Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aquinas: Rule of Faith ("sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei")

Thomas Aquinas' expression, "sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei" at first glance sounds a lot like the Reformation maxim that the rule of faith is only the canonical scripture.

Here's an English translation of the relevant portion:
It should be noted that though many might write concerning Catholic truth, there is this difference that those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and others of this kind, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt. That is his meaning when he says ‘we know his testimony is true.’ Galatians 1:9, “If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!” The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a measure of faith. Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things.
Latin text:
Notandum autem, quod cum multi scriberent de catholica veritate, haec est differentia, quia illi, qui scripserunt canonicam Scripturam, sicut Evangelistic et Apostoli, et alii huiusmodi, ita constanter eam asserunt quod nihil dubitandum relinquunt. Et ideo dicit Et scimus quia verum est testimonium eius; Gal. I, 9: Si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeter id quod accepistis, anathema sit. Cuius ratio est, quia sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei. Alii autem sic edisserunt de veritate, quod nolunt sibi credi nisi in his quae ver dicunt.”
And here's the citation: Thomas Aquinas, Lectures on the Gospel of John, ed. P. Raphaelis Cai, O.P., Editio V revisa (Romae: Marietti Editori Ltd., 1952) n. 2656, p. 488.

This is not an attempt to construe Aquinas as a modern-day Reformed believer (or even a "Protestant" as unhelpful as that category is). Such an allegation would be anachronistic. However, this citation does show that it is equally (if not more-so) anachronistic to view Aquinas as sharing the beliefs of modern-day Roman apologists. In short, his view of Scripture may not be precisely the same as ours, but it is also not the same as that of Rome, in an important way.

The usual response to this sort of citation from Aquinas is exemplified by the response provided by Phil Porvaznik (link) who deflects from the text in question to another place in Aquinas' writings that he thinks is inconsistent with Sola Scriptura. While such an approach may help to prove what we already concede (namely that Aquinas is not simply a modern-day Reformed Presbyterian), it does not answer the crucial question, what did Aquinas mean by "sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei" ("only canonical scripture is [the/a (Latin lacks articles)] rule of faith")? Can any of the Roman Catholics reading answer that question positively (i.e. by refraining from telling us what Aquinas is not saying but rather by telling us what Aquinas is saying)?

What is interesting is that this is not the only time Aquinas speaks of the rule of faith. Here's another place, first an English translation:
Or, wanting to show those speeches that are completely outside of the Scriptures, it said: If they will say to you: Here, and in the desert, do not depart from the rule of the faith.
Latin text:
Vel eos sermones qui sunt omnino extra Scripturam ostendere volens, dixit si dixerint vobis: ecce in solitudine est, nolite exire, de regula fidei.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Commentary on the Gospels, at Matthew 24:23-38 (Lectio 6 in Matthew 24), quoting (apparently with approval) from Origen.

Additionally, we may note another such reference (again English first):
Objection 1. It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of faith to be embodied in a symbol. Because Holy Writ is the rule of faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made, since it is written (Deuteronomy 4:2): "You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it." Therefore it was unlawful to make asymbol as a rule of faith, after the Holy Writ had once been published.

...

Reply to Objection 1. The truth of faith is contained in Holy Writ, diffusely, under various modes of expression, and sometimes obscurely, so that, in order to gather the truth of faith from Holy Writ, one needs long study and practice, which are unattainable by all those who require to know the truth of faith, many of whom have no time for study, being busy with other affairs. And so it was necessary to gather together a clear summary from the sayings of Holy Writ, to be proposed to the belief of all. This indeed was no addition to Holy Writ, but something taken from it.
Latin text:
Ad nonum sic proceditur. Videtur quod inconvenienter articuli fidei in symbolo ponantur. Sacra enim Scriptura est regula fidei, cui nec addere nec subtrahere licet, dicitur enim Deut. IV, non addetis ad verbum quod vobis loquor, neque auferetis ab eo. Ergo illicitum fuit aliquod symbolum constituere quasi regulam fidei, post sacram Scripturam editam.

...

Ad primum ergo dicendum quod veritas fidei in sacra Scriptura diffuse continetur et variis modis, et in quibusdam obscure; ita quod ad eliciendum fidei veritatem ex sacra Scriptura requiritur longum studium et exercitium, ad quod non possunt pervenire omnes illi quibus necessarium est cognoscere fidei veritatem, quorum plerique, aliis negotiis occupati, studio vacare non possunt. Et ideo fuit necessarium ut ex sententiis sacrae Scripturae aliquid manifestum summarie colligeretur quod proponeretur omnibus ad credendum. Quod quidem non est additum sacrae Scripturae, sed potius ex sacra Scriptura assumptum.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 9

Here's another:
1. It seems that you should not combine the articles in the symbol. In fact all the faith is taught in a comprehensive manner with Sacred Scripture. So it was unnecessary to compose the symbol.

2. The symbol is proposed as a rule of faith, whose action is consent. Now, only the Apostles and Prophets must be granted this honor, which is that all they have said is believed to be true, as St. Augustine asserts. So after the Apostles' Creed one should not draw up other symbols.

...

Reply to 1. It was necessary to collect in a single text the various truth transmitted in various places of the Sacred Scriptures so that the faith would be more readily at hand.

Reply to 2. The Fathers who have published other symbols after the Apostles have not added anything of their own, but added what they excerpted from the Holy Scriptures. Now, since in that symbol of the Apostles there are some difficult things, the Nicene Creed was published, which exposes more fully the faith about certain items. Since then some truths were contained in those symbols in implicit form, it was necessary to give an explanation upon the rise of heresies, and so was added the symbol S. Athanasius, who especially set himself against the heretics.
Latin Text:
Ulterius. Videtur quod articuli non debuerunt colligi in symbolo. Quia tota fides sufficienter per sacram Scripturam instruitur. Ergo superfluum fuit symbolum condere.

Praeterea, symbolum proponitur ut regula fidei, cujus actus est assentire. Sed, sicut dicit Augustinus in epistola 19 ad Hieronymum, solis apostolis et prophetis est hic honor exhibendus, ut quaecumque dixerunt, haec ipsa vera esse credantur. Ergo post symbolum apostolorum non debuerunt alia symbola fieri.

...


Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod oportuit ea quae in diversis locis sacrae scripturae tradita sunt, in unum colligi locum, ut fides magis in promptu haberetur.

Ad secundum dicendum, quod patres qui alia symbola post apostolos ediderunt, nihil de suo apposuerunt; sed ex sacris scripturis ea quae addiderunt, exceperunt. Et quia quaedam difficilia sunt in illo symbolo apostolorum, ideo ad ejus explanationem editum est symbolum nicaenum, quod diffusius fidem quantum ad aliquos articulos prosequitur. Et quia quaedam implicite continebantur in illis symbolis, quae oportebat propter insurgentes haereses explicari; ideo additum est symbolum athanasii, qui specialiter contra haereticos se opposuit.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary upon [Lombard's] Sentences, Book 3, Distinction 25, Question 1, Answer 1, Quaestiuncula 3, arguments 1-2 and answer to arguments 1-2

And again:
4. In the symbol, the faith must be exposed that extends to all believers. But, not all believers have come to believe in God, but only those who have a formed faith. Therefore he seems to say badly: “I believe in a single God,” and because he has a shapeless faith, saying this, sins by lying.



Reply to 4. In the symbol is propounded to us the rule of the faith, to which all must come. But they do not have only to reach the action of shapeless faith, but also the action of formed faith. However, he who, having shapeless faith, recites the symbol, does not sin, because he says this in the person of the Church.
Latin Text:
Praeterea, in symbolo debet exponi fides quantum ad omnes credentes. Sed non omnibus credentibus convenit credere in Deum, sed tantum habentibus fidem formatam. Ergo videtur quod male dictum sit: credo in unum Deum; et quod habens fidem informem, hoc dicens peccet mentiendo.

...

Ad quartum dicendum, quod in symbolo proponitur nobis regula fidei, ad quam omnes debent pertingere. Non autem debent pertingere solum ad actum fidei informis, sed etiam ad actum fidei formatae, et ideo ponitur in symbolis actus fidei formatae. Nihilominus habens fidem informem, dicens symbolum, non peccat: quia hoc dicit in persona Ecclesiae.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary upon [Lombard's] Sentences, Book 3, Distinction 25, Question 1, Answer 2, Argument 4, and reply to 4

And here:
3. The Sacred Scripture is the rule of the faith. But, in the Scriptures of Old Testament the Trinity was not explicitly mentioned. Therefore it was not necessary [to believe in the Trinity] in order to believe.


Reply to 3. Since it was not necessary that all be explicitly known in the Old Testament, the mystery of the Trinity was not formulated manifestly, but veiled, so that the wise can understand.
Latin Text:
Praeterea, sacra Scriptura est regula fidei. Sed in Scriptura veteris testamenti non fuit mentio expressa facta de Trinitate. Ergo non erat necessaria ad credendum.

...

Ad tertium dicendum, quod quia non erat necessarium ut explicite omnes cognoscerent, ideo non fuit positum mysterium trinitatis manifeste in veteri testamento, sed velate ut sapientes capere possent.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary upon [Lombard's] Sentences, Book 3, Distinction 25, Question 1, Answer 2, Quaestiuncula 4, Argument 3, and reply to 3

Finally, again, first in English:
Objection 3. Further, Athanasius was not the Sovereign Pontiff, but patriarch of Alexandria, and yet he published a symbol which is sung in the Church. Therefore it does not seem to belong to the Sovereign Pontiff any more than to other bishops, to publish a new edition of the symbol.

...

Reply to Objection 3. Athanasius drew up a declaration of faith, not under the form of a symbol, but rather by way of an exposition of doctrine, as appears from his way of speaking. But since it contained briefly the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule of faith.
Latin text:
Praeterea, Athanasius non fuit summus pontifex, sed Alexandrinus patriarcha. Et tamen symbolum constituit quod in Ecclesia cantatur. Ergo non magis videtur pertinere editio symboli ad summum pontificem quam ad alios.

...

Ad tertium dicendum quod Athanasius non composuit manifestationem fidei per modum symboli, sed magis per modum cuiusdam doctrinae, ut ex ipso modo loquendi apparet. Sed quia integram fidei veritatem eius doctrina breviter continebat, auctoritate summi pontificis est recepta, ut quasi regula fidei habeatur.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 10

Recall again that the challenge to the Roman Catholic reader is to tell us what Aquinas meant by saying that the canonical scriptures alone are a/the rule of faith.

To make the Roman Catholic's job easier, here are some important negative points that I'll present so that the Roman Catholic can focus on the positives:

1. Aquinas wrote in Latin, so while we might be tempted to insert "the" before "rule of faith," the sense of "the" can only be implied.

2. In the first quotation above, the Scriptures are not being contrasted with the proclamations of ecumenical councils or ex cathedra papal statements (the latter category wasn't really yet in existence in Aquinas' time). Thus, Aquinas is not specifically and directly speaking to the supremacy of Scripture over conciliar and papal documents, as such.

Finally, here are some additional quotations from Aquinas, which - while they don't expressly use the expression "rule of faith" -- help to inform the discussion.

First, some explanation of what the expression "canonical" with reference to Scripture meant to Aquinas:
If you wish to know whether a doctrine be erroneous, he shows this by three things. First, if it be against ecclesiastical doctrine. And therefore he says, If any man teach otherwise, namely, than I or the other Apostles. Gal. 1:9: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. For the doctrine of the Apostles and prophets is called canonical, since it is like a rule for our intellect. And therefore no one ought to teach otherwise. Deut. 4:2: You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it. Apoc. 22:18: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book.

Regarding the second he says, and consent not, etc. For the Lord Jesus came to give testimony to the truth. Jn. 18:37: For this I was born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. And therefore He was sent by the Father as a doctor and teacher. 1 Mach. 2:65: Give ear to him always, and he shall be a father to you, etc. And therefore whatever does not conform to their words is erroneous. 1 Kg. 15:23: It is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey. And he says, sound, because in the words of Christ nothing is corrupt, nothing false, or perverse, since they are words of divine wisdom. Prov. 8:8: All my words are just, there is nothing wicked nor perverse in them. They are right to them that understand, and just to them that find knowledge.
Regarding the third, it says in Prov. 6:20, My son, keep the commandments of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother. Whence he says, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, namely, ecclesiastical doctrine. This godliness is through the worship of God. Tit. 1:1: According to…the acknowledging of the truth, which is according to godliness.
Latin text:
Si vis scire, quae doctrina sit erronea, hoc ostendit ex tribus. Primo si sit contra doctrinam ecclesiasticam. Et ideo dicit si quis aliter docet, scilicet quam ego et alii apostoli, quantum ad primum. Gal. I, 9: si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeter id quod accepistis, anathema sit. Doctrina enim apostolorum et prophetarum dicitur canonica, quia est quasi regula intellectus nostri. Et ideo nullus aliter debet docere. Deut. Iv, 2: non addetis ad verbum quod loquor vobis, neque auferetis ex eo. Apoc. Ult.: si quis apposuerit ad haec, apponet deus super illum plagas scriptas in libro isto.
Quantum ad secundum dicit et non acquiescit, etc.. Nam dominus iesus venit, ut testimonium perhibeat veritati. Io. Xviii, 37: in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati. Et ideo missus est a patre sicut doctor et magister. i mac. Ii, 65: ipsum audite semper, et ipse erit vobis pater, etc.. Et ideo erroneus est quicumque non acquiescit sermonibus eius. I reg. Xv, 23: quasi peccatum ariolandi est repugnare, et quasi scelus idololatriae nolle acquiescere. Et dicit sanis, quia in christi sermonibus nihil est corruptionis, nihil falsitatis, vel perversitatis, quia sunt sermones divinae sapientiae. Prov. Viii, 8 s.: iusti sunt sermones mei, non est in eis pravum quid neque perversum. Recti sunt intelligentibus, et aequi invenientibus scientiam. quantum ad tertium, prov. Vi, 20: conserva, fili mi, praecepta patris tui, et ne dimittas legem matris tuae. Unde dicit et ei quae secundum pietatem est doctrinae, scilicet ecclesiasticae. Haec pietas est per cultum dei. Tit. I, 1: secundum agnitionem veritatis, quae est secundum pietatem.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Chapter 6, Lecture One.

Thomas Aquinas similarly asserts that Scripture's ultimate effect is to lead men to perfection, by teaching men not only the things necessary for salvation but also for supererogation (see, there's an example of Thomas not being a Reformed theologian, we deny that there are such things as works of supererogation). The text is interesting at least from the standpoint of material sufficiency:
Its ultimate effect is that it leads men to perfection. For it does good not in whatever manner, but it perfects. Heb. 6:1: Let us go on to things more perfect. And so he says, That the man of God may be perfect, since a man cannot be perfect unless he is a man of God. For something is perfect which lacks nothing. Therefore, then is a man perfect when he is furnished, that is, prepared, to every good work, not only for those which are necessary for salvation but also for those which are of supererogation. Gal. 6:9: And in doing good, let us not fail.
Latin Text:
Ultimus eius effectus est, ut perducat homines ad perfectum. Non enim qualitercumque bonum facit, sed perficit. Hebr. C. Vi, 1: ad perfectionem feramur. Et ideo dicit ut perfectus sit homo dei, quia non potest homo esse perfectus, nisi sit homo dei. Perfectum enim est, cui nihil deest. Tunc ergo homo est perfectus, quando est instructus, id est, paratus, ad omne opus bonum, non solum ad ea quae sunt de necessitate salutis, sed etiam ad ea quae sunt supererogationis. Gal. Cap. Ult.: bonum autem facientes, non deficiamus.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Chapter 3, Lecture three.

Finally, Aquinas that while other arguments from probability can be made, the proper authority for holy teaching is the canonical Scripture:
Yet holy teaching employs such authorities only in order to provide as it were extraneous arguments from probability. Its own proper authorities are those of canonical Scripture, and these it applied with convincing force. It has other proper authorities, the doctors of the Church, and these it looks to as its own, but for arguments that carry no more than probability.

For our faith rests on the revelation made to the Prophets and Apostles who wrote the canonical books, not on a revelation, if such there be, made to any other teacher. In this sense St Augustine wrote to St Jerome; Only to those books or writings which are called canonical have I learnt to pay such honour that I firmly believe that none of their authors have erred in composing them. Other authors, however, I read to such effect that, no matter what holiness and learning they display, I do not hold what they say to be true because those were their sentiments.
Latin text:
Sed tamen sacra doctrina hujusmodi auctoritatibus utitur quasi extraneis argumentis et probabilibus. Auctoritatibus autem canonicae Scripturae utitur proprie, ex necessitate argumentando. Auctoritatibus autem aliorum doctorum Ecclesiae, quasi arguendo ex propriis, sed probabiliter.

Innititur enim fides nostra revelationi apostolis et prophetis factae qui canonicos libros scripserunt, non autem revelationi, si qua fuit, aliis doctoribus factae. Unde dicit Augustinus in epistola ad Hieronymum; Solis eis Scripturarum libris qui canonici appellantur didici hunc honorem deferre, ut nullum auctorem in scribendo errasse aliquid firmissime credam. Alios autem ita lego ut, quantalibet sanctitate doctrinaque praepolleant, non ideo verum putem quod ipsi ita senserunt.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

Any takers for the challenge? (Remember, the challenge is to tell us what Aquinas does mean, not what he doesn't mean.)

-TurretinFan

81 comments:

Coram Deo said...

Aquinas said: Now, since in that symbol of the Apostles there are some difficult things, the Nicene Creed was published, which exposes more fully the faith about certain items.

Modern Romanists have simply extrapolated this concept, taking it to its logical conclusion by "more fully" expressing the truth about "certain items" such as:

Prayers for the dead; Making the sign of the cross; Veneration of angels and dead saints, and use of images; The beginning of mass as a daily celebration; The worship and exaltation of Mary and use of term "Mother of God"; Priests dressing differently from laity; Extreme unction; The doctrine of purgatory, instituted by Gregory I; The Latin Language used in worship and prayer; Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints and angels; Title of "Pope" or "universal bishop" first given to Boniface III; Kissing the pope's foot, began with Pope Constantine; Temporal power of the popes, conferred by Pepin, King of France; Worship of the cross, images, and relics; Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest; College of Cardinals established; Canonization of dead saints first by Pope John XV; Fastings on Fridays and during Lent; The mass developed as a sacrifice and attendance made mandatory; Celibacy of the priesthood decreed by Pope Gregory VII; The rosary used in prayer; The Inquisition, instituted by the Council of Verona; Sale of Indulgences;Transubstantiation, proclaimed by Pope Innocent III; Auricular (private) confession of sins to a priest, instituted by Pope Innocent III in Lateran Council; Adoration of wafer (Host), decreed by Pope Honorius III; Bible forbidden to laymen and placed on Index of Forbidden Books by Council of Valencia; The Scapular, invented by Simon Stock, an English monk; Cup forbidden to the people at communion by Council of Constance; Purgatory proclaimed as a dogma by Council of Florence; The doctrine of seven sacraments affirmed; The Ave Maria (Hail Mary); Jesuit order founded by Loyola; Tradition declared to be of equal authority with the Bible by Council of Trent; The Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent; Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX; Syllabus of Errors, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX and ratified by the Vatican Council; condemned freedom of religion, conscience, speech, press, and scientific discoveries which are disapproved by the Roman Church; Infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals proclaimed by the Vatican Council; Public schools condemned by Pope Pius XI; Assumption of the Virgin Mary (bodily ascension into heaven shortly after her death), proclaimed by Pope XII; Mary proclaimed mother of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

And who could forget these Apostolic favorites?

Monks, nuns, monasteries, convents, forty days of Lent, holy week, Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, All Saints Day, Candlemas Day, fish day, meat days, incense, holy oil, holy palms, St. Christopher medals, charms, relics, novenas, and many more!

And you thought only The Watchtower Society and the Latter-Day Saints were privy to "new light" and revelation!

It must be exciting (or confusing depending on one's perspective) to be a Jehovah's Witnesses, a Mormon, or a Romanist as one waits in eager anticipation to see what the newest revelation will be.

And "new light" is so helpful and expedient for clearing away the embarrassing theological clutter of yesteryear!

Will the 144,000 be completed this coming year so that the kingdom age can finally be ushered in?

Will Joseph Smith Jr.'s prophesied temple be built on the Temple Lot this year in Jackson County, Missouri, ushering in the return of Christ?

Will there be an infallible papal declaration this year identifying Mary as Co-Redemptrix with Christ so that all may truly know that no one can enter the blessed kingdom without passing through her?

As for me, I think I'll just stick with the Bible.

In Christ,
CD

natamllc said...

Why the silence then?

Is there not one Catholic Apologist to answer the question and explain what is meant?

In any event, this elucidates for me the raw and robust reality of Aquinas' intention for writing as well as Augustine and Athanasius as put over with this article, TF.

Take Aquinas' objection 1 above, published again for accuracy:

Objection 1. It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of faith to be embodied in a symbol. Because Holy Writ is the rule of faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made, since it is written (Deuteronomy 4:2):...".

I was struck early this morning during my morning devotions with these Words, now a part of the Holy Writ, written by Luke:::>

Luk 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
Luk 1:2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
Luk 1:3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
Luk 1:4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

A couple of things in there to comment on. One, what was orally taught to Theophilus is now a written part of the Faith that brings us also into the Work with the Holy Spirit and to be expressed through us vigorously by God's Love manifest as a "Light" shining in dark places; and two, Luke must have seen enough errors being made by others interpreting the "eye" witness accounts and so being full of the Holy Spirit himself with His Wisdom he is moved upon to write it out thus making his writing subject to the curse of Deuteronomy 4.

I am not well suited to address the chronology here with Luke's writings but one has to believe he and Paul had many times discussed the mandate that comes so perspicuous to those who have been given ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches back then as now?

I make reference to Galatians 1:9.

This then brings me to the major point, IMO, that God is very personal to us as His Children, who live by the same Faith as His Son, our Savior so that by walking by His Faith or reading it in the Holy Writ and the Holy Spirit making the reading "come alive within us", we are left with only two things to live by in our day and age, to come too when we live out in our daily lives His Faith. This is that which is succinctly expressed by Luke in writing about what Paul orally taught as recorded in writing by Luke and now is equally Holy Writ:::>

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

We have His Faith orally given or in writing or both to attain to His Faith and not lose our own stability as Peter wrote about, too:

2Pe 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
2Pe 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.



In each of the generations following those days of the eye witness accounts, men of God saw fit through the ages, as we see displayed here today, to put down in writing what was orally taught and what was written.

These further writings do not dismiss the Holy Writ so we need not rely upon them. We ought always come back to Scripture as we rely upon the personal relationship, "that" inheritance Paul spoke about, written about by Luke as Paul taught it orally. These things are for us, things being taught by those among us suited to be Spiritual Teachers of the things taught from the books or orally.

So, again, would there be a Catholic who would come forward and answer the pending question posed hereon?

louis said...

"Is there not one Catholic Apologist to answer the question and explain what is meant?"

I think Mr. Bellisario intends to respond. This is a carry-over from a previous thread.

Turretinfan said...

I'm not sure whether Bellisario will treat this as responsive to his "mini-debate" challenge.

Andrew Suttles said...

TF -

Merry Christmas -

Sorry to post an off-topic comment, BUT...

There is a lot of latin in your posts. I'm thinking of taking up Hebrew or Latin in the new year. I'd be curious to hear your opinion. I'm a layman, so my interest is primary study.

Thanks,

Andrew

John Bugay said...

TF, you will manage to "out-catholic" the Romanists with this one. Thank you.

Mike Burgess said...

I believe the meaning is that canonical scriptures are of course a rule of faith but other writings, pseudepigrapha, NT apocrypha, etc., are not.

Turretinfan said...

MB: "pseudepigrapha, NT apocrypha, etc." does Aquinas mention something about these in the context?

Mike Burgess said...

Only by way of allusion; "...those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and others of this kind, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt. That is his meaning when he says ‘we know his testimony is true.’... Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things.

Turretinfan said...

So, in other words, they are only in the context if we assume that they are what is being referenced? Why limit it to that group of writings and not understand it to mean all other writings/teachings?

But, more importantly, what does Aquinas mean by saying that the canonical Scriptures are a rule of faith? What does that expression "rule of faith" mean?

Mike Burgess said...

That they are sure. We say "infallible" nowadays.

As to your query "they are only in the context if we assume that they are what is being referenced?" I would say, no, it's rather obvious that he contrasts the one with the other, by way of allusion, as I said. One doesn't need to assume that "others" who are not "those who wrote the canonical Scripture" are those who did not write the canonical scriptures.

As to your query "Why limit it to that group of writings and not understand it to mean all other writings/teachings?" I didn't; I said "etc." which is a Latin abbreviation for et cetera, meaning "and so forth."

Turretinfan said...

Let's see if I understand your response, Mr. Burgess:

1) You believe that "rule of faith" means (to Aquinas) "infallible" and nothing more than that.

2) By including etc. you did mean all other writings than Scripture, and not some limited set of "pseudepigrapha, NT apocrypha," and similar forged documents.

-TurretinFan

Michael said...

Bible forbidden to laymen and placed on Index of Forbidden Books by Council of Valencia

When was this council held?

Turretinfan said...

Michael: I suppose he's referring to the Council of Toulouse of 1229.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Whose canon? :-)

Turretinfan said...

JTJ:

You will notice that Thomas isn't referring to "canonical" in that sense, as can be seen from some of the other quotations provided. (See, Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Chapter 6, Lecture One).

-TurretinFan

John Thayer Jensen said...

Turretinfan - ok but then I am unclear in what sense he is referring to canonical.

Full disclosure: I am a Catholic, was a Calvinist. One of the things that, early on, I thought of was the question of the canon. I was a Van Tillian Calvinist; my Van Tillian pastor told me the canon of Scripture had simply to be presupposed - that would be the Protestant canon, mind you!

There were, of course, many other matters that came up. I considered myself a Calvinist from 1974; a Catholic from 1994 (but was actually received into the Church in 1995).

The point of my question is that it seems to me we receive the canon from the authority of the Church, which receives its authority from Christ.

When two modern voices each claim to speak for the Church - which do I listen to?

I opt for Peter, of course.

jj

http://inquietumcor.blogspot.com

Turretinfan said...

Thomas' explanation is: "Doctrina enim apostolorum et prophetarum dicitur canonica, quia est quasi regula intellectus nostri. "

Roughly translated: "The doctrines of the apostles and prophets [his terms for Old and New Testaments] are called "canonical" because they are considered a rule for our intellect."

"When two modern voices each claim to speak for the Church - which do I listen to?"

Yet that is not a fair characterization of the matter. The question is better expressed as "when two modern voices each claim to proclaim the apostolic faith - which do I listen to?"

To which the answer is: "the one that agrees with the writings of the apostles and prophets."

-TurretinFan

John Thayer Jensen said...

Roughly translated: "The doctrines of the apostles and prophets [his terms for Old and New Testaments] are called "canonical" because they are considered a rule for our intellect."

"When two modern voices each claim to speak for the Church - which do I listen to?"

Yet that is not a fair characterization of the matter. The question is better expressed as "when two modern voices each claim to proclaim the apostolic faith - which do I listen to?"

To which the answer is: "the one that agrees with the writings of the apostles and prophets."


Yes, understood - but there are many modern gnostics who want me to believe that, e.g., the Gospel of Thomas is one of the writings of the apostles and prophets.

Who decides?

Luther was dubious about James, and most Protestants reject from 'the prophets' 7 books that we Catholics think are prophets.

Of course, in addition to the canon, there is also the question of interpretation.

But the question of which writings are writings of the apostles and prophets seems to me important.

Was it Sproul who described the Bible as "a fallible collection of infallible books?"

I think there is vastly more to being a Catholic than the canon, of course. After all, a Catholic has to use fallible means to infer the infallibility of the Church - and the locus of the Church. Even the question whose is the voice of Peter can be unclear at times of anti-Popes. I do not wish to suggest that the question of the canon is the root of the division.

As a Calvinist I simply thought, "well, the Church has accepted these books for a couple of thousand years. I guess I will go with them." Having the 7 deutero-canonical books pointed out I would have said there were some fuzzy things around the edge.

So my query was only meant as a kind of prod - hence the smiley face :-)

But it is interesting, don't you think? And I wasn't too happy with my Van Tillian pastor's "just presuppose it." A bit too Barthian, I thought :-)

Mike Burgess said...

TF, I thought my responses were perspicuous enough.

Aquinas meant that the canonical scriptures are a sure rule of faith (impeccably reliable, infallible, indisputable) while the other writings which may present themselves as a rule of faith are not to be accorded that status.

There are numerous reasons for this, many of them explicated elsewhere (in the S. Th., e.g.), such as verification of apostolic authorship by means of the Church's pronunciations in conciliar fashion, continual liturgical usage, etc.

This is not to suggest that "others" who wrote or had their teaching recorded at the time are not useful and/or occasionally or even mostly trustworthy, it is that that they are not wholly trustworthy as a rule of faith, as a means whereby the ordained episcopate can, as Yves Cardinal Congar laid out in "The Meaning of Tradition," judge Tradition and then submit itself and bind the laity thereunto, and also by which the faithful may receive assurance to that effect, inter alia.

Turretinfan said...

MB:

When you say your answers were perspicuous, are you affirming that my understanding was correct? Or are you avoiding the question? or what?

Turretinfan said...

JTJ:

"I think there is vastly more to being a Catholic than the canon, of course. After all, a Catholic has to use fallible means to infer the infallibility of the Church - and the locus of the Church. "

Actually, until after the Reformation (i.e. at Trent) there was no dogmatic definition of the canon. Somehow folks like Aquinas got by without such a definition.

Similarly, at least in the era after Vatican II, while there may be a canon of books, Trent has been interpreted as not expressing certainty about the content of those books. Finally, there is no infallible canon of infallible teachings of the magisterium.

All these things make the canon issue look like a red herring. Believers accept the Word of God because of the persuasion of the Holy Spirit through various means.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

I was chastising you for adding to what I said. Your understanding of what I said inferred things which were not implicit, to wit: "and nothing more than that." Also, by including "etc.," I meant exactly "and so forth," which, in the context of our discussion, means "other [writings]" which present themselves as candidates for rules of faith, such as the eventually excluded Clementine epistles, the Protoevangelium of James, and other such things but not each and every other work ever written, such as Galen's account of the activities of the aorta, Josephus' histories, Plutarch's lives, or the records of the ninth proconsul of Asia Minor. And the reason so to limit them is because that is exactly what Aquinas was dealing with in the commentary on St. John's gospel. He quite clearly said as much; I thought it a sine dicendo to have to articulate it this much, so I didn't. But, since you asked, there you are.

Turretinfan said...

"And the reason so to limit them is because that is exactly what Aquinas was dealing with in the commentary on St. John's gospel. He quite clearly said as much"

Where does he say that in his commentary on John's gospel?

Mike Burgess said...

TF said, "Actually, until after the Reformation (i.e. at Trent) there was no dogmatic definition of the canon. Somehow folks like Aquinas got by without such a definition."

This isn't true; there were previous dogmatically defined pronouncements concerning the canon. Aquinas and others relied upon them; see the synod of Hippo, the Councils of Carthage, the Gelasian Decretum, and the 382 A.D. Council of Rome all laid down an identical canon, which was not really challenged until -- not insignificantly -- Luther challenged not OT books but NT ones.

That there was no universal dogmatic pronouncement until Trent is technically true. But there was no universally binding Protestant canon of Scripture until 1500+ years into the game.

Turretinfan said...

MB:

That's not true.

1) Regional councils proclamations are not dogmatic definitions in the sense that we are talking about here. Appealing to some other sense of the term is misleading at best.

2) Hippo and Carthage didn't have identical canons.

3) The idea that the canons of those regional councils were "not really challenged until -- not insignificantly -- Luther challenged not OT books but NT ones" is again misleading both in that Luther's challenges to the canonicity of NT books were hardly that significant (his own camp persuaded him to retain the books he questioned) and there were notable challenges to the idea that the previous regional councils intended to identify the inspired books, as opposed to the books for use in the church.

In short, MB, your response is misleading at best.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

In the same Lecture, that is, Lecture 21, paragraph number 2653, "... We also read that as an old man he was carried to the church by his followers to teach the faithful. ..."
Where is that in the canonical Gospels, if your contention is that John's referent was only them? Or where in the whole of the NT canon is that found, if only the NT books are to be considered?

Also, subsequently in paragraph 2660: "... Thus, if one tried to write and tell of the nature of every one, he could not do so; indeed, the entire world could not do this. This is because even an infinite number of human words cannot equal one word of God. From the beginning of the Church Christ has been written about; but this is still not equal to the subject. Indeed, even if the world lasted a hundred thousand years, and books written about Christ, his words and deeds could not be completely revealed: "Of making many books there is no end" (Eccl 12:12); The works of God "are multiplied above number" [Ps 50:5]."

There are earlier passages in the lectures which I take to have a similar meaning. I think those suffice.

Mike Burgess said...

You're quibbling over "in the sense that we are talking about here" when that was the point I was making. The rest is irrelevant to your post, so I will leave that at that.

Turretinfan said...

MB wrote: "Where is that in the canonical Gospels, if your contention is that John's referent was only them? Or where in the whole of the NT canon is that found, if only the NT books are to be considered?"

I wasn't making a contention. Recall that you claimed: "And the reason so to limit them is because that is exactly what Aquinas was dealing with in the commentary on St. John's gospel. He quite clearly said as much"

And I responded: "Where does he say that in his commentary on John's gospel?"

Now, you are referring to two passages in the lecture. The second of the two appears to refer to all writings about Christ outside of the canonical scriptures.

The first of the two does appear to refer to a writing outside the canonical scriptures implicitly (since we cannot locate a passage in Scripture that says that John was carried to teach the faithful).

However, even if the second statement were not there, do you think that John's comment "many have written about Catholic truth" is a reference to folks who recorded historical facts (or legends) about John's ministry?

If so, why do you think that?

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

I don't quite see the relevance, but that's neither here nor there; the challenge you issued was answered positively and sufficiently.

Turretinfan said...

You did respond to the challenge. If that's the best response that can be given (and it may be), then so be it. I feel comfortable that the challenge has not been met, though at least a response has been proffered. The open questions above are something you should at least consider answering prior to again claiming to have completed the assignment.

natamllc said...

JTJ

if I might bud in?

You wrote:::> "....Yes, understood - but there are many modern gnostics who want me to believe that, e.g., the Gospel of Thomas is one of the writings of the apostles and prophets....".

The devils want you to believe things that are not true or of the Truth also.

One standard that has kept me safe these many years, and for your information, I started out a Catholic boy, catechized at St.Bernard's before being turned away from that dogma to the Living God, is this verse:


Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

It seems to me, from where I am sitting, that if you first start with God Himself and His Word of Grace, you too will be sanctified and you too will receive that inheritance from God specific to your eternal interests and needs.

As I noted in another thread on another topic in this place, I will note for your sake now the word "inheritance".

Consider what your inheritance is in light of what Paul was teaching the Ephesian elders as recorded by Luke at Acts 20. You do realize these people were not Jewish, but Gentile True Elect Believers, don't you? What was then for them is equally for us here and now unto the day of Eternity and our passing from this nature death to Eternal Life found in Christ Jesus.

Here are the words of King David:

1Ch 16:15 Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
1Ch 16:16 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
1Ch 16:17 which he confirmed as a statute to Jacob, as an everlasting covenant to Israel,
1Ch 16:18 saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an inheritance."


As we know, King David went about by blood shedding in continual war against God's enemies to establish that fact, "the inheritance" for his people.

We know just by watching the news reports or going to Israel, today, that there has to be something deeper and broader being expressed in those words of King David, seeing the promises made to Israel back then are not anything like what is happening today in Israel or in any other nation on earth where this Gospel of the Kingdom is preached and received by His Faith into the heart of True Believers.

As you must have heard and now know, the "just" shall live by Faith not by sight or circumstances.

That old saw, you cannot judge a book by its cover, is so true. True Israel is made up of those whose hearts have His Faith working in them to establish them in the Truth, Jesus Christ.

We have been given, the Apostle teaches, a sort of "spiritual" judgment by being born again with "spiritual" eyes.

Where I suggest the breakdown comes into play here, for you, will be found when you find your way back to these words of Paul the Apostle and attain to them daily by the Spirit of Grace, Mercy and Peace and, please, again note the word "inherit" which points to that that I first noted above, the word "inheritance":::>


1Co 15:45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
1Co 15:46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.
1Co 15:47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
1Co 15:48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
1Co 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
1Co 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Mike Burgess said...

"Recall again that the challenge to the Roman Catholic reader is to tell us what Aquinas meant by saying that the canonical scriptures alone are a/the rule of faith."

I told you what it is evident from the Lectures in the Commentary on St. John that he did mean by the phrase "regula fide." Furthermore, cf. pp 2566-2568 from Lecture 20:

"2566 When Christ said, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed, he was praising the readiness of others to believe; and this applies especially to us. He says, "have believed" rather than "shall believe" because of the certitude [of his knowledge].

Luke seems to say the contrary: "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see" (Lk 10:23). Thus, those who have seen are more blessed that those who have not seen. I answer that blessedness is of two kinds. One is the actual state of blessedness, which consists in God's reward, where the better one sees the happier, the more blessed, he is. In this respect, the eyes that see are blessed, because this is the reward of grace. The other blessedness is the hoped‑for blessedness, which is based on one's merits. And in this case the more one can merit the more blessed he is. And, the one who believes and does not see, merits more than one who believes when he sees.

2567 Now the Evangelist gives his epilogue: first he mentions the incompleteness of his gospel; secondly, the benefits it will give (v 31). Its incompleteness is clear, for Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, "Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways; and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?" (Job 26:14); "Many things greater than these lie hidden, for we have seen but few of his works" (Si 43:32). According to Chrysostom, John said this because he mentioned fewer miracles than the other evangelists and he did not want it to be thought that he was denying these other miracles, and so he especially added, which are not written in this book.[36] Or, John could be referring to the passion and resurrection of Christ, meaning that after his resurrection Christ gave many indications of his resurrection "in the presence of the disciples" that were not shown to others: "God ... made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses," (Acts 10:40).

2568 Now he mentions the benefits given by this gospel. It is useful for producing faith: these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Indeed, all Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments, are for this purpose: "The beginning of the book writes about me" [Ps 40:7]; "Search the scriptures ... it is they that bear witness to me" (5:39). Another benefit of his gospel is that it also produces the fruit of life, and that believing you may have life: the life of righteousness, which is given by faith ‑ "The righteous shall live by his faith" (Hab 2:4) ‑ and in the future, the life of vision, which is given by glory. This life is in his name, the name of Christ: "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)."

Mike Burgess said...

I thought this one of your more interesting posts. Thanks for the profitable discussion.

Turretinfan said...

MB:

My pleasure.

Further to your penultimate comment, your explanation for "rule of faith" now includes "infallible" (from your previous answer) and now gleaned from 2568 "useful for producing faith" and consequently "the fruit of life."

Did you intend anything more than that? (You and I do not always see the same things as evident in the same text.)

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

Not at the present. If you wish to delve further, we certainly may. At the moment, though, suffice it to say I did not intend to impart any other meaning to "regula fide" in Aquinas' usage there.

Turretinfan said...

Ok thanks.

Coram Deo said...

JTJ,

At the risk of becoming too personal, would you care to briefly summarize the causes for your conversion to Rome?

I'd also be interested in a little background as to what kind of Calvinism you previously adhered to since "Calvinist" can be almost as broad a category as "Romanist".

Also, while (based on your report) your Van Tillian presuppositionalist pastor's reply was surely lacking in substance, his assertion was still fundamentally true and correct; in much the same was as you now presuppose Rome's ability to infallibly interpret the canon for you.

He was, as you no doubt know, touching upon ultimate epistemological questions of authority.

This was also what Sproul was touching upon in the quote you referenced. You see the theologically consistent Protestant (though I use this term advisedly) personally owns up to the challenges of directly encountering God's truth: that's what lies behind Sproul's statement about the canon.

Inspired scripture is infallible, yet men are fallible; even prophets, apostles, and yes, popes.

In Christ,
CD

Michael said...

Believers accept the Word of God because of the persuasion of the Holy Spirit through various means.

I have been persuaded through various means to accept the Deuterocanonical texts as the word of God. How should I determine whether these means are from the Holy Spirit?

Turretinfan said...

"I have been persuaded through various means to accept the Deuterocanonical texts as the word of God. How should I determine whether these means are from the Holy Spirit?"

That depends on what the ways are. Prayer for the Spirit's assistance would be a part of any such sincere investigation.

-TurretinFan

Michael said...

That depends on what the ways are. Prayer for the Spirit's assistance would be a part of any such sincere investigation.

Of course, as with any undertaking. But the same question applies to my judgment as to whether or when such prayers have been answered. My question is this: if two Christian believers differ regarding whether a particular work belongs to the inspired canon, have they any means of resolving their difference aside from the internal witness of the Spirit?

Michael said...

I tried to publish a comment earlier asking for clarification on the terms of the challenge, but I don't see it here. Did it not go through, or was it removed? If the latter, I'd appreciate knowing in what way it was objectionable. Thanks!

Michael said...

Coram Deo: Where did that list of "Romanist" articles come from? Another problem I just noticed glancing through it again is this:

The doctrine of purgatory, instituted by Gregory I;

What is meant here by "instituted"? Gregory I lived more than one hundred years after St. Augustine, who plainly upholds the doctrine of purgatory.

Coram Deo said...

Michael said...

Coram Deo: Where did that list of "Romanist" articles come from? Another problem I just noticed glancing through it again is this:

The doctrine of purgatory, instituted by Gregory I;

What is meant here by "instituted"? Gregory I lived more than one hundred years after St. Augustine, who plainly upholds the doctrine of purgatory.


Michael,

As you know, many Romanist novelties were toyed with for quite some time before being adopted as official dogmas.

I've not researched Augustine's position on the matter deeply enough to either admit to, nor rebut your assertion that he was a proponent of the concept, although he clearly made comments in City of God that have been used as justification for the doctrine.

In response to your inquiry about whether or not you have been persuaded by the Holy Spirit as to the canonicity of the Deuterocanonical texts TF said: That depends on what the ways are. Prayer for the Spirit's assistance would be a part of any such sincere investigation.

You replied:

Of course, as with any undertaking. But the same question applies to my judgment as to whether or when such prayers have been answered. My question is this: if two Christian believers differ regarding whether a particular work belongs to the inspired canon, have they any means of resolving their difference aside from the internal witness of the Spirit?

Thursday, December 31, 2009 3:31:00 AM


The inspired, God-breathed scriptures are self-attesting as the Word of God.

The Great Shepherd leads His sheep to recognize His own voice, His own Word, which He Himself has spoken forth in inspired scripture.

His people, the sheep of His fold, recognize His voice.

His people - the church - are not, however, invested with some special ability to define the canon, (e.g. this book is in, but that book is out) as this is God's own action of inspiration. God determined the canon, and His people - the church - merely received it.

Therefore the obedient people of God recognize the voice of God speaking in His Scriptures, and therefore the situation you've proposed is, by definition, impossible. In other words two (true) believers will never truly disagree as whether a particular work belongs to the inspired canon. Such a situation reveals that one, or possibly both, individuals are not true, regenerate, born-again, blood bought believers.

Certainly true believers can, and do, struggle with these difficult issues, and may do so for a time and a season, but in the end by the power of the Holy Spirit they will submit to the Lord.

You see, canonicity itself is a function of infallible divine inspiration. The canon was, and is, eternal because it has always existed in the mind of God as the eternal Word of God. The canon isn't a product of man, nor of the church, but rather is God breathed.

In Christ,
CD

Michael said...

Coram Deo: Is Turrentinfan correct that when you mentioned the council of Valencia, you were referring to the council of Toulouse of 1229? If so, I'm curious how anything was placed on the index of forbidden books three hundred years before the index was created.

The situation you've proposed is, by definition, impossible. In other words two (true) believers will never truly disagree as whether a particular work belongs to the inspired canon. Such a situation reveals that one, or possibly both, individuals are not true, regenerate, born-again, blood bought believers.

St. Augustine and St. Jerome seem to have disagreed over the inspired canonicity of the Deuterocanonicals. Evidently, one of the two, or possibly both, was not a true believer. But how am I to know which?

Turretinfan said...

Michael,

That is another inaccuracy. The index was, as you noted, created. The underlying point, though, that the Albigensian's translation was banned is correct.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Michael:

"St. Augustine and St. Jerome seem to have disagreed over the inspired canonicity of the Deuterocanonicals. Evidently, one of the two, or possibly both, was not a true believer. But how am I to know which?"

The claim is not that all true believers get the canon perfectly correct. Nevertheless, while I've seen some quotations from Augustine indicating that he treated the deuterocanonicals as "canonical Scripture" (in some sense), I can't recall any place where he called them inspired, much less any place where he and Jerome had any discussion with one another about the subject. Perhaps your reading of Augustine is more extensive than mine. Could you point me to the place where Augustine says not only that the deuterocanonicals are canonical scripture but also that they are inspired?

Turretinfan said...

Michael, you wrote: "St. Augustine, who plainly upholds the doctrine of purgatory."

I've heard a number of people claim this. However, the usual place where they point is one (or maybe two?) passage where Augustine suggests that a post-death purgation may be possible. Augustine certainly doesn't suggest that the alms, prayers, penances, and sacrifices of the masses can be of assistance to those in Purgatory, nor does he even refer to "Purgatory" as such. We find the dawn of the term "Purgatory" (or Purgatorium) much later in church history after a long and gradual development.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"I tried to publish a comment earlier asking for clarification on the terms of the challenge, but I don't see it here. Did it not go through, or was it removed? If the latter, I'd appreciate knowing in what way it was objectionable. Thanks! "

I do sometimes remove blog posts that strike me as being in the wrong tone. I don't think I've removed any of yours as of yet. It may simply have been a technical glitch. I should point out that your not the first commenter to note this sort of thing.

Turretinfan said...

"My question is this: if two Christian believers differ regarding whether a particular work belongs to the inspired canon, have they any means of resolving their difference aside from the internal witness of the Spirit? "

In general they have same tools they have with respect to whether a particular verse or word is original. There are historical evidences, there are arguments from reason applied to the historical evidences, and so forth.

Those arguments are simply things that the Spirit may use to help to persuade the believer of the authenticity of a particular Hebrew vowel, Greek letter, word, phrase, passage, or book. But the Spirit does not (anywhere that I know of) promise believers that they will be given absolute certainty about the authenticity of every last jot and tittle.

From where I'm standing, focusing on those fuzzy edges of the canon ignores the amazing way in which the Spirit has guided almost all who call themselves "Christians" to adopt a canon that is largely the same.

Coram Deo said...

Michael,

It was, in fact, Toulouse. Thanks to you and TF for the correction.

Synod of Toulouse: "Canon 14: Forbids the laity to have in their possession any copy of the books of the Old and New Testament (except the Psalter, and such portions of them as are contained in the Breviary, or the Hours of the Blessed Virgin), most strictly forbids these works in the vulgar tongue." (A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church, (Rev. Edward Landon. M.A., 1909, Edinburgh, v2, pp. 171-2))

The Catholic Encyclopedia confirms this and adds two more synods: "During the Middle Ages prohibitions of books were far more numerous than in ancient times. ...In this period, also, the first decrees about the reading of the translations of the Bible were called forth by the abuses of the Waldenses and Albigenses. What these decrees (e.g. of the synods of Toulouse in 1229, Tarragona in 1234, Oxford in 1408) aimed at was the restriction of Bible reading in the vernacular. A general prohibition was never in existence."(The Catholic Encyclopedia, (v3, pg. 520))

A History of the Inquistion of the Middle Ages states, "Allusion has already been made to the burning of Romance versions of the Scriptures by Jayme I of Aragon and to the commands of the Council of Narbonne, in 1229, against the possession of any portion of Holy Writ by laymen." (Henry Lea, (v1, pg. 554))


Many Romanists, such as Karl Keating at Catholic Answers, will protest that these were merely provincial (regional) councils that didn't affect the universal Romanist church, but only certain specific geographical areas even as these same Romanists invoke the provincial (regional) councils of Hippo and Carthage as evidence that the universal Romanist church historically accepted the deuterocanon as inspired canon.

Clearly Augustine's influence over these provincial councils cannot be overlooked, and just as clearly Jerome recognized that the apocrypha were non-canonical (uninspired).

Was one an unbeliever? Only God knows, yet it seems on the face of things that one of them was flatly wrong, meaning he was hearing (or not hearing) in "inspired scripture" another voice other than the voice of the Great Shepherd. This conclusion, of course, assumes that the term canonical is to be understood as meaning divinely inspired scripture.

As you're probably aware the term canon was (and is) frequently used in more than one sense, not strictly meaning divinely inspired scripture in all usages.

Whatever the case regarding the eternal trajectory of their souls, it's manifest that Augustine lacked familiarity with the original languages, and thus may well have fallen into the trap of many modern-day Bible expositors, relying solely upon secondary sources (the Septuagint). This is at least a possibility.

Jerome's scholarship and ability to read from primary sources in Greek and Hebrew allowed him to easily recognize that the apocrypha were not included in the Hebrew (Jewish) OT canon.

Not only were the apocrypha not included in the Hebrew inspired canon, but many other factors militate against the idea of divine inspiration for the apocrypha for which a blog combox doesn't allow space.

Yet if it was Augustine's intent to add to the inspired Word of God, then such an act would certainly bring him (like all others who would add to or take away from the Word of God) under the curse of Revelation 22:18 "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book."

An alternate solution is the understanding that Carthage, Gelasius and his 70 bishops, Innocent, Augustine, and Isidore call these books "canonical" in a sense where their meaning was not to place the apocrypha upon the same grounds as inspired Holy Scripture.

I propose the latter.

In Christ,
CD

louis said...

"Canon 14: Forbids the laity to have in their possession any copy of the books of the Old and New Testament (except the Psalter, and such portions of them as are contained in the Breviary, or the Hours of the Blessed Virgin), most strictly forbids these works in the vulgar tongue."

That sounds like ANY bible is prohibited, but especially those in the vulgar tongue. Can someone explain? Was it all bibles or only vulger ones that were banned?

Turretinfan said...

I think the intent was probably aimed at the Vulgar language ones, though it does look like the literal reading of the canon prohibits all (except the exceptions noted).

louis said...

As a humorous (to some anyway) aside, there is this gem from the Catechism of Pius X:

32 Q. What should a Christian do who has been given a Bible by a Protestant or by an agent of the Protestants?

A. A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it was accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest.

Turretinfan said...

33 Q. Why does the Church forbid Protestant Bibles?
A. The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her.

louis said...

Yes, didn't mean to suggest that Pius X didn't allow bibles... only those translated by protestants.

Turretinfan said...

They also need to have approved annotations. Even a Roman Catholic translation without the right footnotes is dangerous.

I can think of another group that does something like that... in fact I can think of two groups.

dtking said...

"Michael: I suppose he's referring to the Council of Toulouse of 1229."

Session XXV: Rule IV of the Ten Rules Concerning Prohibited Books Drawn Up by The Fathers Chosen by the Council of Trent and Approved by Pope Pius:

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 over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any 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.

Latin Text of the Same:

Regula IV: Cum experimento manifestum sit, si sacra biblia vulgari lingua passim sine discrimine permittantur, plus inde ob hominum temeritatem detrimenti quam utilitas oriri, hac in parte judicio episcopi aut inquisitoris stetur, ut cum consilio parochi vel confessarii bibliorum a catholicis auctoribus versorum lectionem in vulgari lingua eis concedere possint, quos intellexerint ex hujusmodi lectione non damnum, sed fideí atque pietatis augmentum capere posse; quam facultatem in scriptis habeant. Qui autem absque tali facultate ea legere seu habere praesumpserit, nisi prius bibliis ordinario redditis peccatorum absolutionem percipere non possit. Bibliopolae vero, qui praedictam facultatem non habenti biblia idiomate vulgari conscripta vendiderint vel alio quovis modo concesserint, liborum pretium in usus pios ab episcopo convertendum amittant, aliisque poenis pro delicti qualitate ejusdem episcopi arbitrio subjaceant. Regulares vero non nisi facultate a praelatis suis habita ea legere aut emere possint.

Pope Leo XII called the Protestant Bible the “Gospel of the Devil” in an encyclical letter of 1824. Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) railed “against the publication, distribution, reading, and possession of books of the holy Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue.” Pope Leo XII, in January 1850, condemned the Bible Societies and admitted the fact that the distribution of Scripture has “long been condemned by the holy chair.”

Michael said...

That is another inaccuracy. The index was, as you noted, created. The underlying point, though, that the Albigensian's translation was banned is correct.

Ah, I see. That doesn't seem quite so sinister as the original phrasing suggested. In any case, these inaccuracies would seem at least to indicate that Coram Deo's list of Catholic novelties needs to undergo some fact-checking (which is really all I wanted to get at regarding the list).

while I've seen some quotations from Augustine indicating that he treated the deuterocanonicals as "canonical Scripture" (in some sense), I can't recall any place where he called them inspired, much less any place where he and Jerome had any discussion with one another about the subject.

I don't know if Augustine disagreed with Jerome in the sense of having an actual discussion; I simply meant that they held opposing opinions. Regarding Jerome, I think we can easily agree that he did not hold the deuterocanonicals to be canonical texts. Even most Catholic apologists, I believe (e.g., the folks at Catholic Answers), admit this. Regarding Augustine, I had in mind his enumeration of the canonical Scriptures in De doctrina Christiana. It is true that he does not there call the canon inspired, but he says this neither of the deuterocanonicals nor of the protocanonicals. So when you ask,

Could you point me to the place where Augustine says not only that the deuterocanonicals are canonical scripture but also that they are inspired?

I wonder where Augustine says that the protocanonicals are inspired. If he does not say this, what basis would I have for thinking that Augustine believes one part of the canon to be inspired but not another part? In other words, there are two questions that would both need to be affirmatively answered in order for there to be a problem with my reading of Augustine. First, does Augustine suggest a distinction between the inspired Scriptures and the canonical Scriptures? Second, does he suggest that this distinction separates the proto- and the deuterocanonicals? Your question implies that I need textual support for the claim that Augustine views the deuterocanonicals as inspired. If such support is needed, then don't we also need textual support for the claim that he views the protocanonicals as inspired?

A couple other notes on this point: first, when Augustine introduces his list of canonical Scriptures, he contrasts them with non-canonical scriptures, and one of the differences he indicates is that there is danger of errors in non-canonical scriptures. This suggests that he views the canonical Scriptures as free from all error, which in turn suggests inspiration. Second, he does indicate shortly thereafter that he believes the translators of the Septuagint were led by the Holy Spirit in their translation. It would be odd if he thought the translation was inspired but not the original text. Third, in various places throughout De doctrina Christiana, Augustine quotes both the proto- and deuterocanonical Scriptures time and again without any hint that he views them as having different levels of authority.

Michael said...

Part 2 (it seems that Blogger limits the comment lengths)

Augustine certainly doesn't suggest that the alms, prayers, penances, and sacrifices of the masses can be of assistance to those in Purgatory, nor does he even refer to "Purgatory" as such.

Regarding the word "Purgatory," I don't know when it came into common use, but of course the idea itself is the important thing. I do know of one passage in which Augustine does, in fact, suggest exactly what you say:

"Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead are benefited by the piety of their living friends, who offer the sacrifice of the Mediator, or give alms in the church on their behalf. But these services are of advantage only to those who during their lives have earned such merit, that services of this kind can help them. For there is a manner of life which is neither so good as not to require these services after death, nor so bad that such services are of no avail after death; there is, on the other hand, a kind of life so good as not to require them; and again, one so bad that when life is over they render no help." (Enchiridion 110; translation is from the NAPNF series)

There are other such passages, such as Augustine's writing on the care of the dead. One of his sermons (172?) that I don't have in front of me right now (but could dig up if necessary) repeats the point, listing prayers, the salvific sacrifice, and alms as being of use to the dead, and noting that the whole church observes this practice. If memory serves, Protestant apologist William Webster in his book The Church of Rome at the Bar of History simply acknowledges outright that Augustine taught the doctrine of Purgatory, despite the fact that the whole book is devoted to arguing that the early Fathers did not hold various Catholic doctrines.

From where I'm standing, focusing on those fuzzy edges of the canon ignores the amazing way in which the Spirit has guided almost all who call themselves "Christians" to adopt a canon that is largely the same.

If you wish to include the deuterocanonicals among the fuzzy edges, I'd be satisfied with the position. I do think that Coram Deo's claim that it is "impossible" for true believers to disagree about the canon was a bit extravagant.

Coram Deo:

An alternate solution is the understanding that Carthage, Gelasius and his 70 bishops, Innocent, Augustine, and Isidore call these books "canonical" in a sense where their meaning was not to place the apocrypha upon the same grounds as inspired Holy Scripture.

As noted above, Augustine calls both the proto- and deuterocanonicals together "canonical." In order to show that Augustine views the two groups as being on different levels, some evidence is needed. Otherwise, all sorts of strange theories could be propounded--for instance, someone could argue that Augustine views only the synoptic Gospels as being inspired, and that he considers John's Gospel canonical but not inspired. But of course we would ask such a person to present evidence that Augustine in fact draws such a distinction, yes?

Turretinfan said...

"which is really all I wanted to get at regarding the list"

Sadly, I suspected as much.

"It is true that he does not there call the canon inspired, but he says this neither of the deuterocanonicals nor of the protocanonicals."

I'm pretty sure I recall Augustine referring to, for example, John's gospel as inspired.

"Third, in various places throughout De doctrina Christiana, Augustine quotes both the proto- and deuterocanonical Scriptures time and again without any hint that he views them as having different levels of authority."

That looks almost like an argument from silence. I cannot recall off-hand if Augustine explicitly distinguishes between the authority of the inspired and non-inspired books. If he does not, however, that seems to simply leave open the possibility that he thought they were of equal authority. It doesn't establish that he disagreed with Jerome.

Turretinfan said...

"Regarding the word "Purgatory," I don't know when it came into common use, but of course the idea itself is the important thing. "

The use of the word is accompanied by a change of view about the idea, from being an action to being a place or state. That makes it an important thing.

We'll get to a more complete discussion of your quotation from Augustine in a bit.

William Webster is someone I greatly respect, but I think he conceded that particular point without historical evidence that merited such a concession. He and I would both agree that whether or not Augustine held to the doctrine of Purgatory is a matter of merely historical significance - neither of us has anything riding on the outcome of the historical inquiry.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that Augustine is sometimes referred to as the father of Purgatory, because of the influence that his writings had on subsequent generations in this particular area (particularly once his view of Sola Scriptura - See Webster's Holy Scripture: the Ground and Pillar of the Faith - was set aside).

Coram Deo said...

Ah, I see. That doesn't seem quite so sinister as the original phrasing suggested. In any case, these inaccuracies would seem at least to indicate that Coram Deo's list of Catholic novelties needs to undergo some fact-checking (which is really all I wanted to get at regarding the list).

Happily I don't arrogate infallibility to myself, hence I am both open to correction, and able to self-correct.

I share broad company in my fallible position with every other human being who has ever lived with the notable exceptions of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Bishop of Rome when speaking ex cathedra.

Even Augustine himself once thought the book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus were of Solomon, but later retracted this:

“Learned men have no doubt that they are not Solomon’s;" (Ubi supra, 765.) He also testifies they were not received in all the churches (De Civit. Dei. Lib. XVII. C. 20.)

Michael asked:

First, does Augustine suggest a distinction between the inspired Scriptures and the canonical Scriptures? Second, does he suggest that this distinction separates the proto- and the deuterocanonicals?

In fact, Augustine does.

Augustine clearly indicates that he did not consider the apocrypha as being on equal footing with the inspired Scriptures:

“Now with respect to the canonical Scriptures, let him follow the greater number of catholic churches’ amongst which those indeed are to be found with merited to posses the chairs of the apostles, and to receive epistles from them. He will hold this, therefore, as a rule in dealing with the canonical scriptures, to prefer those which are received by all catholic churches to those which only some receive. But, with respect to those which are not received by all, he will prefer such as the more and more dignified churches receive, to such as are held by fewer churches, or churches of less authority.”

And again:

“Now the whole canon of scripture, in which we hath consideration….etc.”

Augustine does not include the "lesser received" but rather, the whole canon.

As we agree, Jerome and many other fathers denied the apocryphal books as inspired canon.

Do they differ in opinion? In a word, no.

Why not?

It's because Jerome takes their word canonical in one sense while Augustine takes it in another.

Jerome calls only those books canonical which the church always held for canonical, the rest of the apocrypha he banishes from the inspired canon.

Augustine classifies the books, and uses varies senses of the word "canon". He prefers some to others, catalogs them using this sense and classifies them.

If he thought they were all equal, existing as the inspired canon of Scripture, it would have been absurd to have done this.

Augustine himself says less reliance should be placed on anything not included in the inspired canon of the Hebrew OT which did not include the apocrypha (de Civit. Dei, Lib. XVII. C. 20.)

He says: Sed adversus contradictores non tanta firmitate roferuntur quae scripta non sunt in canone Judaeorum (Aug. Opp. T. VII. 766. A.))

dtking said...

"Second, does he [i.e., Augustine] suggest that this distinction separates the proto- and the deuterocanonicals?"

Yes, Augustine acknowledged this distinction in principle, though not in that terminology. Nonetheless while recognizing the distinction, he viewed the books we reference as the deuterocanonicals as authoritative, generally speaking.

Here are a couple of examples whereby we see that Augustine acknowledged a distinction...

Augustine (354-430): At this time, Cyrus king of Persia, who also ruled the Chaldeans and Assyrians, having somewhat relaxed the captivity of the Jews, made fifty thousand of them return in order to rebuild the temple. They only began the first foundations and built the altar; but, owing to hostile invasions, they were unable to go on, and the work was put off to the time of Darius. During the same time also those things were done which are written in the book of Judith, which, indeed, the Jews are said not to have received into the canon of the Scriptures. Under Darius king of Persia, then, on the completion of the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah the prophet, the captivity of the Jews was brought to an end, and they were restored to liberty. Tarquin then reigned as the seventh king of the Romans. On his expulsion, they also began to be free from the rule of their kings. Down to this time the people of Israel had prophets; but, although they were numerous, the canonical writings of only a few of them have been preserved among the Jews and among us. In closing the previous book, I promised to set down something in this one about them, and I shall now do so. NPNF1: Vol. II, The City of God, Book XVIII, Chapter 26.

Augustine (354-430): After these three prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, during the same period of the liberation of the people from the Babylonian servitude Esdras also wrote, who is historical rather than prophetical, as is also the book called Esther, which is found to relate, for the praise of God, events not far from those times; unless, perhaps, Esdras is to be understood as prophesying of Christ in that passage where, on a question having arisen among certain young men as to what is the strongest thing, when one had said kings, another wine, the third women, who for the most part rule kings, yet that same third youth demonstrated that the truth is victorious over all. For by consulting the Gospel we learn that Christ is the Truth. From this time, when the temple was rebuilt, down to the time of Aristobulus, the Jews had not kings but princes; and the reckoning of their dates is found, not in the Holy Scriptures which are called canonical, but in others, among which are also the books of the Maccabees. These are held as canonical, not by the Jews, but by the Church, on account of the extreme and wonderful sufferings of certain martyrs, who, before Christ had come in the flesh, contended for the law of God even unto death, and endured most grievous and horrible evils. NPNF1: Vol. II, The City of God, Book XVIII, Chapter 36.

Mike Burgess said...

What's strange to me, TF, is your candid admission that Bible reading isn't necessary for salvation. You're not unique in this, but it causes one to wonder, why do you all even bother with a canon of Scripture, especially when (at the end of the day) one man's canon is as good as another's in the secessionist milieu you all characterize as the various Reformations? I mean, the KJV included the Deuterocanon. Some Lutherans and Anglicans include them. What else might a good Protestant include in his personal canon? What if Joe Presbyterian thinks Judith, Tobit, and II Clement inspired and canonical? What of it to his faith? Nothing, for it matters not to his faith if he read any of it. What if he forms an opinion that a few books of Nephi, Moroni and Alma are inspired and canonical and adds them to the back of his Bible? What of it? What could his presbytery say to him? And what's to prevent him establishing a new and equally valid denomination should he be put out of the ABCDEFGPCA/NA/USA?

Michael said...

I asked if Augustine ever says that some books are canonical but not inspired. Several people have asserted that he believes this, but no one has cited any writings in which he says it.

Augustine clearly indicates that he did not consider the apocrypha as being on equal footing with the inspired Scriptures:

You cite the passage immediately preceding Augustine's list of canonical Scriptures, which includes the deuterocanonicals, but the passage says nothing about inspired Scriptures.

Augustine classifies the books, and uses varies senses of the word "canon".

Again, are there any texts in which Augustine says that only part of the canon is inspired?

Augustine himself says less reliance should be placed on anything not included in the inspired canon of the Hebrew OT which did not include the apocrypha (de Civit. Dei, Lib. XVII. C. 20.)

He says: Sed adversus contradictores non tanta firmitate roferuntur quae scripta non sunt in canone Judaeorum (Aug. Opp. T. VII. 766. A.))


Hardly. In this chapter from De civitate Dei, Augustine says that although the Jews did not accept the deuterocanonicals, the Church does accept them. He then notes that the passion of Christ is plainly prophesied in the (deuterocanonical) book of Wisdom, quoting it at some length. Then he adds the next part, that against those who contradict this the things not in the canon of the Jews cannot be brought with such validity. The obvious meaning is that one cannot argue with the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah using the book of Wisdom because they do not accept this book. This says nothing about Augustine's opinion of the inspiration or authority of the book of Wisdom. Likewise, any Christian might say that one cannot argue with an atheist using the Bible, because atheists do not accept it as an authority. This does not mean the Christian does not believe the Bible is inspired.

Dtking:

Both of your quotations note that the Jews do not accept the deuterocanonicals as canonical books. In neither does Augustine say that he does not accept the books, as canonical or as inspired.

In short, no one has yet cited a work in which Augustine says that some canonical works are not inspired.

dtking said...

"Both of your quotations note that the Jews do not accept the deuterocanonicals as canonical books. In neither does Augustine say that he does not accept the books, as canonical or as inspired."

I never said otherwise. I answered a specific question that you asked, and that specific question only, and I answered it. I would think you would be grateful for the answer I gave that filled in for the gap of your ignorance.

I was showing you clearly that Augustine was aware of the distinction, and even noted that Augustine generally accepted the authority of the deuterocanonicals.

So, please play your trumpet for someone else.

Turretinfan said...

"What's strange to me, TF, is your candid admission that Bible reading isn't necessary for salvation."

I'm not normally thought to be lacking candor, I hope.

"one man's canon is as good as another's"

What an absurd conclusion to draw!

The remainder of your comments appear to fail to distinguish between something being absolutely necessary for salvation and something being an ordinary duty of Christians.

Coram Deo said...

Michael said:

First, does Augustine suggest a distinction between the inspired Scriptures and the canonical Scriptures? Second, does he suggest that this distinction separates the proto- and the deuterocanonicals?

Quotations were provided by Augustine that suggest he made a clear distinction between between "the canonical Scriptures"..."amongst which those indeed are to be found with merited to posses the chairs of the apostles, and to receive epistles from them. He will hold this, therefore, as a rule in dealing with the canonical scriptures..." and those "lesser received".

If the material in view was all considered to be inspired scripture by Augustine, why would he labor to make any distinctions at all?

He's clearly separating two groups of material, the first group is to be held as a rule in dealing with canonical scripture, and the other isn't.

Michael said:

I wonder where Augustine says that the protocanonicals are inspired. If he does not say this, what basis would I have for thinking that Augustine believes one part of the canon to be inspired but not another part?

See above. Granted, it would have saved everyone in this thread a lot of time and effort if Augustine had simply said "I believe these books are inspired", and then proceeded to tick off the books he considered inspired by name.

Likewise I suppose it would also have saved The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society a lot of time and effort if the Lord Jesus Christ had said, "I'm God, and specifically I'm God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity; God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are the other two Persons of the Triune Godhead."

I asked if Augustine ever says that some books are canonical but not inspired.

Sadly, I don't know if Augustine ever said these exact words, but you seem to keep asking the same question in different ways because you don't like the responses provided.

Hypothetically speaking, if this exact quote were discovered, and Augustine's position were found to be exactly the same as Jerome's, what difference would it make to you, personally?

Would you say that you're "born-again", Michael?

In Christ,
CD

Lee Faber said...

I'm not quite sure why this is significant... if this was one of the Summae or the Sentences commentary then sure, he must have been a prot. But in his biblical commentaries? Textually, most of these haven't been critically edited, and the ones that are often turn out to be incomplete and finished by students, or are reportationes (student reports, unauthorized by the master of theology). So rather than cherry pick quotes and say See! I would advise looking into some actual scholarship on Aquinas' biblical commentaries (this topic is all the range nowadays, anyway). For this to be a shock to catholics it would have to be in a discussion of the nature of theology, and clearly denigrate conciliar and theological authority (ie., the authority of the theological magistri). From the historical side, Aquinas' bitterest enemies are not in fact the prots, but the medieval franciscans. None of these texts made it into the correctoria controversies, when charges of heresy were being thrown at aquinas and his followers left and right.

But for every Aquinas there is a Scotus. [Scotus was a contemporary of Aquinas.] Witness bl. Duns Scotus' views on the relation of scripture and the church. He says that the determinations of the church are on the same level as scripture because the same Spirit that "breathed" the scriptures also inspired the council fathers. So there are plenty of other medieval ties between the contemporary "romanist" position and those of the past.

Lee Faber said...

Here's a quote from Scotus similar to what i was saying.

"To the argument from the Gospel, I say that “Christ descended into hell” is not taught in the gospel, and nevertheless must be held as an article of faith, because it is posited in the Apostle’s Creed. So many other things about the sacraments of the Church are not expressed in the Gospels and nevetheless the Church holds them to be handed down by the apostles certainly, it would be dangerous to err around that which not only comes down from the apostles by writings but also which is to be held by the custom of the universal Church. Nor did Christ in the Gospel teach all things pertaining to the dispensation of the sacraments; for he said to his disciples (in John): “I still have many things to say to you, but you are not able now to bear them; when however the Spirit of truth will have come, he will teach you all truth.” Therefore the Holy Spirit taught them many things, which are not written in the Gospel; and they handed down those many things, some through scriptures, some through the custom of the Church.
Likewise, diverse Creeds are published at diverse times against new and diverse heresies arising, because when new heresies arise it is necessary to declare the truth against that heresy: which truth even if first it was of the faith, nevertheless it was not first only declared then, against the error of those who denied it."

And the link to the post with the complete text of this distinction:

http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2007/05/filioque.html

Mike Burgess said...

Blogger is doing screwy things and casting comments into the bin, fyi.

louis said...

"I'm not quite sure why this is significant..."

The argument was whether two people could hold to a different set of "inspired" books and still be Christian. Jerome and Augustine were cited as an example. One response was to say that Jerome and Augustine held to the same set of inspired books anyway, but other answers were given in response to this question, so nothing really rests on this.

thomism said...

Francis,

Let's talk about the subject of the post and ditch this other stuff. Your are making one of these claims, or both:

1.) St. Thomas disagrees with some modern Catholic apologists about Scripture.


2.) St. Thomas disagrees with the Catholic Church about Scripture.

I can't speak to the first point since I'm not read up on Neo-Cath apologetics. Chances are, some number of them go against St. Thomas and half a dozen other Doctors. No surprise there.

The second claim needs a bit more documentation. What seeming cntradiction with the catholic faith do you want us Thomists to defend St. Thomas's doctrine against?

But at any rate, the worst case scenario isn't that bad, since all yur quotations need to be balanced against St. Thomas's own dying words:

"if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament (sc. the Holy Eucharist) or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life."

Similar pronouncements can be found in his writings, but the fact that St. Thomas chose to make these literally his last words is particularly poignant. To try to play St. Thomas against the Catholic Church is a complete dead-end, and, more to the point, it is bad Thomism.

At any rate, seeing Scripture as sufficient for the faith does not mean that an authoritative structure was not established to safeguard it. But that's another question, to be sure.


James Chastek

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Chastek,

"Let's talk about the subject of the post and ditch this other stuff."

Sounds good to me!

"Your are making one of these claims, or both:"

Actually, I'm mostly making a challenge, but ok.


"1.) St. Thomas disagrees with some modern Catholic apologists about Scripture."

More precisely about the relationship between "Scripture" and the "rule of faith."

"2.) St. Thomas disagrees with the Catholic Church about Scripture."

This second claim would be far too vague. The modern Roman Catholic view, the view taught by the second Vatican Council, is that the rule of faith is Scripture plus tradition ("The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles.") From the quotations above, we see that the "rule of faith" for Aquinas was a narrower category.

"I can't speak to the first point since I'm not read up on Neo-Cath apologetics. Chances are, some number of them go against St. Thomas and half a dozen other Doctors. No surprise there."

That is an interesting observation.

"The second claim needs a bit more documentation. What seeming cntradiction with the catholic faith do you want us Thomists to defend St. Thomas's doctrine against?"

Well, I don't actually want you to defend Thomas. What would be helpful is (1) to explain what Thomas meant by saying that only canonical scripture is [a/the] rule of faith and (2) if you would like, to explain how "Scripture together with tradition is the rule of faith" is consistent with "only canonical scripture is the rule of faith" if you think they are consistent. Of course, there is no reason that Thomas needs to be consistent with a council that was held over a half a millennium after his death.

[cont'd in Part 2]

Turretinfan said...

[Part 2]

"But at any rate, the worst case scenario isn't that bad, since all yur quotations need to be balanced against St. Thomas's own dying words:"

I'm frequently suspicious of alleged dying words. Surely you can understand why such words are more easily spurious ... but let's see what these are:

"if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament (sc. the Holy Eucharist) or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life."

He obeyed the Roman church (of his day, of course, he hadn't foreseen Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II) and he was willing to have his writings submitted to their judgment and correction. However, he hasn't identified the Holy Roman Church as the rule of faith.

"Similar pronouncements can be found in his writings, but the fact that St. Thomas chose to make these literally his last words is particularly poignant."

There is some emotional value, of course, to those being his last words (assuming they were). However, the fact that he obeyed the Roman church and was willing to have his writings and teachings corrected by them doesn't really answer what he meant by saying that only the canonical Scriptures are the rule of faith. In other words, as Aquinas himself would note, there can be different kinds of obedience.

"To try to play St. Thomas against the Catholic Church is a complete dead-end, and, more to the point, it is bad Thomism."

If one is playing Thomas against his church (assuming that modern Rome could be viewed as the same church - a topic for another occasion) saying that one should believe Thomas because he has higher authority, that would be bad Thomism.

However, if one is pointing out that Thomas (who seemed to try hard to follow the teachings of the church) taught [X] and modern Roman Catholicism teaches [Y], the question is a question of whether Rome's doctrine now is different than it was then: whether change in doctrine has occurred.

I presume Thomism permits one to make historical inquiry.

"At any rate, seeing Scripture as sufficient for the faith does not mean that an authoritative structure was not established to safeguard it. But that's another question, to be sure."

Agreed that it is another topic - at least to some degree.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Lee:

Thanks for your comment from Scotus. He makes an interesting admission, and historical research has subsequently shown (see, for example, Grudem's Systematic Theology in the section on the Atonement) that the descensus clause was not something handed down by the apostles. Scotus' historical claim was wrong.

Nevertheless, the idea is found both in the Old Testament:

Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

And clearly applied to Christ in the New Testament:

Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Lee: "I'm not quite sure why this is significant... if this was one of the Summae or the Sentences commentary then sure, he must have been a prot."

You really should read the original post, which notes that we're not trying to convert Aquinas into a "prot" (your word).

Also, in the post you'll find confirmatory selections from his Summa and Sentences.

Enjoy!

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Mike Burgess wrote: "Blogger is doing screwy things and casting comments into the bin, fyi."

I heard Blogger was out enjoying some Baily's Cream with Mark Shea. It may have overindulged a bit. Seriously though, I am sorry that the technology is not cooperating. :(

Geoffrey Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Turretinfan said...

Mr. Miller,

I see you deleted your comment here. That's fine. But to be clear, I'm not citing Aquinas to prove sola scriptura. He seemed to hold to a view of the primacy of Scripture, but not necessarily a view that would be exactly like the Reformers. The point in reviewing a notable theologian like Aquinas is to observe that his position is neither ours nor yours. He represents historically a stage of development in doctrine as the Roman church began to have an increasingly dominant role in theology. You won't find him advocating papal infallibility, and you do see him treating the authority of even the Roman church as essentially derivative from Scripture. We (you and I) both depart from Aquinas' teachings on various points. However, we do so because Aquinas' doctrine is un-Scriptural at various points, whereas we might say that you do so because his doctrine is not Roman at various points.

If (as we have asserted) there is a difference between the doctrine of Scripture and the doctrine of the Roman church, I hope you will agree that it would be better to follow Scripture.

Then, the question is whether our assertion regarding doctrine is correct: whether Rome's doctrines are contrary to Scripture. That, however, would seem to be subject matter for another comment box.