Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Conservative" Ratzinger/ Benedict XVI and Evolutionism

When Ratzinger became pope, the the Times presented it this way, "The conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has been elected the 265th Pope and will be known as Benedict XVI." Undoubtedly, Ratzinger is conservative compared to some German theologians both within his own communion (such as his former colleague, Hans Kung) and outside the Roman communion.

But Ratzinger is not "conservative" on certain issues. For example, on the issue of evolution, Ratzinger has a book titled "In the beginning--: a Catholic understanding of the story of Creation and the fall."

You can see the direction that the book takes from pp. 3-4:
These words, with which Holy Scripture begins, always have the effect on me of the solemn tolling of a great old bell, which stirs the heart from afar with its beauty and dignity and gives it an inkling of the mystery of eternity. For many of us, moreover, these words recall the memory of our first encounter with God’s holy book, the Bible, which was opened for us at this spot. It at once brought us out of our small child’s world, captivated us with its poetry, and gave us a feeling for the immeasurability of creation and its Creator.

Yet these words give rise to a certain conflict. They are beautiful and familiar, but are they also true? Everything seems to speak against it, for science has long since disposed of the concepts that we have just now heard – the idea of a world that is completely comprehensible in terms of space and time, and the idea that creation was built up piece by piece over the course of seven days. Instead of this we now face measurements that transcend all comprehension. Today we hear of the Big Bang, which happened billions of years ago and with which the universe began its expansion – an expansion that continues to occur without interruption. And it was not in neat succession that the stars were hung and the green of the fields created; it was rather in complex ways and over vast periods of time that the earth and the universe were constructed as we now know them.

Do these words, then, count for anything? In fact a theologian said not long ago that creation has now become an unreal concept. If one is to be intellectually honest one ought to speak no longer of creation but rather of mutation and selection. Are these words true? Or have they, perhaps, along with the entire Word of God and the whole biblical tradition, come out of the reveries of the infant age of human history, for which occasionally experience homesickness but to which we can nevertheless not return, inasmuch as we cannot live on nostalgia? Is there an answer to this that we can claim for ourselves in this day and age?
It is probably not surprising to find the following statements on p. 50:
We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch as these two things respond to two different realities. ... But let us look closer, because here, too, the progress of thought in the last two decades helps us to grasp anew the inner unity of creation and evolution and of faith and reason.
Thus is it not surprising that a conference on origins held in Rome would exclude creationism and intelligent design (see this report or this report - both from the so-called Catholic News Agency).

Ratzinger/Benedict XVI a conservative? Only in relative terms.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Facing the Shame

Upon reading a saddening post from the Bayly brothers, I would like to join in agreement with the point of his post regarding the necessity of fathers facing the shame that can come from dealing with family-on-family crime. I would like to bolster that with the moral example we are given in the case of Amnon, Jonadab, and Tamar and the disharmony that David's mishandling of that situation led to in terms of David's relationship to Absalom.

2 Samuel 13:1-39 (the whole chapter)
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.

And he said unto him, "Why art thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me?"

And Amnon said unto him, "I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister."

And Jonadab said unto him, "Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, 'I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.'"

So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, "I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand."

Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, "Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat."

So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes. And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat.

And Amnon said, "Have out all men from me." And they went out every man from him.

And Amnon said unto Tamar, "Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand." And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.

And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, "Come lie with me, my sister.

And she answered him, "Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee."

Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, "Arise, be gone."

And she said unto him, "There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me." But he would not hearken unto her.

Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, "Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her."

And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.

And Absalom her brother said unto her, "Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing." So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.

But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.

And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.

And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons. And Absalom came to the king, and said, "Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant."

And the king said to Absalom, "Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee." And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.

Then said Absalom, "If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us."

And the king said unto him, "Why should he go with thee?" But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him.

Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, "Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, 'Smite Amnon;' then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant." And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded.

Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.

And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, "Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left." Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.

And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, answered and said, "Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead."

But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.

And Jonadab said unto the king, "Behold, the king's sons come: as thy servant said, so it is."

And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore. But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.

So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.
As you can see, the consequences of failing to do justice in the case of these kinds of situations can have devastating effects. It can even lead to "self help justice" of the kind that Absalom provided. It's better for fathers to just bite the bullet, face the shame, and see that justice is done properly. (of course, that's easier said than done, but the Baylys have pointed to someone who has done exactly that)


Why it is Important to Go Back to the Sources, Illustrated.

The following is a transcript of about four minutes from an informal radio debate from the Bible Answer Man program (source):
James White: I think it was God's purpose to preserve the children of Israel alive in Egypt. So it was his purpose to send Joseph and he did so by having him sold into slavery in Egypt.

George Bryson: Well, let me answer that with a question. Let me ask you this question - and this will put in perspective to show the difference. When a child is raped, is God responsible and did He decree that rape?

White: If he didn't, then that rape is an element of meaningless evil that has no purpose. What I'm trying to point out, by going to Scripture --

Hank Hanegraaff: So what is your answer there? Because I want to understand the answer to that question.

White: I'm trying to go to Scripture to answer it. The reason --

Hanegraaff: But what is the answer to the question he just asked, so that we can understand what the answer to the question is.

White: I mentioned to him, yes, because if not then it's meaningless and purposeless and though God knew it was going to happen He created it without a purpose. That means God brought the evil into existence, knowing it was going to exist, but for no purpose, no redemption, nothing positive, nothing good. I say --

Hanegraaff: So, he did decree and if he decreed it, then there's meaning to it.

White: that he - it has meaning, it has purpose, suffering (all suffering) has purpose, everything in this world has purpose. There is no basis for despair. But if we believe that God created knowing all this was going to happen, but with no decree. He just created and there is all this evil out there, and there's no purpose, then every rape, every situation like that is nothing but purposeless evil and God is responsible for the creation of despair. And that is not what I believe.

Bryson: For years, I've been trying to figure out why it is that in order for rape to exist - or - unless God caused it to happen - there can't be any purpose in it. God can use evil and he does. But to blame God, which is what a decree does, to blame God for the rape of a child is a horrible attack on the very character and love of God.

White: How about to blame God for the destruction of the heart of a father, thinking his son has been killed for many years - the weeping that he underwent. Genesis 50:20 has not been answered yet. And Acts chapter 4 tells us that the early church believed that Pontius Pilate and Herod and the Romans and the Jews in the crucifixion of the sinless son of God ( which I believe we would all agree is the greatest evil that man has ever committed) that that took place on the basis of the sovereign decree of God (Acts 4:27-28). If you could tell me both what you believe Acts 4:27-28 means and --

Bryson: Let me ask you if you think that rape is a sin.

White: I believe that -- Can we use a biblical example, Acts 4:27-28?

Bryson: Rape is a biblical issue, is rape a sin?

White: Just as the crucifixion was a sin, yes.

Bryson: Ok. So, does God decree, and therefore is God the cause of, sin?

White: Again, as you well know, having read all of these things, let me just read this into everyone's hearing, so they can see it. The early church said: "For truly in this city there were gathered against your holy servant Jesus, whom you annointed, both Herod, Pontius Pilate, along with the gentiles and the peoples of Israel to do whatever your hand and your purpose predestined to occur. And so here is an example where men committed evil and they did so at the predestining purpose of God. God is glorified. His intention is positive and good. The intention of Herod - the intention of the Jews - These were not innocent people and God's standing behind them with a big gun, pushing them down the road, going "Be evil, be evil." In fact, how many times did God restrain them!

Hanegraaff: So, they're making a choice in the process, in your view.

White: They're not only making a choice.

Hanegraaff: So, they have the ability to choose.

White: Within the realm of their nature, since they are fallen. Remember, God restrains men from committing evil. Let me ask you, do you believe that?

Bryson: Why are men fallen? That is the question.

White: Do you believe that?

Bryson: The question is, why are men fallen?

White: Could I ask - could I finish a point - Do you believe that God can keep someone from sinning?

Bryson: I would like to ask you the question, is God the cause of that sin? That's the issue. God can do anything.

White: I've already pointed out, Genesis 50, that God's decree is based upon his good intention. Can God keep a person from sinning? Will he violate libertarian free will, to keep a person from sinning, yes or no?

Bryson: That's not a yes or no question.
The above (presumably - since it seems to be the closest section) got summarized this way by John Rabe (source):
And IMHO, White got his clock cleaned. Granted, the deck was stacked against him, as he had to debate both Bryson and Hanegraaff, who was certainly less than an impartial moderator.

White let Bryson frame the terms of the debate from the git-go, which doomed him. The general thrust of it came across like this:

BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyranically damns people for no good reason and causes babies to be raped.

WHITE: Yes, and here's why I believe that. Genesis 50 says...

Then, that converted by a lady named Barb into this (source):
A loose paraphrase from the James White and George Bryson debate on Bible Answer Man:
begin paraphrase:
BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyranically damns people for no good reason and causes babies to be raped.

WHITE: Yes, and here's why I believe that. Genesis 50 says...
end paraphrase

Yikes! With friends like this who needs enemies?
Then, it got quoted in Bryson's book (The Dark Side of Calvinism, p. 372) this way:
Even more pointed, in comments found on the Internet in a section called “Whilin’ Away the Hours,” the Calvinist John Rabe offers what he calls:
“A loose paraphrase from the James White and George Bryson debate on the Bible Answer Man:

“begin paraphrase:

“BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyrannically damns people for no good reason and causes babies to be raped.

“WHITE: Yes, and here’s why I believe that. Genesis 50 says ...

“end paraphrase[.]

“Yikes! With friends like this who needs enemies?”612
Remember what the apostle James says:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
If the Calvinist is right, then James could and perhaps should also have said:
Every good and bad gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights and darkness.
I can understand why the admission of White is so disturbing to Calvinists. In his defense, however, White is only admitting what should be obvious to all Calvinists.
Finally, Micah Coate turned this into (A Cultish Side of Calvinism, p. 283)
In debating George Bryson, leading Calvinist James White admitted to Calvinism's view of God. The following is a loose paraphrase from this debate:

BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyrannically damns people for no good reason causes babies to be raped.

WHITE: Yes, and here’s why I believe that. Genesis 50 says ...

BRYSON: Yikes! With friends like this who needs enemies? 558
I ask you whether you could provide a better of example of why it is important to go back to the original sources to see what a person actually admitted and actually did not admit.


UPDATE: Dr. White has provided to the use of this material here:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Worship of the High Places

When we read in Scripture about the worship in the "high places," some of us may automatically assume that this is a reference to pagan worship. That assumption is not fully justified. Although the people of Israel were not commanded to worship God in "high places," nevertheless it seems that they did.

The first clear reference to this practice can be seen in the softly negative comment about Solomon.

1 Kings 3:1-4
And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about. Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days. And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.

The exception to following the statutes of David was that Solomon sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. This, in combination with the reference to the fact that people sacrificed in the high places before the temple was built show - or at least suggest - that this was worship to the Lord.

The second reference to this practice is more clearly negative, and is connected with the Jeroboamic worship, which we have previously explained was an aberrant form of worship of the Lord.

1 Kings 13:1-5
And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.

And again, at the end of the same account:

1 Kings 13:29-34
And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him. And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother! And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones: for the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass. After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.

The use of the high places returned to Judah after Solomon. We see testimony about this at various times, including one curious time that involves Jehoshaphat.

1 Kings 22:42-43
Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.

2 Chronicles 17:3-6
And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; but sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.

2 Chronicles 20:31-33
And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.

One explanation for this apparent contradiction (between 2 Chronicles and 1 Kings and internally within 2 Chronicles) may be found in another account:

2 Chronicles 33:10-18
And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.

So, the solution with respect to Jehosophat is that he took away the high places of Baalim, but not those of Lord. Thus, the high places were not eradicated entirely, though those for Baalim were eradicated.

Hezekiah, however, was apparently more thorough. In fact, Hezekiah is praised this way:

2 Kings 18:1-6
Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.

This zeal, however, lead to an interesting argument from the invading Assyrian general, Rabshakeh. Arguing to the people of Jerusalem, he stated:

2 Kings 18:22 But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?

2 Chronicles 32:12 Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?

Rabshakeh mistakenly thought that Hezekiah had insulted the Lord by destroying the places where the Lord was worshiped. He knew that Hezekiah had removed the high places that were used to worship the Lord, but he did not realize that this was required in order to purify the worship of the Lord in accordance with the law of Moses.

Further evidence that these were high places for the Lord come from the theme of several praising passages for the kings of Judah. Asa, Jehoshaphat (already discussed above), Amaziah, and Jotham are all praised as having done that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and yet are criticized for not removing the high places. Given the harsh condemnation that came upon those who permitted Baal worship, it is reasonable to suppose that these are instances of Jewish inappropriate worship of the Lord, as opposed to purely pagan practices.

1 Kings 15:11-14
And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.

1 Kings 22:42-43
Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.

2 Kings 14:1-4
In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah. He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.

2 Kings 15:32-35
In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign. Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.

What should these passages teach us? First, they should teach us that God values the purity of his own worship. Hezekiah is highly praised for the purity of his worship, and even other righteous kings are criticized for failing to purify the worship of the Lord. Second, they should teach us charity. If even those with impure worship can be said to have done "right in the eyes of the Lord," we should be charitable toward our brethren who have modern-day high places in their worship. We may rightly encourage them to purify their worship, but we ought not to try to suggest that they are not Christians, simply because of an error of this category.


Response to Roman Apologetic Comment ...

This comes from the comment box of Mark Shea's post regarding Augustine, Scripture, and Nicaea. It's not him commenting (as far as I know), but another member of his religion. Here's the quotation:
The Catholic (i.e. Universal) Church has Taught, and never wavered from [its] teaching on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist for over two thousand years. That's four hundred years before the canon of scripture, fifteen hundred years before Luther. Two thousand years before us.

Mary and I have never met, I live in [America], and she lives in Kenya. Don't you think it's odd that we could be saying the EXACT same thing.

Jesus Christ the God-man who walked the streets of Nazareth is on earth!
Last things first:

Mark 13:20-22
And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

You may reply, "But that passage is talking about people pretending to be Jesus, people like Vissarion, José Luis de Jesús Miranda, or Sun Myung Moon - human beings pretending to be Christ." Yet notice that (a) this passage speaks primarily about people announcing Christ, not about people calling themselves Christ; and (b) are there not many alleged eucharistic miracles that are brought forward in an attempt to show that Christ is present (Santarem, Sienna, Erding, and Cascia, for example). What signs and wonders are foolish blasphemers like Vissarion doing that compare with the bold claims of miracles amongst those of the Roman communion? The elect will reject all these false Christs.

Going back to the beginning of the comment, his mathematics skills reflect poorly on America. The last supper was less than 2000 years ago. Moreover, the doctrine of the real presence (in the transubstantial sense it is given by Rome today) was not the ancient teaching of the churches - even if a real spiritual presence was taught by some of the fathers.

Rome didn't formally define the canon of Scripture until after Luther died and the Reformation was already well under way. On the other hand, the apostles clearly recognized the Old Testament books as canon, and recognized the New Testament books as canon, as they were being written. For example, Paul refers to Luke's gospel (or perhaps Matthew's gospel) as Scripture:

1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

Matthew 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

Moreover, Peter refers to Paul's epistles as Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15-16
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Likewise, Luther wasn't the first to oppose Rome's dogma of transubstantiation. Wycliffe opposed the dogma of transubstantiation in the 1300's - and considering that the term "transubstantiation" was first used by an "ecumenical" council in the 1200's, the idea that this dogma was some long-standing or apostolic tradition that Luther was the first to question (something only implied, not stated, by our Roman friend here) - is not credible.

I'm sure that the two folks in the Roman communion have the same views. My Reformed brethren around the globe have the same views I do, if geographical dispersion is important. But ultimately, the question is not geographical distribution but Scriptural authenticity. And to be blunt: one cannot legitimately derive transubstantiation from Scripture.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bonaventure in English - Index

I cannot fully recommend the works of Bonavanture, sometimes referred to as "the Seraphic Doctor." Some people have speculated that Bonaventure serves as one of the links between Augustine and Calvin in terms of Calvin's doctrines of grace. I have not found very many English translations of Bonaventure's works, and only one English biography of Bonaventure, at least among those works that are freely available. I would be delighted to expand the index below, or to revise it if some of the works are pseudo-Bonaventure (he was popular enough that there are a substantial number of pseudographic works bearing his name).

Therefore, please don't think that the following is an exhaustive list of his works, or even a list of his works that has been thoroughly checked to confirm authenticity of authorship. Likewise, I cannot fully endorse the theology or liturgical practices of the 13th century Italian we know as Bonaventure.


1) Christ: the One Master of All (English and Latin)

2) The Journey of the Mind into God (English and Latin) (English only txt alternative)(English only html alternative)

3) The Soliloquies of St. Bonaventure
  • Four Mental Exercises
    • How the soul by mental exercise ought to reflect the beams of contemplation to those things that are within her, that she may see (How formed by nature, deformed by sin, and reformed by grace)
    • How the soul by mental exercise ought to convert her contemplation to things external, that she may know (How unstable earthly wealth is, mutable worldly excellency is, and miserable worldly magnificence is)
    • How the soul by mental exercise ought to convert the beams of contemplation to things below her, that she may understand (The inevitable necessity of man's death, the formidable authority of final judgment, and the intolerable pain of eternal punishment)
    • How the soul by mental exercise ought to convert the light of contemplation to those things that are above her, that she may know and understand (The inestimable value of celestial joy, the unspeakable delight, and the interminable eternity)
  • Treatise, "A Bundle of Myrrh," concerning The Passion of Our Savior
    • Of our Lord's praying in the garden, and of his taking
    • Of the mocking of him before Annas, and Caiaphas, and Peter denying him
    • Of his crowning and crucifying
    • Of the things which were done whilst Christ hanged on the cross, and of the giving up of his Spirit, Christ hanging on the Cross thirsteth
    • Of the things which were done after his death hanging yet on the Cross
    • Of the seven seals opened by the passion of Christ
    • Of the resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Ghost
4) The Life of Saint Francis (copy 1)(copy 2)(copy 3)
  • Of the manner of life in the secular state
  • Of his perfect conversion to God, and of the repairing of the three churches
  • Of the founding of his religion, and sanction of the rule
  • Of the advancement of the order under his hand, and of the confirmation of the rule already sanctioned
  • Of the austerity of his life, and of how all created things afforded him comfort
  • Of his humility and obedience, and of the divine condescensions shewn unto him at will
  • Of his love for poverty, and of the wondrous supplying of his needs
  • Of the kindly impulses of his piety, and of how the creatures lacking understanding seemd to be made subject unto him
  • Of his ardent love, and yearning for martyrdom
  • Of his zeal and efficacy in prayer
  • Of his understanding of the Scriptures, and of his spirit of prophecy
  • Of the efficacy of his preaching, and of his gift of healing
  • Of his sufferings and death
  • Of his canonisation, and the translation of his body
  • Miracles wrought after his death
  • Concerning the power of the sacred stigmata
  • Of the dead that were raised
  • Of them that he delivered from the peril of death
  • Of them that were saved from shipwreck
  • Of them that he set free from bonds and imprisonment
  • Of them that were delivered from the perils of childbirth
  • Of the blind that received sight
  • Of them that were delivered from divers diseases
  • Of them that did not observe his feast, and that failed in reverance toward the saint
  • Of certain other miracles of divers kinds
5) The Mirror of the Life of Christ (version in 15th century English); The Life of Christ (modern English); Life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (alternative modern English)
  • I. The Angels intercede for Man's redemption. 11
  • II. The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her seven petitions to God. 17
  • III. The Incarnation of Christ, and the angelical salutation of the Blessed Virgin . . . .22
  • IV. Our blessed Lady visits her cousin St. Elizabeth, in whose house the Magnificat and Benedictut were composed 30
  • V. St. Joseph thinks of dismissing the Blessed Virgin, and Goil suffers his beloved to be afflicted 35
  • VI. The Nativity of Jesus Christ 41
  • VII. The Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ . . 54
  • VIII. The Epiphany, or manifestation of our Lord Jesus 59
  • IX. The Blessed Virgin remains at the crib at Bethlehem, till the full term of forty days is expired 69
  • X. The Purification of our blessed Lady, or Candlemas-day . 71
  • XI. Christ's flight into Egypt 76
  • XII. Our Lord's return from Egypt . . . .89
  • XIII. Our Lord remains at Jerusalem . . . .95
  • XIV. Our Lord's life from his twelfth to his thirtieth year 103
  • XV. The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . 113
  • XVI. The fast and temptation of Christ; his return to his mother; the four means to attain to a perfect purity of heart: the great advantages of prayer; the resistance to be made to gluttony:
  • why, and for whom God works his miracles . 129
  • XVII. Christ opens the book in the synagogue . . 138
  • XVIII. He calls his disciples 141
  • XIX. The conversion of water into wine at the marriage-feast 143
  • XX. The sermon of our Lord on the mount, which he begins by poverty 151
  • XXI. The servant of the centurion and the son of the prince cured 155
  • XXII The paralytic brought in to our Lord by the housetop and cured ..... . 157
  • XXIII. Our Lord cures Simon's mother-in law . . . 159
  • XXIV. Our Lord sleeps in the boat 100
  • XXV. The widow's son raised by our Lord . . . 161
  • XXVI. Our Lord raises a girl from the dead, and cures Martha ...'.... 161
  • XXVII. The conversion of Magdalen, and other things . 163
  • XXVIII. John sends his disciples to Jesus . . . .166
  • XXIX. The death of St. John the Baptist . . . .170
  • XXX. The conference our Lord had with the Samaritan woman, as he sat, being faint arid wearied, by the side of the well to rest himself . . . 175
  • XXXI. The disciples of our Lord pluck ears of corn and eat them, through hunger, on the Sabbath . 178
  • XXXII. The Jews having driven our Lord Jesus out of the city to the top of a steep mountain, endeavor to throw him down thence 184
  • XXXIII- The man with a withered hand cured by our Lord Jesus 184
  • XXXIV. The multiplication of the loaves, and how our Lord provides for those who truly love him . 188
  • XXXV. Our Lord's flight when they would have made him king; and against worldly honors in general . 191
  • XXXVI. Our Lord prays on the mount ; and descending walks on the waters; some reflections on prayer 200
  • XXXVII. Christ relieves the daughter of the woman of Canaan who was possessed with the devil; our guardian angels faithfully assist us . . 214
  • XXXVIII. The Pharisees and others scandalized at the words of our Lord ...... 219
  • XXXIX. The reward promised by our Lord to those who for sake all for him 220
  • XL. Our Lord Jesus asks his disciples what the Jews say of him 323
  • XLI. The glorious transfiguration of our Lord Jesus on Mount Tabor 224
  • XLII. Our Lord casts the buyers and sellers out of the temple 227
  • XLIII. The sick man who was healed at the water in Jerusalem, called Probatica Piscina .... 229
  • XLIV. Our Lord Jesus received by the two sisters, Mary and Martha; and of the two sorts of lives signified thereby 233
  • XLV. Our Lord warns the Jews that the church shall devolve on the Gentiles, in the parable of the husbandmen who killed the son of their Lord . 236
  • XLVI. The Jews seek to ensnare our Lord by his own words 237
  • XLVII. The blind man restored to sight at Jericho!; etc. . 238
  • XLVIII. Our Lord goes into the house of Zacheus . . 241
  • XLIX. Christ gives sight to the man born blind . . 242
  • L. Our Lord retreats from the temple to hide himself, when the Jews would have stoned him . . 245
  • LI. The Jews seek a second time to stone him . . 245
  • LII. The raising of Lazarus 249
  • LIII. Christ curses the fig-tree 252
  • LIV. The woman detected in adultery .... 253
  • LV. The conspiracy of the Jews against Christ, and his flight into the city of Ephraim .... 254
  • LVI. Our Lord's return to Bethania, where Mary Magdalen anoints his feet 257
  • LVII. Our Lord Jesus comes to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday riding on an ass 260
  • LVIII. What our Lord Jesus did from Palm Sunday to the following Thursday 264
  • LIX. Our Lord's supper the night before his passion, and circumstances relating to it . . . . 268
  • LX. The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his prayer in the garden 279
  • LXI. Our Lord Jesus betrayed by Judas .... 286
  • LXII. Our blessed Lord is carried before Pilate, scourged at the pillar, and crowned with thorns . . 291
  • LXIII. Our Lord is condemned to suffer a cruel death on the cross, and compelled to carry the same to Mount Calvary 299
  • LXIV. Our Lord Jesus Christ is nailed to the cross . . 306
  • LXV. The words which our Lord spoke while hanging upon the cross: he yields up his spirit . . 310
  • LXVI. The opening of our blessed Saviour's side with a spear 313
  • LXVII. The descent of our Lord from the cross . . . 316
  • LXVIII. The embalming and burial of our Lord's body . 319
  • LXIX. Our blessed Lady's departure from the sepulchre, and return to Mount Sion , 324
  • LXX. A meditation on our blessed Lady's conversation with her devout companions .... 837
  • LXXI. Our Lord Jesus descends into the Limbo of the Fathers 330
  • LXXII. The glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and his appearance first to his mother .... 343
  • LXXIII. The coming of the three Marys to the sepulchre, etc 844
  • LXXIV. Our Lord's appearance to the holy women . . 845
  • LXXV. Our Lord's appearance to Joseph, to James the less, and to Peter 340
  • LXXVI. Christ returns to the holy Fathers after his resurrection 850
  • LXXVII. Christ appears to the two disciples going to Emmaus 352
  • LXXVIII. Our Lord appears to the disciples who were shut up on the day of the resurrection .... 354
  • LXXIX. Our Lord appears to the disciples on the octave of Easter, when St. Thomas was with them . . 356
  • LXXX. Our Lord appears to his disciples in Galilee . . 359
  • LXXXI. He appears to them again near the sea of Tiberias 360
  • LXXXII. Our Lord appears to more than five hundred disciples together; some remarks relating to his apparitions in general 363
  • LXXXIII. The glorious ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 365
  • LXXXIV. The coming of the Holy Ghost . . . .876
  • Rhythmical Prayer to the Sacred Members of Jesus hanging upon the Cross. By St. Bernard 370
6) Prayer of Saint Bonaventure


Saint Bonaventure: the seraphic doctor, minister-general of the Franciscan Order, Cardinal Bishop of Albano (first copy)(second copy)(third copy)


Turretin Resources

Dr. Matthew Barrett at Blogmatics kindly posted links to some resources relating to the real Francis Turretin. First, a pdf of a table of contents of Turretin. Second, an mp3 of Maurice Roberts describing "The Theology of Turretin." Barrett provides the following advice: "Read and digest Turretin. Let him be your tutor in Reformed theology."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Waltz, Nicaea and Shea

David Waltz (no great fan of mine, if memory serves correctly) has nevertheless provided a helpful two-part post in response to my rebuttal to Shea's post on Nicaea. Mr. Waltz has, I suspect, read more about the Nicene and early post-Nicene period than most people ever will. So, I appreciate that he took the time to read and comment on my post.

Waltz concedes the central theses of my post, namely that Augustine was referring to the council of Nicaea, and that Nicaea was not properly a "local council." Once those points are conceded, Shea's argument is shot. The central, and oft-repeated, premise of Shea's post was that Augustine was referring to a local council.

One might expect that Waltz would realize that the point of the post was right on the money, and stop there. He did not. I won't speculate on his motives. After all, a man of his reading may simply have wanted to correct what he perceived to be some errors in my post. For such correction, where appropriate, I am always appreciative.

Let's consider Waltz's points:

Waltz corrects some citation and quotation problems in a post by the reader to whom Shea's post was addressed. While I appreciate Waltz's attention to details in this regard, I haven't bothered to confirm these matters, since they don't seem to have any direct connection to my own post.

Waltz corrects a typo in the name of the editor ("JohnE" should have been "John E") and pointed out that the quotation actually begins on page 281 (the citation had indicated p. 282). These errors have been corrected in the post. Thanks very much to Waltz for pointing them out.

Waltz next discusses the "little background" I provided with respect to the quotation from Augustine. Waltz writes:
Strictly speaking, TF's "little background" is deficient, for it fails to accurately portray the historical context of Augustine's statement. The period between the council of Nicaea in 325 and Augustine's Contra Maximinum Arianum (427/428) was one of the most contested in the history of the Christian Church; more than 130 councils were convened! (Consult Ramsay MacMullen's, Voting About God, pp. 3, 4 for the names and dates of the councils—see this thread for information about the book).
Without discussing his precise claims, I willingly concede that my background (which was completely accurate) was nevertheless not as complete a picture as could be drawn. In other words, Waltz has here mistaken the idea of precision (detail) with accuracy. Nevertheless, his error is of little significance, so let us proceed to his next comment regarding the background.
Concerning this turbulent period, Shea is certainly correct when he states that, "the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus". Directly related to this historical fact is [the] nature and role of the various councils that were held during this period; the understanding that some councils were "ecumenical", that the "ecumenical" councils were infallible when teaching on faith and morals, and needed to be accepted de fide, was a much later doctrinal development. As such, to write that, "Augustine didn't share the epistemology of modern Rome", concerning nature and role of councils convened in 4th and early 5th centuries, is to state the obvious. IMO, TF is pretty much wasting our time here, for even Shea is in agreement with him on this point!
Shea certainly did not express an opinion that Augustine doesn't share the epistemology of modern Rome. In that regard, Waltz is wrong. Which is why Waltz's view about time being wasted should be revised. On the contrary, Shea claims that Augustine "is, instead, assuming a thoroughly Catholic backdrop to the whole discussion." (emphasis added) Perhaps Mr. Waltz thinks Shea doesn't mean "Catholic" to refer to the modern Roman conception of what it means to be "Catholic," but such a hypothesis is untenable. In short, my comments were a needed corrective to Shea, and I am glad that in substance Waltz agrees and even thinks my point is "obvious." It's obvious to Waltz, but it wasn't obvious to Shea.

The idea of the universal church arriving at a consensus by the time of Augustine on the topic of Arianism is, of course, to some extent an anachronism. In that sense, Shea is - we might say - accidentally correct (you will notice I didn't dispute his claim in my original post, I merely highlighted it and pointed out its inconsistency with the modern Roman view). He didn't mean to imply what he implied about Nicaea, but in this case we might almost say that two wrongs make a right. Viewed through the lens of modern Roman dogma regarding conciliar authority, Nicaea did represent a consensus view. However, there are serious problems with that kind of claim.

Waltz continued:
Moving on, TF's statement that, "Maximinus was an Arian", is, at best, breathtakingly simplistic. An Arian is one who adheres to the basic theology of Arius—did Maximinus endorse Arius' basic theology? No, he did not. In fact, he emphatically denied THE defining doctrine of Arius, the doctrine that the Son of God was created ex nihilo; note the following:

The part of Arius' doctrine which most shocked and disturbed his contemporaries was his statement that the Father made the Son ' out of non-existence' (ἐκ οὐκ ὄντων). (R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 24.)

This particular view of Arius [i.e. creation of the Son of God ex nihilo] has never been supplied with a convincing antecedent. It has always been an erratic boulder in his doctrine, preventing that doctrine being easily fitted into any known system...(Ibid., p. 88)
Waltz's criticism here is bizarre. The title usually given for Augustine's work from which the quotation in question comes, as Waltz knows, is "Contra Maximinum Haereticum Episcopum Arianorum libri duo." That "Arianorum" is the Latin word that we translate "Arian." It's normal and customary to refer to Maximinus as an Arian, without implying that his views are identical to those of Arius.

Moreover, R.P.C. Hanson identifies Maximinus as an example of a source for Arian writing (p. 100), as an example of Homoian Arianism (p. 126) of the work that Waltz cited, even though Hanson also acknowledges that Maximinus "explicitly denies" the tenet that Waltz highlighted above (p. 564).

At most, Waltz has correctly identified that there is more than one species of Arians, and that the normal practice of referring to Maximinus as an "Arian" is to paint Arianism with a broad brush.

Waltz continued:
Before getting to Maximinus' theology, I think it would be prudent to supply a little background. Shortly after the council of Nicaea (325), the ordained bishops of the Christian Church at large split into 4 distinct factions; modern patristic scholars have termed those 4 factions as: 1.) the homoousians, those who accepted the Nicene Creed; 2.) the homoiousians, those who replaced homoousios (same being/essence/substance) with homoiousios (like being/essence/substance); 3.) the homoians, those who rejected the terms homoousios and homoiousios as being un-Biblical, and embraced the view that the Son of God was homoiōs (like, similar, in the same way) with respect to God the Father; and 4.) the 'Neo-Arians', sometimes termed the anhomoians (see Hanson, Search, p. 598 for the reason why many modern patristic scholars prefer the name 'Neo-Arian' over others).

Of the 4 factions, only the 'Neo-Arians' accepted Arius' most basic tenant that the Son of God was created ex nihilo, with the other 3 emphatically rejecting this doctrine.

Now, Maximinus was a staunch homoian, his theology being essentially that of the creed universally adopted by Christian Church at a council convened in 360 AD at Constantinople, which creed was a slight revision of so-called "Dated Creed" that was adopted in 359 AD via the convocation of a general council by emperor Constantius II, which convened at two separate locations: Ariminium (now Rimini) and Seleucia.
Of course, none of this contradicts anything I said. In fact, most of what Waltz said is relatively non-controversial (in terms of the various divisions that existed, and so forth). One surprising point is Waltz's claim that regarding the creed of Ariminium, namely that it was "the creed universally adopted by Christian Church at a council convened in 360 AD at Constantinople... ."

Whether or not we should dispute this claim, I think Waltz must admit that Shea cannot accept this claim. Shea cannot admit that the "Christian Church" universally accepted an Arianizing creed, such as that of Ariminium.

Waltz wraps up the first part of his post this way:

Commenting on this creed of 360 AD, the esteemed patristic scholar, J.N.D. Kelly wrote:

Arianism, it will be appreciated, is really a misnomer, for the creed asserts none of the articles of the old heresy [i.e. Arius/Arianism] and explicitly condemns Anomoeanism [i.e. 'Neo-Arianism']. (Early Christian Creeds, 2nd edition, 1960, p. 294.)

So, is it accurate to call Maximinus an Arian? With all due respect to the scholars that do attribute the label "Arian" to Maximinus, to do so is, IMO, a "mis[n]omer", for Maximinus emphatically denied (as did all homoians) the most basic tenant of Arian theology: the creation of the Son of God ex nihilo. To call Maximinus an Arian would be analogous to calling someone who emphatically rejects TULIP a Calvinist!
Kelley himself, while conceding that the term is something of a misnomer, calls the very chapter from which Waltz is citing "The Triumph of Arianism," of which the very creed to which Waltz has been referring is the crown jewel. So, while it is a misnomer in the sense that the creed isn't fully consistent with Arius and/or Neo-Arianism, it is a description that is given to it not only by Hanson but also by Kelley.

Regarding TULIP, the comparison is somewhat inapt. TULIP was the production of the Synod of Dordt, held after Calvin's death. And even to this day, Amyraldians insist that Dordt departed from Calvin on the "L" (they're wrong, but that debate clearly is for another topic and day).

Moving from part 1 to part 2, Waltz begins:
In part 1, I demonstrated that Maximinus was not an Arian, but rather a homoian, and that homoian Christian bishops condemned Arianism.
This insistence on not referring to Homoian Arianism as "Arianism," is not something that Waltz actually demonstrated is necessary. Indeed, his own sources refer to Homoian Arianism as a species of Arianism, even if not fully consistent with Arius' own beliefs.

Waltz continues:
TF then states that, "Augustine was the orthodox ("catholic" but not "Catholic") bishop of Hippo, as everyone knows". Once again, TF is anachronistically portraying this historical period, for 'orthodoxy' was anything but a settled issue. (As for Augustine being "catholic" but not "Catholic", I will deal with this silliness in a subsequent post.)
Waltz is here arguing against a straw man. I didn't insist that orthodoxy was a "settled issue," at the time when Augustine was debating with Maximinus. Shea would need to insist that, given the modern Roman view of councils. I, however, am under no such obligation. I'm not sure why, given his penchant for decrying anachronism (even without it being offered), Waltz finds the distinction between "catholic" and "Catholic," silly. However, since he has left it for another post, and since it was a relatively minor point in my own post, it can safely be tabled for now.

Waltz once more:
He then gives one a misleading impression with his statement that, "both Augustine and Maximinus were in the same locale and region"—fact is, Maximinus had just arrived in Hippo with, "Count Sigiswulf (Segisvultus), a Goth," who in 427, "led a Roman army to Africa in order to suppress the rebellion of Bonifacius" [see John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Debate With Maximinus, Introduction (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 175.]—his ordination, and conciliar loyalty, had NOTHING to do with the Hippo locale/region. Yet once again, though neither Shea, nor TF have a good grasp of the historical landscape of this period, Shea is the more accurate.
Waltz's points about where Maximinus came from doesn't really have a bearing on the fact (undisputed by Waltz) that Maximinus was the Arian bishop of Hippo (Waltz doesn't like that "Arian" label for the homoians, as noted above). In fact one scholar expressed it this way:
Nearly ten years after his Answer to the ‘Arian Sermon’ (between A.D. 427 and A.D. 428), Augustine entered into a public debate at Hippo with a major representative and vigorous defender of Homoian Arianism. Bishop Maximinus had only recently arrived in North Africa in the company of Count Sigiswulf (or Segisvultus), a Goth who led a Roman force against a local uprising, and who had encouraged this encounter with Augustine in order to secure peace between Arians and Catholics in the region.
Studia Patristica vol. 38, St. Augustine and His Opponents: Other Latin Writers, Wiles and Yarnold eds., “The Significance of the communication idiomatum in St. Augustine’s Christology, with special reference to his rebuttal of later Arianism,” by Joseph Torchia, O.P., pp. 314-15.

Waltz is dead wrong about Shea being more accurate. Shea had claimed, "[Augustine] regards himself as bound by the teaching and discipline of the synod whose jurisdiction is over his local geographic region, and the person he is writing to likewise feels bound by his local synod," (and Shea compared the situation to that of local fasting rules in Rome vs. Milan) but in fact the issue wasn't geographic and at the time of the dispute, the two bishops were in the same locale, directly contrary to Shea's analogy to Milanese vs. Roman fasting rules.

Waltz continued:
The only point that TF has "debunked" is that neither of the two councils being discussed were "local", the rest of his musings are [sic] do not fit the facts. FACT #1: no council and/or creed up to this period was recognized as universally binding; FACT #2: if any council up to the date of the debate between Augustine and Maxinimus (427/428) had any semblance of a claim to universal authority it was the dual councils of Ariminum and Seleucia, which were convoked by emperor Constantius II in 359. These two parallel councils were really essentially one council held in two different geographical locations for the sake of logistics. The estimates of the number of bishops that attended range between 550+ and 750+, which means that this dual council was significantly larger than council of Nicaea held in 325. Not only the size, but also the geographical and theological representation was considerably more significant—Augustine was engaging in a bit of 'damage control' when he demanded that competing councils be left out of the equation.
Waltz here concedes the main point of my post, and yet insists that the rest of my "musings" "do not fit the facts." But actually, Waltz cannot point to any of my musings that don't fit with his two purported facts. Moreover, of course, Shea is not free to admit with Waltz that Nicaea was not universal binding. I am free to agree with Waltz on that point, but Shea is not - because Shea's church insists on a particular view of conciliar authority - one that wasn't shared by Augustine.

Waltz is right about the fact that the size of the councils of Ariminum and Seleucia were (in combination - and perhaps even Ariminum individally) considerably bigger and more geographically diverse than Nicaea. That's one of those inconvenient conciliar truths I try to warn people about, when they place their confidence in large councils.

Waltz's final point is to argue that Augustine's quotation makes it sound as though Maximinus had tried to suggest that Ariminum was binding, whereas Maximinus had likewise agreed to settle the matter by the Scriptures. Of course, the purpose of my post was not to suggest that Maximinus believed what Shea believes about councils, or even to discuss at all what Maximinus thought of conciliar authority. So, while I might quibble over whether Augustine's comments give a misleading impression regarding Maximinus' position, it seems Waltz's comments in Maximinus' defense are at best tangential to the thrust of my post.

Waltz concludes:
To sum up, apart from incorrectly terming the councils of Armininum (359) and Nicaea (325) as "local", Shea's assessment that, "What Augustine is doing is appealing to a common authority in a dispute where the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus", is quite accurate, whilst TF's overall critique is significantly flawed.
As noted above, if Shea is correct in that sentence, it is only because, although he has a wrong view of conciliar authority, he mistakenly thought that Nicaea was a local council. Thus, while Shea may be accidentally correct in that statement (as mentioned above - and as was not denied in my original post), Shea's underlying rationale is at odds with his Roman views of Nicaea.

So, thanks again to Waltz for his additional comments and - frankly - reinforcement of the points I was making. I don't find Waltz's objection to referring to Homoian Arians as "Arians," to be particularly compelling, and that seems to be the major beef he has with my post. I also reiterate my thanks to him for his identification of the editorial problems in my original post to which I've now attended.


Repenting for Our Fathers' Sins - Part 6/6

Ezra also provides an example of the same thing in terms of prayers of repentance for the sins of our fathers.

Ezra 9:1-15
Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, "The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass."

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, and said,

O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.

And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying,
The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?

O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.
This one is less explicit than some of the previous examples, but it shows a general repentance for the ways of our fathers. It should be obvious that Ezra's concern is that the people are doing exactly what their fathers did. He's so shocked he sits like someone who has had a stroke for hours upon hearing the news. He can't believe that they just got out of captivity for their sins and their turning right back to the same thing -- and not just a few rascals, but the very princes of the people.

This in particular we should be careful about. If God sends us chastisement, and we repent, we ought not to immediately turn back to the old sin. The very idea of doing such a thing ought not to be tempting to us, but ought to shock us like the report of Israel's sin shocked Ezra.

May God give us the gift of repentance so that we may depart from our sins and the sins of our fathers before us.

- TurretinFan

Monday, August 15, 2011

Responding to Anti-Miscegenation Arguments

Anti-miscegenation advocates suggest that it is either wrong or imprudent for people of different races to marry one another. The question of prudence may be a practical, pragmatic, and even utilitarian one. We cannot necessarily answer such a question in a dogmatic way. But we can answer the question of whether it is wrong.

First, we can cite the following passage, that states that we rightly consider all men to be of one blood. That is to say, there is not "white" blood and "black" blood - but "human" blood. In that sense there is but one race: the human race.

Act 17:24-28
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Second, we can emphasize that while there are ethnic divisions amongst people there is one gospel:

Revelation 14:6-7 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

While there are divisions amongst men, there is a unity in the gospel. There is no separate gospel along sexual lines (one for men, one for women), not along national lines (one for Americans, another for Russians, and a third for Chinese), and not along language lines. While language may provide a real division between us, in that we cannot worship together in different languages, nevertheless we acknowledge an invisible unity on earth that will find its completion in heaven.

These points should be emphasized, even though anti-miscegenation arguments are not typically directly challenging the question of whether the gospel is for all men. It is important to acknowledge that there are real (even if artificial and more "providential" than "creational") differences and divisions that exist. It is also important for both sides to recognize that these differences and distinctions can and will be transcended.

Whatever you do, though, do not argue directly against anti-miscegenation based on the following verses:

Colossians 3:9-11 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Galatians 3:26-29
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Those are great verses for suggesting that we shouldn't have tribal churches, but they aren't about marriage. If the second one were about marriage, we'd have a real problem because of the whole "male nor female" bit.

Remember, as well, that we have Christian liberty, and marriage is (initially) a voluntary association. A man is allowed to use his personal taste in picking his wife. Likewise, as a father evaluating potential sons-in-law, a man can employ his own or his daughter's tastes in deciding what sort of man she should marry. He need not give every suitor the time of day, just as not every suitor must court every single woman.

Because the Bible does not forbid marriage between "races," or "tribes," or "families," we should not say it is immoral. If someone wants to bind our consciences regarding such a thing, they need to come up with a Biblical argument for their position. On the other hand, if they want to make some kind of practical, pragmatic, or utilitarian argument regarding the practice, they should be clear about what they are doing.

One final point: we are called to love our brethren in Christ. Paul is pretty clear that he has a special place in his heart for his brethren according to the flesh, namely the Jews. It's perfectly natural and acceptable for us to have those kinds of positive feelings towards our relatives. On the other hand, we should be on guard against negative feelings towards our non-relatives. Remember how Paul opposed Peter to his face for segregating himself from the Gentiles. Remember also that if we do not love our brethren in Christ (a brotherhood that transcends all divisions: national, ethnic, racial, and even sexual), then we do not truly love God.

So, any anti-miscegenation advocacy that springs from a hatred or antipathy for members of another race, nation, tribe, or the like is clearly immoral because of its source. You may love your own nation, ethnicity, or skin color, but you cannot use that love as an excuse for hate.


Repenting for Our Fathers' Sins - Part 5/6

Nehemiah also provides us with two examples of repentance for the sins of our fathers. In a first example, the prayer is simply indicated, without the details being provided:

Nehemiah 9:1-3
Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
Hopefully, a theme is catching on in the mind of my readers who may have been skeptical that perhaps the previous examples were isolated cases.

As for the prayer that was used, we do not know exactly what was prayed in the prayer mentioned in Nehemiah 9. Nevertheless, we can see an example of the sort of prayer that may have been used in Nehemiah's own prayer.

Nehemiah 1:1-11
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
And they said unto me, "The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire."
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
And said,
I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, "If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: but if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there." Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.
For I was the king's cupbearer.
In this example, it is not explicit that Nehemiah is confessing his fathers' sins, since he could simply mean those of his siblings with the expression "Father's house." Nevertheless, given the other example above, it seems reasonable to suppose that Nehemiah is also including his ancestors.

Perhaps it is useful at this point to observe that Nehemiah is praying about his ancestor's sins, but for himself - not for them. It is too late for them. They have already passed on - either unto glory or dishonor. These prayers are prayers for the living, even if they are sometimes about the dead.

(to be continued)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Repenting for Our Fathers' Sins - Part 4/6

The same theme of repenting from the sins of our fathers can also be found in Psalm 106.

Psalm 106:1-48 (the whole of the psalm)
Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise? Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.

Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.

We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

Our fathers
understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known. He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left.

Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.

They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD. The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.

They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea. Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: but murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD. Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness: to overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.

They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed. And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.

They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.

They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.

Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: and he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.
This one is quite explicit and detailed in terms of identifying the sins of the fathers. Considering that the identified fathers go all the way back to the Exodus, and the events referenced extend all the way to the captivity, we can see that the fathers whose iniquity is being confessed are long dead. Nevertheless, this Psalm express repentance from the unbelief of the fathers who did not trust in God with all their heart.

So ought those of us who cannot trace back our lineage through believers only to repent of the sins of our fathers, and to strive not to imitate their sins. We ought especially to do so when it seems the hand of God's judgment is upon us and our families.

(to be continued)