Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Peter, Linus, Clement.........John Paul 2, Benedict 16


The primacy and papal succession of Peter is often discounted because it can't be "proven" by the New Testament. Others still argue that Peter never went to Rome because his travels there aren't specifically mentioned in Scripture. A Christian in the 2nd century named Irenaeus was a disciple of a bishop named Polycarp who was himself a disciple of John. This gentleman wrote a book called "Against Heresies." In his book, he gives us an early picture of apostolic succession:


Since, however, it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.

The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles…

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31 Comments:

Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

Tiber Jumper ~ Bravo on this most excellent post! You have in loving firmness and with brilliant clarity spelled out, in no uncertain terms, Holy papal succession. The sentence that LEAPED out to me, was where Irenaeus said: "we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper" . . . THAT is one heavy and quite frightening a statement! I instantly thought of all the thousands and thousands of sects/denominations out there boldly proclaiming their "sola fide" and "sola scriptura" defense for their "other than were it is proper" gathering places where they worship and it sends shivers through me! Those adjectives describe us and our 26 years of selfish, vain-glorious meanderings apart and away from the Catholic Church. Way to go and keep it comin'!

July 02, 2006 5:19 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks for the kind comments!
Yes without an authority, I wandered for about 31 years outside the Catholic Church trying to pursue Jesus and my personal relationship with him much to the exclusion of a Church He provided to aid, guide and support my walk with Him. It sounds from Irenaeus writings that there were certainly those back then who wanted to go their own way. It's human nature to not want to " be told" what and how to believe. Adam and Eve certainly, at some level, decided with a little help from their serpent "friend" to go their own way. The fact that papal succession has lasted almost 2000 years illustrates to me how important it is for us to follow this authority Christ established on Peter. Jesus wasn't fooling when he said the gates of hell won't prevail.

July 02, 2006 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

I choose to follow Scripture rather than traditional sources because Scripture is infallible, and traditional sources are often wrong. According to the ancient Apostolic Constitution, Paul appointed Linus, Peter appointed Clement, and there was no Anacletus. Which traditional source is right, the Apostolic Constitution, or Adversus Haereses?

Further, Clement taught the myth of the Phoenix as being true (To the Corinthians), and Irenaeus called The Shepherd of Hermas "scripture", and taught that Jesus reached the age of 50 before he died (Adversus Haereses). Men are often wrong; Scripture is always right.

I side with God, who in His inerrant word says, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8)

And, I meet "where it is proper" - in the church of the living God, with other believers in Christ Jesus, "assembling ourselves together" to "draw near with a true heart", "hold fast the profession of our faith", and provoke each other "unto love and good works" (cf Hebrews 10:22-25).

To the Roman Catholic, I challenge: Search the ancient writings of the church, and you will come away with a Babel torrent of ideas and thoughts without any clear agreement on any given subject, mixed with a variety of factual errors. Search the Scriptures, and you will find truth, clear, clean, and pure. Then, side with him who is the truth... and the way and the life.

July 22, 2006 10:26 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

To Mr Faithful:
Thanks for your thoughtful post and for the time you spent reading my posts. Yes, the ancient fathers of the church are not infallible and their writings certainly are not to be held equal with God's Word. There may be discrepancies regarding the apostolic succession where one writer had it wrong. This has long been acknowledged and well known by Catholic scholars However, their insights at times can be very insightful and give us a picture of the church we would not have if we looked at Scripture alone. Luther had many wrong and unorthodox views and wanted to remove James, Hebrews and Revelations from the Bible. He also was very anti-Semitic and his writings "Jews and Their Lies" may have been read by the engineers of the Holocaust. Yet many Protestants, though not all, look to his writings as "authoritative" and accept his revised canon of Scripture despite the fact that he too was only human and fallible. My point here is that pointing out errors in the writings of the church fathers doesn't negate 2000 years of Catholic belief, doctrine and history. We all can point to the many fallible fathers the protestants have and use to justify their doctrines. No one reads the Bible without a pre existing bias or doctrinal stance (we can't, were only human) and most non Catholic christians by default, use a "tradition of man" to guide them in their interpretation of Scripture. Some use Calvin, others Luther, others, Wesley, etc etc.

For thirty years I searched the Scripture and found that "truth, clear, clean, and pure is not always that easy to find on one's own personal interpretation. Calvin, Zwingli and Luther searched the Scripture and came up with diametrically opposing views despite each claiming the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The presence of over 30,000 protestant sects is the result of each individual feeling that they had the correct "clean, and pure" interpretation of Scripture. The Scriptures are infallible but man's interpretation of them can be fallible. That is why Christ gave us the church, "the pillar and foundation of Truth." 1 Tim 3:15 Not the Bible. Remember, the church grew, spread, flourished and changed the world almost 400 years before there was a Bible! Most people were illiterate for much of church history so even if they had a Bible around it couldn't lead them to Truth! The Church had to lead them. If the Bible was meant to be the Sole Rule of Faith, Christ Jesus would have surely passed on the plans to a printing press rather than wasting his time and breath breathing on the disciples and saying "Receive ye the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive they are forgiven etc"
If you believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God (as all Catholics do) then you are in effect trusting in the "tradition of men" who gathered together and prayed, and debated and with the power of the Holy Spirit discerned what books were to be in the Bible. If you trust in the clean pure milk of the Word, then you have put your trust in the Catholic Church who through the guidance of the Holy Spirit gave us the canon of Scripture. The Bible didn't just fall out of the sky and anyone who trusts that the books of the Bible are truly inspired is accepting the work of the Church Jesus founded. The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Founded 33 AD.

July 22, 2006 2:25 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

This is a link to several Scriptures which illustrate that the doctrine of "The Bible Alone"
cannot be justified by "the Bible Alone" and is un-Scriptural!


Sola Scriptura is Un Scriptural link

July 22, 2006 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faithful said: "Further, Clement taught the myth of the Phoenix as being true (To the Corinthians), and Irenaeus called The Shepherd of Hermas "scripture", and taught that Jesus reached the age of 50 before he died (Adversus Haereses). Men are often wrong; Scripture is always right."

So how do you know what should be "Scripture"? How did they decide? A Council of the Catholic Church determined what books should be in the Bible.

July 23, 2006 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Fatifhful said...

Yes, the Scriptures did just "fall out of the sky". The church did not give us the Scriptures; God did. The Church does not decide what is and is not Scripture. God did. Early Christians all had the Scriptures (see, e.g., Clement to the Corinthians, who cites Scripture, both OT and New, as authoritative scores of times). Christians did not wait around for 400 years before they had a Bible. The Bible was commonly available from the end of the first century on - and early Christians held it in unparalleled esteem.

Also, I am apparently not dependent on Church councils for my Bible, since I do not accept the deuterocanonical books. Unlike many, I have taken the time to read many of the pseudocanonical writings and paralegomena. It is apparent to me which are Scripture and which are not - as it would be apparent to almost anyone.

Further, if you concede that tradition must be edited, then you must define an editor. But you cannot cite the Roman church as the editor of tradition, since the Roman church claims dependence on tradition to substantiate its un-Scriptural views: Circular loop! The church claims its authority based on tradition, and then uses that authority to selectively edit tradition!

I have searched in vain for the infallible teaching authority of the Roman church. Is it in the catechism? No, catechisms can be wrong. Is it under the imprimatur and nihil obstat? No, many books under the imprimatur and nihil obstat have contained heretical views. Is it in the teachings of the bishop? No, bishops often teach heterodox and even heretical views. Well, then, it must be in the ex cathedra proclamations! But these are rare, and do not extend over the whole of the dogmatic confession of the Roman church.

And, if there are 30,000 different non-Catholic denominations, how many heterdox teachers do you think I will find in the Roman church? Does the "infallible teaching authority" have any actual power to prevent heresy and error in the Roman church? No! The heterodoxy across the breadth of the Roman church is astonishing in its scope and scandalous in its depth! Apparently, the force of tradition was not able to keep the Western church on track, since even after the Reformation, a Counter-Reformation was needed to repair the breeches in the Roman church.

Did Jesus create a church? Yes, and I am a member of it - a member in good standing. Did Jesus command his disciples to pass on the Scriptures to his followers? Read Matthew 5:17-19; Matthew 28:19-20; Revelation 1:19-20; Revelation 22:18-19 and decide for yourself. While you're at it, look at I Thessalonians 5:27 and Colossians 4:16. God always intended to communicate to his church through the Scriptures.

Was the church happily Catholic until the Reformation? Oh, my, no! The church was always splintered. From the seventh century or so, for instance, there was Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity (not to mention many smaller branches). Western Christianity developed into Roman Papal Christiantity; Eastern Christianity never adopted that mantle. And, even in Western Christianity, there were many competing strains. As James Kiefer points out, "Brother Martin, for example, was most ardent in maintaining that salvation was a free gift of God, and that all attempts to earn or deserve it are worse than useless. But he was not alone in holding this. When his followers met in 1540 with Cardinal Contarini, the Papal delegate, in an effort to arrive at an understanding, there was complete agreement on this point. The Cardinal, by a study of the Epistle to the Romans, had arrived in 1511 at the same position as Brother Martin in 1517. So had Cardinal Pole, the Archbishop of Canterbury (who had, ironically, been appointed to combat Brother Martin's influence). So had the Archbishop of Cologne, and so had many other highly placed Church officials." The Roman Catholic church did not come into existence until after the ratification of the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent.

Finally, I do not trust in any human interpreter of Scripture. I will happily concede (even proclaim) that Luther, Calvin, etc., were fallible men, often prone to failures of understanding and reason. I say this based on the authority of Scripture, which corrects all human conceptions. I will also concede that I am quite capable of being wrong myself. But I know better than to trust in a human authority to correct me. I will have my correction from God, who has spoken completely and infallibly in the Holy Scriptures.

July 26, 2006 11:07 PM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

Sola Scriptura from Scripture:

In the matter of salvation: John shows us, in John 20:30-31, that reading and believing what is written in John's Gospel is sufficient to give us "life in his name". Thus, Scripture teaches that Scripture is sufficient, in and of itself, to bring us salvation.

In general: Scripture teaches us that traditions, church leaders, the church, and even Apostles and angelic manifestations are fallible (Mark 7:28 & Colossians 2:8; Galatians 2:11; Revelation 3:14-22; and Galatians 1:8-9, respectively). On the other hand, Scripture always presents itself as perfect and true. Hence, according to Scripture, Scripture is the only infallible reference. Q.E.D., sola scriptura.

July 26, 2006 11:18 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Faithful Says "The Roman Catholic church did not come into existence until after the ratification of the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent."

Tiber Jumper says:
Don't know where Mr. Faithful gets his sources but mine tell me that the Church that Jesus founded referred to itself as the Catholic Church as early as 105 AD.

July 26, 2006 11:47 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"Finally, I do not trust in any human interpreter of Scripture."

Hopefully, and humbly, I assume that includes your own interpretation as well, Mr. Faithful.

July 26, 2006 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

Tiber Jumper said:
Don't know where Mr. Faithful gets his sources but mine tell me that the Church that Jesus founded referred to itself as the Catholic Church as early as 105 AD.

Faithful replies:
Surely you know that the term "catholic" simply meant "universal" or "general" - as in the "general assembly" mentioned in Hebrews 12:23. The term Catholic today carries a different connotation; that of the Christian denomination headquartered in Rome, Italy. Although I am not Catholic, I belong to the catholic church - as does every believer.

I sincerely hope that you are not really pinning your Roman apologetic on the sort of eisegesis you are engaging in above (reading a modern definition of a word into an ancient confession). That would be sad.

Tiber Jumper said:
"Finally, I do not trust in any human interpreter of Scripture."

Hopefully, and humbly, I assume that includes your own interpretation as well, Mr. Faithful.

Faithful replies:
Indeed, it most certainly does. God has persistently and regularly corrected my misunderstandings and false notions - using Scripture and spiritual prompting. He has not left me alone. As a fallible man, I know how fallible human guides can be. And so, I also know where to appeal for infallible truth: The word of God.

But I must also say this: The issues which divide the reformist view (for lack of better term - I'm not a "protestant", since I'm not protesting anything) and the Roman view are not merely matters of interpretation. As one who has studied the matter thoroughly, I can say without any qualm whatsoever that the honest Christian must certainly choose between the teachings of Scripture and the teachings of the Roman church. This is not a matter of subtleties of language or fine points of doctrine: The Scriptures clearly teach a different gospel from that of the Roman church, and the two are diametrically opposed. Honest Romans admit this, which is why they insist on the priority of tradition over Scripture. If the discussion is based on Scripture alone, the Roman teachings are clearly seen to be false.

This is not so on every doctrinal matter, of course. The Roman church confesses a Scriptural view of God's nature, and of many other key ideas: The Virgin Birth, Crucifixion, Burial, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, for instance, are accurately conveyed in Roman teaching. However, the Roman church is completely awash when it comes to answering questions like, "What must I do to be saved?" or, "How is God to be propitiated?" or, "Who mediates between man and God?" or, "Where is infallible truth to be found?" These are all questions which the Bible answers clearly, directly, and conclusively - and all, contrarily to Roman doctrine.

But the main point remains: Romans elevate tradition over Scripture because Scripture so-evidently denies core Roman doctrines. However, in the process of thus elevating tradition, Romans are also obliged to carefully pick and choose which traditional sources to use and which to deny. What grounds does the Roman church use to thus collect the "true" traditions? Why, there are no grounds! They cannot say that they are teaching what "all Christian everywhere" have traditionally believed. History does not allow that assertion: Aside from the fact that the Eastern church has always disagreed with the Western church on the matter of papism, we also see that even some of the great teachers of the early church were altogether wrong about essential issues - a fact with which the Roman church agrees.

So the Roman church feels itsels at liberty to select those traditional sources which suit their needs, and then to use those sources to dispute the clear teachings of Scripture. This is not suprising behavior. I see the same motions in the "protestant" church. It is the nature of fallible man to oppose the true doctrine of Almighty God - the teachings which he has communicated to us through his word, the Holy Bible.

Again, the antidote is clear: Read the Scriptures, accepting them as the word of God, truth above all other conceptions. Be faithful to God, and to his revelation. Let him be a Father to you, to guide and correct you as he sees fit. Cleave to the Lord, and to his word, and you will not be ashamed.

July 27, 2006 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Dorothy said...

Faithful said…
“God has persistently and regularly corrected my misunderstandings and false notions - using Scripture and spiritual prompting. He has not left me alone. I also know where to appeal for infallible truth: The word of God”

My husband and I have spent a long time searching for truth. We too believe that the Bible is the Word of God. We have searched Scripture and asked the Holy Spirit to guide us. However, neither “Scripture nor spiritual prompting” have caused us to come to agreement on baptism. He believes that it is merely symbolic and that we should wait to baptize our son until he reaches the “age of accountability” and can decide for himself, that way his baptism will be meaningful for him “a public proclamation of his faith.” When I search Scriptures I see something very different. I see that baptism seems necessary for salvation. Note this quote from my pastor.

“Could Noah have been saved if he didn’t obey God and build the Ark? Could the Israelites have been saved if they didn’t obey God and follow Moses through the Red Sea? “But that’s Old Testament!” Yet both are referred to in the NEW TESTAMENT as prefiguring WATER BAPTISM! “Moreover, brethren, I don’t want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1Cor10:1,2) In the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls were saved through water. There’s also an antitype (a fulfillment of a previous symbol), which now saves us, namely BAPTISM. (1Pt3:20,21) These references reveal that water baptism is not some new innovation God tossed into the New Covenant for mere temporary or cultural reasons. Rather WATER BAPTISM was foreseen, foreshadowed, prefigured and intended by God as an ordinance and means of entering into Christ from the very beginning! Water Baptism isn’t an invention of men, incorporated by God into salvation’s plan for expedience sake, but rather Water Baptism is a commandment of God, invented and ordained by God as a necessary step into initial salvation! http://www.gloryofhisgrace.org

So you can see our dilemma. If it’s true as Scripture seems to say that baptism is for salvation, then I fear that if we do not have him baptized he may not go to heaven if he dies before “the age of accountability.”. You say “God has not left me alone.” We have studied and prayed regarding this issue for a long time and still cannot come to agreement. Has God left us alone? Or is Tiber Jumper right? Maybe Jesus did give us a church to be the final authority on what Scripture means.

July 27, 2006 8:59 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

The Antidote is not at all clear. 33,000 denominations have read the Scriptures accepting them as the word of God, truth above all other conceptions. They have been faithful to God and to His revelation (at least as far as they thought) and yet they came away from Scripture with diametrically opposing doctrines. Some Christians will claim that there is no Trinity based on their plain simple and true reading of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity had to be established and confirmed by the Catholic Church in the fourth century to combat all the heresy that was going around.(as it still does today)

When two people had a disagreement with one another, they were told by Jesus to take it to the Church. Not to go off on their own pray for private inspiration over who is right or not in the matter.

Remember, Scripture tells us the pillar and foundation of truth is the Church, not the Bible. The folks writing the letters of what came to be our New Testament had no idea it was going to be "the word of God". It was only through the Catholic Church that the letters of the New Testament were discerned to be inspired and worthy of inclusion in a bound book that the Catholic Church named the Bible. The final interpretation of this book is not left to us, that would be cruel and unusual punishment, as the thousands of conflicted sects attest to. Jesus left us a Church empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His infallible teaching authority

July 27, 2006 9:38 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Faithful has left a new comment on your post "Peter, Linus, Clement.........John Paul 2, Benedict 16":

Tiber Jumper said:
The Antidote is not at all clear. 33,000 denominations have read the Scriptures accepting them as the word of God, truth above all other conceptions. They have been faithful to God and to His revelation (at least as far as they thought) and yet they came away from Scripture with diametrically opposing doctrines. Some Christians will claim that there is no Trinity based on their plain simple and true reading of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity had to be established and confirmed by the Catholic Church in the fourth century to combat all the heresy that was going around.(as it still does today)

Faithful answers:
Strangely, you seem to be implying that the problem is with Scripture!

But of course, it's not. The problem is with fallible humanity. Specifically, a fallible church composed of fallible men.

Ironically, you seem to want me to abandon the infallible Scriptures in favor of a fallible human authority. As though that would help anything! If there are 33,000 non-Catholic denominations, so what? How many unorthodox, heterodox, or even heretical teachers will I find in the Roman church? How many who bear the seal of a bishop? How many who teach in Catholic seminaries?

Apparently, the "infallible teaching authority" of the Roman church does not prevent the actual spread of legions of errors and false teachers in the Roman church. Why, then, would I believe that the Roman church has some special advantage over non-Roman groups?

In addition, the doctrine of the Trinity is accepted by reformist Christians, not because church councils taught it, but because it is eminently Scriptural. As a young Christian, I denied the doctrine of the Trinity - even fought against it. Later, I came to see that it was the only Scriptural answer to the question of the nature of God. Because of the Scriptures!

Tiber Jumper said:
When two people had a disagreement with one another, they were told by Jesus to take it to the Church. Not to go off on their own pray for private inspiration over who is right or not in the matter.

Faithful replies:
I hate to speak this bluntly, but you are totally misapplying the Scripture here. Go back and re-read Matthew 18:15-20. It is not a pattern for resolving doctrinal disputes, but for resolving personal wrongs perpetrated by one Christian against another.

More importantly, the wronged man was told to seek reconciliation on his own first, and only apply to the church as a last resort. So, even if you misapply this Scripture as you have, it still teaches the opposite of what you say it does.

Is this the way you've been studying Scripture for 30 years? I don't mean to be smart when I say this, but if so, that would explain a lot!

Tiber Jumper said:
Remember, Scripture tells us the pillar and foundation of truth is the Church, not the Bible.

Faithful replies:
Right. The church is the pedestal (foundation) and pillar upon which the truth is displayed: A stand upon which something is to be placed. The Scriptures are the thing which the church is to display, truth placed upon its stand. Remember, Jesus said, "Sanctify them by thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17

Tiber Jumper says:
The folks writing the letters of what came to be our New Testament had no idea it was going to be "the word of God".

Faithful answers:
Huh? How on earth do you know that? The writers of Scripture certainly knew that they were writing by authority of God! The recurring tenor of Scripture is, "Thus saith the Lord!"

Tiber Jumper says:
It was only through the Catholic Church that the letters of the New Testament were discerned to be inspired and worthy of inclusion in a bound book that the Catholic Church named the Bible. The final interpretation of this book is not left to us, that would be cruel and unusual punishment, as the thousands of conflicted sects attest to. Jesus left us a Church empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His infallible teaching authority

Faithful answers:
The Roman Catholic church didn't exist until after 1563, when the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent were ratified. Before that, as I said before, there was only Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity. And Eastern Christianity, involving millions of Christians with traditions dating to the days of Jesus, didn't accept the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

Further, from the earliest times, Christian writers referred to Scripture as authoritative - and to no other authority! They didn't seem to need a church to certify the Scriptures for them!

And, Jesus certainly did not confer any infallible teaching authority on the church. If he had, the Reformation would not have been necessary!

Finally, it is neither cruel nor unusual punishment to study and search out the truth from the word of God. David said, "My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word. [Psalm 119:148]" It is a pleasure to read and to contemplate God's word! Why would reading God's revealed truth be a punishment?

It continues to boggle my mind: Men are handed the truth of God in a book, and ever turn away from it to put their weight on the faulty pillars of men!

July 28, 2006 8:22 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Eric Ewanco has left a new comment on your post "Peter, Linus, Clement.........John Paul 2, Benedict 16":

Faithful,

Are you not "Protesting" against Rome, even in this very post, even quoting Protestant reformers to make your point?

You said, Search the ancient writings of the church, and you will come away with a Babel torrent of ideas and thoughts without any clear agreement on any given subject, mixed with a variety of factual errors. But is this not true of any group of "sola scriptura" Christians? If you "sola scriptura" folks could actually agree on anything, I might be persuaded, but it is simply not possible. I always love it when books come up purporting to offer some revelatory "new Bible-based Scriptural interpretation" into some age-old question. As if the problem had been fundamentally misunderstood for 2,000 years and only now the "true" teaching of Christ was being revealed. If I had a dime for every time someone justified a heresy by breathlessly claiming it was "bible-based" and offering some deceptive rationale for it. That's the hook for Evangelical fish: Tout it as "bible-based" and they're sure to swallow it.

To claim that the Bible "came out of the sky" is to betray an ignorance of how it was formed. The Bible is a collection of books that were independently written and, until comparatively recently, circulated. The New Testament books as you know were written in various forms -- some as Gospels, some as letters to specific churches covering specific topics, some as letters to individuals, some as encyclical letters. They were written at different times as well. Only over a period of time were they recognized as Scripture. Yes, Irenaeus called The Shepherd Scripture, because it was recognized as such by some people -- why? Because the canon had not been determined. Some people rejected Revelation -- in fact it was so controversial that to this day it is not read in the Eastern Orthodox churches. The New Testament was fluid for quite some time. This is what we mean by "The bible didn't fall from the sky." While it was authored by God, he did not reach down from heaven and hand us a complete Bible. There is no inspired table of contents. Humans were used to write the Bible, and they did so under ordinary circumstances. It wasn't dictated in its entirety to some trance-induced Apostle like the Koran.

I have a question for you. If I understand you correctly, you seem to claim that it's "obvious" what books are inspired. Tell me, why do you think the book of Philemon is inspired?

And do you think your judgment of inspiration is infallible?

And did you reject any and all tradition when determining which books of the Bible were inspired? That is to say, did you read each book objectively and ignoring what anyone else told you about the book concerning its inspiration, make a judgment as to the inspiration of that book?

And furthermore, since you must reject all tradition and determine inspiration yourself, did you read other books claiming to be inspired (such as the Protoevangelium of James, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mary, and so forth) and verify personally that these books were not in fact inspired?

And moreover are you absolutely sure you could not have missed a book?

Now, given your conclusion, do you not think it is odd that the canon you arrived at is precisely the same canon (of the New Testament) arrived at by a church that was, in your judgment, thoroughly and utterly corrupt by the time it compared the Scriptures to its own teaching and thereby decided which Scriptures were in the canon and which were not? If we disagreed so much with the Scriptures, do you really think we would have included them in the canon?

The problem I see with "sola scriptura" is not that it is too strict but that it isn't strict enough. There are too many ways to interpret Scripture and it is too easy to do so in a fleshly manner. That is why it is necessary for the Holy Spirit to guide us through the church. Jesus said:

"But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13)

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26)

So Jesus promised the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This is in sharp contrast to "sola scriptura" churches, who so disagree among themselves that they have resigned themselves to never knowing the whole truth. Oh, sure, they have their preferred interpretation of Scripture, but it's either "As long as you believe the basics of the Gospel that's all you need" or "If you don't believe what I believe, you're going to Hell".

I tried reading the Scriptures, and I did so rejecting all tradition. The more I studied Scripture and the more I saw what "sola-scriptura" Christians taught and believed and justified from the Scripture, the more unworkable I saw "sola scriptura" to be.

July 28, 2006 8:24 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Eric Ewanco has left a new comment on your post "Peter, Linus, Clement.........John Paul 2, Benedict 16":

Faithful:

A challenge:

1) Prove to me from Scripture alone that polygamy is absolutely unconditionally immoral.

2) In Mark 10:18, Jesus said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone." Justify the deity of Christ on the basis of this verse.

July 28, 2006 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

Tiber Jumper: First, let me assure you of my personal respect for you. You are a gentleperson, and I appreciate and respect that. Thank you; I aspire to gentility as well.

Second: No, I am not protesting Rome or any other denomination. I merely came across a website which was making inaccurate statements about the non-Roman view, the Scriptures, and church history, and responded by offering correction. This is my avocation, my burden, and my gift: Teaching God's truth to those who either don't know it or don't accept it.

Third: Yes, the "sola scriptura" church exactly mirrors the early church in its vivacity, variety, energy, and enthusiasm. This is what most convinces me that we "sola scritpura" Christians are on the right track: Our modern writings strongly parallel the collegiate and lively writings of the early church period. The Roman church, by contrast, is completely Sardian: They claim a unity of orthodoxy, but have no energy or life. And, in fact, the claim of orthodox unity is a false claim: The Roman church is absolutely riddled with heretics and false teachers - and I mean, heresy and false teachings according to the Roman church, not just according to my "Protestant" views. Roman authorities teach error all the time - error as defined by the Roman church!

And history bears witness that the "infallible teaching authority" has no power to preserve the truth. In the ancient days of Christianity, the church relied on the Scriptures, and we had an energetic church. In the Medieval period, the Scriptures were lost to the people, cloistered, and so the laity were obliged to rely on the "infallible teaching authority" of the church (in the West, at least) - and the Medieval church was eaten through with superstition, falsehood, and darkness. In the modern era, we rely on the Scriptures, and we have a vibrant, excited, lively church again. You do the math.

Fourth: Surely, you are just sporting with me regarding the origin of the Scriptures! Scripture is Scripture because it is breathed by God, not because the church says it is Scripture. I agree with you that the process of collating the individual Scriptures into one book was the work of the church. (But not the Roman Catholic church, since the Roman Catholic church did not exist until the 16th century. Actually, a far better case could be made for the Scriptures being compiled by the Eastern church than by the Roman church. Rome had only a bit part in the council of Nicaea. Remember: Nicaea is an Eastern city.)

But it seems that all you are saying is that the church did the binding. Well, I'm grateful for the binding. But it is not the church which determines what belongs in the binding. It is God, in the fact that he himself authored the Scriptures. I fully agree that God worked through his church to bind the Bible. But this is not because God invested some infallible teaching authority in the church, nor because God sets the authority of the church over the authority of his Word. It is just that he often chooses to use fallible men to accomplish his infallible ends.

In addition, it is clear what is Scripture and what is not by the origin of the books: The witness of an Apostle (one of the Thirteen) or a Prophet (in the case of the Old Testament), plus the preservation of God, defines the canonicity of a work. This is why Philemon is included in the canon.

As a "baby Christian", I relied completely on the church's binding job, accepting the Bible as such only because it said "Holy Bible" on the cover. As I have matured, I have dug into the question of canonicity rather a bit more than most (though not to the depth that some have), and have walked away with a certain assurance that Scripture is Scripture, clearly exalted above all pseudocanonical or deuterocanonical works. So, yes, I have checked into it. Here is my challenge for the inquirer: Go ahead and look at those other ancient works for yourself, and see if you don't agree that the Bible stands well apart from those works. I think you will.

Oh, and by the way - I don't completely "reject all tradition". I often refer to it. But I know the proper relationship between tradition and Scripture: Tradition is a work of man which must be tested against the infallible Word of God, the Holy Scriptures - not the other way 'round.

Also, your cites of John 14:26 and 16:13 don't prove your case, they prove mine. Jesus is not here promising the Spirit as a guide for some select Magesterium, but for all of the disciples (an unknown number, possibly 120 or so - see Acts 1:15). You would have to read the concept of the Magesterium into the text - which you are doing. I choose to accept the text for what it says: It is a promise to all Christians that the inner, abiding presence of the Holy Spirit will lead them, personally and individualy, in discerning the truth (cf James 1:5). This is the obvious meaning of those texts in context.

Now, I have three bits of houskeeping:

First, you made some minor edits to my previous post - only formatting, but still, if you are going to post my writings, I would prefer that you post them verbatim. This is a courtesy which I would certainly accord you, if our roles were reversed.

Second, I wish that you would post my reply to Dorothy. I realize that it demonstrates that infant baptism is un-Scriptural (and so works against your views), but I don't want her to think that I ignored her. It would be rude of me not to answer her, don't you think? I would appreciate it if you didn't make me look rude.

Third: I welcome emails! My email address (with cloaking turned on) is theshuberts at Yahoo (dot com, of course). Please don't hesitate to write me. I love mannerly conversation!

Again, thanks for your good-natured approach. It's rare - and welcome!

July 28, 2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Faithful states that the writers of Scripture "certainly knew they were writing by authority of God." I disagree with this and so does Scripture! Paul in 1 Cor 7 in his treatise on marriage says basically: " This is my opinion, I am saying this not the Lord" That doesn't sound too authoritative to me? So I guess I shouldn't accept what Paul says here because he tells us this is his idea and he is explicitly not speaking from the Lord's authority?

Don't think so? He makes it even clearer here:

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord):


So what is so authoritative about that when the writer himself says he is speaking from his own view and not necessarily the Lord's? So if Faithful is true to his sytem of Sola Scriptura Bible interpretation, he would not accept Paul's writings about marriage because Paul himself is telling us these are not the Lord's commands!

Obviously, I believe that Paul's words even if spoken from his own opinion are intended by the Holy Spirit to be followed, but I believe this because an extra Biblical source tells me this is the Word of God.....The Catholic Church.

So Faithful's comment that all of Scripture has "the tenor of Thus says the Lord" isn't true. According to Faithful's fallible interpretation it has the recurring "thus says the Lord tenor" but not according to my plain reading of Scripture. So who is right?

C'mon Faithful! Does Philemon really have a "thus says the Lord" tenor?
Or how about when Paul tells us to baptize people in proxy for the dead?
Is that clear cut and easily interpretable? No, but we believe it is the Word of God because Jesus's Church says it is. Not because IMHO it sounds like it is the word of God by your private inspiration.

July 28, 2006 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

Eric Ewanco challenges:
1) Prove to me from Scripture alone that polygamy is absolutely unconditionally immoral.

Faithful replies:
In Matthew 19, Jesus tells us that, if a man improperly divorces his wife and marries another, he is guilty of adultery. This tells us two things: First, that God sees the original marriage as being intact. Second, the man is not at liberty to have a second wife. Thus, the New Testament teaching is clealy one of monogamy.

Eric Ewanco challenges:
2) In Mark 10:18, Jesus said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone." Justify the deity of Christ on the basis of this verse.

Faithful replies:
Do you mean, prove from this verse alone that Jesus is God the Son? Why would I do that? Scripture avers the deity of Christ so effectively in other places: John 1, Colossians 1, Philippians 2, Hebrews 1. Not sure what you are getting at, here. The doctine of sola scriptura does not teach that any individual verse is adequate, on its own, to teach all truth - but rather that the Bible as a whole is adequate.

Tiber Jumper says:
Faithful states that the writers of Scripture "certainly knew they were writing by authority of God." I disagree with this and so does Scripture! Paul in 1 Cor 7 in his treatise on marriage says basically: " This is my opinion, I am saying this not the Lord" That doesn't sound too authoritative to me? So I guess I shouldn't accept what Paul says here because he tells us this is his idea and he is explicitly not speaking from the Lord's authority?

Don't think so? He makes it even clearer here:

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord):

Faithful replies:
You are making my point for me. Paul clearly understood that he was writing what the Lord had given him to write - hence, verse 10, "...I command, yet not I, but the Lord...". The Apostle Paul was personally doubtful in only one case - that of I Corinthians 7:12. But, of course, I Corinthians as a whole is canonical, as all agree, and as God intended. So, though Paul was personally doubtful, we can be assured.

The point is, that the Apostle Paul was doubtful about the inspiration, the divine origin, of only one point in his entire corpus. Did he otherwise know he was writing "Thus saith the Lord?" The answer, obviously, is Yes!

Furthermore, while I agree that Scripture is perspicuous (i.e., it uses ordinary language in ordinary ways to express extraordinary truths), you and I both agree that there are parts which are hard to understand. I don't deny that; Scripture teaches it (II Peter 3:15-16). The things which are hard to understand, according to Peter, are some writings of Paul, specifically related to eschatology. But such things affords us an opportunity to "love God with" our "mind", searching out the meaning of these things. It is not, and never was intended to be, an opporunity for church leaders to step in an adopt the mantle of the infallible mediators of truth. Scripture was meant to be read by all, and understood by - not bound up under lock and key and doled out in Sunday readings.

Now, Does Philemon have a "thus saith the Lord" tenor? I say, yes! You say, no! Apparently, your denomination disagrees with you, though, because they classify Philemon as the Word of God, thereby recognizing as having divine authority. And just because the Apostle Paul was polite and discreet does not reduce the divine authority with which he writes. More to the point, as I said in a recent (as yet unposted) reply, Philemon is a preserved writing of an Apostle, one of the thirteen - which automatically makes it canonical.

Further, the passage in I Corinthians 15 does not necessarily specify proxy baptism, as you certainly should already know. It could well refer to the early Christian practice of baptizing believers in the graveyard, as a testimony to Jesus' power over death. Surely, you don't mean to say that you believe that Paul was telling Christians to be proxy-baptized for the dead! Do you?

In the process of critiquing sola scriptura, you are laying down a withering critique of Scripture. Is this really what you intend to do? Must you denigrate Scripture in order to elevate tradition? Or can you not find a way to respect both?

July 28, 2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

I would never denigrate Scripture. In my church at Mass we stand when the words of Jesus are read and the priest kisses the gospel after reading it. Devout Catholics have an extreme love of Scripture. St. Jerome said "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." It is God's Word, but just like St. Augustine I only believe it is God's word because the Church tells me that. I, in my own fallible way might read a passage of Paul(baptizing people on behalf of the dead), or James (Man is justified by works and not faith alone)
and decide it doesn't have the "evangelium" on it and choose not to call it inspired! Men of much greater theological learning than I have made that mistake and have tried to rewite their own canon of Scripture.
I use these examples in a "hyperbolus" way to illustrate that Sola Scriptura and Faithful's view that if you just pray and ask God he will give the "right interpretation" doesn't work in practice.
The Supreme Court has the authority to interpret the Constitution. The Constitution would not be as helpful to us without the authority to interpret it. With private interpretation of the Constitution, our states would always be at the brink of Civil War with eachother over differences of interpretation.
This is an analogy of why we have been given a Church that the gates of hell won't prevail against.

July 28, 2006 4:45 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Faithful has left a new comment on your post "Peter, Linus, Clement.........John Paul 2, Benedict 16":

dorothy said:
My husband and I have spent a long time searching for truth. We too believe that the Bible is the Word of God. We have searched Scripture and asked the Holy Spirit to guide us. However, neither “Scripture nor spiritual prompting” have caused us to come to agreement on baptism. He believes that it is merely symbolic and that we should wait to baptize our son until he reaches the “age of accountability” and can decide for himself, that way his baptism will be meaningful for him “a public proclamation of his faith.” When I search Scriptures I see something very different. I see that baptism seems necessary for salvation. Note this quote from my pastor.

Faithful replies:
Dorothy: I can understand a reasonable confusion about baptism. Certainly, there are a few Bible texts which "muddy the waters" (sorry 'bout the pun). But I do not think that your confusion lies in your reliance on Scripture. Rather, your confusion lies in your reliance on extra-Scriptural teachings and teachers. For example, you cite your pastor as authoritative here. Giving too much credence to denominational leaders like your pastor or the Pope only exacerbates this kind of concern.

I will not attempt here to untangle the baptism question, except to try to reassure you regarding your son: First, baptism is clearly only for believers. Mark 16:16 is commonly cited as a proof text for baptismal salvation: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Even if you conclude from this verse that baptism is necessary for salvation, you must see that belief (cognizant faith) is necessary before baptism. Is your son a true believer? And if he is not, do you really expect baptism to accomplish anything?

Second, remember that Jesus promised the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise - no baptism!

God will not condemn your son because you didn't check all the boxes. Even if choosing not to baptize your son is sin, it is your sin, not his.

The main point, though, is to continue to seek the Lord and his truth. Maybe you and your pastor are wrong. Do you have the faith in God to do as the Psalmist exhorts us?

Ps 37:7a Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.

July 28, 2006 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faithful says to Dorothy:

"Maybe you and your pastor are wrong" Do you have the faith in God to do as the Psalmist exhorts us?"

My question is how does Faithful know ? Surely he can't be implying that Dorothy, husband and Pastor all don't have enough faith and aren't waiting on the Lord enough to come up with the correct interpretation of Scripture?

The pastor, Dorothy and her husband are obviously faithful believers trying to do their best to serve and love the Lord and to seek His will. Why can't these three good Christian people inspired by the same Holy Spirit come up with the one true interpretation of Scripture regarding what Baptism means. This is not a small issue and does it not point out the conumdrum of "solas scripturas" or at the very least point out that it isn't working currently for Dorothy and her husband?

July 28, 2006 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

anonymous said:
My question is how does Faithful know ? Surely he can't be implying that Dorothy, husband and Pastor all don't have enough faith and aren't waiting on the Lord enough to come up with the correct interpretation of Scripture?

Faithful replies:
Actually, Dorothy's situation proves my point. Dorothy's pastor claims apostolic authority and that his teachings are "God's present, inspired truth", authoritative for all of God's church. Hmmm. Sounds familiar. Sounds... Roman. Her reliance on this man, who claims to be the authority, is not faithful believing of God, but trusting in fallible human authorities. I can't tell you what her pastor's game is, but his claims make him... suspect... at best. I wasn't able to analyze enough of his web materials to be sure what he is relying on, but I can tell you right now that it is not Scripture. His writings are reminiscent of Oneness Pentecostal writings. But whatever his background or influences, the guy looks like a control freak to me. Have a look at his website and see if you think I'm wrong. But personally, I would steer clear of him.

The problem, then, is not reliance on Scripture. It is reliance on man. Which is the same problem which the Roman church suffers.

Why anyone would think it wrong to prayerfully and humbly search the Scritpures in order to determine God's will is beyond me. And why anyone would think that relying on human authorities - whom the Scriptures clearly warn us to be fallible - instead of reading, knowing, and trusting the Scriptures - is also beyond me. But people do it all the time.

July 28, 2006 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Prodigal Daughter said...

Faithful said:

"Why anyone would think it wrong to prayerfully and humbly search the Scritpures in order to determine God's will is beyond me."

After reading through your responses to Tiber Jumper, I’ve noticed a common theme. You seem to be of the assumption that every person can read and understand Scripture. Let’s say a person is too young, illiterate, mentally challenged, too poor to afford a Bible, or does not have the Bible in his or her native language. Surely you agree that these folks are incapable of searching the Scriptures. How would you advise them to discover what is true?

July 28, 2006 10:27 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

I am puzzled by Faithful's comment that the Roman Catholic Church did not exist before the Council of Trent. There was only the Eastern and Western Christian churches? What Church was Augustine referring to in his writings in the fourth century if not the Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church is the Catholic Church and should be referred to as such(without "the adjective Roman), so perhaps because the word Roman wasn't used, Faithful believes the Catholic Church didn't exist before the reformation? It would be eisegesis to go back and say that the myriad of writers in the first few centuries meant the universal with a small "c" catholic church whenever they referred to the Catholic Church. The historical record can't be denied and the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus started when he called Peter the Rock and gave him the keys.

"We must hold to the Christian religion and to communication in her Church, which is catholic and which is called catholic not only by her own members but even by all her enemies. For when heretics or the adherents of schisms talk about her, not among themselves but with strangers, willy-nilly they call her nothing else but Catholic. For they will not be understood unless they distinguish her by this name which the whole world employs in her regard" (The True Religion 7:12 [A.D. 390]).

"We believe in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church; for heretics and schismatics call their own congregations churches. But heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently, neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church; not heretics, because the Church loves God, and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor" (Faith and Creed 10:21 [A.D. 393]).

...

""If you should find someone who does not yet believe in the gospel, what would you [Mani] answer him when he says, ‘I do not believe’? Indeed, I would not believe in the gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so" (ibid., 5:6).

In the Catholic Church . . . a few spiritual men attain [wisdom] in this life, in such a way that . . . they know it without any doubting, while the rest of the multitude finds [its] greatest safety not in lively understanding but in the simplicity of believing. . . . [T]here are many other things which most properly can keep me in her bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority,
inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15–17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

This above statement by St. Augustine
makes me think (of course with my Catholic bias turned way up) that the Catholic Church was a real , physical and present entity in the early world. Not just an invisible "universal" group of like-minded christians meeting in homes, cell groups, etc. (Of course they did meet privately when it was illegal to be a Christian)

July 29, 2006 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

Prodigal Daughter says:
After reading through your responses to Tiber Jumper, I’ve noticed a common theme. You seem to be of the assumption that every person can read and understand Scripture. Let’s say a person is too young, illiterate, mentally challenged, too poor to afford a Bible, or does not have the Bible in his or her native language. Surely you agree that these folks are incapable of searching the Scriptures. How would you advise them to discover what is true?

Faithful responds:
Since salvation is not by theological knowledge, but by faith in Christ (Romans 10:9) access to and understanding of the Scriptures is not required to receive the gift of eternal life or the indwelling of the Spirit. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," but in so saying, the Apostle Paul means a response to Biblical preaching (i.e., preaching which agrees with Biblical truth). But the Christian who has the Scriptures certainly enjoys an enormous benefit from reading, knowing, and trusting all that God has said. And the Christian who has the opportunity to know the Word of God but refuses it is certainly to be censured. Christianity is not technocratic, is not gnostic. We are saved by the indwelling person of Christ in the person of his Spirit - not by Bible study. But we are certainly enjoined to Bible study by God.

Interestingly, Tiber Jumper's quote of Augustine answers your question the same way I do.

Then, Tiber Jumper says:
I am puzzled by Faithful's comment that the Roman Catholic Church did not exist before the Council of Trent. There was only the Eastern and Western Christian churches? What Church was Augustine referring to in his writings in the fourth century if not the Catholic Church.

Faithful replies:
Actually, in Augustine's day, there was (relative) unity between the Eastern and Western churches. When I say that there was only Eastern and Western Christianity, I am, of course, referring to the time when the church was divided. This division was most pronounced after the mutual excommunication between the Eastern and Western churches in 1054 AD (the "Greek Schism" or "Great Schism"), but had its roots in divisions which preceeded the schism for several centuries. As you know, one of the chief disagreements was precisely the question of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome: The Eastern church denied it, and still does.

Let me say this plainly: The division between the Eastern church and the Western church, chiefly over the authority of the Bishop of Rome, clearly disproves the notion that Christianity was universally Roman and Papal before the Reformation. Such a notion could only be a Western conceit, and only taken seriously in the West.

I cannot stress this too strongly: The concept of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome is strictly a Western idea. For over a millennium, Eastern Christians have rejected it, including Christians from the most ancient sees of all of Christendom. East of Albania, Christians laugh at the concept of the Primacy of the Pope.

Over the course of Christian history, several ecclesiastical words changed in meaning. For instance, a "papas" was, from about the third century to (oh, say) the seventh century, a term for any bishop. Today, the term has changed meaning in the west to refer to the Bishop of Rome. The term "catholic" meant only "universal", and simply referred to the whole church of Jesus Christ, including all of its many branches and members. This was so for centuries, and only over the course of centuries did the meaning of the adjective change to become a denominational reference.

It is clear, from the quote you provided above, that Augustine was influential in the process of redefining the term "catholic" to refer to a specific denomination. You can see by the controversial nature of the quote that he is propounding a stricter definition of the word "catholic" than many in his day were used to - i.e., "catholic" becomes "Catholic". But the fact remains that the word "catholic" was originally a general-purpose Greek adjective, even among early Christians, and not a technical term for a branch of Christendom. Many modern dictionaries still define the term in its general sense first, and the denominational (ecclesiastical) sense second.

I don't deny that the term "catholic" has been redefined over the ages to refer to the Roman church. I have already said that it has. The specific process which produced this redefinition is only an academic question: It remains a historical fact that Christians once used the term differently than they do today. So, reading "Roman" into the term "catholic" as used by early Christians is eisegesis. The way that I use the term is the technically correct one.

I am in favor of restoring the original, Christian definition of the term "catholic". This is why I only use "Catholic" as a synonym for the Roman church when talking to Romans - because they don't know any better. But (and contrary to your assertion,) the Roman church is not the catholic church. According to the original definition of the Greek word, according to the original Christian use of the term, I am a member of the catholic church, and my church (a Bible church,) is where the catholic church meets. The Roman church is up the road a pace, in town.

You should also note that, in order to support your notion of Roman primacy, you must resort to a human being who, though considered a Doctor of the Church, can hardly be called infallible - and him writing 400 years after the foundation of the catholic church! Romans have great difficulty with Augustine's view of predestinationism - in fact, I would say his views support Calvinism better than anything (and I'm not a Calvinist). Yet somehow, you feel that you can pick and choose between Augustine's ideas, selecting the ones which support your denominational teachings, and rejecting the ones which don't. Now, who was eisegeting history again?

It is ever thus: The Roman says that the Scriptures support him, but when you actually pull out the Scriptures, he says that tradition supports him. When you open the book of history, he says that his Church supports him. Which last statement is the only accurate one.

July 29, 2006 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Faithful said...

Dear Tiber Jumper,

It is with some regret that I report that I must depart this venue. I have co-opted your blog for long enough. The discussion has been interesting, engaging, and mannerly, but I realize that I am an interloper here, imposing myself upon your good graces. This being your forum, you certainly should have the right of last word, which I grant to you with as much grace as possible. Of course, if you wish, you know how to reach me by email.

If I may recap my position once more, I will be done:

1) The Scriptures, when read according to ordinary rules of language, dispute many essential Roman doctrines. Romans are aware of this fact, which is why they argue their case from tradition, rather than from the Scriptures.

2) Tradition, embodied in the writings of ancient Christians, does not universally support the Roman view. Indeed, in many cases, the Roman view is the minority. There is no unam voce, even among highly-reputed writers like the Apostolic Fathers or the Doctors of the Church. One has to pick one's way carefully through ancient Christian writings in order to substantiate Roman doctrine.

3) The Roman church did not properly exist until the Council of Trent, which repudiated the attempt to reform Western Christianity. Before that time, Western Christianity was collegiate in nature. After that time, many non-Biblical doctrines became de fidei teachings of the newly-separated Roman Church.

4) The Scriptures teach sola scriptura, because they disclaim every authority but themselves (including tradition and the leaders of the church), concluding those putative authorities as fallible, while elevating themselves as infallible. Further, the Scriptures teach that eternal life can be had by reading and believing the Scriptures alone, without the necessity of any intervention of any man.

5) I am a member in good standing of the church which Jesus Christ established, the catholic church. As a member of a reformist church, I am part of the ebullient, energetic, vital movement in Christianity which is advancing the ancient, glorious, lively Gospel of Jesus Christ into the world of darkness and unbelief.

6) Every Christian who has access to a Bible is obliged to take up that Bible and to know the word of God. No exceptions.

I hope that you all have been challenged and stimulated by this discussion. I know that I have.

Now, Tiber Jumper, the rest is up to you.

July 29, 2006 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Prodigal Daughter said...

Dear Faithful,

I have tried to read Scripture and understand it for myself, but it is sometimes very confusing. You talk about preaching that “agrees with Biblical truth.” Which preacher do I choose then? Dorothy’s pastor? Pat Robertson? Charles Stanley? Benny Hinn? Joel Ostein? You? All of you claim to agree with Biblical truth!

For me, your argument about using Scripture alone to understand truth is not only illogical, it is impractical. It is illogical because a document can never be self authenticating. If I put at the bottom of this post, “This is the Word of God,” would that validate my writing as such? Your Sola Scriptura argument is also impractical. Very few people have the time, or intelligence to pick up a Bible and figure out what it is saying about many profound theological truths such as the Holy Trinity, Baptism, Faith and Works, Justification, Heaven, Hell, or the End Times. From all that you have written, I might believe that you have taken the time to do this, but surely you must admit that most people do not. So I go back to my original question where are they to go for “responsible preaching?”

Since I have converted, one of the greatest freedoms I have ever known is that when I am confused about something the Bible says, I don’t have to read 5 commentaries, or go to 4 different churches, or listen to 3 different TV preachers, or argue with 2 other Christians. Instead I can trust in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church who has been teaching the same truths without error for 2000 years!

July 29, 2006 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

This is an odd sort of "reply" in that I post it not to address the substance of the thread, but to alert you that I intend to post letters addressing it sometime later.

This is because the total thread hits upon many interesting subjects that I feel I'd need to address in considerable depth, and which will open even more subjects. Alas, I've not many blocks of time available, so submission will have to wait.

Additionally, I need to frame such responses in a manner that does not make dishonest use (whether explicitly or implicitly) of Faithful's having already withdrawn from the conversation. to explain: though I find that some of Faithful's assertions and / or conclusions fall short of the test of actual history, catechesis, dogma and scripture, I commend Faithful's respectful, genial and personally honest attitude.

Respecting his desire to disengage, I do not intend to post letters that extend the conversation / debate; that is, it's not my intent to post challenges and offer counterarguments, then pretend that non-response somehow equates to evidence supporting the strength of my own position (which mainly lines up with Tiber’s).

All this to say... I have some thoughts to add to this discussion, but please be patient.

July 31, 2006 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Tiber:

While taking stock of comments I "owe," I came across this thread and rediscovered that I'd promised to address it.

I hope you and your readers can forgive me for having forgotten about it; though indeed, I've addressed some of the issues in other discussions on your blog.
--Theo

October 03, 2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

No need for apologies Theo. Your posts are full of richness and are well worth waiting for. Thanks for contributing and adding so much to understanding of this great faith!
God bless you

October 03, 2006 8:08 PM  

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