Thursday, January 07, 2010

Erasmus' Words - Could Beckwith, Cross, and Liccione Endorse?

Erasmus wrote:
What weight the authority of the church may have with others, I know not; but with me it weighs so much, that I could be of the opinion of the Arians and Pelagians, if the church had approved their doctrines.
Latin Text:
Quantum apud alios valeat auctoritas ecclesiae nescio; certo apud me tantum valet ut cum Arianis et Pelagianis sentire possim, si probasset ecclesia quod illi docuerunt.
Citation: Erasmus, Letter to Pirkheimer, written from Basle on October 19, 1527 (Translation from John Jortin, The Life of Erasmus, Volume 1, , pp. 387-88 of London 1808 edition)

Those are the words of Erasmus, but given the comments provided by Francis Beckwith, Bryan Cross, and Mike Liccione, it seems it expresses a sentiment that they could also share.

What about my Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox readers? Do you think Erasmus went too far?

-TurretinFan

(Thanks to Pastor David King for leading me to this quotation.)

65 comments:

beowulf2k8 said...

That is the logical end of their position. Whatever their church says is right even (nay, especially) when it is wrong. (Except of course I agree with Pelagius, so I'm not saying he is wrong.)

beowulf2k8 said...

In a way this is also the logical end of your position on Scripture. No matter what the text says, even if it says genocide is good (which it clearly isn't) it must be right. The rigid position of Catholicism in enforcing agreement with the Magesterium and of Protestantism in enforcing agreement with a text both result in common sense being thrown completely out the window.

Turretinfan said...

b2k8:

We are willing to judge teachers (including yourself) according to the text of Scripture. They seem to make their teachers their judge of Scripture. You on the other hand, place your own intellect above all. Their foundation is their church - if it is not what it claims to be, they are in grave danger. Our foundation is the Scripture, and if it is not what it claims to be, we are in trouble. Your foundation is yourself - and if your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, you will be in trouble.

-TurretinFan

SP said...

T Fan.

Augustine went further.

Indeed, I would not believe in the gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so" (Against the Letter of Mani)

The fact is, that if it weren't for the authority of the Church we might all be Arians anyway (or something worse).

Turretinfan said...

SP:

I think you may have misunderstood Augustin (I've provided some responses to the use of that quotation).

-TurretinFan

SP said...

Tfan.

From your link: I have already fully examined this citation, and it is only necessary to add that Augustine nowhere gives us to understand that the Catholic Church was localized in the communion over which the Bishop of Rome presided, or that he derived his knowledge of, or belief in, the Gospel from that quarter.

Any Reformed construct of Church history that seeks to impose upon the fathers a protestant ecclesiology whenever that father speaks of the 'Church' is kind of nauseating.

So much of what I read from Reformed apologists when it comes to the fathers is of the, "He said 'X' but he really meant 'Y' variety and it simply isn't helpful.

On the other hand also from the link: But that "the authority of the Catholic Church" was not the sole motive that induced him to believe the Gospel, is evident from what we have already quoted above from his Confessions; nor does the passage imply as much, but only that "the authority of the Catholic Church" was one necessary ground upon which his belief rested;

I can agree with that and think that is a fairer reading.

dtking said...

Any Reformed construct of Church history that seeks to impose upon the fathers a protestant ecclesiology whenever that father speaks of the 'Church' is kind of nauseating.

Okay, to ease your nausea, I'll give you the historical construct of a Roman Scholar who makes it clear that the early Catholic Church wasn't Romanized as Romanists like to pretend.

The Jesuit scholar Klaus Schatz, S.J., after quoting strong traditions that place both the apostles Paul and Peter in Rome as founders of the Church there, then writes: "Nevertheless, concrete claims of a primacy over the whole Church cannot be inferred from this conviction. If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no." See Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 3.

I think the real problem is that folk, such as yourself, are not open to considering any historical facts that differ from that in which you've chosen to place your faith, viz., the communion of Rome.

Thus, you can be sure, it is not only Protestants that disagree with Roman fanaticism, but also scholars from within your own communion who are more objective in their assessments of what history demonstrates to have been reality.

SP said...

dtking.

I did not say that the primacy of the bishop of Rome was a fully developed doctrine in AD 100, 200 or 300 did I? Lets not move the goalposts.

In the same letter I quoted earlier Augustine writes thus: "I am held in the communion of the Catholic Church by...and by the succession of bishops from the very seat of Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection commended His sheep to be fed up to the present episcopate."
Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani, 5 (A.D. 395).

And also “The succession of priests, from the very see of the Apostle Peter, to whom our Lord, after His resurrection, gave the charge of feeding His sheep, up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And at last, the very name of Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all the heretics want to be called Catholic, when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house.”
Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani

Now, when the PCA starts claiming the 'succession of priests' from the 'chair of Peter' than maybe they can elbow in a claim to Augustine's ecclesiology.

There is no question that Church of which Augustine was a Bishop is the same Catholic Church to which my Bishop in Houston is a Bishop.

This does not mean that the codified dogmas of my Bishop are 100% identical to the to the codified dogmas Augustine because many dogmas in AD 350 were not defined yet.

If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church

This quote you culled is a very specific quote and asks a very specific set of questions. The answer to these specifics might very well be 'no' but the fact is that in AD 300 and well before there is a worldwide sense from the bishops that their succession comes from the apostles and that their communion is held together by the seat of Peter.

Furthermore, if this specific understanding was only fully developed in AD 400 or AD 500 or even AD 1995 it would make no difference because the authenticity of a doctrine is not measured by how early the doctrine was fully understood and held by Christiandome. Because if that were the case than 'sola scriptura' and 'sola fide' would suffer automatic exclusion from genuine dogma and I don't think you are prepared to do that.

SP said...

I think the real problem is that folk, such as yourself, are not open to considering any historical facts that differ from that in which you've chosen to place your faith, viz., the communion of Rome.

And by the way...I am definitely open to considering the historical facts that differ from that which I have placed my faith.

This is a big part of how a once diligent Calvinist Presbyterian became Catholic in the first place. I wasn't planning on seeing a clearly Catholic ecclesiology in the church fathers but I was honest with what I saw...

louis said...

I think there is a problem with taking references to "the church" in the early centuries and applying them to a particular manifestation of the church in later centuries -- particularly after, as many RC's even admit, many "developments" of doctrine, etc.

It is a fact that the Roman church today is not the same as even the Roman church of the 3rd century, not to mention the church in other locales. When someone referred to "the church" back then, they were referring to a different deposit of faith, as it were. And they could voice confidence in an institution that hadn't yet been charged with serious corruption.

SP said...

When someone referred to "the church" back then, they were referring to a different deposit of faith, as it were.


Would you argue that the church of Augustine was not the same church of Ignatius or Polycarp?

My point is that the aggregate elements of what they fathers meant by church are decidedly episcopal in church government with a heavy emphasis on the succession of the bishops.

And they could voice confidence in an institution that hadn't yet been charged with serious corruption.

The Arians, Gnostics, Pelagians etc were constantly charging that church with serious corruption….

By the way dtking…Klaus Schatz in the same work you cited describes the emergence of the papacy as a natural development of the church instituted by Christ and not an invention:

“The Church learns through the experience of schisms that it needs an enduring center of unity. But because the Church cannot ‘create’ its essential elements, but lives its life as a Church founded by Jesus and endowed with certain gifts and traditions, it cannot produce such a unity out of nothing. It must seek within its apostolic traditions for such a point of unity. An artificially created center of unity devised for practical purposes could, of course, have a certain usefulness as an administrative clearinghouse and center for arbitration of disputes, but in times of real crisis and when the faith is in danger there is no guarantee that the Church can maintain itself in truth purely by relying on such a manufactured office of unity. In effect, the Christian imperial throne from Constantine onward was such an ‘artificially manufactured,’ human devised center, and it is prime illustration of the problems involved. The Church must therefore seek within its own tradition to see whether it does not possess at least the elements of such a center. In the course of that search it discovers the Roman church, which has an advantage over all the other ‘apostolic’ churches in its ties to the beginning by the fact that it is associated with Peter and Paul, and therefore as a potentior principalitas.”

Turretinfan said...

SP:

I missed the early interaction here, and only now have come to see what you've posted.

You responded to this: "I have already fully examined this citation, and it is only necessary to add that Augustine nowhere gives us to understand that the Catholic Church was localized in the communion over which the Bishop of Rome presided, or that he derived his knowledge of, or belief in, the Gospel from that quarter."

You response appears to have been to suggest that I was giving you nausea by imposing Protestant ecclesiology.

However,

a) I didn't say Augustine had a "Protestant" ecclesiology; and

b) dtking has meanwhile provided historical evidence that you seem to have admitted is true that supports my point.

So, I'm assuming you now see that Augustine's comment is not a more radical statement than Erasmus' statement. If my assumption is wrong, please explain how Augustine's words go farther given his less Roman Catholic ecclesiology (I think you've already acknowledged that the primacy of the Roman bishop wasn't fully developed in Augustine's day).

In considering what you write, recognize that when it comes to ecclesiology, there are not just two choices:

a) Roman Catholic

b) Protestant.

In fact, different Protestants have different ecclesiologies, and there is an Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology. Additionally, there is the ecclesiology of various of the fathers, which may lie on a spectrum between that of a Reformed ecclesiology and that of a Roman Catholic ecclesiology.

We recognize that Augustine wasn't a presbyterian - we just ask that you as honestly acknowledge that his ecclesiology doesn't fully align with your ecclesiology either.

- TurretinFan

John Bugay said...

Would you argue that the church of Augustine was not the same church of Ignatius or Polycarp?

That is not in need of an argument. That is clearly what Schatz says here. There was no papacy in the time of Ignatius or Polycarp.

The later quote you provide from Schatz merely undermines your case. The papacy was not a divine institution at Matt 16: Somehow the church "learned through experience" that it needed some kind of "enduring center of unity."

Schatz has this "development" occurring around the fifth century, and it was artificially manufactured and humanly devised.

Your search for the "apostolic" -- ties with Peter and Paul (as tenuous as they were) has no basis in Scripture, it has no basis in Ignatius or Polycarp.

And upon such a contrived system, you base your whole understanding of "ecclesiology" and worse, you serve a system which has used that "artificially manufactured and humanly devised" source of authority to override God's own word, Scripture.

SP said...

TFan.

Additionally, there is the ecclesiology of various of the fathers, which may lie on a spectrum between that of a Reformed ecclesiology and that of a Roman Catholic ecclesiology.

Fine. If this is the point than I can grant this. The next step would be to determine which ecclesiology is natural development of the prior and which is an aberration.

That is clearly what Schatz says here. There was no papacy in the time of Ignatius or Polycarp.

Schatz does not say that there was no papacy. He said that in his estimation, in AD 300 the papacy was not fully developed.

He does, in the quote I provided, argue that the seat of Rome held an advantage of the other sees as it was 'from the beginning' and he contrasts this to an invented seat of unity.

Schatz has this "development" occurring around the fifth century, and it was artificially manufactured and humanly devised.

Actually, Schatz goes through pains to describe how the papacy was indeed NOT manufactured and humanly devised.

Your search for the "apostolic" -- ties with Peter and Paul (as tenuous as they were) has no basis in Scripture, it has no basis in Ignatius or Polycarp.


It has quite a strong basis in scripture, hence the vast majority of Christians who have ever claimed Christ have affirmed it.

Furthermore, Ignatius writes: "Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Mast High God the Father, and of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is sanctified and enlightened by the will of God, who farmed all things that are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour; the Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans, and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of credit, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love..."
Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans, Prologue (A.D. 110).

SP said...

Cont'd....

You don't need me to explain Ignatius' words:

From: The Primacy of Peter : Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church edited by John Meyendorff
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1992(an Orthodox work)

"We find the first direct evidence about the priority of the Roman Church in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. Speaking of the Church of Rome, Ignatius uses the phrase 'which presides' in two passages.... The Roman Church 'presides' in love, that is, in the concord based on love between all the local churches. The term 'which presides' needs no discussion; used in the masculine it means the bishop, for he, as head of the local church, sits in the 'first place' at the eucharistic assembly, that is, in the central seat. He is truly the president of his church...Ignatius pictured the local churches grouped, as it were, in a eucharistic assembly, with every church in its special place, and the church of Rome in the chair, sitting in the 'first place.' So, says Ignatius, the Church of Rome indeed has the priority in the whole company of churches united by concord....In his period no other church laid claim to the role, which belonged to the Church of Rome."

Further:

"It is impossible to deny that, even before the appearance of local primacies, the Church from the first days of her existence possessed an ecumenical center of unity and agreement. In the apostolic and the Judaeo-Christian period, it was the Church of Jerusalem, and later the Church of Rome -- 'presiding in agape,' according to St. Ignatius of Antioch. This formula and the definition of the universal primacy contained in it have been aptly analyzed by Fr. Afanassieff and we need not repeat his argument here. Neither can we quote here all the testimonies of the Fathers and the Councils unanimously acknowledging Rome as the senior church and the center of ecumenical agreement.

"It is only for the sake of biased polemics that one can ignore these testimonies, their consensus and significance. It has happened, however, that if Roman historians and theologians have always interpreted this evidence in juridical terms, thus falsifying its real meaning, their Orthodox opponents have systematically belittled the evidence itself. Orthodox theology is still awaiting a truly Orthodox evaluation of universal primacy in the first millennium of church history -- an evaluation free from polemical or apologetic exaggerations."
- "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology" (pages 145-71)Alexander Schmemann

SP said...

TFAN,

By the way, I think I may have de-railed your thread by bringing up Augustine.

My apologies.

To answer your original question I would say that we have faith that it is impossible for the Church to err on matters of faith or morals and given this statement of faith I could understand Erasmus' words.

dtking said...

By the way dtking…Klaus Schatz in the same work you cited describes the emergence of the papacy as a natural development of the church instituted by Christ and not an invention:...

I'm not sure how this is relevant, to keep pointing out as many Romanists do, that the dogmas peculiar to Rome are the result of development. This strikes me like the evolutionist who believes that with enough time virtually anything can come into existence. I've read Schatz, have his book on my shelf.

But pope Leo XIII, in Satis cognitum, contradicts your claim about the papacy. He states: Such power they certainly did not receive from Jesus Christ. "Wherefore, in the decree of the Vatican Council as to the nature and authority of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, no newly conceived opinion is set forth, but the venerable and constant belief of every age (Sess. iv., cap. 3)." While you claim the papacy was development, Leo XIII claims it was the venerable and constant belief of every age." Now, I understand how you folk refuse to acknowledge these kind of contradictions - I've been observing Roman apologists doing it for years. I'm sure you'll tell me that I *misunderstand.* But naming it and claiming it simply doesn't make it so. :)

So, Regardless of your protest, I still don't think you understand the early history of the church, and there is wide disagreement between Romanists themselves as to how they interpret and understand magisterial documents and statements.

louis said...

SP,

The fact remains that the Roman church then is not the same as the Roman church today. Now you can say that the differnce is for the better, as implicit doctrines found fuller expression, etc. But it is irrefutable that there is a difference, and you have admitted as much.

Therefore, when early writers refer to "the church", they are not necessarily referring to the same thing as the Roman church in its current state. I think it is a mistake to assume that they are.

louis said...

FWIW, I meant to say, "the church then is not the same as the Roman church today."

SP said...

Now, I understand how you folk refuse to acknowledge these kind of contradictions - I've been observing Roman apologists doing it for years. I'm sure you'll tell me that I *misunderstand.* But naming it and claiming it simply doesn't make it so. :)

dtking.

You don't know me. I would ask that you do not assume things about me. I believe you are a pastor? I truly respect your call to minister to Christians and to shepherd them. While I am not a member of your flock I hope that you can see me as just another sinner who is looking for the truth.

So, Regardless of your protest, I still don't think you understand the early history of the church, and there is wide disagreement between Romanists themselves as to how they interpret and understand magisterial documents and statements.


I understand a little about the early church. I don't claim to know everything. I don't think the Catholic Church is perfect. I believe that the Reformed expressions of Christianity have a lot to offer and believe and proclaim much truth...what else?
At the same time I am a Catholic and became Catholic only after years of prayer, study, reflection and frankly anguish. It was not a decision I took lightly and I do not wish to 'debate' nor do I wish to be an 'apologist.'

I would, however genuinely like to have dialog though about our differences without bringing in automatic biases and prejudices.

If we can do that than great. If not than I probably will just glance over what you write because frankly I don’t want to get involved in debates like that.

John Bugay said...

I do not wish to 'debate' nor do I wish to be an 'apologist.' I would, however genuinely like to have dialog though about our differences without bringing in automatic biases and prejudices. If we can do that than great. If not than I probably will just glance over what you write because frankly I don’t want to get involved in debates like that.

Your history belies this statement, as does your participation with "Called to Communion," which has made its mission the conversion of Reformed believers to Rome.

I've known you for more than a year now and you have been the most contentious, least honest individual that I've found in these debates since I've been doing it. You will say anything to escape having to answer for your mistakes; you constantly change the subject as a diversion. I've recently linked to a thread at Greenbaggins when no fewer than six individuals cited you for having lied, fudged, mis-stated, or evaded something.

If you were genuinely interested in "having dialog," you would begin by answering Turretinfan's questions instead of bringing up the red herring of that Augustine quote, which has been responded to many times in the past.

SP said...

John.

I never lied on Green Baggins. I stand by everything I wrote there.

If you wish to wade through the hundreds of comments and draw out where I lied I'd be happy to investigate it and fall on my sword if I lied. In fact, I implore you to show me where I lied.

In the meantime, I think you need to consider the difference between 'lying' and my poor ability to articulate things.

John Bugay said...

Here's the thread:

http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/whose-lens-are-you-using/#comment-68133

Fully seven individuals caught you fudging or equivocating or dissembling (call it what you will).

Notice that the charge that I made in this thread was not anything that anyone challenged.

The point is that responding to you, personally, is a huge waste of time; it is clear that your intention is not to learn, but somehow, in any way that you can, to cloud the issues, to beat your chest on behalf of Rome, and to actually sidetrack any kind of intelligent discussion that is going on.

John Bugay said...

And by the way, you've been similarly cited at Triablogue.

dtking said...

You don't know me. I would ask that you do not assume things about me.

I have seen this kind of complaint a thousand times, and it means nothing to me. If you demonstrate the same shallow approach as I've seen before, then it is the same shallow understanding. I don't have to know you to observe that.

Again, there is a wide difference between what you claim and what Leo XIII claimed for the papacy. You claim it was developed over centuries, and Leo XIII says it has been the "constant and venerable belief of every age."

No, I do not believe you know much about the history of the early church to be making such claims about its ecclesiology, let alone the papacy in particular.

Turretinfan said...

I realize that SP broached the topic of his background with his "you don't know me" comment (or perhaps dtking broached it by making general comments from his experience with Roman Catholics), but unless he is doing something objectionable here, I'd rather that we steer the conversation back to the topic of Erasmus' words, and away from the topic of whether SP was acting inappropriately, inadvisably, or in a misunderstood way.

I would encourage SP to consider responding to my comments to him above, as far as clarifying his current position vis-a-vis the Augustine quotation.

SP said...

John,

This is the last I'll say about your accusing me of lying unless you can actually show me where I lied.

I see that in comment # 781 on GB you accused me of 'equivocating' and 'fudging.'

You were jumping after another Reformed person said, "Sean, you appear to be equivocating..." That comment was made in response to an answer I gave to a question posed and that person did not think I answered adequately.

I think that given the charge you waging against me, basically being an enemy of the gospel, you need to demonstrate not that you or another person has accused me of 'equivocating' but actually show where I purposefully equivocated or lied.

Fully seven individuals caught you fudging or equivocating or dissembling (call it what you will).

Actually, you just listed seven people who at one time or another I had discussed church history with and who disagreed with me.

Notice that the charge that I made in this thread was not anything that anyone challenged.

John, that thread had 800 comments and many conversations at once. I wouldn’t take too much pride in the fact that your ‘ad homs’ against me went unnoticed.

And by the way, you've been similarly cited at Triablogue.

I honestly take that as a complement.

It would be nice, John if you could focus on the topic and the data and not be so hateful. I definitely sense that you hate me and that hurts. I don’t know. I have prayed for you. Specifically I prayed that you find employment. I've said this before...I don't hate you. You frustrate me sometimes, God knows, but I appreciate your vigor and your concern for the truth.

SP said...

Again, there is a wide difference between what you claim and what Leo XIII claimed for the papacy. You claim it was developed over centuries, and Leo XIII says it has been the "constant and venerable belief of every age."


David. Honestly, I need to think more about Leo XIII's proclamation in regards to develoment and your argument is a valid one.

John Bugay said...

In deference to you, then, I will go through that thread, and pull the individual comments out and link to them. I'll do that in another location.

In deference to Turretinfan, then, I'll note that this will be my last post here on this topic, and I'll ask you if you have the ability to answer the question that his blog post asked.

Turretinfan said...

I see that I overlooked a response above.

I had written: "Additionally, there is the ecclesiology of various of the fathers, which may lie on a spectrum between that of a Reformed ecclesiology and that of a Roman Catholic ecclesiology."

SP responded: "Fine. If this is the point than I can grant this. The next step would be to determine which ecclesiology is natural development of the prior and which is an aberration."

Let me suggest that there is a more fundamental question. The more fundamental question is whether the development itself is a good thing. For example, a natural development of iron is to rust. While that is a natural development (in some sense), I don't approve of my silverware rusting, and I try to restore it to its original state, even if that takes a lot of scrubbing and aberration from the natural progression.

The question of whether the development in Roman ecclesiology is a positive thing or a negative thing is an important question.

We can justify our departure from Augustine's ecclesiology by appeal back to the apostolic teachings on record. What is the justification for your departure?

SP said...

TFan.

I agree and let me consider your comment re: augustine and respond in due course.

SP said...

John.

You can email me your link if you want:

dollaflop@live.com

dtking said...

Honestly, I need to think more about Leo XIII's proclamation in regards to develoment and your argument is a valid one.

I don't think you were even privy to Leo XIII's Satis cognitum, but regardless the language is plain to see. There is a wide gulf/chasm between Newman's (and others) theory of development, and the claim of Leo XIII for the papacy.

I don't understand the need to give it any further thought.

Please to not address me by my first name.

dtking said...

correction: Please do not address me by my first name.

SP said...

I don't think you were even privy to Leo XIII's Satis cognitum, but regardless the language is plain to see. There is a wide gulf/chasm between Newman's (and others) theory of development, and the claim of Leo XIII for the papacy.

I have read 'Satis Cognitum' previously and thought about this before.

At first blush I would say that the purpose of the Council, like every other council, is to define doctrine once and for all and not to explain how that doctrine came to be fully understood.

This is the same whether we are talking about the Council of Nicea or Vatican I. Just as V1 defined the papacy, Nicea defined the Trinity. I am not aware of where the Council of Nicea explains the development of doctrine concerning the Trinity and gives a disclaimer about the Trinity being a development of doctrine. This does not mean that the Trinity was not the result of development in understanding.

Read any council defining any doctrine (even ones you accept) and you’ll see that the orthodox faith is often couched as being ‘always believed in every age.’

Even so, no council ever says, “We deny the development of doctrine.”

In other words, "constant and venerable belief of every age" and "development of doctrine" are not mutually exclusive.

Also, I might add that Leo was very much aware of Newman’s work on the Development of Doctrine. It was Leo who made Newman a Cardinal. And, I’ll also add that the council documents quote and cite St. Vincent of Lerins in the precise place where he defended the development of doctrine in the 5th century.

But I’ll give it more thought and pray about it.

Concerning the development of doctrine...is it your position that there is no such thing as development of doctrine (or something similar) or is it your contention that only certain doctrines are not genuine developments?

Anonymous said...

King, I'd prefer that you do not refer to us as Romanists.

Taylor Marshall said...

As Catholics, we hold that the magisterium is infallible - so it's an unfair question.

It would be tantamount to asking this question to a Protestant: "If Scripture taught Arianism, would you become Arian?" Infallible sources of truth teach the truth.

As Saint Paul taught, the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" - she does not err.

Erasmus (who is neither a saint, pope, or doctor of the Church) is merely stressing that we come to hold dogma by the teaching of the Church - not by individualist inquiry. If Jesus told me that circles had right angles, I would believe him, but of course Jesus does not lie. That's the intention of this quote...

John Bugay said...

As Saint Paul taught, the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" - she does not err.

Can you provide some exegisis on the verse "pillar and ground of truth" from which it follows that Paul teaches "The Roman Catholic Church does not err"?

I'll bet you can't. You repeat this phrase but it simply does not follow.

Lothair Of Lorraine said...

TF:

You always seem to miss the point, or at least try hard to. If the divintiy of Jesus was inarguably clear from the Bible, then the councils would have been unnecessary. You are reading dogma back into the Scripture and assuming that Arianism was some irrational abnormality, abusing what would only later became obvious to all by holy decree. Namely, the divinity of Christ as an unalterable fact. On the other hand, protestants like the Mormons and JW's would disagree.

dtking said...

Anonymous said...

King, I'd prefer that you do not refer to us as Romanists.


This is a request that I cannot grant. I must refer to you folks as Romanists out of conviction. You see, I don't know of any position that is more anti-catholic than that of the Roman position. So I use the term "Romanist" as what I believe is an accurate description of your position out of conviction. I do not use it as a derisive term. I use it because I refuse to grant the term "catholic" to the Roman communion. In short, out of conviction, I cannot refer to you folks as "catholic" because I believe you folks to be more anti-catholic than any professing communion of Christ given the exclusive claims of your communion, not the least of which is dominion over all the churches of Christ. I know of nothing more anti-catholic than that claim, for it usurps the crown prerogatives of Jesus Christ as the only head and king of His Church.

I agree with Basil of Caesarea (AD 329-379)on this issue who said: "Now you are the body of Christ and members of member’—that is, the one and only true Head which is Christ exercises dominion over and unites the members, each with the other, unto harmonious accord." Fathers of the Church, Vol. 9, Preface on the Judgment of God (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), p. 41.
Greek text: τῆς μιᾶς καὶ μόνης ἀληθῶς κεφαλῆς. De Judicio Dei, §3, PG 31:660.

Romanists do not want to unite the members of Christ's Church under Its true Head, but rather the Roman Pontiff.

Turretinfan said...

LOL:

I've disposed of that argument here: (link). Feel free to leave any further rebuttal you may have on the topic of whether "the divintiy of Jesus was inarguably clear from the Bible."

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Taylor Marshall:

"As Catholics, we hold that the magisterium is infallible - so it's an unfair question."

How is asking if you could endorse Erasmus' words an unfair question?

"It would be tantamount to asking this question to a Protestant: "If Scripture taught Arianism, would you become Arian?" Infallible sources of truth teach the truth."

That's interesting comparison, but I think most Protestants would simply answer in the affirmative.

"As Saint Paul taught, the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" - she does not err."

a) There's no way to get that sense of the expression "the pillar and ground of the truth" from the text itself.

b) Can you find anyone in the first 400 years of Christianity that interpreted that text in that way?

c) How on earth is the church being inerrant supposed to fit into what Paul is telling Timothy there?

"Erasmus (who is neither a saint, pope, or doctor of the Church) is merely stressing that we come to hold dogma by the teaching of the Church - not by individualist inquiry."

That's actually not what he was doing. He was clarifying a report that folks had accused him of saying that Oecolampadius' view of the Eucharist was not irrational. I'll provide the context in the next comment.

Turretinfan said...

Context:

I never maintained that the opinion of Oecolampadius on the Eucharist was by far the soundest. It is true, that among some friends I went so far as to say that I could adopt that sentiment, if the authority of the church had approved it; but I added, that I could by no means dissent from the church. By the church, I mean the consent of the body of Christian people. I know not how the hypocrites, whom you speak of, have represented my words. For my part, I certainly speak sincerely; nor have I ever doubted of the truth of the Eucharist. What weight the authority of the church may have with others, I cannot say but with me it weighs so much, that I could be of the same opinion with the Arians and Pelagians, if the church had supported their doctrines. It is not that the words of Christ are not to me sufficient; but no one should be surprised if I follow the interpretation of the church, upon whose authority my belief of the Canonical Scriptures is founded. Others, perhaps, may have more genius and more courage than I have: but there is nothing in which I acquiesce more securely than in the decisive judgment of the church. Of reasonings and arguments there is no end.

SP said...

Let me suggest that there is a more fundamental question. The more fundamental question is whether the development itself is a good thing. For example, a natural development of iron is to rust. While that is a natural development (in some sense), I don't approve of my silverware rusting, and I try to restore it to its original state, even if that takes a lot of scrubbing and aberration from the natural progression.

Christ said the kingdom is like a the seed of a tree, not like a decomposing apple. So, whilst I grant that some natural process cause things to decompose I am not sure how this can be applied to doctrine. And, while we say that development is 'natural' the Church Herself is the supernatural body of Christ.

Turretinfan said...

"Christ said the kingdom is like a the seed of a tree, not like a decomposing apple. So, whilst I grant that some natural process cause things to decompose I am not sure how this can be applied to doctrine. And, while we say that development is 'natural' the Church Herself is the supernatural body of Christ."

In fact, in the seed analogy Christ used, the seed has to go into the earth and die and so forth. That's not really applicable to our discussion, however.

The remainder of your discussion seems to be premised on the idea that the development of doctrine should be attributed to the activity of the church acting in a supernatural way.

However, that premise doesn't seem to be able to be supported from Scripture. Are you supporting that premise from the extrascriptural teachings of your church?

SP said...

T Fan.

Can I ask you a question for illustrative purposes?

Do you believe the bible is a supernatural text?

dtking said...

TF: you always seem to miss the point, or at least try hard to. If the divintiy of Jesus was inarguably clear from the Bible, then the councils would have been unnecessary. You are reading dogma back into the Scripture and assuming that Arianism was some irrational abnormality, abusing what would only later became obvious to all by holy decree….

Actually, it is the Roman position that continues to miss the point.
1) As William Whitaker observed centuries ago, “there is nothing in scripture so plain that some men have not doubted it; …The apostle says that the minds of infidels are blinded by the devil, lest they should see that brilliant light and acquiesce in it: which is most true of our adversaries. William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, trans. and ed. William Fitzgerald (Cambridge: University Press, reprinted 1849), pp. 388-389. And William Goode (1801-1868) observed that the fact that “Holy Scripture…cannot end controversies, forms no valid objection to this appellation, for no mere testimony on the subject, however clear and definitive, could do that; nothing in fact but a living Judge who has power to silence every dissentient from his sentence. See William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, Vol. II, p. 61.

2) Moreover, the ECFs would never have offered such a blasphemous claim against the perspicuity of Holy Scripture. As Hilary of Poitiers pointed out, let His [i.e., God’s] own Divine words bear witness to Himself. …Heresy ought either to bring forward other Gospels in support of its doctrine; or else, if our existing Gospels are the only documents which teach of God, why do they not believe the lessons taught? If they are the only source of knowledge, why not draw faith, as well as knowledge, from them? Yet now we find that their faith is held in defiance of their knowledge; and hence it is a faith rooted not in knowledge, but in sin; a faith of bold irreverence, instead of reverent humility, towards the truth confessedly known. On the Trinity, Book VII, §22.

Moreover, Hilary stated that the problem is not due to the absence of conciliar pronouncements or an infallible human interpreter that disputes arise, but rather “it is obvious that these dissensions concerning the faith result from a distorted mind, which twists the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture. On the Trinity, Book VII, §4. Even Irenaeus affirmed “that it is from that region which is towards the south of the inheritance of Judah that the Son of God shall come, who is God, and who was from Bethlehem, where the Lord was born [and] will send out His praise through all the earth, thus says the prophet Habakkuk: “God shall come from the south, and the Holy One from Mount, Effrem. His power covered the heavens over, and the earth is full of His praise. Before His face shall go forth the Word, and His feet shall advance in the plains.” Thus he indicates in clear terms that He is God, and that His advent was [to take place] in Bethlehem… Against Heresies, 3:20:4.

Thus, only the Judge of the last day has the power to silence every dissident, and this the Lord of glory will do when he ‘divides his sheep from the goats’ (Matt. 25:32). Till that day, the wheat will always be mingled with the tares (Matt. 13:24–30), and the Lord will sort them out with infallible judgment. Scripture, history, and human nature all combine to teach us that there is no truth, no matter how clearly set forth and expounded, but that impenitent and rebel sinners will reject and suppress it in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-32). With this agrees, Augustine, “The bad people within the Church are obvious only to one who is good. But you know that they are mingled with the rest, always and everywhere, and scripture testifies that they will not be sorted out until the end.” See his exposition, Psalm 128.8.

Turretinfan said...

SP:

You asked: "Do you believe the bible is a supernatural text?"

I'm not sure what you intend by your question. Let me explain what I believe, and you can tell me if that answers your question, and - if not - what I've left out.

I believe that all Scripture is θεόπνευστος (theopneustos). That means that it is given by the inspiration of God, and consequently is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. The purpose of God inspiring the Bible is so that the man of God can be ἄρτιος (artios). That means that the Scriptures completely equip the man of God to every good work.

Although men penned Scriptures, they did not come from those men themselves, but holy men of God spake as they were φερόμενοι (pheromenoi) by the Holy Spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit directed their words.

My Bible is, of course, paper and ink in a leather binding. The only supernatural power that it has is through the influence of the Holy Spirit on the mind of the hearer (or reader) of the Word that it contains.

Does that answer your question?

-TurretinFan

SP said...

Thank you TFan.

Now you asked why I think the Church is supernatural right?

Turretinfan said...

SP:

No.

I stated: "The remainder of your discussion seems to be premised on the idea that the development of doctrine should be attributed to the activity of the church acting in a supernatural way.

However, that premise doesn't seem to be able to be supported from Scripture."

Then I asked: "Are you supporting that premise from the extrascriptural teachings of your church?"

-TurretinFan

SP said...

OK, I think I understand.

You said: "The remainder of your discussion seems to be premised on the idea that the development of doctrine should be attributed to the activity of the church acting in a supernatural way."

I would tweak your premise in the following way: God is the one who acts supernaturally and guides the Church. The Church just not simply just 'act in supernatural ways.'

However, that premise doesn't seem to be able to be supported from Scripture.

Why do you think that the premise that God guides the Church supernaturally is not supported in Scripture?

Then I asked: "Are you supporting that premise from the extra scriptural teachings of your church?"

My faith that God works supernaturally to protect the Church from error is based on scripture and church history.

My purpose in asking you if the bible is a supernatural product was to see if you believe in the supernatural hand of God giving guidance to his people.

Lothair Of Lorraine said...

DTKing:

You just spent a whole lot of effort citing 'traditions of men' and very little on Scripture. If a Catholic had cited so many sources outside of the Bible, you'd most likely cry 'foul'. Please use more consistant methods of argumentation.

Turretinfan said...

"Why do you think that the premise that God guides the Church supernaturally is not supported in Scripture?"

The number one reason right now is that you didn't just present the support to me.

"My faith that God works supernaturally to protect the Church from error is based on scripture and church history."

Well, your faith is one thing. You may well trust what you trust. In fact, I don't doubt your sincerity in the least. I wasn't trying to ask why you trust, but rather trying to ask whether you think you can establish this premise that you are presenting, and - if so - from where?

Perhaps your answer is Scripture and history, in which case, I am open to discussing the support that you think your premise has.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

LOL:

When you (I'm grouping you in here with Roman Catholics generally) appeal to Scripture, dtking refutes you from Scripture. When you appeal to history/tradition he refutes you from that too. Yet you still reject what he teaches. From this we learn that in fact you accept neither the authority of Scripture or tradition.

Do you think that is an inconsistent way for him to argue?

-TurretinFan

SP said...

The number one reason right now is that you didn't just present the support to me.


Firstly, Acts 9:2; 22:4; 24:14,22 - the early Church is identified as the "Way" prophesied in Isaiah 35:8 where fools will not err therein.

Matt. 10:20; Luke 12:12 - Jesus tells His apostles it is not they who speak, but the Spirit of their Father speaking through them.

Matt. 16:18 - Jesus promises the gates of Hades would never prevail against the Church.

Matt. 16:19 - for Jesus to give Peter and the apostles, mere human beings, the authority to bind in heaven.

Matt. 28:20 - Jesus promises that He will be with the Church always.

Luke 10:16 - whoever hears you, hears me. Whoever rejects you, rejects me.

John 14:16 - Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit would be with the Church forever.

John 14:26 - Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit would teach the Church all things regarding the faith.

John 16:13 - Jesus promises that the Spirit will "guide" the Church into all truth.

1 Cor. 2:13 – Paul explains that what the ministers teach is taught, not by human wisdom, but by the Spirit.

Eph. 4:13,15 – Paul indicates that attaining to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood is a process. We are to grow up in every way into Christ.

Acts 15:27-28 - the apostles know that their teaching is being guided by the Holy Spirit.

Eph. 5:23-27, Col. 1:18 - Christ is the head of the Church, His Bride, for which He died to make it Holy and without blemish. There is only one Church, just as Christ only has one Bride.

Eph. 5:32- Paul calls the Church a "mystery."

1 Tim. 3:15 - Paul says the apostolic Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

1 John 4:6 – John writes that whoever knows God “listens to us.”

In summary, scripture provides us with many reasons to believe that the Church is supernatural and guided by God.

here for more examples.

If you believe that the bible is supernatural, in the sense that you described, why is it such a leap to believe that the church is guided supernaturally?

Taylor Marshall said...

Dear John Bugay,

There is only on Church because there is only one Christ - this is also taught by Saint Paul.

There is also only one Church on earth that claims to be the pillar and ground of truth - the one that goes back, unbroken to the Apostles, i.e. the Holy Catholic Church.

Do you believe any denomination to be the pillar and ground of Church?

How do you personally interpret the words of the Apostle Paul?

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall

Turretinfan said...

"There is also only one Church on earth that claims to be the pillar and ground of truth"

Lots of groups claim that.

steve said...

Taylor Marshall said...

"There is also only one Church on earth that claims to be the pillar and ground of truth - the one that goes back, unbroken to the Apostles, i.e. the Holy Catholic Church."

So do you belong to the Coptic Church or the Ethiopian Church?

Taylor Marshall said...

Mr. King,

Contemporary Jesuits tend to be the most subversive religious order within the Catholic Church - known from their dissent. Many are rather "Protestant" - so don't take this random Jesuit quote as indicative of Catholic tradition.

The you provide quote reads:

"If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no."

This can't be right. Let's look at what actually Christians from this period said and wrote about the Church of Rome.

Pope Clement of Rome (ca. 89-96) wrote:

"The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which sojourns at Corinth ... But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." Clement of Rome 1,59:1

Irenaeus (ca 180) also wrote:

For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church (i.e. the Church of Rome), on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2

Also, Pope Victor 1 (pope from AD 189–199) presumed to excommunicate all the churches of Asia Minor and most people of that day (including those in Asia Minor) were worried about it. This confirms that most Christians did believe that the bishop of Rome DID in fact have such juridical power.

So DTKing, I'm calling you out for misrepresenting our Christian brothers of the first four centuries.

All written sources indicate that the Church of Rome was held as first and supreme.

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall

dtking said...

So DTKing, I'm calling you out for misrepresenting our Christian brothers of the first four centuries.

Well, please pardon me for noticing your rather overt "old west" posturing, but by God's grace I will respond to you when I find the time, and I will do so gladly. Pope Clement, eh? Only in your dreams. :)

Cheers

John Bugay said...

Taylor Marshall -- I agree with you there is only one church. But you have not made the case that Paul was talking about the Roman Catholic church. Such a thing did not exist in Paul's day. You say it "developed." There is no connection.

Here's what you said: As Saint Paul taught, the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" - she does not err.

Let's look at the verse in a bit of context: "I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,

seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,

taken up in glory.


That said, Paul's illustration of the "church" is first that of a "household." To assign the "cannot err" to a household is quite a leap, and you have not made that leap exegetically. LT Johnson, a Catholic, says "That this assembly is one gathered by 'the living God' (theou zontos) is of first importance thematically and theologically, for it means that the church does not contain or control God, but is only in service to the one who moves always ahead of humans in surprising yet faithful ways." Your definition of "church" is not contained in that phrase. (Saying "my church is in the service of God" is not a way of establishing your definition. So we are at an impass on that one.

As well, "pillar and foundation" does not place more emphasis on church than truth. "If the meaning is that it is the church's job is to bear witness to the truth as well as combating false teachers, the workd translated "foundation" must be understood in the sense of a "bulwark" set to defend the truth."

Johnson suggests that "pillar and support" be read "in delayed apposition to 'how it is necessary to behave'?" He goes on to say, "It also makes better sense of the metaphorical point: the community is the oikos, and the members should behave so as to be supports and pillars for it." That is, by their good behavior, the members support the household of God.

That is an *exegesis* of what the text actually says, provided by the "New Bible Commentary." It does not say "the church will never err."

You will have to enlighten me as to where that concept comes from.

I used Johnson because he is a Catholic. I doubt that any Protestant exegete will be too far off of what Johnson says. So we've got virtually universal agreement among exegetical scholars that what you are saying cannot be what the text says.

natamllc said...

"hays", with all things well, you are a crack up, you know? :)

Coptic eh? That's funny, really really funny!

I hope everyone else has a sense of your humor?

Ransom said...

Re the original question

I don't think a Catholic would want to formulate it the way Erasmus did -- "truth or authority, take your pick: my choice is authority." It sets up an essentially false dichotomy.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Erasmus really was sympathetic with the Arian and Pelagian positions and would have liked the Church to ratify his opinions.

Another possibility is that Erasmus was describing the habit of faith --"blessed are they who do not see but believe". In that way he wouldn't be so far from the Catholic position.

A third possibility is that he thought that the Arian position couldn't be disproven strictly from Scripture, and so he sided with the Church because of obedience, not because he thought the Trinitarian position could be proven from Scripture. He engaged in some controversy over whether the Vulgate version 1 John 5:7-8, making specific reference to the Trinity, ought properly to belong in the Bible or not. I don't know whether the letter to Pirckheimer was written in that context, or not.

In that context he could have been saying "I personally think the Arians have a good case, but I submit my personal judgment to the Church."

Turretinfan said...

Ransom:

a) You phrase the matter as though you were not a Roman Catholic, but simply speculating as to what one might say. Are you in communion with Benedict XVI?

b) The context (posted as one of the comments above) helps to clarify what he meant, to the extent that there is ambiguity.

-TurretinFan

Ransom said...

Turretinfan:

I am a Catholic in communion with Benedict XVI. I didn't want to speak for Beckwith, Cross, or Liccione, though.

I think it would be a mistake for a Catholic apologist to make a dichotomy like that because it wouldn't represent how Catholics in general regard the Church's teaching. However, as a personal statement in a letter to a friend (thanks for the context, though it took some finding), Erasmus seems to have been expressing a personal dilemma between what he would have liked to believe and what he thought he should believe.

Erasmus was a bit of a skeptic in general. By skeptic I don't mean "unbeliever" but someone who, in the style of Descartes, approached philosophy rather differently from thinkers up till that time.

from here

The sceptic is raising doubts about the rational or evidential merits of the reasons given for a belief; he doubts that necessary and sufficient reasons either have been or could be discovered to show that any particular belief must be true, and cannot possibly be false. But the sceptic may, like any one else, still accept various beliefs.