Thursday, March 18, 2010

Roman Catholics and History

One of the problems facing Roman Catholic apologetics generally is history. History demonstrates that many of Rome's dogmas are not apostolic, coming into being long after the apostolic era. There have been a variety of ways that Roman Catholic apologists have attempted to deal with this problem (from simple denials of the historical fact, to more nuanced responses such as Newman's development hypothesis). However, many who have read presentations on history from a Roman Catholic perspective are unaware of what some of Rome's servants have viewed as their role with respect to history. In the article I've linked below, John Bugay has provided some evidence of what we might conveniently refer to as "historical eisegeis." (link)

27 comments:

Kelly said...

A problem with Catholic apologetics, especially if those being recognized as representatives of the articulation of Catholic faith are those `lay apologists` so popular in some parts of the United States, is that they are not articulating Catholicism...

Often they are converts from Protestantism, and while we`re happy to have them, such people understandably bring with them presuppositions that we do not share in Catholicism.

An example would be in many of these apologist`s need to defend from Scripture, teachings of the Church that aren`t to be found there (Mary`s continued virginity).

John Bugay said...

TF: Thank you for the mention here.

Kelly: You say "they are not articulating Catholicism," but you will have a hard time convincing them of that -- not in the least because you have no "Magisterial" right to say so.

And so, while Catholics make accusations of "33,000 denominations," these Catholic Apologists (yourself among them) provide ongoing evidence of the many thousands of "Catholicisms," each of which has become an island and a papacy of one ...."

Kelly said...

John,

I am not a Catholic apologist. I don`t know who you are, and I`m not sure that you know who I am. Perhaps you are confusing me with someone else.

Assuming good will on the part of these apologists, a little bit of education might help them, also an appeal to the Magisterium (i.e. show them how Catholics do biblical scholarship, what meaning we attach to tradition, our understanding of the development of doctrine and so on...).

John Bugay said...

I am not a Catholic apologist.

You are here pontificating over those who are, "happy to have" "such people," disagreeing with their presuppositions, assuming their good will, proposing what they need to learn, etc.

You may not call yourself a "Catholic apologist," but you have not distinguished yourself from them, either.

Kelly said...

I suppose we`re just playing with words now. If I am a `Catholic apologist` as you seem to think (even though I stated explicitly that I wasn`t), so would any Catholic be, who wishes to speak about their faith.

In that sense, I suppose I am. However, in the sense that I was referring to, there is a group of apologists who happen to be Catholic (often converts) who without any magisterial authority (not that they need any) offer very definitive views on matters beyond their understanding.

This is seen most obviously in the example I already cited, in the searching out of Scriptural texts that to them support Church teachings, that the Scripture had no interest in (i.e. Mary`s continued virginity...)

John Bugay said...

It's too bad that your view -- that the Scriptures don't support Mary's perpetual virginity -- holds so little sway among so many vocal Catholics.

hmmm, given that you know Catholicism so much better than they do, I wonder what you might do to "help them" with that little bit of extra education that they need.

Kelly said...

Hi John,

I do what I can.

While it`s difficult to make generalizations about the Catholic faithful, I think that as those who take their faith seriously begin to explore these matters, they need to move beyond these self-apppointed apologists.

But I want to make sure you`re understanding me. My desire is for honesty. I would like to hear these apologists honestly say that if your looking for evidence regarding, say, Mary`s continued virginity, you`re not going to find it in the Scriptures.

That doesn`t mean I want them rejecting what the Church teaches. The Church teaches Mary maintained her virginity. All I am saying is that I would like these people not to pretend that the Scriptures are interested in such a matter.

I am having a little difficulty with your tone. I am engaging in this conversation in good faith. I am not suggesting that you are not, but some of your language leaves me wondering about your motives.

John Bugay said...

My tone? I'm sorry if I am a bit sarcastic. I am the person who wrote the Reformation500 posting on "Catholic Historical Method that Turretinfan linked to here.

It is my habit to approach discussions with Catholics with caution. I distrust the Catholic Church as a rule, and I distrust particular Catholics I've interacted with to varying degrees.

And here you are, uncredentialed, speaking down on these "apologists" in a way that implies that you are somehow more knowledgeable about Catholicism than all of them. If you are indeed going to engage in this conversation in good faith, then say something of real substance. Your "hints" here aren't very impressive.

I desire honesty too. But I don't believe it is going to be forthcoming from an institution like the Catholic Church.

Kelly said...

Well, here at the ninth comment of this post, considering that you are still looking for something of substance (rather than hints), let me repeat what I said fairly clearly in my opening comment:

Lay apologists are not representatives of the Church`s teaching office. Often as converts they bring with them certain presuppositions that they still feel the need to entertain.

I gave the evidence of the way they often use Scripture. They look to prove Catholic teaching through Scripture, misunderding the nature of biblical scholarship and also the Catholic understanding of development.

I don`t know how I could be more clear about this. As for my credentials, what I am saying is either correct or not. However, I`d happily compare credentials.

I appreciate your honestly articulating how you feel about Catholicism, and I still expect you to disagree with particular teachings found within Catholicism, but I want it to be good arguments your disagreeing with, and (while popular in certain circles) these apologists are not offering good arguments.

John Bugay said...

Lay apologists are not representatives of the Church`s teaching office. Often as converts they bring with them certain presuppositions that they still feel the need to entertain.

I gave the evidence of the way they often use Scripture. They look to prove Catholic teaching through Scripture, misunderding the nature of biblical scholarship and also the Catholic understanding of development.


I get what you are saying. I happen to agree with you in all of this. However, it changes nothing, it influences nobody.

Where do we go from here?

I would say that someone like Turretinfan is somebody who knows Catholicism better than many of the apologists he interacts with. So unfortunately, he is often faced with addressing two different things -- what the genuine Catholic teaching is, and what the apologists are saying.

Those who are "representatives of the Church's teaching office" are hard to come by in this type of environment.

If you are such a person, it would probably be very helpful if you were to provide some level of correction those Catholic apologists you speak of.

If you see that I've misrepresented Catholicism in any way, I'd be more than happy to be set straight.

And as for Turretinfan, I'm sure he is not in need of any correction at all, and he's more than capable to interact with the best arguments you have to offer.

John Bugay said...

By the way, Kelly, I have no affiliation with Turretinfan at all, except that I read his work regularly and comment here occasionally, and he been kind enough to direct some folks to my blog.

Kelly said...

John, you`re right. What I am saying doesn`t change anything, and doesn`t influence anybody.

That puts the challenge on individuals responsible for the education of Catholics.

It challenges me insofar as I am a seminarian and am discerning priestly ministry.

By the way, I have provided some correction. William Albrecht devoted a youtube video to me. :)

But I get what you`re saying.

On a side note, what would it matter if TurretinFan could counter my best arguments? That would just say something about my arguments. It wouldn't suggest much about the issue in question now would it?

Anyways, nice chatting, and I'll keep an eye on your blog. There's lots more I could say, but I'm trying to close down, rather than initiate new, conversations.

John Bugay said...

What I am saying doesn`t change anything, and doesn`t influence anybody. That puts the challenge on individuals responsible for the education of Catholics.

I know that Ratzinger has written about such things as "Catholic Biblical Scholarship" and I think he has some hope for those "responsible for the education of Catholics." But with all the problems that we've seen in areas of abuse, etc., now reaching high into the Vatican, I don't think that situation is going to improve at all, and will likely get worse. The priesthood, and now probably significant numbers of those bishops you would consider to be "recognized as representatives of the articulation of Catholic faith" are so badly compromised by other agendas, that I don't see the RCC as ever recovering. That's on a human level. Of course, I believe that Catholic doctrine is fatally flawed through and through, and worthy of being opposed both from a biblical and historical basis.

It challenges me insofar as I am a seminarian and am discerning priestly ministry.

My prayer is that you would think hard about what the consequenses of that might be, and then reject it.

By the way, I have provided some correction. William Albrecht devoted a youtube video to me. :)

I don't get the impression that he's the "best of breed" out there.

On a side note, what would it matter if TurretinFan could counter my best arguments? That would just say something about my arguments. It wouldn't suggest much about the issue in question now would it?

You first brought up the quality of people's arguments. I just suggested that he could counter your arguments. I happen to think that the whole Roman notion of what "the church" is is wrong-headed, and so I tend to think that ANY argument in favor of Catholicism can and should be countered.

Thanks for chatting.

Coram Deo said...

Arguments are fine and certainly have their place if someone is truly seeking after truth, of course the only thing that can change a hardened heart is the inward work of the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of the eternal Gospel of grace.

And the selfsame Spirit's work is the only thing that effectually causes sinners to truly seek after truth in the first place.

Romanism, like all other works righteousness false religions, is a Satanic opiate for the hopelessly religious, yet desperately wicked, human heart.

"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Romans 11:6)

"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:4,5)

"the good works of the one justified," "the good merits of the one justified," "or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God," "truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life" (Canon 32 of the 6th session of the Council of Trent).

In Christ,
CD

Alexander said...

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

kelly said...

Perhaps you give your listeners more information. Is that from Trent? Vatican I?

Normally when we speak generally of canons, we're referring to Canon Law (and Latin Code, in particular).

Alexander said...

Council of Trent, 6th Session, Decree on Justification.

Coram Deo said...

Of course Trent walked a fine line on the subject of man's meriting justification because of the obvious charge of Pelagianism that would follow such an overt declaration, yet nevertheless the language is clear: works merit eternal life in Romanism.

To avoid the charge of Pelagianism the grace of God is given lip service, but in the end eternal life is the reward of meritorious human works in Rome's soteriology which thing is another gospel, and is therefore anathema according to the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians.

In Christ,
CD

Alexander said...

Thanks Coram Confusio, I think I'll just do the crazy thing and take the consistent and inherently logical teaching of the Church.

Coram Deo said...

So Alexander, will you then follow the teaching of the communion of Rome even though it clearly departs from Scripture?

In other words, are you consciously admitting that you wilfully to adhere to the so-called "consistent and inherently logical teaching of the [Romanist] Church" even though it has formally anathematized the gospel?

If so, then it truly is a "crazy thing" you do; to bow your knee to a soul-damning false religion of works-righteousness which stands over and against the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints in the Holy Writ - the true Apostolic deposit.

In Christ,
CD

Alexander said...

Coram,

I'm not convinced by your rhetoric. The best that you can do is tell me that what the Church teaches under anathema is done in lip-service. Quite frankly, I find your arguments to be very ignorant.

That you find my faith to be soul damning means nothing to me. By all means, repeat it as much as you want...shout it from the roof tops.

Coram Deo said...

I'm under no delusions that my words can convince you of anything, Alexander; that's the Holy Spirit's job.

I can only tell you the truth that Rome teaches a soul-damning false gospel, and if you faithfully follow their teachings which reject and deny the gospel of grace, then your soul suffer in eternal torments.

In Christ,
CD

Anonymous said...


Of course Trent walked a fine line on the subject of man's meriting justification because of the obvious charge of Pelagianism that would follow such an overt declaration, yet nevertheless the language is clear: works merit eternal life in Romanism.


Hilarious. I bet it really bothers you that Trent so clearly anathematized what you accuse Catholics of believing.

I guess we just got lucky there didn't we!

Good thing they got through this lip service with the very first canon of the council!

On a serious note, maybe instead of constant cynicism, you should take the teachings of Trent as a whole because only has a whole can you get any sense of what Trent was actually teaching about justification.

Its no surprise that you don't understand this topic given the way you read the councils.

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous:

It would be more valuable to the conversation if you made an argument rather than simply personal criticisms of those with whom you disagree.

While Trent may condemn "man may be justified before God by his own works ... without the grace of God through Jesus Christ" it does not condemn "man may be justified before God by his own works ... with the grace of God through Jesus Christ"

Perhaps before the next time you attack Rome's critics for allegedly not understanding what Rome teaches, you will reflect on the fact that they may actually have studied the matter.

- TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

TF,

Do we have faith of our own merit or faith because God grants faith to us?

Coram Deo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coram Deo said...

The way Romanists incessantly accuse those who reject their communion as being willfully ignorant, or merely "not understanding" the councils and emanations of Rome is nothing short of Gnostic.

Words mean things, and assuming that the words being used can be satisfactorily defined in their proper context, then it's really not too difficult to understand the intended meanings, and reach the logical implications of the language employed.

Rome states without equivocation that men are justified before God, and that eternal life is "merited by good works":

"the good works of the one justified," "the good merits of the one justified," "or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God," "truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life" (Canon 32 of the 6th session of the Council of Trent).

This claim stands over and against the plain teaching of scripture:

"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Romans 11:6)

"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:4,5)

But neither at the time of the Reformation, nor today, has the debate been about the necessity of grace (as TF points out in his 3/21 2:52 p.m. post above).

Rather it was, is, and evidently shall remain about the sufficiency of grace.

Is Christ's atoning work alone sufficient to save to the uttermost those who trust in Him?

Is Christ Himself enough?

According to Rome men must attain to, and maintain, their own right standing before God by their good works with the help of grace. If this is true, then Christ's work was intrinsically insufficient to redeem sinners.

Therefore, according to Rome, Christ's atoning work alone was and is not sufficient to save to the uttermost those who trust in Him meaning Christ Himself is not enough.

Certainly Rome affirms - as she must to avoid charges of rank apostasy - that Christ and His work were necessary, as a sort of catalyst for righteousness, but in the final analysis it was not sufficient to secure the salvation of anyone in and of itself apart from man's cooperation with said "grace".

The Christ of Rome, therefore, is an insufficient Savior. He is simply a catalyst, an aid, and a help - a necessary catalyst, aid and help to be sure - yet one Who is nonetheless insufficient and unable to save anyone by His own power and merit.

This is the pathetic and blasphemous theological corner that the Roman communion has painted herself into. And being incapable of reform, because she has declared herself "infallible", Rome cannot internally correct her course, neither can she accept external correction, even from the very Word of God which she ironically claims to uphold and defend.

Thus Rome is the ultimate disobedient wife who pretends faithfulness while shamelessly playing the harlot, and unrepentantly committing spiritual adultery.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Rev. 3:17

In Christ,
CD