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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Theo Speaks About the Elephant in the Room


Theo said:

"I've been thinking about some observations you discussed with me off-line. As you said, our conversation with JohnOneOne (Alan) was interesting not only because of what we discussed, but also in something we did not discuss--at least not directly. The "elephant in the room" as you say, was the matter concerning if, how and what we humans understand of God's own communication with us.

From our Catholic perspective the doctrines that have arisen in the wake of Charles T. Russell’s “new understanding” of scripture could be viewed as yet another direct result of "sola scriptura" in action. Of course, we recognize that our Protestant brethren would not recognize Alan's viewpoint as a "sola scriptura" perspective, especially in light of the role that official Watchtower interpretations can play in establishing the society's doctrine. Yet at the same time, regardless of whatever weight Alan and his fellows place on their own "Magesterium," they themselves claim the Bible Alone is their authority.

If we take this claim at face value, then, as you pointed out, our conversation likely was an echo of similar conversations heard in the halls of Christendom roughly 17 centuries ago, when the Church debated the doctrine of the Trinity at the council of Nicea--and that in a real sense, these had been "settled." However, if indeed the question was settled that God is three persons in one being, then we are still left with "How do we know this is so, when the scriptures themselves do not explicitly say so? How can we be confident in our exegesis? If we go back to Nicea and examine how our forefathers came to dogmatically state the doctrine of the Trinity, what will we discover about their understanding of how we may be sure we are hearing God’s message correctly."

11 Comments:

Anonymous PTL said...

This article is great if only for the picture. :-) But I do notice that Theo does not answer his own questions.

How did the Nicean "fathers" settle the issue? Wasn't it through the authority of scripture alone? And was it really "settled" then? Weren't there others who disagreed? Are there records of the council's debate about the Trinity? Do we know for sure what transpired, or is tis speculation that fits your doctrine?

I'm not being sarcastic. I'm just asking about what you believe happened vs. what you know happened and what it all means today.

In any case: praise The Lord, for He is good.

November 21, 2007 8:30 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks for the questions and yes Praise the Lord, He is Very Good!!!!

"How did the Nicean "fathers" settle the issue? Wasn't it through the authority of scripture alone?"

This is my whole point PTL. The scriptures alone can't settle the issue of the Trinity, because there are as many arguments for it in Scripture as against it! But as Trinitarian Christians we see the Trinity in the Bible because we have been told/trained/ raised believing in it. Why? Because a Church Council in 325 declared as dogma that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are three in one Person. I personally must admit, I didn't believe in the Trinity because I read it in the Bible. I came to strongly believe in the Trinity because of catechism classes in first grade when I was taught from the Baltimore Catechism
in 1963!! When I was born again in 1973, I didn't say Eureka, the Scriptures tell me the Trinity is real! I easily accepted it because it was "tradition" passed on to me as it is for most Christians to be taught the Trinity in Bible class, Catechism, Mass, etc.

At the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, the focus was to put a stop to the heresy called Arianism proponed by Arius a bishop who said that Jesus was not co-equal with the Father. Like it or not, the New Testament was not yet canonized and there were many gospels, apocryphal books "floating around." The whole idea that the Church fathers sat down with a bound intact New Testament to crank out the Creed is an anachronism. Just didn't happen because the Creed of Nicea in 325 predated the canon of the New Testament by almost 70 years!
Yes there were still some who disagreed, but the beauty of Catholicism is that, the doctrine of the nature of God was no longer "up for debate". Once it was stated as dogma by the Church, to remain a believing member of the Church, one needed to ascent to all the beliefs as espoused in the Creed. This was a wonderful way in which Jesus lead his Church in all Truth and why today we believe in the Trinity. Yes the Scriptures are part of the Word of God and obviously to us, point to the Trinity as being true, but it was the good old Catholic Church in 325, way before the NT was compiled that told us via the Holy Spirit, what we need to believe to be faithful Christians.
I have a post on this here

Hope it helps. thanks for visiting and Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

here is a good article on the Council of Nicea and the doctrine of the Trinity

November 21, 2007 9:16 AM  
Anonymous ptl said...

Tiber Jumper:

I've not yet read the material you referenced / linked, and I think it will be interesting, but even before I do, I have another question.

Let's suppose that your view of history is correct, and it was the Catholic Church's authority that settled the question about what scripture teaches on the Trinity, even if that were so (It might not be, mind you), how could anyone say that that Catholic Church that met in Nicea is the same as the Roman Catholic Church today? I'm sure that they are not the same in many ways, from structure to doctrine and who knows how else.

Again, just asking.

PTL!

November 21, 2007 9:48 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear PtL:
I'd appreciate you reading the links I posted, and they may help answer the question. Have a happy t Day!

November 21, 2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

Greetings, TJ,

In dealing with Theo's discussion, I would argue that JW's do not claim the Bible as their sole authority. Sola Scriptura is neither the legacy of such a group nor an accurate description of the belief systems of cults, sects and other denominations. JW's, Mormons, etc. all use additional sources which they place above the Scriptures in authority. In practice, their final arbiter for faith and practice is always something other than the Bible.

The oft-repeated assertion by Catholic e-pologists that there are 33,000 (and plus! if you're talking to a particularly vocal defender of Rome) Protestant denominations does not hold up when the data are examined closely.

TJ, I know you have not used this 33,000 figure in your posts for a very long time, so this is not an accusation against you. Please don't take offence. I merely don't have anyplace else to post relevant comments such as these unless I want to make a whole post out of the issue for my own blog, which I do not deem necessary. If Theo had a blog, I'd be commenting there. Additionally, my target audience is much more likely to be found here, not at The Porter's Lodge.

The World Christian Encyclopedia, from where the data are collected, uses the term "33,000 Denominations" to include Protestant denominations, Catholic denominations, cults and sects. Of that total number, a significant deduction is made when speaking of the true adherents and practitioners of sola Scriptura. The actual figure has been reckoned to be brought down to around 9,000 Protestant denominations. Granted, these are about 8,999 denominations more than the Roman Catholic would countenance, and it is a point well taken. But I would much rather see this 33,000 figure abandoned in the interest of honesty when it comes to such discussions.

If e-pologists want to argue against the doctrine of private interpretation, then I think that could be a reasonable discussion and has much more credibility in my view. 2 Peter 1:19-21 is often used by Catholics as Scriptural proof against the doctrine. But if we can agree through careful and logical exegesis that 2 Peter 1:19-21 is not speaking to an individual believer's private reception of the Word written or spoken, then discussion may be fruitful.

I would also argue that the early Church Fathers appealed to Scripture constantly when dealing with the flock. Were the Apostles and the Church leaders less noble than the Bereans when it came to searching the Old Testament Scriptures and the accepted letters of Paul and the other Apostles to settle arguments of faith and practice?

Best regards, as always, my old friend,

Pilgrimsarbour

November 21, 2007 8:32 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

PA:
The Church Fathers certainly used Scripture(the OT, and the writings of the apostles, not yet formally the NT) and were certainly not less noble and I would never imply such.

My point is that the crisis in the early Church regarding the divine nature of Christ was not resolved by simply opening up a New Testament and obtaining the "plain reading." My early comments elaborate on this quite a bit.
regarding the statement you made about the Bereans in Acts 17;
The Church through the apostles taught the Bereans what to believe and they daily read scripture to "see if these things be so." They read the OT first of all, not the NT, and they did it more as "fact checking" not the derivation of doctrine.

Apostolic teaching came first, the Bereans received the faith from the apostles and then turned to Scripture for confirmation, which is a good thing! They couldn't have read the Scriptures to find out how to become Christians because most of the NT scriptures weren't written yet ! They learned how to be Christians through hearing the teachings of the apostles. (There is no historical evidence that the Bereans had a New Testament in their possession.) Some readers unfortunately see the vs in Acts and make that incorrect assumption.
The Bereans did not open the Bible and attempt to derive doctrine from it. That is not what that Scripture states.

It may be helpful to read writings from a bishop at the Council of Nicea to see how things really went down. Eusebius was from a diocese that was semi-arian(weren't convinced Jesus was both God and man) and he had to write to them before he returned to them to tell them the outcome of the council's decision to state that Jesus is God and anyone who doesn't believe it is anthematized! He was softening the blow for them.
Check this out here
Your brother in Christ
TJ

November 22, 2007 10:48 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

PTL said" "how could anyone say that that Catholic Church that met in Nicea is the same as the Roman Catholic Church today?"

Hopefully you read the links that I had which provided the answer, but a shorter explanation can be found here

November 23, 2007 8:52 AM  
Anonymous theo said...

Dear Pilgrim, my true brother in Christ:

I'm short on time today. I hope and pray you can bear with me until I've a larger block of time to correspond with you in detail.

I write now to acknowledge (as I had hoped I'd done more clearly in my original comment than I seem to have managed) that the actual practice and developed theology of the Witnesses is a version of Sola Scriptura that few if any Protestant of any age would describe as such. I'd hoped to be clear that even while they claim Scripture Alone as their authority, they rely upon a Magesterium, even though they themselves claim (or at least those who have visited my front door have claimed) Scripture Alone. Rather it was Charles T. Russell’s personal “sola scriptura” view that shaped their theology and formed their Magesterium in practice. I think of Alan's viewpoint as a "sola scriptura" perspective to the extent it is based upon Mr. Russell's "new understanding" of scripture, which Russell, calimed as his only authority.

As time allows, I would like to discuss the above and your other comments in more detail. I humbly ask your patience with me and I also pray for your edification in Christ as you forbear in love, us who are your separated brethren in Christ—and I humbly pray that none of us should take commonly-repeated claims of any “e-pologist” at face value over the testimony of the scriptures, the testimonies of those who have attempted to live by them and the testimony of the record of Christendom’s ability to do so both in the past and today.

In the meanwhile, may God continue blessing you with all good gifts for the support of His Kingdom, and may we never lose sight of the prize, which is nothing less than eternal life in Christ, our Savior.

By grace I remain:
Your humble brother and servant in Christ,
--Theo

November 26, 2007 9:29 AM  
Anonymous ptl said...

I wonder if your link to the letter from Eusebius helps the RC cause as much as you think it does. I noticed that according to the letter, even Constantine, who was the founder of the RCC did not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity.

If you look closely, you'll see that Constantine totally agreed with the first creed that Eusebius presented, which says Jesus is the son only and the Holy Spirit is the spirit only. How could the council have authoritatively ruled over the Pope / Emperor?
Am I missing something?

Peace,
PTL.

November 26, 2007 4:21 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

PTL said:"even Constantine, who was the founder of the RCC did not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity.'

With all due respect PTL, you are mistaken. Constantine was not the founder of the Catholic Church. Jesus Christ was and that has been historically proven.
Constantine convened the council of Nicea because of the political instability the Arian heresy was causing. He had no bearing on the ultimate outcome of the Council, and actually would not have cared if the decision was a non trinitarian one. You see, it was the Pope who ultimately "signed off" on the creed using the "power of the keys."

It is a common misunderstanding regarding Catholicism and Constantine. He was more political than religious and wanted peace and unity in his empire. He did not legalize Christianity as it is often stated. Instead he stopped the persecution by the Edict of Milan, and at the very end of his life was baptized a Christian, the result of his mother's prayers (St. Helena) and his victory in battle at Milvian Bridge.
If you are sincerely seeking the truth and desire to learn more, please clickhere

November 26, 2007 4:47 PM  

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