Saturday, April 30, 2011

Peter has spoken thus through Leo!

One of the quotations that is sometimes used in discussions about the fathers and the papacy is the following quotation, taken from Session 2 of the Council of Chalcedon:
After the reading of the foregoing epistle, the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo. So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers. Why were not these things read at Ephesus [i.e. at the heretical synod held there]? These are the things Dioscorus hid away.

Those who are trying to argue for an ancient view of papal primacy love to interpret this as a recognition by the council of Leo's unique Petrine authority. In other words, they would interpret this as meaning "Leo is today's Peter."

But the tone of the comments is somewhat puzzling, if they think Leo is the pope that must be obeyed. It looks as though they are blessing and giving approval to Leo's comments. They are authorizing him, rather than vice versa.

Moreover, there is a much more logical and straightforward explanation for their words. Leo's letter had argued in this way:
But when our Lord and Saviour himself was by his questions instructing the faith of the disciples, he said, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” And when they had mentioned various opinions held by others, he said, “But whom say ye that I am?” that is, “I who am Son of Man, and whom you see in the form of a servant, and in reality of flesh, whom say ye that I am?” Whereupon the blessed Peter, as inspired by God, and about to benefit all nations by his confession, said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Not undeservedly, therefore, was he pronounced blessed by the Lord, and derived from the original Rock that solidity which belonged both to his virtue and to his name, who through revelation from the Father confessed the selfsame to be both the Son of God and the Christ; because one of these truths, accepted without the other, would not profit unto salvation, and it was equally dangerous to believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be merely God and not man, or merely man and not God.


Let him listen also to the blessed Apostle Peter when he declares, that “sanctification by the Spirit” takes place through the “sprinkling of the blood of Christ,” and let him not give a mere cursory reading to the words of the same Apostle, “Knowing that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain way of life received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.”

As an aside, note that Leo identifies "the original Rock" as Christ here. The main point of providing this selection, though, is to highlight the more obvious source of the words of these men. Leo argues from the words of Peter, both in Matthew and in Peter's first epistle. In this way, Peter spoke through Leo, in that Leo repeated Peter's words. It's the most obvious and straightforward explanation of their comment.

I think it is worth pointing out what Leo thought about the role of Scripture in the issue of resolving the heresy that they were dealing with:
But into this folly do they fall who, when hindered by some obscurity from apprehending the truth, have recourse, not to the words of the Prophets, not to the letters of the Apostles, nor to the authority of the Gospels, but to themselves; and become teachers of error, just because they have not been disciples of the truth. For what learning has he received from the sacred pages of the New and the Old Testament, who does not so much as understand the very beginning of the Creed? And that which, all the world over, is uttered by the voices of all applicants for regeneration, is still not grasped by the mind of this aged man. If, then, he knew not what he ought to think about the Incarnation of the Word of God, and was not willing, for the sake of obtaining the light of intelligence, to make laborious search through the whole extent of the Holy Scriptures, he should at least have received with heedful attention that general Confession common to all, whereby the whole body of the faithful profess that they “believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.”
And, of course, that's what the rest of his letter does - it goes through the Scriptures and demonstrates the proof of the matter, including the testimony of Peter in Matthew and Peter's Epistle, as well as the testimony of John in 1 John:
Nor has he been overawed by the declaration of the blessed Apostle and Evangelist John, saying, “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit which dissolveth Jesus is not of God, and this is Antichrist.” Now what is to dissolve Jesus, but to separate the human nature from him, and to make void by shameless inventions that mystery by which alone we have been saved?


Let him also not resist the testimony of Blessed John the Apostle, “And the blood of Jesus the Son of God cleanseth us from all sin.” And again, “This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith;” and, “who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not in water only, but in water and blood; and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness—the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are one.” That is, the Spirit of sanctification, and the blood of redemption, and the water of baptism; which three things are one, and remain undivided, and not one of them is disjoined from connection with the others; because the Catholic Church lives and advances by this faith, that Christ Jesus we should believe neither manhood to exist without true Godhead, nor Godhead without true manhood.
So, if you happen to find Roman apologists quoting this to support the authority of the papacy (as one sees at Catholic Answers) or in Jimmy Akin's new book (sorry, no preview available), even if you happen to find it used in the more nuanced approach of Klaus Schatz or the rather extreme position of Susan Wessel, just bear in mind the context. Understand that Leo's letter was based on Scripture and was accepted because of the authority of Scripture.

That is the faith of fathers - that is what Leo taught - that is what we believe.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Update to Alternative Responses to Jay Dyer

Mr. Drake Shelton (you may recall him as the person who wrote: "I was ashamed of Turretinfan's responses to this so I decided to devote the past year and a half to these issues.") has apparently provided yet more responses to Jay Dyer, although I couldn't find any direct reference to Dyer in the article. Mr. Shelton explains, "I just thought you didn't have a clue what you were talking about when you spoke with Jay and I thought I could help you not look so unfit to teach theology to people." I'm always thankful for the assistance of people like Mr. Shelton, who can help me look less unfit to teach theology. Under the circumstances, however, you may excuse me if I simply report, rather than endorse, his responses.


Blogger Criticism of the Pope

Some people are unhappy because a well-known name in the Roman Catholic apologetics community has taken to criticize two popes. That's just not something one does, apparently. I'm yet to see any rule in the Code of Canon Law against criticizing popes, but who knows - perhaps I missed something.

If you want to see a real celebrity culture: there it is. If Carl Trueman (or anyone else) thinks that the Evangelical world has celebrities, he need to take a look at what happens when a Roman Catholic blogger suggests that it might possibly be a bad thing for John Paul II to kiss the Koran.

Suggest that Benedict XVI might have been influenced by the liberal tendencies of his late buddy Rahner - and look out!

Popes are fallible and peccable in theory, but in the practice of the blogosphere ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Purgatory Debate with Dan Marcum

Yesterday, Dan Marcum (Roman Catholic) and I did a short debate on purgatory. An mp3 of the debate is available. There a number of points within this debate that I would like to comment on, but I thought it would be better to go ahead and post the debate now. My main comment on the debate is that the constructive and conclusion speeches were just too short.

GodIsMyJudge on Sola Scriptura

I'm not sure he actually disagrees with me, but William Birch has posted an article by GodIsMyJudge on Sola Scriptura, in which GodIsMyJudge distinguishes his explanation from mine.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One of the Problems of Pluralism

If you live in a pluralistic society, you are going to have deal with situations like this one (link). Keep in mind that Sikhs are required by their religion to carry a kirpan. Their code of conduct states: "Have, on your person, all the time, the five K's: The Keshas (unshorn hair), the Kirpan (sheathed sword), the Kachhehra (drawers like garment), the Kanga (comb), the Karha (steel bracelet)." (Reht Maryada, Chapter 13 as translated/paraphrased here)

Suppose for the sake of the argument that there is a religious justification for the actions of the "dissident" members who are opposing the "open membership" move of the majority. Must a pluralistic society tolerate this settling of their religious dispute amongst themselves in their own temple? Or must the state step in to enforce the will of the majority? or of the minority (if the minority are right about the requirements of their religion)?

And if a pluralistic society can rightly intervene in religious disputes amongst Sikhs, why not amongst other religions?

And for my Escondido friends, what if a majority of a Christian church were attempting to open communion to everyone who wants it? Does the civil magistrate have a duty to protect the church of our Lord against such violence from a majority?


N.B. No Sikh I've ever met would approve of what took place in the Sikh temple in the linked article. Please don't assume that because Sikhs carry the kirpan, they are violent people. Please don't make any other illogical conclusions from what I've written. There, that should avoid about 90% of the comments.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sad Story

Perhaps it would be good to pray for Pastor Timothy David Miller in this difficult time.