Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Part 3

[Part 1 -- Part 2]

Scripture vs. Tradition

We’re spending so much time on sola Scriptura, because it is from Rome’s rejection of this that their other errors spring. When last we visited this subject, we saw that Rome does, indeed, deny the doctrine of sola Scriptura. This was not hard to do, since Rome makes no bones about denying sola Scriptura. In fact, Rome considers sola Scriptura to be a false doctrine, and the chief source of doctrinal confusion, not only between Roman Catholics and Protestants, but within the Protestant camp as well.

So, just what is sola Scriptura?

To hear many Roman Catholics talk, sola Scriptura is a person sitting alone on an island somewhere with a Bible, but with no access to Godly pastors, teachers, history books, lexicographies and grammars, archaeology, or anything else that would help put the words of the Scripture into context. That is not the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura! (I will say this, though. If you did have someone alone on an island, with nothing but a Bible, they would never, ever, from the Bible, not in a million years, come up with what we know as Roman Catholicism!)

Sola Scriptura is the doctrine that the 66 canonical books of the Bible are the only infallible authority for all matters of faith (what a Christian believes) and practice (how a Christian worships God.) Our understanding of Scripture is informed by Godly men who spend their lives studying the Bible, by history, by archaeology, by language study, and a whole host of other disciplines, but it is the Scripture which has the final word. Nor is sola Scriptura a wholesale rejection of all tradition, but sola Scriptura does say that all teachings and traditions must be measured against Scripture, and anything which contradicts Scripture must be rejected.

Does the Bible teach sola Scriptura?

The short answer is yes, and I will support that by looking briefly at three passages.

The first is 2 Timothy 3:14-17:

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Here Paul points Timothy to the written Word of God, called “the sacred writings” in verse 15, and Scripture in verse 16. It is the written Word, breathed out by God, which is sufficient for teaching what is true, for identifying what is false, for the restoration to truth from error, and for the teaching of what should be taught. The Scriptures are enough to supply the doctrines of the Christian faith, no extra-Biblical traditions are needed.

The second is Acts 17:10-11:

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Regarding this passage, John MacArthur writes, “It is highly significant that the Bereans are explicitly commended for examining the apostolic message in light of Scripture. They had the priority right: Scripture is the supreme rule of faith, by which everything else is to be tested.” If even an actually apostle’s teachings were to be checked against Scripture, should not the Pope and the Cardinals be held to the same standard?

The last passage I would like to look at today is Mark 7:1-9:

The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) The Pharisees and the scribes *asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

Here, Jesus deals with the Pharisees’ adherence to tradition in direct contradiction to the written words of Scripture. I believe that this speaks clearly to the exact same situation in the Roman Catholic Church.

When we return to this subject, I would like to look at some of the consequences of Rome’s rejection of sola Scriptura.


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59 comments:

Sir Aaron said...

< looks around >

Is it safe to enter?

Great post! You really hit it on the head.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Mr. Squirrel...

Thanks for all the scripture references. Very timely, as we're still studying Reformation/Counter-Reformation.

Julie

Patrick said...

Dear Squirrel,

Thank you for again writing about this important topic. Obviously we disagree and I don't expect to convert you. :) I will therefore not try to debate, but simply make a couple of points and give you some other scripture references. I hope you and other readers will consider them prayerfully.

First question: what Scripture is Paul referring to in 2 Tim 3? I believe it is the Old Testament. This is evident when he says Timothy has known these sacred writings "since childhood." We don't have exact dates here, but assuming Timothy was a young man at this time, his childhood would have been around the period of the Resurrection - at which point none of the New Testament had been written yet.

Also, while the passage says Scripture inspired, profitable etc, it nowhere says that ONLY scripture has these characteristics. Indeed, in his earlier letter to Timothy Paul said that it is the Church - not Scripture - which is the "pillar and foundation of the Truth." (1 Tim 3:15).

The same holds true for the Berean reference in Acts: the Scriptures they "examined daily" had to be the Old Testament, because the New Testament (or at least large parts of it, and likely none of the Gospels) did not exist yet. Even many Protestant scholars agree on this point.

Second, in the passage from Mark 7 our Lord does not condemn all tradition. He condemns traditions that are inconsistent with the commandments of God. If Christ really wanted people to reject all tradition, he would not have said this in Matthew 23: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice."

You should also consider 1 Corinthians 11:2, in which Paul actually commended the Corinthians for following tradition. "Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you." Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to do the same: "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 Thess 2:15).

Hopefully this will help you better understand the Catholic position, even if you do not accept it. Peace be with you.

Matt Gumm said...

Patrick: even if it is the Old Testament, that still doesn't change the point being made: the Scriptures are the source of wisdom and knowledge. Paul tells his charge Timothy (and also Titus) to preach the word. It is all centered on Scripture.

There's also the book of 2 Peter. Peter makes two statements which I think are interesting .

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:14-16, ESV)

Here Peter compares Paul's letters to "the rest of Scripture," indicating that he considers Paul's writings inspired.

Jumping backwards to Chapter 1, we see Peter saying something even more amazing, I think.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21, ESV)

Here Peter says that even his own experience is subject to something - "the more sure word." I happen to think that this is Scripture; perhaps you think differently. If my interpretation is right, however, it means that Peter considered God's word so important and binding that he trusted more than his own experience. That says a lot, whether you think that he was a mere apostle or something more.

Finally, you said: Also, while the passage says Scripture inspired, profitable etc, it nowhere says that ONLY scripture has these characteristics. Indeed, in his earlier letter to Timothy Paul said that it is the Church - not Scripture - which is the "pillar and foundation of the Truth." (1 Tim 3:15)."Scripture doesn't talk about it, therefore it must be so" isn't an argument. If you are going to argue that there is another authority equal to God's revealed word, it's incumbent upon you to make the case for it.

Patrick said...

Hi Matt, thanks for the response. A couple of things:

>>"...even if it is the Old Testament, that still doesn't change the point being made: the Scriptures are the source of wisdom and knowledge."

So, Paul was saying that the O.T. contains all the teaching we need? That is an odd interpretation.

Fortunately, we know from your quote of 2 Peter 3 that "no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation." That is why we need an authoritative interpreter. My Church has one. Does yours?

>>"..If you are going to argue that there is another authority equal to God's revealed word, it's incumbent upon you to make the case for it."

I believe I did. 1 Timothy 3:15 says that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. It doesn't say the church is subject to Scripture.

In fact, the Church existed before Scripture did. It is only due to the early Church councils that you know which ancient writings are inspired, and that process took over 300 years to complete. Somehow Christianity managed to flourish during those centuries without the collection of books we now know as the New Testament. How do you think they managed?

Best regards and pax vobiscum.

Matt Gumm said...

In fact, the Church existed before Scripture did. It is only due to the early Church councils that you know which ancient writings are inspired, and that process took over 300 years to complete. Somehow Christianity managed to flourish during those centuries without the collection of books we now know as the New Testament. How do you think they managed?The Church (at least as you would describe it) did not exist before Scripture.

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:34-36).

Observe: Jesus uses the terms "Law," "word of God," and "Scripture" interchangeably. The Scripture (the written word existed prior to the Church.

Second, I don't deny that the Church recognized the Canon. What I deny is that it determined the Canon. The Church didn't grant authority to those books; it merely recognized what God had given.

I would also interject a question here: we would both agree that the Canon is vitally important. Why was this left up to councils, rather than there being an edict from a Pope?

You said: 1 Timothy 3:15 says that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. It doesn't say the church is subject to Scripture. I would simply note here that if you refuse to subject the Church to the Scripture, it is the Church, not Scripture, which is the final authority. Please demonstrate to me where it says "commit yourself to tradition" or "submit yourself to your leaders," in any context that would preclude an individual believer from testing that against Scripture. Then you will have demonstrated to me the Church's authority.

Finally, you said: Fortunately, we know from your quote of 2 Peter 3 that "no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation." That is why we need an authoritative interpreter. My Church has one. Does yours?That quote was from 2 Peter 1, by the way. I'm going to assume that you read too quickly and jumped in, knowing the answer from your...predisposition. We do indeed (vs. 20) know that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. But we also know where it does come from (vs. 21). For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Not "the Church," or "the magesterium," or "the Pope," but from God, through the Holy Spirit.

In fact, this lines up perfectly with what Jesus told his disciples about the work of the Holy Spirit. In John 14, Jesus goes into a lengthy discussion about the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will come after Jesus departs. Near the end, he says (vs. 25-26), “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. In the next chapter, verse 26, Jesus says: But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

Paul says something similar in 1 Cor 2:10-13: these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Scripture is from God, and that makes it authoritative. Not because any outside authority declares it to be so. God's Spirit superintended the writing of the Word, and it is His Spirit which leads us into knowledge of the truth.

The authority you have submitted yourself to, the Church, forbids its leaders to marry, despite the fact that Paul talks about Bishops being permitted to marry (1 Tim. 3:1-4), and that to forbid marriage is not sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Jesus, who was God, stated that God alone can forgive sins (St. Mark 2:7). The Church teaches otherwise. Scripture says: “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). Not Jesus' mother Mary, and not a priest; that job is reserved for Jesus alone.

You must decide what is the final authority: God's Word, or the Church. It cannot be both.

Patrick (I have a childhood friend named Patrick who is also a Catholic): I would urge you to read the Scriptures and pray that God's Spirit would lead you to the truth. I trust that He will do so.

The Squirrel said...

Patrick & Matt:

Thanks, Guys. I appreciate both your tone and your thoughtfulness in keeping this a discussion and making your arguments respectfully. I also appreciate the knowledge you're bringing to the discourse. [Your comments are longer than my blog posts :)]

2 quick thoughts, Patrick,

While Paul is referring specifically , in 2 Timothy, to the Old Testament, his remarks do, by implication, do include the New Testament Scriptures, as "all" would include Scripture not yet recorded. Paul refers to Luke's Gospel as Scripture (1 Corinthians 9:9 re: Luke 10:7) And, as has already been pointed out, Peter calls Paul's epistles "Scripture" in 2 peter 3:15-16. So, the case is strong that "all Scripture" means "all Scripture."

As to Peter's "private interpretation" statement about prophecy, he is saying that the source of the Scriptures is God, the meaning of the Scriptures is determined by God and not men, and that God the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, not the men who penned it. The Scriptures mean what God intended them to mean, and we are not allowed to twist the Scriptures to fit a meaning of our own choosing, as sinful men are wont to do. (cf. 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 3:16; Matthew 22:29)

With all of the warnings against false teachers contained in the Scriptures, how can you know that the Magisterium has not been corrupted by false teachings? Only by comparing the teachings of Rome to the words of Scripture. Sure, Rome claims to speak for God, but so does the Mormons' "prophet", the Dali Lama, and any number of other leaders of false religions. How can we know who is telling the truth? Only by comparing their teachings with the teachings of Scripture.

God Bless,
~Squirrel

Sir Aaron said...

Patrick:

I think Squirrel addresed the issue of tradition in his posts. Protestants are obviously not against all tradition. Many have traditions that are very similar to Catholicism. Its just that our traditions must not contradict Scripture.

We can argue about interpretation all day long. If the issue was solely an authoritative one (i.e. who has the authority to interpret Scripture) we might find ourselves more aligned. But that's not the issue. Catholics don't believe in sola scripture but the Pope is the only infallible and authoritative interpreter does it?

[A small rabbit trail:] Besides, Catholics seem to have a very big problem these days keeping their own members to holdin that the Pope is authoritative and infallible (with regards to doctrine). I would respect your position more if Catholicism did more to discipline it own Priests, Bishops, and members challenging the RCC's long held doctrines.

Patrick said...

Matt,

Thanks for the very thoughtful reply. We seem to be veering off into subjects other than Sola Scriptura, which is the topic of the post at hand. Hopefully our host will not mind. I will try to engage all your points but please bear with me; this may take a little while.

>>>Observe: Jesus uses the terms "Law," "word of God," and "Scripture" interchangeably. The Scripture (the written word existed prior to the Church.

I like the way it is explained in John 1:1. The Word of God is God. The Word is a person, not a book, and of course has always existed. To say that the written word existed prior to the Church makes no sense, though. During the earthly ministry of Jesus most Jews regarded the Septuagint as the written word, and it did not include what we now call the New Testament. Yes, God knew that in the future certain men would be inspired to write certain things. But as far as humanity is concerned, Scripture was not yet complete when the Church was founded - which I date to the Pentecost events in Acts 2.

>>Second, I don't deny that the Church recognized the Canon. What I deny is that it determined the Canon. The Church didn't grant authority to those books; it merely recognized what God had given.

Of course; I never said otherwise. Nonetheless, without that act of recognition we might still be arguing whether the Shepherd of Hermas is canonical or not. My point is that the canonization process took place outside of Scripture. The early fathers, guided by the Holy Spirit, decided which of the many writings were authentic and trustworthy. The Bible is not self-authenticating. We would not today have Scripture if not for these extra-scriptural actions. Sola scriptura is an illogical concept.

>> I would also interject a question here: we would both agree that the Canon is vitally important. Why was this left up to councils, rather than there being an edict from a Pope?

The church has always preferred to make major decisions in a collegial manner with extensive consultation among the bishops. The key is that the bishops are authoritative ONLY when they act in union with the pope. And in fact the third Council of Carthage (A.D. 397), which gave us the final canon, sent its decree to the bishop of Rome (the pope) for ratification.

BTW, I'm glad you seem to at least recognize the councils, if not the pope. That leaves a question, though: if you trust them enough to tell you which books are inspired, why do you not trust them when they acknowledge the bishop of Rome as their leader?

>>Please demonstrate to me where it says "commit yourself to tradition" or "submit yourself to your leaders," in any context that would preclude an individual believer from testing that against Scripture. Then you will have demonstrated to me the Church's authority.

Well, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 springs to mind. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. I wish you would also explain your interpretation of 1 Tim 3:15. There can only be one truth. If the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth, and the Scripture is also truth, then the two are in harmony. We don't see a conflict because nothing the church teaches is inconsistent with Scripture. We believe wholeheartedly that everything in the Bible is true. But we also believe that not everything that is true is in the Bible.

>>Finally, you said: Fortunately, we know from your quote of 2 Peter 3 that "no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation." That is why we need an authoritative interpreter. My Church has one. Does yours?That quote was from 2 Peter 1, by the way. I'm going to assume that you read too quickly and jumped in, knowing the answer from your...predisposition.

Yes, my mistake. I'm not sure what you mean about predisposition. Of course I have one, and I'm sure you do, too. None of us are able to be completely neutral and dispassionate about these things. This is why Christians from different denominations can, in all sincerity and praying for guidance, look at the same scriptures and still see completely different things. Does the Holy Spirit want to confuse us? That would be strange. Again we see the need for some authority outside of ourselves.

In John 14, Christ was speaking to the Apostles at the Last Supper. In 1 Cor 2, Paul was talking about the wisdom he himself had received directly from God. To extrapolate from either passage that every believer can be their own infallible interpreter is a mistake, I think. In fact, it is an invitation to theological anarchy.

>>>The authority you have submitted yourself to, the Church, forbids its leaders to marry, despite the fact that Paul talks about Bishops being permitted to marry (1 Tim. 3:1-4), and that to forbid marriage is not sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

My understanding is that 1 Tim 3:1-4 is making the point that bishops should not be polygamous. At that time, yes, they could marry. The church regards priestly celibacy as a matter of discipline, not dogma; it is a practice that is subject to change. Even today there are some married priests - converts from Anglicanism who were already married, for instance, and priests in many of the Eastern Rite Catholic churches can be married as well. Jesus was celibate, as was Paul who recommended the same for those who can handle it. (1 Cor 7:8-9 and 1 Cor 7:27-34). Today we follow Paul's example, but do not regard it as a mandatory doctrine.

See also Matt 19:11-12, where it is clear that some are called renounce marriage for the Kingdom of God. Our Lord says those who can accept celibacy should do so. The only people that the church forbids to marry are those who voluntarily choose to enter the priesthood. I do not think this is what 1 Tim 4:3 is talking about.

As an aside: whether or not they are married, at least we have bishops in the Catholic Church. Many Protestants have done away with this role completely.

>>Jesus, who was God, stated that God alone can forgive sins (St. Mark 2:7). The Church teaches otherwise.

Yes, indeed, only God can forgive sins. He can, however, delegate that power to men. We see that he did this in John 20:21-23. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”(bold added by me)

This passage is notable for several reasons. First, it is the first encounter between Christ and the Apostles after the Resurrection - a momentous occasion, not a chance for idle chit-chat. He also apparently walked through the wall to get inside the locked room, which must have been startling. Second, it is the only time other than the Creation narrative that we see God breathe on men. This also indicates something serious is happening. Third, notice that He gave them not only the power to forgive sins, but the power to NOT forgive sins. An awesome responsibility, yes? Implicit in this is the need to evaluate a person's sins and make a decision whether to forgive or not.

We see this power being used again in James 5:15, where presbyters are told to pray for and anoint the sick. If he [the sick person] has sinned, he will be forgiven. We believe this authority that Christ gave the Apostles was handed down through apostolic succession to our bishops and priests today.

>>Scripture says: “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). Not Jesus' mother Mary, and not a priest; that job is reserved for Jesus alone.

What do you mean by mediator? Mary is someone we should honor (Luke 1:48), but our salvation comes only from the Blood of Christ. If you are saying that everyone can only pray directly to God, then none of us should be praying for each other. Yet in the same chapter you quote, we are commanded to offer prayers and intercessions for each other. Catholics believe this includes the Christians who are already in heaven, like Mary and the other saints. We can ask them to pray for us, too. And since, unlike us, they are perfectly united to God, we can expect their prayers to be efficacious.

>>You must decide what is the final authority: God's Word, or the Church. It cannot be both.

Yes, it can, as explained above. Anyway the final authority is what it is, regardless of what I decide. I do not lean on my own understanding.

>>Patrick (I have a childhood friend named Patrick who is also a Catholic): I would urge you to read the Scriptures and pray that God's Spirit would lead you to the truth. I trust that He will do so.

I have done both and am confident I am where He wants me to be. I pray the same for you. As my first comment in this thread said, I do not seek to convert anyone. I wish only to correct misunderstandings and in some small way help bring about the unity of all Christians that Christ so earnestly desires (John 17:20-23).

Pax Christi.

Patrick said...

Squirrel,

>>>With all of the warnings against false teachers contained in the Scriptures, how can you know that the Magisterium has not been corrupted by false teachings?

Because our Lord promised so in Matthew 16:17-19. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church built on Peter. Individual Catholics can stray, of course, and many do - even priests and bishops. The Church as an institution is protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error. If in fact it is the church that Christ founded, I need not worry about it being corrupted.

Aaron,

As I explained in my reply to Matt, we don't see any conflict between the Church and Scripture. Both are infallible and authoritative. Everything the Church teaches is consistent with Scripture. Some of it is not explicit in Scripture, though. Those things that are not obvious can usually be found in seed form or be extrapolated from the typology. The Trinity is a good example.

>>>Besides, Catholics seem to have a very big problem these days keeping their own members to holdin that the Pope is authoritative and infallible (with regards to doctrine). I would respect your position more if Catholicism did more to discipline it own Priests, Bishops, and members challenging the RCC's long held doctrines.<<<

Indeed, this is a problem. In fact it has always been a problem. Church history is pretty much the story of one heresy after another being swatted down. Sometimes it took centuries to get everyone on the same page. What's amazing is that a billion sinful, ignorant people like me can have any semblance of unity at all. The fact that we do ought to tell you something.

Personally, I'd like to see the church get tough with some of the people you are talking about. Maybe that's why I'm not a bishop. They bend over backwards to restore our unity by teaching the truth with love even when people don't want to hear it. Of course if they did get tough and start excommunicating lots of folks, they would be criticized for that, too. So they really can't win.

I hope this helps. Have a nice evening, everyone.

Sir Aaron said...

Patrick:

I know you don't see conflict between Scripture and the RCC because you put the RCC above the Scriptures. If you put it equal, then you'd see the most obvious conflicts.

And re:discipline. I'm not one to tell the RCC what to do. There are other things besides excommunication. IF the Pope just told Tony Blair what to do with himself, I'd be pretty content.

That Scripture you listed about honoring Mary is pretty weak.

Patrick said...

"From now on all generations will call me blessed."That's Luke 1:48 in the NIV, a very un-Catholic translation. What's weak about it? "All generations" certainly includes us.

This is why we Catholics call her the "Blessed Virgin Mary." Would it kill you to tip your hat to the mother of our Lord? (That's from Luke 1:43)

Sir Aaron said...

Of course, she is not longer a virgin...but I'll leave that alone for now. It is right to consider her as blessed; but this certainly does not warrant us to worship her or to pray to her. Abraham was blessed in being the father of the faithful; Paul in being the apostle to the Gentiles; Peter in first preaching the gospel to them; but who would think of worshipping or praying to Abraham, Paul, or Peter?

Oh wait...did I say that out loud?

Matt Gumm said...

We seem to be veering off into subjects other than Sola Scriptura, which is the topic of the post at hand. You may be right. That wasn't my intent. However, as a Protestant, all of our doctrines ultimately come back to Sola Scriptura. It must be that way. If not, well...I'd be a Catholic.

To say that the written word existed prior to the Church makes no sense, though. During the earthly ministry of Jesus most Jews regarded the Septuagint as the written word, and it did not include what we now call the New Testament.Yes, actually, it can. The Greek word for Scripture, graphe, is used 51 times in the New Testament. Each time, it refers to written Scripture. Yes, the Old Testament. But in at least two places, 1 Tim. 5:18 & 2 Pet. 3:16, it also includes some New Testament writings. The people in Jesus' day studied the Scriptures.

BTW, I'm glad you seem to at least recognize the councils, if not the pope. That leaves a question, though: if you trust them enough to tell you which books are inspired, why do you not trust them when they acknowledge the bishop of Rome as their leader?I think the councils made the right decision about the canon. Again, because they recognized it, not set it. I don't recognize "the Bishop of Rome," ie, the Pope, because there is no evidence for the Apostolic succession you claim. There's no Scriptural evidence that Peter was in Rome. Paul stated that he didn't build on another man's foundation, indicating that he went places that no one else had ever gone before. And in his letter to the Romans, Paul greets many people - an entire list, in fact - but Peter is not one of them. In short, I don't accept Peter as the Pope because there isn't the evidence to persuade me. (I also have a differing interpretation of the rock that Jesus will build on, but we'll leave that for another time).

Nonetheless, without that act of recognition we might still be arguing whether the Shepherd of Hermas is canonical or not. My point is that the canonization process took place outside of Scripture. The early fathers, guided by the Holy Spirit, decided which of the many writings were authentic and trustworthy. The Bible is not self-authenticating. We would not today have Scripture if not for these extra-scriptural actions. Sola scriptura is an illogical concept.Any attempt to prove Scripture's authenticity by another authority makes that authority higher than Scripture. So instead of being illogical, I would argue it is the only logical position for someone who truly believes in the Word as being inspired.

We believe wholeheartedly that everything in the Bible is true. But we also believe that not everything that is true is in the Bible.Protestants believe that, too. We just have a different yardstick for measuring what is true.

To extrapolate from either passage that every believer can be their own infallible interpreter is a mistake, I think. In fact, it is an invitation to theological anarchy.Actually, I would argue that everyone is fallible. I love the theological anarchy angle. Next you'll be quoting to me 30,000 denominations, right? But the fact of the matter is that having a central authority doesn't prevent anarchy. You need look no further than the U.S. to see how much anarchy there is even within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church.

My understanding is that 1 Tim 3:1-4 is making the point that bishops should not be polygamous. At that time, yes, they could marry. The church regards priestly celibacy as a matter of discipline, not dogma; it is a practice that is subject to change. Even today there are some married priests - converts from Anglicanism who were already married, for instance, and priests in many of the Eastern Rite Catholic churches can be married as well. Jesus was celibate, as was Paul who recommended the same for those who can handle it. (1 Cor 7:8-9 and 1 Cor 7:27-34). Today we follow Paul's example, but do not regard it as a mandatory doctrine.

See also Matt 19:11-12, where it is clear that some are called renounce marriage for the Kingdom of God. Our Lord says those who can accept celibacy should do so. The only people that the church forbids to marry are those who voluntarily choose to enter the priesthood. I do not think this is what 1 Tim 4:3 is talking about.
"The church regards priestly celibacy as a matter of discipline, not dogma...The only people that the church forbids to marry are those who voluntarily choose to enter the priesthood." That's still forbidding. During the time of the Scripture, they could marry. Now, they cannot. I find it more than interesting that here the church does not follow the example of Peter, who was married, and instead follows Paul & Jesus. By the way, in context, what Jesus says, and what Paul says, sounds like it should be up to the individual, not the church.

What do you mean by mediator? Mary is someone we should honor (Luke 1:48), but our salvation comes only from the Blood of Christ. If you are saying that everyone can only pray directly to God, then none of us should be praying for each other. Yet in the same chapter you quote, we are commanded to offer prayers and intercessions for each other. Catholics believe this includes the Christians who are already in heaven, like Mary and the other saints. We can ask them to pray for us, too. And since, unlike us, they are perfectly united to God, we can expect their prayers to be efficacious.There is a world of difference between praying to God and his intermediary, Jesus, and praying to other people. You would never pray to people on earth; why do you pray to them in heaven? Prayers, like honor and glory, are due to God alone. Even angels, when they appear to men in the Scripture, do not accept any of God's glory. Yet the Catholic Church freely diverts God's glory to His creatures. This ought not be.

I'll add one more time, that there can be only one authority. You have made God's word subject to the authority of the Church, meaning that the Church is your final authority. I realize you're ok with that. But you shouldn't be.

I hope that Squirrel's future posts, about the consequences of Rome's rejection of Sola Scriptura, will shed some light on why that is so.

Sir Aaron said...

Matt:

I think Patrick is intimating that he isn't "praying" to Mary, he is simply asking her to pray for him. So in his logic, asking your brother in Christ to pray for you is on the same level as asking a dead person to pray for you. Of course, there's a lot of assumptions involved. First, said person must be able to hear you. Then said person must have some level of ability to hear multiple prayer requests at once. Then you must assume they are willing to pray for you. And lastly, that their prayers are more effective than your own since they are there worshipping Christ.

All of this is undermined by sola scriptura, but Catholics reject Scripture in favor of church doctrine in this regard.

Mrs. Sprinkles said...

Thanks so much for these posts. I was raised in a Catholic home and became a Christian as a teenager. I'm now a Baptist.

I've heard it said that it's possible to be a Christian attending a Catholic church. But if you're a "good Christian" you'll by necessity be a "bad Catholic." And if you're a "good Catholic," you're likely to be a "bad Christian." If all that makes sense.

I can just say from personal experience that I found it impossible to reconcile my Christian beliefs with the teachings of the Catholic church. I really tried hard, but it didn't work.

The Squirrel said...

Mrs Sprinkles:

Welcome, thanks for stopping by.

I began writing these posts because I'm worried about the ecumenism that would paper over the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Sure, we talk here in Protestant West, but in areas that are more predominantly RC, Rome's hostility is much less... veiled.

Two many Biblical Christians are ignorant of, and indifferent to, the great gulf that divides our belief systems.

~Squirrel

Elena said...

I've heard it said that it's possible to be a Christian attending a Catholic church. But if you're a "good Christian" you'll by necessity be a "bad Catholic." And if you're a "good Catholic," you're likely to be a "bad Christian." If all that makes senseIt not only doesn't make sense, I find it highly insulting.

Patrick said...

Dear Mrs. Sprinkles,

Your story sounds like mine in reverse. I grew up in a very strong Baptist family, was baptized at age 11 and became Catholic as an adult. I still have a great deal of respect for my childhood faith. It was in the Baptist church that I was taught about Christ's amazing gift of salvation and learned to love the Scriptures. Becoming Catholic didn't require me to give up those things; in fact, it fulfilled them. I now have a far deeper, richer faith than I ever thought possible. I thank God every day for bringing me to the fullness of his Church.

Best regards and feel free to jump in if you have any questions.

Patrick

Patrick said...

Guys,

We started out discussing Sola Scriptura and have now gone off into priestly celibacy, praying to saints, church discipline, Mary's virginity, Peter, papal authority, and probably some other things I missed. I'm sure Squirrel will get around to these topics as he continues his series of posts. Also I don't have the bandwidth right now to address them in the depth they deserve, so I'm re-focusing on Sola Scriptura.

Let's go back to 1 Tim 3:15, which I mentioned above. Here we see that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. Some translations say "support" or "ground" or "bulwark" rather than foundation - all variations meaning something that holds up something else, in this case the truth.

Note that this isn't coming from me. It's not coming from the Vatican. Holy Scripture says that the church "holds up" truth. Not that it should hold up truth, or that it sometimes holds up truth. Paul says the churchis the foundation of truth. Now you might argue that the "church" mentioned in this passage is not today's Catholic Church. But whatever this foundation is, it's not Scripture.

So, is the church the pillar and foundation of truth? It either is, or it isn't. If it is, then how do you reconcile this passage with the belief that only Scripture is the final authority? It sure looks like we have another foundation. If not, what was Paul trying to say here?

Have a nice weekend,

Patrick

Sir Aaron said...

LOL. Patrick, its so easy to get sidetracked because there are so many things wrong.

So back to 1 Timothy 3:15. What, in the text, communicates infallibility? And what exegesis do you offer about the context, the language, or the function of this verse? These are rhetorical questions, of course, because you don't have any.

Come now, Patrick, certainly you've read farther than the first verse from The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants.

Patrick said...

It's not a trick question, Aaron. Is, or is not, the church (however you care to define it) the pillar and foundation of the truth?

I've offered my interpretation of the passage in question. What's yours?

The Squirrel said...

Elena,

"I'm insulted" is a dodge, not a comment. Even if you do not accept what Mrs. Sprinkles said, can you not respond in an intelligent and thoughtful way?

Well, I'm sorry you felt insulted, I would be happy to refund of your admission fee.

~Squirrel

Patrick said...

I know what Mrs. Sprinkles meant. I don't agree, of course, but I wasn't insulted by it. I used to feel the same way, actually.

However, Squirrel, you're applying a double standard here. Mrs. Sprinkles said something very provocative and you let it stand. In fact you applauded her. But when Elena doesn't go into detail you want a full explanation?

It's your blog and your rules, of course. But you're normally more even-handed. I'll assume it was an oversight.

The Squirrel said...

Patrick:

Mrs Sprinkles quoted something that she had heard, then said that she had difficulty reconciling her beliefs with Roman Catholic teachings. Her quote was not profane, nor derogatory. If Rome's teachings (and that "if" is the focus of these posts) contradict the Bible, then one could not be a good Christian and a good Roman Catholic at the same time, no?

Elena's "I'm insulted" is the same deflection tactic used by others who do not want to deal with the arguments others bring. Abortionists are "insulted" by ultrasound pictures of babies in the womb. Homosexuals are "insulted" by Bible verses which call homosexuality a sin. "I'm insulted" is a dodge, pure and simple. It does not further the discussion, but attempts to end it.

~Squirrel

The Squirrel said...

Patrick:

Regarding 1 Timothy 3:15: Let us not stretch and distort Paul’s meaning out of all proportion. The church is to uphold the truth in a world that does, by its very nature, deny the truth. This truth is the message of the church.

The church (the “called out” i.e. God’s elect) is not the source of the truth, nor does the church define the truth. The truth is contained in the Scriptures and the Truth is embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ. Truth has been revealed to the church, so the church is to teach and defend what has been revealed. Who constitutes the church, and what constitutes the truth is what we are discussing.

Elsewhere (Ephesians 2:20,) Paul says that the church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” So, the foundation of the church is the truth, the teachings of Christ and His Apostles, and the church is the foundation of the truth, in the teaching and proclamation of Christ.

The church is supported by the truth, and the church supports the truth. This does not make the church infallible, only the truth is infallible. The church errs whenever it departs from the truth.

~Squirrel

Elena said...

"I'm insulted" is a dodge, not a comment. Even if you do not accept what Mrs. Sprinkles said, can you not respond in an intelligent and thoughtful way?Probably. But at the time I first read it I felt it was better to just leave it at that than write something equally hurtful. The ole, "if you can't say something nice... count to ten..." etc that my folks taught me.

Elena said...

"Mrs Sprinkles quoted something that she had heard, then said that she had difficulty reconciling her beliefs with Roman Catholic teachings. Her quote was not profane, nor derogatory"

Of course it was derogatory. And just because SHE can't reconcile "her" beliefs with what the thinks is Roman Catholic teaching doesn't make me or anyone else a "bad Christian" simply by virtue of being Catholic. Besides being a blatant logical fallacy or two, it's absolutely ridiculous.

Patrick said...

Squirrel: Thank you for the reply. My response:

>>>The church is supported by the truth, and the church supports the truth. <<<

So what is this "truth" and where do I go to find it? The church, you say. In my town are many churches which all say they have truth. Yet despite the fact they possess the same written Word, they teach a wide variety of truths.

Can there be more than one truth? Of course not. How do I know your definition of truth is the right one? Because it comes from Scripture, you will say. But if Scripture is so crystal clear, why are we debating what it means? Up this thread Matt said we are all fallible, and I agree. On what basis, then, can you be sure that your interpretation is right and mine is wrong?

You say the church consists of God's Elect. Great. How do I know who this is? Is there a directory on the web someplace so I can see who is listed? Then I will know who to believe.

>>>So, the foundation of the church is the truth, the teachings of Christ and His Apostles<<<

Yes, indeed. The dilemma at hand is where to find those teachings. This is the heart of our disagreement. You say only through the written Scripture. I believe in Scripture, but I think truth is also contained in the oral tradition that was handed down by the Apostles.

I think you said that you believe in tradition too, but it must be tested by Scripture. This is a false dilemma because nothing in Catholic Tradition conflicts with Scripture. It may, of course, conflict with your interpretation of Scripture, but since you don't claim infallibility you have to admit you might be wrong.

I don't want to go in circles here. I think we've beaten the topic to death. I doubt anyone's mind has been changed, but that's how it should be. We are talking about important issues and no one should give up their beliefs because some guy on a blog said so.

Thanks for the very enjoyable conversation. I'm looking forward to your next installment.

The Squirrel said...

Elena:

Um, you're reading a post entitled Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Part 3! Have you read the first 2 parts? Did you know what was being discussed?

"But if you're a 'good Christian' you'll by necessity be a 'bad Catholic.'" is exactly the point of these articles.

A Kosher Jew who reads blog articles about bacon cheeseburger recipes should not choose to be insulted, either.

~Squirrel

Elena said...

"Um, you're reading a post entitled Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Part 3! Have you read the first 2 parts? Did you know what was being discussed?"

I red the post but not Part 1 and 2. I popped over because Sola Mom recommended it.

""But if you're a 'good Christian' you'll by necessity be a 'bad Catholic.'" is exactly the point of these articles."

If that's your thesis statement then just as well I missed them, because that's an inductive reasoning fallacy all by itself.

"A Kosher Jew who reads blog articles about bacon cheeseburger recipes should not choose to be insulted, either."

Of course a food article isn't insulting. I supposed it would only be so to a Kosher Jew if the article is about how a Kosher Jew should fix a bacon cheesburger!

Elena said...

Ooops that's "read" not "red"

The Squirrel said...

Patrick:

The Bible defines the truth, and the church which holds to the Bible is the true church. That is why the doctrine of sola Scriptura is so important.

~Squirrel

Sir Aaron said...

Elena:

Besides being a blatant logical fallacy or two, it's absolutely ridiculous.Which one or two logical fallacies would that be?

Sir Aaron said...

I'm going to borrow from James White as it's easier than recreating the wheel:

When Paul wrote to Timothy he addressed issues related to the fellowship of the church. Most believe Timothy was serving as bishop in Ephesus, so Paul was providing him insight into the form and function of the body. Notice the context of the end of the third chapter:

12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. 14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.

Notice the context of v. 15: it is that of the local church, in which you have elders and deacons. Paul is coming to a particular physical location (Ephesus?) where Timothy is, and that would identify the context once again as the local church. So Paul explains he is writing so that Timothy would know how one "ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." The context follows with a definition of that truth which is supported and promoted by the church, that being the message of Jesus Christ.

The Squirrel said...

Elena:

Well, at least try the meatloaf recipe. It's really good (and, surprisingly, Kosher...)

~Squirrel

The Squirrel said...

Well it's Kosher if you leave the cheese off.

:-)

Sir Aaron said...

I prefer the kosher beef hot dogs....Hebrew National. Yum!

Elena said...

"Which one or two logical fallacies would that be?"

For starters it's a not so subtle ad hominem.

It's also a poisoning the well type of question like "when did you stop beating your wife?"

It's also an inductive fallacy, appeal to ridicule, appeal to popularity, appeal to spite, appeal to fear and appeal to emotion.

Sir Aaron said...

Elena:

You need to brush up on your logic. The statement: But if you're a "good Christian" you'll by necessity be a "bad Catholic." And if you're a "good Catholic," you're likely to be a "bad Christian." is not an attack against a person or source making an argument. It is simply a conclusion. Therefore, it cannot be an ad hominem attack, by definition.

I also don't see how it appeals to emotion, popularity, or any of the other objections you raised. You'll have to explain how you think it does so.

Your objection about an inductive fallacy is actually best attempt but falls woefully short. IF anything, it might be begging the question because the premises was not explained by the author.

However, I'd make the conclusion based on the premises that has already been set forth in the three threads.

There is simply no way you can be a good Christian, according to Protestant beliefs, and also be a good Catholic. The belief systems are in total opposition to each other. No man can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.

Patrick said...

It seems to me that it is impossible to say whether someone is or is not a "good Christian" unless you first define what a "good Christian" is.

Since you don't have a way to do that with anything other than your own subjective opinion and/or your own fallible interpretations of Scripture, the whole argument is rather pointless.

If there were a simple definition of "good Christian" we wouldn't have so many different denominations that call themselves Christian, would we?

The Squirrel said...

Patrick:

We do not need to understand Scripture infallibly or exhaustively; we only need to understand it sufficiently.

~Squirrel

Sir Aaron said...

Patrick:

Actually, amongst Protestants, there is more consensus than not and most issues (exception being openly apostate and rebellious branches).

"Good" is probably not an accurate adjective to best describe what Mrs. Sprinkles was trying to say, but don't pretend like you didn't get the gist. You and I both know that Protestantism and Catholicism are mutually exclusive. This becomes more obvious as one grows in understanding of either. As you grow in your faith you must eventually choose one over the other. Protestants and the RCC are diametrically opposed on the fundamentals of Christianity so how much more so about what it means to be a "good Christian?" Clearly you cannot be a "good Christian" from the Protestant perspective and still be a "good Catholic" since the underlying definitions of both are opposed to one another.

But you already knew that. You just don't like it, which is altogether different, than you didn't understand it because it wasn't defined.

Elena said...

"You need to brush up on your logic. The statement: But if you're a "good Christian" you'll by necessity be a "bad Catholic." And if you're a "good Catholic," you're likely to be a "bad Christian." is not an attack against a person or source making an argument. It is simply a conclusion."

Yea, based on logical fallacies! But besides that, if you to back, brush up on your reading comprehension and read the thread, I was referring to Squirrel's title for the series, not Mrs. S's comment.

"I also don't see how it appeals to emotion, popularity, or any of the other objections you raised. You'll have to explain how you think it does so."

Really? Because it's so obvious when you consider the context of this blog. I'll do the two you mention in particular.

Squirrel et al certainly tend to believe that Catholicism isn't Christian, so to write a title such as "Is Roman Catholicism Christian?" is a way to get a good buzz going from his community who already tend to think like that anyway.That's an appeal to emotion.

And since I would venture that is a pretty popular view over here, that title makes it more enticing to believe it - appeal to popularity.

"Your objection about an inductive fallacy is actually best attempt but falls woefully short."

Well that's your opinion. I think it's spot on.

"IF anything, it might be begging the question because the premises was not explained by the author."

Ah, excellent! There's one I forgot!

"However, I'd make the conclusion based on the premises that has already been set forth in the three threads."

Well, i did get back to read the other two posts. Nuff said.

"There is simply no way you can be a good Christian, according to Protestant beliefs,"

BINGO! (An old Catholic phrase!)

So it would be more correct to say that there is no way a good Catholic can be a good Protestant!! Being a good Christian is something else.

Sir Aaron said...

Alright, Elena, I'll humor you for a second.

You said: But besides that, if you to back, brush up on your reading comprehension and read the thread, I was referring to Squirrel's title for the series, not Mrs. S's comment. My response: You are either a liar or have poor memory. Your first post was 4/25 at 12:51 PM. You quoted Mrs. Sprinkles, then said "It not only doesn't make sense, I find it highly insulting." Your second post was 6:51. You quoted Squirrel who responded to your post about Mrs. Sprinkles. Then you said: "Probably. But at the time I first read it I felt it was better to just leave it at that than write something equally hurtful. The ole, "if you can't say something nice... count to ten..." etc that my folks taught me." Your third post came immediately after your second post. You said "Of course it was derogatory. And just because SHE can't reconcile "her" beliefs with what the thinks is Roman Catholic teaching doesn't make me or anyone else a "bad Christian" simply by virtue of being Catholic. Besides being a blatant logical fallacy or two, it's absolutely ridiculous."

So then I asked you what logical fallacies, Mrs.Sprinkles committed. Then you said in response to my question: "For starters it's a not so subtle ad hominem. "It's also a poisoning the well type of question like "when did you stop beating your wife?" It's also an inductive fallacy, appeal to ridicule, appeal to popularity, appeal to spite, appeal to fear and appeal to emotion."

Obviously the entire context of our conversation has been Mrs. Sprinkle's statement that one cannot be a good Christian and be a good Catholic and NOT Squirrel's title for his post.

Sir Aaron said...

Continuing, Elana, you said: "There is simply no way you can be a good Christian, according to Protestant beliefs," BINGO! (An old Catholic phrase!)Nobody appreciates being quoted out of context. My statement was that you cannot be a good Christian and be a good Catholic according to how Protestants define "Christian."

You said "So it would be more correct to say that there is no way a good Catholic can be a good Protestant!! Being a good Christian is something else."Actually, I would submit it is more correct to say that there is no way a "good Catholic" can be Christian at all, much less a good one. You see from my perspective, what makes one a Christian also by definition defines him as a Protestant.Now, Elana, do us all a favor. Stop throwing temper tantrums, stomping around, throwing out false logical fallacies,and misquoting people. Instead, make a coherent argument as to why what I believe is wrong. If you don't, I'll be forced to treat you like my two year old and give you a time-out.

Elena said...

Sigh...

at
April 25, 2009 7:12 PM Squirrel said:

"Um, you're reading a post entitled Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Part 3! Have you read the first 2 parts? Did you know what was being discussed?"

and then at 7:18 I responded to Squirrel:

"If that's your thesis statement then just as well I missed them, because that's an inductive reasoning fallacy all by itself."

So I was clearly talking about the title.

I've been around blog/forum debates long enough to know that when the discussion starts turning to who said what, when and why, the discussion is over. I made my points and they are standing, so I'm done responding to you Sir Aaron.

Sir Aaron said...

Aye, Elana, that is well for it's obvious from our discussion that the only reason we have to discuss who said what when is because you can't keep a coherent train of thought.

Yes, you made your points. You don't like title of the thread because you think it's insulting. Ditto with Mrs. Sprinkle's comments. You've explained that you think the conclusion was arrived by logical fallacies, but you haven't debated the validity of the conclusion. Of course, since you are so well versed in logic, you'd know that you committed a logical fallacy because the method doesn't make the conclusion less valid. And personally, I think Mrs. Sprinkles got it right. I don't know what you could do with Mr. Squirrel. I suppose he could retitle his post, "Differences between Protestant and Catholic definitions of what it means to be a Christian." I mean we wouldn't want to offend you or anything by telling you that we think you're apostate.

The Squirrel said...

Bingo, Aaron (If I can use that phrase... Has Rome copyrighted that?)

If someone believes what the Church of Rome teaches, they are not Christian, but are apostate. They believe a different gospel, a gospel of works, not of faith. The Protestant Reformation occurred for a reason: Rome was rife with corruption, graft, and immorality, and shot through with false teachings... They still are. Read Luther's 95 Theses and it's easy to see why a reformation was needed. Luther's call to the church to get back to the Bible rings as loud today as it did in 1517.

~Squirrel

Sir Aaron said...

Squirrel:

What's interesting is that the 95 thesis are the same objections we have today!

Look at this: http://www.kansas.com/living/religion/story/768884.html. You cannot buy one — the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567 — but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one.

LOL.

The Squirrel said...

Aaron:

No, I hadn't seen that. *snort*

What is it they're always telling us? "Rome never changes...?" To which the Protestant always replies, "Well, Rome sure needs to!"

~Squirrel

Jennie said...

"I began writing these posts because I'm worried about the ecumenism that would paper over the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Sure, we talk here in Protestant West, but in areas that are more predominantly RC, Rome's hostility is much less... veiled.

Two many Biblical Christians are ignorant of, and indifferent to, the great gulf that divides our belief systems."

Well said, Squirrel. I've seen the same thing; that protestants, and those being drawn to convert to Roman Catholicism, have forgotten (or never knew) history and the differences that caused the reformation and the earlier persecutions of dissidents by the RCC. I've been reading alot the last few months trying to understand what really happened historically and the doctrinal differences between the RCC and Biblical truth; what I've learned has only confirmed my faith in God's word and my understanding that the catholic church is apostate. Unfortunately the catholics I've communicated with say the exact same thing about their studies: that it's confirmed them in their catholic faith. This was a big shock to my naivete when I realized my 'superior knowledge' :)wasn't going to knock them to their senses and into the truth. I've been commenting alot (mostly late last year) on Elena's blog (which I found by accident while searching for historical info). I've learned that debating doesn't do any good because catholics and 'protestants' really do 'talk past each other' as I've seen it described several times on blog comments lately.
I feel bad for Elena because a similar thing happened to her here that happened to me on her blog; I got ganged up on and even ridiculed for my statements since I was the lone protestant. They didn't mean to gang up but it's inevitable when there are several trying to express themselves and I was the only non-catholic on there.
Even though Elena may be faulty in her logic and certainly is in her doctrine, I think the sarcastic remarks can be taken way too far. They won't help her to see that she's wrong. I know it really annoyed me when the catholic ladies treated me like the little ignorant protestant girl who had gone astray from the mother church.

Matt Gumm said...

So I'll take partial responsibility for causing the thread to wander. At the same time, I think Patrick has ignored an important teaching of Scripture here, in order to bolster his argument against sola scriptura.

Patrick said: But the Church existed before Scripture did.I said: The Church (at least as you would describe it) did not exist before Scripture.

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:34-36).

Observe: Jesus uses the terms "Law," "word of God," and "Scripture" interchangeably. The Scripture (the written word) existed prior to the Church.
Patrick said: I like the way it is explained in John 1:1. The Word of God is God. The Word is a person, not a book, and of course has always existed. To say that the written word existed prior to the Church makes no sense, though.
During the earthly ministry of Jesus most Jews regarded the Septuagint as the written word, and it did not include what we now call the New Testament. Yes, God knew that in the future certain men would be inspired to write certain things. But as far as humanity is concerned, Scripture was not yet complete when the Church was founded - which I date to the Pentecost events in Acts 2.
I replied: The Greek word for Scripture, graphe, is used 51 times in the New Testament. Each time, it refers to written Scripture. Yes, the Old Testament. But in at least two places, 1 Tim. 5:18 & 2 Pet. 3:16, it also includes some New Testament writings. The people in Jesus' day studied the Scriptures.Just to make sure this was clear, I was saying that the Scripture, the written word, existed prior to the church.

For example: When the Saduccees asked Jesus about resurrection, "In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be," how did Jesus answer? "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." (Full story found in Matt. 22:23-33.)

The passage I quoted before where the terms "law," "word of God," and "Scripture" are used uses a direct quotation from the Old Testament, and there is simply no way construe it that Jesus meant himself when he said "If he called them gods who the word of God came." He's talking about the written word - Scripture.

I could go on, but there's no point in quoting all 51 instances to show that we were dealing with the written word. The point I'll make instead is this: in Jesus' day, the Scriptures were the standard of truth. It is also clear from other passages quoted that the traditions of the elders were subject to Scripture (ie, God's commands - cf. Mark 7).

I think we have two choices here. Either God continued his system of written Scripture being the ultimate authority, or God chose to change how He operated (even during Jesus' day) replaced it with another system.

Protestants believe the former; Catholics believe the latter. As would the Pharisees, I think.

I find the parallel particularly instructive. Look at what happened to a group of people who thought that Scripture itself was not sufficient, and decided that there needed to be more specific rules to fill in the gaps. By their traditions they "made void" the (written) word of God.

Elena said...

"Even though Elena may be faulty in her logic and certainly is in her doctrine, I think the sarcastic remarks can be taken way too far."


Thanks Jennie. I didn't hop out of the conversation because I was feeling ganged up on. But since I wouldn't tolerate the type of behavior Sir Aaron was demonstrating in real life, why would I put up with it on a blog forum?

I can hold my own. Regardless of what side of the debate you are on, a logical fallacy weakens the argument. The logical fallacies I pointed out were glaring. It doesn't mean that the points were necessarily wrong or right, just that the way they were presented was faulty.

We never got to a conclusion so Aaron's chest beating over that was premature congratulations. I sense that he does that a lot.

Elena said...

"Look at what happened to a group of people who thought that Scripture itself was not sufficient,"

Yea - 2000+ years old, billions of members, biggest missionary organization in the world...

The Squirrel said...

Elena:

"Yea - 2000+ years old, billions of members, biggest missionary organization in the world..."

We could argue about the "2000+ years old" thing, as what we know of as Roman Catholicism really didn't begin to emerge until the 6th century... But, the rest of it? Yeah...

"for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it." (Matthew 7:13)

~Squirrel

The Squirrel said...

Jennie:

I don't think that Elena is an ignorant Catholic... It is evident that she is a well-indoctrinated Romanist apologist who knows exactly what she's doing, and what she was getting into. A little snarkiness at her attempts to derail and obfuscate was warranted.

OK, I'm going to close the comments on this thread before we get any further off track. We can pick this up when my next post goes up sometime today.

I want to thank everyone, including Elena, for the discussion.

Jennie said...

Squirrel,
I agree that Elena is not an ignorant catholic, and that she is well-indoctrinated. I didn't think you all were calling her ignorant; I meant that the catholic ladies on her blog felt I was ignorant of catholicism and so had no right to criticize it. I just felt that we should be a better example of civility than the catholics were to me. I am probably over-sensitive, but I've been trying to witness to her, and feel boldness and straightforwardness is good, but sarcasm can be overdone.
I'm not sure I agree that she knows she is giving misinformantion, though. I think she really believes what she is saying, having been deceived by those above her. She places trust in the magisterium, past and present, and so assumes they, as her 'mother church' are correct, without question.

The Squirrel said...

Jennie:

I understand where you're coming from. It's just that the "I'm insulted" response is a pet peeve with me. It causes good and caring people to become conciliatory and placating towards the "offended" party. And this is just what the claiming insult wants, as it puts their opposition on the defensive.

OK, Part 4 is up, so we'll continue there.

~Squirrel