Monday, February 01, 2010

Magisterium More Sufficient than Scripture? (Part 5)

[Cont'd from previous section]

Is the Roman Catholic Magisterium More Sufficient than Sacred Scripture?
Bryan Cross answered on the subject of the ability of the Scripture to interpret Scripture sufficiently, from Scripture, reason, and tradition.
(Part 5)

Continuing to analyze the problem with Bryan's argument, we might characterize the problem as Bryan wanting to get a level of knowledge that goes beyond the divinely set limits - have knowledge of things about which Scripture is silent. Scripture explains: Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. Judges 13:18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Revelation 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

The fathers also understood this.

Clement of Alexandria (about A.D. 150 - 215):
Who can read the Phaedo, and think of Plato and Socrates, without hope that the mystery of redemption applies to them in some effectual way, under St. Paul’s maxims (Romans 2:26)? It would torture me in reading such sayings as are quoted here, were I not able reverently to indulge such hope, and then to desist from speculation. Cannot we be silent where Scripture is silent, and leave all to Him who loved the Gentiles, and died for them on the cross?
- Clement of Alexandria, ANF: Vol. II, Book IV, Elucidations.

Basil of Caesarea (about A.D. 329-379):
I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those truly, who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to make them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass; plant, fish, wild beast, domestic animal, I take all in the literal sense. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Those who have written about the nature of the universe have discussed at length the shape of the earth. If it be spherical or cylindrical, if it resemble a disc and is equally rounded in all parts, or if it has the form of a winnowing basket and is hollow in the middle; all these conjectures have been suggested by cosmographers, each one upsetting that of his predecessor. It will not lead me to give less importance to the creation of the universe, that the servant of God, Moses, is silent as to shapes; he has not said that the earth is a hundred and eighty thousand furlongs in circumference; he has not measured into what extent of air its shadow projects itself whilst the sun revolves around it, nor stated how this shadow, casting itself upon the moon, produces eclipses. He has passed over in silence, as useless, all that is unimportant for us. Shall I then prefer foolish wisdom to the oracles of the Holy Spirit? Shall I not rather exalt Him who, not wishing to fill our minds with these vanities, has regulated all the economy of Scripture in view of the edification and the making perfect of our souls? It is this which those seem to me not to have understood, who, giving themselves up to the distorted meaning of allegory, have undertaken to give a majesty of their own invention to Scripture. It is to believe themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and to bring forth their own ideas under a pretext of exegesis. Let us hear Scripture as it has been written.
- Basil of Caesarea, NPNF2: Vol. VIII, Hexaemeron, Homily 9, The Creation of Terrestrial Animals, §1.

Hilary of Poitiers (about A.D. 315-67):
Such is their error, such their pestilent teaching; to support it they borrow the words of Scripture, perverting its meaning and using the ignorance of men as their opportunity of gaining credence for their lies. Yet it is certainly by these same words of God that we must come to understand the things of God. For human feebleness cannot by any strength of its own attain to the knowledge of heavenly things; the faculties which deal with bodily matters can form no notion of the unseen world. Neither our created bodily substance, nor the reason given by God for the purposes of ordinary life, is capable of ascertaining and pronouncing upon the nature and work of God. Our wits cannot rise to the level of heavenly knowledge, our powers of perception lack the strength to apprehend that limitless might. We must believe God’s word concerning Himself, and humbly accept such insight as He vouchsafes to give. We must make our choice between rejecting His witness, as the heathen do, or else believing in Him as He is, and this in the only possible way, by thinking of Him in the aspect in which He presents Himself to us. Therefore let private judgment cease; let human reason refrain from passing barriers divinely set. In this spirit we eschew all blasphemous and reckless assertion concerning God, and cleave to the very letter of revelation. Each point in our enquiry shall be considered in the light of His instruction, Who is our theme; there shall be no stringing together of isolated phrases whose context is suppressed, to trick and misinform the unpracticed listener. The meaning of words shall be ascertained by considering the circumstances under which they were spoken words must be explained by circumstances not circumstances forced into conformity will words. We, at any rate, will treat our subject completely; we will state both the circumstances under which words were spoken, and the true purport of the words. Each point shall be considered in orderly sequence.
- Hilary of Poitiers, NPNF2: Vol. IX, On the Trinity, Book IV, §14.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (about A.D. 393-466):
Eran.—In these points you seem to say sooth, but after its assumption into heaven I do not think that you will deny that it was changed into the nature of Godhead.
Orth.—I would not so say persuaded only by human arguments, for I am not so rash as to say anything concerning which divine Scripture is silent.
- Theodoret, NPNF2: Vol. III, Theodoret, Dialogue II.—The Unconfounded. Orthodoxos and Eranistes.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (about A.D. 393-466):
I do not say these things definitively. For I consider it presumptuous to speak definitively of things concerning which the divine Scripture does not speak distinctly. But I have said what I conceived was suitable to the views of piety.

[alternative translation of the above]

Now, I do not state this dogmatically, my view being that it is rash to speak dogmatically where holy Scripture does not make an explicit statement; rather, I have stated what I consider to be consistent with orthodox thought.
Greek text:
Ἐγὼ δὲ ταῦτα οὐκ ἀποφαινόμενος λέγω· τολμηρὸν γὰρ ἀποφαντικῶς οἶμαι λέγειν, περὶ ὧν ἡ θεία διαῤῥήδην οὐ λέγει γραφή· ἀλλʼ ὅπερ τοῖς εὐσεβέσι λογισμοῖς ἁρμόττειν ὑπέλαβον, εἴρηκα.
Citation: Quaestiones in Genesim, Interrogatio IV, PG 80:84; translation from William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. III, p. 191; alternate translation from Robert C. Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: The Questions on the Octateuch, Volume 1, Questions on Genesis, IV (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007) p. 19.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (about A.D. 393-466):
It does not become us to search after those things which are passed over in silence; but it behoves us to love those things which are written.

[alternative translation of the above]

We should not pry into secrets but be grateful for what is written.
Greek Text:
Οὐ δεῖ ζητεῖν τὰ σεσιγημένα· στέργειν δὲ προσήκει τὰ γεγραμμένα.
Citation: Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Quaestiones in Genesim, Interrogatio XLV, PG 80:145.; translated by William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, pp. 191-192; alternative translation by Robert C. Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: The Questions on the Octateuch, Volume 1, Questions on Genesis, Interrogatio XLV (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007) p. 95.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (about A.D. 393-466):
It is superfluous and unprofitable to inquire after those things which are passed over in silence.

[alternative translation of the above]

It is pointless and foolish to inquire into unspoken secrets.
Greek text:
Περιττὸν καὶ ἀνόητον τὸ τὰ σεσιγημένα ζητεῖν.
Citation: Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Quaestiones in Exodum, Interrogatio XXVI, PG 80:256; translation by William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 192; alternative translation by Robert C. Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: The Questions on the Octateuch, Volume 1, Questions on Exodus, XXVI (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007) p. 271.

Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch from about A.D. 412-444):
That which the divine Scripture has not spoken, how shall we receive it, and reckon it among verities?
Greek text:
Ὃ γὰρ οὐκ εἴρηκεν ἡ θεία Γραφὴ, τίνα δὴ τρόπον παραδεξόμεθα, καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀληθῶς ἔχουσι καταλογιούμεθα;
Citation: Cyril of Alexandria, Glaphyrorum In Genesim, Liber II, PG 69:53; translation by William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 181.

Prosper of Aquitaine (died about A.D. 463) writing around A.D. 450:
Who will tell the reasons and motives of these differences within one and the same grace when Sacred Scripture is silent about them?
- Prosper of Aquitaine, ACW, Vol. 14, P. De Letter, S.J., PH.D., S.T.D., trans., St. Prosper of Aquitaine: The Call of All Nations, Book 2, Chapter 9 (New York: Newman Press, 1952), p. 103.

Caesarius of Arles (about A.D. 470-543):
Sacred Scripture speaks about the godhead and divinity of the Holy Spirit, but does not say whether He should be called begotten or unbegotten. See what confusion a lack of faith creates. You do not want to know what God did not want to be unknown, and you want to know what He did not decree should be asked. . . .
You ask whether He [i.e. the Holy Spirit] was begotten or not. Sacred Scripture has said nothing about this, and it is wrong to violate the divine silence. Since God did not think that this should be indicated in His writings, He did not want you to question or to know through idle curiosity.
- Caesarius of Arles, FC, Vol. 66, Sermons 187-238, Sermon 213.1-2 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University Press, 1973), pp. 106, 107.

Gregory of Nyssa (about A.D. 335-395):
Since, my friend, you ask me a question in your letter, I think that it is incumbent upon me to answer you in their proper order upon all the points connected with it. It is, then, my opinion that it is a good thing for those who have dedicated themselves once for all to the higher life to fix their attention continually upon the utterances in the Gospel, and, just as those who correct their work in any given material by a rule, and by means of the straightness of that rule bring the crookedness which their hands detect to straightness, so it is right that we should apply to these questions a strict and flawless measure as it were, — I mean, of course, the Gospel rule of life, — and in accordance with that, direct ourselves in the sight of God. Now there are some amongst those who have entered upon the monastic and hermit life, who have made it a part of their devotion to behold those spots at Jerusalem where the memorials of our Lord’s life in the flesh are on view; it would be well, then, to look to this Rule, and if the finger of its precepts points to the observance of such things, to perform the work, as the actual injunction of our Lord; but if they lie quite outside the commandment of the Master, I do not see what there is to command any one who has become a law of duty to himself to be zealous in performing any of them.
- Gregory of Nyssa, NPNF2: Vol. V, On Ascetic and Moral Treatises, On Pilgrimages.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
Well, then, let us grant that it is so, that many can now bear those things when the Holy Spirit has been sent, which could not then, prior to His coming, be born by the disciples: do we on that account know what it is that He would not say, as we should know it were we reading or hearing it as uttered by Himself? For it is one thing to know whether we or you could bear it; but quite another to know what it is, whether able to be born or not. But when He Himself was silent about such things, which of us could say, It is this or that? Or if he venture to say it, how will he prove it? For who could manifest such vanity or recklessness as when saying what he pleased to whom he pleased, even though true, to affirm without any divine authority that it was the very thing which the Lord on that occasion refused to utter? Which of us could do such a thing without incurring the severest charge of rashness, — a thing which gets no countenance from prophetic or apostolic authority? For surely if we had read any such thing in the books confirmed by canonical authority, which were written after our Lord’s ascension, it would not have been enough to have read such a statement, had we not also read in the same place that this was actually one of those things which the Lord was then unwilling to tell His disciples, because they were unable to bear them. As if, for example, I were to say that the words which we read at the opening of this Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God:” and those which follow, because they were written afterwards, and yet without any mention of their being uttered by the Lord Jesus when He was here in the flesh, but were written by one of His apostles, to whom they were revealed by His Spirit, were some of those which the Lord would not then utter, because the disciples were unable to bear them; who would listen to me in making so rash a statement? But if in the same passage where we read the one we were also to read the other, who would not give due credence to such an apostle?
3. But it seems to me also very absurd to say that the disciples could not then have born what we find recorded, about things invisible and of profoundest import, in the apostolic epistles, which were written in after days, and of which there is no mention that the Lord uttered them when His visible presence was with them. For why could they not bear then what is now read in their books, land born by every one, even though not understood? Some things there are, indeed, in the Holy Scriptures which unbelieving men both have no understanding of when they read or hear them, and cannot bear when they are read or heard: as the pagans, that the world was made by Him who was crucified; as the Jews, that He could be the Son of God, who broke up their mode of observing the Sabbath; as the Sabellians, that the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit are a Trinity; as the Arians, that the Son is equal to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to the Father and Son; as the Photinians, that Christ is not only man like ourselves, but God also, equal to God the Father; as the Manicheans, that Christ Jesus, by whom we must be saved, condescended to be born in the flesh and of the flesh of man: and all others of divers perverse sects, who can by no means bear whatever is found in the Holy Scriptures and in the Catholic faith that stands out in opposition to their errors, just as we cannot bear their sacrilegious vaporings and mendacious insanities. For what else is it not to be able to bear, but not to retain in our minds with calmness and composure? But what of all that has been written since our Lord’s ascension with canonical truth and authority, is it not read and heard with equanimity by every believer, and catechumen also, before in his baptism he receive the Holy Spirit, even although it is not yet understood as it ought to be?
- Augustine, NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 96, John 16:12, 13.

[cont'd in section 6]

5 comments:

natamllc said...

TF,

this is now twice reading and coming to Basil of Casesarea and a bit down we read this portion of the sentence:::>

".... like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to snake them serve their own ends....".

Is that correct?

Turretinfan said...

No, "snake" should "make" - very good observation! I have edited the post to correct this error.

natamllc said...

At the head of this argument, it is written:

"....Continuing to analyze the problem with Bryan's argument, we might characterize the problem as Bryan wanting to get a level of knowledge that goes beyond the divinely set limits - have knowledge of things about which Scripture is silent. Scripture explains: Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things...".

I have to opine "out of silence" what has been a part of me from the beginning of my mind being opened up by the Lord and the Holy Spirit, as to what I am reading, understanding and now offering for consideration:

I see those verses above which you lay forth for consideration, [Deuteronomy 29:29, Judges 13:18 and Daniel 12:4].

There are three now that I would put over to make my position clear realizing it is solely my own and if there be others here with a similar persuasion of the Scriptures and the power behind Them, then they too would find a place of agreement with me in this proposition?

Let this be judged.

One:
Acts 26:13-20 with emphasis on verse 16.

Act 26:16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,


Two:
Rev 1:19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

Three: The entire chapter 3 of 2nd Peter with emphasis on verses 11 and 12.


2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
2Pe 3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

I believe from the beginning there was and now still is an eschatological end game in view; that while it is clear that during much of the "post" Resurrection period, when the Scriptures were being better understood in light of this phenomenon, the Resurrection of the Christ, actively being preached by God's preachers in the newly forming local churches that were growing and spreading across the known world of that day and still growing in this day and then epistles and personal letters were being added to them, thus forming the final Scriptures that were being included to Scriptures already included, thus having been made a part of what we now have as the finalized and completely sufficient and whole document, "Sacred Scripture", for me, the 66 books, [and to be fair, with an eye on pondering other writings too], it seemed certain in those early years people believed that the Lord would "soon" return and so they lived godly lives with the admonition first given by Peter:

Act 2:40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation."
Act 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Act 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Note*, not knowing the character count so far, I will post this now and continue:::>

natamllc said...

Continuing:::>

I would say that in this generation, there are things "yet to be revealed" that are going to be revealed to us that make some of the silence being addressed heard and understood.

We see that Jesus told Paul to look for things to be revealed to him in the distant future, cf. Acts 26:16.

We read John's own words at Revelation 1:19 that the Angel is instructing John to write about things known and about things yet to be known.

It is those things "yet to be known" that remain in silence until their appointed time to be heard. I trust we are now living in such a time for things that have been in silence and hard to understand and unknown, to become easy to understand and able to be heard and known.

This borders on "revelation". Revelation currently is and should be a part of the "local" Church, and when necessary, as in the book of Acts, 11:28, a Prophet, Agabus, tried and true by the Spirit gives a the Word of the Lord and the Elders of the local Church would make the revelation known, so as to properly prepare one self for what has just been revealed.


I believe if one would consider 2 Peter 3 and the full breadth and severity of what he is unfolding, one would see that as he, so King David also saw similar by the same Holy Spirit by the mouth of His Prophet.

Consider::::>

1Ch 16:29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
1Ch 16:30 tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"
1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

Also:::>

Break, to be continued:::>

natamllc said...

continuing to my conclusion:::>

1Ch 17:16 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, "Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?
1Ch 17:17 And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant's house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O LORD God!
1Ch 17:18 And what more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant.
1Ch 17:19 For your servant's sake, O LORD, and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things.
1Ch 17:20 There is none like you, O LORD, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
1Ch 17:21 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making for yourself a name for great and awesome things, in driving out nations before your people whom you redeemed from Egypt?
1Ch 17:22 And you made your people Israel to be your people forever, and you, O LORD, became their God.
1Ch 17:23 And now, O LORD, let the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house be established forever, and do as you have spoken,
1Ch 17:24 and your name will be established and magnified forever, saying, 'The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, is Israel's God,' and the house of your servant David will be established before you.
1Ch 17:25 For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you.
1Ch 17:26 And now, O LORD, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
1Ch 17:27 Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O LORD, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever."

The question posed is this:

"ought we not to do as Peter taught us at 2 Peter 3:12 and pray to Our Heavenly Father that He "hasten" the coming of the day of the Lord?"

Why do I ask this?

Because of these verses in the Book of the Revelation to John:

Rev 8:1 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Rev 8:2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,
Rev 8:4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
Rev 8:5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Rev 8:6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

The great work of the Church is prayer and a sort of prayer that prevails over all forces of wickedness both spiritual and their surrogates plying their false doctrines in the world to keep the Church dormant and dull of hearing because she is absent from duties given to her by God in this generation too!

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