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.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sola Shakespeara


I found this very interesting comment on Dave Hartline's blog. This simple analogy beats most apologetic arguments I have read regarding sola scriptura!

Julie writes:

"Another thing I have never been able to understand about the Protestant line of thought is, why IS it OK for me to interpret the Bible however I want, so long as it is not Catholic teaching? I can be an authority, but not the Church. It's like in Shakespeare class, I was always glad when the instructor explained things to us, because, well, she had years of study, and I didn't, and she knew background that I didn't. If she would have said: "You are on your own. It is 'Shakespeare alone', " I probably would have flunked the class. "

Yes my friends, using Sola Shakespeara may cause you to flunk the class!

37 Comments:

Blogger Adoro Te Devote said...

PRICELESS!

"'Tis true, 'tis pity; "Tis pity, tis, tis true! .. " Polonius, Hamlet (I may have misquoted, but then again, I like it this way best)

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in its petty pace from day to day, and all our yesterdays are lighted fools, the way to dusty death. Out, Out! Brief candle, walking shadow, poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then heard no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury...signifying nothing."

Let's discuss the above passage and what it means to us in today's society. We don't need the pesky context or cultural understanding of the time this was written! Pshaw!


I could go on....

:-)

November 17, 2006 10:35 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thous speakest true oh Adoro.
How the veracity of thine principled
manner brings to illumination the intentions of thine understanding.

Yes, somehow the idea of attempting to read scripture without historical context and without the aid of the Holy Spirit through the Church He started is going to be problematic as interpreting shakespeare from a high schooler's perspective.

November 18, 2006 4:37 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

"Yes, somehow the idea of attempting to read scripture without historical context and without the aid of the Holy Spirit through the Church He started is going to be problematic as interpreting shakespeare from a high schooler's perspective."

Again, I have to ask, does anyone know what the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is? William Whittacker more than explained the doctrine in his work Disputations On Holy Scripture in 1588. Yet the definitions and arguments supporting Sola Scrpitura seem to be unknown as clearly the above statement demonstrates. Over 400 years of definition from the Reformation's perspective being just ignored can't be just a mistake. Can it? Yet, no matter how often it is defined, it is redefined by RCs.

November 20, 2006 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luther wrote, “If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of the councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of the faith.” (Epis. ad Zwingli).

November 20, 2006 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Howard,
Hm. Well do Protestants in general have a clear idea of what the doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" is? If not, I would say that is a problem also. "RC"s seem to be attacked quite frequently on this basis. I would expect my attackers to know what they are talking about. Alas, it seems they often don't on many counts. That is why Catechism in the Catholic Church is so vitally important.

November 21, 2006 9:09 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Howdy Julie,

"I would expect my attackers to know what they are talking about. Alas, it seems they often don't on many counts. That is why Catechism in the Catholic Church is so vitally important."

First of all, I use a catechism with my children. The fact that so many Protestants don't is irresponsible.

This brings me to respond to the first part of the quote. Should we then go to the worst arguments and beliefs of those with whom we disagree? In other words, should I cite RC layman who don't know what they are talking about and then rip them apart? If I did, would that not make you a little upset that I would "Attack" the worst arguments instead of the best Rome has to offer?

My point is I am not attacking anyone. I was simply pointing out that the misrepresentation of Sola Scriptura and the refutations of them prove nothing. So after 400 years we still have the same distortions being asserted over and over and over....

The Assembly of God church (of which I used to be a member) has serious consistency problems. They claim to believe in Scripture Alone, but then deny it in a variety of ways. Bad theology leads to bad.......

Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument, and using a former Assemblies Pastor who doesn't understand Sola Scriptura to refute it demonstrates just that sign.

God Bless

November 22, 2006 12:16 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Well, hello, Howard. God Bless!
What is your definition of Sola Scriptura?

November 22, 2006 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Howard wrote in part:

"They claim to believe in Scripture Alone, but then deny it in a variety of ways."
----

Howard, my brother,

You've been unable or unwilling to explain how you know whatever it is you call "Scripture" is in fact authoritative at all, let alone the only authority.

You've been unable or unwilling to explain what *you* know is Scripture.

How can you hold others to what you can't define for yourself?

With continued prayers for your blessing,
--Theo

November 22, 2006 9:28 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

OK, Theo, I'll bite. I have had this conversation time and again. I have tried to discuss with you my epistemology. I have asked you many questions in which you say you will have to respond later, yet I never get a response. My responses have been about RC converts not understanding what Sola Scriptura is and then refuting what their misunderstanding is. What your response has to do with what I said I do not know.

Your bringnig up "how" one know the canon and what Protestants have historically taught Sola Scriptura to be verses what is said here are different conversations. I realize they are related, but not necessarily the same thing. So I am not holding anyone to a higher standard. If a former Protestant pastor is going to redefine what Sola Scriptura is then his argument must be weighed accordingly. My "attacking" his misrepresentation is not out of line. There are many books on the subject that answer your questions. I have an MP3 file of a chapter of a particular book. I am going to try to get permission to give it to you.

As I have stated many times, your position on how one knows what is Canonical only sets the question back one and becomes circular. You accept Rome as your ultimate authority. You argue that if I do not, then I must use gnostic means to know what is Canonical.

I have already stated that many have already explained how the Canon came to be accepted from a Protestant perspective historically. I didn't think I needed to reinvent the wheel. The fact that so many Protestants have no idea what the doctrine is does not mean Rome is right. My point in the earlier responses is that taking the worst arguments and defeating them is meaningless to those who seek truth with integrity.

So back to my biting the bait. Sir, since I cannot know what is Scripture without Rome, could you tell me where I am wrong? If we do this perhaps an email exchange would be better or on a BBS somewhere? That way, if there is much time involved in our responses to each other, we would not miss them.

God Bless

November 22, 2006 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Howard,
Again, what is your definition of Sola Scriptura?
Thanks.

November 22, 2006 8:44 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

I really hate to post this here since it is not my Blog and it is not the intention of Tiber to get this much here, but perhaps this will help some of those who misunderstand Scripture Alone. I already know what objections will be stated which is why I think this should be taken somewhere else since there is no way in which I could do that here without turning this Blog into something that it is not. If Tiber wishes not to post all of this that is fine.

Here is a portion of the LBCF 1689 chapter 1:

1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible (a) rule of all saving Knowledge, Faith and Obedience; Although the (b) light of Nature, and the works of Creation and Providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will, which is necessary unto Salvation. (c) Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that His will unto his Church; and afterward for the better preserving, and propagating of the Truth, and for the more sure Establishment, and Comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the World, to commit the same wholly unto (d) writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of Gods revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
a 2 Tim. 3 15,16,17. Isa. 8. 20. Luk. 16. 29,31. Eph. 2. 20.
b Rom. 1. 19,20,21. &c. ch 2. 14,15. Psal. 19. 1,2,3.
c Heb. 1. 1.
d Pro. 22. 19,20,21. Rom. 15. 4. 2 Pet. 1. 19,20.


4. The Authority of the Holy Scripture for which it ought to be believed dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon (g) God (who is truth it self) the Author thereof; therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.
g 2 Pet. 1. 19,20,21. 2 Tim. 3. 16. 2 Thes. 2. 13. 1 Joh. 5. 9.

5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church of God, to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the Doctrine, and the Majesty of the stile, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God) the full discovery it makes of the only way of mans salvation, and many other incomparable Excellencies, and intire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence it self to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding; our (h) full perswasion, and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our Hearts.
h Joh. 16. 13,14. 1 Cor. 2. 10,11,12. 1 John 2. 2.20.27.

7. All things in Scripture are not alike (m) plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for Salvation, are so (n) clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.
m 2 Pet. 3. 16.
n Ps. 19. 7. and 119. 130.
9. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the (u) Scripture it self: And therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold but one) it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.
u 2 Pet. 1. 20,21. Act. 15. 15,16.

10. The supream judge by which all controversies of Religion are to be determined, and all Decrees of Councels, opinions of antient Writers, Doctrines of men, and private Spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which (x) Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.
x Mat. 22. 29.31. Eph. 2. 20 Acts 28. 23.


I recently wrote a letter to a RC stating, “The whole idea of, it is just Jesus and me sitting under a tree is simply nonsense (I understand that many evangelicals may practice what is not Sola Scriptura). Sola Scriptura never denies the need for pastors and teachers (ever hear of the Magisterial Reformers?). It never denies the role of the Spirit in giving different gifts to the body. It never denies grace or faith or the other things that God gives to His church. It does not even deny the authority of creeds and confessions, even though they are secondary and subservient to the Scriptures.”

A quote from Dr. White's book Scripture Alone:

"Scripture alone does not mean Scripture isolated."

A definition from the same book:

"The bible claims to be the sole and sufficient infallible rule of faith for the Christian church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement; their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation; their authority is not dependent upon man, church, or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating. The Christian church looks to the Scriptures as the only infallible and sufficient rule of faith, and the church is always subject to the Word, and is constantly being reformed thereby."

Again if there are further questions then please email me from my Blog.

God Bless

BTW Theo, I got permission to give away that chapter on MP3. I'll post it on my Blog.

November 22, 2006 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Dr. White is too agenda-driven to be an authority that I look to on these matters. That is me though, OK?
Howard, let me ask you this. How did the Bible come to be written? When was it written? And when was the Catholic Church (the earliest Christian church) founded?

November 24, 2006 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

By the way, this sounds like faulty logic:
"the church is always subject to the Word, and is constantly being reformed thereby."

Reformed??
So the church has "reformed" in 38,000 different versions. Interesting.
By the way, the Catholic Church also sees the Bible as the infallible word of faith.

November 24, 2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Julie,

"Reformed?? So the church has "reformed" in 38,000 different versions. Interesting. "

These kinds of things are often repeated and very easy to say. They may even be persuasive for some Protestants. But I see it as akin to a Protestant saying that RCs re-sacrifice Jesus on the Cross over and over again everytime they celebrate the Mass. Or perhaps I should respond by saying you worship Mary? Although there may be an element of truth to these statements, we both know it isn't very accurate from your perspective. Right?

Perhaps you believe in Partim/Partim? Or do you believe in material sufficiency? This is far more divisive in my mind than much that supposedly causes the supposed 38,000 number.

What about the Eastern Orthodox? They can trace their Traditions right back to the Apostles as well.

If this is the kind of thinking that you have then I'll just bow out. I am simply trying to point out that what is assumed to be Sola Scriptura is in fact a shallow understanding at best. It is not difficult to do a little googling to find out what the definition is with a little more accuracy.

BTW, Eric Svendsen has more than sufficiently answered that above quote if you care. Remember, repeating refuted argument may work for a while, but they will not persuade men who think through issues and refuse to accept circular and inconsistent ultimate authorities such as Rome's.

God Bless

November 24, 2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Howard --
I quote heavily here. You will find no circular or inconsistent authorities here.
Difficulties with "Sola Scriptura" - meaning - if it can't be found in the bible then it is not trustworthy:
Nowhere in the bible does it say that the bible is the sole source of authority
*Paul tells us:
"So then, brethren,stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." 2 thes 2:15
Howard -- Here is a history of the Bible:
*"There was no Bible until about 400 A.D. The bible was put together by two councils of the (already called Catholic) Church at that time. Interestingly a study of the church at the time of the councils shows devotion to Mary and a focus on the real presence of the Eucharist. So the folks who assembled the inerrant Bible appear to be very Catholic!"
*"If there was no bible before 400 A.D, how could the people know the Word of God? the answer is that they had to make sure that the word they received had been passed down from the apostles."
There also is a related note:
There were very few bibles available till the invention of the printing press ~ 1400 a.d. What about those folks with no access to the Bible.
- "What would a protestant say if you asked him 'what is the pillar of truth?' Most would say the Bible. Paul says that the pillar of truth is 'the church of the living God.' (1 timothy 3:15) but which church?"
"All these points suggest that "bible alone" is a faulty concept. However, it is clear that nothing in Catholicism must contradict the bible. The concepts of devotion to Mary, purgatory and the real presence are NOT contradicted by the bible and one can see many passages that provide support for these concepts."
For BOTH sides of these arguments: catholicanswers.com and ewtn.com are excellent source for the catholic point of view.
Julie

November 25, 2006 11:11 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Julie,

"I quote heavily here. You will find no circular or inconsistent authorities here."

I am simply talking about presuppostions as to our ultimate authority. You must start with Rome. I start with God's Word.

I know what your immediate objection will be. You will ask "how" do I know what Scripture is without the church.

Again I could ask how do you know the church is the ultimate authority. You MUST use a circular argument to defend this.

Saying "There was no Bible until about 400 A.D." is stating your presuppositions quite clearly. I do not accept this since Jesus believed in God's Word and held men accountable to it long before AD 400.

You would not even know Jesus was the Messiah without the prophecy of His coming. All you would have is a man claiming He is God. How could Jesus demonstrate He was Messiah until His resurrection?

God Bless

November 25, 2006 7:05 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Julie, just a couple of other thoughts.

"*Paul tells us:
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." 2 thes 2:15"

Would this have been Scripture and authoritative prior to AD 400? Was it Scripture when Paul wrote it? If we were having a discussion in AD 200 about the role of Tradition, could you have quoted this to me then?

"However, it is clear that nothing in Catholicism must contradict the bible."

This states your presuppositions even more clearly. You see, if my church falls into error, she can be corrected by the Word of her Lord. If your falls into error, she must show that what she teaches is not in contradiction to the Scriptures.

Have you ever had a discussion with a Mormon who believes this exact thing? They can make their doctrines "fit" Scripture too. Have you ever spoken with a JW? Their view of the Watch Tower's authority is the same. This is the problem when you have external authorities that are equal to God's Word. So the differences among your 38,000 Protestants are nowhere near the differences with those who believe in other authorities equal to Scripture.

The question I have for you Julie is how do you know Rome is able to define what is and is not Scripture by her own authority (however you believe that authority is derived).

I also should probably clarify my last statement concerning Jesus being known to be Messiah without the Scriptures. I firmly believe that if there were no Scriptures, Jesus could just show up at any time and speak, and it would be binding on all men to obey whether there were any Scriptures or not. I am simply saying that because I accept Jesus as my ultimate autority, He is only demonstrating who is is and not proving that He is the Son of God. Jesus cannot prove anything. To do so would require Him to appeal to something higher than God. Therefore Jesus' appeal to the Scriptures were demonstrating His absolute authority.

Since you believe that noone could know what Scripture was until AD 400, why did Jesus appeals to Scripture's authority while walked along the road to Emmaus? "Luk 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Should they have responded, "Well Jesus, no will know what books are Scripture for another 400 years. So we don't accept what you are doing?"

Is Paul's argument that the Jews had an advantage over Gentiles by possessing the oracles of God in error.

Rom 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?
Rom 3:2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

Perhaps we should tell Paul he was in error here. "Well Paul, you misunderstand. There really is no advantage since Jews won't know what the Oracles of God are for another 400 years."

This really is a presuppositional issue. That is why I quoted the confession. Did you actually read it? I believe God has spoken. You believe Rome has spoken and defined the canon. You start with Rome. I start with God.

God Bless

November 26, 2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Here is a nice summary of a Catholic perspective of Sola Scriptura from Scott Carson's blog.
Here's a small excerpt, but one should go to his blog for the whole article.


" In point of fact, the documents of the New Testament derive their teaching authority not from their being part of the Canon, but rather they derive their being in the Canon by virtue of the teaching authority of the Church, which both produced them and put them into the Canon. To say that the Church's authority to interpret and teach from the scriptures disappeared once the Canon was settled is to beg the question; to say that the Church did not have the authority to interpret and teach from the Scriptures prior to the settling of the Canon is to say that nothing taught by the Church prior to the 16th century can count as authoritatively taught, including such doctrines as the Trinity and the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Presumably the defenders of the principle of sola Scriptura are Trinitarians in spite of the fact that being a Trinitarian is not warranted by Scripture alone, if by "alone" one means "independently of the Church's authority to interpret the meaning of Scripture."

http://examinelife.blogspot.com/2006/11/sola-scriptura-and-justification-sola.html

November 26, 2006 2:19 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

"To say that the Church's authority to interpret and teach from the scriptures disappeared once the Canon was settled is to beg the question; to say that the Church did not have the authority to interpret and teach from the Scriptures prior to the settling of the Canon is to say that nothing taught by the Church prior to the 16th century can count as authoritatively taught, including such doctrines as the Trinity and the divinity of the Holy Spirit."

Again, did anyone read what the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is? Noone who takes the doctrine seriously denies the authority of the church to interpret Scripture. So once again we Protestants respond and RCs seem to not have the ability to hear what is said.

This is simply more strawmen argumentation. They are easy to knock down though.

:-)

God Bless

November 26, 2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Howard says: "No one who takes the doctrine(of sola scriptura) seriously denies the authority of the church to interpret Scripture."

I disagree with Howard here.

I have read the definition of Sola Scriptura provided by LBCF and my impression is that it claims that only Scripture should interpret scripture and not the "authority of the church" as Howard stated above.


"The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture it self: And therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold but one) it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly."

Like the meaning of Baptism for instance? On such a serious issue of salvation many protestant sects claim entirely opposing interpretations of what Baptism represents, though each sect uses the LBCF formulae of allowing scripture to interpret scripture.
The first reformers Zwingli, Calvin and Luther argued vehemently with eachother regarding doctrine each basing their argument on the "LBCF model" of scripture interpretation. That to me shows that the LBCF explanation of Sola Scriptura is flawed. Even in the words of Spurgeon "It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered...."

So, maybe the LBCF if not inspired nor authoritative, could be wrong regarding the method of Scripture interpretation?

There is no end to this argument.
Catholics believe that Christ started a Church that gave us (through much debate, prayer, councils etc) the New Testament as well as the authority to interpret it. Protestants don't believe that. It's ok, we just have to agree to disagree and no clever argumentation will ever win the other's understanding of this.

November 26, 2006 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Howard wrote:
"I have already stated that many have already explained how the Canon came to be accepted from a Protestant perspective historically. I didn't think I needed to reinvent the wheel."

Howard:

I don't ask you to reinvent the wheel. I simply want to know what "wheel" you claim to be riding on.
Yes, indeed, “many have already explained how the Canon came to be accepted from a Protestant perspective historically.” Which of the thousands is the one you claim to be the truth? Which of the thousands of protestant claims about what *is* the correct cannon do *you* assert is true?
Why, Howard, do you lack enough courage to simply name the books that you assert are the sole authority for not only you, but every Christian? How do *you* Howard (not any other person who ever lived, but *you*) know that this list that you obviously believe absolute and complete is correct? “I have already stated that many have already explained how the Canon came to be accepted from a Protestant perspective historically” suggests you recognize some sort of Magesterium—perhaps—but it does not explain a thing about what *you* believe, or what it is you say *we all* should believe. You won’t even list the books that you assert all must obey and obey alone!

As I've pointed out, I know of a local "Baptist" church that claims only the Gospels as recorded in the KJV are scripture; all else is not. I tell you without hesitation: These people are wrong. Do you agree with my statement? Whether or not you do, you must have a reason--and by God (and I do not invoke Him in vain), at least tell *yourself* what that reason is.

Unless you answer the above, your implied claim that *you, yourself* adhere to “sola scriptura” is as on par with claiming you adhere to “sola Howard.”

I offer this challenge to your personal papacy with the love and encouragement for your growth in truth and grace, while I remain:
Your Brother in Christ,
---Theo

November 27, 2006 10:20 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

“I have read the definition of Sola Scriptura provided by LBCF and my impression is that it claims that only Scripture should interpret scripture and not the "authority of the church" as Howard stated above.”

Sir, is not the church with its authority (as written in the LBCF) still interpreting the Bible? The Scripture interprets Scripture is a hermeneutic. It simply is a method of interpretation. Since not all passages are equally clear as the same section states clearly, the church must interpret less clear or difficult passages in light of the clear ones. What is so difficult about that?

You use as an example of Baptism between certain sects “On such a serious issue of salvation many protestant sects claim entirely opposing interpretations of what Baptism represents”. What example could you provide? If you mean the church of Christ, they are in error and have denied the historic Protestant faith. Would not Mormons who use the same hermeneutic as you are considered as heretics? Yet I don’t see your consistency here.

In other word, if you say they are using the same method as I do, that leads to severe problems, you must be consistent and apply the same rules to yourself. I haven’t seen any Catholics doing so. The reason is simple. We both know that anyone can pervert anything even when that thing is as clear as John 3:16. (Have you listened to my sermon on that verse?)

If you are looking at the difference between Reformed Churches and Reformed Baptist churches, who take Sola Scriptura seriously, you will find the unity of the meaning of the Gospel is far greater than the unity within your own communion. The specific example I am thinking of is whether you believe in Partim/Partim or Material Sufficiency. Our own division within our communions on Baptism pales in comparison with your own. For we both believe in the “Doctrines of Grace”. Have you listened to the recent intramural debate between a RB and a Presbyterian on the issue of Baptism? You will find your argument overstated by a long shot.

Therefore we are far more unified than you let on.

“So, maybe the LBCF if not inspired nor authoritative, could be wrong regarding the method of Scripture interpretation?”

Here is what I am hearing. I am saying this so that you may gain a better understanding of where I am coming from.

“Why would you listen to the clear places of God’s spoken and Inscripturated Word to interpret some of the places He has spoken that are more difficult to understand?”

You start with your Traditions and then interpret Scripture. So the result is that no matter how clear a passage is, it becomes unclear and trumped by them.

“There is no end to this argument.
Catholics believe that Christ started a Church that gave us (through much debate, prayer, councils etc) the New Testament as well as the authority to interpret it.”

Yes, you are right. There is no end to this argument. It is circular. You start by saying that Catholics believe Christ started the church. Yet how do you know that? Your traditions or Scripture? Do you follow the “Spiral argument” that some have used?

BTW, Mormons argue the same thing. Should I accept their ultimate authority? Have you ever listened to a Mormon and RC argue their ultimate authorities?

This is what I mean when I say that I start with God’s Word and you must start with your ultimate authority, the Church of Rome.

God Bless

November 27, 2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"This is what I mean when I say that I start with God’s Word and you must start with your ultimate authority, the Church of Rome."

Howard:
Whether you admit it or not, what you are really saying is:
"This is what I mean when I say that I start with My interpretation of God’s Word and you must start with your ultimate authority, the Church of Rome."

Everyone, no matter who they are, or what they choose to believe has a magisterium or teaching authority that they submit themselves to. It may not be apparent to them and they believe their authority to interpret Scripture rests in the Scriptures itself as the LBCF states. But, in reality, it the religious group that they are presently aligned with and it's founders and teachers.
Yes , ours is the Catholic Church centered in Rome but universal.(your use of the term "Church of Rome" come across pejorative to me and I assume you didn't mean that to sound that way) In terms of interpretation of Scripture, Catholics believe it is the ultimate authority as you said above.
I agree with you that Catholics don't believe the pillar and foundation of all truth is the Bible. Catholics, using the magisterium's interpretation of Sacred Scripture, believe the Bible tells them that the Church(and its Sacred Tradition) is the foundation of all Truth, which includes, the ultimate authority to interpret Scripture. I have posted on the magisterium in the past and you may want to check that post.

BOTTOM LINE: Neither Howard nor TJ come to their belief system from a plain reading of Scripture. Neither started from "God's Word." They needed to read, hear, carefully pray, then agree to accept what others were saying about the Scriptures that formulated their belief sytem.
If that were the case, Howard wouldn't have spent years in the Assembly of God tradition reading the Bible carefully. If the "Scriptures interpreted Scripture" for him correctly as the LBCF states, He would have easily come up with the doctrines of limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints etc. Why didn't these doctrines of Calvinism just "jump" from the pages of holy writ the first time he cracked open a Bible? Actually, if he is honest, he will admit that he had to read commentary, talk with others, pray, meditate etc and eventually come to his reformed beliefs by accepting the "magisterium" of reformed theology . Now when he reads Scripture he says to himself "How can this mean anything other than limited atonement? How could I have been so wrong to believe all those A of G doctrines?" Apparently the A of G teachings "trumped" his understanding and made the passages "unclear."
Why didn't TJ come up with the sacramental system of Catholicism, the belief in purgatory, veneration of saints, intercession of Mary for her children the first time he cracked open his Zondervan leather bound pocket Bible, albeit incomplete missing a few books?
For the very same reason as Howard, TJ needed to read, pray, meditate and allow a magisterium, the Catholic Church show him the interpretation of Scripture that he has settled with. Now everytime I read scripture, I say , "how could I ever have believed you can't lose your salvation and that we aren't supposed to call Mary blessed?"
We all have a magisterium whether Catholic or Protestant. Catholics just admit it and are thankful for it!

November 27, 2006 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Tiber said....
"I agree with you that Catholics don't believe the pillar and foundation of all truth is the Bible."

----

Wow!
Tiber, you summed up sola scriptura and its refutation in one comment!

Sola scriptura asserts in practice, that the "Bible alone" is the pillar and foundation of all truth. The Bible asserts *literally* that *the Church* is the pillar and foundation of all truth.


The position of sola scriptura then becomes:
"I know by reason that the "Bible alone" is the pillar and foundation of all truth, that the "Bible alone" is *not* the pillar and foundation of all truth."

Egad! This beats the soft chocolate center out of the old, "Everything I say is a lie," logical paradox.

With brotherly love, admiration and humble thanks and prayers for your continued growth in knowledge and grace,
I remain,

Your Brother in Christ,
--Theo

November 27, 2006 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard said...
"Again, did anyone read what the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is? Noone who takes the doctrine seriously denies the authority of the church to interpret Scripture."


Huh? Are you saying you do not take the doctrine of sola scriptura seriously, or that that your personal authority is superior to the church's?

November 27, 2006 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Howard asked this of Tiber:
"You start by saying that Catholics believe Christ started the church. Yet how do you know that? Your traditions or Scripture?"

I offer this humble answer:

The Church first knew that Christ founded it by the very action and pronouncement of Christ Himself--you see--the Church *became* present when it happened.

As the Church grew, this knowledge spread through Apostolic teaching: through spoken word, thorough written word, through sacred tradition and eventually, also through Scripture.

Howard, as a brother I urge you to use the gift of reason that God has so generously given you for actual reasoning, rather than for petty debating and contract-like legalize rationalization. Please consider the parable of the talents. The lazy servant did not suspect that his failure to use the talents given him would disqualify him as a faithful servant and earn his master’s punishment. It did no good for the servant to appeal to his own understanding of the master’s contract.
Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your heart.

It is *indeed* up to you.
With hope and joy I remain,
Your Brother in Christ,
--Theo

November 27, 2006 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Howard,
Here is an excellent article regarding the Catholic stance.
Thanks to Catholic Report, a wonderful source for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. From Dr. Scott Carson:
http://examinelife.blogspot.com/2006/11/sola-scriptura-and-justification-sola.html

God bless.

November 27, 2006 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Tiber Jumper,
Sorry. Now I see that you have already cited the above mentioned blog! Thanks.

November 27, 2006 7:08 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

“If the "Scriptures interpreted Scripture" for him correctly as the LBCF states, He would have easily come up with the doctrines of limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints etc. Why didn't these doctrines of Calvinism just "jump" from the pages of holy writ the first time he cracked open a Bible?”

Here is the irony of your response. I did come to the Doctrines of Grace due to the Bible Alone. It was because I could see that the Assembly of God denomination was inconsistent in their own belief that I had to leave. For instance, the Scriptures plainly teach Election as taught by the Reformers. Therefore I was able to be corrected by Scripture.

“Everyone, no matter who they are, or what they choose to believe has a magisterium or teaching authority that they submit themselves to.”

I have already agreed to this several times now.

“It may not be apparent to them and they believe their authority to interpret Scripture rests in the Scriptures itself as the LBCF states. But, in reality, it the religious group that they are presently aligned with and it's founders and teachers.”

Again, no one is denying that churches that are interpreting Scripture write these Reformed Confessions. The question isn’t whether they denied themselves as Pillars of truth, but whether they were handling the truth correctly. If you can show that their Confession is against Scripture then by their own principle they would have to abandon their Confession. What you are saying is that God is not able to speak as clearly as Rome. Yet you do not even know if the Scriptures are materially sufficient or only in Partim/Partim. So much for your own communions clarity.

“I agree with you that Catholics don't believe the pillar and foundation of all truth is the Bible. Catholics, using the magisterium's interpretation of Sacred Scripture, believe the Bible tells them that the Church(and its Sacred Tradition) is the foundation of all Truth, which includes, the ultimate authority to interpret Scripture.”

No one is denying the church has the ultimate authority to interpret Scripture. What Ultimate Authority by a RC means is different from a Protestant. As a RC you must start with the Presupposition that Rome is the Ultimate Authority in every respect, as you make painfully clear at other points. If Rome says white is black, then you must believe it for your starting point is that she cannot err.

Also who gets to interpret the church of Rome? It has been demonstrated that past teachings are interpreted differently today. You will never believe that is true though because you view the church as your Ultimate authority.

“Everyone, no matter who they are, or what they choose to believe has a magisterium or teaching authority that they submit themselves to.”

I keep asking, perhaps you might eventually be inclined to give me a hint. How do you know Rome is the true church? Why not the Eastern Orthodox? Why not Utah? Why not Brooklyn (WT)?

When Paul preaches in Acts 17, does he say to the Bereans, "Don't go to the Scriptures, for you are not able to understand them without my interpretation." Nor does he say that he is the only one who can read the Scriptures and interpret them. Instead Paul demonstrates his preaching is consistent with his ultimate authority, the Scriptures. Therefore, yes, it is Pauls interpretation. If He truly has been called by Christ and led by the Spirit he cannot err on what the Gospel is. But what if Paul had chosen of his own free-will to depart the faith? Should we just accept his ultimate authority because he claimed to see Christ? Therefore no matter what we think Scripture means, Paul can just tell us we are wrong? Consistency is key here.

Is the passage of the Pillar and Foundation of the truth contradictory to Jesus being the Cornerstone and the Apostles being the Foundation of the church? Is it not painfully obvious that it is the truth they represent that is holding up the church itself?

What about Scripture calling itself truth? Are you going to say the Church is higher in authority than truth itself? The authority to define what truth is?

You may say that she is only hearing God’s voice in the Scriptures. But she defines the Scriptures and their meaning in an ultimate sense. So how can that not be circular?

Your last post may impress those who already accept Rome’s Ultimate authority to define and interpret God’s Word infallibly. I start with God’s Word as the Ultimate authority. And the communion that is the pillar and foundation in proclaiming this truth will be the church I desire to hear.

" We all have a magisterium whether Catholic or Protestant. Catholics just admit it and are thankful for it!"

Mormons admit they have an ultimate authority. Maybe I should follow Utah now?

I am a presuppositionalist Sir. If you are going to persuade me, you need to demonstrate why I should accept Rome as my ultimate authority over Scripture. I realize you may think you have equal authorities here. But you can not have more than one Infallible, Inerrant, Ultimate authority.

God Bless

November 27, 2006 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard asked TJ--
"Have you ever listened to a Mormon and RC argue their ultimate authorities?"

--

I don't know about Tiber Jumper, but I've discussed belief with many LDS practitioners. If ever two belief systems claimed different types of authority, these do.

Mormons believe that an angel gave Joseph Smith golden plates inscribed with various books of sacred text; that Smith translated these through the urim and thumum and with the angel's help; that any hitherto believed-to-be scripture that disagrees with anything in the book (or books) of Mormon, demonstrates the "bible" is corrupted. They believe their holy text is God's direct and explicit mandate--and included in that mandate is their hierarchical structure of LDS authority.
Mormons are a "religion of the book," grounded in the belief that a particular set of documents were dictated by God.

In contrast,
Catholics believe that Jesus founded a Church, whose members would be known by their love for one another and for their obedience to the commands he had taught them, even though he neither wrote those commands down nor dictated them. We believe He testified to his own divinity in both word and deed. We believe witnesses believed him. We believe he instructed his disciples to go out and proclaim the Gospel. Catholics believe these disciples, who Jesus commissioned himself, did as he commanded; that they made disciples of other men of all nations and preached the same Gospel received from Jesus. We believe many of these disciples wrote accounts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, and also wrote many letters to edify believers. We believe they also met in council to settle issues and seek the Holy Spirit’s help in diving truth. We believe these same disciples and their disciples established creeds--statements of faith to which the entire Church agreed--and that eventually, based upon these teachings, they also discerned that some of the many documents written from the time of Jesus' ascension are inspired.

Catholicism--indeed Christianity, is NOT a "religion of the book."

November 27, 2006 9:55 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Thanks for your answer Theo,

You said, "As the Church grew, this knowledge spread through Apostolic teaching: through spoken word, thorough written word, through sacred tradition and eventually, also through Scripture."

So the church grows through Apostolic teaching. What gave it birth? Was it apostolic preaching? You said, "the Church *became* present when it happened." refering to Christ giving it birth I assume. How did Christ do that? Was it preaching the gospel? Was this Gospel different from what the Apostles preach?

Protestants believe this Gospel is the same as that which is inscripturated. Therefore the Word gave birth to the church, and in a sense, still does as more and more people come to Christ by the proclamation of that same Gospel.

You might think that Protestants have ignored the church is the pillar and foundation of truth. I suppose all of those Protestant exegetes may ignored, but the truth is, they have dealt with the text.

"Please consider the parable of the talents."

I have been noticing that everone keeps appealing to Scripture. Are you asking me to interpret that text myself? Is this your interpretation I should accept? Has the church infallibly interpreted it for me? Who is being appealed to as judging me in the ultimate sense? You seem to be saying Scripture is? :-)

God Bless

November 27, 2006 10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard said...
So the church grows through Apostolic teaching. What gave it birth? Was it apostolic preaching? You said, "the Church *became* present when it happened." refering to Christ giving it birth I assume. How did Christ do that? Was it preaching the gospel? Was this Gospel different from what the Apostles preach?


Hummm..

Theo said...
The Church first knew that Christ founded it by the very action and pronouncement of Christ Himself--you see--the Church *became* present when it happened.
As the Church grew, this knowledge spread through Apostolic teaching: through spoken word, thorough written word, through sacred tradition and eventually, also through Scripture.

What am i missing?

November 28, 2006 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The bible claims to be the sole and sufficient infallible rule of faith for the Christian church." (LBCF)

The bible instructs us to obey what was written and what was *told* us. That ignorant saint Paul! Didn't he ever read the LBCF?

November 28, 2006 12:36 AM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

"The bible instructs us to obey what was written and what was *told* us. That ignorant saint Paul! Didn't he ever read the LBCF?"

Oh man. I was totally unaware of all of these passages you guys are appealing to. I think the Reformers totally ignored what Paul commanded. No exegesis has ever been offered on these texts. But then why would they, since they didn't even know they were Scripture.

"What am i missing?"

Notice anything circular here? I keep pointing it out. Did Jesus just come to Peter and "poof" use the Gnostic method that I have been accused of by Theo in order to establish the church? Sorry about the sarcasm, but it just seems obvious to me you missed my point. How did Jesus establish His church? How do you know how Jesus established His church?

"The bible instructs us to obey what was written and what was *told* us."

I agree! But since you seem to be implying that the Thessalonians received by Oral proclamation something different than that which was inscripturated, I suppose, according to Theo's position, that you need to provide me with an infallible list of Oral Traditions coming from Paul to the Thessalonians that I may become truly catholic.

God Bless

November 28, 2006 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Anon wrote:
"The bible instructs us to obey what was written and what was *told* us. That ignorant saint Paul! Didn't he ever read the LBCF?"

Howard replied in part:

"I suppose, according to Theo's position, that you need to provide me with an infallible list of Oral Traditions coming from Paul to the Thessalonians that I may become truly catholic."

I humbly interject:
Though I understand Howard's reply, I expect that Anon or others will be lost somewhat.

If my guesses are incorrect, Howard, please correct me.

If I understand Howard correctly, he seems to take your comment to mean that whatever specific oral teachings Paul refers to, these also are (like holy scripture) the word of God to us. This would be absurd: You can't quote whatever spoken teaching Paul tells the community to obey; in fact no living human can state with any degree of assurance even what the general topics of those specific spoken teachings were.

I suspect that Howard implies (rightly) that suggesting those specific oral teachings are to be obeyed by modern Christians is absurd; or perhaps that to assert beyond doubt that Paul referenced *specific* Catholic Traditions--and therefore one must embrace them as scriptural mandate is also absurd.

Anon wrote with a sarcastic edge. I ask with understanding of my own weakness, we all try to resist temptations to chide.

It may be that the sarcasm screened the meaning from Howard: not that St. Paul's epistle mandates obedience to Catholic tradition, but merely that St. Paul himself, by his own testimony, taught contrary to what the quoted document teaches--and given the conflict, the document does not trump the Apostle. A sort of poetic twist also dwells in the fact that the document also asserts the Scripture is readily understood by all--except the difficult bits.

I also suspect Howard is confusing either through misunderstanding or willful misdirection (I pray the former) this truth:

**** St. Paul teaches that both oral teachings and written teachings passed from the Apostles are authoritative.****

with a strawman that looks something like:

****St. Paul teaches that the specific oral teaching he referenced can be identified as such, are completely known, are infallible in themseves, are always passed on with word-for-word precision, and as each person passes each teaching on, he or she signs a receipt to leave an irrefutable paper trail--and that one must believing this to be a Catholic.****

Again, I caution us all to avoid using debaters' tactics of presenting what you know to be a twisting of another's statement as if it were the actual meaning. This is lying--no more -- no less.

----


Howard, as for my position, indeed you do not understand it at all.

Interestingly, you Howard, do not need to believe to become Catholic. You already are Catholic--as are all Christians. You simply do not know it yet.

With sincere thanks for you and all brothers and sisters in Christ,
--Theo

--PS. Have you ever figured out how *you* know what is and is not scripture--and how you know you are right, and all others who think otherwise are wrong? Hint: your mp3 file does not tell me.

November 28, 2006 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

By the way, what does "inscripturated" mean?

--Theo

November 28, 2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger Howard Fisher said...

Theo,

Good post. You have much that would be worthy of discussion. This Blog post is getting quite long, and I think I am beginning to lose site of my original point. I was simply just trying to explain that the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura has been mischaracterized. I think I made that point clearly. I realize you may have criticism of the actual doctrine. That is fine. But I just don't see that what has been said is fair to the actual doctrine itself.

As for your other points, I think going to a discussion board where we can manage the discussion with some clarity would be better.

As for the MP3 file, we are talking about presuppositions. If we can't be clear on those, we will always argue past each other just as the doctrine of Sola Scriptura gets misunderstood. If you know of a different web board or some other realistic means I would be willing to discuss that more in depth.

God Bless

November 28, 2006 11:02 PM  

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