Thursday, September 01, 2011

Prayers and Living Water

"This evening" Benedict XVI concluded, "you caused us to turn our hearts to Mary in prayer, the most beloved prayer of Christian tradition. Yet you also led us back to the beginning of our journey of faith, to the liturgy of Baptism, the moment in which we became Christian: an invitation always to drink from the only water that can quench our thirst - the living God - and to commit ourselves day after to day to rejecting evil and to renewing our faith with the affirmation 'I believe!'"
(Vatican Information System, 1 September 2011) A few brief responses:

1) It is nice to see the pope admitting what a lot of his English-speaking servants deny, namely that his religion prays to Mary. His reference is to the Hail Mary (the Ave Maria).

2) I'm sure that the Hail Mary is the most beloved prayer to those in the Roman communion. However, it ought not to be. The prayer was not taught or practiced by the Lord Jesus or His apostles. It is a tradition of men, not a tradition of God, even though it incorporates portions of God's word.

3) There's a more natural choice for the most beloved prayer - the Kyrie Eleison (Господи Помилуй - "Lord Have Mercy!"). After all, that prayer can succinctly express both repentance of sin and trust in Christ.

4) Alternatively, the model of our prayers, the Lord's Prayer (Pater Noster) would be an excellent choice for the most beloved prayer.

5) One does not become a Christian at Baptism. Christians (and their children) come to baptism. Baptism signifies and seals what faith grasps. Whoever believes is a Christian, and therefore ought to be baptized.

6) I'm not a fan of mixing the metaphors of baptism and the water that is drunk (there's not any intentional drinking of water in Baptism). Nevertheless, the pope is right in pointing to that living water as the uniquely thirst-quenching water. If only he would learn that one who drinks once of this water will never thirst again!

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Yet Rome teaches (and the pope has not rejected) that men can again thirst: that they can commit a "mortal sin" and - in essence - lose their salvation. It is great that the pope has appealed to one of Christ's metaphors, but would that God would open the pope's eyes to see the whole truth!


Updates to the Site

Thanks to my Orthodox friend Luka, I have upgraded this site's comment features. We'll see how that goes. In theory, it should make control of the comments easier. If it doesn't I'll go back to the old way. I'm also pleased to report that Blogger's new interface for composing posts has finally been improved, so that I can now see more than a tweet worth of information at the same time while editing. The new interface will take a little getting used to, but I'm loving it already. But enough of this administrative material.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

James Jordan or Joseph Smith?

Here's the quotation: "We shall no longer be under the Father — except in the more general sense that as creatures we shall always be “under” God. As the fully mature Son sits with his Father on his throne, so shall we (Revelation 3:21; John 17:21-22). We shall be co-elders with the Father and the Son. In this final phase, the Spirit will be with us not only as the Spirit of the Father and as the Spirit of the Son, but then fully as the Spirit of Glory. He will fully give us his own Divine property of glory. He will no longer be conveying us either to the Son or to the Father, except as he is the bond of this everlasting fellowship."

You tell me if that's James Jordan of "Biblical Horizons" or Joseph Smith of "The Book of Mormon," "The Doctrines of Salvation," etc.

How about this one?

"The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood ... . We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds ... ."


Examining Bryan Cross's Christology

I'm no fan of James Jordan or his branch of the Federal Visionists. Nor do I in any way endorse Jordan's recent speculation regarding the alleged eternal maturation of the Son. Nevertheless, I found it interesting that Called to Communion's Bryan Cross demonstrated his lack of familiarity [UPDATE: see further comments / retractions below] with Christology while attempting to deal with Jordan's trinitarian musings.

Cross: "Christ’s being eternally begotten of the Father refers to the procession of the Son from the Father. That is, the Logos eternally proceeds from the Father."

Bryan Cross is a member of the Roman communion and putatively some sort of teacher of his church's doctrine via his website, Called to Communion.

Roman theology, however, actually makes a distinction between begetting and procession. The Spirit proceeds from the Father (and the Son) but the Son is begotten of the Father. In fact, the Council of Florence defined things this way:
Whoever wills to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the catholic faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally. The catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the holy Spirit is one, the glory equal, and the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the holy Spirit. The Father uncreated the Son uncreated and the holy Spirit uncreated. The Father infinite, the Son infinite and the holy Spirit infinite. The Father eternal, the Son eternal and the holy Spirit eternal. Yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also they are not three uncreateds nor three infinites, but one uncreated and one infinite. Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty and the holy Spirit is almighty. Yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. Likewise the Father is God, the Son is God and the holy Spirit is God. Yet they are not three gods, but one God. Likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord and the holy Spirit is Lord. Yet they are not three lords, but one Lord. For just as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge each person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the catholic religion to say there are three gods or three lords. The Father is made by none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son; not made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. And in this Trinity nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less; but the whole three persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as has been said above, the unity in Trinity and the Trinity in unity is to be worshipped. Whoever, therefore, wishes to be saved, let him think thus of the Trinity.
The council goes on to reemphasize this: "The Father alone from his substance begot the Son; the Son alone is begotten of the Father alone; the holy Spirit alone proceeds at once from the Father and the Son."

The implication of the Council of Florence's statement is that someone like Cross, who alleges that the Son proceeds from the Father ("the procession of the Son from the Father") might not be saved, because he doesn't think of the Trinity the way the Council of Florence did. To some extent, that's Rome arrogance with respect to the Filioque, as though they get to define the gospel so as to exclude the Greeks from it. But we can address Rome's arrogance another time.

On another tangent, while Jordan doesn't appear to commit the identical basic problem, Jordan does seem to confuse "begotten from all eternity" with "eternally begetting" (see Jordan's comments in the comment box), in other words he is confusing a fait accompli with an on-going action. Thus, Jordan makes bizarre statements like "The Son eternally becomes mature" and "The Spirit eternally causes the Son to mature," neither of which appears to have any legitimate basis in the Scriptures (or in Tradition, i.e. church history, for that matter).



Bryan Cross has written a follow-on in which he appeals to Thomas Aquinas, who describes the "generation" of the Son as a type of procession. The only problem with this, of course, is that Thomas died in 1274, and the Council of Florence was in the mid-1400s.  Bryan Cross can't appeal to Thomas Aquinas in order to deny the immaculate conception against Ineffabilis Deus, and he can't appeal to Thomas in order to deny something that Florence said.

Nevertheless, this way of speaking on Bryan's part is not entirely without precedent in Roman theology post Florence.  John Paul II used the term "procession" to refer to the eternal generation of the Son in a general audience on 20 November 1985. There, JP2 distinguishes between spiration and generation but describes both as "procession."  So, perhaps I am being unduly harsh on Bryan in insisting that he maintain the distinctions set forth in Florence when even the second most recent pope doesn't keep them straight.

At least, shall we say, JP2 and Cross do not maintain the exclusive use of "procession" with reference to spiration that Florence did.  For example, note in Session 6, the following explanation:
The Latins asserted that they say the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, because the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto.

To wrap up, I think my words "demonstrated his lack of familiarity" may be unduly harsh and unjustified, so I retract them in favor "demonstrated a departure from the dogmatically defined distinctions employed by the Council of Florence."  After all, perhaps Bryan is more familiar with Aquinas' usage than with the subsequent dogmatic definition of Bryan's church, or perhaps Bryan is influenced by John Paul II's usage

One assumes that Florence, on the other hand was more influenced by Isidore of Seville's ancient distinctions (either directly or indirectly), for the second item posted above seems to be almost a verbatim quotation from his Etymologies (The Etymologies VII.iv.4; see also VII.iii.6-8).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baptista Mantuanus on Scripture's Self-Attesting Authority

Baptista Mantuanus (17 April 1447 – 20 March 1516), lib. de Patientia, cap. 32, 33 (as found in the Works of John Own, Volume 18, in A Vindication of Animadversions on Fiat Lux, Chapter VII).

'Saepenumero,' saith he, 'mecum cogitavi, unde tam suadibilis esset ista Scriptura, ut tam potenter influat in animos auditorum; unde tantum habeat energiae, ut non ad opinandum sed ad solide credendum omnes inflectat.'

'I have often thought with myself whence the Scripture is so persuasive, whence it doth so powerfully influence the minds of the hearers; whence it hath so much efficacy, that it should incline and bow all men, not to think as probable, but solidly to believe, the things it proposeth.'

'Non,' saith he, 'est hoc imputandum rationum evidentiae quas non adducit, non artis industriae et verbis suavibus et ad persuadendum accommodatis quibus non utitur.'

'It is not to be ascribed unto the evidence of reasons, which it bringeth not, neither to the excellency of art, sweet words, and accommodated unto persuasion, which it makes no use of.'

'Sed vide an id in causa sit quod persuasi sumus earn a prima veritate fluxisse.'

'But see if this be not the cause of it, that we are persuaded that it proceeds from the prime verity.'

He proceeds, 'Sed unde sumus ita persuasi nisi ab ipsa, quasi ad ei credendum non sua ipsim trahat authoritas. Sed unde quaeso hanc sibi authoritatem, vindicavit? Neque enim vidimus nos Deum conscionantem, scribentem, docentem; tamen ac si vidissemus, credimus et tenemus a Spiritu Sancto fluxisse quod legimus: Forsitan fuerit haec ratio firmiter adhaerendi, quod in ea veritas sit solidior quamvis non clarior. Habet enim omnis veritas vim inclinativam, et major majorem, maxima maximam. Sed cur ergo omnes non credunt Evangelio? Respondeo quod non omnes trahuutur a Deo.' And again, 'Inest ergo Scripturis sacris nescio quid natura sublimius, 'id est inspiratio facta divinitus et divinae irradiationis influxus certus.'

'But whence are we persuaded, that it is from the first verity, but from itself? its own authority draws us to believe it. But whence obtains it this authority? we see not God preaching, writing, teaching; but yet, as if we had seen him, we believe and firmly hold that which we read to have come from the Holy Ghost. It may be that this is a reason of our firm adhering unto it, that the truth in it is more solid, though not more clear' (than in any other way of proposal),' and all truth hath a power to incline unto belief; the greater the truth the greater its power, and the greatest truth must have the greatest power so to incline us. But, why then do not all believe the gospel? I answer, Because all are not drawn of God. There is then in the holy Scripture somewhat more sublime than nature, that is, the divine inspiration from whence it is, and the divine irradiation wherewith it is accompanied.'

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thomas Aquinas' Fictional Adoption of the Immaculate Conception

It ought to be well-known that Rome's dogma of the Immaculate Conception was denied by her leading medieval saint, Thomas Aquinas (as outlined here). This has been something of a thorn in the side of those contending that Mary was immaculately conceived. They have tried to explain Aquinas' position away in various ways - such as by arguing that Aquinas didn't believe that life begins at conception (which is true, but not particularly helpful to their case). Another theory sometimes set forth (recently, for example, by Taylor Marshall) is that Aquinas came to hold to the dogma of the immaculate conception late in life, even after writing the portion of the Summa Theologica that denies it.

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. is (or, I suppose I should say, "was") one of the leading Thomist theologians of the 20th century. In his Discourse II on Mary's Immaculate Conception, published in "The Mother of the Savior" (1948), Garrigou-Lagrange wrote:
In the final period of his career, when writing the Exposito super salutatione angelica----which is certainly authentic [39]-----in 1272 or 1273, St. Thomas expressed himself thus: 'For she [the Blessed Virgin] was most pure in the matter of fault (quantum ad culpam) and incurred neither Original nor mental nor venial sin.'
The problem is this:

The "neither original" in that quotation is an interpolation. Gibbings pointed that out long ago in his "Roman forgeries and falsifications" but you can see for yourself if you get a modern critical text of the work.

The Latin actually says "Ipsa enim purissima fuit et quantum ad culpam, quia ipsa virgo nec mortale nec veniale peccatum incurrit." ("For she [the Blessed Virgin] was most pure because the Virgin herself incurred neither mortal nor venial sin.")

What is especially shameful about this lie (perhaps I should be reluctant to call it a lie when Garrigou-Lagrange may simply have been working from a corrupted text, but it is hard to attribute ignorance of Thomas to a Thomist of his stature) is that the same work earlier explained:

"Sed Christus excellit beatam virginem in hoc quod sine originali conceptus et natus est. Beata autem virgo in originali est concepta, sed non nata." ("But Christ excels the Blessed Virgin in this, because he was conceived and born without original [sin]. Therefore, the Blessed Virgina was conceived in original [sin] but not born in it].")

No, Aquinas died believing that Mary was conceived in original sin. Garrigou-Lagrange is to be blamed for perpetuating a falsehood about Thomas and Taylor Marshall is to be blamed (much less, of course) for perpetuating Garrigou-Lagrange's error. Does that make Thomas a modern Protestant? Of course not. He disagreed with us on many matters, even about Mary.

How can you cash out this fact? Well, Rome insists today that you must believe in the immaculate conception of Mary. The immaculate conception of Mary is not taught in Scripture and it was not taught by any father prior to Augustine. It was denied by numerous men who were or became bishops of Rome. Even Garrigou-Lagrange states (a little above his attempt to resuscitate Thomas for the immaculatist position):
The Council of Trent (Denz., 792) declares, when speaking of Original Sin which infects all men, that it does not intend to include the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary. In 1567 Baius is condemned for having taught the contrary (Denz., 1073). In 1661 Alexander VII affirmed the privilege, saying that almost all Catholics held it, though it had not yet been defined (Denz., 1100). Finally, on December 8th, 1854, we have the promulgation of the solemn definition (Denz., 1641).

It must be admitted that in the 12th and 13th centuries certain great doctors, as, for example, St. Bernard, [29] St. Anselm, [30] Peter Lombard, [31] Hugh of St. Victor, [32] St. Albert the Great, [33] St. Bonaventure, [34] and St. Thomas Aquinas appear to have been disinclined to admit the privilege.

29. Epist. ad canonicos Lugdunenses.
30. De conceptione virginali.
31. In III Sent., dist. 3.
32. Super Missus est.
33. Item Super Missus est.
34. In III Sent., dist. 3, q. 27.
Thomas and the others help to show that Rome's demand that we believe in Mary's immaculate conception is really a demand for us to have implicit faith in the church of Rome. The dogma cannot be established from Scripture, it cannot be established from the fathers of the first three centuries, and it is opposed to the testimony of folks like Thomas Aquinas, who could hardly have been unaware of an apostolic tradition of an immaculate conception, if one existed.

Therefore, Rome is claiming the ability to simply define dogma that cannot be proven from Scripture or Tradition (History) and make that dogma so central to the faith that to deny is to - well - hear for yourself:
Hence, if anyone shall dare--which God forbid!--to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.
(Ineffabilis Deus - 1854)

That is sola ecclesia for you. If you implicitly trust Rome, the testimony of about 10 bishops of Rome and about half a dozen doctors of the church (Gregory the Great, Albert, Bernard, Aquinas, Anselm, and Bonaventure) will not matter. Yet, if you will critically consider Rome's claims, perhaps this issue of the Immaculate Conception can help you to see that Rome's claims about itself are false. She had no right to define the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and no good reason to think it true. She cannot establish it from Scripture and it is not an apostolic tradition.

- TurretinFan