Thursday, December 31, 2009

Catechism of Pope Pius X

Before the current "Catechism of the Catholic Church" there were other catechisms. One of those was the catechism of Pope Pius X. Here are some selections relating to the Bible (warning, this may not be what you're used to hearing from "Catholic Answers"):
28 Q. Is the reading of the Bible necessary to all Christians?
A. The reading of the Bible is not necessary to all Christians since they are instructed by the Church; however its reading is very useful and recommended to all.

29 Q. May any translation of the Bible, in the vernacular, be read?
A. We can read those translations of the Bible in the vernacular which have been acknowledged as faithful by the Catholic Church and which have explanations also approved by the Church.

30 Q. Why may we only read translations of the Bible approved by the Church?
A. We may only read translations of the Bible approved by the Church because she alone is the lawful guardian of the Bible.

31 Q. Through which means can we know the true meaning of the Holy Scripture?
A. We can only know the true meaning of Holy Scripture through the Church's interpretation, because she alone is secure against error in that interpretation.

32 Q. What should a Christian do who has been given a Bible by a Protestant or by an agent of the Protestants?
A. A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it was accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest.

33 Q. Why does the Church forbid Protestant Bibles?
A. The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her.

Notice the interesting idea that reading the Bible without approved footnotes "may be harmful to the Faith." One has to wonder if the reader is supposed to think:
No wonder so few of the churches to which Paul wrote letters are still around! Had only Paul had the wisdom of Pius X, he would have included footnotes to the obscure passages, so that the obscure parts of his writings would not damage their faith. Thankfully, annotated Bibles clear up that problem and are consequently safe for the Faith.
Whatever was intended, you can be confident that you won't see a continuation of these views in the CCC or the current code of canon law. This is not the faith of modern Roman Catholicism, and it would be "gotcha apologetics" for me to suggest that Roman Catholics today actually follow Pius X teaching. They don't. This is the way it was, not the way it is. I've never heard of Roman Catholics these days even burning such mutilated Bibles as the New World Translation (authorized by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) or the LDS edition of the KJV (with its approved annotations). So please, don't get me wrong. Things have changed, and the above views expressed by the authority of Pope Pius X are not the views expressed by the current pontiff (of course, probably Q/A 28 is still the same, and maybe bits and pieces of the others remain in some form, but they are not, as a whole, the views of contemporary Roman Catholicism).


Responding to Beckwith on Aquinas

Francis Beckwith has responded to my earlier post on Aquinas and the rule of faith in a way that does not meet the challenge. But it is a response that Prof. Beckwith seems to think worth noting, so I'll provide it and a brief rebuttal:
Yikes, I thought his name was "TurnitinFan," a booster of the anti-plagiarism software. Boy, am I out of the loop. :Smile:

Oh, by the way, my friend Ralph McInerny answered TF over 14 years ago: (link)
(source - the ":smile:" was a graphical smiley and the link was a link - also note that if what I'm writing is the funniest stuff Shea has been reading this week (as he says), he should check out Dave Barry)

The entirety of Ralph McInerny's presentation, however, is to do exactly what my challenge forbade, namely to simply try to say what Aquinas was not saying. The article never explains what Aquinas meant by saying that the Scriptures are a/the rule of faith. If McInerny were actually responding to the challenge (he's not, obviously, this was written well before the challenge) we would say he failed to provide an appropriate response.

But what about what McInerny says? Are his comments as they stand accurate? Here's the most relevant part of the presentation from McInerny:
Does Thomas say that Scripture alone is the measure of our faith? The words Gaboriau has quoted are from Thomas's commentary on John's Gospel, Super Evangelium S. Ioannis Lectura, ed R. Cai, OP, Marietti: Roma, 1952, n. 2656. Thomas is commenting on John's peroration, "This is the disciple who bears witness concerning these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his witness is true. There are, however, many other things that Jesus did; but if every one of these should be written, not even the world itself, I think, could hold the books that would have to be written. Amen" (John 21: 24-25). In the paragraph Gaboriau cites, Thomas is concerned with "and we know his witness is true." Here is the text:

"It should be noted that though many might write concerning Catholic truth, there is this difference that those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and the like, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt. That is what he means when he says 'we know his witness is true.' Galatians 1:9, "If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!" The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a measure of faith. Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things."

It is clear that Thomas is contrasting canonical and apocryphal works and saying that only the former have credence for Christians. The issue Gaboriau is interested in simply does not arise in this passage.
Note, however, that "apocryphal works" are not something that Thomas discusses. In fact, there's nothing in the context that limits Thomas contrast to apocryphal works. It is about others in general who write "concerning Catholic truth." Given the very broad nature of Aquinas' claim, one would expect a response to be in the form of alleging that somewhere in his voluminous writings Aquinas had once referred to someone else's writing as the rule of faith.

Furthermore, note what the immediate context is:

Preceding context:

[1] It should be noted that though many might write concerning Catholic truth,
[2] there is this difference that those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and the like, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt.
[3] That is what he means when he says 'we know his witness is true.'
[4] Galatians 1:9, "If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!"
[5] The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a measure of faith.
[6] Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things.

Note that the statement of interest is [5]. Item [1] introduces the distinction (many other write about the Catholic truth) then item [2] draws the distinction (there is no room for doubt about the content of Scripture). Then item [3] reinforces [2] by emphasis (there is no room for doubt about Scripture) and item [4] reinforces [2] by contrast (but there is room for doubt about teachers). [5] is our statement, and [6] softens the impact of the distinction by noting that we can accept the true things (impliedly measured by the rule of faith) in those other writers about the Catholic truth.

McInerny's error is an understandable one. He has mistakenly emphasized "canonical" thinking that it means "belonging to the canon." Instead, as explained in the prior post, Aquinas calls Holy Scripture canonical, because it serves the purpose of guiding and directing us into the faith and life of Christ.

With all due respect to Prof. Beckwith, his friend has misunderstood Aquinas.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Charles Hodge on Rome

David Waltz is trying to make something of Prof. Hodge's comments on Roman Catholicism (link to Waltz's post). It is worth noting that Waltz has chosen to selectively present one side of Hodge's coin. The other side is that Hodge viewed Rome as both apostate and antichristian (link to example of such teaching) and also as antichrist and a synagogue of Satan (link to example of such teaching) to which we may add the mystery of iniquity and the man of sin (link to example of such teaching).

Waltz does not explain his motivations for choosing to highlight only part of what Hodge taught, and for doing so in a way that grossly exaggerates the differences between Hodge and some of my friends at Triablogue. Yes, my friends and I may well agree with Thornwell and others that Hodge (no doubt due to the softness of his heart) conceded too much to Rome in places such as those Waltz highlights, but the difference between Hodge and us is a lot smaller than Waltz's article would suggest to the unwary reader.


Shouldn't You Be Eating Chocolate?

The always-creative adherent to the papacy, Mark Shea, seems to think that I (TurretinFan) am not much fun at parties because I spent part of Christmas 2009 in service to my Lord, demonstrating that the rule of faith of Aquinas is different from the rule of faith of Rome today (Aquinas and Formal Sufficiency & Aquinas and the Rule of Faith) while others were out, in Shea's words, "opening presents, eating too much chocolate, singing and generally making merry" (link to Shea's article).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an ascetic monk who condemns all pleasures entirely. There is a time for everything under the sun. Nevertheless, criticism for being about my Father's service by defending the faith seems odd, as though amusing oneself with merriment were more important on the 25th of December than promoting the position of the Word of God as the alone rule of faith by answering Rome's false claim of historical continuity to a different rule of faith.

Mr. Shea, however, offered no response to the merits of the blog posts. Instead, he commented:
Replying to professional anti-Catholics like TurretinFan or James White is like the world's longest game of whack-a-mole. Aside from a tiny fanbase of fellow TRVLY REFORMED types who are there to cheer for their champion as he sallies forth to do battle with the Great Whore, nobody cares about this stuff, nobody is impressed with "Look! I Quoted Thomas in the Original Latin!" It touches nobody's life and serves only to expand the egos of the Cult of White and His Acolytes to Hindenburg proportions. (And it tempts not a few young single Catholic males with a chip on their shoulder to answer in kind.) Enough!
There is an odd sort of consistency to Mr. Shea's comments. Although he occasionally throws some stones, he doesn't actually answer us on the substance of the issues. He may call us moles, but he doesn't actually whack us. And he rightly does not refer to himself as an apologist, for an apologist would have to do something more than accuse Rome's critics of being no fun at all.

Ironically (ironic in that Shea's negative post refers favorably to Catholic Answers Apologists), Patrick Madrid - an apologist for Catholic Answers - posted a quotation from Francis de Sales (a great enemy of Calvinism), parts of which seemed appropriate to the situation:
It is true, Philothea, that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it, it will be scandalized at us, and if we don't, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we can never please it. ... Let us give up this blind world, Philothea. Let it cry out at us as long as it pleases, like a cat that cries out to frighten birds in the daytime. Let us be firm in our purposes and unswerving in our resolutions.

While, Mr. Shea might think that my comments on the rule of faith were my "latest punch at the false religion of Rome" he actually missed my more recent post on Vasquez' inappropriate Mariolatry. He seems to think the punch he saw was an inappropriate substitute for fruit punch and figgy pudding, and consequently did not rise to meet the challenge presented. Nevertheless, if a few hours spent on the 25th of December poring over Latin texts rather than drowning my taste buds in mulled cider will help someone see that Scripture should be honored above all other proposed rules of faith, I will consider it a worthy sacrifice to the cause of Christ. If by giving up the pleasure of a little chocolate, I may be able to help someone gain the true gospel of Christ, it was well worth it.

To the glory of the alone Head of the Church, namely my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,


National Repentance

Many Reformed believers are familiar with the potter and clay analogy in Romans 9, which speaks to God's absolute sovereignty. However, many Reformed believers are less familiar with the potter and clay analogy in Jeremiah 18. The two analogies are only loosely related. Jeremiah 18 also points out God's sovereignty, but with a different signification. In Romans 9, you will recall, the signification is that God can make a man into any kind of vessel he wishes. In Jeremiah 18 the point is that any nation's future is malleable in the hands of God: just because things are one way now doesn't mean they won't change.

Here is the text.

Jeremiah 18:5-17

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.

And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; to make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.

Notice that point of the passage is two-fold. On the one hand, if a nation is doing uprightly at one point, and God is blessing them, that does not mean that God will continue to bless them. In fact, if they fall into rebellion against God, God will chastise them. In other words, God is a holy God.

The other point is converse. If a nation is in rebellion against God and on the path to destruction, if they repent, they will be spared. In other words, God is also a God of mercy.

Both sides of this coin were graphically illustrated in the prophet Jonah and his ministry to Ninevah. He was a prophet of God but he rebelled and was chastised. Ninevah was in rebellion against God but repented and was spared.

This passage about nations is also applicable to individuals. We see the same theme developed more particularly for individuals in Ezekiel 18 (which I've discussed here). That's why I have felt free to illustrate God's chastisement on Jonah. I could instead have simply pointed to the time of the judges. In those days, the people of Israel repeated fell into wickedness, and God sent them chastisement in the form of oppression by neighboring kings and nations. Then, when they repented, God sent them judges to relieve their chastisement.

Yet, although this passage can be applied to individuals, its primary significance is about nations. It helps to explain why Ninevah was spared and why (as explained in more detail in Romans 11) the nation of Israel is presently under God's chastisement. The land of Ninevah repented, but the nation of Israel rebelled.

Some Christians, even those who have a Reformed soteriology, believe that part of God's character of dealing with nations as nations has ceased. I'd respectfully disagree. There does not seem to be any hint in Scripture that is not longer true that "if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."

There are many nations presently in rebellion against God and subject to his chastisement. The United States and the United Kingdom come to mind. Now is the time for national repentance in those lands, if those nations wish to avert the judgment of God for their rebellion against Him.

And even more so, within those lands and throughout the world there are many individuals who likewise are rebelling against God. Those people ought to recognize that they are presently under the wrath and judgment of God for their sin. If they continue on their present course, God will consign them to the eternal torments of hell. But it is not hopeless. If they will repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation, they will be saved.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Of Mary, there is never enough.

The title of this post is the concluding line of this article from Arturo Vasquez (link to article). There are other interesting comments in the article as well. For example, the author concedes that:
My grandmothers have always had at least ten images in the house of just the Virgin of Guadalupe, not counting all of the other crucifixes, statues of Saints Joseph and Jude, and countless other articles of religious kitsch.
Mr. Vasquez takes a firmer line on Marian devotion than one finds from Catholic Answers. For example, Mr. Vasquez insists:
Devotion to the Virgin Mary is not "optional" -- or, to put it another way, it is not something that you can ignore.
Contrast that with Catholic Answer's Q/A:
Q:“Is it required that Catholics be devoted to Mary?”
A: Devotion is an emotional attachment, which cannot be required of anyone. All that is required is assent to those doctrines that the Church has declared to be true and binding upon Catholic consciences. As long as a Catholic gives assent of the will to the Marian doctrines, it is not required that he have any particular emotional attachment to the Blessed Mother.

That said, devotion can be developed just like emotional attachment to any person can be developed, and it is a pious action for a Catholic to develop a devotion to his spiritual Mother. One means of developing such an attachment is to learn more about the Blessed Mother through reading Marian apologetic and devotional literature.
(Michell Arnold in This Rock, Volume 17, Issue 4 - 2006)

But Mr. Vasquez gets even more extreme in his claims and in doing so demonstrates that his devotion to Mary comes at the expense of Scripture and History:
Thus, to be Catholic is not simply to become grafted into an institution in the here and now, but it is also an assent to the being of the Church as it comes down to us from history. In the experience of the Christian people, the motherhood of the Virgin Mary given to us by Christ on the Cross is not a sentimental add-on to the Faith, but part of its very essence. Mary takes care of us like any mother does. She has held back hostile armies, cured the sick, or perhaps just found us work. There is no apostolic Christianity where Mary is not present, no ancient Church where prayers to her are not said. A dream of Christianity sans Mary is like a dream of Christianity without the Cross. For without her, there would have been no Body to be offered on it for the life of the world.
Contrary to Mr. Vasquez' claims, however, we note that the motherhood of Mary was transferred at the cross not from Jesus to all of us, but from Jesus specifically to John.

John 19:25-27
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, "Woman, behold thy son!" Then saith he to the disciple, "Behold thy mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

John understood that he was personally responsible to take care of Mary as though she were his mother, and Mary understood that as well. Notice that the terms are all singular, though two other disciples (Mary the wife of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene) are also there, Jesus does not say, "Woman, behold thy children," but simply "thy son." And Jesus does not say "Behold your (plural) mother" but "Behold thy (singular) mother."

Furthermore, while many churches that call themselves "ancient" today may pray to Mary (the Anglicans would be an exception, "Article XXII. Of Purgatory.: The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God."), this is a development - not the ancient and universal practice. Indeed, when one reads through the writings of the apostolic and ante-Nicaean fathers, one finds little hint of this sort of improper devotion to Mary. The first portion of the Hail Mary is adapted from Scripture, but the apostles and the early church fathers didn't pray the Hail Mary. In fact, the form of the Hail Mary that is used among Roman Catholics (including a petition to Mary) is apparently a late 15th century innovation that was more widely adopted in the 16th century due to the influence of the Council of Trent.

Vasquez' comparison between Mary and the Cross is itself pretty shocking. As we saw above, he wrote: "A dream of Christianity sans Mary is like a dream of Christianity without the Cross. For without her, there would have been no Body to be offered on it for the life of the world." One wonders, though whether Vasquez feels the same way about each of the men and women in Jesus' family tree back to Adam and Eve? One seriously doubts it. While a virgin was necessary, God's selection of Mary was gracious (indeed, she was highly favored and blessed by God) not merited. It is not as though God particularly needed Mary and could not have used another virgin from David's line.

Christ's death on the cross, however, is the ultimate sacrifice - the once for all offering that is central to the Christian faith. The cross takes the central place of focus in Paul's gospel, and in the gospel of the ante-Nicaean fathers. If we were going to draw any kind of comparison between Mary and the cross, it would be between Mary as an instrumental means of Christ's nurture and entrance into this world in the flesh, and the physical wood and nails of the cross as an instrumental means of Christ's loss of human life. A comparison between a root from the stock of David from which Jesus sprang after the flesh and a tree upon which Christ's body was hung.

Vasquez continues:
Being a Christian means being part of a family; it means being taken into a way of life that has been going on for centuries. To use another Augustinian axiom: Unus christianus, nullus christianus (one Christian is no Christian). No greater sign exists of this than Mary herself, the most important member of God's own family and the icon of the Church Universal.
Poor Augustine would be rolling over in his grave if he could hear this. But there is worse error in Vasquez' comment than the misapplication of Augustine's words. Notice Vasquez' claim: "Mary herself, the most important member of God's own family ... ." But recall Jesus own words:

Luke 11:27-28
And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Matthew 12:47-50
Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Mark 3:31-35
There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Matthew 18:1-4
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Mr. Vasquez offers only a brief response to criticism:
Indeed, more love for Christ's mother seems only ever a good thing. And to all those who think it distracts too much from the devotion that we should have to her Son: I am sure He doesn't really mind.
Perhaps the reason that Mr. Vasquez thinks that God doesn't mind is that Mr. Vasquez is unaware of Scripture. One of God's names is Jealous, and God wishes to be served alone. I realize that Mr. Vasquez may think that God is quite willing to be served along side or together with Mary, but almost everyone can recognize that there comes a time when the devotion to Mary is excessive, where it elevates her to the position of a goddess, even though the word is not used.

Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Deuteronomy 4:23-24
Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 5:8-10
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

Deuteronomy 6:14-15
Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Joshua 24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Nahum 1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.


Lutheran Response to Arminianism

Steve Hays recently pointed me to a Lutheran response to Arminianism (link to response). While I am not Lutheran (I am Calvinist, which is virtually anathema to certain Lutherans), I pass this on as being "of interest" to my Arminian readers (as well as my Lutheran readers, few though they may be).


Aquinas: Rule of Faith ("sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei")

Thomas Aquinas' expression, "sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei" at first glance sounds a lot like the Reformation maxim that the rule of faith is only the canonical scripture.

Here's an English translation of the relevant portion:
It should be noted that though many might write concerning Catholic truth, there is this difference that those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and others of this kind, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt. That is his meaning when he says ‘we know his testimony is true.’ Galatians 1:9, “If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!” The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a measure of faith. Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things.
Latin text:
Notandum autem, quod cum multi scriberent de catholica veritate, haec est differentia, quia illi, qui scripserunt canonicam Scripturam, sicut Evangelistic et Apostoli, et alii huiusmodi, ita constanter eam asserunt quod nihil dubitandum relinquunt. Et ideo dicit Et scimus quia verum est testimonium eius; Gal. I, 9: Si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeter id quod accepistis, anathema sit. Cuius ratio est, quia sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei. Alii autem sic edisserunt de veritate, quod nolunt sibi credi nisi in his quae ver dicunt.”
And here's the citation: Thomas Aquinas, Lectures on the Gospel of John, ed. P. Raphaelis Cai, O.P., Editio V revisa (Romae: Marietti Editori Ltd., 1952) n. 2656, p. 488.

This is not an attempt to construe Aquinas as a modern-day Reformed believer (or even a "Protestant" as unhelpful as that category is). Such an allegation would be anachronistic. However, this citation does show that it is equally (if not more-so) anachronistic to view Aquinas as sharing the beliefs of modern-day Roman apologists. In short, his view of Scripture may not be precisely the same as ours, but it is also not the same as that of Rome, in an important way.

The usual response to this sort of citation from Aquinas is exemplified by the response provided by Phil Porvaznik (link) who deflects from the text in question to another place in Aquinas' writings that he thinks is inconsistent with Sola Scriptura. While such an approach may help to prove what we already concede (namely that Aquinas is not simply a modern-day Reformed Presbyterian), it does not answer the crucial question, what did Aquinas mean by "sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei" ("only canonical scripture is [the/a (Latin lacks articles)] rule of faith")? Can any of the Roman Catholics reading answer that question positively (i.e. by refraining from telling us what Aquinas is not saying but rather by telling us what Aquinas is saying)?

What is interesting is that this is not the only time Aquinas speaks of the rule of faith. Here's another place, first an English translation:
Or, wanting to show those speeches that are completely outside of the Scriptures, it said: If they will say to you: Here, and in the desert, do not depart from the rule of the faith.
Latin text:
Vel eos sermones qui sunt omnino extra Scripturam ostendere volens, dixit si dixerint vobis: ecce in solitudine est, nolite exire, de regula fidei.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Commentary on the Gospels, at Matthew 24:23-38 (Lectio 6 in Matthew 24), quoting (apparently with approval) from Origen.

Additionally, we may note another such reference (again English first):
Objection 1. It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of faith to be embodied in a symbol. Because Holy Writ is the rule of faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made, since it is written (Deuteronomy 4:2): "You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it." Therefore it was unlawful to make asymbol as a rule of faith, after the Holy Writ had once been published.


Reply to Objection 1. The truth of faith is contained in Holy Writ, diffusely, under various modes of expression, and sometimes obscurely, so that, in order to gather the truth of faith from Holy Writ, one needs long study and practice, which are unattainable by all those who require to know the truth of faith, many of whom have no time for study, being busy with other affairs. And so it was necessary to gather together a clear summary from the sayings of Holy Writ, to be proposed to the belief of all. This indeed was no addition to Holy Writ, but something taken from it.
Latin text:
Ad nonum sic proceditur. Videtur quod inconvenienter articuli fidei in symbolo ponantur. Sacra enim Scriptura est regula fidei, cui nec addere nec subtrahere licet, dicitur enim Deut. IV, non addetis ad verbum quod vobis loquor, neque auferetis ab eo. Ergo illicitum fuit aliquod symbolum constituere quasi regulam fidei, post sacram Scripturam editam.


Ad primum ergo dicendum quod veritas fidei in sacra Scriptura diffuse continetur et variis modis, et in quibusdam obscure; ita quod ad eliciendum fidei veritatem ex sacra Scriptura requiritur longum studium et exercitium, ad quod non possunt pervenire omnes illi quibus necessarium est cognoscere fidei veritatem, quorum plerique, aliis negotiis occupati, studio vacare non possunt. Et ideo fuit necessarium ut ex sententiis sacrae Scripturae aliquid manifestum summarie colligeretur quod proponeretur omnibus ad credendum. Quod quidem non est additum sacrae Scripturae, sed potius ex sacra Scriptura assumptum.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 9

Here's another:
1. It seems that you should not combine the articles in the symbol. In fact all the faith is taught in a comprehensive manner with Sacred Scripture. So it was unnecessary to compose the symbol.

2. The symbol is proposed as a rule of faith, whose action is consent. Now, only the Apostles and Prophets must be granted this honor, which is that all they have said is believed to be true, as St. Augustine asserts. So after the Apostles' Creed one should not draw up other symbols.


Reply to 1. It was necessary to collect in a single text the various truth transmitted in various places of the Sacred Scriptures so that the faith would be more readily at hand.

Reply to 2. The Fathers who have published other symbols after the Apostles have not added anything of their own, but added what they excerpted from the Holy Scriptures. Now, since in that symbol of the Apostles there are some difficult things, the Nicene Creed was published, which exposes more fully the faith about certain items. Since then some truths were contained in those symbols in implicit form, it was necessary to give an explanation upon the rise of heresies, and so was added the symbol S. Athanasius, who especially set himself against the heretics.
Latin Text:
Ulterius. Videtur quod articuli non debuerunt colligi in symbolo. Quia tota fides sufficienter per sacram Scripturam instruitur. Ergo superfluum fuit symbolum condere.

Praeterea, symbolum proponitur ut regula fidei, cujus actus est assentire. Sed, sicut dicit Augustinus in epistola 19 ad Hieronymum, solis apostolis et prophetis est hic honor exhibendus, ut quaecumque dixerunt, haec ipsa vera esse credantur. Ergo post symbolum apostolorum non debuerunt alia symbola fieri.


Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod oportuit ea quae in diversis locis sacrae scripturae tradita sunt, in unum colligi locum, ut fides magis in promptu haberetur.

Ad secundum dicendum, quod patres qui alia symbola post apostolos ediderunt, nihil de suo apposuerunt; sed ex sacris scripturis ea quae addiderunt, exceperunt. Et quia quaedam difficilia sunt in illo symbolo apostolorum, ideo ad ejus explanationem editum est symbolum nicaenum, quod diffusius fidem quantum ad aliquos articulos prosequitur. Et quia quaedam implicite continebantur in illis symbolis, quae oportebat propter insurgentes haereses explicari; ideo additum est symbolum athanasii, qui specialiter contra haereticos se opposuit.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary upon [Lombard's] Sentences, Book 3, Distinction 25, Question 1, Answer 1, Quaestiuncula 3, arguments 1-2 and answer to arguments 1-2

And again:
4. In the symbol, the faith must be exposed that extends to all believers. But, not all believers have come to believe in God, but only those who have a formed faith. Therefore he seems to say badly: “I believe in a single God,” and because he has a shapeless faith, saying this, sins by lying.

Reply to 4. In the symbol is propounded to us the rule of the faith, to which all must come. But they do not have only to reach the action of shapeless faith, but also the action of formed faith. However, he who, having shapeless faith, recites the symbol, does not sin, because he says this in the person of the Church.
Latin Text:
Praeterea, in symbolo debet exponi fides quantum ad omnes credentes. Sed non omnibus credentibus convenit credere in Deum, sed tantum habentibus fidem formatam. Ergo videtur quod male dictum sit: credo in unum Deum; et quod habens fidem informem, hoc dicens peccet mentiendo.


Ad quartum dicendum, quod in symbolo proponitur nobis regula fidei, ad quam omnes debent pertingere. Non autem debent pertingere solum ad actum fidei informis, sed etiam ad actum fidei formatae, et ideo ponitur in symbolis actus fidei formatae. Nihilominus habens fidem informem, dicens symbolum, non peccat: quia hoc dicit in persona Ecclesiae.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary upon [Lombard's] Sentences, Book 3, Distinction 25, Question 1, Answer 2, Argument 4, and reply to 4

And here:
3. The Sacred Scripture is the rule of the faith. But, in the Scriptures of Old Testament the Trinity was not explicitly mentioned. Therefore it was not necessary [to believe in the Trinity] in order to believe.

Reply to 3. Since it was not necessary that all be explicitly known in the Old Testament, the mystery of the Trinity was not formulated manifestly, but veiled, so that the wise can understand.
Latin Text:
Praeterea, sacra Scriptura est regula fidei. Sed in Scriptura veteris testamenti non fuit mentio expressa facta de Trinitate. Ergo non erat necessaria ad credendum.


Ad tertium dicendum, quod quia non erat necessarium ut explicite omnes cognoscerent, ideo non fuit positum mysterium trinitatis manifeste in veteri testamento, sed velate ut sapientes capere possent.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary upon [Lombard's] Sentences, Book 3, Distinction 25, Question 1, Answer 2, Quaestiuncula 4, Argument 3, and reply to 3

Finally, again, first in English:
Objection 3. Further, Athanasius was not the Sovereign Pontiff, but patriarch of Alexandria, and yet he published a symbol which is sung in the Church. Therefore it does not seem to belong to the Sovereign Pontiff any more than to other bishops, to publish a new edition of the symbol.


Reply to Objection 3. Athanasius drew up a declaration of faith, not under the form of a symbol, but rather by way of an exposition of doctrine, as appears from his way of speaking. But since it contained briefly the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule of faith.
Latin text:
Praeterea, Athanasius non fuit summus pontifex, sed Alexandrinus patriarcha. Et tamen symbolum constituit quod in Ecclesia cantatur. Ergo non magis videtur pertinere editio symboli ad summum pontificem quam ad alios.


Ad tertium dicendum quod Athanasius non composuit manifestationem fidei per modum symboli, sed magis per modum cuiusdam doctrinae, ut ex ipso modo loquendi apparet. Sed quia integram fidei veritatem eius doctrina breviter continebat, auctoritate summi pontificis est recepta, ut quasi regula fidei habeatur.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 10

Recall again that the challenge to the Roman Catholic reader is to tell us what Aquinas meant by saying that the canonical scriptures alone are a/the rule of faith.

To make the Roman Catholic's job easier, here are some important negative points that I'll present so that the Roman Catholic can focus on the positives:

1. Aquinas wrote in Latin, so while we might be tempted to insert "the" before "rule of faith," the sense of "the" can only be implied.

2. In the first quotation above, the Scriptures are not being contrasted with the proclamations of ecumenical councils or ex cathedra papal statements (the latter category wasn't really yet in existence in Aquinas' time). Thus, Aquinas is not specifically and directly speaking to the supremacy of Scripture over conciliar and papal documents, as such.

Finally, here are some additional quotations from Aquinas, which - while they don't expressly use the expression "rule of faith" -- help to inform the discussion.

First, some explanation of what the expression "canonical" with reference to Scripture meant to Aquinas:
If you wish to know whether a doctrine be erroneous, he shows this by three things. First, if it be against ecclesiastical doctrine. And therefore he says, If any man teach otherwise, namely, than I or the other Apostles. Gal. 1:9: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. For the doctrine of the Apostles and prophets is called canonical, since it is like a rule for our intellect. And therefore no one ought to teach otherwise. Deut. 4:2: You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it. Apoc. 22:18: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book.

Regarding the second he says, and consent not, etc. For the Lord Jesus came to give testimony to the truth. Jn. 18:37: For this I was born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. And therefore He was sent by the Father as a doctor and teacher. 1 Mach. 2:65: Give ear to him always, and he shall be a father to you, etc. And therefore whatever does not conform to their words is erroneous. 1 Kg. 15:23: It is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey. And he says, sound, because in the words of Christ nothing is corrupt, nothing false, or perverse, since they are words of divine wisdom. Prov. 8:8: All my words are just, there is nothing wicked nor perverse in them. They are right to them that understand, and just to them that find knowledge.
Regarding the third, it says in Prov. 6:20, My son, keep the commandments of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother. Whence he says, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, namely, ecclesiastical doctrine. This godliness is through the worship of God. Tit. 1:1: According to…the acknowledging of the truth, which is according to godliness.
Latin text:
Si vis scire, quae doctrina sit erronea, hoc ostendit ex tribus. Primo si sit contra doctrinam ecclesiasticam. Et ideo dicit si quis aliter docet, scilicet quam ego et alii apostoli, quantum ad primum. Gal. I, 9: si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeter id quod accepistis, anathema sit. Doctrina enim apostolorum et prophetarum dicitur canonica, quia est quasi regula intellectus nostri. Et ideo nullus aliter debet docere. Deut. Iv, 2: non addetis ad verbum quod loquor vobis, neque auferetis ex eo. Apoc. Ult.: si quis apposuerit ad haec, apponet deus super illum plagas scriptas in libro isto.
Quantum ad secundum dicit et non acquiescit, etc.. Nam dominus iesus venit, ut testimonium perhibeat veritati. Io. Xviii, 37: in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati. Et ideo missus est a patre sicut doctor et magister. i mac. Ii, 65: ipsum audite semper, et ipse erit vobis pater, etc.. Et ideo erroneus est quicumque non acquiescit sermonibus eius. I reg. Xv, 23: quasi peccatum ariolandi est repugnare, et quasi scelus idololatriae nolle acquiescere. Et dicit sanis, quia in christi sermonibus nihil est corruptionis, nihil falsitatis, vel perversitatis, quia sunt sermones divinae sapientiae. Prov. Viii, 8 s.: iusti sunt sermones mei, non est in eis pravum quid neque perversum. Recti sunt intelligentibus, et aequi invenientibus scientiam. quantum ad tertium, prov. Vi, 20: conserva, fili mi, praecepta patris tui, et ne dimittas legem matris tuae. Unde dicit et ei quae secundum pietatem est doctrinae, scilicet ecclesiasticae. Haec pietas est per cultum dei. Tit. I, 1: secundum agnitionem veritatis, quae est secundum pietatem.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Chapter 6, Lecture One.

Thomas Aquinas similarly asserts that Scripture's ultimate effect is to lead men to perfection, by teaching men not only the things necessary for salvation but also for supererogation (see, there's an example of Thomas not being a Reformed theologian, we deny that there are such things as works of supererogation). The text is interesting at least from the standpoint of material sufficiency:
Its ultimate effect is that it leads men to perfection. For it does good not in whatever manner, but it perfects. Heb. 6:1: Let us go on to things more perfect. And so he says, That the man of God may be perfect, since a man cannot be perfect unless he is a man of God. For something is perfect which lacks nothing. Therefore, then is a man perfect when he is furnished, that is, prepared, to every good work, not only for those which are necessary for salvation but also for those which are of supererogation. Gal. 6:9: And in doing good, let us not fail.
Latin Text:
Ultimus eius effectus est, ut perducat homines ad perfectum. Non enim qualitercumque bonum facit, sed perficit. Hebr. C. Vi, 1: ad perfectionem feramur. Et ideo dicit ut perfectus sit homo dei, quia non potest homo esse perfectus, nisi sit homo dei. Perfectum enim est, cui nihil deest. Tunc ergo homo est perfectus, quando est instructus, id est, paratus, ad omne opus bonum, non solum ad ea quae sunt de necessitate salutis, sed etiam ad ea quae sunt supererogationis. Gal. Cap. Ult.: bonum autem facientes, non deficiamus.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Chapter 3, Lecture three.

Finally, Aquinas that while other arguments from probability can be made, the proper authority for holy teaching is the canonical Scripture:
Yet holy teaching employs such authorities only in order to provide as it were extraneous arguments from probability. Its own proper authorities are those of canonical Scripture, and these it applied with convincing force. It has other proper authorities, the doctors of the Church, and these it looks to as its own, but for arguments that carry no more than probability.

For our faith rests on the revelation made to the Prophets and Apostles who wrote the canonical books, not on a revelation, if such there be, made to any other teacher. In this sense St Augustine wrote to St Jerome; Only to those books or writings which are called canonical have I learnt to pay such honour that I firmly believe that none of their authors have erred in composing them. Other authors, however, I read to such effect that, no matter what holiness and learning they display, I do not hold what they say to be true because those were their sentiments.
Latin text:
Sed tamen sacra doctrina hujusmodi auctoritatibus utitur quasi extraneis argumentis et probabilibus. Auctoritatibus autem canonicae Scripturae utitur proprie, ex necessitate argumentando. Auctoritatibus autem aliorum doctorum Ecclesiae, quasi arguendo ex propriis, sed probabiliter.

Innititur enim fides nostra revelationi apostolis et prophetis factae qui canonicos libros scripserunt, non autem revelationi, si qua fuit, aliis doctoribus factae. Unde dicit Augustinus in epistola ad Hieronymum; Solis eis Scripturarum libris qui canonici appellantur didici hunc honorem deferre, ut nullum auctorem in scribendo errasse aliquid firmissime credam. Alios autem ita lego ut, quantalibet sanctitate doctrinaque praepolleant, non ideo verum putem quod ipsi ita senserunt.
Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

Any takers for the challenge? (Remember, the challenge is to tell us what Aquinas does mean, not what he doesn't mean.)


Mountain Cast Into Sea

One of the more challenging sayings of Jesus relates to prayers that a mountain be cast into the sea. The expression of a mountain being cast into the sea is sometimes presented by teachers as though God were saying that if someone prayed in faith, God would toss any old mountain into the sea, much like a child might through a stone in the lake, just for the fun of it.

However, in both the Old and New Testaments, casting a mountain into the sea is a fear-inducing calamity and sign of judgment, much like an earthquake.

Psalm 46:2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Revelation 8:8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

The passages (there are two synoptic accounts of this saying of Jesus) in which we find Jesus mentioning the prayer about the mountain are sometimes interpreted, as I noted above, as simply a trivial exercise of God's power. Other times, ministers attempt to spiritualize this by suggesting that the mountain of our sins will be removed if we pray to God for that (appealing perhaps to Micah 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.). While such is a true doctrine, I do not believe it is the true sense of this passage.

In the context of the passages, Jesus has been interacting with the scribes and chief priests (Matthew 21:11-15; Mark 11:9-18). They are critical of him because he is receiving the praise of children, who call him the Son of David and the Prophet of Nazareth. It seems that Jesus and his disciples are visiting the temple on essentially a daily basis, returning at night to Bethany.

In both passages we are told as well about a fig tree. From the passages we learn that Jesus came on the way from Bethany to Jerusalem and found a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit, and he cursed it. On the following day, returning along the same path, the disciples noted that the cursed tree had completely withered, and they marveled.

It is upon this occasion, the marveling at the withering of the fig tree, that Jesus made his saying:

Matthew 21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Mark 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Notice a word that is frequently overlooked. Jesus does not say simply, "say unto a mountain," but "say unto this mountain." What mountain is he speaking of? There is the possibility that it is any mountain between Bethany and Jerusalem, but in the context of both accounts, the very next thing that Jesus does is to enter into Jerusalem and specifically the temple (Matthew 21:23; Mark 11:27).

Thus, it is reasonable to view Jesus' remarks as being directed toward the mountain to which they were approaching, namely Jerusalem, and especially the temple mountain. With this in mind, what Jesus is speaking of is of the destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem, and especially the temple mount was complete. As prophesied in Matthew 24:2, even so it was carried out:

Matthew 24:1-2
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Mark 13:1-2
And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

That Jesus is speaking of the judgment of Jerusalem in our present passages is also demonstrated from the picture of the fig tree. The fig tree represents, it appears from the context, the hypocritical Jewish leadership. They had a zeal for the law, at least outwardly, and consequently from a distance resembled a fig tree full of leaves. However, upon examination, they are not found to have fruits, and consequently they were judged.

In the case of the fig tree, the the fig tree withered, but in the case of Jerusalem, the whole mountain was destroyed, cast into the sea as it were, by the Romans. Indeed, the Jewish historian Josephus tells us that following the destruction of Jerusalem, "[General Titus] then went down with his army to that Cesarea which lay by the sea-side, and there laid up the rest of his spoils in great quantities, and gave order that the captives should he kept there; for the winter season hindered him then from sailing into Italy." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI)

This passage should remind us of the fearful judgment of God on hypocrites. Let us careful examine ourselves lest we be found to be fruitless fig trees ripe for judgment. Do not delay, for while we do not know when the Lord will return, we do know that none of us will live for ever. We will all then appear before the Lord our maker, to be judged. If you, dear reader, are trusting in the rock of mount Jerusalem, or of the seven hills of Rome, or of the Swiss alps, rather than trusting in the Rock alone of which it is written:

Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Then this day turn in repentance from your sin, place your trust in Christ alone, and humbly beg him that he would bring spiritual fruit into your life through the operation of His Most Holy Spirit, who together with the Father and the Son is God Almighty, to whom be glory and praise both now and until the ages of ages.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Aquinas and the Formal Sufficiency of Scripture

I've previously noted Aquinas' apparent [FN1] view of the primacy of Scripture (link) as well as other comments from Aquinas on themes generally related to Sola Scriptura (link). The following quotation, however, comes close to expressing not only the material sufficiency of Scripture, but also the formal sufficiency of Scripture.

Thus in Holy Writ no confusion results, for all the senses are founded on one — the literal — from which alone can any argument be drawn, and not from those intended in allegory, as Augustine says (Epis. 48). Nevertheless, nothing of Holy Scripture perishes on account of this, since nothing necessary to faith is contained under the spiritual sense which is not elsewhere put forward by the Scripture in its literal sense.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 1, Article 10

I suspect that Aquinas' reference is to:
For what else is it than superlative impudence for one to interpret in his own favour any allegorical statements, unless he has also plain testimonies, by the light of which the obscure meaning of the former may be made manifest.
- Augustine, Letter 93, Chapter 8, Section 24 (This letter is numbered 48 in some of the older collections, for example, this one)

That's a slightly less strong wording than Aquinas uses. In any event, there are two interesting things that Aquinas says: (1) it is improper to argue from an alleged spiritual sense, rather than from the literal sense; and (2) everything necessary for salvation cannot only be found in Scripture but it can be found in the relatively clear, literal parts (not simply in the less clear allegorical parts).


[FN1] There is reason to think that some of the analysis in the Primacy post may be mistaken. For now, we'll leave it at simply apparent, until we have more time to review the evidence behind the objections.

A Reformed Baptist Response to the Manhattan Declaration

It's a bit long, but an enjoyable 45 minutes of Reformed Baptist response to the Manhattan Declaration:

- TurretinFan

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Did Mohammed Recognize that the Messiah was God?

Here's an interesting question, was there ever a time when Mohammed recognized that the Jesus was the Messiah, God incarnate? Someone recently suggested to me that the following is evidence for this position.

Sahih Bukhari Hadith, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 649:
Narrated Abdullah:

The Prophet mentioned the Massiah Ad-Dajjal in front of the people saying, Allah is not one eyed while Messsiah, Ad-Dajjal is blind in the right eye and his eye looks like a bulging out grape. While sleeping near the Ka'ba last night, I saw in my dream a man of brown color the best one can see amongst brown color and his hair was long that it fell between his shoulders. His hair was lank and water was dribbling from his head and he was placing his hands on the shoulders of two men while circumambulating the Kaba. I asked, 'Who is this?' They replied, 'This is Jesus, son of Mary.' Behind him I saw a man who had very curly hair and was blind in the right eye, resembling Ibn Qatan (i.e. an infidel) in appearance. He was placing his hands on the shoulders of a person while performing Tawaf around the Ka'ba. I asked, 'Who is this?' They replied, 'The Masih, Ad-Dajjal.'

Notice that Mohammed is saying that Masih, Ad-Dajjal is not Jesus, the son of Mary. But notice that the argument he makes for it, initially, is that "Allah is not one eyed ..." whereas Masih, Ad-Dajjal is. I realize that a Muslim is not going to be persuaded by the uncorroborated testimony of a single report in the Hadith, but it is at least a puzzling way for Mohammed to describe the matter, if he did not recognize that Jesus, as Messiah, is God in the Flesh.


Because Morality Changes over 800 Years ...

That must be why we see responses like this (link to response) from Roman Catholic human being Mark Shea. Of course! How could we be so dim! Christifideles Laici overrules 800 years of tradition, and the moral basis underlying the canonical provisions we previously identified (link).

But wait, does Christifideles Laici actually contradict those earlier documents in any way?

Does it permit any lay person to "engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith" contrary to Pope Alexander IV's decree? Does it permit any lay person "publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher" contrary to the degree of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council? Perhaps you have to read between the lines with special golden spectacles.

So let's see, when a really old document matches what Mr. Shea believes, it's those evil Calvinists trying to throw off tradition, but when the 800 year old document disagrees with Mr. Shea, it's so much out-dated rubbish.

Got it.


P.S. For those who haven't yet become accustomed to my style, I think it is absolutely absurd to think that it was immoral of laity to teach 800 years ago, but perfectly fine, in fact their duty, to do so today. Morality doesn't change, because God (the God of the Bible) doesn't change.

The Bronx Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration got bogged down with a bunch of irrelevant stuff. Here's an alternative, the Bronx (another part of New York City, for those wondering what Bronx has to do with anything) Declaration:

(1) Two men can't marry one another, no matter how strongly they wish otherwise. That's because marriage is between a man and a woman, not between two men or between two women. Fornication between two men doesn't marry them in the eyes of God, and shouldn't be recognized as marriage in the eyes of the state.

(2) A child in his mother's womb is a child no matter how strongly his mother may wish otherwise. It's a biological fact, folks. The fact that the child's placenta feeds off the mother's womb wall doesn't make him a part of her, any more than him nursing after birth makes him a part of her. He has his own human genome, and ought to be protected and nurtured, not killed, by his mother. The state ought also protect unborn children, even from their mothers.

(3) We will continue to point out (1) and (2) no matter how strongly you may wish otherwise. Yes, that may lead to negative consequences for us, but we're willing to speak out for the objective immorality of calling fornication marriage or refusing to outlaw murder of the most helpless human denizens of a state. We point these things out not because we have decided that fornication and murder are wrong, but because the God who created all flesh and who defined marriage in the Garden of Eden has declared this to be the case.



Monday, December 21, 2009

Lay Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Apologists - Care to Explain?

If you are a lay Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox apologist, perhaps you'd care to explain why the following are not relevant to you:

Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261) in “Sextus Decretalium”, Lib. V, c. ii:
We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.
(Source)(courtesy of blogger Coram Deo)

Quinisext Ecumenical Council, Canon 64:
That a layman must not publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher, but, instead, must submit to the ordinance handed down by the Lord, and to open his ear wide to them who have received the grace of teaching ability, and to be taught by them the divine facts thoroughly. For in the one Church God created different members, according to the utterance of the Apostle, in interpreting which St. Gregory the Theologian clearly presents the right procedure in these matters by saying:[198] “Let us have respect for this procedure, brethren, and let us observe it. First, let one man be a listener, as the hearing recipient; another, the tongue; another, a hand; another, something else; let one man teach, and let another man learn; and after short periods, as touching one who learns in a state of obedience, and one who leads the chorus in hilarity, and one who renders service in cheerfulness and willingness, let us not all be a tongue, heeding the most apt saying: “Let us not all be Apostles; let us not all be Prophets; let us not all be Interpreters” (1 Cor. 12:29), and after somewhat: “Why are you making out that you are a shepherd, when you are a sheep? Why are you becoming a head, when you happen to be a foot? Why are you attempting to be a general, when you are placed in the ranks of (ordinary) soldiers? And from another quarter Wisdom bids: “Be not hasty in words; vie not with a rich man when thou art indigent” (Prov. 23:4); nor seek to be wiser than the wise. If anyone be caught disobeying the present Canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days.

Any responses from the lay Roman Catholic apologists/debaters who read this blog?


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mahershalalhashbaz and Immanuel

Mahershalalhashbaz has a name that is quite a handful. Recently, my attention was brought to a claim that Mahershalalhashbaz was the one and only fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, "... a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel ... ." The claim that Mahershalalhashbaz is the one and only fulfillment is plainly mistaken, since Matthew's gospel connects the prophecy to Jesus:

Matthew 1:22-23
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

One might ask why Mahershalalhashbaz is even brought into the matter. The reason is the following flow of the passage (keep in mind that the chapter divisions are not original):

Isaiah 7:10-8:4
(10) Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, (11) "Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above."

(12) But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD."

(13) And he said, "Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? (14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (15) Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. (16) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. (17) The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. (18) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. (19) And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes. (20) In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard. (21) And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; (22) And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land. (23) And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. (24) With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns. (25) And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle."

(8:1) Moreover the LORD said unto me, "Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz."

(2) And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. (3) And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son.

Then said the LORD to me, "Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. (4) For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

Notice that the child of the prophetess (or wife of the prophet) is described as being young at the critical point ("For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother") and there are also two kingdoms (Damascus and Samaria) who are being conquered by Assyria.

This link suggests that Mahershalalhashbaz is a primary fulfillment of the prophecy, though not the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy. What's interesting though, is that in being the primary fulfillment, Mahershalalhashbaz also serves as a type (i.e. foreshadow) of Christ.

I noticed this in a particularly striking way when reading Cyril of Alexandria's commentary on Isaiah. In that commentary he practically ignores the historical person Mahershalalhashbaz. One reason is that apparently his version of the Old Testament in Greek did not transliterate the Hebrew name, Mahershalalhashbaz, but rather translated it. The English translation of the Greek translation that Cyril had was "Quickly plunder, rapidly pillage" which is similar to Strong's proposed translation of "hasting (as he (the enemy) to the) booty, swift (to the) prey."

It may be that Cyril was way off, and he himself views the passage as difficult, but he makes an interesting observation. The wise men from the east who came to Jesus brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus received this booty, prey, or plunder at time when he was quite young, before he could speak.

I'm not totally convinced by Cyril's explanation, as you can probably tell. Yet, it is an interesting idea. Those who are fond of the redemptive-historical hermeneutic should especially enjoy it.


Friday, December 18, 2009

David's Relationship to God

Vox Veritatis has some thoughts on the problems with the English expression "Mother of God." (link to comments) Of course, there is an orthodox sense to the term (the orthodox sense is that Mary was the mother of Jesus, who is God incarnate), but the resultant expression is awkward at best.

The only argument for the expression is that Jesus is God, Jesus is the Son of Mary, therefore Mary is the mother of God. But Jesus is also the Son of David. Any takers for calling David "the Father of God" or the "Ancestor of God"?

Unsurprisingly, there are few takers for this kind of expression. The reason why is intuitive. It just sounds inappropriate. It similarly sounds inappropriate to call Mary the Mother of God (to those of us who have not become desensitized to the expression), since she did not provide Jesus' divinity: only Jesus' humanity was taken from Mary.

- TurretinFan

Open Commenting Policy

I'm removing moderation from the comments section on this blog for a bit, to see how it goes. That means your comment will get published right away, in theory. It also means that if you post things that are insulting, off-topic, or whatever, I will need to proactively delete them instead of letting them sit in moderation. If folks abuse it, I'll go back to moderation.

The downside is that I may not notice that someone has commented, and consequently may not answer their comments, as I have tried to do previously. The good news, I guess, is that the number of comments in moderation (presently around 300 or so) should gradually decrease as I clear them out either by publishing them or rejecting them.

Happy commenting.


Does Rome Proclaim a False Gospel?

A seemingly simple question. I think a significant chunk of my readers would answer an unequivocal "No," and another chunk would answer a resounding "Yes!" But I've recently encountered some guy (like me, pseudonymous) who uses the nick "Truth Unites ... And Divides" who seems to have extraordinary trouble giving a straight answer to this question (link to discussion).

Rather than answer the question directly, he insisted that I need to imagine how several third parties would answer the question and that take that as his answer. Let's make this easy for TU&D. I'll answer the question directly, and if you can take a minute or two to answer the question directly, using one of the following:

1. Yes, Rome proclaims a false gospel.


2. No, Rome proclaims the Gospel of Christ.


3. There's some third option.


4. I don't know.


5. I can't answer.

My answer is #1. Yes, Rome proclaims a false gospel.

Your turn, readers.

BTW, if Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, or Niel Nielson are reading this blog (which I expect they are not), their answers would be especially appreciated.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mariolatry Exemplified

Steve Hays (and others) have already pointed out a Roman Catholic Psalter to Mary (link to Steve Hays' post)(link to "psalter"). I'm not sure the depth of the blasphemy involved is fully appreciated by most readers. In the following post, I will give both some high level information as well as a specific example, so that it can be seen just how idolatrous this "Psalter" is.

I. High Level Comparison

Here are a few things to note: the psalter numbers the "psalms" 1-150, including multiple parts for the number corresponding to Psalm 119, as well as additional "canticles" designed to imitate various extra-psalter songs in Scripture. Not content with parodying (that's not really the right word, is it) Scripture, the "psalter" even comes up with a Marian version of the "Te Deum" (an ancient song attributed to Ambrose) and a Marian "creed" imitative of the Athanasian creed. It is not too extreme to say that if you wanted to worship Mary in the same way you worship God, this is how you would go about it.

II. Detailed Comparison By An Example

It is not simply a matter of copying the number of the psalms in the Psalter, but even the content of the Psalms is converted from worship of the LORD to worship of the Lady. Here's one example. First, the Psalm section (Schin from Psalm 119/118):

Psalm 119:161-168 (SCHIN)
Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.

I've broken off the Psalm there, because it is the natural breaking point for that particular Psalm, based on the spelling of the first word of each line. In fact, as we'll note below, the author of the Marian "psalm" actually continues on a few verses further.

Below you will find the Marian version (designated Psalm 118J in the translation at this source). I've provided footnotes to assist the reader in further identifying how closely the "psalm" imitates the divinely inspired psalm.

Marian "Psalm" 118J
Princes have persecuted me without cause [FN1]: and the wicked spirit fears the invocation of thy name [FN2].
There is much peace to them that keep thy name [FN3], O Mother of God: and to them there is no stumbling-block [FN4].
At the seven hours I have sung praises to thee, O Lady [FN6]: according to thy word give me understanding [FN7].
Let my prayer come into thy sight [FN8], that I may not forsake thee, O Lady, all the days of my life[FN9]: for thy ways are mercy and truth [FN10].
I will long forever to praise thee, O Lady [FN11]: when thou shalt have taught me thy justifications [FN12].
Glory be to the Father, etc.

[FN1] Direct copy of Psalm 119:161.
[FN2] Seeming allusion to Deuteronomy 28:10 (Douay-Rheims Version) And all the people of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is invocated upon thee, and they shall fear thee. It would seem ironic as an adaptation of the remainder of Psalm 119:161.
[FN3] Adaptation of Psalm 119:165.
[FN4] The fact that this whole line is adapted from Psalm 119:165 becomes more apparent when one looks at the Douay-Rheims version of this verse: Psalm 119:165 (Douay-Rheims Version) Much peace have they that love thy law, and to them there is no stumbling-block.
[FN6] Adaptation of Psalm 119:164.
[FN7] Direct copy from second half of Psalm 119:169 (Douay-Rheims Version) Let my supplication, O Lord, come near in thy sight: give me understanding according to thy word.
[FN8] Adaptation from the first half of Psalm 119:69 (see FN7).
[FN9] The allusion here is not clear, perhaps: Isaiah 38:20 (Douay-Rheims Version) O Lord, save me, and we will sing our psalms all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. or
[FN10] Apparent allusion to Psalm 25:10 (Douay-Rheims Version) All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies.
[FN11] Note FN12, but praising God forever may be found in various psalms. One example is Psalm 30:12 (Douay-Rheims Version, where it is numbered as verse 13) To the end that my glory may sing to thee, and I may not regret: O Lord my God, I will give praise to thee for ever.
[FN12] Adaptation from Psalm 119:171 (Douay-Rheims Version) My lips shall utter a hymn, when thou shalt teach me thy justifications.

For the reader's convenience, here is the Douay-Rheims version of the paraphrase/parodied/imitated portion in its entirety.

Psalm 119:161-171 (Douay-Rheims Version)
161 Princes have persecuted me without cause: and my heart hath been in awe of thy words.
162 I will rejoice at thy words, as one that hath found great spoil.
163 I have hated and abhorred iniquity; but I have loved thy law.
164 Seven times a day I have given praise to thee, for the judgments of thy justice.
165 Much peace have they that love thy law, and to them there is no stumbling. block.
166 I looked for thy salvation, O Lord: and I loved thy commandments.
167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies and hath loved them exceedingly.
168 I have kept thy commandments and thy testimonies: because all my ways are in thy sight.
169 Let my supplication, O Lord, come near in thy sight: give me understanding according to thy word.
170 Let my request come in before thee; deliver thou me according to thy word.
171 My lips shall utter a hymn, when thou shalt teach me thy justifications.

(I should point out that this sort of thing is a great example of why Calvin and the Puritans wanted to avoid hymns of human composition - while I should also point out that the abuse of human composition, as here, doesn't prove that the whole category of human composition is bad.)

- TurretinFan

Remembering Wrath

Don't forget about the wrath of God. In the King James Version, the phrase "wrath of God" appears ten times. For those of you who think that the wrath of God is primarily an Old Testament concept, prepare to be surprised. Only one of the ten instances is in the Old Testament. Of course, the concept itself does find frequent expression in the Old Testament, it is just that the precise phrase "wrath of God" is rarely used there.

1) Psalm 78:31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen [men] of Israel.

2) John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

3) Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

4) Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

5) Colossians 3:6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

6) Revelation 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

7) Revelation 14:19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast [it] into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

8) Revelation 15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

9) Revelation 15:7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.

10) Revelation 16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

What about the "Wrath of the LORD" instead? That expression is found (in the KJV) only in the Old Testament, in thirteen instances. If you're keeping track, that's now 14 Old Testament references and 9 New Testament references.

11) Numbers 11:33 And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.

12) 2 Kings 22:13 Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.

13) 2 Chronicles 12:12 And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.

14) 2 Chronicles 28:11 Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.

15) 2 Chronicles 29:8 Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.

16) 2 Chronicles 32:26 Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

17) 2 Chronicles 34:21 Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.

18) 2 Chronicles 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

19) Psalms 106:40 Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance.

20) Isaiah 9:19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.

21) Isaiah 13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

22) Jeremiah 50:13 Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.

23) Ezekiel 7:19 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.

Additionally, there is also usage of "Wrath of the Almighty" and "Wrath of the Lamb" with one instance in each testament, for a running tally of 15 Old Testament references and 10 New Testament references.

24) Job 21:20 His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

25) Revelation 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

Finally, there are instances of "wrath of our God" and "wrath of Almighty God" - again one in each testament, which brings the total to 16 and 11 instances respectively.

26) Ezra 10:14 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.

27) Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

There are, of course, other examples that could be given. One of God's attributes is wrath. And if you have not placed your confidence in the only mediator between God and man, trusting in him alone for salvation, you are under that wrath. The Lamb of God has been slain for the sins of the world, but the Lamb is coming back to judge the world.

Beware the wrath of the Lamb!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shroud News

An ancient shroud has been found (link to story). One passage of the article was especially interesting:
Gibson said the remains of the man covered in the cloth consisted of different wrappings for the body and the head, which was consistent with burial practices of the era. He also said research had shown that the weave of the cloth was a simple one, much different from the more complex Shroud of Turin's.
The reason I thought this was interesting was that we know for a fact that Jesus was wrapped as in the article, not as the shroud depicts things:

John 20:6-7

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

It should be pointed out that the shroud of Turin is one of those fringe areas of Roman Catholicism where "the Church" makes not guarantees about the authenticity but accepts devotion to the shroud as pious:
The Shroud is a challenge to our intelligence. It first of all requires of every person, particularly the researcher, that he humbly grasp the profound message it sends to his reason and his life. The mysterious fascination of the Shroud forces questions to be raised about the sacred Linen and the historical life of Jesus. Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions connected with this Sheet, which, according to tradition, wrapped the body of our Redeemer after he had been taken down from the cross. The Church urges that the Shroud be studied without pre-established positions that take for granted results that are not such; she invites them to act with interior freedom and attentive respect for both scientific methodology and the sensibilities of believers.
- John Paul II, 24 May 1998 address at Turin
And again, the same day, in another address:
I am pleased once again to greet everyone present, starting with the Archbishop of Turin, dear Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, together with the Bishops of Piedmont and the civil authorities present, including the representative of the Italian Government, to whom I extend a special greeting. I greet the clergy, the religious, the committed laypeople and all those present, especially the pilgrims who have come with devotion to pay homage to the Shroud.
- John Paul II, 24 May 1998 address at Turin


If You Look Only at the Similarities, They're Exactly the Same!

One area where Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox part ways is over describing what goes on in the consecration of the elements in the Eucharist. For Eastern Orthodox, the transformation that occurs is mysterious and indescribable. For Roman Catholics, the transformation is sacramental and describable - in fact it is described quite specifically by the doctrine of transubstantiation which claims that the whole substance of the bread and wine are miraculously converted in each case (not respectively) to the body, blood, and divinity of Jesus Christ.

This real difference between the two views is something that Roman Catholic Matthew Bellisario would like to pretend doesn't exist. An example of MB's wishful analysis of Eastern Orthodoxy is seen in the following excerpt:
The Eastern Churches simply never adopted that type of Latin, scholastic investigation. They simply accept the fact that it is fully Jesus Christ on the altar after the consecration. Archimandrite Alexander (Mileant) of the Russian Orthodox Church OUtside America writes, "While in other sacraments objects such as water or oil are only sanctified, in Holy Communion the objects of the Sacrament, bread and wine, are not only sanctified but actually transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, when a Christian receives Holy Communion, he receives Jesus Himself and joins with Him. So great is this mystery that no possible explanation can be found of how this happens, and one can only say with gratitude: "Thank You, my Lord!" There is no real point of disunity on this subject among most Orthodox theologians or churches concerning the Catholic teaching. It is a fact that the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgies are largely the same liturgies (St. Chrysostom, St. James, St. Basil, etc) which profess this Eucharistic doctrine. The Greek Orthodox Church of America writes, "The Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine become for us His Body and His Blood." I personally believe that there is no point of contention on this doctrine, and the Catholic Church itself does not view it be one either.
(source - errors and emphasis in original)

Notice the way that Bellisario hopefully emphasizes what he sees as overlap between the Roman Catholic position and the Eastern Orthodox position. In doing so, however, he misses the point of significant departure, "no possible explanation can be found ... ." The Eastern Orthodox didn't just fail to adopt a scholastic analysis, they apophatically assert that explanation is impossible.

Why is that? One reason is that transubstantiation is not a doctrine that was innovated before the Eastern apostolic sees separated from the Western apostolic see. Thus, transubstantiation is not part of the tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy, despite Roman Catholic attempts to portray it as such. More significantly, the history of Eastern Orthodoxy helps to demonstrate that transubstantiation is not an Apostolic tradition. It's not something that the apostles knew or taught, nor something that they handed down either orally or in written form.

Yes, if you only consider the similarities between any two positions, those two positions are exactly the same. But when you look at the differences, you realize that there is fundamental difference between those who teach the explanation of transubstantiation as a dogma and those who teach that any explanation is impossible.