Friday, September 11, 2009

What About King Saul?

In response to my post regarding the one true shepherd (Christ) as contrasted with the Roman bishop who seeks essentially to usurp that role (link to my post) I have received a rather typical response. Rather than beginning by characterizing the response, let me provide it to you:
In my reading of Catholic literature, I have never came across any author/theologian/bishop who has denied the fact that our Lord, Jesus Christ is the “single chief Shepard” of His Church. Yet with that said, I also do not of know any Catholic author/theologian/bishop who would deny that there is one true King of God’s Kingdom; and yet, Scripture speaks of many who were anointed as kings of God’s earthly Kingdom. If the one, true, single King can (and did) appoint earthly representatives to the position of king, why is the notion that He has appointed an earthly chief shepherds such a difficult concept for you?
(Comment by Roman Catholic David Waltz - spelling, grammar, and any other errors are his)

Now that you've already read the comment, I'll provide my commentary on it. As I will show below, the comment contains misdirection/misinformation, scriptural confusion, ecclesiastical confusion, and confusion of reasoning. What's sad is that this response (while it comes from someone who has not, to my knowledge, promoted himself as an apologist for his church) is not far from the typical response we see on this matter, and consequently worthy of a thorough response.

I. Misdirection / Misinformation

The first stage of the comment is misdirection and/or misinformation. No one, we are told, denies that Jesus is the single chief Shepherd. Here's the problem, while there may be folks who claim that Jesus is the chief Shepherd, an official position ("official" in the sense that it is to be found in a papal encyclical, which - of course - is different from it being a de fide dogma) is that, on earth, the pope replaces Jesus:
Whoever, by Divine Commission, takes the place on earth of Jesus Christ, becomes thereby the Chief Shepherd who, far from being able to rest content with simply guiding and protecting the Lord's Flock which has beer; [sic for "been"] confided to him to rule, fails in his special duty and obligations if he does not strive by might and main to win over and to join to Christ all who are still without the Fold.
- Pius XI, Rerum Ecclesiae, Section 1, 28 February 1926

That was not a one-time slip-up. We see the same title applied again to the Roman bishop (by himself):
Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion.
- Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, Section 11, 1 June 1928

This is not something that has disappeared with Vatican 2:
It is in friendship and brotherhood that I come to you today, desiring to strengthen the respect and love that unites us. But I come especially as chief Shepherd of the Catholic Church, to make a pastoral visit in this land.
- John Paul II, Address of John Paul II at the Arrival in Papua New Guinea, Section 2, 7 May 1984 (emphasis in original)

Perhaps even more clearly than in any of the above quotations, we see the matter expressed in an approved quotation from Bernard of Clairvaux (lived about A.D. 1090 – 1153), sometimes called "the last of the fathers":
Then he addresses to him these powerful words: "Who art thou.? [sic] Thou art the High Priest and the Sovereign Pontiff. Thou art the prince of pastors and the heir of the apostles . . . by thy jurisdiction, a Peter; and by thy unction, a Christ. Thou art he to whom the keys have been delivered and the sheep entrusted. There are indeed other gate-keepers of heaven, and there are other shepherds of the flock; but thou art in both respects more glorious than they in proportion as thou hast inherited a more excellent name. They have assigned to them particular portions of the flock, his own to each; whereas thou art given charge of all the sheep, as the one Chief Shepherd of the whole flock. Yea, not only of the sheep, but of the other pastors also art thou the sole supreme Shepherd."[34] And again: "He who wishes to discover something which does not belong to thy charge, will have to go outside the world."[35]
[34] Ibid. [De Consid.], II, c. 8; Migne, P. L., CLXXXII, 751-c, d.
[35] Ibid., III, c. L; Migne, P. L., CLXXXII, 757-b.
- Pius XII, Doctor Mellifluus (aka Bernard of Clairvaux), Section 25, 24 May 1953 (quotations taken from Bernard - elipsis in original)

Without a doubt, while Roman bishops (and others in that church) may often refer to Jesus as the "chief shepherd" they also claim that title for themselves, even to the point of acknowledging that they view themselves as being in the place of Christ. As with so many issues, they may attempt to deny that it is a contradiction that both they and Jesus be the "sole supreme Shepherd" but eventually folks see through that charade.

II. Scriptural Confusion

Next, we are presented with Scriptural confusion. We are given an argument from analogy, namely that Saul, David, and Solomon were kings over Israel, and consequently that a single earthly sovereign over the church is acceptable to God. The thickets of error are thick here. Let's try to cull through them:

(1) Analogy to Israel's Kings is Correct

1 Samuel 8:4-9
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, "Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them."

Israel's human kings were a symbol of their rejection of God. We agree with the analogy to the appointment of a human pontiff over the church. It too is a sign of a rejection of God. Because they will not truly have Jesus to be the head of their church, they seek an earthly head when they should be content with rule by elders and God.

(2) Why not High (or "chief") Priest Analogy?

What is odd about the analogy to the kings is not so much the ignorance of the Scriptural condemnation of Israel's human regime, but overlooking the more obvious parallel of chief priest. There was a chief priest in the Old Covenant, why couldn't there be one in the New?

After all, the title of "chief priest" is also not something that Roman pontiff has failed to appropriate for himself:
But since the successor of Peter is one, and those of the Apostles are many, it is necessary to examine into the relations which exist between him and them according to the divine constitution of the Church. Above all things the need of union between the bishops and the successors of Peter is clear and undeniable. This bond once broken, Christians would be separated and scattered, and would in no wise form one body and one flock. "The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests" (S. Hieronymus, Dialog, contra Luciferianos, n. 9).
Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, Section 14, 29 June 1896

(As an aside, Jerome's reference to "chief priest" there is not to the Roman Bishop but to every bishop: "The well-being of a Church depends upon the dignity of its chief-priest, and unless some extraordinary and unique functions be assigned to him, we shall have as many schisms in the Churches as there are priests. Hence it is that without ordination and the bishop's license neither presbyter nor deacon has the power to baptize." (Jerome, Dialog Against the Luciferians, Section 9) Thus, it is a misleading use of the quotation. In the text of the dialog itself, moreover, Jerome refers to orthodoxy (not a man) as the chief priest: "For the Holy Ghost must have a clean abode: nor will He become a dweller in that temple which has not for its chief priest the true faith." (Jerome, Dialog Against the Luciferians, Section 9))

Nevertheless, notice that Leo XIII plainly applies the title his own office. So, it would not be totally surprising if the commenter had made this analogy likewise. Why, then, did he not use it?

Perhaps the reason is that Hebrews makes clear that Christ fulfills the role of the Old Testament high priest. We see this several times:

Hebrew 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 3:1-2
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

Hebrews 4:14-15
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

Hebrews 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 7:26-27
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

Hebrews 8:1-2
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Hebrews 9:11-12
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 10:19-22
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

These passages make it abundantly clear that Christ himself is the high priest of the New Covenant, and that consequently there is no room for another high priest, and especially not a merely human high priest. This presumably explains why our Roman Catholic commentator was reluctant to make such a claim and analogical comparison.

(3) Christ our King

What the commenter has overlooked, however, is that Christ is likewise the fulfillment of the kings of Israel. He is not only the high priest but he is also the King. Jesus has not only the Melchizedek priesthood but the Davidic throne.

Luke 1:32-33
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

This was a fulfillment of God's promise to David:

Psalm 132:11 The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

As also prophesied by the great prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

And Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 33:14-21:
"Behold, the days come," saith the LORD, "that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.'" For thus saith the LORD; "David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually."
And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, "Thus saith the LORD; 'If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.'"
Jesus is that "Branch" that fulfills the promise to David and the priests. Jesus is both our King and High Priest, the fulfillment of both those types and shadows.

We see the same thing prophesied in Zechariah.

Zechariah 6:9-13:
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, "Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; and speak unto him, saying, 'Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.'"
This prophesy had its first fulfilment in a man named Joshua the son of Josedech, but its primary fulfillment was in Jesus Christ, who rebuilt the temple of his own body in three days and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.

As Peter preached, Acts 2:30-32:
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
We also find confirmation in other passages:

Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Hebrews 8:1-2
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Hebrews 10:12-13
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Indeed, Jesus is our eternal King:

Hebrews 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

III. Ecclesiastical Confusion

(1) Limits on the Pride of the Popes

Now while the popes have exalted themselves, thinking to place themselves as governors over the Church of God, I have yet to find a place where one referred to himself as "King" of the church. Perhaps it is there in some place that I have yet to find, but none has been so bold in recent memory. Was David a divinely ordained king? Yes. Is the pope? Certainly not, nor (apparently) does he even blasphemously take such a title on himself, whatever analogies his servants may use.

(2) Chief Steward Analogy?

More frequently, Rome's apologists will attempt to make the analogy that although perhaps the pope cannot be the king of the church, he can be a sort of vice-roy or prime minister. They attempt to assert that the "power of the keys" has something to do with this notion, attempting to make a connection to a reference in Isaiah regarding someone who had the "key of David." I've discussed this more fully in a previous post (link), but suffice to say that this old testament prophecy:

Isaiah 22:22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

had a preliminary fulfillment at the time, and a primary fulfillment in Christ, as it is written:

Revelation 3:7-8
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

IV. Confusion of Reasoning

I was going to call this section "rational confusion," for the sake of parallelism, but the connotation in English would be wrong. The confusion of reasoning in this comment lies in trying to change the question from "did" to "could." Since, by now, the comment may no longer be fresh in your mind, I'll remind you what he said: "If the one, true, single King can (and did) appoint earthly representatives to the position of king, why is the notion that He has appointed an earthly chief shepherds [sic] such a difficult concept for you?"

Notice how the comment seems to argue (implicitly, of course) from the idea that God could appoint a king while still being the one true King, to the idea that God did (just assumed, not demonstrated) appoint an earthly chief shepherd. From a logical standpoint, that misses the main argument by simply assuming what needs to be demonstrated. It needs to be demonstrated that God did appoint such a chief shepherd.

What's worse about this argument is that it opens a really unnecessary can of worms, but doesn't close it. Is it really possible for there to be one earthly head of the church? The argument from analogy has failed, as we saw above. Furthermore, while God is omnipotent, if appointing such an earthly monarch over the church would tread on Christ's unique prerogatives, then it would certainly be impossible for God to do what our commenter suggests, because it would violate God's character.

The final confusion of reasoning is the commenter's attempt to suggest that non-acceptance of Rome's claims is the result not of Rome having a weak argument, but of a flaw in the critic. While a comment such as, "such a difficult concept for you?" may sometimes be justified (particularly after a thorough and logical explanation has been provided) it is easy to abuse it, substituting this kind of remark for an argument in support of the thesis being considered.


The comments have been addressed, and it has been shown that they were misleading, confused (both Scripturally and ecclesiastically), and illogical. There is no reasonable defense for the Roman bishop's attempted usurpation either of Christ's unique role as Shepherd, nor of his unique role of King and Priest, which are connected to that Shepherdly role. Likewise, as well, though we have not discussed it above, we might add that the Roman magisterium (by adding to the Word of God) treads also on Christ's prophetic role. Hopefully the demonstration above will help to shed some light on the errors in the typical response to the idea that the pope is somehow analogous to the kings of Israel, and perhaps it will open some eyes as to the usurpation in which the papacy is involved.


John XXIII on the Sacraments, the Mass, and the Priesthood

The following are a pair of consecutive items (quoted in full) from the papal encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram, by pope John XXIII, on 29 June 1959. J23 writes:
74. As for unity of worship, the Catholic Church has had seven sacraments, neither more nor less, from her beginning right down to the present day. Jesus Christ left her these sacraments as a sacred legacy, and she had never ceased to administer them throughout the Catholic world and thus to feed and foster the supernatural life of the faithful.

75. All this is common knowledge, and it is also common knowledge that only one sacrifice is offered in the Church. In this Eucharistic sacrifice Christ Himself, our Salvation and our Redeemer, immolates Himself each day for all of us and mercifully pours out on us the countless riches of His grace. No blood is shed, but the sacrifice is real, just as real as when Christ hung from a cross of Calvary.
(source - official Vatican website)

I. Exactly Seven Sacraments - 12th Century not 1st Century

As for J23's claim "As for unity of worship, the Catholic Church has had seven sacraments, neither more nor less, from her beginning right down to the present day," the claim is so historically untenable as to be naive at best. The "exactly seven sacraments" idea is the product of the 12th century, with Peter Lombard receiving the credit or blame for that doctrinal innovation (with Otto of Bamberg sometimes being given some secondary credit).

II. One Sacrifice - Many Sacrifices - Repetition - Perpetuation

J23's claim that "only one sacrifice is offered in the Church" has become popular these days among Roman Catholic apologists. Indeed, it is so emphasized that one can scarcely find a Roman Catholic these days who will acknowledge the concept of the "sacrifices of the mass" (plural).

What does J23 mean by what he says?

What he says in that sentence has to be harmonized with his other statement in the same section: "Christ Himself ... immolates Himself each day for all of us." That's where we encounter the repetition of the sacrifice. Most people don't have the word "immolate" in their daily vocabulary. Here's a standard definition:
IM'MOLATE, v.t. [L. immolo, to sacrifice; in and mola,meal sprinkled with salt, which was thrown on the head of the victim.]

1. To sacrifice; to kill, as a victim offered in sacrifice.

2. To offer in sacrifice.
(Webster's 1828 Dictionary)

To immolate means to slay - to kill - as a sacrificial victim. The idea that Christ is sacrificing himself daily is basis for viewing each mass as a sacrifice. The result is that Christ is immolated not once on Calvary but innumerable times.

In what sense then is there one sacrifice in Catholicism? You will be hard-pressed for a detailed explanation from the Roman pontiff. One way of looking it at is as there being only one category of sacrifice: there is no sacrifice of sheep, goats, or oxen, only of Christ.

Another way of looking at it is as a repetition of Christ's sacrifice. While this terminology is currently disfavored in Roman Catholic theology, we find it expressed plainly even in the fairly recent writings:
28 Just as Moses with the blood of calves had sanctified the Old Testament, (Cf. Ex 24,8) so also Christ Our Lord, through the institution of the Mystery of the Eucharist, with His own Blood sanctified the New Testament, whose Mediator He is. For, as the Evangelists narrate, at the Last Supper "He took bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: "This is My Body, given for you; do this for a commemoration of Me. And so with the cup, when supper was ended. This cup, he said, is the New Testament, in My Blood which is to be shed for you.'" (Lc 22,19-20; cf. Mt 26,26-28 Mc 14,22-24) And by bidding the Apostles to do this in memory of Him, He made clear His will that the same sacrifice be forever repeated.
(Mysterium Fidei, Paul VI, 3 September 1965)

However, in "ecumenical" materials we find explicit disclaimer of this sort of claim:
In other words, we are sacramentally united with Christ, as his body, in the great single act of his sacrifice, by which he entered into glory.[108] There can never be any repetition of that act; it happened once and for all (Hebrews 10:10).
- The Grace Given You in Christ, (connected to dialog with World Methodist Council), Section 131, 2006

And previously in the same dialog:
Roman Catholics can happily accept all these senses of the term, but they are also accustomed to speak of the sacrifice of the Mass as something which the church offers in all ages of her history. They see the eucharist not as another sacrifice adding something to Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, nor as a repetition of it, but as making present in a sacramental way the same sacrifice.
- The Dublin Report (connected to dialog with World Methodist Council), Section 66, 1976

We agree that the Eucharist is the memorial (anamnesis) of the crucified and risen Christ, of the entire work of reconciliation God has accomplished in him.[84] By memorial, Anglicans and Catholics both intend not merely a calling to mind of what God has done in the past but an effectual sacramental proclamation, which through the action of the Holy Spirit makes present what has been accomplished and promised once-and-for-all. In this sense, then, there is only one historical, unrepeatable sacrifice, offered once for all by Christ and accepted once for all by the Father, which cannot be repeated or added to.[85] The eucharistic memorial, however, makes present this once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ. It is therefore possible to say that “the Eucharist is a sacrifice in the sacramental sense, provided that it is clear that this is not a repetition of the historical sacrifice.”[86] “In the Eucharistic Prayer, the Church continues to make a perpetual memorial of Christ’s death, and his members, united with God and one another, give thanks for all his mercies, entreat the benefits of his passion on behalf of the whole Church, participate in these benefits, and enter into the movement of his self-offering.”[87] The action of the Church in the eucharistic celebration “adds nothing to the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross” but is rather a fruit of that sacrifice. In the eucharistic celebration Christ’s one sacrifice is made present for us.[88]
- Growing Together in Unity and Mission (connected with dialog with Anglicans), Chapter 5, Section 40

Yet we see much the same thought even after the dialog, although the word choice has changed so that we see it expressed as a "renewal":
He also instituted the priesthood as a sacrament of the New Covenant, so that the one sacrifice he offered to the Father in a bloody manner might be continually renewed in the Church in an unbloody manner, under the appearances of bread and wine.
- John Paul II, Homily of 1 April 1999, Section 2

and as a "perpetuation":
This union of the Mother and the Son in the work of redemption(57) reaches its climax on Calvary, where Christ "offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God" (Heb. 9:14) and where Mary stood by the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), "suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself with a maternal heart to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which she herself had brought forth"(58) and also was offering to the eternal Father."(59) To perpetuate down the centuries the Sacrifice of the Cross, the divine Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice, the memorial of His death and resurrection, and entrusted it to His spouse the Church,(60) which, especially on Sundays, calls the faithful together to celebrate the Passover of the Lord until He comes again.(61) This the Church does in union with the saints in heaven and in particular with the Blessed Virgin,(62) whose burning charity and unshakable faith she imitates.
- Marialis Cultis, Paul VI, 1974

The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which he instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until his return in glory.
- Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Question 271

The preferred method of expression currently is that the Eucharist "makes present" the one sacrifice:
The Eucharist is a memorial in the sense that it makes present and actual the sacrifice which Christ offered to the Father on the cross, once and for all on behalf of mankind. The sacrificial character of the Holy Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution, “This is my Body which is given for you” and “This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood that will be shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20). The sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one and the same sacrifice. The priest and the victim are the same; only the manner of offering is different: in a bloody manner on the cross, in an unbloody manner in the Eucharist.
- Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Question 280

The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it. What is repeated is its memorial celebration, its “commemorative representation” (memorialis demonstratio), which makes Christ's one, definitive redemptive sacrifice always present in time. The sacrificial nature of the Eucharistic mystery cannot therefore be understood as something separate, independent of the Cross or only indirectly referring to the sacrifice of Calvary.
- John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Chapter 1, Section 12 (17 April 2003)

But I have digressed. Consider the absurdity of the matter. Why would you need a memorial for something that is there? No one visits the memorial of a battle during the battle, and everyone recognizes that recreations or memorial representations of battles are not the real thing but a symbol or sign of the thing.

The reason for this bizarre claim that the sacrament is both the reality and a memorial is caused by Roman unwillingness to acknowledge her mistake in viewing each mass as a literal sacrifice of Christ. That view is wrong and inconsistent with there being only one sacrifice. The Scriptures plainly teach the "one sacrifice" view and Rome ought simply to submit to that, instead of trying to hold onto both views at the same time.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rufinus on the Creed, the Canon, and the Church

Further to my previous post (link), it is probably worthwhile providing a much longer extract from Rufinus with respect to his discussion of the Creed (capitals are found in the translation from which this is taken, and seems to indicate where Rufinus is quoting the creed):
35. Let this be enough on this subject. Next in the order of belief comes, AND IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. The detailed, rather lengthy account of Christ recorded above has reference to the mystery of His incarnation and passion. Being taken in connection with His person, it has formed an interruption which has held up my discussion of the Holy Spirit. If our theme were exclusively the Godhead, we should say at the outset, I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, and then, IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD: then in exactly the same way we should, without more ado, append, AND IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. All the intervening allusions to Christ, as I have pointed out, are concerned with His incarnate state. Consequently, we complete the mystery of the Trinity with our mention of the Holy Spirit. Just as we speak of the Father as one, there being no other Father, and of the only-begotten Son as one, there being no other only-begotten Son, so the Holy Spirit is also one, and there can be no other Holy Spirit. In order to bring out the distinction of Persons, you see, we employ separate terms expressive of relationship. Thus, He is to be taken as Father from whom are all things, and who Himself has no Father. The Third is the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as He proceeds from the mouth of God and sanctifies all things. At the same time, to emphasize the unity and identity of the Godhead in the Trinity, just as we say we believe IN GOD THE FATHER, prefixing the preposition IN, so we use the form IN CHRIST, HIS SON, and also IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. The meaning of what I have said will, however, be made plainer in the sequel.

36. Immediately after this clause follow the words, THE HOLY CHURCH, THE REMISSION OF SINS, THE RESURRECTION OF THE FLESH. The creed does not say: IN THE HOLY CHURCH, or IN THE REMISSION OF SINS, or IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE FLESH. Had the preposition been IN inserted, the force of these articles would have been identical with that of their predecessors. As it is, in the clauses in which our faith in the Godhead is laid down, we use the form, IN GOD THE FATHER, IN JESUS CHRIST HIS SON, and IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. In the other clauses, where the theme is not the Godhead but created beings and saving mysteries, the preposition IN is not interpolated. Hence we are not told to believe IN THE HOLY CHURCH, but that the Holy Church exists, speaking of it not as God, but as a Church gathered together for God. So Christians believe, not IN THE REMISSION OF SINS, but that there is a remission of sins, and not IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE FLESH, but that there is a resurrection of the flesh. Thus the effect of this monosyllabic preposition is to distinguish the Creator from His creatures, and to draw a boundary line between things divine and things human. It was this Holy Spirit, then, who inspired the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament, and the Gospels and the Apostles in the New. So the Apostle remarks: All Scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach. Consequently, it seems appropriate at this point, basing myself on the records of the Fathers, to enumerate the books of the Old and New Testaments which, according to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself and to have been entrusted by Him to the churches of Christ.

37. In the Old Testament, then, first of all five books by Moses have been handed down―Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; then Josue, the son of Nun, and Judges, together with Ruth; then four books of Kings, reckoned by the Jews as two, Paralipomenon [Chronicles], otherwise called the Book of Days; two books of Esdras, which the Jews count as one; and Esther. Of prophets we have Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, and, in addition, a single book of the Twelve Prophets. Job, also, and the Psalms of David are each of them one book. There are three which Solomon bequeathed to the churches, namely, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticle of Canticles. With these they completed the list of books belonging to the Old Testament. In the New there are four Gospels, those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles, composed by Luke; fourteen Epistles by the Apostle Paul; two by the Apostle Peter; one by James, brother of the Lord and Apostle; one by Jude; three by John; and the Apocalypse of John.

38. These are the writings which the Fathers included in the canon, and on which they desired the affirmations of our faith to be based. At the same time we should appreciate that there are certain other books which our predecessors designated ‘ecclesiastical’ rather than ‘canonical.’ Thus, there is the Wisdom of Solomon, as we call it; and another Wisdom, ascribed to the son of Sirach. This latter is known by the general title Ecclesiasticus among Latin-speaking people, the description pointing, not to the author of the book, but to the character of the writing. The Book of Tobias belongs to the same class, as do Judith and the books of the Machabees. In the New Testament we have the little work known as The Book of the Shepherd, or Hermas, and the book which is named The Two Ways, and The Judgment of Peter. They desired that all these should be read in the churches, but that appeal should not be made to them on points of faith. The other writings they designated ‘apocryphal,’ refusing to allow them to be read out in church. Such, the, is the traditional canon handed down to us by the Fathers. As I remarked above, I have thought this the proper place to draw attention to it for the information of catechumens receiving their first lessons in the Church and its faith, so that they may be in no doubt about the wellsprings from which their draughts of the word of God must be taken.

39. The next clause in the ordered statement of our faith runs, THE HOLY CHURCH. I have already explained in what precedes why they did not say IN THE HOLY CHURCH at this point too. So the faithful, having had the belief in one God mysteriously triune inculcated in the foregoing sections, are now in addition required to believe in the existence of one holy Church, a Church, that is, in which there is one faith and one baptism, and in which we believe in one God the Father, one Lord Jesus Christ His Son, and one Holy Spirit.
- Rufinus, A Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, 35-39. (pp. 71-74 of J.N.D. Kelly's translation in Ancient Christian Writers, Volume 20)

(Thanks to David King for his assistance in identifying and transcribing this quotation.)

Believing About the Holy Catholic Church


A perennial issue in our discussions with Roman Catholics is the issue of whether, in addition to believing God's word in Scripture, we ought also to trust (in a similar way) in the church. While nothing in Scripture suggests that the church is another rule of faith in addition to Scripture, such that we would accord the church the same credence we give to God and his written word, we are sometimes presented with folks who want to latch onto the creeds.

The so-called Apostles' Creed (not formulated by them, as some have supposed, but taken from the Scriptures that they left behind for us) includes a phrase regarding the "Holy Catholic Church," which is often seen as problematic for those who are unfamiliar with the meaning of the creed. The usual way in which this section of the creed is recited in English-speaking churches that recite it is thus:
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
Grammar of the Creed
The grammar of the creed makes a distinction that is not immediately apparent in English. What we "believe in" is God. He is the one in whom we trust. Thus, we "believe in" the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In contrast, we believe that there is a holy catholic church (not the Roman Catholic church, but the universal body of Christ: all those who believe on the name of the Lord), that the saints (by which mean again those who believe) ought to commune together until the Lord's return, that sins are forgiven by God on the merits of Christ, that the body will be resurrected and re-united to the soul, and that heaven will be eternal. Thus, we are not saying that we trust in the church despite the ambiguity of the English wording (as well as the ambiguity of the wording of the Constantinoplean Creed).

Schaff's Explanation

Perhaps it would be helpful to have more than the word of a pseudonymous blogger on this grammatical point. In Creeds of Christendom, historian Philip Schaff explains it this way:
Then, changing the language (credo in for credo with the simple accusative), the Creed professes to believe 'the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.'
- Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Volume 1, Chapter 2, Section 7

Paschasius' or Faustus' Testimony

The significance of this distinction was not lost on the ancients. Indeed, when we draw this distinction (which today we refer to as Sola Scriptura) we are in agreement with those ancient Christians whose writings have survived (even one from the Rome of that day, which had not descended to the depths of Rome today):

Paschasius, Deacon of Rome (flourished about A.D. 491 - 512) wrote:
Therefore thou sayest, ‘I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,’ because, in supplying the little syllable in, dost thou attempt to produce great darkness? We believe the Catholic Church as the mother of regeneration; we do not believe in the Church as in the Author of salvation. For when the universal Church confesses this of the Holy Ghost, can she also believe in herself? ... He who believes in the Church believes in man. For man is not of the Church, but the Church began to be from man. Desist therefore from this blasphemous persuasion, to think that thou oughtest to believe in any human creature: since thou must not in anywise believe in an angel or archangel ... We believe the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, everlasting life ... The unskillfulness of some have drawn, and taken the preposition ‘in’ from the sentence going next before, and put it to that which follows, imprudently adding thereto more than needed.
- Paschasius, Deacon of Rome, Two Books on the Holy Spirit, Book 1, Chapter 1 (This work is sometimes alternatively ascribed to Faustus of Riez who flourished from about A.D. 433 - 485)

Rufinus' Testimony

We see the same thing from Rufinus, about a century earlier, who made roughly the same point.

Tyrannius Rufinus (lived about A.D. 344 - 410) explains with reference to the Apostles' creed:
“The Holy Church; The Forgiveness of Sin, the Resurrection of This Flesh.” It is not said, “In the holy Church,” nor “In the forgiveness of sins,” nor “In the resurrection of the flesh.” For if the preposition “in” had been added, it would have had the same force as in the preceding articles. But now in those clauses in which the faith concerning the Godhead is declared, we say “In God the Father,” and “In Jesus Christ His Son,” and “In the Holy Ghost,” but in the rest, where we speak not of the Godhead but of creatures and mysteries, the preposition “in ” is not added. We do not say “We believe in the holy Church,” but “We believe the holy Church,” not as God, but as the Church gathered together to God: and we believe that there is “forgiveness of sins;” we do not say “We believe in the forgiveness of sins;” and we believe that there will be a “Resurrection of the flesh;” we do not say “We believe in the resurrection of the flesh.” By this monosyllabic preposition, therefore, the Creator is distinguished from the creatures, and things divine are separated from things human.
- Rufinus of Aquileia, A Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, Section 36

(for a larger context, see here)

Aquinas' Testimony

While we would certainly have some disagreements with the much later writings of Thomas Aquinas, we find some similar sentiments in his discussion:
Objection 5. Further, Augustine (Tract. xxix in Joan.) expounding the passage, "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1) says: "We believe Peter or Paul, but we speak only of believing 'in' God." Since then the Catholic Church is merely a created being, it seems unfitting to say: "In the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Reply to Objection 5. If we say: "'In' the holy Catholic Church," this must be taken as verified in so far as our faith is directed to the Holy Ghost, Who sanctifies the Church; so that the sense is: "I believe in the Holy Ghost sanctifying the Church." But it is better and more in keeping with the common use, to omit the 'in,' and say simply, "the holy Catholic Church," as Pope Leo [Rufinus, Comm. in Sym. Apost.] observes.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 2b, Question 1, Article 9

Notice how Aquinas agrees with the substance of the objection while seeking to find an acceptable sense for the words.


The idea of arguing that one should be "believe in" the church from the creed is an anachronistic misuse of the creed. It is as anachronistic as supposing that the term "Holy Catholic Church" was supposed to refer to the Roman Catholic church. Both the grammar of the creed (as noted by Schaff) as well as early Christian authors and even the most notable medieval scholastic.

With Alexander of Alexandria (died about A.D. 326), we affirm that we believe in the existence of only one body of Christ, relying on the authority of Scripture:
“And in addition to this pious belief respecting the Father and the Son, we confess as the Sacred Scriptures teach us, one Holy Ghost, who moved the saints of the Old Testament, and the divine teachers of that which is called the New. We believe in one only Catholic Church, the apostolical, which cannot be destroyed even though all the world were to take counsel to fight against it, and which gains the victory over all the impious attacks of the heterodox; for we are emboldened by the words of its Master, ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world [John xvi. 33].’ After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God (ἐκ τῆς Θεοτόκου Μαρίας); in the fulness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead. He rose from the dead, was taken into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
- The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret, Chapter III, The Epistle of Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria to Alexander, Bishop of Constantinople.

How can we know whether a church is part of the Church? If it is apostolical. How can we tell if something is apostolical? Look at the books left behind by the apostles. Human successors can pervert the path of those who went before them, but the unchanging Word of God found in Scripture is the alone reliable measure of apostolicity and catholicity (in the true sense of the term).


Chief Shepherd - Jesus or the Roman Bishop

Mr. Bellisario is not pleased by Mr. Hays' analogy of Christians to birds and fishes, preferring instead the metaphor of sheep (link to Bellisario's post):
In an attempt to argue against the papacy this ‘scholar’, Steve Hays from Triablogue has invented a new ecclesial typology as to how the church is composed. He now has compared the Church to a flock of birds, or a school of fish! Just when you think you have heard it all. I guess this guy has never read the Scriptures where Jesus refers to the flock as being sheep, which need a shepherd? If this is the best argument against the papacy as being the visible head of the Church, Catholics have nothing to fear. Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep, not swim like a school of fish or fly as a formation of birds. While movements of flocks of birds or schools of fish are fascinating, the analogy is not a Biblical one. What he is trying to accomplish here is a mystery indeed.
Let us ignore, for the moment, the fact that Jesus himself uses the metaphors of fish (Matthew 4:19) and birds (Matthew 23:37), something Mr. Bellisario might remember if he read his Bible a bit more. Instead, let us focus on the sheep metaphor. Of course, sheep need a shepherd. But they don't necessarily need just one shepherd. And Peter was not the chief shepherd. He himself writes:

1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Peter also designates the Lord "the Shepherd and the Bishop":

1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

And Peter is not alone. Assuming that Hebrews was written by another apostle, that author wrote:

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Notice how Hebrews calls Jesus the "great shepherd" which is a similar expression to the concept of chief shepherd.

But, of course, the analogy was not simply Petrine. Jesus himself, as John reports, stated that there would be "one Shepherd" and "one fold":

John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Now, perhaps you are thinking that because the "one fold" is plainly the catholic (i.e. universal) church, that consequently the "one Shepherd" must be a reference to Peter or the bishop of Rome. The context shows that such is not the case.

John 10:1-18:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
Notice that the context makes it absolutely clear that the "one shepherd" is Jesus.

Nor is it only in John's gospel that we find this metaphor:

Mark 14:27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

And similarly in Matthew's gospel:

Matthew 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

Now, there is a sense in which there can be other shepherds besides Christ. Thus, Jesus had the following dialog with Peter.

John 21:15-19:
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my lambs." He saith to him again the second time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my sheep." He saith unto him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, "Lovest thou me?" And he said unto him, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."
Jesus saith unto him, "Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, "Follow me."
Let's be clear about something: the expression "more than these" refers to the things of this life. We know this because of the way that discussion concludes, with Jesus prophesying of Peter's death. To put it another way, the emphasis is on whether Peter loves Jesus more than other things, not on whether Peter loves Jesus more than other people love Jesus.

A few additional notes.

1) The text says "feed my sheep" not "herd my sheep." Thus, the specific task to which Jesus is calling Peter in this text is one of nourishment and service rather than lordship and rule. It may well be that a degree of rule is implied in the command, since sheep are fed by shepherds who guide them, but the rule over the sheep is not the focus of Jesus' remarks: the nourishment of the sheep is the focus. Paul uses a similar metaphor with the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 3:1-2
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

The minister of God is called both to feed the lambs and the sheep, as Paul illustrates by comparing those who like children are fed with milk to those who like men are fed with meat.

2) This is not something unique to Peter. Peter is the only one being addressed, but there is nothing in the dialog that suggests that Peter alone is supposed to feed the lambs and sheep, or that Peter is supposed to feed the sheep in a unique way.

Indeed, Peter himself recognizes this, for he declares:

1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

And Paul likewise views ministers in the same way, both in his first epistle to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

and in the Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

3) These are still Jesus' sheep. Notice that Jesus does not treat the sheep as he did his mother. You may recall that he told John "Behold, thy mother," as though Mary were to be John's responsibility to care for her. Jesus does not say to Peter, "Feed thy sheep," but "Feed my sheep."

4) It is true that ministers can be called "shepherds" or by the equivalent English term "pastors":

Ephesians 4:11-13
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Notice how, however, even in that place the principle defined tasks of these men (whether they be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers) have to do with the spiritual nourishment of Christ's body, not their domination. While a measure of rule is certainly a part of the work of a pastor, it is not the primary focus. The primary focus is on feeding sheep.


Mr. Bellisario's attempt to use Scripture to support a need for a single earthly chief shepherd has backfired. Scripture teaches a single chief Shepherd, but that is Jesus, not Peter, and certainly not the bishop of Rome. There are shepherds under Christ, but there are many such shepherds, not just one. While Jesus did say particularly to Peter "Feed my sheep," neither Peter nor any of the other apostles applied that uniquely to Peter.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mary Crowned in Revelation? - Part 2

In response to a first post on the idolatry involved in the Roman Catholic crowning of Mary (link), a commenter had countered that Mary is crowned in Revelation, to which I responded in a second post (link). Now, the commenter has provided some more comments, to which I'll respond, perhaps closing this matter.

"John" wrote:
There is no doubt that the woman represents the church. But the woman representing the church is the mother of Jesus. The mother of Jesus is Mary. It's not an either/or scenario. If church can be depicted with the prototype of Mary, then we can depict Mary thus. If Mary can be verbally depicted with a crown, then putting a verbal depiction into visual is no great step.
This argument hinges on the conflation/equivocation between "the woman representing the church is the mother of Jesus" and "The mother of Jesus is Mary." Perhaps an illustration here would be easier to understand than a formal demonstration. Suppose we say that the Jews rebuilt the temple and that Jesus was born of the Jews. Then we said that Jesus was born of Mary. Finally we conclude that Mary rebuilt the temple. Hopefully, in that illustration one can see that there has been a conflation between Mary and the Jews over the fact that there is a sense in which each bore Jesus. The same kind of thing is happening in "John"'s argument. The woman (who is the church) is described as bearing a man child (which points to Jesus). Mary is the woman who bore Jesus. Therefore, "John"" conflates the two and ascribes to Mary what belongs to the church.

"John" wrote:
Even if you think Rev 12 is symbolic, depictions of Mary are also symbolic. Mary is also depicted with a sword piercing her (Luke 2:35), not because anyone thinks that is literally true, but because that is the biblical imagery.
Crowns frequently are symbolic - no doubt about that. The popes' crowns, for example, are also symbolic. Nevertheless, both the popes' crowns and the crowns that are placed on idols of Mary are literal crowns.

"John" wrote:
Concerning Exodus 39:28, just because the crown doesn't fit your image of something like you would find in the royal jewels in the tower of London, doesn't mean much. The Greek word for crown is most aptly referring to a wreath made of foliage. Perhaps you can explain to all of us why a wreath of foliage is a crown, and a mitre of fine linen is not.
Exodus 39:28 (as well as Exodus 28:39 and Leviticus 16:4) refers to a linen mitre, which is more or less a fabric hat. If you don't see the difference between a hat and a crown, I'm not sure any amount of explanation from me will help prove that to you.

"John" wrote:
Concerning Isaiah 61:10, the garments are described in v3, "a garland", which is a wreath, which as we have seen is encompassed in the Greek word for crown.
This is simply not correct:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

There is a reference to garlands in Scripture, though:

Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

That's not a favorable reference.

"John" wrote:
Re Kings of Israel, the point is Tertullian got it wrong, so why quote someone you acknowledge as wrong?
Tertullian did not get it wrong. He did not deny that kings of Israel wore crowns. He didn't even discuss the topic. The closest he comes is when he says, "In short, what patriarch, what prophet, what Levite, or priest, or ruler, or at a later period what apostle, or preacher of the gospel, or bishop, do you ever find the wearer of a crown?" (Tertullian, Of the Crown, Chapter 9) That term "ruler" is (in the Latin) not the term for kings. Here is the Latin: "Quis denique patriarches, quis prophetes, quis leuites aut sacerdos aut archon, quis uel postea apostolus aut euangelizator
aut episcopus inuenitur coronatus?" The word translated "ruler" there is a borrow word from the Greek word αρχων (archon). It is typically used in the New Testament to refer to the Sanhedrin (e.g. Luke 24:20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.). In any event, in context, it refers to the religious leaders - not to secular authorities.

"John" wrote:
Re Rev 4:11, they had to have the crowns before they could cast it down. They have various regal trappings, including thrones. They may symbolically bow these to the great throne, but that doesn't alter that they sit in heaven with these trappings, or at least they symbolically do, and that's the important bit.
The important bit is that they cast them down. We know that's the important bit because that's the bit that the text focuses on.

"John" wrote:
All you've proven is that you too have an interpretation, not that your interpretation is better than anyone else's.
Arguments in support of an interpretation are a way that one shows that one's interpretation is better than someone else's interpretation. I've provided such arguments.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Would R. Scott Clark Respond to the Enthusiast-Calvinist Accusation?

I'd love to see R. Scott Clark or one of the other pre-eminent "Truly Reformed" folks from Westminster West respond to this Lutheran charge that Calvin was an "Enthusiast[]" who "separat[ed] the Holy Spirit from the Word." (link)

For myself, I'd point out that it is mistaken to blame Calvin (or Calvinism) for the errors of Enthusiasm (emphasizing emotional experience, especially in an unguided way, as allegedly being the leading of the Holy Spirit), Pietism (focus on piety without regard for orthodoxy), or the Church Growth Movements (a movement that focuses primarily on expanding the rolls, often at the expense of preaching repentance from sin).

Enthusiasm and Pietism have been consistently rejected by Calvinists over the years, and while the Church Growth Movement may have taken hold in some Presbyterian churches, it is not fairly blamed on Calvinism or Reformed theology more generally. These sort of accusations drive me to view Confessional (LBCF 1689) Reformed Baptists as closer brethren to Presbyterians than Confessional Lutherans are (which, of course, is not to deny that confessional Lutherans are our Christian brethren). My understanding, though, is that R. Scott Clark and some others at Westminster West see things differently, and would actually view Lutherans as closer to Presbyterians.


Was Pharez Legitimate?

One anonymous commenter (I know who he is, but he did not put his name on this comment, and it's not my wish to embarrass) responded to one aspect of my previous post (link) by arguing that Pharez was legitimate:
Pharez was not ILLIGITAMATE! He was the son of Onan of Liviriate Marriage.
(all errors in original) This is rather confused. The real situation is this:

1) Judah had three sons (at first) whose names were Er, Onan, and Shelah.

2) Judah married Er to a woman named Tamar.

2) Er did something wicked in God's sight (we're not told what that was) and God slew him.

3) Judah commanded Onan to raise up seed to Er by knowing Er's widow, Tamar (this is our first example of the implementation of the levirate law, which was later confirmed by Moses).

4) Onan knew Tamar but avoided raising up seed by spilling it on the ground.

5) God was angry with Onan for doing that and slew him.

6) Judah was afraid that if he gave Shelah to Tamar to raise up seed to Er that Shelah also would be slain, so he invented an excuse and did not give Shelah to Tamar to raise up seed to Er and meanwhile Tamar continued to live in Judah's household.

7) Some time after that, Judah's wife (the daughter of Shuah) died.

8) Judah went out of town to go sheer sheep, and news of it came to Tamar.

9) Tamar went and disguised herself as a prostitute along the road where Judah was going.

10) Judah fell for the bait without knowing it was Tamar, and she received some personal items from him as a pledge for the payment (in the form of a kid of the goats) he was supposed to give her.

11) Several months later, Judah found out that Tamar was pregnant and was going to have her executed for harlotry.

12) At that point she revealed whose child it was by the pledges Judah had given her, and so Judah did not execute her.

13) That conception produced twins: Pharez and Zarah.

(see Genesis 38)

The relations between Judah and Tamar were not legitimate relations. She was his son's widow, and consequently it was not proper for him to know her in the way that he did. It was also not proper for them to engage in relations as harlot and customer. Their children were not legitimate children born within a marriage. While Tamar was essentially trying to use the levirate principle to raise up seed to her dead husband Er, it was not an appropriate or blessed union. Consequently, while Judah spared her life (he could hardly kill her for being a prostitute without condemning himself as well), Scripture never refer to Pharez as the son of Er, but always as the son of Judah.

The anonymous commenter tried to bolster his case with the following comment:
Next time, use a decent Bible like the Septuagint Version instead of the pathetically deficient Geneva Bible, whose sole object was not to give the actual Bible Translation but to expound Calvinism.
a) I generally use the KJV, not the Geneva Bible.
b) The Geneva Bible was actually a Bible translation, not simply Calvinist propaganda.
c) The Septuagint is not really an alternative to the Geneva Bible since (1) it is not in English and (2) it is only of the Old Testament. On this particular passage, the Septuagint does not vary from the KJV/Geneva Bible as far as the text goes.