corruption or abuse. In the Catholic Church, we’ve seen both running side by side for the past 50 years. Heck, we’ve seen both for the past 2,000 years. I wrote a little bit about the phenomenon of changes in the Church, in response to a couple of your former colleagues, in this post. Its a bit of a rambler, but at least I acknowledge the Church has changed a lot. Only, I argue that that’s because she is alive and well.

    Oh, and yeah that last bit from Mike looked to me like an ad. hom. That type of thing is contrary to our comment policy. Of course it doesn’t matter where you learned your critical thinking skills. It only matters that we all think critically, in the sense of making and evaluating arguments to the end of arriving at unity in truth. As you know, we believe that this unity is bound to be Catholic. And I know that you disagree. But since we’re not fundamentalists, that disagreement doesn’t have to be a conversation stopper.

    Andrew

  138. Hugh,

    The gospel has already been defined in the Nicene Creed.

  139. Erick [email protected]: Thanks! The gospel is 1 Cor. 15:3f, which is not about what we do, what’s done inside of us, a universal atonement,* or anything we experience. Nicene only says this, re the gospel: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” *FOR OUR SINS!

    GreatNorthWestPaul @136: “You may be happier being a Protestant who can join a denomination conceived last year, or join a fragment of a denomination that split from a split…”
    ~ I’ll just start my own cult, and that way can play pope to the lepers in my head… :)

    Benjamin @135: Well put, this: “Join if and only if you believe her to be the Church founded by Christ – the Church, in order words, to which you will submit even if she were to ever use her full doctrinal authority to teach something you think is wrong.” Amen. The authority issue is foundational to the rest of it!

    Thank you, men!
    Hugh

  140. I especially appreciate your gospel summary as you were coming to understand the Catholic faith. I know when I converted I was eagerly looking for an equivalent to the Four Spiritual Laws for Catholics. Something that “could fit on a dime.” I took the opportunity to transcribe your quick summery here. But I’d appreciate if others could point out simple descriptions of how Catholics understand (or communicate) the Gospel — particularly to those who are not even Christian. For example, as a Protestant if someone were to approach me and say, “How do I become a Christian?” I would have a quick, canned Gospel presentation ready. But as a Catholic, I sort of dance around a bit. I’m not as confident as I was as a Protestant. I certainly don’t have it down to “dime sized”. Anyway, I’d appreciate any links or short descriptions of the Gospel that you would use with someone asking how they might become Catholic. (More than, come with me to RCIA — they’ll tell you. ;) )

    Without further ado… Jason Stellman’s transcribed description of the Catholic / Apostolic Gospel during his journey to the Church…

    When it comes to how the Gospel is applied to us…

    The Son of God assumes a human nature and human flesh together with His divine person.

    And he lived and died and rose again and ascended to heaven and gave the Holy Spirit.

    And the Holy Spirit comes and is infused by God into our hearts (Romans 5:5).

    God, in Christ, through the Spirit, does what the Law of Moses could not. Because what the Law could not do is empower. The Law could command. And it’s got 613 different commands. But It couldn’t empower.

    But God, in Christ, through the Spirit has empowered us to not just understand what’s expected of us as Christians, but through the Spirit we are empowered to actually offer to God what it is he wanted all along. Which is love of God and neighbor.

    That’s what Jesus, John, James and Paul all say explicitly.

    That the Law is fulfilled in this, that you love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength and you love your neighbor as your self. This is what God wants.

    This is what the Holy Spirit makes possible. This is what makes the New Covenant new.

    What makes the New Covenant new is not just that it’s the latest covenant, and that there might be a newer one later on. But what makes it new is the fact that the Spirit is given to the Church to bring about the obedience of faith in God’s people. Such that we can offer not ourselves by ourselves — as Cain tried to offer the fruit of his own hands and it wasn’t accepted. And left to ourselves, we can’t offer to God our own works or our own righteousness and expect it to be accepted either — But in Christ I can offer to God myself. And in the Eucharist I can offer to God my sacrifice of thanksgiving. I can offer to him all that I am. This is what Adam was supposed to have done at the very beginning. He was to offer himself back in sacrificial self-giving love to his Creator. And now in Christ, I can do that.

    This is what the Apostles were working with. This was their paradigm.

    And, by the way, it might just fit on a dime…

    Here are the links to the “near dime-sized” gospel presentations…

    http://oi50.tinypic.com/301dpbs.jpg

    http://oi48.tinypic.com/r1bn2c.jpg

    ;)

  141. Eva @ 140 – Cute graphics! :)

    But the the gospel is laid out in 1 Cor. 15:3f ~ Paul delivered to the Corinthians that which he’d received of the Lord: 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.

    The Son of God assumes a human nature and human flesh together with His divine person. And he lived and died and rose again and ascended to heaven and gave the Holy Spirit. True enough! But more than this…

    This death was not indiscriminate – it was to actually accomplish the salvation of his people from their sins, as the angel Gabriel had told Joseph he would, Matt. 1:21.

    Not a potential redemption,
    not a first justification to be later ratified through one’s efforts
    (however Spirit-empowered or sacrament-stoked those may be),
    not a possible salvation with a large IF hanging over it.

    But a sure justification,
    a washing of all our sins,
    a definitive sanctification in the SON
    (1 Cor. 6:11, cf. 1:30f).

    Yours,
    Hugh

  142. I’m wondering what my brothers and sisters here think of this phrase as a Catholic understanding of justification by faith:

    We are justified by faith expressing itself through love.

    I think it encapsulates Paul and John and James.

    Peace,
    EJ Cassidy

  143. Erick @138,

    And notice that the Nicene Creed doesn’t say anything about our works contributing to, meriting, or being the reason for our salvation.

  144. Eva,

    Y e a h, I still may need to whittle that down a bit!

  145. E. J. (#142)

    I’m wondering what my brothers and sisters here think of this phrase as a Catholic understanding of justification by faith:

    We are justified by faith expressing itself through love.

    I think it encapsulates Paul and John and James.

    The phrase is Paul’s (Galatians 5:6). I have heard that Luther strongly rejects the possibility that love can play any part in our salvation – that love is an assured result of our faith, but cannot itself be the instrument of our salvation. Don’t know if this is true or not.

    jj

  146. Galatians 6:5

    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.
    The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. {NIV, 2011}

    For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything,
    but only “faith working through love.” {NAB}
    ~ Or, “faith expressing itself through love,” or “faith energized by [God’s] love.”

    ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ οὔτε περιτομή τι ἰσχύει οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ πίστις δι’ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη

  147. Hugh (re:#146),

    Galatians 6:5 is appropriate for the discussion here in many ways– one of them being that, historically, to my knowledge, the Catholic Church has understood the “circumcision or uncircumcision” issue to be part of what St. Paul means by “works of the law.” That is, works of the Mosaic law. I’ll explain what I mean.

    As a Reformed Baptist, I was taught that what the apostle is addressing in Galatians is the conflict between being “justified by faith alone in Christ alone” and the supposed attempt to “earn one’s salvation through works.” Through my research of both Catholic exegesis and more recent non-Calvinist Protestant exegesis though, I eventually came to a different perspective on Galatians, and I think that it makes more sense of the entire letter and of the New Testament as a whole.

    That different perspective is thus: St. Paul is actually addressing a controversy in the church at Galatia between Jewish Christians (who made up the majority of the larger Church at that time) and newer Gentiles who had been converted to Christ. At least some of the Jewish Christians in the church at Galatia were trying to stipulate that Gentile converts to Christ must be circumcised (as all Jews were, obviously, as part of the Mosaic law) in order to be accepted as genuine followers of Christ. These Jewish Christians were basically saying, “True Christians must be circumcised, Jewish and Gentile.”

    In opposition to this thinking, as a Jewish convert to Christ himself, St. Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” {NAB} The apostle is not saying that Christians can be justified by a “faith alone in Christ alone” without *any works of love for God and neighbor* at all. He is stating that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians are both united by faith in Christ– justified by faith in Christ *alone*, whether they are circumcised or uncircumcised.

    However, significantly, St. Paul does not state that justification is by *faith alone*– and St. James explicitly says that justification is *not* by faith alone in James 2:14-26. Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians both must trust in Christ alone, but trusting in *Christ alone* (which is necessary for believers) does not equate to justification by *faith alone*. If trusting in Christ alone necessarily equated to justification by faith alone, there simply would not be so many passages and verses in the Bible that clearly indicate the contrary, such as Matthew 25:31-46 and Romans 2:6-13 and James 2:14-26, among multitudes of others.

    I never would have imagined it, for most of my time as a Reformed Baptist, but the Catholic understanding of justification (which is not “earning one’s salvation through works,” but rather, faith working through love) actually makes more sense of the whole counsel of the Bible than the Reformed understanding of justification. It is that conclusion (which I found confirmed in the writings of the early Church Fathers) which played a pivotal role in my eventually having to leave Protestantism and return to the Catholic Church.

    I realize that I’ve made some very controversial statements in this comment, and that many of the Protestants reading here will have strong objections. I understand– I used to be a Protestant myself! :-) Alas, for my part in the discussion, I am leaving tomorrow for travel related to a death in my family, and I likely won’t have much access (if at all) to the internet until after Easter.

    In that light, I wish all Christians who observe Holy Week here at CTC a very meaningful one, and I wish a joyous Easter Sunday to all believers! May we all pray for ever deeper unity in Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! In this Holy Week, Good Friday is still to come, but He, in whom we all trust *alone*, is eternally Risen! Thanks be to God!

  148. #129 – An anti-philosophical reading of Paul is a strange reading of Paul, who is significantly influenced by the Stoic philosophy of virtue and by the rhetorical form of the Stoic diatribe, not to mention his famous allusions to the Stoic doctrine of natural law in Romans.

    An anti-philosophical (or non-Platonic) reading of Augustine is a remarkable and rare achievement.

    Tertullian, I grant you.

  149. Benjamin– you nailed it.

  150. Thanks, Chris @147 – Hope your trip is a safe & profitable one.

    Quick query on this (anyone there can answer). You said

    …trusting in *Christ alone* (which is necessary for believers) does not equate to justification by *faith alone*. If trusting in Christ alone necessarily equated to justification by faith alone, there simply would not be so many passages and verses in the Bible that clearly indicate the contrary, such as Matthew 25:31-46 and Romans 2:6-13 and James 2:14-26, among multitudes of others.

    What does Christ’s death and resurrection effect in your scheme?
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  151. Dear Ben @135,

    You write:

    As Chesterton noted at the beginning of Why I Am A Catholic, “The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true”.

    BINGO. As St Joseph said, “You nailed it.” I mean, here it’s G.K.C. “nailing it,” but you have too, and not merely in quoting the big man. BTW, I’ve read his Orthodoxy.

    Ultimately, then, converts have to assent not to the fact that Protestantism is wrong (although if Catholicism is true it is), but to the fact that Catholicism is right.

    …some of you readers will be asked to say the following: “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

    Now THAT’S a big reading list! How long is RCIA’s catechesis?! Seriously – is this “merely” learning your latest catechism, or is one to have working knowledge of the Vaticans, the Nicaeas, the Constantinoples, Trent, Chalcedon, Ephesus, etc.? Papal encyclicals? More? Fewer?

    If one needn’t be conversant with the catechism, is one is simply giving implicit assent to Rome’s claims of being the One True Church of Jesus Christ on Earth, and the Pope being his Vicar?

    To profess that one believes EVERYTHING your organization “believes, teaches, and proclaims” without KNOWING it all seems problematic. How do you work around this? Surely you take in illiterates, too. How do they make such a profession?

    …one should become Catholic only if you believe that the Catholic church (and hence those bishops in full communion with the bishop of Rome), constitute the Church founded by Christ. It is in virtue of holding that that one can “believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”.

    …Join if and only if you believe her to be the Church founded by Christ – the Church, in order words, to which you will submit even if she were to ever use her full doctrinal authority to teach something you think is wrong.

    …But if you believe the Catholic Church is the one founded by Christ, join up.

    Hmm – I think you’re spot on.

    Sadly,
    Hugh

  152. Benjamin, how do you know Rome is the church Christ founded? Why not Antioch? Peter was there. Some think the Church of Cyprus rocks (and it’s like older than Rome’s church).

  153. Hugh,

    When Jesus asked the Twelve whether they would abandon him along with the rest of the crowd, Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have come to believe and are sure that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

    Whatever kind of reckless and potentially dangerous faith Peter exercised there is what every Catholic who enters the Church must exercise. It’s not like in Protestantism. There is only one Messiah, and he has only one Body and Bride.

    (So much for the Tu Quoque!)

  154. Andrew, how do you know what is a development or an abuse when popes themselves shift ground? Do you think Boniface VIII would have approved Vatican II? Do you think Francis will maintain the corrections to Vatican II of JPII and Benedict XVI? Reporters at NCR don’t think so: http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/editorial-francis-election-full-symbols-signs-new-era

    Look, I know it’s hard to run things. Administrators always have to be political animals. But you guys construe the pope as the chief pastor. And what is good for the Curia is not always good for the laity. You would think that subsidiarity might be something the hierarchy might try to implement within the church.

  155. dgh.

    Just FYI, ‘the National Catholic Reporter’ is just about the most schismatic publication ever. They have no approval from the Catholic Church whatsover and even recently the bishop where their main office is located argued that they should remove the word ‘Catholic’ from their publication. If one spends five minutes on NCR’s website its clear that they have two main aims: 1) Gay Marriage and 2) Woman Priests. Most of their contributors are former Catholics including some defrocked priests.

    Lastly, neither JPII or B16 ‘corrected’ Vatican II.

  156. Jason,

    So reckless faith means dismissing the lack of historical evidence for so many of Rome’s claims? Here I thought Aquinas was Rome’s main guy. I guess the work of Hahn and other Roman apologists and theologians is pointless, then.

    Seems to me Jesus was all about telling people to go to Moses to see whether or not what He was saying was true.

  157. Dear Hugh (@151),

    Thanks for writing and for your kind compliments. Not to be too pedantic but, if you wouldn’t mind, please call me Benjamin. For whatever (probably arbitrary) reason, I’ve always preferred “Benjamin” to “Ben”, “Benny”, or any of the other variants. No offense taken on my part – but I thought it’d be okay to make the request. :-) Orthodoxy has been a favorite of mind (and I always read an excerpt from “Heretics” whenever I teach Intro to Philosophy), but frankly my favorite book of his has long been “The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare”. It’s a…strange book, but fantastically adventurous and, so long as one remembers that it’s a nightmare, the ending makes a lot more sense. The interchange between Syme and Gregory at the beginning of the book is amazing.
    More substantively, you asked:

    How long is RCIA’s catechesis?!

    In my case, it was just shy of a full year. (For comparison, to join the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, I attended for awhile and met with the Session once. Once I told them I wanted to join it was a matter of weeks, but I guess I’d been attending regularly for a few months anyways. Then, come the next Sunday, boom! I was OPC). RCIA is partially so long because ours functioned as both an introduction to Christianity as well as an introduction to Catholicism. Our RCIA class was quite good, actually – so while I certainly wouldn’t say we got a “working knowledge of the Vaticans, the Nicaeas, the Constantinoples, Trent, Chalcedon, Ephesus, etc.?”, I’d say we did cover a lot of material contained in those sources (and related encyclicals). One can actually cover a fair bit of catechisis meeting 1x/week for 3 hours for the better part of a year (but our parish is good and I’ve heard horror stories of elsewhere).
    With respect to knowing all those sources, hey, you can’t get everything in RCIA (and, obviously, what is expected of one scales to one’s age, maturity, etc. I’ve seen the same be true of joining reformed presbyterian churches – the level of understanding of Westminster expected of a 12-year old joining is rather less than that expected of an adult). I’d definitely say RCIA familiarized us with the CCC, of course, the CCC does a great job of pointing to its sources too (particular patristic sources, those councils you mentioned, various encyclicals, etc). Hopefully that gives you some idea of what sort of preparation we had. :-)

    If one needn’t be conversant with the catechism, is one is simply giving implicit assent to Rome’s claims of being the One True Church of Jesus Christ on Earth, and the Pope being his Vicar?

    There’s a (potential) bit of ambiguity here. If you are asking must one be conversant with the catechism in order to be Catholic, then I think the answer is that it’s not an absolute requirement. Similarly, must one be conversant with the Bible