Saturday, April 06, 2013

Candida Moss' Surprising Omission of Jesus and Hebrews' Appeal to Abel

One surprising omission from Dr. Candida Moss' book, "The Myth of Persecution," is discussion of Jesus' own framework for persecution. Jesus, you recall, stated:
Matthew 23:29-36
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets." Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
Here Jesus connects his own persecution and the persecution of his followers with the persecution of the righteous beginning with Cain's murder of Abel, and extending down to Joash's murder of Zechariah.

Moreover, while the term "martyr" is not used there by Jesus, the author of the book of Hebrews makes the identification:
Hebrews 11:4
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Although God is testifying initially, the "he being dead yet speaketh" refers to Abel. Moreover, it is apparent that Abel is the leading example in the Hebrews 12:1 reference to the great cloud of witnesses (μαρτύρων). Of course, it must be conceded that some of the "martyrs" here are witnesses who testified through their life, rather than strictly through their death, like Abel.

This is a surprising omission by Dr. Moss, given that she is quick to attempt to minimize the uniqueness of Christian martyrdom.

Indeed, except briefly at page 5 and then again at page 135, Dr. Moss virtually remains silent regarding Jesus and the relation between Christianity and persecution.

Another surprising omission is the discussion in Revelation (which is Jesus' revelation to John, do not forget) about the voice of the martyrs crying out for judgment. Here the term is being used in its more technical sense:
Revelation 2:12-13
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

Revelation 6:9-11
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Revelation 17:6
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
Frankly, I suppose there may be a variety of reasons for Dr. Moss' omissions of the Biblical data, mostly because she feels that Christians feeling persecuted has strong negative consequences, and she wishes to minimize those feelings.

The one theme she mentions is Jesus' comment about his followers taking up the cross, which is not just reported once, but numerous times:
Matthew 10:38
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 8:34
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 10:21
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Luke 9:23
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Moreover, while she mentions that some people spiritualize this, other passages cannot be so easily dismissed.  For example, Jesus often referred explicitly to coming persecution:
Matthew 5:10-12
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:44
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 10:23
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Matthew 13:21
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Matthew 23:34
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

Mark 4:17
And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.

Mark 10:30
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Luke 11:49
Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

Luke 21:12
But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

John 5:16
And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

John 15:20
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
And Paul's explicit statement:
2 Timothy 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
While I'm sure Dr. Moss is right to criticize Eusebius for embellishing or even possibly fabricating martyrdom stories from the pre-Constantine era, he is certainly not the author of the Scriptures that teach Christians to expect persecution.  Furthermore, Dr. Moss may rightly be critical of those who sought voluntary martyrdom (although surprisingly I did not see Dr. Moss object to Ignatius' nearly quasi-voluntary martyrdom).  Nevertheless, Dr. Moss seemed to downplay the Biblical data in her critique.


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Bible and Slavery - Some Limitations

In a previous post (link), I discussed the volatile topic of slavery and the Puritans and I mentioned that the Bible does not prohibit slavery, it merely regulates it.  The regulations on slavery include a number of points:

1) Slaves as Household Members

Male slaves who were not Hebrew were to be circumcised and afterwards admitted to the Passover (Exodus 12:44) as distinct from aliens and hired servants who were not welcome to the Passover (Exodus 12:45).

2) Slave Term of Ownership

Hebrew slaves were permitted to be enslaved for a maximum of six years (Exodus 21:2 and Deuteronomy 15:12).  However, the male Hebrew slave could obligate himself to perpetual slavery, perhaps for the sake of a fellow-slave wife and children (Deuteronomy 15:17).

The rationale was essentially that the Hebrews were released from slavery in Egypt by God and were not to be made slaves, but instead treated like hired servants (Leviticus 25:35-42).  The rationale was further that the Hebrews were specifically the slaves of God (Leviticus 25:55).

Moreover, at his release, the Hebrew slave was to be furnished freely with meat, bread, and wine (Deuteronomy 15:13-15).

3) Murder of Slaves Prohibited

If a slave (male or female) was beaten to death, the owner was required to be punished (Exodus 21:20).  There was a limitation on this for the case where the death could not be closely linked to the beating (Exodus 21:21).

4) Maiming of Slaves Prohibited

If a slave suffered the permanent loss of a body part or major function, the slave was to be liberated immediately (Exodus 21:26).

5) Jubilee Release of Slaves

In the year of jubilee, male slaves and their children were to be released (Leviticus 25:39-42 &54).

6) Redemption Permitted

If a Hebrew sold himself into slavery to a foreigner in the land, the Hebrews could redeem him based on the wages of a hired servant for the amount of time remaining until the jubilee Leviticus 25:47-53).

7) Safe Harbour for Escaped Slaves

The Hebrews were not to return foreign slaves to their masters (Deuteronomy 23:15).  Instead, they were supposed to permit the slaves to live within the walled cities of Israel (Deuteronomy 23:16).

8) Foreign Slave Wives Liberation at Divorce

If a female slave was acquired by war and her owner decided to marry her, then he was required to let her go free when he divorced her, as opposed to selling her away (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).

9) Limited Manner of Enslavement

It was not permitted for the Israelites to enslave other Hebrews or resident aliens by kidnapping them (Exodus 21:16 and Deuteronomy 24:7).

Perhaps there are more verses that could be brought to bear on the subject.  I'm sure that the regulations above are insufficient for Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment anti-slavery proponents, but the regulations were actually pretty substantial.  While slaves were recognized as property of their owners (see the 10th commandment for example) and while God uses the master-slave metaphor to describe his relationship to us, the regulations on slavery in Israel maintained the fact that the slaves had the image of God and consequently were to receive the sign of the covenant, were to be treated leniently, were not to be killed, and were to be freed in many cases.


P.S. I would welcome in the comment box any further limitations on slavery that I've overlooked.  I would not welcome any general anti-slavery comments.  Perhaps there will be a time and place for those comments elsewhere another time.

The "Bind and Loose" Argument Rebutted

Over at GreenBaggins, Scott tried to make an argument for an infallible rule of faith other than the Bible.  He wrote: "The fact is that Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18 teach that man and/or those men can bind or loose, not just sin, but whatsoever they choose."  Let's consider this argument piece by piece:

"that man and/or those men"
Peter and the other apostles are gone.  Francis, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, is not an apostle of Jesus Christ, he did not personally receive revelation from Jesus as they did, It is a leap to say that the apostles could do X, therefore someone who is not an apostle can do X.

"bind and loose"
Of course, "bind and loose" doesn't sound anything like "define dogma."  It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins.

"not just sin"
That sounds like Scott is saying, "sin and more."  But Rome's teaching of infallibility is that Rome is infallible only in her doctrinal and moral definitions, not in her exercise of discipline.  So, if it is "sin and more" and implies infallibility, then Scott has proved a point that is stronger than what Rome can adopt.  After all, a Roman bishop exonerated Pelagius (and then later condemned), a Roman bishop condemned Athanasius (and then later exonerated), and let's not even get into the trial of Galileo.

"whatsoever they choose"
In Roman Catholic theology, the definition of dogma is (officially) not arbitrary.  For example, CCC 86 states:
“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”
Of course, I acknowledge that in practice the power is arbitrarily exercised (contrary to CCC 86), but this is just an internal inconsistency.

Likewise, to be precise the text does not mention choice, it just states that what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

- TurretinFan

Monday, April 01, 2013

Puritans, Slavery, and Exodus 21:16

A dear reader (name removed to protect the innocent) wrote (slightly edited below):
Exodus 21:16 (KJV) And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

a) It's common knowledge that numerous Puritans owned slaves, and at times were even chaplains on slave ships.
b) Were Puritans generally theonomist?
c) Do you know whether they ever considered that verse? It says "or if he be found in his hand". Man-stealing, and also owning the stolen "good" were worthy of capital punishment on the OT Law.

At most this would show that the Puritans were in the wrong and were inconsistent.
I answer:
a) Which puritans exactly owned slaves and/or were slave ship chaplains? I can't recall that being the case for Owens, Burroughs, Manton, Boston or even Baxter, but perhaps I'm missing something. Even in the Americas, Puritanism was primarily a Northern thing - which was generally not associated with American slavery. The supposed "common knowledge" sounds like the lyrics to that "Precious Puritans" rap song by the aptly named artist "Propaganda", but I cannot recall it actually reflecting the situation of any of the notable Puritan writers.

b) I don't know how you define "theonomist." It would be anachronistic to call the Puritans reconstructionists. But if you mean "theonomist" so as to include Calvin - most of them tended to be theonomist, within a range of variation. Radical separation of church and state was for the Anabaptists during the height of Puritanism.

c) Exodus 21:16 prohibits kidnap of a man ("steals a man"), whether to sell him into slavery or not ("and sells him" or "if he is found in his hand") on pain of death. Within the context of the Torah, this did not apply to prisoners of war or men who were purchased as slaves. Strictly speaking, the verse does not apply to people who buy slaves who were enslaved by a man-stealer.

Henry Ainsworth (technically a non-comformist) (1571-1622) in annotating the verse just mentions that the "man" here refers specifically to an Israelite, but doesn't provide other commentary on it. The reason for this argument is the parallel account in Deuteronomy 24:7.

John Lightfoot (1602-1675) had some gleanings on Exodus, but those gleanings don't mention this particular law, that I noticed.

Andrew Willett (1562-1621) had a rather detailed work on Exodus, including some discussion of this law, but I (sadly) cannot locate a copy of it.

Symon Patrick (1626-1707) was probably too late to be a Puritan (great ejection was 1662) but he is a 17th century Anglican to comment on it - and he doesn't find any general prohibition of slavery. He seems willing to read "man" more broadly than Ainsworth to include foreigners and foreign slaves.

John Calvin's Harmony does not explicitly comment on Exodus 21:16, but at Deuteonomy 24:7 he states:
The same punishment is here deservedly denounced against man-stealers as against murderers; for, so wretched was the condition of slaves, that liberty was more than half of life; and hence to deprive a man of such a great blessing, was almost to destroy him. Besides, it is not man-stealing only which is here condemned, but the accompanying evils of cruelty and fraud, i.e., if he, who had stolen a man, had likewise sold him. Now, such a sale could hardly be made among the people themselves, without the crime being immediately detected; and nothing could be more hateful than that God’s children should be alienated from the Church, and delivered over to heathen nations.
Matthew Henry (Presbyterian, 1662 – 1714) comments on Exodus 21:16:
III. Here is a law against man-stealing (v. 16): He that steals a man (that is, a person, man, woman, or child), with design to sell him to the Gentiles (for no Israelite would buy him), was adjudged to death by this statute, which is ratified by the apostle (1 Tim. 1:10 ), where men-stealers are reckoned among those wicked ones against whom laws must be made by Christian princes.
At Deuteronomy 24:7, Henry states:
II. A law against man-stealing, v. 7. It was not death by the law of Moses to steal cattle or goods; but to steal a child, or a weak and simple man, or one that a man had in his power, and to make merchandize of him, this was a capital crime, and could not be expiated, as other thefts, by restitution—so much is a man better than a sheep, Mt. 12:12 . It was a very heinous offence, for, 1. It was robbing the public of one of its members. It was taking away a man’s liberty, the liberty of a free-born Israelite, which was next in value to his life. 3. It was driving a man out from the inheritance of the land, to the privileges of which he was entitled, and bidding him go serve other gods, as David complains against Saul, 1 Sa. 26:19
John Gill (Reformed Baptist, 1697–1771)at Exodus 21:16 states:
And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him
One of the children of Israel, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and so the Septuagint version: but though this law was given to the Israelites primarily, yet was made for men stealers in general, as the apostle observes, who plainly has reference to it, ( 1 Timothy 1:9-10 ) :

or if he be found in his hand;
before the selling of him, as Jarchi notes, since he stole him in order to sell him, he was guilty of death, as follows:

he shall surely be put to death;
with strangling, as the same Jewish writer remarks, as on the preceding verse; and Jarchi sets it down as a rule, that all death in the law, simply expressed, is strangling.
Likewise, John Gill at Deuteronomy 24:7 states:
If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel 
Whether grown up or little, male or female, an Israelite or a proselyte, or a freed servant; all, as Maimonides F6 says, are included in this general word "brethren"; though Aben Ezra observes, that it is added, "of the children of Israel", for explanation, since an Edomite is called a "brother". Now, a man must be "found" committing this fact; that is, it must plainly appear, there must be full proof of it by witnesses, as Jarchi explains this word:

and maketh merchandise of him;
or rather uses him as a servant, and employs him in any service to the least profit and advantage by him, even to the value of a farthing; yea, if he does but lean upon him, and he supports him, though he is an old man that is stolen; this is serving a man's self by him, as Maimonides F7, which is what is forbidden as distinct from selling him, as follows:

or selleth him:
to others; and both these, according to the above writer F8, using him for service, and selling him, are necessary to make him guilty of death; not the one without the other; but reading them disjunctively, as we do, gives the better sense of the words:

then that thief shall die;
by strangling with a napkin, as the Targum of Jonathan; and so Maimonides F9 says, his death is by strangling:

and thou shall put evil away from among you;
both him that does evil, as the Targum of Jonathan, and the guilt of it by inflicting due punishment for it; and so deter from such practices, and prevent evil coming upon the body of the people, should such a sin be connived at; see ( Exodus 21:16 ) .


F6 Hichot Genibah, c. 9. sect. 6.
F7 Ib. sect. 2.
F8 Ib. sect. 3.
F9 Hilchot Genibah, c. 9. sect. 1. So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 67. 1. interprets it of service.
Matthew Poole (Noncomformist, 1624–1679) at Exodus 21:16 states:
i.e. in the manstealer's hand; q. d. though he he keep him in his own hands for his own use; for still it is a theft, and he is made that man's slave, and it is in his power to sell him to another when he pleaseth, and therefore deserves death.
(Poole refers the reader back to Exodus 21:16 at Deuteronomy 24:7).

The Geneva Bible (1560 edition is the only one I checked) did not have any comments on either verse.

Frankly, I'm not aware of any pre-19th century author that treats "man stealing" in itself as equivalent to slavery absolutely. Rather, I think uniformly it would be viewed as condemning an illicit way of obtaining slaves.  I don't want to address how slaves might licitly be obtained, but two ways seem obvious: voluntarily and as prisoners of war.  Moreover, in view of the regulation of slavery under the Mosaic law, it would seem nonsensical to interpret Exodus 21:16 or Deuteronomy 24:7 as providing for civilly administered capital punishment for all slave owners.

That said, as far as I can tell the colonial laws of Massachusetts (which I've picked because of their obvious connection to the New England Puritans) did have a law specifically against man-stealing, and it was a capital offense, and the explicit justification was Exodus 21:26.

So, no - I don't think the charge of inconsistency can rightly be laid at the feet of the Puritans, both because the Bible does not absolutely forbid slavery (it merely regulates it) and because the Puritans (at least the American ones) did punish man-stealing with death (on the books - I did not check whether or how often this was enforced).

One other thing to consider: being the chaplain of a ship is a role that speaks to a concern for the spiritual needs of those on the boat.  It is not, as far as I know, an endorsement of the particular enslavement of the particular people on the ship nor an endorsement of slavery in general.  After all, wouldn't you gladly be a prison chaplain to a bunch of prisoners who were wrongly imprisoned?

I believe that the well-named rapper, Propaganda, alleges that the Puritans took the position that there were two images of God (one for slaves and one for free men).  I would love to see his documentation as to which of the Puritans ever taught such a thing.


P.S. I realize that I mentioned the word "slavery," which is a hot-button topic for some people.  If this is you, remember that the topic of this post is narrowly limited to the question of what the Puritans believed and whether the Puritans were consistent in their application of Old Testament law to the civil laws they enacted.

The Positive and Negative Claims of Sola Scriptura

I've noted a number of Roman Catholics who seem to think that the advocates of Sola Scriptura need to prove that Scripture teaches "Scripture alone is the infallible rule of faith and life." I understand (I think) this mindset - if you're advocating "Sola Scriptura" you should be able to prove it. Part of the problem is that some Roman Catholics don't seem to understand that "sola scriptura" is a name for a bundle of doctrines. There are both positive and negative positions within that bundle.

The primary positive claims of Sola Scriptura are that:

a) Everything we need to know for salvation is taught in Scripture. (Sufficiency)
b) Everything necessary for salvation is taught clearly in Scripture. (Perspicuity)

We could summarize these as simply "sufficiency."

The negative claim of Sola Scriptura is that there is nothing else like it. This is a universal negative. But there are also specific negative claims, such as:

c) Teachers that teach contrary to Scripture should be rejected. (Primacy)
d) The Bible does not err. (Inerrancy)

That the Scripture teach (a)-(d) really should be enough for anyone who properly understands Sola Scriptura. The general negative claim of "and there is no other like it" does not have the same kind of burden. In other words, having established that the Scriptures are an infallible rule of faith, we can be content to let all comers try to prove that their supposedly supplemental rule of faith is also one. It's not strictly necessary for us to remove that possibility antecedently.

Indeed, it is illogical for people to suppose that the position of sola scriptura would be defeated, simply because the negative part of the claim were unproven. Until some other infallible rule is established, Scripture alone is the default position.

I mention all of the above without getting into the question of whether the general negative claim can be established from Scripture, but rather simply observing the lack of consequences in the case that it could not. In short, sola scriptura is not discredited until either the sufficiency of Scripture is disproven or some other rule of faith established.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

All Have Sinned - Except Mary? (Responding to Steve Ray)

Steve Ray (Roman Catholic) writes:
From the early centuries Mary was considered the All Holy One and considered as without sin. Rom 3:23 is a general statement but does not mention exceptions to the rule. For example, Jesus was a man without sin, therefore an exception.
Jesus did not come short of the glory of God, because Jesus is God. Recall that the text says:

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Moreover, it's not just Romans 3:23.

Romans 3:10
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 5:12
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Job 25:4
How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?

Psalm 143:2
And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

This falls into the category of manifest exceptions. A similar manifest exception is explained here:

1 Corinthians 15:27
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

I would love to see this testimony to Mary as "the All Holy One." While it may possibly exist (there are many extant writings, "Holy One" is a divine title and "all-holy" is a divine attribute. So, particularly in the early patristic period and among orthodox writers, one would not expect to find this attributed to anyone but one of the persons of the Trinity.

But certainly Scripture does not describe Mary as sinless. On the contrary, she herself recognized her need for a Savior:

Luke 1:47
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Steve Ray continued:
The New Adam (Jesus) is without sin. From the 1st century Mary has been viewed as the New Eve. It would be appropriate, actually proper, that the New Eve be without sin also.
The bride of Adam was Eve, but the bride of Christ is not Mary, but the Church.

And the church will be sinless:

Ephesians 5:27
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Indeed, Mary as a member of that church is now in heaven, holy and immaculate. But it was through the work of Christ purifying her - first sanctifying her and later glorifying her. She was not sinless, just as none of us are sinless.

Again, there may have been some fathers who called Mary a "new Eve," but she's hardly a close parallel to Eve.

Steve Ray continued:
Those who die before the age of reason, or who are mentally deficient are also exceptions. Job could even be called an exception if you take God’s report of him literally (Job 1:8).
This is just a rehashing of Pelagius' error. Both Pelagius and Julian of Eclanum cited Job as an example of a person who was perfectly holy before the law. But Augustine, in Section 12 of Book 2 of "The Punishment and Forgiveness of Sins," denies that Job was sinless (and more expressly in section 14).

The statement, therefore, “He that is born of God sinneth not,”[1 John 3:9] is not contrary to the passage in which it is declared by those who are born of God, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”[1 John 1:8] For however complete may be a man’s present hope, and however real may be his renewal by spiritual regeneration in that part of his nature, he still, for all that, carries about a body which is corrupt, and which presses down his soul; and so long as this is the case, one must distinguish even in the same individual the relation and source of each several action. Now, I suppose it is not easy to find in God’s Scripture so weighty a testimony of holiness given of any man as that which is written of His three servants, Noah, Daniel, and Job, whom the Prophet Ezekiel describes as the only men able to be delivered from God’s impending wrath.[Ezekiel 14:14] In these three men he no doubt prefigures three classes of mankind to be delivered: in Noah, as I suppose, are represented righteous leaders of nations, by reason of his government of the ark as a type of the Church; in Daniel, men who are righteous in continence; in Job, those who are righteous in wedlock;—to say nothing of any other view of the passage, which it is unnecessary now to consider. It is, at any rate, clear from this testimony of the prophet, and from other inspired statements, how eminent were these worthies in righteousness. Yet no man must be led by their history to say, for instance, that drunkenness is not sin, although so good a man was overtaken by it; for we read that Noah was once drunk,[Genesis 9:21] but God forbid that it should be thought that he was an habitual drunkard.

But let us see what Job has to say of himself, after God’s great testimony of his righteousness. “I know of a truth,” he says, “that it is so: for how shall a mortal man be just before the Lord? For if He should enter into judgment with him, he would not be able to obey Him.”[Job 9:2-3] And shortly afterwards he asks: “Who shall resist His judgment? Even if I should seem righteous, my mouth will speak profanely.”[Job 9:19-20] And again, further on, he says: “I know He will not leave me unpunished. But since I am ungodly, why have I not died? If I should wash myself with snow, and be purged with clean hands, thou hadst thoroughly stained me with filth.”[Job 9:30] In another of his discourses he says: “For Thou hast written evil things against me, and hast compassed me with the sins of my youth; and Thou hast placed my foot in the stocks. Thou hast watched all my works, and hast inspected the soles of my feet, which wax old like a bottle, or like a moth-eaten garment. For man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of wrath; like a flower that hath bloomed, so doth he fall; he is gone like a shadow, and continueth not. Hast Thou not taken account even of him, and caused him to enter into judgment with Thee? For who is pure from uncleanness? Not even one; even should his life last but a day.”[Job 13:26 - 14:5] Then a little afterwards he says: “Thou hast numbered all my necessities; and not one of my sins hath escaped Thee. Thou hast sealed up my transgressions in a bag, and hast marked whatever I have done unwillingly.”[Job 14:16-17] See how Job, too, confesses his sins, and says how sure he is that there is none righteous before the Lord. So he is sure of this also, that if we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us. While, therefore, God bestows on him His high testimony of righteousness, according to the standard of human conduct, Job himself, taking his measure from that rule of righteousness, which, as well as he can, he beholds in God, knows of a truth that so it is; and he goes on at once to say, “How shall a mortal man be just before the Lord? For if He should enter into judgment with him, he would not be able to obey Him;” in other words, if, when challenged to judgment, he wished to show that nothing could be found in him which He could condemn, “he would not be able to obey him,” since he misses even that obedience which might enable him to obey Him who teaches that sins ought to be confessed. Accordingly [the Lord] rebukes certain men, saying, “Why will ye contend with me in judgment?”[Jeremiah 2:29] This [the Psalmist] averts, saying, “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.”[Psalm 143:2] In accordance with this, Job also asks: “For who shall resist his judgment? Even if I should seem righteous, my mouth will speak profanely;” which means: If, contrary to His judgment, I should call myself righteous, when His perfect rule of righteousness proves me to be unrighteous, then of a truth my mouth would speak profanely, because it would speak against the truth of God.

Steve Ray continued:
Romans is also discussing that it is not only the Gentiles that have sinned but also the Jews. All can be a collective of peoples. “You Jews think you are righteous because you are of Abraham? You think only the Gentiles are in sin. No, all have sinned, Gentile and Jew alike”
Yes, "all" can have that sense. But the "there is none righteous, no not one" does not have a similar semantic range.

Steve Ray continued:
This is born out in Psalm 14 from where Rom 3:9 (parallel passage to Rom 3:23) is quoted. Here is says, Psalm 14:2–3 “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one.”
This doesn't support the previous assertion that this is just about "both Jews and Gentiles."

Steve Ray continued:
Yet immediately following we find that God has his righteous. Psalm 14:5–6 ”There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. You would confound the plans of the poor, but the Lord is his refuge.”
This refers to those who are justified by faith, not those who are immaculately sinless.

Psalm 14:7 "Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad."

The "righteous" people Steve Ray is pointing to are those in captivity in a foreign land for their sins!

Steve Ray continued:
As a Baptist I used to use the Bible often for proof-texts and sound bites. Scripture is much more subtle than that. It is our tradition, whether Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, etc., that guides us in our approach to Scripture. The real question is, which tradition will you allow to direct your interpretation and study? I chose the tradition that was practiced from the first century until today – which is Catholic.
Of course, people's traditions can interfere with letting the text of Scripture speak for itself. We should not glory in that, but seek to minimize the effect of our traditions, allowing the text to speak for itself.

That said, the fathers writings are valuable. I happen to have two patristic commentaries on Psalms in front of me. On Psalm 14, Augustine (354–430) says:
There is no one who does anything good, no, not even to the very last one. This expression, not even to the very last one, can either be understood as including that particular one, which would mean nobody at all, or it can be taken to mean "with the exception of one," indicating the Lord Christ ... This latter interpretation is the better one, because nobody is deemed to have done anything good right down to Christ, because nobody can unless Christ himself has shown how.
(Expositions on the Psalms, Psalm 1-32, at Psalm 13[14]:1, The Works of St. Augustine, a Translation for the 21st Century, p. 175, trans. Maria Boulding, OSB)

Likewise, Cassiodorus (c. 485 – c. 585) states:
They are corrupt because in abandoning the sanity of the Scriptures they have demonstrably fallen into sinful thoughts. ... There is none that doth good But what about the patriarchs? Did Noah not do good when he was obedient to the Lord's commands, and entered the ark to be saved? .... Even today through the Lord's kindness good things are done through the action of just men. But so that this denial may become wholly meaningful to you, ponder the words that follow: None, even to one. In fact that only One is Christ, without whom human weakness has not the strength either to begin or complete any good thing. So the statement was justified that no man can do good unless through His mercy we have gained Christ. When we reach Him and do not abandon Him, every good is undoubtedly performed.
(Explanation of the Psalms, Vol. 1, at Psalm 13[14]:1, Ancient Christian Writers, vol. 51, p. 150)

Before posting, I thought I would check the catena found in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series. There I found some interesting words from Asterius the Homilist (4th/5th century):
"There is no one who speaks good," when all the disciples fled as they abandoned him. John ran off naked. Peter denied him, the disciples fled, the spear of doubt pierced the soul of Mary. There was no one who showed the fruit of love in his suffering. ... Even after his death, the soldier pierced his side. ... Surely he has visited us and wants to save, but none desires to be shown the medicine.
(Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Psalms 1-50, at Psalm 14:1, pp. 110-11, ellipses in ACCS, for discussion of Asterius' Nicene credentials, see Wolfram Kinzig's "In Search of Asterius: Studies on the Authorship of the Homilies on the Psalms")

So far from supporting Steve Rays "Jews and Gentiles" interpretation, Asterius even apparently ascribes sinful doubt to Mary!

I'm sure Steve Ray is very much enamored with traditions, but his traditions are not as ancient as he supposes. He ought rather to follow the still more ancient traditions of the apostles, who were inspired by God to inscripturate the revelation given to them. If he had done that, he could avoid the corruption of those who abandon the sanity of Scripture and fall into the sinful thought of ascribing sinless perfection and immaculate conception to Mary.