Thursday, October 07, 2010

Texts and Studies: Contributions to Biblical and Patristic Literature (Index)

The following is an index of the on-line versions of Texts and Studies: Contributions to Biblical and Patristic Literature originally edited by Joseph Armitage Robinson. If you happen to come across additional on-line versions, please let me know. I've tried to capture all of Google/Archive's viewable holdings, but there may be other volumes that escape my attention. I'm also not aware of any on-line index of the contents of all volumes. If anyone knows of that, please let me know, so I can update this index.

Volume 1 (all parts)(1891)(full view)(Archive)
- The Apology of Aristides on behalf of the Christians -- Volume 1, Number 1 (first edition?) -- Second edition (1893)(google?)(Archive)(Archive Copy 2) -- (CCEL)
- The Passion of St. Perpetua -- Volume 1, Number 2 (1891)(google?)(Archive)
- The Lord's Prayer in the Early Church -- Volume 1, Number 3 (1891)(full view)
- The Fragments of Heracleon -- Volume 1, Number 4 (1891)(full view)

Volume 2 (all parts)(1893)(full view)(Archive)
- A Study of Codex Bezae
- The Testament of Abraham -- Volume 2, Number 2 (1892)(google?)(Archive)
- Apocrypha Anecdota

Volume 3 (all parts)(1895)(google?)(Archive)
- The Rules of Tyconius -- Volume 3, Number 1 (1894)(full view)(Archive)
- The Fourth Book of Ezra -- Volume 3, Number 2 (1895)(full view)(Archive)
- Euthaliana

Volume 4 (all parts)(1896)(google?)(Archive)
- The Athanasian Creed and its early commentaries -- Volume 4, Number 1 (1896)(full view)
- Coptic Apocryphal Gospels
- The Old Latin and the Italia -- Volume 4, Number 3 (1896)(full view)

Volume 5 (all parts)(1899)(google?)(Archive)
- Apocrypha Anecdota II
- Clement of Alexandria: Quis Dives Salvetur -- Volume 5, Number 2 (1897)(full view)
- The Hymn of the Soul -- Volume 5, Number 3 (1897)(full view)
- Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus (N)
- Clement's Biblical Text

Volume 6
The Lausiac History of Palladius -- Volume 6, Number 1 (1898)(full view)

Volume 7
The Meaning of Homoousios in the "Constantinopolitan' Creed -- Volume 7, Number 1 (1901)(full view)(Archive)
S. Ephraim's Quotations from the Gospel -- Volume 7, Number 2 (1901)(full view)

Volume 8 (All parts) (1916)(full view)(Archive)
- The Liturgical Homilies of Narsai
- The Mishna on Idolatry `Aboda Zara -- Volume 8, Number 2 (1911)(full view)(Archive)
- The Odes of Solomon -- Volume 8, Number 3 (1912)(full view)(Archive)
- The So-called Egyptian Church Order and derived documents

Volume 9
Pelagius's Expositions of Thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, Introduction -- Volume 9, Number 1 (1926) (Full view)
Pelagius's Expositions of Thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, III -- Volume 9, Number ? (1926) (Snippet view)

Volume 10
The Explanatio Symboli and Initiandos Volume 10 -- (1952) (snippet view)

Volume 11 and following
A Christian Palestinian Syriac Horologion -- (1954)(snippet view)
Codex Climaci Rescriptus Graecus -- (1956)(snippet view)
The Account of the Tabernacle -- (1959)(snippet view)
The Sentences of Sextus -- (1959)(snippet view)
The New Testament Text of Saint Ambrose -- (1959) (snippet view)
The Turin Fragments of Tyconius' Commentary on Revelation -- (1963) (snippet view)
(1967)(snippet view)

Lane Chaplin and I Discuss Amyraldianism

In the video embedded below (sorry, it's just audio + still images), Lane Chaplin and I discuss Amyraldianism. It's about an hour long. I hope it's helpful!
- TurretinFan

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Cochlaeus Misparaphrase Debacle Summary

We've had a few posts on the issue of the misquotation of Luther (i.e. Cochlaeus provided a paraphrase that did not accurately represent what Luther said, and this was then picked up and used as an alleged quote from Luther). The scope of this error is significant. In general, it appears that the quotation was generated by Cochlaeus, and then picked up by influential Romanist scholars Melchior Cano (died 1560)(who acknowledged that he got it from Cochlaeus) and Robert Bellarmine (died 1621)(who did not identify his secondary source, although he was familiar with works by Cochlaeus). From there, numerous other - mostly Roman Catholic - folks picked up the quotation, some citing back to Cochlaeus (suggesting they got it from Cano) and others simply alleging it is from Luther (suggesting they got it from Bellarmine).

In the following list, I've tried to highlight a number of the instances where Cochlaeus' "quotation" from Luther reappeared over the centuries in the Latin. The dates I've given may be misleading. For example, as noted above, Melchior Cano died in 1560, but the edition of his works that I found is significantly later.

Also, I've limited myself to the Latin. If I were to include English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Polish, I suspect the list would be much longer. Also, I'm sure that if someone with more time on their hands did a more thorough search of the literature, they would find even more instances. This is just a quick survey of some of the easier-to-locate instances.

1. Jaime Luciano Balmes (Protestantism and Catholicity, American Edition 1850)

See also, original(?) Spanish edition 1842:

2. D. Hallinen (Irish Ecclesiastical Record, April 1882)

3. Francis de Sales (Works, 1892)

4. Guglielmo Audisio (Juris naturae et gentium privati et publici fundamenta, 1852)

5. Melchior Cano (Works, 1734)(note the explicit citation to Cochlaeus)

Same thing in the 1727 edition of his works:

6. Robert Bellarmine (Works, 1856)

7. François Marie De Brouwer (Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, in quo etiam de Romano Pontifice, 1881)

8. Leonhard Rieff (Primae Lineae historico-theologicae, Volume 1, 1824)

9. Giuseppe Brunati (De nomine, auctore, emendatoribus et authentia Vulgatæ dissertatio, 1827)

See also Brunati in L'amico d'Italia, Volume 9 (1826)

10. Treatise in Ex Theologia Polemica Positiones Selectae: "DE VERA CHRISTI ECCLESIA CATHOLICO ROMANA" (1837)

11. Fulcran Vigouroux & Louis Bacuez (Manuel biblique: ou, cours d'écriture sainte a l'usage des séminaires, Volume 1, 1884)

12.Damian Czerny (Institutiones Hermeneuticae Novi Testamenti, 1780)

13. Franz Leopold Bruno Liebermann (Institutiones theologicae, Book 2, 1831)(notice that Liebermann specifically cites to Bellarmine)

14. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (Philosophische Schriften, Volume 4, Part 1, p. 2288)(apparently quoting from Bellarmine)
15. John Chrysostom of St. Joseph (Dissertatio: De Canone Sacrorum Librorum Constituto A Sanctis Patribus In Magno Nicaeno Concilio, Volume 1, 1742)

16. Joannes Ranolder (Hermeneuticae biblicae generalis principia rationalia, christiana et catholica selectis exemplis illustrata, 1859)

17. Giuseppe Zama Mellini (Institutiones Biblicæ; sive Dissertationes isagogicæ in sacram Scripturam, 1841)(notice that he refers to Bellarmine here, though he doesn't explicitly say that he found the alleged Luther statement from him)

18.Ubaldo Ubaldi (Introductio in sacram scripturam, Volume 3, 1884)

19. José de San Pedro de Alcántara Castro (Apología de la Theología Escholástica, 1796)

20.Seweryn Lubomlcyzk (Monotessaron Evangelicum, Seu Catena Aurea, Volume 1, 1607)

21. Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz (Theologiae moralis fundamentalis, 1676)

22. Christiani Kortholti (De variis scripturae sacrae editionibus tractatus theologico-philologicus, 1668) (quoting Bellarmine, to respond to Bellarmine)

23. Marin Humbelot (Sacrorum bibliorum notio generalis, 1700)

24. Leonhard Rieff (Primae Lineae historico-theologicae: Volume 1, 1824)

25. Stephan Wiest (Institutiones Theologicae: Demonstratio Religion. Catholicae, 1786)

26. Wolfgang Wilhelm (Muri civitatis sanctae, hoc est religionis catholicae fundamenta XII, 1615)

27.Pedro López Sánchez (Elementos de derecho internacional público: 1866)

28. Aleksander Tyszyński (Rozbiory i krytyki: Volume 1, 1854)

29. Buszczynski (Décadence de l'Europe, 1867)

30. Philippus Nerius Chrismann (Regula fidei catholicæ, 1792)(notice that he specifically cites Cochlaeus)

31. Benedikt Stattler (De locis theologicis, 1775)(notice the explicit citation to Cochlaeus)

32. Tobias Mollik (Dissertationes Dogmaticae, Volume 2, 1786)

33. Christoph Besold (Axiomata philosophiae christianae, Volume 2, 1626)(cites to Bellarmine)

34. William Whitaker (Disputatio de sacra scriptura contra huius temporis Papistas, 1588)(Notice that Whitaker is responding to Bellarmine, and that Whitaker is saying that Cochlaeus is the source)

That's a good place to end the list. There are a number of morals to the story. (1) Listen to and read William Whitaker. (2) Don't fall into the trap of counting the noses of scholars. The fact that the quotation is attributed to Luther by dozens of scholars in a half dozen countries doesn't mean it really was something written by Luther. (3) Always try to locate the primary source for your material, and if you do not, identify your secondary source.


1. Matthaeus Praetorius (Tuba pacis, 1685)

And in the index:

2. Tommaso Bozio (De signis ecclesiae Dei, 1626)

3. Antonius Sanderus (Vindiciarum sive Dissertationum biblicarum libri tres, 1650)

Mr. Paul Hoffer, in the comment box, also states that "Von Hoeninghaus" provides this quotation.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Final Piece in Cochlaeus' Misquotation of Luther Puzzle

A few years ago, James Swan and I provided some documentation that a footnote provided by Steve Ray (link to discussion of "When Footnotes Attack")(additional response) was actually a false quotation, an invention of "that slanderer Cochlaeus," as Whitaker expressed it in the 16th century (link to discussion of the transmission of the spurious statement).

Cochlaeus was paraphrasing (badly) one of Luther's writings on the words "This is my body." We showed that the German does not support Cochlaeus' mistranslation.

Nevertheless, some of Steve Ray's supporters seemed to hold out hope that that Matthew Judex "official" Lutheran Latin translation of the work from 1556 might support Cochlaeus. It does not. The relevant portion in Matthew Judex' translation is this:
Si haec mundi machina per aliquot annos duraverit, iterum more patrum ad tollendas dissensiones humana quaerentur praesidia, constituemur qui; leges et decreta ad conciliandam et servandam in religione concordiam, quod quidem similem priori sortietur eventum.
That is a far cry from Cochlaeus' paraphrase:
Si diutius steterit mundus, iterum erit necessarium, ut propter diversas scripturae interptationes, quae nunc sunt, ad conservandum fidei unitatem, Conciliorum Decreta recipiamus, atquae ad ea confugiamus.
Hopefully this last piece of the jigsaw puzzle lays the matter to rest, once and for all. It is not the case that Cochlaeus simply adopted the Matthew Judex translation.

- TurretinFan

P.S. Perhaps Mr. Armstrong will now complete his post since the work is available (via Google Books), and provide a retraction/apology to Mr. Swan.

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth - Part 20

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth - Part 20

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the twentieth in the multi-part series.

The First Councils of Ephesus (A.D. 431) / Third Ecumenical Councils

That pluralization is not a typo. You may have heard of the first council of Ephesus, also called the Third Ecumenical Council. It was held in Ephesus in 431. What tends not to be mentioned is this:

Who Called the Council(s)?

If you guessed, "the pope," or less anachronistically "the bishop of Rome," you would be wrong. The person who called the council was Theodosius II. It was not initiated by "the Church" but by the state.

Was the Council Fair? And why do you keep pluralizing Council?

Again, if this is a Holy Council of the universal church, specially blessed by the Holy Spirit, one might expect that it would be a fair council. It was not - or at least it gives the strong appearance of being unfair. Cyril of Alexandria headed up one faction that responded to Theodosius II's call for the council. He arrived in Ephesus in advance of his theological opponents. When he learned that they were several days away, he went ahead and opened the council. His opponents arrived four days later and convened their own council in Ephesus. Each side deposed the other side.

Who won?

In the short term, Cyril's party won. There was a rift between the parties of the rival parties, but the rift between the parties was resolved. In the long term, his leading opponent (Nestorius) remains synonymous with division of Christ into two persons, whether or not Nestorius actually held that view. On the other hand, phrases attributed to Cyril, such as "one nature after the union," were later condemned by Chalcedon (A.D. 451), vindicating the opposing party to some degree.

Eastern Orthodox historian Meyendorff agrees:
The Chalcedonian definition of 451—two natures united in one hypostasis, yet retaining in full their respective characteristics—was therefore a necessary correction of Cyril’s vocabulary. Permanent credit should be given to the Antiochians—especially to Theodoret—and to Leo of Rome for having shown the necessity of this correction, without which Cyrillian Christology could easily be, and actually was, interpreted in a Monophysite sense by Eutyches and his followers.
- John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 2nd rev. ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1983), p. 33.

How was the Rift Resolved?

The rift was resolved by the adoption (without the mechanism of a council) of the Formula of Union. This formula condemned Nestorius, but forced Cyril to back off from the stand taken in his Twelve Anathemas. It resulted in a tottering peace, and that peace fell apart after Cyril's death (A.D. 444), arguably due to the ferocity of Dioscorus, one of the leaders among those who were in Cyril's party.

Norman Russell, an historian who I believe is Anglican (I'm not sure), explains:
The ‘precise facts’, although Cyril does not say so, are that the Formulary of Reunion [433] was the best compromise that he could have secured in these circumstances. The repudiation of Ephesus by the Eastern bishops under the leadership of John of Antioch meant that the council would have failed unless the Easterners could have been persuaded to accede to it retrospectively. And the power diplomacy exercised by the imperial commissioner Aristolaus, backed up by the menacing presence of the magistrianos Maximus, made it clear to Cyril what the alternatives were: doctrinal agreement between Alexandria and Antioch or the setting aside of the Council with the possible restoration of Nestorius and the certain banishment of Cyril. It is no wonder that Cyril suffered bouts of nervous depression before an accord was finally signed. The gloss that he put on the phraseology of the Formulary in his letter to Eulogius was that the ‘two natures’ refers to the Word and the flesh, for neither becomes the other as a result of the Incarnation. But the ‘two natures’ in itself says nothing about the union. For this we need to refer to ‘one incarnate nature of the Son’. The ‘one nature’ from ‘two natures’ is analogous to the formation of a single human being from the two constituent natures of body and soul. The words ‘one’ and ‘two’ in Cyril’s usage refer to two different levels of reality.

Cyril returned to this argument in greater detail in his First Letter to Succensus. Succensus, one of Cyril’s allies, although bishop of Diocaesarea in the territory of John of Antioch, had asked Cyril ‘whether one should ever speak of two natures in respect of Christ’. In reply Cyril rehearses the teaching of Nestorius, which he claims was derived from Diodore of Tarsus. The ‘twoness’ for Nestorius, as Cyril understood it, consisted in a man being joined to the Word in a nominal sense, so that man and the Word enjoyed a deemed equality by honour or rank. The assigning of different sayings in the Gospels either to the humanity or to the divinity is symptomatic of such an approach. The correct doctrine, by contrast, is that Christ is the pre-eternal Word born of the Virgin. Cyril knows that he is accused of Apollinarianism for teaching this. A strict union is in danger of being seen as a merger [σύνχσις], mixture [σύνκρασις] or mingling [φυρμός]. Cyril rebuts the slander. What we affirm, he says, is that the Word from God the Father united to himself a body endowed with a soul without merger [ἀσυνχύτως], alteration [ἀτρέπτως] or change [ἀμεταβλήτως]. It is necessary to maintain the two natures (i.e., the composite elements, the divine and the human, that make up Christ) as well as the one nature (i.e., the single subject who is the Son — ‘the one incarnate nature of the Word’). If either is missing our Christology cannot be orthodox.

It would perhaps have prevented a great deal of subsequent misunderstanding if Cyril could have gone one step further and made his second meaning of physis explicitly equivalent to hypostatis. Cyril accepted the Cappadocian identity of ousia in three separate hypostaseis on the Trinitarian level. But it was not until Chalcedon that an analogous distinction was applied to Christology: two natures but one hypostatis or prosopon. The reason why Cyril could not take that step was his conviction that the mia physis formula had been sanctioned by Athanasius, the church father so far as Cyril was concerned, In fact the phrase ‘one incarnate nature of God the Word’ had been devised by Apollinarius, who had put it forward in the statement of faith he sent to the Emperor Jovian in 363. This statement had been reassigned to Athanasius by Apollinarius’ disciples after his condemnation. Cyril was completely taken in by the forgery. He first used the mia physis formula in his five-volume polemic against Nestorius, and again in his important dogmatic letters to Eulogius and Succensus. To him it was a useful phrase of irreproachable provenance which emphatically ruled out Nestorius’ loose ‘prosopic union’ once and for all.
Norman Russell, his chapter in The Theology of St Cyril of Alexandria: A Critical Appreciation (London: T & T Clark, 2003), pp. 238-240.

But Did Chalcedon Contradict Ephesus?

Canon 7 of the Council of Ephesus states: "These things having been read aloud, the holy Council then decreed that no one should be permitted to offer any different belief or faith, or in any case to write or compose any other, than the one defined by the Holy Fathers who convened in the city of Nicaea, with Holy Spirit."

Yet, quite famously, the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) did write and compose another creed than that of Nicaea. The modified creed is still called the "Nicene Creed," but is more suitably referred to as as the "Nicene-Constantinoplean Creed" (such a mouthful, it is easy to see why the more imprecise description is popular).

This was also a vindication for those of the party that had convened a council with Nestorius. After all, one of Dioscorus' attacks on them was that the Formula of Union was essentially a supplemental creed beyond that of Nicaea, yet Chalcedon felt free to come up with a new creed - one that largely adopted the views of the Formula of Union.

Have you left out a council?

Yes, I left out another council that met in A.D. 449 in Ephesus. This council condemned the author of the Formula of Union and vindicated Eutychius, rejecting the arguments from Leo I (of Rome), and exonerated Eutychius. This council was also called by Theodosius II. Nevertheless, it was overturned by the council of Chalcedon in 451.

What Explains the Reversal?

Well, God's Providence is certainly one explanation. But another, more to-the-point explanation, is that in July 450 Theodosius II fell off his horse and died. His sister Pulcheria was closely allied with Leo of Rome, in contrast to Chrysaphius, who had been running imperial affairs under Theodosius II, and who was allied with Eutychius. Pulcheria called the council of Chalcedon in 451, after having Chrysaphius executed and Eutychius exiled. From a human standpoint, Pulcheria controlled the council, and the result was just as she wished: Dioscorus was condemned and exiled, and Leo's "Tome" (previously rejected de facto at Ephesus II, A.D. 449) was given a prominent place.

Eastern Orthodox historian John A. McGuckin, who has a very high view of Cyril, would disagree with my assessment:
But this, nothing else, is what the Chalcedonian text teaches, at least when it is read apart from the Leonine Tome, which has too often been taken as its exegetical commentary, but rather should be taken out of the interpretive picture since the Chalcedonian symbol was more in the manner of a corrective of Leo than a substantiation of him. This can be seen nowhere more clearly than in the verbal form which drives that whole central clause containing the four adverbs qualifying ‘in two natures’. It is none other than ‘Gnorizomenon’: ‘made known to the intellect.’ Chalcedon, therefore, teaches that Christ is ‘made known (to the intellect) in two natures’. It does not simply teach that ‘Christ is in two natures’ as the Antiochene system had suggested. Those who do not recognize or understand the importance of the difference are those who have not followed the whole fifth century Christological debate, but this certainly did not include the bishops present at Chalcedon. And so, the Chalcedonian decree, at this critical juncture, is clearly and deliberately, a profession of Cyril’s understanding of the union and, again, largely on his terms. The ‘made known’ of Chalcedon is substantially the ‘notional scrutiny’ (oson men heken eis ennoian) of Cyril’s First Letter to Succensus. Even when Cyril’s terminology was felt to be in need of correction, or clarification, whether to placate the West, or to exclude a Eutyches or a Dioscorus, it was instinctively to Cyril that they turned to supply the correction.
- John A. McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy, Its History, Theology and Texts (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994 ), p. 240.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Observe the Similarities: Luther 1540 - Luther 1544

Reading through James Swan's latest quotations from Luther (contra the Immaculate Conception), one particular line caught my eye:
But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin.
This reminded me of a similar line from the 1540 material that had been set forth as showing that Mary was immaculately conceived:
all that flesh and blood of Mary's has been purified in conception, so that nothing sinful remains.
Notice that in the translation (one of many translations that has been made) there is some ambiguity about whose conception it is. In the first quotation I've provided, there's a similar ambiguity. In both cases, the ambiguity goes away as soon as one looks at the context. I've already shown the context for the 1540 quotation (here). And Mr. Swan has provided the context for the 1544 quotation (here), a portion of which I'll reproduce below:
The flesh of Christ comes forth from an incestuous union; likewise, the flesh of the Virgin, His mother, and of all the descendants of Judah, in such a way that the ineffable plan of God’s mercy may be pointed out, because He assumed the flesh or the human nature from flesh that was contaminated and horribly polluted.

The scholastic doctors argue about whether Christ was born from sinful or clean flesh, or whether from the foundation of the world God preserved a pure bit of flesh from which Christ was to be born. I reply, therefore, that Christ was truly born from true and natural flesh and human blood which was corrupted by original sin in Adam, but in such a way that it could be healed. Thus we, who are encompassed by sinful flesh, believe and hope that on the day of our redemption the flesh will be purged of and separated from all infirmities, from death, and from disgrace; for sin and death are separable evils. Accordingly, when it came to the Virgin and that drop of virginal blood, what the angel said was fulfilled: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). To be sure, the Messiah was not born by the power of flesh and blood, as is stated in John ( cf. 1:13): “Not of blood nor of the will of a man, etc.” Nevertheless, He wanted to be born from the mass of the flesh and from that corrupted blood. But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person. Therefore it is truly human nature no different from what it is in us. And Christ is the Son of Adam and of his seed and flesh, but, as has been stated, with the Holy Spirit overshadowing it, active in it, and purging it, in order that it might be fit for this most innocent conception and the pure and holy birth by which we were to be purged and freed from sin. [LW 7:12]
As you can see, context is key. "Mary's conception," or "the conception of Mary" (or replace "Mary" with "Virgin") can refer to two very different things: it can refer to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, and it can refer to the conception of Jesus (or any of his ἀδελφοὶ - look up its etymology). In the latter case, Mary is doing the conceiving, in the former case she is receiving the conceiving. The difference in meaning is significant and - in English - the difference can only be determined by looking at the context.

Moral of the story: check the context of your quotations. In these cases, quotations that might sound like support for the Roman Catholic error of the Immaculate Conception end up being rebuttals to it.


Did Otis and/or Aquila Misrepresent Higgins' Views?

In "Discerning Roman Catholic Tendencies Among Professing Reformed Churches," published by Dominic Aquila, John Otis gave strong warnings about Craig R. Higgins, calling him a "very dangerous man" and "equally dangerous" with the Federal Visionists such as Peter Leithart.

Otis summarizes his lengthy and detailed analysis this way:
To recap Craig Higgins’ theological errors, they are:
  1. He advocates observing Romish traditions, such as observing Lent as something wise for Presbyterians to do.
  2. He advocates a form of “Reformed Episcopacy,” which is really an advocating of episcopacy rather than Presbyterianism. He even suggests the Pope of Rome ought to be the presiding bishop in an ecumenical visible church.
  3. He denies the distinction between the visible and invisible church.
  4. He advocates a Romish understanding of baptism. He believes in baptismal regeneration- that those in the visible church actually have the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work at their water baptism.
  5. He denies the Reformed understanding of the perseverance of the saints.
These areas warrant church discipline for this teaching elder.
Now, the Metro New York presbytery of the PCA has complained against the publisher, Mr. Aquila, sending a letter to his presbytery declaring that "one of your presbyters, Dominic Aquila, publishes a website entitled “The Aquila Report” ( in which we believe he allows one of the brothers in our presbytery, Craig Higgins, to be slandered."

You can read the entire letter here (link to copy of letter), but what is glaring is the dissimilarity between Otis' paper and the MNY's letter. The former is full of detailed and reasoned analysis and explanation. The latter is little more than handwaving generalities and unsupported accusations. Not one single mistake in Otis' lengthy analysis is identified with any particularity.

The gist of the complaint amounts to the idea that since Higgins is in good standing with MNY, Aquila shouldn't be publishing an article that suggests that Higgins is a dangerous false teacher. There is no Biblical or rational basis upon which this ground could be sustained.

Moreover, in order for anyone to take MNY's complaint against Aquila seriously, they would first need to provide some sort of meaningful response to Otis' analysis. It's possible, of course, that a committee of the MNY presbytery has actually prepared such a response in secret. If such a response exists, I would be delighted to read it. Without such a response, however, Otis' analysis is quite compelling.

Likewise, I'm unaware of any public response from Higgins disputing with particularity even one of the five main points that Otis sought to establish, much less any of the minutia. One would think that such a response would be necessary at a minimum for someone to conclude that Otis' otherwise apparently sound critique was inappropriate.

Does Otis' analysis contain mistakes? Perhaps - he is human. But can we find those mistakes? MNY and Higgins have not even told us where we should look to find the mistakes, much less actually demonstrate that any point Otis has raised is either unsupported or in error.

MNY's letter seems highly imprudent under these circumstances. If MNY's letter is truthful, and Otis' analysis does misrepresent Higgins' views, they have simply ensured that more people will read Otis' analysis, as they have provided no reason for anyone to disbelieve what Otis has written. On the contrary, if MNY's letter is untruthful, they have compounded their errors by not only failing to properly discipline Higgins, but also false accusing those who have been exhorting them to do their duty.