Saturday, March 10, 2012

Don't Worry It Doesn't Affect Infallibility!

The U.S. government has (for the first time, remarkably) placed the Vatican on a "list of countries that are a potential hub for money laundering ... ."  (link)  One can speculate regarding the motives of the U.S. government, but is this kind of thing consistent with a theory that the Vatican represents the succession of Peter and Paul?  The article concludes:
The moves are all part of the Holy See's efforts to get on the "white list" of countries that share financial information and shed its long-held reputation as a secretive offshore tax haven whose bank has been embroiled in scandals over the years.
Of course, financial scandals occur everywhere - but that's partly the point.  The Vatican isn't something special.  It's simply a human institution, not a divine one.

I fully recognize that even if Benedict XVI himself were to become linked to money laundering, that would not effect papal infallibility, the way that papal infallibility has been defined.  Moreover, I suspect that as far as popes go, Benedict XVI is one of the more outwardly moral.  I doubt he has been personally involved in money laundering.  That's not the point. I say that just to be clear, because it seems that some people misread my posts when I illustrate the nature of the institution that continued to support Cardinal Law with a job until his 80th birthday.


UPDATE: 3/23/2012

It seems that J.P. Morgan/Chase has lost confidence in the Vatican Bank (link to story).

Rome Doesn't Teach the Physical Presence?

Justin Taylor has re-posted an unhelpful portion of Chris Castaldo's "Three Misnomers to Avoid." Technically, I don't think that the three items that Mr. Castaldo identifies would meet the definition of "misnomers," just alleged mistakes. What are those mistakes?

1. "Catholics teach that Christ is “physically present” in the Mass."

Incidentally, there is a misnomer in that sentence, namely the misnomer of referring those in the Roman communion as "Catholics." The Roman church is not the universal (that's what "Catholic" means) church of Christ. But that's not what Mr. Castaldo has in mind. Mr. Castaldo actually tries to argue that Christ not physically present "in the Mass."

There is not a teaching that Christ is present physically at the start of the Mass, but it is accurate to say that "physical presence" is the Roman teaching (though it is not the whole of the teaching). For example:
A third element, that has an increasingly natural and central place in World Youth Days and in the spirituality that arises from them, is adoration. I still look back to that unforgettable moment during my visit to the United Kingdom, when tens of thousands of predominantly young people in Hyde Park responded in eloquent silence to the Lord’s sacramental presence, in adoration. The same thing happened again on a smaller scale in Zagreb and then again in Madrid, after the thunderstorm which almost ruined the whole night vigil through the failure of the microphones. God is indeed ever-present. But again, the physical presence of the risen Christ is something different, something new. The risen Lord enters into our midst. And then we can do no other than say, with Saint Thomas: my Lord and my God! Adoration is primarily an act of faith – the act of faith as such. God is not just some possible or impossible hypothesis concerning the origin of all things. He is present. And if he is present, then I bow down before him. Then my intellect and will and heart open up towards him and from him. In the risen Christ, the incarnate God is present, who suffered for us because he loves us. We enter this certainty of God’s tangible love for us with love in our own hearts. This is adoration, and this then determines my life. Only thus can I celebrate the Eucharist correctly and receive the body of the Lord rightly.
Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2011 (link - video link)(emphasis added)

Notice that Benedict XVI (who is not just the current pope, but also a theologian within his church) treats the sacramental presence as a physical presence, and therefore distinguishable from the spiritual omnipresence of God.

Moreover, Benedict XVI's view is not a mistake (or a "misnomer" if you prefer).  As CCC 1373 explains: "he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species."  CCC 1374 goes into more detail (emphasis added):
The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."

Moreover, this presence is unique because it is bodily (i.e. physical) presence: "It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament." (CCC 1375)  The presence of Christ is not a visible presence: "Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence." (CCC 1380)

Mr. Castaldo makes an argument:
When describing Jesus Christ as the Eucharist, Catholics will say that the Lord is “really,” “truly,” “wholly,” “continuously,” or “substantially” present, but not "physically.” To state the Jesus is “physically” present is to suggest that he is present “locally” (as he is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father). The Eucharistic presence of Christ, although understood as no less real, is sacramentally present in the transubstantiated host. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).
The positive aspects of his comments are of course right: Rome teaches that Jesus is “really,” “truly,” “wholly,” “continuously,” and “substantially” present. But Mr. Castaldo wrongly reasons from the fact that "physical" is not used, to suppose that "physical presence" is denied. We have observed Benedict XVI using such an expression - but consider further: before the consecration, there is just bread and wine. After the consecration, there is no more bread and wine. What appears to be bread and wine according to all of science and reason is, Rome claims, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Moreover, that presence is "local" in the sense of being contained. As CCC 1367 explains: "in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained ... ." That's why the storage container for the consecrated hosts is called a "tabernacle." It is because it provides a housing for what Rome falsely claims is Jesus himself.

Mr. Castaldo's denial of the physical and local presence of Christ seems to run contrary to the teachings of Pope Paul VI:
This presence is called "real" not to exclude the idea that the others are "real" too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man. And so it would be wrong for anyone to try to explain this manner of presence by dreaming up a so-called "pneumatic" nature of the glorious body of Christ that would be present everywhere; or for anyone to limit it to symbolism, as if this most sacred Sacrament were to consist in nothing more than an efficacious sign "of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful, the members of His Mystical Body."
(Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 3 September 1965, section 39)

But I suspect that Mr. Castaldo's argument comes (directly or indirectly) from Thomas Aquinas who himself took the position that Christ is not present "locally."  But by that he did not deny that Christ's presence is physical, as you can see:
... Christ's body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance. But every body occupying a place is in the place according to the manner of dimensive quantity, namely, inasmuch as it is commensurate with the place according to its dimensive quantity. Hence it remains that Christ's body is not in this sacrament as in a place, but after the manner of substance, that is to say, in that way in which substance is contained by dimensions; because the substance of Christ's body succeeds the substance of bread in this sacrament: hence as the substance of bread was not locally under its dimensions, but after the manner of substance, so neither is the substance of Christ's body. Nevertheless the substance of Christ's body is not the subject of those dimensions, as was the substance of the bread: and therefore the substance of the bread was there locally by reason of its dimensions, because it was compared with that place through the medium of its own dimensions; but the substance of Christ's body is compared with that place through the medium of foreign dimensions, so that, on the contrary, the proper dimensions of Christ's body are compared with that place through the medium of substance; which is contrary to the notion of a located body.

Hence in no way is Christ's body locally in this sacrament.

Reply to Objection 1. Christ's body is not in this sacrament definitively, because then it would be only on the particular altar where this sacrament is performed: whereas it is in heaven under its own species, and on many other altars under the sacramental species. Likewise it is evident that it is not in this sacrament circumscriptively, because it is not there according to the commensuration of its own quantity, as stated above. But that it is not outside the superficies of the sacrament, nor on any other part of the altar, is due not to its being there definitively or circumscriptively, but to its being there by consecration and conversion of the bread and wine, as stated above (1; 15, 2, sqq.).

Reply to Objection 2. The place in which Christ's body is, is not empty; nor yet is it properly filled with the substance of Christ's body, which is not there locally, as stated above; but it is filled with the sacramental species, which have to fill the place either because of the nature of dimensions, or at least miraculously, as they also subsist miraculously after the fashion of substance.

Reply to Objection 3. As stated above (Article 4), the accidents of Christ's body are in this sacrament by real concomitance. And therefore those accidents of Christ's body which are intrinsic to it are in this sacrament. But to be in a place is an accident when compared with the extrinsic container. And therefore it is not necessary for Christ to be in this sacrament as in a place.
(Summa Theologica, 3a, 76, 6)

Of course, Thomas' views on this (see the rest of them) are not de fide for those in the Roman Catholics, but certainly are influential.  It's not clear to me that Mr. Castaldo understands what Aquinas is saying about the body of Christ not being locally present, but to deny that the body is not physically present is not only inconsistent with Benedict XVI (as mentioned above) and rationally with the de fide pronouncements of Trent but also inconsistent with Aquinas himself:
Objection 2. Further, the form of Christ's body is His soul: for it is said in De Anima ii, that the soul "is the act of a physical body which has life in potentiality". But it cannot be said that the substantial form of the bread is changed into the soul. Therefore it appears that it remains after the consecration.


Reply to Objection 2. The soul is the form of the body, giving it the whole order of perfect being, i.e. being, corporeal being, and animated being, and so on. Therefore the form of the bread is changed into the form of Christ's body, according as the latter gives corporeal being, but not according as it bestows animated being.
(Summa Theologica, 3a, 75, 6)

2. Re-Sacrifice?

The next alleged error is that "[Roman] Catholics teach that Christ is re-sacrificed at the Mass." That accurately reflects the bizarre contemporary teaching that there is only one sacrifice and yet every mass is a sacrifice. But in the discussion of Purgatory, the Council of Trent did not hesitate to speak of the "sacrifices of the masses" ("missarum ... sacrificia") as being of assistance to those in Purgatory.

But whether or not Rome today maintains Trent or contradicts it, we may still object that the Mass amounts to a new sacrifice, inasmuch as the Mass purports to "re-present" (not represent) and perpetuate the sacrifice that took place on Calvary.

3. Multiple Deaths?
The final alleged mistake was: "[Roman] Catholics teach that Christ dies at the Mass." It certainly is not (to my knowledge) de fide that Christ dies at each mass. However, that in itself is problematic for the person in the Roman communion. How can there be a sacrifice of the victim without the death of the victim? But that's part of the objection, not part of the teaching to which we are responding, technically.


Friday, March 09, 2012

Joseph Kony and the so-called Lord's Resistance Army

Joseph Kony is the leader of a group that he calls the "Lord's Resistance Army."  According to all accounts I've ever seen, he's the leader of a small army/cult that is based on kidnapping children, forcing them to kill their parents, and forcing them to fight alongside him. There's a new quasi-documentary about him embedded below.

I'm not entirely pleased by the video. On the one hand, it does identify an issue that has long troubled Uganda and neighboring African Union countries. One cannot help but feel sorry for the people of that region. On the other hand, the proposed "solution" appears to be to "arrest" Kony and turn him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. Moreover, he's small potatoes in terms of the threats facing Africa right now. Furthermore, the call to action appears to be simply an attempt to influence Congress to spend more money on "advice and information" missions in cooperation with the Ugandan government and other regional governments.

Finally, the problem does not necessarily go away if Kony is captured or killed. Clearly Kony is surrounded by people who share his vision. Trying to surgically remove Kony may be like cutting off the head of the hydra.


Insulting My Idol-Worshiping Ancestors

Some of my ancestors were idol-worshipers. It's pretty much a sure thing that at least some of your ancestors were too. After all, idol-worship was widespread throughout most religions other than the worship of Jehovah. Being Jewish won't help you escape either, because even if you were purely Jewish, chances are you would be descended from Laban (whose daughters Rachel and Leah were married to Jacob) whose gods/images Rachel stole from him when she left with Jacob. Furthermore, the people of Israel habitually fell into idolatry, many worshiping the golden calf and others worshiping the various idols of Canaan.

The fact then that these ancestors of ours worshiped idols is simply a sad fact. What is even more disappointing is to hear folks insulting our mutual ancestors. Perhaps I should be more specific. The specific insult that I hear comes up when I point out that certain folks, by make and worshiping images purporting to be of the Son of God are doing what is prohibited in Scripture: "... keep yourselves from idols." (I John 5:21)

The insult comes in this form: we're not worshiping the statue, crucifix, or icon: we're worshiping the one who is represented by the statue, crucifix, or icon, and consequently we are not engaging in idolatry.

How foolish and insulting!

Who honestly thinks that any of our mutual ancestors thought that what they had just carved from wood was the deity itself? Who thinks they were that stupid. Of course most idolators don't think that way. If you asked the Greeks if the statue of Zeus was actually Zeus, they'd laugh at you - or perhaps treat you as a madman. They were clear that Zeus dwelt on Mt. Olympus, not in their temples - these are just representations of their gods, not the gods themselves.  In some cases, they would even go so far as to claim that even Zeus the arch-type of the statue was merely symbolic of something greater (Augustine addresses this view, as I've discussed elsewhere).

But God does not wish to be worshiped that way. Stephen recounted among Israel's failures that "... they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands ... " (Acts 7:41). Paul makes the same criticism more explicit: "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things..." (Acts 17:24-25).

Thus, the Synod of Elvira in 305-06 promulgated the following:

Canon 36: Ne picturae in eclessia fiant.
Placuit picturas in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur et adoratur in parietibus depingatur. (It has seemed good that images should not be in churches so that what is venerated and worshiped not be painted on the walls.)

Later, Gregory the Great (bishop of Rome from 590 - 604) wrote to Serenus, Bishop of Massilia (who had destroyed the local images).  Gregory defended the images, not for worship but just for education: "Aliud est enim pieturam adorare, aliud per picturam historiam quid sit adorandum addiscere." (For to adore a picture is one thing but to learn through the story of a picture what is to be adored is another.)

Calling itself the 7th Ecumenical Council, a large council was convened in Constantinople in 754 and forbade the worshiping of images:

The holy and Ecumenical synod, which by the grace of God and most pious command of the God-beloved and orthodox Emperors, Constantine and Leo, now assembled in the imperial residence city, in the temple of the holy and inviolate Mother of God and Virgin Mary, surnamed in Blachernae, have decreed as follows.

Satan misguided men, so that they worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. The Mosaic law and the prophets cooperated to undo this ruin; but in order to save mankind thoroughly, God sent his own Son, who turned us away from error and the worshipping of idols, and taught us the worshipping of God in spirit and in truth. As messengers of his saving doctrine, he left us his Apostles and disciples, and these adorned the Church, his Bride, with his glorious doctrines. This ornament of the Church the holy Fathers and the six Ecumenical Councils have preserved inviolate. But the before-mentioned demi-urgos of wickedness could not endure the sight of this adornment, and gradually brought back idolatry under the appearance of Christianity. As then Christ armed his Apostles against the ancient idolatry with the power of the Holy Spirit, and sent them out into all the world, so has he awakened against the new idolatry his servants our faithful Emperors, and endowed them with the same wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Impelled by the Holy Spirit they could no longer be witnesses of the Church being laid waste by the deception of demons, and summoned the sanctified assembly of the God-beloved bishops, that they might institute at a synod a scriptural examination into the deceitful colouring of the pictures ( omoiwmatwn ) which draws down the spirit of man from the lofty adoration ( latreias ) of God to the low and material adoration ( latreian ) of the creature, and that they, under divine guidance, might express their view on the subject.

Our holy synod therefore assembled, and we, its 338 members, follow the older synodal decrees, and accept and proclaim joyfully the dogmas handed down, principally those of the six holy Ecumenical Synods. In the first place the holy and ecumenical great synod assembled at Nice, etc.

After we had carefully examined their decrees under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we found that the unlawful art of painting living creatures blasphemed the fundamental doctrine of our salvation--namely, the Incarnation of Christ, and contradicted the six holy synods. These condemned Nestorius because he divided the one Son and Word of God into two sons, and on the other side, Arius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, and Severus, because they maintained a mingling of the two natures of the one Christ.

Wherefore we thought it right, to shew forth with all accuracy, in our present definition the error of such as make and venerate these, for it is the unanimous doctrine of all the holy Fathers and of the six Ecumenical Synods, that no one may imagine any kind of separation or mingling in opposition to the unsearchable, unspeakable, and incomprehensible union of the two natures in the one hypostasis or person. What avails, then, the folly of the painter, who from sinful love of gain depicts that which should not be depicted--that is, with his polluted hands he tries to fashion that which should only be believed in the heart and confessed with the mouth? He makes an image and calls it Christ. The name Christ signifies God and man. Consequently it is an image of God and man, and consequently he has in his foolish mind, in his representation of the created flesh, depicted the Godhead which cannot be represented, and thus mingled what should not be mingled. Thus he is guilty of a double blasphemy--the one in making an image of the Godhead, and the other by mingling the Godhead and manhood. Those fall into the same blasphemy who venerate the image, and the same woe rests upon both, because they err with Arius, Dioscorus, and Eutyches, and with the heresy of the Acephali. When, however, they are blamed for undertaking to depict the divine nature of Christ, which should not be depicted, they take refuge in the excuse: We represent only the flesh of Christ which we have seen and handled. But that is a Nestorian error. For it should be considered that that flesh was also the flesh of God the Word, without any separation, perfectly assumed by the divine nature and made wholly divine. How could it now be separated and represented apart? So is it wish the human soul of Christ which mediates between the Godhead of the Son and the dulness of the flesh. As the human flesh is at the same time flesh of God the Word, so is the human soul also soul of God the Word, and both at the same time, the soul being deified as well as the body, and the Godhead remained undivided even in the separation of the soul from the body in his voluntary passion. For where the soul of Christ is, there is also his Godhead; and where the body of Christ is, there too is his Godhead. If then in his passion the divinity remained inseparable from these, how do the fools venture to separate the flesh from the Godhead, and represent it by itself as the image of a mere man? They fall into the abyss of impiety, since they separate the flesh from the Godhead, ascribe to it a subsistence of its own, a personality of its own, which they depict, and thus introduce a fourth person into the Trinity. Moreover, they represent as not being made divine, that which has been made divine by being assumed by the Godhead. Whoever, then, makes an image of Christ, either depicts the Godhead which cannot be depicted, and mingles it with the manhood (like the Monophysites), or he represents the body of Christ as not made divine and separate and as a person apart, like the Nestorians.

The only admissible figure of the humanity of Christ, however, is bread and wine in the holy Supper. This and no other form, this and no other type, has he chosen to represent his incarnation. Bread he ordered to be brought, but not a representation of the human form, so that idolatry might not arise. And as the body of Christ is made divine, so also this figure of the body of Christ, the bread, is made divine by the descent of the Holy Spirit; it becomes the divine body of Christ by the mediation of the priest who, separating the oblation from that which is common, sanctifies it.

The evil custom of assigning names to the images does not come down from Christ and the Apostles and the holy Fathers; nor have these left behind then, any prayer by which an image should be hallowed or made anything else than ordinary matter.

If, however, some say, we might be right in regard to the images of Christ, on account of the mysterious union of the two natures, but it is not right for us to forbid also the images of the altogether spotless and ever-glorious Mother of God, of the prophets, apostles, and martyrs, who were mere men and did not consist of two natures; we may reply, first of all: If those fall away, there is no longer need of these. But we will also consider what may be said against these in particular. Christianity has rejected the whole of heathenism, and so not merely heathen sacrifices, but also the heathen worship of images. The Saints live on eternally with God, although they have died. If anyone thinks to call them back again to life by a dead art, discovered by the heathen, he makes himself guilty of blasphemy. Who dares attempt with heathenish art to paint the Mother of God, who is exalted above all heavens and the Saints? It is not permitted to Christians, who have the hope of the resurrection, to imitate the customs of demon-worshippers, and to insult the Saints, who shine in so great glory, by common dead matter.

Moreover, we can prove our view by Holy Scripture and the Fathers. In the former it is said: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth;" and: "Thou shall not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath;" on which account God spoke to the Israelites on the Mount, from the midst of the fire, but showed them no image. Further: "They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man,... and served the creature more than the Creator." ...

The same is taught also by the holy Fathers. ...

Supported by the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, we declare unanimously, in the name of the Holy Trinity, that there shall be rejected and removed and cursed one of the Christian Church every likeness which is made out of any material and colour whatever by the evil art of painters.


(8) If anyone ventures to represent the divine image ( karakthr ) of the Word after the Incarnation with material colours, let him be anathema!

(9) If anyone ventures to represent in human figures, by means of material colours, by reason of the incarnation, the substance or person (ousia or hypostasis) of the Word, which cannot be depicted, and does not rather confess that even after the Incarnation he cannot be depicted, let him be anathema!

(10) If anyone ventures to represent the hypostatic union of the two natures in a picture, and calls it Christ, and fires falsely represents a union of the two natures, etc.!

(11) If anyone separates the flesh united with the person of the Word from it, and endeavours to represent it separately in a picture, etc.!

(12) If anyone separates the one Christ into two persons, and endeavours to represent Him who was born of the Virgin separately, and thus accepts only a relative ( sketikh ) union of the natures, etc.

(13) If anyone represents in a picture the flesh deified by its union with the Word, and thus separates it from the Godhead, etc.

(14) If anyone endeavours to represent by material colours, God the Word as a mere man, who, although bearing the form of God, yet has assumed the form of a servant in his own person, and thus endeavours to separate him from his inseparable Godhead, so that he thereby introduces a quaternity into the Holy Trinity, etc.

(15) If anyone shall not confess the holy ever-virgin Mary, truly and properly the Mother of God, to be higher than every creature whether visible or invisible, and does not with sincere faith seek her intercessions as of one having confidence in her access to our God, since she bare him, etc.

(16) If anyone shall endeavour to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colours which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, etc.

(17) If anyone denies the profit of the invocation of Saints, etc.

(18) If anyone denies the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment, and the condign retribution to everyone, endless torment and endless bliss, etc.

(19) If anyone does not accept this our Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Synod, let him be anathema from the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and from the seven holy Ecumenical Synods!


The holy synod cried out: Thus we all believe, we all are of the same mind. We have all with one voice and voluntarily subscribed. This is the faith of the Apostles. Many years to the Emperors! They are the light of orthodoxy! Many years to the orthodox Emperors! God preserve your Empire! You have now more firmly proclaimed the inseparability of the two natures of Christ! You have banished all idolatry! You have destroyed the heresies of Germanus [of Constantinople], George and Mansur [ mansour , John Damascene]. Anathema to Germanus, the double-minded, and worshipper of wood! Anathema to George, his associate, to the falsifier of the doctrine of the Fathers! Anathema to Mansur, who has an evil name and Saracen opinions! To the betrayer of Christ and the enemy of the Empire, to the teacher of impiety, the perverter of Scripture, Mansur, anathema! The Trinity has deposed these three!
Sadly, another council was held in Constaninople only a few decades later, in 787, and condemned this council and institutionalized iconography in the churches. This council was at first opposed in the West, but ultimately came to be accepted. One of the aspects of the Reformation was casting off this error of idolatry.

But note that the ancients who opposed idolatry were not ignorant of what their errant professing Christan colleagues were doing. They rejected the idolatry that they saw, even while understanding that the idols were not the things themselves, but representations of the things. While they called those who worshiped with icons "worshipers of wood," and justly so, it was not because they thought that the icons' entire significance came from the material object.

We are in the same boat as they are. Based on Scripture, we reject the use of images for worship, and particularly we reject all making of any representational likeness purporting to be of the incarnation. The only authorized icon of the Incarnation is the bread and cup.


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rap on Reformed Worship

The Sola System has produced the following rap video, which provides an argument for Reformed worship in the style of a rap (apparently recorded back in 2008):

Scriptural and Patristic Testimony to the Holy Spirit's Illumination and Scripture's Self-Authenticating Character

In the comment box of a previous post, Pastor David King provided the following Scriptural and patristic testimony to the Holy Spirit's inward illumination of believers and Scripture's self-authenticating character, to which I've made some minor edits:

The canon of Scripture is an artifact of revelation rather than an object of revelation. By "artifact" I mean something that is a feature not normally present but visible as a result of an external agent or action.

While the Romanist treats the canon as an object of revelation, it is the result (hence an "artifact") of revelation. In other words, the canonical list of the books of Holy Scripture are the result of God's revelatory work, and not the object of what God has revealed.

A Christian's recognition of these books is result of God's working in him to will and to believe.

I believe 1) Scripture's own witness of its inspiration, and 2) that God confirms that by the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit. I drawn a distinction (as the Reformers did before me) between the Spirit's revelatory work and his illuminating work.

In his work, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 14, Augustine made this point.

Augustine (354-430) in response to Manichaeus:
You can find nothing better than to praise your own faith and ridicule mine. So, after having in my turn praised my belief and ridiculed yours, what result do you think we shall arrive at as regards our judgment and our conduct, but to part company with those who promise the knowledge of indubitable things, and then demand from us faith in doubtful things? while we shall follow those who invite us to begin with believing what we cannot yet fully perceive, that, strengthened by this very faith, we may come into a position to know what we believe by the inward illumination and confirmation of our minds, due no longer to men, but to God Himself.
Latin text:Nihil aliud elegisti, nisi laudare quod credis, et irridere quod credo. Cum igitur etiam ego vicissim laudavero quod credo, et quod credis irrisero; quid putas nobis esse judicandum, quidve faciendum, nisi ut eos relinquamus, qui nos invitant certa cognoscere, et postea imperant ut incerta credamus; et eos sequamur, qui nos invitant prius credere, quod nondum valemus intueri, ut ipsa fide valentiores facti, quod credimus intelligere mereamur, non jam hominibus, sed ipso Deo intrinsecus mentem nostram illuminante atque firmante?

Citation: Augustine, Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam vocant Fundamenti, Liber Unus, Caput XIV, PL 42:183; translation in NPNF1: Vol. IV, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 14.

We acknowledge with Augustine that the Church is most often the initial and outward means by which men are called to faith in Christ, but God brings us to the place (as Augustine put it) "to know what we believe by the inward illumination and confirmation of our minds, due no longer to men, but to God Himself."

Scripture itself furnishes us with clear illustration of this in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel. After having dealings with Christ, the woman of Samaria returns to her city, and there bears witness to Christ.

John 4:39-42
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word.
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

The point this passage illustrates is this - that though it was the woman’s witness which initially induced belief in Christ, nonetheless, the confirmation of their faith came to rest in the testimony of Christ’s own word. While the woman’s witness was true and sufficiently credible to move the inhabitants of the city, it does not follow that she became the infallible bulwark of their subsequent faith. The inhabitants of the city came to rest not in her word, but Christ’s own word.

Likewise, though the Church (or the witness of an individual Christian) is often the initial and outward means by which men are called to faith in Christ, it does not follow that this renders the church or the individual Christian with the attribute of infallibility.

God's own word is a spiritual reality which is sufficient to create faith in itself. No church or human being is able to accomplish that supernatural work.

The Apostle John wrote, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son” (1 Jn. 5:9).

Needing no support, the witness of God stands by itself. God’s own testimony is decisive and inexpugnable. If Holy Scripture is in reality the God-breathed word, then it must be self-authenticating, and in need of no human sanction. It is nothing less than a compromise of the integrity of God’s own witness to presuppose Scripture to be anything other than the living oracles of the Creator and Redeemer of mankind. To hold in suspension, as it were, the question of God’s speaking in Scripture until some external, authoritative criterion outside of God himself is applied as the deliberative, decisive court of appeal is a de facto assault on the truth that “the witness of God is greater.”

Chrysostom (349-407): Besides, what benefit would there be in a homily when prayer has not been joined to it? Prayer stands in the first place; then comes the word of instruction. And that is what the apostles said: "Let us devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word." Paul does this when he prays at the beginning of his epistles so that, like the light of a lamp, the light of prayer may prepare the way for the word. If you accustom yourselves to pray fervently, you will not need instruction from your fellow servants because God himself, with no intermediary, enlightens you mind.
Citation: John Chrysostom, FC, Vol. 72, On the Incomprehensible Nature of God, Homily 3.35, (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1984), pp. 111.

We have strong precedent in the some works of the Early Church Fathers (ECFs) that indicate there was also in their time a recognition of the fact that God's word is self-authenticating. Some examples of this precedent are shown below.

Nemesius of Emesa (around the end of the 4th century):
But for us the sufficient demonstration of the soul’s immortality is the teaching of Holy Scripture, which is self-authenticating because inspired of God.
Greek text:
ἡμῖν δὲ ἀρκεῖ, πρὸς ἀπόδειξιν τῆς ἀθανασίας αὐτῆς, ἡ τῶν θεῖων λογῖων διδασκαλία, τὸ πιστὸν ἀθ’ ἐαυτῆς ἔχουσα, διὰ τὸ θεόπνευστος εἶναι•
Citation: Nemesius of Emesa, De Natura Hominis, Caput II.18, Migne PG 40:589; translation in William Telfer, ed., The Library of Christian Classics, Vol. IV, Cyril of Jerusalem and Nemesius of Emesa: On the Nature of Man, Chapter 2 Of the Soul (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1955), p. 292. (It is believed that Nemesius of Emesa wrote this work sometime between A.D. 392-400.)

Salvian the Presbyter (5th century):
I need not prove by arguments what God Himself proves by His own words. When we read that God says He perpetually sees the entire earth, we prove thereby that He does see it because He Himself says He sees it. When we read that He rules all things He has created, we prove thereby that He rules, since He testifies that He rules. When we read that He ordains all things by His immediate judgment, it becomes evident by this very fact, since He confirms that He passes judgment. All other statements, said by men, require proofs and witnesses. God’s word is His own witness, because whatever uncorrupted Truth says must be the undefiled testimony to truth.
Latin text:
Neque enim necesse est ut argumentis a me probetur quod hoc ipso quia a Deo dicitur comprobatur. Itaque cum legimus dictum a Deo quia aspiciat jugiter omnem terram, hoc ipso probamus quod aspicit quia aspicere se dicit; cum legimus quod regat cuncta quae fecit, hoc ipso approbamus quod regit, quia se regere testatur; cum legimus quod praesenti judicio universa dispenset, hoc ipso est evidens quod judicat quia se judicare confirmat. Alia enim omnia, id est, humana dicta, argumentis ac testibus egent. Dei autem sermo ipse sibi testis est, quia necesse est quidquid incorrupta veritas loquitur, incorruptum sit testimonium veritatis.
Citation: Salvian the Presbyter, Sancti Salviani Massiliensis Presbyteri De Gubernatione Dei, Liber Tertius, I, PL 53:1567; translation in FC, Vol. 3, The Writings of Salvian, The Presbyter, The Governance of God, Book 3.1 (New York: CIMA Publishing Co., Inc., 1947), pp. 68-69.

Epiphanius of Salamis (310/320-403):
But the truth is always steadfast and needs no assistance. It is self-authenticating, and always established in the sight of the true God.
Greek text:
τῆς ἀληθείας ἀεὶ ἑδραίας οὔσης καὶ μὴ χρείαν ἐχούσης βοηθείας, ἀλλὰ αὐτοσυστάτου οὔσης καὶ παρὰ θεῷ τῷ ὄντως ὄντι ἀεὶ συνιστωμένης.
Citation: Epiphanius of Salamis, Adversus Haereses, Liber I, Tom. III, XLIV, §1, PG 41:821; translation by Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book I (Sects 1-46) 44. Against Apelleans, 1,3 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 340.

Epiphanius (310/320-403):
The truth is self-authenticating and cannot be overthrown even if wickedness shamelessly opposes the precept of truth.
Greek text:
αὐτοσυστάτης οὔσης τῆς ἀληθείας, καὶ μὴ δυναμένης καθαιρεῖσθαι, κἄν τε ἀντιπράττοι ἡ ἀνομία ἀναισχυντίᾳ φερομένη τῷ τῆς ἀληθείας θεσμῷ,
Citation: Epiphanius of Salamis, Adversus Haereses, Liber II, Tom. II, LXVI, §10, PG 42:44; translated by Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide), 66. Against Manichaeans, 10,4 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 230.

Clement of Alexandria (150 - c. 215):
It will naturally fall after these, after a cursory view of theology, to discuss the opinions handed down respecting prophecy; so that, having demonstrated that the Scriptures which we believe are valid from their omnipotent authority, we shall be able to go over them consecutively, and to show thence to all the heresies one God and Omnipotent Lord to be truly preached by the law and the prophets, and besides by the blessed Gospel.
Greek text:
Οἷς ἑπόμενον ἂν εἴη μετὰ τὴν ἐπιδρομὴν τῆς θεολογίας τὰ περὶ προφητείας παραδεδομένα διαλαβεῖν, ὡς καὶ τὰς γραφὰς αἷς πεπιστεύκαμεν κυρίας οὔσας ἐξ αὐθεντείας παντοκρατορικῆς ἐπιδείξαντας προϊέναι διʼ αὐτῶν εἱρμῷ δύνασθαι, καὶ ἁπάσαις ἐντεῦθεν ταῖς αἱρέσεσιν ἕνα δεικνύναι Θεὸν, καὶ Κύριον παντοκράτορα τὸν διὰ νόμου καὶ προφητῶν, πρὸς δὲ καὶ τοῦ μακαρίου εὐαγγελίου γνησίως κεκηρυγμένον.
Citation: Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Liber IV, Caput 1, PG 8:1216; translation in ANF: Vol. II, The Stromata, Book IV, Chapter 1.

Lactantius (260-330):
For it was not befitting that, when God was speaking to man, He should confirm His words by arguments, as though He would not otherwise be regarded with confidence: but, as it was right, He spoke as the mighty Judge of all things, to whom it belongs not to argue, but to pronounce sentence.
Latin text:
Nес enim decebat ut cum deus ad hominem loqueretur, argumentis adsereret suas voces, tamquam aliter fides ei non haberetur, sed ut oportuit locutus est tamquam rerum omnium maximus iudex, cuius est non argumentari, sed pronuntiare.
Citation: Lactantius, L. Caeli Firmiani Lactanti Opera omnia, Volume 19 (in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, Samuel Brandt Editor)(F. Tempsky, 1890), p. 197, lines 4-8; translation in ANF: Vol. VII, The Divine Institutes, Book III, Chapter I. See also FC, Vol. 49, The Divine Institutes, Book III, Chapter 1 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University Press, 1963), pp. 165-166. Alternative translation:
... when God was addressing man, addition of arguments to his words, as if he would not otherwise be believed, was not appropriate; he spoke as the supreme judge of all creation ought to speak, his business being not discussion but declaration.
Citation: Lactantius: Divine institutes, Volume 40 of Translated Texts for Historians, Bowen et al. ed. (Liverpool University Press, 2003), p. 169 at 11

These ECFs, to name a few, are examples in the ancient church who (like us) believed Scripture to be self-authenticating.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Give Thanks to God!

For the repentance of Harold Camping.


National Geographic has an article on an unusual example of religious veneration (link to article). In this case, the object of veneration is a large rat colony. It's a great example of this verse:

Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Thanks to Gregory L. Jackson at the Lutheran blog Ichabod, the Glory has Departed.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Trent vs. Scripture and Tradition on the Priesthood of Believers

Trent asserts:
And if any one affirm, that all Christians indiscriminately are priests of the New Testament ... he clearly does nothing but confound the ecclesiastical hierarchy ... .
(Session 23, Chapter 4)

Scripture declares:

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

1 Peter 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9-10
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Trent is also contrary to much of tradition.  I ought to qualify this by pointing out that I do not think that the fathers had some special source of revelation that we do not, such that their works represent Apostolic tradition obtained elsewhere than Scripture.  Still, they are part of our tradition - something that has been handed down to us.

Victorinus (d. circa 303), "Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John," at Revelation 1:6 (link):
“And He made us a kingdom and priests unto God and His Father.”] That is to say, a Church of all believers; as also the Apostle Peter says: “A holy nation, a royal priesthood.”

Alternative translation (Ancient Christian Texts, Greek Commentaries on Revelation, p. 1):
And "he has made us a kingdom and priests," that is, the whole church of the faithful, as the apostle Peter says: "a holy nation, a royal priesthood."

Apringius of Beja (6th Century), "Explanation of the Revelation by the Most Learned Man, Apringius, Bishop of the Church at Pax [Julia]" at Revelation 1:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Latin Commentaries on Revelation, p. 25:
And he made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father. Because he suffered and rose from the dead for us, he made us to be a kingdom that we might merit to be priests of God the Father. For he makes us to be a kingdom, since he suffered and rose again. 
Apringius of Beja (6th Century), "Explanation of the Revelation by the Most Learned Man, Apringius, Bishop of the Church at Pax [Julia]" at Revelation 20:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Latin Commentaries on Revelation, p. 50:

Indeed, concerning those over whom the second death has no power, it says, they shall be priests of God, and they shall reign with him a thousand years.  All those who shall have been in the congregation of the saints shall be called saints, and they shall be priests of Christ our God, and they shall reign with him in the strength of the cross and in the sovereignty of his might.

Caesarius of Arles (468/470 – 542), "Exposition on the Apocalypse" at Revelation 1:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Latin Commentaries on Revelation, pp. 63-64):
"He made us," it says, "to be a kingdom and priests to God." When it speaks of priests to God, it refers to the whole church, as Saint Peter said: "You are an elect people, a royal priesthood."
Bede the Venerable (672/673 – 735), "The Exposition of the Apocalypse by Bede the Presbyter" at Revelation 1:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Latin Commentaries on Revelation, p. 115):
And he made us a kingdom and priests to his God and Father. Since the King of kings and the celestial Priest united us to his own body by offering himself up for us, there is no one of the saints who is spiritually deprived of the office of the priesthood, since everyone is a member of the eternal Priest.
Bede the Venerable (672/673 – 735), "The Exposition of the Apocalypse by Bede the Presbyter" at Revelation 20:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Latin Commentaries on Revelation, p. 179): 
But they shall be saints of God and of Christ.  Another translation reads "they shall be priests of God and of Christ." However, this is said not only of bishops and presbyters, who are properly called priests in the church.  Rather, just as all are said to be of Christ on account of the mystical chrism, so also all are priests since we are members of the one Priest. Concerning the members of Christ the apostle Peter says, "a holy nation, a royal priesthood."
Bede the Venerable (672/673 – 735), "Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles" (Cisterian Studies Series: Number 82), Commentary on 1 Peter at 1 Peter 2:5 (p. 84):
Yet when he had said, You are to be built up into the edifice, or, 'a spiritual house', he added, A holy priesthood, in order that he may very clearly urge us, being ourselves a holy priesthood, to be built upon the foundation of Christ. Therefore, he calls the entire Church a holy priesthood, a name and office that the house of Aaron alone had under the law, because namely we are all members of the high priest, we all are signed with the oil of gladness; there applies to all what he appends: To offer spiritual sacrificial victims acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Yet he calls our work of alms-giving and prayers spiritual sacrificial victims to distinguish them from the bodily victims under the law.

Oecumenius (Seventh Century), "Commentary on the Apocalypse" at Revelation 1:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Greek Commentaries on Revelation, p. 5):
To him who loved us and has washed us from our sins by his blood and made for us a kingdom, priests to God and his prophets, to him be glory and power forever and ever Amen.  The arrangement of this saying moves backward from what is last to that which is first. It says, "to him who loved us be glory and power." For how did he not love us "who gave himself as a ransom" for the life of the world? [And to him be glory] "who has washed us from our sins by his blood." For he took "the bond that stood against us with its demands and nailed it to the wood of his cross," paying in full for our sins with his own death and setting us free from transgressions by his blood and healing our disobedience by his submission to death, even the death of the cross.
"He made for us a kingdom." What benefit is there for us to become "priests to God and his prophets"? That people might be made worthy of these things he makes certain for us the coming kingdom and in the present time procures for us unspeakable glory. This is even greater and more marvelous and noteworthy than the divine gift of his washing away our sins by his own blood, that we who brought nothing for such a gift would be made priests of God and prophets.
Oecumenius (7th Century), "Commentary on the Apocalypse" at Revelation 20:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Greek Commentaries on Revelation, p. 90):

The faithful, it says, "shall be priests of God and of Christ." For all the faithful were appointed priests of the word of the gospel, and concerning these the prophet, playing the prophetic lyre, said, "You will make them princes over all the earth."

Andrew of Caesarea (563 – 637), "Commentary on the Apocalypse," Book I, Chapter 1 at Revelation 1:6 (Ancient Christian Texts, Greek Commentaries on Revelation, p. 116):
To him who loved us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us kings and priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.It is fitting, he says, to give glory to him who through his love has freed us from the chains of death and has washed us from the filth of sin by the outpouring of his life-giving blood and water and has made us a royal priesthood bringing to the Father the living sacrifice of a reasonable service, rather than the sacrifice of irrational beasts.

Augustine (354 – 430), City of God, Book 17, Chapter 5 (link)
What then does he say who comes to worship the priest of God, even the Priest who is God? “Put me into one part of Thy priesthood, to eat bread.” I do not wish to be set in the honor of my fathers, which is none; put me in a part of Thy priesthood. For “I have chosen to be mean in Thine house;”1020 I desire to be a member, no matter what, or how small, of Thy priesthood. By the priesthood he here means the people itself, of which He is the Priest who is the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.1021 This people the Apostle Peter calls “a holy people, a royal priesthood.”
Augustine (354 – 430), Expositions on the Psalms, Psalm 132, Section 20 (link):
“I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice and sing” (ver. 16). We are now at the end of the Psalm; attend for a short space, Beloved. “I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice and sing.” Who is our salvation, save our Christ? What meaneth, therefore, “I will clothe her priests with salvation”? “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”
Augustine (354 – 430), Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, Book 22, Chapter 89 (link):
As He saith also in Hosea, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God." Here Paul applies the prophecy to the Gentiles. So also Peter, writing to the Gentiles, without naming the prophet, borrows his expressions when he says, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye might show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." From this it is plain that the words of the prophet, "And the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured for multitude," and the words immediately following, "And it shall be that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there they shall be called the children of the living God," do not apply to that Israel which is after the flesh, but to that of which the apostle says to the Gentiles, "Ye therefore are the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise."
Jerome (347 – 420), The Dialogue Against the Luciferians (link):
I will answer you in your own words. If a layman confesses his error, how is it he continues a layman? Let him lay aside his lay-priesthood, that is, his baptism, and I grant pardon to the penitent. For it is written “He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father.” And again, “A holy nation, a royal priesthood, an elect race.” Everything which is forbidden to a Christian, is forbidden to both bishop and layman. He who does penance condemns his former life. If a penitent bishop may not continue what he was, neither may a penitent layman remain in that state on account of which he confesses himself a penitent.
Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus (c. 150 – c.215) (via the Latin translation of Cassiodorus, c. 490 – c. 583), Comments on 1 Peter 2:9 (link)
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.”3727 That we are a chosen race by the election of God is abundantly clear. He says royal, because we are called to sovereignty and belong to Christ; and priesthood on account of the oblation which is made by prayers and instructions, by which are gained the souls which are offered to God.

Leo the Great (c. 391 or 400 – 461), Sermon 24, Section 6 (On the Feast of the Nativity, IV) (link):
But you, dearly beloved, whom I address in no less earnest terms than those of the blessed Apostle Peter, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,” built upon the impregnable rock, Christ, and joined to the Lord our Saviour by His true assumption of our flesh, remain firm in that Faith, which you have professed before many witnesses, and in which you were reborn through water and the Holy Ghost, and received the anointing of salvation, and the seal of eternal life.

Leo the Great (c. 391 or 400 – 461), Book of Pastoral Rule, "Of the Life of the Pastor," Chapter 3 (link):
With gold and blue, purple also is mingled: which means, that the priest’s heart, while hoping for the high things which he preaches, should repress in itself even the suggestions of vice, and as it were in virtue of a royal power, rebut them, in that he has regard ever to the nobility of inward regeneration, and by his manners guards his right to the robe of the heavenly kingdom. For it is of this nobility of the spirit that it is said through Peter, Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood (1 Pet. ii. 9).

Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225), De Exhortatione Castitatis (writing as a Montanist against second marriages for laymen), 7:
... Are not we laymen priests also? It is written: 'He hath also made us a kingdom and priests to God and his Father.' The difference between the Order and the people is due to the authority of the church and the consecration of their rank by the reservation of a special bench for the order. Thus where there is no bench of clergy you offer and baptize and are your own sole priest. For where there are three, there is a church, though they be laymen. Therefore if you have the rights to a priest in your own person when necessity arises, you ought likewise to have the discipline of a priest, where it is necessary to exercise his rights. ...

So, which will and should you accept?  Trent's bold claim or the seemingly consistent testimony both of Scripture and the fathers? 

 - TurretinFan