Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 7/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 7/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

7) Where in the Bible is God’s Word restricted only to what is written down?

Simple Answer(s):

Nowhere that we know of.

Important Qualification(s):

1) However, the main thing that is called the Word of God is Scripture.

2) And Jesus and the apostles do quote from and rely on the Scriptures as authoritative.

3) And Jesus commands his critics to search the Scriptures to evaluate his ministry.

4) And the Bereans were applauded for searching the Scriptures to evaluate Paul's ministry.

- TurretinFan

Haiti as a Warning to America

Psalm 64:9 And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing.

In a previous post we explored the possibility that the earthquake in Haiti is God's judgment on Haiti (link to post). As we said then, it may well be God's judgment on that nation, and it may be hard for us to discern what particular sin or sins brought about that judgment.

But there is another lesson that we may consider the earthquake in Haiti. That is we may consider the earthquake as a warning to the U.S. in particular, the Americas more broadly, or even to any nation that is going on in sin.

Recall what we learn in the Gospel:
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them,

"Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

He spake also this parable;

"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, 'Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?'

And he answering said unto him, 'Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.'"
(Luke 13:1-9)

Nations who lack fruits that please God should look at this apparent judgment on Haiti as a warning. Do we think that Haiti was the worst of the Caribbean nations? Do we think that its sin had more of a stench before God than that of the U.S. or of the U.K. or of Russia?

Even now it may be that this earthquake is being sent as a warning to all nations to turn from their sins. Surely nations - who tolerate the holocaust of the unborn, who wink at sodomy, who are rampant in fornication and adultery of every kind, and who refuse to purge their land of murderers and witches - surely such nations ought to tremble before the awesome might and power of God.

For man this was a devastating disaster. For God this was nothing. God has brought greater judgment than this. In the time of Noah, recall, God destroyed the entire world by a flood. And some day, perhaps soon, Christ will come again in judgment and destroy this world with fire.

It is relatively easy to point the finger at Haiti and suggest that God's earthquake (for it was God's earthquake) was a judgment on their sins. What about the sins of our nations? Now is the time for repentance.

- TurretinFan

Friday, January 15, 2010

Judgment on Haiti (?)

Someone has claimed that Haiti's disaster is due to the fact that they made a pact with the devil many years ago. The basic idea that they (or some small group of revolutionaries long ago) made a pact with the devil (or some evil spirit) is not necessarily incredible. It's also not incredible that this is the judgment of God on the nation of Haiti. However, there's no good reason to pick out that particular sin as the cause of this judgment. Why not pick out Haiti's particularly loathsome treatment of children (link to report). There are lots of possibilities. It may well be God's judgment. While calamities like this can be and, in Scripture, frequently are the judgment of God, it may be something else. Recall Job. We should not be quick to judge Haiti, but those in Haiti ought seriously to consider why God brought this, and if they find sin, they ought to repent of it.

- TurretinFan

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 6/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 6/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

6) If the authors of the New Testament believed in sola Scriptura, why did they sometimes draw on oral Tradition as authoritative and as God’s Word (Matt 2:23; 23:2; 1 Cor 10:4; 1 Pet 3:19; Jude 9, 14 15)?

Simple Answer(s):

1) They don't.

a) Matthew 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

This is not a reference to oral Tradition, nor an example of calling oral Tradition God's word.

b) Matthew 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

Again, this is not a reference to oral Tradition, nor an example of calling oral Tradition God's word.

c) 1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

There is no need to treat this as a reference to oral tradition. However, even if it is, it is not drawn on as authoritative, nor is it called the word of God.

d) 1 Peter 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

This one is so far afield from being germane to the matter, that I thought at first he must have meant 2 Peter 3:19, but the last verse of 2 Peter is 3:18.

e) Jude 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

There is no need to treat this as a reference to oral tradition. However, even if it is, it is not drawn on as authoritative, nor is it called the word of God.

f) Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

There is no need to treat this as a reference to oral tradition. However, even if it is, it is not drawn on as authoritative, nor is it called the word of God.

Important Qualification(s):

1) More could be said about some of the items that Mr. Ray has identified. For example, there is a book called the book of Enoch which starts with the material found in Jude 14-15, and there were apparently Jewish traditions about a rock literally following (as if it were alive) the people of Israel in the wilderness. And, indeed, it may be that the writers of the New Testament included (by the Holy Spirit's inspiration) material drawn from sources that were based on oral tradition.

2) However, note that Paul also quotes from pagan poetry:

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Titus 1:12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

Paul even calls the pagan, Zeus-worshiping poet a "prophet." That does not mean that Paul treated either oral traditions of the Jews or Greek poetry as either "authoritative" or "the word of God."

- TurretinFan

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adventures in Textual Discovery

Dan Wallace reports on an interesting experience he had in examining a manuscript of the New Testament (link to report). The report illustrates the steps that are, even to this day, being undertaken to preserve the text of Scripture. Of course, not every manuscript find has the same excitement to a layman as the one Wallace is reporting. Nevertheless, the fact is that folks like Wallace are doing a remarkable service to the kingdom of God by tracking down and investigating the numerous manuscript copies of the New Testament.


The Jews Gave Us the Old Testament

Of course, God gave us the Old Testament by inspiration, but the point is that the apostles did not give us the Old Testament. Instead, it was an existing body of literature that was handed on to them. We see this in Scripture.

Romans 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them [that is, to the Jews] were committed the oracles of God.

And, of course, we also see this reflected in the writings of the church fathers.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):
Finally, if the ceremonies of the Jews move you to admiration, what do you have in common with us? If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies. But if ours are true, as they are true, theirs are filled with deceit. I am not speaking of the Scriptures. Heaven forbid! It was the Scriptures which took me by the hand and led me to Christ.
Greek text:
Ὅλως δὲ εἰ θαυμάζεις τὰ ἐκείνων, τίς σοι κοινὸς πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἐστι λόγος; Εἰ γὰρ σεμνὰ καὶ μεγάλα τὰ Ἰουδαίων, ψευδῆ τὰ ἡμέτερα· εἰ δὲ ταῦτα ἀληθῆ, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ἀληθῆ, ἐκεῖνα ἀπάτης γέμει. Οὐχὶ τὰς Γραφὰς λέγω· μὴ γένοιτο. ἐκεῖναι γάρ με πρὸς τὸν Χριστὸν ἐχειραγώγησαν·
Citation: Chrysotom, Against the Jews (Adversus Judaeos), PG 48:852; translation in FC, Vol. 68, Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, Disc. 1.6.5 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1979), pp. 23-24.

Justin Martyr (wrote after A.D. 151):
But if any of those who are wont to be forward in contradiction should say that these books do not belong to us, but to the Jews, and should assert that we in vain profess to have learnt our religion froth them, let him know, as he may from those very things which are written in these books, that not to them, but to us, does the doctrine of them refer. That the books relating to our religion are to this day preserved among the Jews, has been a work of Divine Providence on our behalf; for lest, by producing them out of the Church, we should give occasion to those who wish to slander us to charge us with fraud, we demand that they be produced from the synagogue of the Jews, that from the very books still preserved among them it might clearly and evidently appear, that the laws which were written by holy men for instruction pertain to us.
- Justin Martyr, ANF: Vol. 1, Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks, Chapter 38 - Concluding Appeal.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):
At the beginning, then, God communicates directly with human beings as far as it is possible for human beings to hear. This is the way He came to Adam, this is the way He rebuked Cain, this is the way He was entertained by Abraham. But since our nature took a turn for evil, and separated itself by a lengthy exile, as it were, at long last He sent us letters as though we were absent for a long time and He intended to reestablish the former friendship through an epistle. While it was God who sent the letters, it was Moses who brought them.
- Chrysostom, Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis (Boston: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2004) Sermon 1, p. 26.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
But the Jews survive still, and for a special purpose: so that they may carry our books, to their own confusion. When we want to prove to the pagans that Christ’s coming was prophesied, we produce these scriptures. But possibly pagans obstinately opposed to the faith might have alleged that we Christians had composed them, fabricating prophecies to buttress the gospel we preach. They might have thought that we were trying to pass off our message by pretending that it had been foreshadowed in prophecy. But we can convince them of their error by pointing out that all those scriptures which long ago spoke of Christ are the property of the Jews. Yes, the Jews recognize these very writings. We take books from our enemies to confute other enemies! In what sort of disgrace do the Jews find themselves? A Jew carries the book which is the foundation of faith for a Christian. Jews act as book-bearers for us, like the slaves who are accustomed to walk behind their masters carrying their books, so that while the slaves sink under the weight, the masters make great strides through reading.
- Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 17, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 51-72, Psalm 56.9 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2001), p. 110.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (about A.D. 393-466) commenting on Ezekiel 37:28:
In fact, through those of the Jews who came to faith the nations also received the light of the knowledge of God: the divine apostles and the first disciples of the apostles were from among the ranks of Jews, and the nations came to faith in the divine message by learning the truths about Christ our savior from the inspired books preserved by Jews. Hence the divine apostle also said that the believers from the nations are grafted into the pious root of the Jews, while the unbelievers from Jews are broken off and separated from this root.
- Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentaries on the Prophets, Vol. Two, Commentary on the Prophet Ezekiel (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2006), preface, p. 251.

Origen (about A.D. 185–254):
Where you get your "lost and won at play, and thrown out unburied on the streets," I know not, unless it is from Tobias; and Tobias (as also Judith), we ought to notice, the Jews do not use. They are not even found in the Hebrew Apocrypha, as I learned from the Jews themselves.
- Origen, Letter to Africanus, Section 13

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
The examples I have adduced are indeed by no means doubtful in their signification, because only plain instances ought to be used as examples. There are passages, however, in regard to which it is uncertain in what sense they ought to be taken, as for example, "In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red: it is full of mixture." Now it is uncertain whether this denotes the wrath of God, but not to the last extremity of punishment, that is, "to the very dregs;" or whether it denotes the grace of the Scriptures passing away from the Jews and coming to the Gentiles, because "He has put down one and set up another,"— certain observances, however, which they understand in a carnal manner, still remaining among the Jews, for "the dregs hereof is not yet wrung out."
- Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 25, Section 36


Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 5/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 5/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

5) Some Protestants claim that St. Paul condemned all oral tradition (Col 2:8). If so, why does he tell the Thessalonians to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thes 2:15) and praises the Corinthians because they “hold firmly to the traditions” (1 Cor 11:2)?

Simple Answer(s):

We don't necessarily condemn oral tradition.

Important Qualification(s):

1) "Oral tradition" can refer to various things. There's a sense in which the minister preaching the gospel is tradition-ing (passing on) the word of God in an oral form. This in itself is not a problem, but it should never be given an authority equal or greater to the Word of God itself.

2) The danger of human traditions corrupting theology remained an issue about which Paul was concerned:

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

3) Given the dangers of human tradition, the best way to distinguish between human traditions and the Word of God is by comparing a church's teaching to the Bible.

- TurretinFan

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Steve Hays Explains Perspicuity

Steve Hays has provided some insightful comments on the perspicuity of Scripture by analogy to street signs (link).

The Alternative to the Gospel of Justification by Faith Alone

"The Alternative to the Gospel of Justification by Faith Alone," is the title of a recent post by Pastor Wes White. The answer, of course, is justification by faith plus works. Pastor White suggests that:
Now, when most people think of being justified by works, they think of someone staying up late at night saying prayers, giving up all their money, or watching scrupulously over every action to make sure they are accepted by God. But where are such people? Maybe there are a few here and there, but we don't see many of them.
Pastor White goes on to suggest that the usual form of practical error with respect to justification takes on a different form: (read his post to find out).

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 4/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 4/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

4) Some Protestants claim that Jesus condemned all oral tradition (e.g., Matt 15:3, 6; Mark 7:813). If so, why does He bind His listeners to oral tradition by telling them to obey the scribes and Pharisees when they “sit on Moses’ seat” (Matt 23:2)?

Simple Answer(s):

1) We don't necessarily condemn oral tradition.

2) Jesus' binding of his listeners wasn't absolute. In fact, when Jesus' listeners came before the scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses' seat they responded:

Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Important Qualification(s):

1) "Oral tradition" can refer to various things. There's a sense in which the minister preaching the gospel is tradition-ing (passing on) the word of God in an oral form. This in itself is not a problem, but it should never be given an authority equal or greater to the Word of God itself.

2) If the Roman Catholics want to suggest that the Pharisees and Scribes had the same kind of authority as the Roman Catholic Church has, we simply note that Jesus himself opposed the traditions of the Pharisees and Scribes.

3) The danger of human traditions corrupting theology were not a problem only for the Old Testament times:

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

- TurretinFan

Responding to K. Doran regarding Athanasius

In the comment box at Called to Communion (source), K. Doran responded to Andrew M. who had written:
At Nicea, since we can find no record of theologians of that time arguing for the truth of the things Nicea taught based on an appeal to claims of ecclesiastical infallibility of de fide pronouncements, it is hardly likely that any of the theologians who came to side with Nicea came to their understanding in this manner.
K. Doran first provided the following alleged quotation from Athansius (I quote K. Doran here quoting Athanasius):
Athanasius said: "the word of the Lord pronounced by the ecumenical synod of Nicaea stands for ever" (Ep. ad Afros, n. 2)
(This quotation comes, either directly or indirectly, from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910/13, from the article on Infallibility, by Msgr. Patrick J. Toner)

A better translation of the text would be: "But the word of the Lord which came through the ecumenical Synod at Nicæa, abides for ever." (Athanasius, Letter to the African Bishops, Section 2)

The Catholic Encyclopedia entry cites as its source, PG26:1031, which is the Latin side of the page on which the underlying Greek of Athanasius can be found: "τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα τοῦ Κυρίου τὸ διὰ τῆς οἰκουμενικῆς συνόδου ἐν τῇ Νικαίᾳ γενόμενον μέ νει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα." (Migne's Latin is: "Domini autem verbum per oecumenicam Nicaenam synodum prolatum in aeternum manet.")

What one supposes that the original quotation was provided for was to suggest that somehow the council of Nicaea itself had some sort of public prophetic gift, such that it proclaimed a new "word of the Lord." If the quotation above existed in a vacuum, perhaps such an interpretation would be possible.

But note that a little later on Athanasius does not hang his hat on the authority of Nicaea but invites the reader to judge the two councils (Nicaea and the Arian councils considered collectively):
And again, if a man were to examine and compare the great synod itself, and those held by these people, he would discover the piety of the one and the folly of the others. They who assembled at Nicæa did so not after being deposed: and secondly, they confessed that the Son was of the Essence of the Father. But the others, after being deposed again and again, and once more at Ariminum itself, ventured to write that it ought not to be said that the Son had Essence or Subsistence. This enables us to see, brethren, that they of Nicæa breathe the spirit of Scripture, in that God says in Exodus [Ex. iii. 14.], ‘I am that I am,’ and through Jeremiah, ‘Who is in His substance [ὑποστήματι, Jer. xxiii. 18, LXX.] and hath seen His word;’ and just below, ‘if they had stood in My subsistence [ὑποστάσει, v. 22.] and heard My words:’ now subsistence is essence, and means nothing else but very being, which Jeremiah calls existence, in the words, ‘and they heard not the voice of existence [ὕπαρξις, Jer. ix. 10, LXX.].’ For subsistence, and essence, is existence: for it is, or in other words exists. This Paul also perceiving wrote to the Hebrews, ‘who being the brightness of his glory, and the express Image of his subsistence [Heb. i. 3.].’ But the others, who think they know the Scriptures and call themselves wise, and do not choose to speak of subsistence in God (for thus they wrote at Ariminum and at other synods of theirs), were surely with justice deposed, saying as they did, 491like the fool did in his heart [Ps. xiv. 1.], ‘God is not.’ And again the fathers taught at Nicæa that the Son and Word is not a creature, nor made, having read ‘all things were made through Him [John i. 3.],’ and ‘in Him were all things created, and consist [Col. i. 16.];’ while these men, Arians rather than Christians, in their other synods have ventured to call Him a creature, and one of the things that are made, things of which He Himself is the Artificer and Maker. For if ‘through Him all things were made’ and He too is a creature, He would be the creator of Himself. And how can what is being created create? or He that is creating be created?
- Athanasius, Letter to the African Bishops, Section 4 (source)

K. Doran also provides a second quotation:
And again, Athanasius said: "[H]old fast, every one, the faith we have received from the Fathers, which they who assembled at Nicaea recorded in writing, and endure not those who endeavour to innovate thereon. And however they may write phrases out of the Scripture, endure not their writings; however they may speak the language of the orthodox, yet attend not to what they say; for they speak not with an upright mind, but putting on such language like sheeps' clothing, in their hearts they think with Arius, after the manner of the devil, who is the author of all heresies. For he too made use of the words of Scripture, but was put to silence by our Saviour. . . . the character of apostolical men is sincere and incapable of fraud. (Circular to Bishops of Egypt and Libya 8; NPNF 2, Vol. IV)"
Whenever I see an elipsis, I wonder what has been omitted. In this case, the final phrase of the quotation misleads the reader, because the context is missing:
For if he had indeed meant them as he used them, he would not have fallen from heaven; but now having fallen through his pride, he artfully dissembles in his speech, and oftentimes maliciously endeavours to lead men astray by the subtleties and sophistries of the Gentiles. Had these expositions of theirs proceeded from the orthodox, from such as [List of specific orthodox teachers] with others of the same opinions as these;—there would then have been nothing to suspect in their statements, for the character of apostolical men is sincere and incapable of fraud.
- Athanasius, To the Bishops of Egypt, Chapter I, Section 8

In other words, the point is that the Arians pay only lip service to the words of Scripture, but they do not heed its meaning. This is not the first time in the circular that Athanasius makes reference to this fact. Indeed, a previous discussion makes the situation even more clear:
And again, when He put a curb in the mouths of the demons that cried after Him from the tombs. For although what they said was true, and they lied not then, saying, ‘Thou art the Son of God,’ and ‘the Holy One of God [Matt. viii. 29; Mark i. 24.];’ yet He would not that the truth should proceed from an unclean mouth, and especially from such as them, lest under pretence thereof they should mingle with it their own malicious devices, and sow these also while men slept. Therefore He suffered them not to speak such words, neither would He have us to suffer such, but hath charged us by His own mouth, saying, ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps’ clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves [Matt. vii. 15.];’ and by the mouth of His Holy Apostles, ‘Believe not every spirit [1 John iv. 1.].’ Such is the method of our adversary’s operations; and of the like nature are all these inventions of heresies, each of which has for the father of its own device the devil, who changed and became a murderer and a liar from the beginning. But being ashamed to profess his hateful name, they usurp the glorious Name of our Saviour ‘which is above every name [Phil. ii. 9.],’ and deck themselves out in the language of Scripture, speaking indeed the words, but stealing away the true meaning thereof; and so disguising by some artifice their false inventions, they also become the murderers of those whom they have led astray.
- Athanasius, To the Bishops of Egypt, Chapter I, Section 3

Indeed, Athanasius goes on to explain how the various heretics attempt to dress up their words in Scripture, but explains that the remedy is what we colloquially call tota scriptura (intending "all of scripture") and inward illumination from the Holy Spirit:
For whence do Marcion and Manichæus receive the Gospel while they reject the Law? For the New Testament arose out of the Old, and bears witness to the Old; if then they reject this, how can they receive what proceeds from it? Thus Paul was an Apostle of the Gospel, ‘which God promised afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures [Rom. i. 2.]:’ and our Lord Himself said, ‘ye search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me [John v. 39.].’ How then shall they confess the Lord unless they first search the Scriptures which are written concerning Him? And the disciples say that they have found Him, ‘of whom Moses and the Prophets did write [John i. 45.].’ And what is the Law to the Sadducees if they receive not the Prophets? For God who gave the Law, Himself promised in the Law that He would raise up Prophets also, so that the same is Lord both of the Law and of the Prophets, and he that denies the one must of necessity deny the other also. And again, what is the Old Testament to the Jews, unless they acknowledge the Lord whose coming was expected according to it? For had they believed the writings of Moses, they would have believed the words of the Lord; for He said, ‘He wrote of Me [John v. 46.].’ Moreover, what are the Scriptures to him who denies the Word of God and His incarnate Presence, which is signified and declared both in the Old and New Testament? And of what use are the Scriptures to the Arians also, and why do they bring them forward, men who say that the Word of God is a creature, and like the Gentiles ‘serve the creature more than’ God ‘the Creator [Rom. i. 25.]?’ Thus each of these heresies, in respect of the peculiar impiety of its invention, has nothing in common with the Scriptures. And their advocates are aware of this, that the Scriptures are very much, or rather altogether, opposed to the doctrines of every one of them; but for the sake of deceiving the more simple sort (such as are those of whom it is written in the Proverbs, ‘The simple believeth every word [Prov. xiv. 15.]),’ they pretend like their ‘father the devil [John viii. 44.]’ to study and to quote the language of Scripture, in order that they may appear by their words to have a right belief, and so may persuade their wretched followers to believe what is contrary to the Scriptures. Assuredly in every one of these heresies the devil has thus disguised himself, and has suggested to them words full of craftiness. The Lord spake concerning them, that ‘there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, so that they shall deceive many [Matt. xxiv. 24.].’ Accordingly the devil has come, speaking by each and saying, ‘I am Christ, and the truth is with me;’ and he has made them, one and all, to be liars like himself. And strange it is, that while all heresies are at variance with one another concerning the mischievous inventions which each has framed, they are united together only by the common purpose of lying. For they have one and the same father that has sown in them all the seeds, of falsehood. Wherefore the faithful Christian and true disciple of the Gospel, having grace to discern spiritual things, and having built the house of his faith upon a rock, stands continually firm and secure from their deceits. But the simple person, as I said before, that is not thoroughly grounded in knowledge, such an one, considering only the words that are spoken and not perceiving their meaning, is immediately drawn away by their wiles. Wherefore it is good and needful for us to pray that we may receive the gift of discerning spirits, so that every one may know, according to the precept of John, whom he ought to reject, and whom to receive as friends and of the same faith.
- Athanasius, To the Bishops of Egypt, Chapter I, Section 4

Notice that Athanasius (unlike Cross, Beckwith, and Liccione) not only thought that Arianism was not consistent with Scripture, but also insisted that the Arians knew this full well and simply pretended Scriptural proof to deceive the simple.

K. Doran asks:
Did Athanasius believe that he who interprets scripture in a manner contrary to a representative synod of bishops, united to the pope, which has made a decree with the binding formula "it has seemed good to the holy spirit and to us," is in fact ipso facto breaking the rule of truth that Christ has established through his Church? Perhaps. This interpretation is certainly quite consistent with statements of the sort above. Perhaps he didn't. Perhaps his rule of ecclesial infallibility was different than the Catholic one of today. Or perhaps his words above just mean that he really really liked the Council of Nicea, and he liked it so much that he decided it should "stand firm forever," even though it wasn't infallible.
Athanasius thought that the word of God proclaimed through the Nicaean council should stand forever. That doesn't require him to think that the Nicaean council was constitutionally or naturally (as an ecumenical council) infallible. Instead, it requires him to think that it is right. He thinks it was right, as he explains at great length, because of what the Scriptures teach.

K. Doran continued:
We can never know what he really believed. He's dead. And if God wanted us to know for sure what he believed he would have sent us to his century, instead of our own. But everyone who comes to the ECFs must be aware that their "Catholic"-sounding statements did not start at any particular period in history -- they go back, in one form or another, in seed or in bud, to the beginning. So there is no use in using the ECFs to _casually_ claim that ecclesial infallibility is a corruption of the deposit of faith. You will need a more subtle argument, along the lines of your non-ECF-based philosophical discussion.
Such remarkable post-modernism! We have writings of Athanasius. We can learn a lot about what he believed from them. Learning what ancient people believed doesn't require us to go back in time to their day, provided they leave behind writings.

In this case as well, we learn from Athanasius how the bishops at Nicaea decided the matter, and you should not be shocked to discover that their rationale was that the Arian heresy was contrary to Scripture:
For the Bishops who all assembled from all parts at the Council of Nicæa, began to hold their ears at these statements, and all with one voice condemned this heresy on account of them, and anathematized it, declaring it to be alien and estranged from the faith of the Church. It was no compulsion which led the judges to this decision, but they all deliberately vindicated the truth: and they did so justly and rightly. For infidelity is coming in through these men, or rather a Judaism counter to the Scriptures, which has close upon it Gentile superstition, so that he who holds these opinions can no longer be even called a Christian, for they are all contrary to the Scriptures. John, for instance, ...
- Athanasius, Letter to Bishops of Egypt, Chapter II, Section 13

So then, when wrapping up his letter, what did Athanasius do? Did he appeal to the dignity of the Roman bishop's office? Did he remind them that the council of Nicaea was ecumenical? Hopefully you will not be shocked that Athanasius commends to them to clothe themselves with the Scriptures:
Let them however thus dream and imagine vain things. We know that when our gracious Emperor shall hear of it, he will put a stop to their wickedness, and they will not continue long, but according to the words of Scripture, ‘the hearts of the impious shall quickly fail them [Prov. x. 20, LXX.].’ But let us, as it is written, ‘put on the words of holy Scripture [2 Kings xvii. 9, LXX.],’ and resist them as apostates who would set up fanaticism in the house of the Lord. And let us not fear the death of the body, nor let us emulate their ways; but let the word of Truth be preferred before all things.
- Athanasius, Letter to Bishops of Egpyt, Chapter II, Section 23

Indeed, so let it be,


The Proof Evolutionists Have Been Waiting For

This sea slug is (according to journalists, a huge qualification) part animal and part plant (link). Thus, the slug defies conventional clades. It does not fit into the evolutionary tree. Will any atheists accept this evidence and discard evolution? Probably not. Most will simply try to build a new tree and assume that one can be built until they succeed.

Incidentally, I suspect that this sea slug will turn out to have a parasitic plant living symbiotically with it, or something like that. If so, it will fall more or less neatly into the existing clades.

The explanation in the article is that by an unexplained mechanism (it sounds so much nicer than "magically") the slugs steal genes from their food and pass those genes on to their offspring. If this is correct, then the slugs fit in the slug clade and simply have a very unusual distinctive trait of being able to steal genetic code from other organisms.

Of course, by the way, the ability to steal genetic code from other organisms is a great deus ex machina to avoid letting the clading system be falsified by the evidence of nature (much like the deus ex machina of parallel evolution).


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Epiphanius on the Title "Queen of Heaven"

Speaking of women who offered cakes of bread to Mary (the Kollyridians), Epiphanius (310/320-403) wrote:
Let no one eat of the error which has arisen on St. Mary’s account. Even though ‘The tree is lovely’ it is not for food; and even though Mary is all fair, and is holy and held in honor, she is not to be worshiped.

But again, these women are “renewing the potion for Fortune and preparing the table for the demon and not for God,” as the Scripture says, “And the women grind flour, and their sons gather wood to make cakes for the host of heaven.” Such women should be silenced by Jeremiah, and not frighten the world. They must not say, ‘We honor the queen of heaven.’
- Epiphanius, as found in Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide) 79. Against Collyridians, 7,7-8,2 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 627.

He was referring to this:

Jeremiah 7:18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Jeremiah 44:15-19

Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?

Jeremiah 44:24-27

Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying;

Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.

But compare:
By this Encyclical Letter We are instituting a feast so that all may recognize more clearly and venerate more devoutly the merciful and maternal sway of the Mother of God. We are convinced that this feast will help to preserve, strengthen and prolong that peace among nations which daily is almost destroyed by recurring crises. Is she not a rainbow in the clouds reaching towards God, the pledge of a covenant of peace? "Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; surely it is beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it." Whoever, therefore, reverences the Queen of heaven and earth - and let no one consider himself exempt from this tribute of a grateful and loving soul - let him invoke the most effective of Queens, the Mediatrix of peace; let him respect and preserve peace, which is not wickedness unpunished nor freedom without restraint, but a well-ordered harmony under the rule of the will of God; to its safeguarding and growth the gentle urgings and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us.
- Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam (To the Queen of Heaven), Section 51, October 11, 1954


UPDATE: By the way, Pilgrims' Daughter has some additional relevant material (link).

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 3/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 3/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

3) Where in the New Testament do the apostles tell future generations that the Christian faith will be based solely on a book?

Simple Answer(s):

Nowhere that we know of.

Important Qualification(s):

1) But all of the apostles' instructions that we know of, we know of from a book.

2) And the apostles did instruct us that the scriptures are sufficient to serve in the role in question:

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

- TurretinFan

Monday, January 11, 2010

Definition of Perspicuity

William Whitaker (A.D. 1548-1595) defines the Christian doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture this way:
First, that the scriptures are sufficiently clear to admit of their being read by the people and the unlearned with some fruit and utility. Secondly, that all things necessary to salvation are propounded in plain words in the scriptures. Meanwhile, we concede that there are many obscure places, and that the scriptures need explication; and that, on this account, God's ministers are to be listened to when they expound the word of God, and the men best skilled in scripture are to be consulted.
- William Whitaker, Disputations on Holy Scripture, First Controversy, Fourth Question, Chapter I

The Westminster Confession of Faith similar states:
VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
- Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), Chapter 1, Paragraph 7

- TurretinFan

Pastor King Responds to Taylor Marshall Again

Pastor David King had previously posted a response to Taylor Marshall (link to response). The response covered a variety of issues, including centrally the papacy. Taylor Marshall has set forth his counter-arguments here (link to Taylor Marshall's response).

The following is Pastor David King's reply.

There is further proof that militates against the claims of Taylor Marshall regarding the clergy of the Roman church, of which Clement was a member. Here is the evidence of: (1) the work of Peter Lampe and (2) the witness of a member of the Roman church around the mid-second century, whom the early church document designates as Hermas.

Peter Lampe:
It was useful to assign to someone in Rome the work connected with eternal communication. Hermas knows such a person by the name of Clement. In The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3, Hermas prepares two copies of his small book and sends (πέμπω, within the city) one of them to Clement, who forwards it “to the cities outside, for he is entrusted with that task” (πέμψει Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται).

It is important to note that Hermas’s “minister of external affairs” is not a monarchical bishop. In the second next sentence, Hermas describes how he circulates his little book within the city. He makes it known “to this city together with the presbyters who preside over the church” (εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας). A plurality of presbyters leads Roman Christianity. This Christianity, conscious of spiritual fellowship with the city, is summed up under the concept “ecclesia,” but that changes nothing in regard to the plurality of those presiding over it. In Vis. 3.9.7, Hermas also calls them προηγούμενοι or πρωτοκαθεδρίται.
See Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries, trans. Michael Steinhauser (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003) p. 398.

In their introduction, the editor (or editors) of The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, state with respect to The Shepherd of Hermas that
when read on its own terms, it stands as an important witness to the state of Christianity in Rome in the mid-second century. Expressing a Jewish-Christian theological perspective by means of imagery, analogies, and parallels drawn from Roman society and culture, the Shepherd reflects the efforts of its author(s) to deal with questions and issues—for example, postbaptismal sin and repentance, and the behavior of the rich and their relationship to the poor within the church—of great significance and concern to him and that part of the Christian community in Rome to which he belonged.
See J. B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, eds. And trans., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, 2nd Edition, The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3 (Grand Rapids: Babke Book House, 1992), p. 329.

Therefore you will write two little books, and you will send one to Clement and one to Grapte. Then Clement will send it to the cities abroad, because that is his job. But Grapte will instruct the widows and orphans. But you yourself will read it to this city, along with the elders (i.e., presbyters, πρεσβυτέρων) who preside over the church.
See J. B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, eds. And trans., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, 2nd Edition, The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3 (Grand Rapids: Babke Book House, 1992), pp. 345-347.

Greek text:
Γράψεις οὖν δύο βιβλαρίδια καὶ πέμψεις ἓν Κλήμεντι καὶ ἓν Γραπτῇ. πέμψει οὖν Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται. Γραπτὴ δὲ νουθετήσει τὰς χήρας καὶ τοὺς ὀρφανούς. σὺ δὲ ἀναγνώσῃ εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας.
Sancti Hermae Pastor, Liber I, Visio II, Caput IV, §3, PG 2:900.

Mr. Marshall’s contention for the term “high priest” being a synonymous designation for a monarchical bishop over the Roman Church in the time of Clement is asserted over and against the repeated reference, throughout this epistle, to the plurality of presbyters/bishops who together ruled over this congregation. And if the later witness of Hermas (in the mid-second century) tells us anything, it tells us in explicit terms that the Roman church was governed by the elders/presbyters (πρεσβυτέρων) whom he said “preside over the church.” Given his assertion that “Presbyterian polity is unbiblical,” he would have to confess that the Roman church, as Hermas described it, was “unbiblical.”

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 2/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 2/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

2) Other than the specific command to John to pen the Revelation, where did Jesus tell His apostles to write anything down and compile it into an authoritative book?

Simple Answer(s):

Nowhere that we know of.

Important Qualification(s):

1) But all of Jesus' instructions that we know of, we know of from an authoritative book.

2) And Scripture does tell us that these Scriptures are given to us by the will of God not the will of man:

2 Peter 1:19-21
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 1/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 1/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

1) Where did Jesus give instructions that the Christian faith should be based exclusively on a book?

Simple Answer(s):

Nowhere that we know of.

Important Qualification(s):

1) But all of Jesus' instructions that we know of, we know of from a book.

2) And Jesus did confirm what was written in the books of Moses:

Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

- TurretinFan

Magisterium More Sufficient than Scripture? (Part 2)

[Cont'd from previous section]

Is the Roman Catholic Magisterium More Sufficient than Sacred Scripture?
Bryan Cross answered on the subject of the ability of the Scripture to interpret Scripture sufficiently, from Scripture, reason, and tradition.
(Part 2)

The fact that obscure Scriptures are obscure and "need" (in some sense) clarification does not imply that the clear Scriptures are in similar need. After all, there are plenty of clear Scriptures.

Caesarius, bishop of Arles (about A.D. 470-543):
Let us examine the Scriptures, and in them we will be able to understand this more clearly.
FC, Vol. 31, Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons (1-80), Sermon 38.3 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), p. 191.

Bryan's attempt to create a sort of recursive problem of Scripture being needed to interpret each new Scripture that is brought to bear on the subject is neither representative of reality nor representative of the position to which he's allegedly responding.

However, let us continue with his argument as much as possible. Bryan continues:
Who holds interpretive authority in the determination of Scripture's interpretation of Scripture? Someone must determine which verses are clearer than others, and which verses serve as the touchstone by which to interpret the others.

The idea that someone has to authoritatively say which parts of Scripture are clear seems rather absurd. Does someone have to authoritatively tell Bryan when it is sunny outside? Does he first go and check the weather report to see whether the meteorologists have declared the visibility today to be good? Perhaps he simply thinks it is a clear and sunny day, but there is actually a fog of darkness over the land? This sort of notion is farcical - it is absurd to suggest that Bryan would need such a thing. Scripture's light is fairly comparable to that of the sun or of a bright lamp (Psalm 119:105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:).

This is only reasonable, because the purpose of Scripture is so that we may believe what is written (John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.).

And again, we find that the fathers agree with us.

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407), Commenting on v. 16 of Psalm 45:
Then, by way of describing their power and force and their glory, he says, You will appoint them rulers over all the earth. Surely this does not require interpretation? I for one think it does not, as the sun does not, either, being brillant; yet his words are even clearer.
- Chrysostom, Robert Charles Hill, trans., St John Chrysostom: Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 1, Psalm 45 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998), p. 283.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
Therefore, amid the shadows of this life in which ‘we are absent from the Lord’ as long as ‘we walk by faith and not by sight,’ the Christian soul should consider itself desolate, and should not cease from praying and from attending with the eye of faith to the word of the divine and sacred Scriptures: ‘as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day-star arise in our hearts.’
- Augustine, FC, Vol. 18, Saint Augustine Letters 83-130, Letter 130, To Proba (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953), pp. 379-380.

Tertullian (about A.D. 160-220):
Come, now, tell me how that passage (in the Epistle) to the Thessalonians — which, because of its clearness, I should suppose to have been written with a sunbeam — is understood by our heretics, who shun the light of Scripture: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” And as if this were not plain enough, it goes on to say: “And may your whole body, and soul, and spirit be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord.” Here you have the entire substance of man destined to salvation, and that at no other time than at the coming of the Lord, which is the key of the resurrection.
- Tertullian, ANF: Vol. III, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chapter 47.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
We have seen that the only-begotten Word who is equal to his begetter is called the light and that a human being illumined by the Word can also be called a light, or a lamp, as was the case with John and the apostles. We have seen too that none of these humans is the Word and that the Word by whom they were illumined is not a lamp. Well then, what is the word of which the psalm speaks, a word that can also be called a lamp? That is what the psalm says, Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my paths. We must surely understand it to be the word that came to the prophets and was preached by the apostles. It is not the Word who is Christ, but Christ’s word, concerning which scripture says, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). The apostle Peter also compares the prophetic word to a lamp: We have the trusty message of the prophets to rely on, and you will do well to attend to it, for it is like a lamp burning in a dark place (2 Pt 1:19). Unquestionably, then, the word which the psalm means when it says, You word is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my paths, is the word contained in all the holy scriptures.
- Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 19, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 99-120, Exposition 23 of Psalm 118.1 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2003), p. 451.

Ambrose (about A.D. 339-397):
Trust to no one, to guide you, but where the light of that lamp [i.e. Scripture] goes before. For where you think it shines, there is a whirlpool; it seems to shine, but it defiles; and where you think it is firm or dry, there it is slippery. And, moreover, if you have a lamp, the way is long. Therefore let faith be the guide of your journey; let the divine Scripture be your path. Excellent is the guidance of the heavenly word. From this lamp light your lamp; that the eye of your mind, which is the lamp of your body, may give light.
- Ambrose, William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd edition, 3 Volumes (London: John Henry Jackson, publisher, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 148.

The understanding both of the Reformed position and the early Christians was that common sense and the internal guidance of the Holy Spirit suffices to tell us, in many cases, when Scripture is speaking clearly about something. That does not mean that we are guaranteed always to get it right, or that we will sometimes think something clear is obscure or vice versa.

Justin Martyr (wrote after 151):
Then I continued, “I purpose to quote to you Scriptures, not that I am anxious to make merely an artful display of words; for I possess no such faculty, but God’s grace alone has been granted to me to the understanding of His Scriptures, of which grace I exhort all to become partakers freely and bounteously, in order that they may not, through want of it, incur condemnation in the judgment which God the Maker of all things shall hold through my Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Justin Martyr, ANF: Vol. I, Dialogue of Justin, Chapter LVIII.

Basil of Caesarea (about A.D. 329-379):
And like reason in the soul, which is at one time the thought in the heart, and at another speech uttered by the tongue, so is the Holy Spirit, as when He "bears witness with our spirit," [Romans 8:16] and when He "cries in our hearts, Abba, Father," [Galatians 6:4] or when He speaks on our behalf, as it is said, "It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of our Father which speaks in you." [Matthew 10:20]
- Basil of Caesarea, Of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 26, Section 61

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):
Besides, even if any should be so poor, it is in their power, by means of the continual reading of the holy Scriptures which takes place here, to be ignorant of nothing contained in them.
- Chrysostom, NPNF1: Vol. XIV, Homilies on the Gospel according to St. John, Homily 11.1.

Jerome (about A.D. 347-420):
The learned teaching of our Lord strikes the Pharisees dumb with amazement, and they are filled with astonishment to find that Peter and John know the Law although they have not learned letters. For to these the Holy Ghost immediately suggested what comes to others by daily study and meditation; and, as it is written, [1 Thessalonians 4:9] they were "taught of God."
- Jerome, Letter 53, Section 3

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
For it is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught of God." Why have I said this, O Jews? The Father has not taught you; how can you know me? For all the men of that kingdom shall be taught of God, not learn from men. And though they do learn from men, yet what they understand is given them within, flashes within, is revealed within.
- Augustine, Tractate 26 on John (John 6:41-59), Section 7

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):
Next, he suggests also the manner of the prayer. And what is this? "That He would open the ears of their hearts;" for they are as yet shut and stopped up. "Ears," he says, not these which be outward, but those of the understanding, "so as to hear 'the things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man.'" [1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 54:4] For they have not heard the untold mysteries; but they stand somewhere at a distance and far off from them; and even if they should hear, they know not what is said; for those [mysteries] need much understanding, not hearing only: and the inward ears as yet they have not: wherefore also he next invokes for them a Prophet's gift, for the Prophet spoke on this wise; "God gives me the tongue of instruction, that I should know how to speak a word in season; for He opened my mouth; He gave to me betimes in the morning; He granted me a hearing ear." [Isaiah 1:4. Septuagint] For as the Prophets heard otherwise than the many, so also do the faithful than the Catechumens. Hereby the Catechumen also is taught not to learn to hear these things of men, (for He says, Call no man master upon the earth), but from above, from heaven, "For they shall be all taught of God." [Isaiah 54:13] Wherefore he says, "And instil into them the word of truth," so that it may be inwardly learned ; for as yet they know not the word of truth as they ought to know. "That He would sow His fear in them." But this is not enough; for "some fell by the wayside, and some upon the rock." But we ask not thus; but as on rich soil the plough opens the furrows, so we pray it may be here also, that having the fallow ground of their minds tilled deep, they may receive what is dropped upon them and accurately retain everything they have heard. Whence also he adds, "And confirm His faith in their minds;" that is, that it may not lie on the surface, but strike its root deep downwards. "That He would unveil to them the Gospel of Righteousness." He shows that the veil is two-fold, partly that the eyes of their understanding were shut, partly that the Gospel was hidden from them. Whence he said a little above, "that He would open the ears of their hearts," and here, "that he would unveil unto them the Gospel of Righteousness;" that is, both that He would render them wise and apt for receiving seed, and that He would teach them and drop the seed into them; for though they should be apt, yet if God reveal not, this profits nothing; and if God should unveil but they receive not, there results like unprofitableness. Therefore we ask for both: that He would both open their hearts and unveil the Gospel. For neither if kingly ornaments lie underneath a veil, will it profit at all that the eyes be looking; nor yet that they be laid bare, if the eyes be not waking. But both will be granted, if first they themselves desire it. But what then is "the Gospel of Righteousness?" That which makes righteous. By these words he leads them to the desire of Baptism, showing that the Gospel is for the working not only of the remission of sins, but also of righteousness.
- Chrysostom, Homily 2 on 2 Corinthians, at 2 Corinthians 1:10-11, Section 7.

Clement of Alexandria (about A.D. 150-215):
But that is the only authentic truth, unassailable, in which we are instructed by the Son of God. In the same way we say, that the drachma being one and the same, when given to the shipmaster, is called the fare; to the tax-gatherer, tax; to the landlord, rent; to the teacher, fees; to the seller, an earnest. And each, whether it be virtue or truth, called by the same name, is the cause of its own peculiar effect alone; and from the blending of them arises a happy life. For we are not made happy by names alone, when we say that a good life is happiness, and that the man who is adorned in his soul with virtue is happy. But if philosophy contributes remotely to the discovery of truth, by reaching, by diverse essays, after the knowledge which touches close on the truth, the knowledge possessed by us, it aids him who aims at grasping it, in accordance with the Word, to apprehend knowledge. But the Hellenic truth is distinct from that held by us (although it has got the same name), both in respect of extent of knowledge, certainly of demonstration, divine power, and the like. For we are taught of God, being instructed in the truly "sacred letters" by the Son of God.
- Clement of Alexandria, Book I, Chapter 20

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
“And ye have no need that any man teach you, because His unction teacheth you concerning all things.” Then to what purpose is it that “we,” my brethren, teach you? If “His unction teacheth you concerning all things,” it seems we labor without a cause. And what mean we, to cry out as we do? Let us leave you to His unction, and let His unction teach you. But this is putting the question only to myself: I put it also to that same apostle: let him deign to hear a babe that asks of him: to John himself I say, Had those the unction to whom thou wast speaking? Thou hast said, “His unction teacheth you concerning all things.” To what purpose hast thou written an Epistle like this? what teaching didst “thou “give them? what instruction? what edification? See here now, brethren, see a mighty mystery. The sound of our words strikes the ears, the Master is within. Do not suppose that any man learns ought from man. We can admonish by the sound of our voice; if there be not One within that shall teach, vain is the noise we make. Aye, brethren, have yea mind to know it? Have ye not all heard this present discourse? and yet how many will go from this place untaught! I, for my part, have spoken to all; but they to whom that Unction within speaketh not, they whom the Holy Ghost within teacheth not, those go back untaught. The teachings of the master from without are a sort of aids and admonitions. He that teacheth the hearts, hath His chair in heaven. Therefore saith He also Himself in the Gospel: “Call no man your master upon earth; One is your Master, even Christ.” Let Him therefore Himself speak to you within, when not one of mankind is there: for though there be some one at thy side, there is none in thine heart. Yet let there not be none in thine heart: let Christ be in thine heart: let His unction be in the heart, lest it be a heart thirsting in the wilderness, and having no fountains to be watered withal. There is then, I say, a Master within that teacheth: Christ teacheth; His inspiration teacheth. Where His inspiration and His unction is not, in vain do words make a noise from without. So are the words, brethren, which we speak from without, as is the husbandman to the tree: from without he worketh, applieth water and diligence of culture; let him from without apply what he will, does he form the apples? does he clothe the nakedness of the wood with a shady covering of leaves? does he do any thing like this from within? But whose doing is this? Hear the husbandman, the apostle: both see what we are, and hear the Master within: “I have planted, Apollos haft watered; but God gave the increase: neither he that planteth is any thing, neither he that watereth, but He that giveth the increase, even God.” This then we say to you: whether we plant, or whether we water, by speaking we are not any thing; but He that giveth the increase, even God: that is, “His unction which teacheth you concerning all things.”
- Augustine, NPNF1: Vol. VII, Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Homily 3, 1 John 2:18-27, §13.

Bryan's argument amounts to Pyrrhonism, deep skepticism. Bryan wants to suggest that we need someone to tell us when something is clear. We have enough common sense to realize that we can see when something is clear.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
Moreover, a man of your talent and learning easily perceives how different from these metaphorical expressions is the statement of the apostle, "When I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If you, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why do you compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" Galatians 2:14 Here there is no obscurity of figurative language; these are literal words of a plain statement.
- Augustine, Letter 180, Section 4

Tertullian (about A.D. 160-220):
This is evidence enough from the prophetic Scriptures. I now appeal to the Gospels. . . . Besides, there is not a parable which you will not find to be either explained by the Lord Himself, as that of the sower, (which He interprets) of the management of the word of God; or else cleared by a preface from the writer of the Gospel, as in the parable of the arrogant judge and the importunate widow, which is expressly applied to earnestness in prayer; or capable of being spontaneously understood, as in the parable of the fig-tree, which was spared a while in hopes of improvement — an emblem of Jewish sterility. Now, if even parables obscure not the light of the gospel, how unlikely it is that plain sentences and declarations, which have an unmistakable meaning, should signify any other thing than their literal sense! But it is by such declarations and sentences that the Lord sets forth either the last judgment, or the kingdom, or the resurrection: “It shall be more tolerable,” He says, “for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.” And “Tell them that the kingdom of God is at hand.” And again, “It shall be recompensed to you at the resurrection of the just.” Now, if the mention of these events (I mean the judgment-day, and the kingdom of God, and the resurrection) has a plain and absolute sense, so that nothing about them can be pressed into an allegory, neither should those statements be forced into parables which describe the arrangement, and the process, and the experience of the kingdom of God, and of the judgment, and of the resurrection.
- Tertullian, ANF: Vol. III, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chapter 33.

[to be cont'd in section 3]