Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Concept of Executive Pastors

Dennis McFadden at His Barking Dog talks about the concept of an "Executive Pastor" in an interesting article at his blog (link). I found particularly apt his comments that:
Generally you can determine the statistical probability of a church having an Executive Pastor based on whether the senior pastor has more books by Francis Turretin or George Barna in his personal library. Turretin is a dead giveaway that this is NOT a place where you will find an Executive Pastor.
How true that is! And one could swap in John Owen, Thomas Boston, or Thomas Manton as well.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Knox on the Idolatry of the Mass

One occasionally hears from us, Reformed apologists, reference to the fact that the mass is idolatry. Perhaps this seems like pure polemic, unsupported by argument. Frankly, often it is simply thrown out there without supporting argument. So, I'd like to provide for your consideration, an explanation of the issue provided by John Knox (link).

Here's how it begins, to whet your appetite:
This day I do appear in your presence, honourable audience, to give a reason why so constantly I do affirm the Mass to be, and at all times to have been, idolatry and abomination before God. And because men of great erudition in your audience affirmed the contrary, most gladly would I that they were present here, either in person, or else by their learned men, to ponder and weigh the causes moving me thereto. For unless I evidently prove my intent by God's holy scriptures, I will recant it as wicked doctrine, and confess myself most worthy of grievous punishment.
Knox goes on to substantiate his claims, all the while carefully adhering to the standard of the Holy Scriptures.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fathers of the Church Series - Index Page

This is an index page for the patristic series, Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, editorial board founded by Ludwig Schopp. The first part of this index was assisted by the index at an orthodox web site (link). The second part of the list is taken from (and links one to) the publisher's web site.

Volume 1 The Apostolic Fathers, Translated by Francis X. Glimm, Joseph M. F. Marique, S.J. & Gerald G. Walsh, S.J. (1947)
Volume 2 Saint Augustine: Christian Instruction; Admonition and Grace; The Christian Combat; Faith, Hope, and Charity (Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 4), Translated respectively by John G. Gavigan, O.S.A., John Courtney Murray, S.J., Robert P. Russell, O.S.A. & Bernard M. Peebles (1947)
Volume 3 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1947)
Volume 4 Saint Augustine: The Immortality Of The Soul, The Magnitude of the Soul, On Music, The Advantage of Believing, On Faith in Things Unseen (Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 2), Translated respectively by Ludwig Schopp, John J. McMahon, S.J., Robert Catesby Taliaferro, Luanne Meagher, O.S.B., Roy J. Deferrari & Mary Francis McDonald (1947)
Volume 5 Saint Augustine: The Happy Life, Answer to Skeptics, Divine Providence and the Problem of Evil, Soliloquies(Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 1), Translated respectively by Ludwig Schopp, Denis J. Kavanaugh, O.S.A., Robert P. Russel, O.S.A. & Thomas F. Gilligan, O.S.A. (1948)
Volume 6 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1948 or 1949)
Volume 7 Niceta of Remesiana (Writings), Sulpicius Severus (Writings), Vincent of Lerins (Commonitories), Prosper of Aquitaine (Grace and Free Will), Translated respectively by Gerald G. Walsh, S.J., Bernard M. Peebles, Rudolph E. Morris, J. Reginald O'Donnell, C.S.B. (1949)
Volume 8 Saint Augustine: The City Of God, Books I-VII (Writings of Saint Augustine, Volume 6), Translated by Demetrius R. Zema & Gerald G. Walsh (1950)
Volume 9 Saint Basil: Ascetical Works, Translated by M. Monica Wagner, C.S.C. (1950)
Volume 10 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1950 or 1951)
Volume 11 Saint Augustine: Commentary On The Lord's Sermon On The Mount With Seventeen Related Sermons (Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 4), Translated by Denis J. Kavanaugh, O.S.A. (1951)
Volume 12 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1951)
Volume 13 Saint Basil: Letters, Translated by Agnes Clare Way, C.D.P. with notes by Roy J. Deferrari (1951)
Volume 14 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1951, 1952, or 1953)
Volume 15 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1951, 1952, or 1953)
Volume 16 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1951, 1952, or 1953)
Volume 17 Saint Peter Chrysologus: Selected Sermons And Saint Valerian: Homilies, Translated by George E. Ganss, S.J. (1953)
Volume 18 Augustine: Letters Volume II (Letters 83-130)(Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 10) Translated by Wilfrid Parsons, S.N.D. (1953)
Volume 19 Eusebius Pamphili: Ecclesiastical History (Books 1-5), Translated by Roy J. Deferrari (1953)
Volume 20 Saint Augustine: Letters Volume III (Letters 131-164)(Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 10) Translated by Wilfrid Parsons, S.N.D. (1953)
Volume 21 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1953)
Volume 22 Funeral Orations by Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Ambrose, Translated by Leo P. McCauley, S.J., John J. Sullivan, C.S.Sp., Martin R.P. McGuire & Roy Joseph Deferrari (1953)
Volume 23 Clement Of Alexandria: Christ The Educator, Translated by Simon P. Wood, C.P. (1954)
Volume 24 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1954)
Volume 25 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1954)
Volume 26 Saint Ambrose: Letters, Translated by Mary Melchior Beyenka, O.P. (1954)
Volume 27 Saint Augustine: Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects, The Good of Marriage, Adulterous Marriage, Holy Virginity, Faith and Works, The Creed, Faith and the Creed, The Care to be Taken for the Dead, In answer to the Jews, The Divination of Demons (Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 15), Translated by Charles T. Wilcox, M.M., Charles T. Huegelmeyer, John McQuade, S.M., Mary Ligouri, I.H.M., Robert P. Russell, O.S.A., John A. Lacy & Ruth Wentworth Brown (1955)
Volume 28 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1955)
Volume 29 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1955)
Volume 30 Saint Augustine: Letters Volume IV (Letters 165-203)(Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 12), Translated by Wilfrid Parsons, S.N.D. (1955)
Volume 31 Saint Caesarius Of Arles: Sermons Volume I (Sermons 1-80), Translated by Mary Magdalene Mueller, O.S.F. (1956)
Volume 32 Saint Augustine: Letters Volume V (Letters 204-270)(Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 13) Translated by Wilfrid Parsons, S.N.D. (1956)
Volume 33 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1956 or 1957)
Volume 34 (Apparently not yet in Archive) (1956 or 1957)
Volume 35 Saint Augustine: Against Julian (Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 16), Translated by Matthew A. Schumacher, C.S.C. (1957)
Volume 36 Saint Cyprian: Treatises, Translated by Roy J. Deferrari (With the Dress of Virgins translated by Angela Elizabeth Keenan, S.N.D.; Mortality translated by Mary Hannan Mahoney; and The Good of Patience translated by Ms. George Edward Conway, S.S.J.) (1958)
Volume 37 Saint John of Damascus: Writings, Translated by Frederic H. Chase, Jr. (1958)
Volume 38 Saint Augustine: Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (Writings of Saint Augustine Volume 16), Translated by Mary Sarah Muldowney, R.S.M. (1959)
Volume 39 Saint Gregory the Great: Dialogs, Translated by Odo John Zimmerman, O.S.B. (1959)
Volume 40 Tertullian: Disciplinary, Moral, and Ascetical Works, Translated by Rudolph Arbesmann, O.S.A., Emily Joseph Daly, C.S.J. & Edwin A. Quain, S.J. (1959)
Volume 41 Saint John Chrysostom: Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (Homilies 48-88), Translated by Ms. Thomas Aquinas Goggin, S.C.H. (1960)
Volume 42 Saint Ambrose: Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, Translated by John J. Savage (1961)
Volume 43 The Poems of Prudentius, Translated by Ms. M. Clement Eagan, C.C.V.I. (1962)
Volume 44 Saint Ambrose: Theological And Dogmatic Works (The Mysteries, The Holy Spirit, The Sacrament of the Incarnation of Our Lord, The Sacraments), Translated by Roy J. Deferrari (1963)
Volume 45 Saint Augustine: The Trinity, Translated by Stephen McKenna, C.SS.R. (1963)
Volume 46 Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, Translated by Agnes Clare Way, C.D.P. (1963) (Second Archive Copy)
47. ... This and the remaining volumes are apparently not available freely on-line, presumably because the publisher wishes to continue to collect revenues for them.

**** Alphabetical List obtained from the Publisher *****

Apostolic Fathers, The Apostolic Fathers

Saint Ambrose, Theological and Dogmatic Works

Saint Ambrose, Hexameron, Paradise, Cain and Abel

Saint Ambrose, Letters, 1-91

Saint Ambrose , Seven Exegetical Works

Saint Augustine, The City of God, Books XVIII-XXII

Saint Augustine, Confessions

Saint Augustine, The Catholic and Manichaean Ways of Life

Saint Augustine, The Happy Life; Answer to Sceptics; Divine Providence and the Problem of Evil, Soliloquies

Saint Augustine, The City of God, Books I-VII

Saint Augustine, Letters, Volume 6 (1*-29*)

Saint Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 55-111

Saint Augustine, Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects

Saint Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John, 11-27

Saint Augustine, Commentary on the Lord's Sermon on the Mount with Seventeen Related Sermons

Saint Augustine, The Immortality of the Soul; The Magnitude of the Soul; On Music; The Advantage of Believing; On Faith in Things Unseen

Saint Augustine, Letters, Volume 2 (83-130)

Saint Augustine, Letters, Volume 3 (131-164)

Saint Augustine, Letters, Volume 4 (165-203)

Saint Augustine, Letters, Volume 5 (204-270)

Saint Augustine, The Retractations

Saint Augustine, The Teacher; The Free Choice of the Will; Grace and Free Will

Saint Augustine, Treatises on Various Subjects

Saint Augustine, The City of God, Books VIII-XVI

Saint Augustine, Against Julian

Saint Augustine, Christian Instruction; Admonition and Grace; The Christian Combat; Faith, Hope and Charity

Saint Augustine, Letters, Volume 1 (1-82)

Saint Augustine, Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons

Saint Augustine, Eighty-three Different Questions

Saint Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 1-10

Saint Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 28-54

Saint Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 112-124; Tractates on the First Epistle of John

Saint Augustine, On Genesis

Saint Augustine, Four Anti-Pelagian Writings

Saint Augustine, The Trinity

Barsanuphius and John, Letters, Volume 1

Barsanuphius and John, Letters, Volume 2

Saint Basil, Letters, Volume 2 (186-368)

Saint Basil, Exegetic Homilies

Saint Basil, Letters, Volume 1 (1-185)

Saint Basil, Ascetical Works

Braulio of Saragossa et al, Iberian Fathers, Volume 2

Saint Caesarius, Sermons, Volume 1 (1-80)

Saint Caesarius, Sermons, Volume 2 (81-186)

Saint Caesarius, Sermons, Volume 3 (187-238)

Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator

Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, Books 1-3

Saint Cyprian, Letters (1-81)

Saint Cyprian, Treatises

Saint Cyril, Letters 1-50

Saint Cyril, Letters 51-110

Cyril of Alexandria, Festal Letters 1-12

Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, Volume 1

Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, Volume 2

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Volume 1

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Volume 2

Didymus the Blind, Commentary On Zechariah

Ephrem the Syrian, Selected Prose Works

Eugippius, The Life of St. Severin

Eusebius Pamphili, Ecclesiastical History, Books 6-10

Eusebius Pamphili, Ecclesiastical History, Books 1-5

Fulgentius, Selected Works

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Three Poems

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Funeral Orations

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Select Orations

Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Ascetical Works

Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus, Life and Works

Saint Gregory the Great, Dialogues

Hilary of Poitiers, The Trinity

Saint Jerome, On Illustrious Men

Saint Jerome, Dogmatic and Polemical Works

Saint Jerome, Homilies, Volume 1 (1-59 on the Psalms)

Saint Jerome, Commentary on Matthew

Saint Jerome, Homilies, Volume 2 (Homilies 60-96)

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 18-45

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 46-67

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 1-17

Saint John Chrysostom, On Repentance and Almsgiving

Saint John Chrysostom, On the Incomprehensible Nature of God

Saint John Chrysostom, Discourses Against Judaizing Christians

Saint John Chrysostom, Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist

Saint John Chrysostom, Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist

Saint John Chrysostom, Apologist

Saint John of Damascus, Writings

Justin Martyr, The First Apology, The Second Apology, Dialogue with Trypho, Exhortation to the Greeks, Discourse to the Greeks, The Monarchy of the Rule of God

Lactantius, The Minor Works

Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, Books I-VII

Pope Leo I, Sermons / St. Leo the Great

Pope Leo I, Letters / St. Leo the Great

Martin of Braga, Iberian Fathers, Volume 1

Nicetas, Writings; Writings; Commonitories; Grace and Free Will

Novatian, The Trinity, The Spectacles, Jewish Foods, In Praise of Purity, Letters

Oecumenius, Commentary on the Apocalypse

Origen, Homilies on Genesis and Exodus

Origen, Homilies on Joshua

Origen, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Books 6-10

Origen, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Books 13-32

Origen, Homilies on Jeremiah and I Kings 28

Origen, Homilies on Leviticus 1-16

Origen, Homilies on Luke

Origen, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Books 1-5

Origen, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Books 1-10

Paulus Orosius, The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans

Pacian of Barcelona, Iberian Fathers, Volume 3

Saint Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons, Volume 2

Saint Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons, Volume 3

Saint Peter Chrysologus and Saint Valerian, Selected Sermons; Homilies

Pontius et al, Early Christian Biographies

Prudentius, Poems, Volume 2

Prudentius, Poems, Volume 1

Salvian, The Writings of Salvian, the Presbyter

Tertullian, Disciplinary, Moral, and Ascetical Works

Tertullian; Minucius Felix, Apologetical Works; Octavius

Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary on the Twelve Prophets

Theodoret of Cyrus, Eranistes

Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Psalms, 73-150

Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Psalms, 1-72

Marius Victorinus, Theological Treatises on the Trinity



The Greatness of Jesus compared to John the Baptist - A Response to a Heckler

In response to my earlier Question for My Muslim Readers, one heckler (he was anonymous, so I do not wish to accuse of Islam of being associated with him) tried to provide a counter-argument:
In Luke 7:28 Jesus say "For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

So, either John is greater than Jesus or Jesus wasn't born of a woman. See, two can play at this game.
(all errors in original)

This kind of comment would be very puzzling for a Muslim to raise. After all, is there any doubt that, within Islam, Jesus is a greater prophet than John the Baptist? If so, why even raise this verse? Is it just to try to make Christians uncomfortable? I cannot see how it would be raised by a Muslim who was seeking the truth.

So, perhaps our anonymous heckler was not a Muslim.

What then, within a Christian understanding, did Jesus mean by His claim? Well, the most obvious understanding is that Jesus means that John held the role of greatest honor among the prophets because he was the immediate forerunner of Christ. While Christ did prophesy, Jesus Christ is not viewed as being one of the prophets.

This, of course, is a difference between Christianity and Islam. The Bible presents Jesus, not as a mere prophet, but as the Son of God. Thus, it is natural for Jesus not to include Himself in a list of the prophets, since they were the messengers of God, but He was God in the flesh.

Likewise, the second half of the verse clarifies that Jesus is speaking of those within the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus Himself is the king of that kingdom. So, naturally, He is not within the group of those who are of the kingdom of heaven.

Finally, when Jesus spoke of "the prophets," Jesus generally referred to those who came before Him. Thus, for this additional reason, it would be natural for Jesus

But Jesus did speak to his own excellence:

Jesus is Greater than the Temple
Matthew 12:6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

Jesus is Greater than the Prophet Jonah
Matthew 12:41 (and Luke 11:32) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Jesus is Greater than King Solomon
Matthew 12:42 (and Luke 11:31) The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Jesus is Greater than the patriarch Jacob
John 4:11-14
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Jesus is Greater than Abraham
John 8:49-58
49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

And Jesus did make a comparison between himself and John the Baptist:

John 5:33-36
33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

How could the witness of Jesus be greater than the witness of any prophet? How could Jesus be greater than King Solomon, the greatest earthly King that was? How could Jesus be a greater prophet than Jonah, who converted the gentile city of Ninevah? How could Jesus be greater than the patriarch Jacob, who fathered all of Israel? How could Jesus be greater than Abraham and be before Abraham?

The answer is simple: Jesus was not a mere prophet, He was God incarnate. This is the teaching of Jesus, and to be a follower of Jesus and a follower of God, once must accept this. This is no game, for if you reject the Son of God, on the day of judgment that you know is coming, He will reject you.

Think about it.


The Latest Excuse - International Law

Usually when the subject of why there is a palace full of priceless art while there are people starving is broached, the excuse is usually a comparison to the alabaster box that was broken open to annoint Christ. Now there is a new excuse, international law! (No, seriously.)

Augustine the Inerrantist (and Justin too)

Nick Norelli at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth has an interesting post on Justin Martyr and his view of inerrancy (link). I would, however, respectfully disagree that Justin's is the strongest statement of inerrancy we see in the early church. I find similarly strong statements in other church fathers, such as in Augustine who affirmed both inerrancy and Sola Scriptura, even while affirming the fallibility of Peter and recognizing that the New Testament was consciously written as Scripture:
5. But he answers, "What did Paul find to criticize in Peter?" What else but what he said himself, what he wrote himself? He himself composed a letter as a record, he left it to posterity to be read in the Church. What can I safely believe in the divine books, if I don't believe what is written in that letter? It's an apostolic letter, it's a canonical letter. It's a letter from Paul, who labored more than them all; not he, though, but the grace of God with him (1 Cor 15:10). So it's a letter from the grace of God. And if we recall who was speaking in him, it's a letter from Christ. Or do you wish, he says, to have experience of the one who is speaking in me, Christ? (2 Cor 13:3). Listen, and fear. He said "experience," not a pretense. But if you don't think that's enough, listen to his own public assertion, in which he even calls God to witness. This is how he started the tale of what he was going to point out, as though foreseeing that there would be some people who queried the truth of it: But what I am writing to you, he said, see before God that I am not lying (Gal. 1:20). So then, when he calls God to witness like that, is he lying, seeing that without any calling of God to witness the mouth that lies, it says, will kill, not the body, but the soul (Wis 1:11)? I beg you, don't let Paul be killed in the soul for Peter's sake; they were both killed together in the flesh for Christ's sake.
Augustine, Sermon 162C, Section 5 (The Works of Augustine, Sermons III/11, New City Press, 1997, p. 169)

I realize that a few people are going to read everything Augustine said in that section and home in on the allusion to Wisdom 1:11, losing track of everything else that was said. I hope that if you're one of those people you'll think about re-reading the paragraph, setting that issue aside. Although Augustine does seem to allude to (or even quote from) a verse from the Book of Wisdom, he doesn't identify that book as the canonical Scriptures here. Instead, the canonical Scriptures being discussed here are Paul's own epistle to the Galatians.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ancient Christian Writers Series - Index Page

Ancient Christian Writers: The Works Of The Fathers In Translation, Edited by Johannes Quasten and Joseph C. Plumpe. These may be obtained from the publisher (link). Where I know the information, I've added the year of the book and a link to a free on-line source.

1. The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch (translated and annotated by James A. Kleist, SJ)

2. St. Augustine: The First Catechetical Instruction (translated and annotated by Joseph P. Christopher)

3. St. Augustine: Faith, Hope and Charity (translated and annotated by Louis A. Arand, SS)

4. Julianus Pomerius: The Contemplative Life (translated and annotated by Mary Josephine Suelzer) (1947) (Archive Link)

5. St. Augustine: The Lord's Sermon on the Mount (translated by John J. Epson, SS) (Archive Link)

6. The Didache, The Epistle of Barnabas, The Epistles and the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, The Fragments of Papias, The Epistle to Diognetus (translated and annotated by James A. Kleist, SJ)

7. Arnobius of Sicca: The Case Against the Pagans, Vol. 1, Introduction and Books 1-3 (translated and annotated by George E. McCracken) (1949) (Archive Link)

8. Arnobius of Sicca: The Case Against the Pagans, Vol. 2 (translated and annotated by George E. McCracken)

9. St. Augustine: The Greatness of the Soul, The Teacher (translated and annotated by Joseph M. Colleran, CSsR)

10. St. Athanasius: The Life of St. Antony (translated and annotated by Robert T. Meyer) (1950) (Archive Link)

11. St. Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care (translated and annotated by Henry Davis, SJ) (1950) (Archive Link)

12. St. Augustine: Against the Academics (translated and annotated by John J. O’Meara) (1950) (Archive Link)

13. Tertullian: Treatises on Marriage and Remarriage: To His Wife, An Exhortation to Chastity, Monogamy (translated and annotated by William P. Le Saint, SJ)

14. St. Prosper of Aquitaine: The Call of All Nations (translated and annotated by P. De Letter, SJ) (1952) (Archive Link)

15. St. Augustine: Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany (translated and annotated by Thomas Comerford Lawler) (1952) (Archive Link)

16. St. Irenaeus: Proof of the Apostolic Preaching (translated and annotated by Joseph P. Smith, SJ)

17. Works of St. Patrick, St. Secundinus, The: Hymn on St. Patrick (translated and annotated by Ludwig Bieler)

18. St. Gregory of Nyssa: The Lord's Prayer, The Beatitudes (translated and annotated by Hilda C. Graef)

19. Origen: Prayer, Exhortation to Martyrdom (translated and annotated by John J. O’Meara)

20. Rufinus: A Commentary on the Apostles' Creed (translated and annotated by J.N.D. Kelly)

21. St. Maximus the Confessor: The Ascetic Life, The Four Centuries on Charity (translated and annotated by Polycarp Sherwood, OSB)

22. St. Augustine: The Problem of Free Choice (translated and annotated by Dom Mark Pontifex) (1953) (Archive Link)

23. Athenagoras: Embassy for the Christians, The Resurrection of the Dead (translated and annotated by Joseph Hugh Crehan, SJ)

24. Tertullian: The Treatise against Hermogenes (translated and annotated by J.H. Waszink)

25. St. Cyprian: The Lapsed, The Unity of the Catholic Church (translated and annotated by Maurice Bévenot, SJ)

26. Origen: The Song of Songs, Commentary and Homilies (translated and annotated by R.P. Lawson)

27. St. Methodius: The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity (translated and annotated by Herbert Musurillo, SJ)

28. Tertullian: Treatises on Penance: On Penitence and On Purity (translated and annotated by William P. Le Saint, SJ)

29. St. Augustine on the Psalms, Vol. 1 (translated and annotated by Dame Scholastica Hebgin and Dame Felicitas Corrigan)

30. St. Augustine on the Psalms, Vol. 2 (translated and annotated by Dame Scholastica Hebgin and Dame Felicitas Corrigan)

31. St. John Chrysostom: Baptismal Instruction (translated and annotated by Paul W. Harkins)

32. St. Prosper of Aquitaine: Defense of St. Augustine (translated and annotated by P. De Letter, SJ)

34. Palladius: The Lausiac History (translated and annotated by Robert T. Meyer)

35. Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, Vol. 1 (translated and annotated by P.G. Walsh)

36. Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, Vol. 2 (translated and annotated by P.G. Walsh)

37. Firmicus Maternus: The Error of the Pagan Religions (translated and annotated by Clarence A. Forbes)

38. Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage (translated and annotated by George E. Gingras)

39. The Octavius of Marcus Minucius Felix (translated and annotated by G. W. Clarke)

40. The Poems of St. Paulinus of Nola (translated and annotated by P.G. Walsh)

41. St. Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Vol. 1 (translated and annotated by John Hammond Taylor, SJ)

42. St. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Vol. 2 (translated and annotated by John Hammond Taylor, SJ)

43. The Letters of St. Cyprian of Carthage, Vol. 1 (translated and annotated by G.W. Clarke)

44. The Letters of St. Cyprian of Carthage, Vol. 2 (translated and annotated by G.W. Clarke)

45. Palladius: Dialogue on the Life of St. John Chrysostom (translated and annotated by Robert T. Meyer)

46. The Letters of St. Cyprian of Carthage, Vol. 3 (translated and annotated by G.W. Clarke)

47. The Letters of St. Cyprian of Carthage, Vol. 4 (translated and annotated by G.W. Clarke)

48. St. Augustine on Faith and Works (translated and annotated by Gregory J. Lombardo, CSC)

49. Theodoret of Cyrus: On Divine Providence (translated and annotated by Thomas Halton)

50. Sermons of St. Maximus of Turin (translated and annotated by Boniface Ramsey, OP)

51. Cassiodorus: Explanation of the Psalms, Vol. 1 (translated and annotated by P.G. Walsh)

52. Cassiodorus: Explanation of the Psalms, Vol. 2 (translated and annotated by P.G. Walsh)

53. Cassiodorus: Explanation of the Psalms, Vol. 3 (translated and annotated by P.G. Walsh)

54. Origen: Treatise on the Passover and Dialogue with Heraclides (translated and edited by Robert J. Daly, SJ)

55. St. Irenaeus of Lyons: Against the Heresies (translated and annotated by Dominic J. Unger, OFM Cap)

56. St. Justin Martyr: The First and Second Apologies (translated with introduction and notes by Leslie William Barnard)

57. John Cassian: The Conferences (translated and annotated by Boniface Ramsey, OP)

58. John Cassian: The Institutes (translated and annotated by Boniface Ramsey, OP)

59. Evagrius Ponticus: Ad Monachos (translation and commentary by Jeremy Driscoll)

60. Quodvultdeus of Carthage: The Creedal Homilies (translation and commentary by Thomas Macy Finn)

61. Isidore of Seville: De Ecclesiasticis Officiis (Thomas L. Knoebel)

I'm sorry so few have archival links, but these are mostly fairly recent translations from which, one presumes, the publishers still hope to get some royalties.



Understanding Textual Variants

Dan Wallace at Parchment and Pen has an interesting post (link) that explains textual variants as well as a common mistake made by some "Evangelicals" who try to explain away the textual data, without really understanding it. I'm posting this link both because it is an interesting article, and also in attempt to falsify his quite reasonable prediction: "I suspect that more anti-Christian websites will link to this blog than Christian websites. That’s because these numbers feed their agenda."


Sightings of "Jesus" and "Mary"

Todd Pruitt at 1517 has the video (link). It's really amazing when someone manages to put all these together in one montage, and it shows the kind of superstition that crops up in religions that have lost sight of the invisible God, trading it for visible icons and images.


Confessions and the Magistrate

Steven Wedgeworth at Wedgewords has an interesting compilation of the Reformed confessions' statements on the civil magistrate (link). Those Presbyterians who follow a radicalized two kingdoms approach (contrasted with the more moderate and Scriptural form taught by the Reformers) will feel themselves at odds with what amounts to the apparent majority of the Reformed consensus, although it should be noted that they would be more comfortable (though still a bit queasy) with the shorter presentation provided in the London Baptist Confession of 1689:
Paragraph 1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end has armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.1
1 Rom. 13:1-4

Paragraph 2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace,2 according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.3
2 2 Sam. 23:3; Ps. 82:3,4
3 Luke 3:14

Paragraph 3. Civil magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid; subjection, in all lawful things commanded by them, ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience’ sake;4 and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.5
4 Rom. 13:5-7; 1 Pet. 2:17
5 1 Tim. 2:1,2
Most particularly, even the Baptists (the least "magisterial" of the Reformers) recognized that the civil magistrate's responsibility in his office is to glorify God and do what is good. Thus, there is no appeal to an abstract natural law system for governing the state - but rather the system is specifically theistic and Christian, governed by what is acceptable in God's eyes, not simply what is accepted among men.


Reponse to Audio Clip from Steve Ray

This is my response to Steve Ray's Audio clip that was provided with the blog post to which I responded yesterday.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Peddling Imitation Patristics - Ray's At it Again

I have almost started to feel sorry for Mr. Ray. He keeps peddling the same snake oil, and it is hard to say whether this is simply because he lacks the acumen or patience to deal honestly with the Early Church Fathers or whether it is because he is simply the sort of person who makes a living profiting from pilgrims, like a parasite that thrives on the gullible.

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that he has yet again posted a blog entry on one of his favorite bottles of oil (it's snake oil, though he presents it as holy oil): Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant. He again links to a paper he wrote a while back in which both of his patristic quotations are inaccurately attributed: that is to say, those attributed to Athanasius (which are from a spurious, or -at best- dubious work) and those attributed to Gregory Thaumaturgus (which are from a notoriously spurious work). He also links to a paper in which he provides a significant number of quotations from the fathers that he believes support his sect's (Roman Catholicism's) view of Mary (link to Ray). This blog post (as itself a paper) deals specifically with the latter of Ray's two linked papers.

Having already shown that the two leading quotations from Mr. Ray's defense of his sect's view on Mary being the "Ark of the New Covenant," let's examine briefly the remaining quotations he adduces. They could be variously counted, but they most naturally break down into 31 quotations.

Mr. Ray claims "The early Christians taught the same thing that the Catholic Church teaches today about Mary, especially about her being the Ark of the New Covenant." (Mary, Ark of the Covenant, p. 7) In support of his contention, Mr. Ray provides quotations aimed at providing a "comprehensive collection of patristic quotations" on the subject.

Of these quotations, 5 (or 6, depending on how you consider the 31st of the 31 quotations) are from spurious or (at best) dubious writings, and 6 (or 7, depending on how you consider that 31st quotation) are from sources that are presented as though they were anonymous. Thus, 12 of the 31 cannot be definitively linked with any of the fathers.

But it is far worse than just a matter of such a large fraction of the quotations being unassignable to any of the fathers of the church. The quotations don't really confirm Mr. Ray's claim that "The early Christians taught the same thing that the Catholic Church teaches today about Mary, especially about her being the Ark of the New Covenant."

First of all, even if all 31 were legitimate, and even all 31 were teaching that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, there are some rather unusual omissions from a "comprehensive list." Where are these teachings in Augustine? Where are they in Origen? Where are they in Tertullian? Where are they in any of the Apostolic fathers? Instead, Mr. Ray's earliest quotations come from the late 2nd century and some come from no earlier (even according to the attribution he provides) than the 9th century.

Second, not a single one of the quotations uses the expression "ark of the new covenant." Even the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (referenced in an opening paragraph by Mr. Ray) simply says "Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is 'the dwelling of God . . . with men.'" (CCC 2676)

Third, many of the quotations provided by Mr. Ray do not refer to Mary as an ark at all. The are at least three of the quotations (numbers 2, 21, and 26 by my numbering) where an ark is mentioned, but it is doubtful that Mary is the intended comparison. More significantly, there are ten quotations where Mary is clearly not described as an ark (7-8, 10-11, 16, 18-19, 22, and 28-29).

Fourth, the term "ark" doesn't always refer to the ark of the covenant. It can be a generic reference to any box or box-like item, including (famously) Noah's ark. In the third quotation, Mary is called an "ark truly royal" but is described as having a "pilot and merchant," which would make it more like Noah's Ark, although it is specifically distinguished from that ark, as well as from the ark of the covenant, in the quotation provided. There are at least seven additional quotations where the quotation leaves it unclear whether the ark in mind is the ark of the covenant or some other ark (numbers 4, 8, 13, 23, 27, and 30-31 by my count).

Fifth, at least some of the folks who call her an ark (or even "the ark") find her symbolized in lots and lots of things, with this being just one of the many things they compare her to. For example, Proclus (the first quoted father in the series) also compares Mary to Eve, to Noah's Ark, to Jacob's Ladder, to Gideon's fleece, to the "swift cloud" of Isaiah 19, to the sealed book of Isaiah 29, to the burning bush, and so on. With such numerous comparisons, the fact that occasionally the ark is mentioned by fathers who loved to draw parallels is hardly significant.

Sixth, the main point of the comparison in at least some instances seems to be simply to highlight the true claim that the womb of Mary served as a sort of box in which the second person of the Trinity lived, in a unique way, for ninth months. Mary's womb is no longer used in that way, and consequently the CCC's position that Mary "is" the ark is incorrect in the sense that - even if the Ark had been a type of Mary - Mary is no longer serving in that role, since Jesus has been born. Consequently, it would be improper to say that Mary "is" the ark.

Seventh, a number of the quotations express theology inconsistent either with Catholicism or with the modern defenses of Catholicism. For example, in the first quotation, Proclus states that " ... Mary is venerated (adored) ... " but modern Catholicism claims that Mary is given hyper-dulia (of course, what she is given looks to us to be virtually indistinguishable from the veneration/adoration given by them to Jesus, but we're accused of misrepresenting Rome when we bring that up). Likewise, in the twenty-fifth item on the list Ephrem calls Mary "best mediatress between God and man," whereas the current view of Catholicism general acknowledges Christ as at least one of the mediators between God and man, although there is a strong movement to define Mary as a "co-medatrix." Additionally, one would hope that Ephram's comment (in number 23), "in thee I have a secure salvation. Save me out of the pure mercy, O Lady," would be dismissed as excessive (since salvation should be properly ascribed to God and God's mercy. Likewise (in number 24) Ephrem calls Mary the "most holy consoler and directress of all" which would seem to tread on the Holy Spirit's unique role as comforter as well as God's role as the one who gives the decree of Providence, by which all is directed.

One would hope as well that pious Roman Catholic would balk at the description of Mary as "salvation of my soul" (in number 31) or the suggestion that she was an "unwedded" bride (same one). Certainly, if those do not cross the line, the idea of give her "our offering" or crying to her "Alleluia" (also in number 31) should make someone wake up and say, "Ok, now THAT is worshiping Mary."

Eighth, the quotations aren't even uniformly selected from among the fathers, Ephrem provides 5 of the quotations cited, although not all of those have to do with the Ark, specifically. The breakdown of the quotations is:

1. Anonymous 7 (Counting the 31st as Anonymous)
2. Ephrem 5
3. "Ambrose" 2 (both spurious, or -at best- dubious)
4. "Athanasius" 2 (both spurious, or -at best- dubious)
5. "Gregory Thaumaturgus" 2 (both notoriously spurious)
6. Dionysius 2
7. Hesychius 2
8. Theodotus of Ancrya 2
9. Chrysippus 1
10. Hippolytus 1
11. Jerome 1
12. Cyril 1
13. Methodius 1
14. Venantius Fortunatus 1
15. Proclus 1
16. Zeno 1
(17. Romanos the Melodist - if we count the attribution mentioned in Mr. Ray's parenthetical remarks on the 31st item)

Ninth, the quotations don't always accurately represent the father to whom they are assigned. For example, Hippolytus viewed the Ark as a type of Christ himself, but Mr. Ray quotes Hippolytus as though to suggest that Hippolytus viewed the Ark as Mary.

So, what's left of the quotations - of those things that actually talk about the Ark of the Covenant and whose authorship appears to be authentic? A small handful is all Mr. Ray has. Even among those, there is some interdependence. For example, Chrysippus (number 3) apparently relied on Hesychius (numbers 14-15).

Turning now to provide notes, where they may be valuable, with respect to each of the 31 quotations:

1. Proclus

As mentioned above, Proclus' point in identifying Mary with an Ark is simply to highlight Jesus' own divinity. Thus, Nicholas Constans explains, "The identification of the Theotokos with the ark of the covenant underlines her role as 'God-bearer,' so that the divine promise to "dwell in the midst of the daughters of Sion" (Zeph. 3:15) is fulfilled in her conception of Christ. (Proclus of Constantinople and the cult of the Virgin in late antiquity, Nicholas Constas, p. 272)

2. Ephrem

In this one, Mr. Ray follows Livius' bracketed indications that the "rib" and "ark" mentioned refer to Mary, although it is better (in context) to refer the "rib" to Eve (not Mary) and to refer the Ark to the actual ark.
With the weapon of the deceiver the First-born clad Himself, that with the weapon that killed, He might restore to life again! With the tree wherewith he slew us, He delivered us. With the wine which maddened us, with it we were made chaste! With the rib that was drawn out of Adam, the wicked one drew out the heart of Adam. There rose from the Rib a hidden power, which cut off Satan as Dagon: for in that Ark a book was hidden that cried and proclaimed concerning the Conqueror! There was then a mystery revealed, in that Dagon was brought low in his own place of refuge! The accomplishment came after the type, in that the wicked one was brought low in the place in which he trusted! Blessed be He Who came and in Him were accomplished the mysteries of the left hand, and the right hand. Fulfilled was the mystery that was in the Lamb, and fulfilled was the type that was in Dagon. Blessed is He Who by the True Lamb redeemed us, and destroyed our destroyer as He did Dagon!

3. Chrysippus

As noted above, the "ark truly royal" and "ark most precious" is described as having a pilot and merchant, which means it is more like Noah's ark than like the ark of the covenant.

4. Hippolytus

Even in the quotation provided (from the second half of the quotation), one can see that Hippolytus is referring to Jesus himself as the Ark. Recall as well what Hippolytus said (taken from Roberts and Donaldson's Ante-Nicean Fathers):
From the Commentary by the holy bishop and martyr Hippolytus on The Lord is my Shepherd
And, moreover, the ark made of imperishable wood was the Saviour Himself. For by this was signified the imperishable and incorruptible tabernacle (of the Lord) Himself, which gendered no corruption of sin. For the sinner, indeed, makes this confession: "My wounds stank and were corrupt because of my foolishness." But the Lord was without sin, made of imperishable wood, as regards His humanity; that is, of the virgin and the Holy Ghost inwardly, and outwardly of the word of God, like an ark overlaid with purest gold.

Moreover, the quotation itself from Hippolytus has been butchered, as one can see from looking at the second half of the quotation provided by Mr. Ray. Consider (from the same patristic collection) the quotation in a better translation:
At that time, then, the Saviour appeared and showed His own body to the world, (born) of the Virgin, who was the "ark overlaid with pure gold," with the Word within and the Holy Spirit without; so that the truth is demonstrated and the "ark" made manifest. From the birth of Christ, then, we must reckon the 500 years that remain to make up the 6000, and thus the end shall be. And that the Saviour appeared in the world, bearing the imperishable ark, His own body, at a time which was the fifth and half, John declares: "Now it was the sixth hour," he says intimating by that, one-half of the day.
Incidentally, we could add Hippolytus' view that the end of the world would be around the year 500, to be a further doctrine that clearly couldn't be held by Mr. Ray. But the main point here is that the referent as to who the ark is can be seen to be ambiguous at first (leading to the imagination that it was the virgin mother of our Lord), but is clarified in the same paragraph as well as by reference to other of Hippolytus' works.

5. Ambrose

This quotation is from "Sermo XLII" (Semon 42) from among Ambrose's works. Livius indicates that this is not authentic Ambrose with the "Int. Opp." designator that we saw him using previously regarding Pseudo-Gregory. With respect to the attribution of this work, Migne (PL 17(2):709) states: "Cur hunc sermonem nominatim cuipiam Patri potius quam alteri assignemus, nihil occurrit; ne vero Ambrosianum esse putemus, nihil non reclamat." (Why we assign this sermon by the name of this particular father rather than other, nothing comes to mind; we believe this not to truly be Ambrose's, everything contradicts [such an attribution].) To paraphrase, there's no good reason to think this is Ambrose.

6. Cyril

In the quotation provided, the Ark is Christ, and Mary is the temple.

7. Breviarium in Psalterium

In the quotation provided, Mary's body is a tabernacle. No mention of any ark.

8-9. Athanasius

These are from that spurious/dubious work we addressed in the previous series. These are 2 of the 3 quotations that were not taken from Livius' work - the 3rd is item 31, below.

10-11. Dionysius

In the quotations provided, the Ark is not mentioned, Christ is the priest, and Mary is the tabernacle.

12-13. Gregory Thaumaturgus

These are from the other spurious source we previously addressed.

14-15. Hesychius

These quotations don't specify that the ark involved is the ark of the covenant. Instead, the ark seems to be a box that holds the gem/pearl. It appears that perhaps a better (or, at least, another) quotation to provide would be the one used by Benedict XVI in his General Audience on 14 September 2004, where he said:
For example, the analogy Hesychius of Jerusalem, a priest in the first half of the fifth century, was to make between verse 8 and the Incarnation of Jesus is significant. In his Second Homily on the Mother of God, he addresses the Virgin in these words:

"Upon you and upon the One born of you, David does not cease to sing to the zither: "Rise, O Lord, and come to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your sanctification' (cf. Ps 132[131]: 8). What is "the ark of your sanctification?'". Hesychius replies: "The Virgin Mother of God, of course. For if you are the pearl, she is rightly the ark; if you are the sun, the Virgin must necessarily be called the sky; and if you are the uncontaminated flower, then the Virgin will be the plant of incorruption, the paradise of immortality" (Testi mariani del primo millennio, I, Rome, 1988, pp. 532-533).
Clearly, Benedict makes the link to the ark of the covenant, although, again Hesychius actually mentions only that the ark contains the pearl.

16. Zeno

In the quotation provided, Mary is the tabernacle.

17. Methodius

This quotation, from the middle to the late 9th century, is about the best one that Mr. Ray provided, as it does say that the Ark of the Covenant typified Mary, and it says so explicitly, as well as connecting it to the cult of Mary.

18-19. Theoditus of Ancyra

In the quotations provided, Mary is the tabernacle and the temple.

20. Ambrose

This is the same spurious/dubious work as before (item 5, above). Here, at least, there is some warning of the pseudo-graphic character of the work. It is disappointing, however, that this uncertainty is expressed as "The author is uncertain, but there is nothing to show that he is not S. Ambrose." In fact, as noted above, there's no reason to think it is Ambrose.

21. Jerome

In this quotation, the ark is the "spouse of Christ." Mary is Christ's mother, but not particularly his spouse. Furthermore, the person to whom this letter is directed is Eustochium, not Mary. Thus, the second-person references and the vocative references are to Eustochium, not to Mary. When he speaks of the "spouse of Christ" here, Jerome is speaking of Eustochium, a virgin embarking on a monastic life. He's not talking about Mary.

22. Unknown Author

In the quotation provided, Mary is the tabernacle.

23. Ephrem

The "Ark" in question is unclear from the quotation. Also, as noted above, the theology of this quotation is questionable, and one wonders whether Mr. Ray intends to endorse it.

24. Ephrem

The "ark" mentioned may well be the ark of the covenant. It should be noted, however, that this is just one of about a half dozen items to which the Mother of Jesus is compared in this short paragraph quotation. As well, as noted above, there is some questionable theology expressed, that one assumes Mr. Ray would not be so impious as to adopt for himself.

25. Ephrem

In the quotation provided, Mary is the "mercy-seat of the afflicted." The mercy-seat in the Old Testament was actually, in essence, the top portion of the ark of the covenant. So, this is a little different imagery, but it was doubtless thrown in because of the paucity of relevant patristic quotations. As above, there are numerous other comparisons made in the text, and some are questionable in their theology (for example, calling Mary "fountain of grace") and the claim that she's the "best mediatress between God and man" would seem to directly conflict with Jesus' claim to be the only mediator between God and man.

26. Ephrem

In the quotation provided, Mary is the stone tables of the law.

27. Venantius Fortunatus

An ark is mentioned, but it is not clear what kind of ark the author has in mind, based on the quotation provided. The quotation itself is in a metered rhyme (although Mr. Ray present it in paragraph form), which makes one immediately question how much liberty has been taken in the translation. Unfortunately, only the alleged author is identified, and not the particular work. Thankfully, I was able to track it down. It is the Hymn called "The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky" The Latin original is:

1) QUEM terra, pontus, aethera
colunt, adorant, praedicant,
trinam regentem machinam
claustrum Mariae baiulat.

2) Cui Luna, Sol, et omnia
deserviunt per tempora,
perfusa caeli gratia,
gestant Puellae viscera.

2a) Mirantur ergo saecula,
quod angelus fert semina,
quod aure virgo concipit
et corde credens parturit.

3) Beata Mater, munere,
cuius supernus Artifex,
mundum pugillo continens,
ventris sub arca clausus est.

4) Beata caeli nuntio,
fecunda Sancto Spiritu,
desideratus Gentibus,
cuius per alvum fusus est.

5) Iesu, Tibi sit gloria,
qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

The quotation in question is (obviously) of verse 3, but the context does not clarify for us whether the ark of the covenant or some other ark is intended. The second half of the hymn (which is used as a hymn on its own) does not shed any further light, although we do see some of the same themes we have seen in other fathers of the restoration of Eve, etc.).

1) O GLORIOSA domina
excelsa super sidera,
qui te creavit provide,
lactas sacrato ubere.

2) Quod Eva tristis abstulit,
tu reddis almo germine;
intrent ut astra flebiles,
sternis benigna semitam.

3) Tu regis alti ianua
et porta lucis fulgida;
vitam datam per Virginem,
gentes redemptae, plaudite.

4) Patri sit Paraclito
tuoque Nato gloria,
qui veste te mirabili
circumdederunt gratiae. Amen.

28. Ethiopic Hymn

In the quotation provided, Mary is the Holy of Holies (the innermost chamber of the Tabernacle) and the box that contained the manna. The ark is not mentioned.

29. Ethiopic Hymn

In the quotation provided, Mary is Jerusalem, the city of God. The ark is not mentioned.

30. Ethipic Hymn

In the quotation provided, an ark is mentioned, but one cannot determine from the quotation whether the ark of the covenant, or some other ark, is intended.

31. Orthodox Hymn

Some of the theological problems of this hymn are discussed above. The ark mentioned is not specifically stated as being the ark of the covenant, although it is a gilded ark, which would be unlikely to be a comparison to Noah's ark.


Mr. Ray's inability to handle the church fathers has been adequately demonstrated by this paper. Whether we consider him simply a dishonest salesman of snake oil, passing it off as holy oil, or whether we consider him a rube, duped by his church, it is hard to be sure. Whichever is the case, Mr. Ray's paper demonstrates a number of important points that have been set forth above. Most notably, Mr. Ray's paper demonstrates the danger he poses to those within his church that look up to him as some sort of teacher. This guy clearly doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to the church fathers, and yet people repeatedly rely upon Mr. Ray's teaching, as though it were correct or worthy of trust.

I hope that this paper will at least permit those more interested in the truth to have a starting point from which to help to demonstrate to Mr. Ray's followers that Mr. Ray's teachings regarding the fathers show that he hasn't yet gotten deep into history. The deeper I get in history, the more reasons I find to reject the ahistorical (lacking any legitimate historical support) and contra-Biblical (opposed to the Bible) teachings of the modern-day bishop of Rome.


The Importance of Irenaeus

An anonymous reader asked: Why are the witings of St. Irenaeus now so suddenly important[?] I thought that his relics were sacked by the Calvinists becaused he was alleged to be a heretic, ie., he is a proponent of Free Will and that his other writings do not support TULIP.

The importance of Irenaeus is merely historical. In many ways, Irenaeus is notable more for what he did not say, than for what he did say. Of course, we have only a limited amount of what he wrote and said, but what we find in those writings is some amount of evidence as to what was believed and held in his day. The process of preserving his writings has not been unbiased, and has been subject to some serious "selection" concerns. Nevertheless, considered with the appropriate caveats, Irenaeus gives us a picture into the mind of some Christians of the late 2nd century.

It (Irenaeus' writings) is not infallible, and it is not our rule of faith, but it is interesting - just as the writings of Calvin and Aquinas are interesting but not the rule of faith.

Irenaeus' alleged remains disappeared when Calvinists destroyed a shrine where they were supposedly held. Whether they were actually there or not, we cannot know with certainty. Why the shrine was destroyed is better assigned to the fact that Calvinists oppose the veneration of the dead, more than any antipathy for the teachings of Ireneaus on any particular point. Unfotunately, as far as I know, the details are sparse as to any stated reason for the shrine's destruction, and no information regarding what happened to the interred remains has come to light in subsequent years.

One would not be surprised if the Calvinists simply buried Irenaeus' remains in an unmarked grave to prevent further idolatry, just as the bronze serpent was piously destroyed by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4) because people had come to venerate it.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Further Response to Dyer

Dyer has produced a further response (link) and my response to him is below.

Dyer wrote: "1. Turretinfan is at it again, in an audio response to my audio response, found here. To begin with, he says I mischaracterize the reformed position according to Charles Hodge about Jesus suffering the wrath of God, which is not true. Charles Hodge most definitely held to this awful, anti-Trinitarian view. Turretinfan says I misquoted, because Hodge was simply laying out various views. On the contrary--it is most certainly his view."

a) My objection was to the idea that Hodge held that Jesus had to spend an eternity in hell. That was not Hodge's view, though Mr. Dyer made it sound like that.

b) Hodge, of course, held the perfectly orthodox view that Jesus suffered the wrath of God.

c) Mr. Dyer has not shown that this orthodox view is anti-trinitarian, nor (apparently) can he do so. We've given him several tries to do so, and all we can do is ask him again to try to set forth his demonstration.

Dyer wrote: "Hodge clearly says that the Father turned His favor from the Son for a period."

I answer: ok

Dyer continued: "That is an undeniable division in the Trinity, if one accepts the orthodox view that Jesus is a divine Person."

I answer: Why on earth should that be? Mr. Dyer just asserts this, but he in no way substantiates this.

Dyer continued: "Note that Hodge doesn't want to go there, as its "vain to enquire." Yes, it is, because its heretical."

I answer: That's just a silly argument from Hodge's unwillingness to speculate.

Dyer continued: "For more examples of this heresy, Nick of Nick's Catholic Blog has listed several quotes here."

I answer: I'm actively debating "Nick" on the topic of the atonement, and so (in fairness to Nick) I'll decline to address Nick's quotations using this mechanism, as that might be viewed as trying to circumvent the word limits imposed on that debate. The debate will be over in a month or two, at which point I will be free to respond at greater length if need be.

Dyer again: "2. Turretinfan goes on to remark that St. Augustine had some things in common with Rome, but others in common with Protestantism. He implies its the same with St. Athanasius. This is not the case. I showed last year in this article that St. Augustine is thoroughly a Roman Catholic, and its not just "monasticism" as Turretinfan tries to say. St. Augustine was a Catholic Bishop. Consider his view of the papacy, as shown here."

I answer:

a) I don't know why it is so difficult for Mr. Dyer to accept that Athanasius and Augustine both had points of agreement with the Reformed church as well as points of agreement with his (Dyer's) church. It's like he wants to exclusively "own" the early church.

b) But, the early church cannot be "owned" by anyone. They are who they are, which was neither "Protestant" nor "Roman Catholic." That's why I continue to insist that it is improper to pick a few doctrines where a particular father is not "X" (whether "X" is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Reformed) and then conclude that a particular father is consequently "Y" (where "Y" is whatever the person making the claim himself is). This is not only an absurd anachronism, it is a display of one's ignorance of the full range of any particular father's beliefs as expressed in writing.

c) Certainly, on particular doctrines, we can say that a particular father held to "the Roman position" or "the Reformed position," but what I'm objecting to here is therefore concluding that they were "thoroughly" this or that, based on one or a few points of agreement.

d) Augustine's view of the papacy was not the same as post-Vatican I Roman Catholicism's view. This is the sort of undeniable historical truth that everyone who has seriously explored the topic has to agree. If Dyer is suggesting otherwise, and it sounds like he is, then he is either ignorant of the definition of papal infallibility in Vatican I, or ignorant of Augustine's mode of thought.

Dyer continued: "Turretinfan says St. Athanasius had no view of papal authority as we do, yet he hasn't read much of St. Athanasius, since had he done so, he would know St. Athanasius, an Eastern Patriarch, appealed to Rome to Pope St. Julius. for condemnation of Arius. All one has to do is read his Apologia Contra Arianos, which I have."

I answer: The idea that Athanasius appealed to a bishop of Rome is an example of Athanasius not acting like a modern Reformed person. There is no doubt about that. But why has Dyer conveniently forgotten about Athanasius' opposition to Pope Liberius, Julius' successor? If one wants to deal honestly with Athanasius, one has to recognize that parts of Athanasius not only that agree with one's theology, but that disagree with it as well. It seems that Dyer would prefer to remember only a part of Athanasius' life and writings, but not the remainder of it.

Dyer wrote: "Yes, I am quoting a second-hand work, but I've read Contra Arioanos. Within, St. Athanasius reproduces the entire Arian contrversy, including the papal appeals. It can be read here. I'm willing to bet, however, Turretinfan has not read it. He's sure, nevertheless, about the Christianity of Augustine and Athanasius' day."(errors in original)

I answer: The entire Arian controvery would span many volumes (with Athanasius' "Against the Arians" providing a partial summary). If, however, Mr. Dyer can find one time where Athanasius claims that the doctrine of the Arians is wrong using the reasoning that (a) the pope says it is wrong, and (b) the pope is infallible, then I'll be happy to revise my view of Athanasius. I'm sure I can give plain statements where Athanasius appealled to the infallibility of Scripture - does Dyer think that Athanasius appealed in as clear terms to anything else as infallible besides Scripture alone?

Dyer wrote: "3. Inregards to Jaroslav Pelikan, with whom Turretinfan is obviously unfamiliar, since he didn't know he was the chief editor of Luther's works and became Serbian Orthodox, I admit to not knowing the Serbian pronunciations of names (as he made fun of me for doing). And yes, Pelikan if of Serbian descent. However, Pelikan is world renowned as both a patristics scholar and asa textual scholar. I've read several of his books, and I highly recommend them, including others beyond his 5 volume set, such as his work on the Cappadocians, his book on textual traditions, and his book on Mary in history. I mean, seriously--we used Pelikan at Bahnsen Seminary."

I answer: As with so many things, Dyer is wrong in assuming that I'm unfamiliar with Jaroslav Pelikan. There's no doubt that he's a famous historian - and it is for that he is known, not for being a great theologian. If you recall, however, Mr. Dyer cited him as a theologian in his original audio clip, and I took him to task for that. He may well have edited/translated one edition of Luther's works (actually, an impressive 22-volume edition in English, if I recall correctly), but (of course) the primary editions of Luther's works came out long before Pelikan was a twinkle in his father's eye.

Dyer continued: "Turretinfan continues to say I do't understand Nestorianism when what I mentioned was various possibilities for Nestorian outcomes. "

I answer: I think in his attempts to be polemical against Calvinism, Mr. Dyer brings a lot into the definition of Nestorianism beyond what Nestorianism actually is.

Dyer further stated: "There are different ways of being Nestorian, since Nestorius was not always clear, and even admitted a "hypostatic union," yet always denied a single subject, as McGuckin explains."

I answer: As I've pointed out numerous times already, Nestorius did not define Nestorianism, his theological opponents did. Trying to get Dyer to recognize this difference between Nestorius and Nestorianism seems to be as difficult as getting Amyraldians to recognize the difference between Calvin and Calvinism.

Dyer continued: "St. Cyril did not misunderstand Nestorius, and I have read selections of actual writings of Nestorius at"

I answer: It's hard to say whether Cyril misunderstood Nestorius or whether Cyril knowingly misrepresented Nestorius. Nevertheless, it does not appear, on the historical record that we have before us, that Cyril accurately represented Nestorius in his characterization's of Nestorius' views. I'm not sure why Dyer is so set on defending Cyril on this point. Why not just admit that Cyril was fallible, and may have misunderstood Nestorius for a variety of reasons? Nestorius' own words can be found (to a limited extent) on-line here (link).

Dyer continued: "I mentioned Pelikan on this because he quotes from Nestorian works."

I answer: I only addressed the Pelikan issue because it seemed that Mr. Dyer wanted to consider him a theologian rather than an historian.


Princes of this World?

An anonymous reader asked: In 1st Corinthians 2:7-8 who do you think are the "princes of this world"? and what is their goal? Thanks in advance.

I answer:

1 Corinthians 2:6-8
6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The princes of this world refers either specifically to the Jewish leaders or to both the Jewish and Roman leaders. Either way, the point is that those with power in this world did not, when Christ came, recognize who he was. Thus, the bigger point is that not only are the general masses of the world spiritually unwise, but so also are the elite of this world.

Their goals are not mentioned specifically in the passage. Generally, the princes of this world seek for themselves power, riches, and glory in this life. In contrast, in this life we receive persecution and sometimes death, but we seek good things in the life to come, because we seek the city of God.


Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Excommunication for Abortion

In a letter that certainly surprised me, Roman Catholic Archbishop Rino Fisichella criticized the equal application of his own church's law in the case of a young Brazilian girl who received an abortion (link to story about letter). Apparently, Mr. Fisichella believes that excommunication should not be automatic, since he believes that the murder of the girls unborn twins was necessary to save her "innocent life."
Remarkably, the article doesn't identify the odd double-standard of excommunicating the doctors and the girl's mother, but not excommunicating the man who incestuously raped his nine-year-old step-daughter, placing the mother in the dilemma of killing her grandchildren or risking the life of her daughter.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Response to Jay Dyer's Audio Remarks

Mr. Dyer has provided an audio response (audio - corresponding page at Dyer's blog) to several of the comments I have provided to his critique of Calvinism. For the bigger context, including my thirteen-part series defending Calvinism from his accusations, see my index of interactions with Mr. Dyer (link).

I've broken up the response into three parts, since it is around 30 minutes long (compared to about 50 minutes for Mr. Dyer's audio response).

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

In the series I challenge a number of significant assertions by Mr. Dyer. To put it very briefly, I think Mr. Dyer's claims seem to hang on what he thinks are the logical consequences of Reformed doctrines, but it seems that Mr. Dyer has erred in understanding what the Reformed authors teach, at least some of the time.