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Saturday, February 6, 2010

St Augustine was Catholic, not Protestant

This post was inspired by a series of quotes I came across on a fellow Catholic's blog, The Supplement.

Protestants appeal to St Augustine more than to any other Early Church Father (by far). This is because, since the time of Luther, Protestants believe St Augustine was more or less "Protestant," and thus a strong (historical) ally against the Catholic Church. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth, and while Protestants might think St Augustine was on their side, the evidence points conclusively to the contrary.

The following are some quotes that The Supplement blog posted, revealing St Augustine actually taught some pretty "Catholic" things - things that wouldn't sit well with Protestant doctrine. And what's most amazing is that these quotes are all taken from St Augustine's best known work, The Confessions - a book which is ironically highly praised by Protestants.



Speaking on Baptism (all links to original Supplement posts, with expanded commentary):
And hereby, in Your Word, not the depth of the sea, but the earth parted from the bitterness of the waters, brings forth not the creeping and flying creature that has life, but the living soul itself. For now has it no longer need of baptism, as the heathen have, and as itself had when it was covered with the waters—for no other entrance is there into the kingdom of heaven, since You have appointed that this should be the entrance [Confessions XIII.21, emphasis added]
Again on Baptism
And Your purposes were profoundly impressed upon me; and, rejoicing in faith, I praised Your name. And that faith suffered me not to be at rest in regard to my past sins, which were not yet forgiven me by Your baptism. [Confessions, IX.4]

Quickly did You remove his life [i.e., that of St. Augustine’s son Adeodatus] from the earth; and now I recall him to mind with a sense of security, in that I fear nothing for his childhood or youth, or for his whole self. We took him coeval with us in Your grace, to be educated in Your discipline; and we were baptized, and solicitude about our past life left us. [ibid., IX.6]
Baptism yet again:
Although [Nebridius] also, not being yet a Christian, had fallen into the pit of that most pernicious error of believing Your Son to be a phantasm, yet, coming out thence, he held the same belief that we did; not as yet initiated in any of the sacraments of Your Church, but a most earnest inquirer after truth. Whom, not long after our conversion and regeneration by Your baptism, he being also a faithful member of the Catholic Church, and serving You in perfect chastity and continency among his own people in Africa, when his whole household had been brought to Christianity through him, You released from the flesh; and now he lives in Abraham's bosom. [Confessions, IX.3; emphasis added]
Speaking on the Eucharist:
For He judges and approves what He finds right, but disapproves what He finds amiss, whether in the celebration of those sacraments by which are initiated those whom Your mercy searches out in many waters; or in that in which the Fish Itself is exhibited, which, being raised from the deep, the devout earth feeds upon… [Confessions, XIII.23; emphasis added]
Speaking on Prayers for the Dead:
I know that she acted mercifully, and from the heart forgave her debtors their debts; do Thou also forgive her debts, whatever she contracted during so many years since the water of salvation. Forgive her, O Lord, forgive her, I beseech You; enter not into judgment with her. Let Your mercy be exalted above Your justice, because Your words are true, and You have promised mercy unto the merciful; which You gave them to be who wilt have mercy on whom You will have mercy, and wilt have compassion on whom You have had compassion. [Confessions IX.13; emphasis added]
Speaking on Mass for the Dead:
So, when the body was carried forth, we both went and returned without tears. For neither in those prayers which we poured forth unto You when the sacrifice of our redemption was offered up unto You for her—the dead body being now placed by the side of the grave, as the custom there is, prior to its being laid therein—neither in their prayers did I shed tears; yet was I most grievously sad in secret all the day, and with a troubled mind entreated You, as I was able, to heal my sorrow, but You did not; fixing, I believe, in my memory by this one lesson the power of the bonds of all habit, even upon a mind which now feeds not upon a fallacious word. [Confessions IX.12; emphasis added]
Speaking on Holy Relics:
Thou by a vision made known to Your renowned bishop [St. Ambrose – RdP] the spot where lay the bodies of Gervasius and Protasius, the martyrs (whom You had in Your secret storehouse preserved uncorrupted for so many years), whence You might at the fitting time produce them to repress the feminine but royal fury. For when they were revealed and dug up and with due honour transferred to the Ambrosian Basilica, not only they who were troubled with unclean spirits (the devils confessing themselves) were healed, but a certain man also, who had been blind many years, a well-known citizen of that city, having asked and been told the reason of the people's tumultuous joy, rushed forth, asking his guide to lead him there. Arrived there, he begged to be permitted to touch with his handkerchief the bier of Your saints, whose death is precious in Your sight. When he had done this, and put it to his eyes, they were immediately opened. Thence did the fame spread; thence did Your praises burn—shine; thence was the mind of that enemy, though not yet enlarged to the wholeness of believing, restrained from the fury of persecuting. [Confessions IX.7, emphasis added]
Speaking on Intercession of the Saints in Heaven:
Now he puts not his ear unto my mouth, but his spiritual mouth unto Your fountain, and drinks as much as he is able, wisdom according to his desire—happy without end. Nor do I believe that he is so inebriated with it as to forget me, seeing Thou, O Lord, whom he drinks, art mindful of us. [Confessions IX.3]

Surely, this was more than enough evidence that St Augustine not only was not a Protestant (teaching doctrines anathema to Protestant ears), but he was very much Catholic in his life and thought. And if the above wasn't enough, Dave Armstrong has put together his own list of "Augustine was Catholic, not Protestant" quotes, spanning even more subjects than these!

A special thank you to RdP at The Supplement - while I have read the Confessions before, I didn't notice many of these fine gems!

69 comments:

Reginald de Piperno said...

You’re welcome, Nick :-)

Thanks for the notice. I’m glad that the posts have been useful to you.

RdP

Looney said...

From Augustine's book VI, regarding his mother, Monica's rituals over the saints:

"When she learnt that the famous preacher (Ambrose) and religious leader had ordered that no such offerings were to be made, even by those who acted soberly, to avert any pretext for intoxication being given to drinkers and because the ceremonies were like meals to propitiate the departed spirits and similar to heathen superstition, she happily abstained."

I believe the Protestant can cite plenty of examples where their practices coincide with Augustine, but deviate from the current "Catholic" practices, such as those regarding the worship of the saints. Note that Ambrose is also labeled a "preacher", because the pagan practice of inserting a layer of priests between God and man wasn't yet re-instituted.

The fact is that there wasn't any regarded Rome based bureaucracy at this time, nor a need to protest against it, so wouldn't it be best to say that Augustine was neither Protestant nor Catholic?

(I am feeling guilty because I followed your link to the Council of Trent, but only skimmed it.)

Looney said...

Book VI of Confessions!

Nick said...

Looney,

Regarding your pro-protestant Augustine quote, you're badly misreading what it really says.
Take note of the context:

"my mother brought to certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, and wine--as had been her custom in Africa--and she was forbidden to do so by the doorkeeper. And as soon as she learned that it was the bishop who had forbidden it, she acquiesced so devoutly and obediently that I myself marveled how readily she could bring herself to turn critic of her own customs, rather than question his prohibition."

St Monica was doing a very Christian thing, which was her custom back home. It is a very Catholic thing to erect places in honor of the saints and do things in honor of them. Further, St Monica is also Catholic in that she submitted to a Bishop.
The *CORRECT* interpretation of your quote is that what St Monica was doing was forbidden NOT because it was heresy/sin, BUT because in that area there was too much a risk for people MISTAKING it as part of what the local pagans did. This is virtually the principle behind 1 Corinthians 8 (even though something isn't objectively sinful, it should be avoided if it can potentially scandalize others).

You said: I believe the Protestant can cite plenty of examples where their practices coincide with Augustine

That's precisely what I deny, given the large amount of evidence that Augustine was very much Catholic and very unProtestant -and even if a few scant quotes can be produced from the Protestant end, the overall picture doesn't change.

In the end, we still have that long list of "Catholic" things from the Confessions, now including what you posted, and nothing that is particularly "protestant"

Jae said...

— St. Augustine (354–430): Against the Epistle of Manichaeus called Fundamental, chapter 4: Proofs of the Catholic Faith.


"No one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion... For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as MOVED by the AUTHORITY of the Catholic Church."

I don't think he sounded protestant to me.

Peace.

Nick said...

Nice quote. I didn't know where that was from.

Looney said...

@Jae, the term "Catholic" comes from Greek, not Latin!

Augustine's City Of God and Confessions have no mention of any kind of Rome based church structure or religious authority that I see, so "Catholic Church" meant the universal church as composed of those who hold Jesus as Lord and Savior while adhering to the orthodox faith. Certainly the Greek, Coptic and Syrian churches which predate the Roman church would agree with this definition, so it isn't unique to Protestants.

Protestants have different views, but one is that the term "Catholic Church" was later co-opted by a man-instituted bureaucracy based in Rome, so that Augustine's usage can in no way be equated to the title that was later adapted by the Roman organization.

Nick said...

Looney,

You're grasping at straws. There is no good evidence St Augustine was anywhere of the nature of a Protestant.

And I'm not going to do your homework for you, but Augustine recognized and appealed to the Papacy. This Letter shows him listing off all the *succession* of the *popes*:
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102053.htm
QUOTE:
"2. For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: "Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!" Matthew 16:18 The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these:— Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found."

Notice one could easily *REPLACE* the term "Donatist" with Protestant here.


The problem is that St Augustine is the 'best' hope Protestantism can appeal to for some scrap of historical vindication of their doctrines, and that's why the Reformers appealed to St Augustine more than all their other patristic quotes combined. But this is quickly being abandoned as more and more Protestants realize just how un-Protestant-friendly he was. What's most astonishing is that most Protestants simply shrug this 'loss' of Augustine off as no biggie, showing just how ahistorical people will go to defend their errors.

Any honest Protestant would label St Augustine as a heretic for the damnable heresies (from a Protestant point of view) he embraced and taught...but they hold off doing so because they realize it would sever whatever threads of historical continuity they could appeal to. It's astonishing that most of the same 'heresies' Protestants condemn Catholics on, they don't carry over to St Augustine.

Jae said...

@Looney you said: "Augustine..have no mention of any kind of Rome based church structure or religious authority that I see,"

I could give you a tsunami of Early Church Fathers’ exhortation on the Primacy of Peter from Sts Ireneus, Jerome , Cyprian of Carthage, Polycarp, Ambrose, Cyril, Ephraim and a ton more. But since you singled out St. Augustine then here are some writings I think you have MISSED:

Augustine on the Primacy of Peter:


"Number the bishops even from the very seat of Peter, and see every succession in that line of fathers; that seat is the rock against which the proud gates of hell do not prevail." Psalmus Contra Partem Donati 43.30.


"There are many things which which most justly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church; the agreement of peoples and nations keep me; the authority established by miracles, fostered by hope, increased by charity, and confirmed by antiquity, keeps me; the succession of priests from the very See of the Apostle Peter, unto whom our Lord after His Resurrection committed His sheep to be fed, down to the Episcopate, to this day, keeps me; in fine, the very name of Catholic keeps me, which, not without cause, has in the midst of so many heresies clung to this Church alone in such a way that though all heretics want to be called Catholics, still when a stranger asks to be directed to the Catholic Church no man of them dares to point out his own basilica or house." Against the Letter of Manichaeus



"...Why! a faggot that is cut from the Vine retains its shape. But what use is that shape if it is not living from the root? Come, brother, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine. It is grievous when we see you thus lying cut off. Number the bishops from the See of Peter. And, in that order of fathers, see whom succeeded whom. This is the Rock which the proud gates of hades do not conquer. All who rejoice in peace, only judge truly." (St. Augustine, Psalmus Contra Pertem Donati)

"For, if the order of the succession of bishops is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter, to whom the Lord said: 'Upon this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." For to Peter succeeded Linus, to Linus Clement ... To Julius Liberius, to Liberius Damasus, to Damasus Sircius, to Sircius Anastasius." (St. Augustine, Epistle 53)

And speaking of the authority of the Roman church itself, he says:

The Church of Rome "...in which the authority of the Apostolic office has always stood fast." (St. Augustine, Epistle 43:7)

And writing to the Pope himself, he says:

"This act, Lord Brother, we thought right to intimate to your holy charity, in order that to the statutes of our littleness might be added the authority of the Apostolic See for the preservation of the safety of the many and the correction of the perversity of some." (St. Augustine to the Pope on Pelagianism, Epistle 175)

"For we do not pour back our little stream for the purpose of replenishing your great fountain, but in the great temptation of these times, we wish it to be approved by you whether our stream, though small, flows from the same head of water as your abundant river, and to be consoled by your answer in common participation of the same grace." (St. Augustine to the Pope, Epistle 177)

CONTINUED:

Jae said...

CONTINUATION: Augustine on the Primacy of Peter:

Augustine speaking later of this Pope's authoritative decree, he writes,

"And the words of the venerable bishop Innocent to the Council of Carthage ...what is more plain and clear than this sentence of the Apostolic See?" (St. Augustine, Contra Julian 2:4, 6:7)

"...When he answered that he consented to the letters of Pope Innocent, of blessed memory, by which all doubt about this matter was removed." (St. Augustine, Contra Julian 2:3:5)

"Do you think these fathers, viz. Irenaeus, Cyprian, Reticius, Hilary, Ambrose, are to be despised because they belong to the Western Church, and I have mentioned no Eastern bishop among them? What are we to do, since they are Greeks and we are Latins? I think that you ought to be satisfied with the part of the world in which our Lord willed to crown the Chief of the Apostles with glorious martyrdom. If you had been willing to hear blessed Innocent, the president of that Church [Rome], you would have long ago disengaged your perilous youth from the nets of the Pelagians. For what could that holy man answer to the African councils except from what of old the Apostolic See and the Roman Church with all others preservingly hold? ...See what you can reply to St. Innocent, who has no other view than have those into whose council I have introduced you; with there he sits also, though after them in time, before them in rank... Answer him, or rather answer the Lord Himself, whose words he alleges. What will you say? What can you answer? For if you should call blessed Innocent a Manichaean, surely you will not dare to say it of Christ?" (St. Augustine, Contra Julian 1:4:13)

"To all these letters, he (Pope Innocent) answered in the manner which is right and the duty of the bishop of the Apostolic See." (St. Augustine, Epistle 186)

"In order of the succession (i.e. the succession of Peter), no Donatist bishop is found. But, unexpectedly, they sent from Africa an ordained man who, presiding over a few Africans in Rome, propagated the title of Mountain Men or Cutzpits." (St. Augustine, Epistle 53)

Also in terms of Peter's own authoritative primacy, Augustine says:

"Peter ... On account of the primacy which he bore among the disciples." (St. Augustine, Enarratio in Psalmum 108)

St Augustine was a bishop of the Catholic Church of his time (300 A.D.)and the subsequent succession is never ending until the end of time.

Looney said...

For both of you, I think Augustine would be horrified at his words being used to preserve the authority of an organization of gay pedophile priests!

There was an unbroken succession of priests at Beth El (House of God), but then God called it Beth Aven (House of wickedness) later. When the Jews appealed to their unbroken lineage from Abraham, Jesus condemned them.

Thus, it is true that there is an unbroken succession back to Peter, but the exact same succession leads back to several anti-Christs.

I stand by my statement: I have read thousands of pages of church fathers. There was a Catholic Church II in the time of Anselm which he honors, but Augustine has no knowledge of Catholic Church II. By my account, we are on Catholic Church V now.

Jae said...

Hello Looney,

Brother, I hope I didn't upset you but i thank you for your reply.

So, if i get you right,
to make the story short your assessment of the church was corrupted after the 12 apostles died, something like the Mormons used to say.

I'm so sorry brother Looney but I place my trust in my God and Lord Jesus Christ when He gave a great PROMISE to His Church (eventhough in the midst of sins and corruption of men) when He said:

John 16:13

Jesus said, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into ALL TRUTH. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is YET TO COME."

Dictionary, ALL: every single one, whole, FULLNESS - not one or two or three but ALL until the end of time.

Now for your comment about the, "organization of gay pedophile priests!"

While I agree with you there are a few priests who were not being faithful to their vows of holiness (study 4.5% of priests) but who said we are not ALL sinners...Peter is a bonafide sinner,the great Apostle Paul is a genocidal maniac, same as James, Matthew, Moses, David and now the pope/priests are all sinners like you and me, but inspite of that Christ still is faithful to his promise. I trust it more than what people would say!

I hope you are aware of the difference between a personal sin and corporate sin.

In a nutshell:

Personal sins are examples above.
Corporate sin is a departure from the Truth (Biblical/Divine/Moral Truth) a good example like christian and evangelical churches acting as a church proclaim, declare and teach to their flock that gay-marriage , homosexual acts, artficial contraception etc. are all accepted as TRUTH by God.

I hope you see the difference.

By the way for your info, child abuse is a thousand more widespread in schools and other u.s. institutions than the Catholic church. The media don't report it you figured out why?...they hated us christians in general because we are on their way with all their abortion, euthanesia, free-choice, genetic stem cell, cloning agendas...and the Catholic Church is the only prominent figure that stands against them for their total domination.

Peace.

Nick said...

Looney,

This is about looking at the facts, and so far you've not put forth anything solid. Doing a 'comparison of doctrines', he clearly is "Roman Catholic", while on the otherhand sufficiently in "error" to be a heretic in (consistent, honest) Protestant viewpoint.

You say "Augustine would be horrified," but you fail to realize his horror would be over people like you painting him as a 'good Protestant'. Augustine wasn't easily horrified, given he lived in a time of all sorts of wacky heresies and paganism.

Jae is right, you're espousing a sort of Mormonism in your ecclesiology and Church history.

Looney said...

Nick, to switch this to a positive consider this quote from Augustine:

"I sought a way to obtain strength enough to enjoy you; but I did not find it until I embraced 'the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus' 'who is above all things, God blessed for ever'" - Confessions.VII

I like Augustine because he is excited about Jesus - what he did for us on the cross - and what he does through us today. I am attracted to anyone who has such a passion, whether Protestant or Catholic. Even when I read Anselm, I feel I am reading a kindred spirit who loves Christ Jesus, although no doubt he would be offended at my current affiliations.

Augustine also writes this anecdote:

"Simplicianus replied: 'I shall not believe that or count you among the Christians unless I see you in the Church of Christ.' Victorinus laughed and said: 'Then do walls make Christians?'" - Confessions.VIII.

Regarding the Mormons, they believe that the church is a bureaucracy, only their bureaucracy is the correct one whereas the one in Rome is an apostate one. I believe that the church isn't a bureaucracy, as bureaucracies naturally construct walls. Instead, it is a community of believers centered on Christ - as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and as passed on to us by faithful servants of the word.

I would much rather there not be a wall between Catholics and Protestants, but I will not remove that wall by submitting to the Rome based bureaucracy.

Jae said...

Bro looney, I know it's tough to vow to hierachical authority outside yourself but what could we do if God Himself set it up like that.

Protestants used to say among themselves, "We have the essentials and the rest are not important" refering to the Scripture. But they didn't realize just by proclaiming and believing which one is essential or not is already an affirmation and delegation of "authority" by themselves which they despised the Catholic Church for; aside from the fact that there is no Scriptural text proof of the said idea.

Church is very hierachical as described by Apostle Paul with Bishops, priests and deacons much like in Heaven where God is the head and angels,Archangels follow their position, rank and dominions.

"Ephesians 3:4-6 “When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

There is no reason to believe that the truth will be revealed to each individual. If that were the case, would not the same be revealed to all? The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to the Bishops of the Church, modern day successors to the Apostles.

Ephesians 3:10 "so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens."

Peace.

Looney said...

Jae, I don't know of any passages referring to the office of priest in the New Testament. As for Bishop, 1 Timothy 3 is the only one, which has this regarding the qualification of Bishop:

"He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?"

And so a key qualification of a Bishop is that he must be an exemplary married man, like Saint Peter. I have a lot of respect for Augustine, but it seems to me that he was a failure in this key area. Can a bishop never have been married?

Nick said...

Looney,

Unfortunately you still are grasping at straws, not really helping prove Augustine was Protestant.

"And so a key qualification of a Bishop is that he must be an exemplary married man, like Saint Peter."

St Peter wasn't such an example, for his wife/family doesn't seem to be included in his post-encounter with Christ. It seems he was a widower long before becoming a bishop, and even head bishop.

"I have a lot of respect for Augustine, but it seems to me that he was a failure in this key area."

One more reason why he was Catholic and not Protestant.

"Can a bishop never have been married?"

Sure, St Paul is a prime example.

Looney said...

Nick, St. Paul wasn't a bishop.

Nick said...

Looney,

St Paul wasn't a bishop in that the office of Apostle is unique/higher, but he was a bishop in that it is included in office of bishop.

But the real question is if Apostles weren't bishops, and you say St Paul wasn't a bishop, then why did you say St Peter was a great example of a bishop?

It seems you're getting a bit too desperate to find fault with Catholicism, which is unfortunate.

Looney said...

The office of Apostle is different from Bishop, but not "above" in any normal bureaucratic sense. That is why Peter says "Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom." - Acts 6:3.

There is no hierarchy in Christianity, except that Christ is above all, and we submit to one another out of reverence to Christ, not out of reverence to an office. The Church is not the Communist Party!

Just to fill in some background, the Jewish Essene cult of the Dead Sea Scrolls was described by Philo and Josephus. This was a monastic order emphasizing succession, priests, and celibacy. Eusebius and others misunderstood this to be the early Christian church. That is where Catholic Church II got the patterns which you are trying to defend!

Jae said...

Nick, let it go brother if our friend looney wants to think that way about church 1, church II and so on and so forth let him be.

To looney believe whatever you want to believe it's our right,right? But for us catholics we adhere to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Church which he gave His authority to PRESERVE and TEACH his truth so as not to be led astray in this modern world with all the gay-marriage, cloning etc. happening.

Peace.

Looney said...

Jae, I like your spirit. In some sense I agree that Augustine wouldn't want to be identified with the Protestants either. I know too much of their failings.

May the Lord's blessings be on all of you.

Anonymous said...

Jae stated:

To looney believe whatever you want to believe it's our right,right? But for us catholics we adhere to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Church which he gave His authority to PRESERVE and TEACH his truth so as not to be led astray in this modern world with all the gay-marriage, cloning etc. happening.

Why did you list gay-marriage and cloning as the issues aren't there more important issues?

your comments imply that you think that only Catholics (my capital C) have the authority from Jesus. what do you base that on?

Anonymous said...

Nick,
Sorry, the previous comment's last question is not part of this thread's topic.

Are you going to write about the church authority or did I already miss an article.

I realize this blog compares Catholics to others, but do you ever intend to write about topics more "Catholic only" related like
comparing the different Catholic groups like sedavactionists, traditional catholics and VCII groups. Or even comparing the Traditional Latin Mass to the Novus Ordo mass?

thanks
BTW - saw your comment on CTC, interesting post.

Nick said...

Hi Anon,

I haven't written anything specifically on Church Authority, though I should. I'd probably be basing it upon the fact the Church is Christ's Body, and thus indefectible by nature (which would extend to infallibility).

As for your second question, it turns out I have been thinking about that very thing the last few days. I remembered that in my blog title I listed "Traditionalism," which should indicate some posts on that subject. I'm actually currently writing up a post on Modnernism, which is very related to Traditionalism.

Jae said...

Anonymous stated: "Why did you list gay-marriage and cloning as the issues aren't there more important issues?"

Well, sir which issues to you are important? in fact the President of Evangelical Theological Society Rev Albert Mohler (Baptist)said and I quote:

"No issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as homosexuality. Some churches and denominations (Evangelical Lutheran church, Episcopalian church, Presbyterian church, Unitarian Church, Anglicans and a lot more independent evangelical churches)have capitulated to the demands of the homosexual rights movement, and now accept homosexuality as a fully valid lifestyle," he wrote. "Other denominations are tottering on the brink, and without a massive conservative resistance, they are almost certain to abandon biblical truth and bless what the Bible condemns. Within a few short years, a major dividing line has become evident — with those churches endorsing homosexuality on one side, and those stubbornly resisting the cultural tide on the other." end quote.

Now if you belong to one of these churches who proclaim and teach that gay-marriage (just one) is not contrary to the Will of God and Biblically ok, what would you DO?

How would you know the TRUTH when your church and pastor teaches the opposite side?

Who has the Authority to speak for Christ? How would you know with certainty?

You can not say the Bible because these christian pastors and churches would also use it to oppose your interpretation and besides they would also claim they are being guided by the same Hoy Spirit as you.

If there exist offenses, disputes and disagreements, Jesus told us go to His Church (not the Bible) to settle and let the Church pass the FINAL judgment once and for all. Look in Matthew 18:15.

How about Baptism? do you want to go there too? I'll be glad to show you.

Peace.

Jae said...

Anonymous stated: "Why did you list gay-marriage and cloning as the issues aren't there more important issues?"

Well, sir which issues to you are important? in fact the President of Evangelical Theological Society Rev Albert Mohler (Baptist)said and I quote:

"No issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as homosexuality. Some churches and denominations (Evangelical Lutheran church, Episcopalian church, Presbyterian church, Unitarian Church, Anglicans and a lot more independent evangelical churches)have capitulated to the demands of the homosexual rights movement, and now accept homosexuality as a fully valid lifestyle," he wrote. "Other denominations are tottering on the brink, and without a massive conservative resistance, they are almost certain to abandon biblical truth and bless what the Bible condemns. Within a few short years, a major dividing line has become evident — with those churches endorsing homosexuality on one side, and those stubbornly resisting the cultural tide on the other." end quote.

Now if you belong to one of these churches who proclaim and teach that gay-marriage (just one) is not contrary to the Will of God and Biblically ok, what would you DO?

How would you know the TRUTH when your church and pastor teaches the opposite side?

Who has the Authority to speak for Christ? How would you know with certainty?

You can not say the Bible because these christian pastors and churches would also use it to oppose your interpretation and besides they would also claim they are being guided by the same Hoy Spirit as you.

If there exist offenses, disputes and disagreements, Jesus told us go to His Church (not the Bible) to settle and let the Church pass the FINAL judgment once and for all. Look in Matthew 18:15.

How about Baptism? do you want to go there too? I'll be glad to show you.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Jae,
After one of the masses last year, there were people from the parish i belong to passing around a petition to ban same sex marriages. They were going to to send that to our state government.

you asked what i think is more important.

I think the general moral decay of our society, specifically the way people treat one another. At the church i went to growing up and the one I now go to, the lessons I remember were about faith in God, service to God, how we can become better people/christians and how we treat our neighbors ( the golden rule).

Another issue is the lack of participation in our communities or church service. I am guilty of this one, there is more i can do. For example, our community puts on a weekly dinner for people that need it and there is a lack people willing to help or it seems it is always the same people helping. Also my wife use to schedule the alter servers, commentators, lecturers for the masses at our church and she would have trouble getting help. Finally in our diocese there is a lack of priests/deacons. We have to share a priest with another parish, and there is talk that one of churches is going to be closed and become a church that is used for special occasions like funerals or weddings.

you had also asked if i had gone to one of the churches mentioned. I grew up in a Methodist church, but after getting married 26 years ago this May, I have belonged to the same Catholic church. I converted several years later though.

The reason i asked the question about Catholics having the sole authority to preserve and teach his truth is that the important lessons i learned growing up are the same lessons I hear at mass, they are the lessons learned by my children at Catholic school and CCD. Since the important lessons learned are the same why does one religion think it is the sole provider of the truth.

Before being asked, yes there are differences between the two churches, like Eucharist beliefs, reconciliation, the reason for good works and saints.

to be continued.

Anonymous said...

Jae
continued from above.

You asked about baptism. I grew up believing in baptismal regeneration and it being a way of welcoming a person into the Christian community and a way of setting them apart from others.

Another similarity, was at our church, communion was held in the main service several times a year, but every sunday there was a communion service in the chapel 1 hour before the main service. I realize the differences and this difference was the one i worked on the most prior to conversion. But the beliefs in the need for it and it's purpose are similar.

The beliefs of justification are very similar. Both believe that justification is by faith. Both believe that faith is transforming. As one Methodist author put it "faith is a disposition of the heart".

I realize the belief in good works is different where we Catholics believe that works will be rewarded or merited (as is mentioned in council of Trent and the Lutheran-Catholic document on justification which was later joined by the World Methodist council). Where the Methodists believe good works to be fruit of the faith.

Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe not. My family goes to mass on Saturday evening, and on one evening our first reading was about a specific passage in the bible. The next day, i took a family member to the same church I grew up in because they could not get there by themself, and in that service the same passage was talked about and the messages were the same.

I can only speak from my own experience. I am not familar with Reformed, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, and the mega-churches so I do not understand the difference nor similarities.

You asked about "pastors teaching the opposite side", I have not found that to be true in my case.

Yes they exist, can't we both see them just by turning the channel on the TV, they are the ones asking us to send money in and they will either pray for us or we will get something in return?

You had asked how we know the truth, don't we both use the same method? Scripture, tradition, experience and reason to decide? You even quoted the bible to tell us not to always use the bible.

There are church councils that describe our beliefs/practices. But isn't the real faith taught at a different level? Isn't it what we hear as the sermons/homilies or sunday school/CCD or the lessons we teach our children or even in the confessionals?

Yes, there are differences that may never be resolved. But isn't there the truth in the parts that are similar and not only in the parts that are different.

And also with you.

Jae said...

To Anonymous,

Thanks brother for your reply. Beforehand, I didn't know where you are coming from or affiliated to but now you said you are a Catholic like me, then at least we agree. The only thing that bothered me was the way you questioned the given authority of the Catholic Church which we are all a part of.

You said, "you asked what i think is more important.I think the general moral decay of our society,"

Then you would agree with me that gay-marriage and a lot more daunting LIFE ISSUES are one of those that decay our society? If we keep in mind that God is the Author of Life itself and shouldn't be violated?

I wholeheartedly agree with what you had said - my point though is magnified by, if one committed an act of schism or breaking off from the Teaching Authority of the Church (Magisterium) e.g. Luther, Calvin, Nestorius and a lot more then expect further deterioration of unity and split-up to no end in terms of doctrines and beliefs.

I find it very logical that if indeed Christian Doctrine (Faith) is a Divine Revelation that men must believe under the pain of eternal loss, THEN the gift of Infallibility is NECESSARY to her (Church) because if she could ERR AT ALL she could err in ANY POINT, there is NO QUARANTEE of any Truths in doctrine to the flock. (John 16:13, Matt. 16:17-19; John 21:15-17).

These are just some of the reasons why I love the Catholic Church which my Lord Jesus Christ bled and died for.

Anyways, I welcome you brother to the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church of Christ.

Peace.

Jae said...

Bro Anonymous, I forgot to comment on what you said here, "Since the important lessons learned are the same why does one religion think it is the sole provider of the truth".

While I agree with somewhat, but St Paul put this all to an end:

1 Timothy 3:15

"...God's household, which is the Church of the living God, the PILLAR and FOUNDATION of the TRUTH."

When you say the words "PILLAR and FOUNDATION of TRUTH", it is what it is - not a meaning of the "church" as a collection of differing churches who proclaims different truths according to their understanding of the Scripture.

How could the Bible call the FOUNDATION OF TRUTH is the CHURCH, if the truth is just subjective to men or a majority vote? Don't you agree brother?

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Jae
I agree with the life issues,

I am in total agreement that the Truth is the Truth and not subject to a majority rules type of interpretation.

I will read the passages you listed.

Peace to you too.

Looney said...

Regarding truth, I have a little story:

There was a church I attended a while back where the elders were for life with no checks on power. One of them was infamous for getting into fights and verbally abusing everyone who was helping over all kinds of petty things. Finally several people started pushing for elder terms so that some accountability could be brought in before the church and demanded to know why we had life terms. The church had no fixed theology, but the elder immediately responded that the life terms were necessary to preserve the correct teaching of theology and truth.

Now I believe y'all are sincere in believing that the Catholic system is necessary to preserve truth. At the same time, I am also certain that there are many among you who would say the exact same thing for no other reason than to continue violating God's sheep. Would Augustine approve?

Dan Martin said...

I'm sorry, guys, but DUH! Protestantism is a movement of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Of course a bishop in the fourth century wasn't Protestant!

But the same logic applies further back. . .Peter was not Roman Catholic--he lived in Jerusalem. I'm not sure when the term "catholic" first was applied to the church (certainly by the time of the Apostles' Creed, 2nd/3rd centuries?) but it's no more valid to discuss whether Augustine was Protestant than to suggest Peter (or Jesus) was Catholic. The terms of art came later.

I think the whole preceding argument demonstrates that Catholic AND Protestant Christians do a fine job of cherry-picking, not only among Scriptural writings, but the writings of other ancients, to support their predetermined view. I don't know about you, but whatever good or bad things Augustine said, I don't choose my faith because of Augustine, but rather with Augustine I place my faith in Jesus.

The tragedy, of which you guys are supremely guilty on this blog, and many Protestants are equally-guilty on others, is the extent to which the various subjects of King Jesus refuse to recognize that their fellow-citizens love him too. That, not authority structures, is the part that counts.

Though it goes only one way, I continue to wish peace upon you. . .and pray that one day you will be able to wish peace to those who do not reside in your enclave, but also well and truly seek the same Lord.

Nick said...

Hi Dan,

I think you're misunderstanding the point. The point isn't that Augustine would have held the label "Protestant" or "Calvinist" (for simple anachronistic reasons). The issue is whether Augustine's thinking was faithfully embraced by the Protestants.

Thus, we can say Peter was "Roman Catholic" in so far as his doctrine is what Catholics today faithfully embrace - which is irregardless of whether or not the specific title of "Romans Catholic" was applied.

All sides would agree that we don't pick our faith by what this or that Saint said, but ultimately from whether we believe in Jesus. The Saints merely help us understand the truths about Christ better.

This isn't about not loving others, but about protecting and promoting the Truth. For example, just about every major Protestant denomination allows abortion (even the 'conservative' denominations under certain circumstances). If abortion is murder, then no Christian can ever say it's ok - yet every major Protestant branch says it can be ok at times. This is a gross and tragic breach of Truth, and is in fact evidence that all such groups are in gross error to some extent. Since the Catholic Church is the only major Christian body that stands firm and consistent on this, I see this as evidence that it is embracing a larger piece of Truth than the others, if not the fullness of Truth.

It's not that I don't wish you peace, but rather that from my perspective you're (as well as others are) walking on the edge of a cliff and I'm trying to encourage you to come to safety. Further, if Peace only comes through Christ's Body, then those embracing something other than Christ are not partaking and cannot partake by definition in that Peace. The only peace I can wish and offer you is that of encouragement to think rightly and hopefully reconcile; this is a grace God's members can give to others.

Dan Martin said...

Since the Catholic Church is the only major Christian body that stands firm and consistent on this (that is, abortion)

Not to introduce a red herring, but I'm a little startled to hear you say this. The Evangelical Free Church denomination, of which the church I attend is a part, is as vigorously anti-abortion as any Catholics I've ever known, and does not make the exceptions you lay at its feet.

On the other hand, while I personally oppose abortion, I do not align with the classic "pro-life" camps because I believe their solutions and methods are equally anti-Christian. I am much more comfortable with what has come to be called a "consistent life ethic" which I've seen described both by some Catholic writers (sorry I can't think of one at the moment) and by Jim Wallis, as well as certain Mennonites. The "consistent life ethic" recognizes that not only abortion & euthanasia, but also warfare and capital punishment, are all assaults on the sanctity of human life in equal measure. As a result, they tend to reap condemnation from both "liberals" and "conservatives" from both Catholic and Protestant camps. That's another story. . .

But bringing it back to your standard: if breach of the Truth (such as abortion) is the definition of an apostate church, then the Catholic church of the middle ages, with its bloody persecution of various sorts of "heretics" (not all of them apostate IMO), was at least as much a violation of the sanctity of life as abortion is today. Would you therefore agree that the CC of that era was apostate?

Jae said...

" then the Catholic church of the middle ages, with its bloody persecution of various sorts of "heretics" (not all of them apostate IMO), was at least as much a violation of the sanctity of life as abortion is today".

I hope you are aware of the difference between "personal sins" and "corporate sins". The former being sins committed on a personal level viz, Peter, Paul, pope, priests and all of us who are guilty of - the latter being more of as an institution or a church as a whole to declare, proclaim and teach what is considered as Biblically and morally wrong as TRUE to their flocks. Good example of christian churches like Evangelical Lutheran , Presbyterian , Episcopalian, Unitarian, Anglicans,United Church of Christ and more independent evangelical churches that gay-marriage and lifestyle is a Biblical Truth. Furthermore, from issues of abortion, cloning, stem cell etc.

Are you also aware that prior to 1930's ALL CHRISTIAN CHURCHES agree that artificial contraception is against the Will of God? What happened to the unchangeability of TRUTH? Mostly, caved-in to secular pressures only the Catholic Church is the only prominent institution left standing.

By the way, the catholic church admitted of the past abuses committed by some of its members in the reformation era however, we don't have the monopoly of bad deeds. Look into some reformers e.g. Calvin who ordered many of their protestant followers to be burned at stake only because they didn't agree with him.

Just the sheer numbers and conditional parameters of abortion (innocent,defenseless, couldn't speak of their own rights, etc.) can not even be made as a comparison to any kind of human abuse in all human history.

Peace:-)

Dan Martin said...

Jae, I'm well aware of the supposed difference between personal and corporate sins. . .though I don't think you can find a biblical precedent for it that will hold water. Vis-a-vis religious persecution of the middle ages, I agree that Calvin, Zwingli, and many others were equally-guilty on that regard, but the harsh fact is that the Holy See supported--in fact encouraged--the persecution of those who did not recant their heresies. Like it or not, that was a church-sponsored activity, not merely a few bad apples.

Another example I thought of over the weekend would be the crusades. At least one and maybe two popes promulgated bulls throughout the church promising absolution to anyone who'd go fight in the crusades. That's heresy in any realistic definition.

Again, please understand me. I am NOT anti-Catholic, and I'm not trying to claim that Protestants are any better. I'm only taking issue with the claim that the Catholic Church has an unbroken record of preserving truth since the time of Jesus. . .and with the parallel claim that the Catholic Church is somehow the only true body of Christ. These claims are unsupportable by plain history and by plain reading of Scripture.

The Body of Christ consists of all who truly and faithfully seek Him ("in spirit and in truth"), whatever labels they wear and whatever institutions they call home. That includes many Catholics, and many non-Catholics. There are also plenty of false and/or mislead individuals in both camps. Jesus, alone, is the core of truth. His church stretches far and wide, and members of his body are found in places you nor I have yet imagined. Such is the blessing of faith.

Nick said...

Dan,

I never meant to imply no Protestant denomination was orthodox on the abortion issue, I was speaking of the more popular and largest bodies.

If the EFCA rejects abortion without exception, good. Do you have a link to an official statement where they say this?

The issues of warfare and capital punishment should be kept distinct from abortion, for abortion is unique in that it's always about *innocent life*. The OT clearly allowed warfare and the death penalty, so they are not 'intrinsically evil'. Further, in the NT, Paul says God gives governments the authority to execute criminals (Rom 13:1ff). So to oppose capital punishment is a direct contradiction of the Scriptures. The warfare situation is a little more complicated, but is built off of multiple considerations (e.g. the possibility of capital punishment, fact that Christians like Cornelius were also military officers).

And to say they are all assults on the sanctity of life "with equal measure" is further problematic, for there is no equality in murdering an innocent child and executing a mass murderer.

The persecution of heretics would fall into the category of a mix between death-penalty and just war, and thus not ipso facto the mark of an apostate church. That said, two clarifications should be made: (1) I don't believe as many heretics were killed as sensationalized history would make it appear; (2) I believe there were cases, on the *individual* level, where persecutions and killing were carried out in a sinful manner. (An example of the latter is King David's misuse of his military authority to send Bathsheba's husband to the font lines intending to kill him.)

Jae said...

Christian Crusades: In a nutshell, for 700+ more years Christianity owned much of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Christians from European peninsula make their devotional pilgrimage (and thus routes)to the Holy Land for more than 700 years since the time of the Pentacost. Now, came Islam, in the seventh century A.D., the religion known as Islam arose in the Arabian peninsula. Like Christianity, Islam officially condemned forced conversions. But unlike Christianity, Islam instructed its followers to ensure that the world was under the political control of the Faithful. Hence Islam's political domination could be, and was, spread by the sword. They harassed and ambushed the routes used by the christians and eventually it lead to a cat and mouse fight and by middle of that century the muslims attacked the Eastern Front (church) of Christianity based in Jerusalem and Constantinople and the rest is history. Further reading: http://catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0055.html

The idea behind the Crusades was a very noble act (not a heresy and has nothing to do with Articles of Faith), it was of good intention and a self-defense mechanism put up by Christians and people of the West in general but only some abuses of christian soldiers should not make it in vain portrayed by a few revisionist historians.. This was exaggerated by enemies within and without of Christian kingdom and been used to maligned the movement and as well as the Catholic Church up to Reformation era.


We should be grateful to the movement of Christian Crusades without which I think we maybe speaking and writing Arabic today.


As for the penance set by the pope to those who would join the Crusades its another matter of discussion.....to which I would say, the doctrine of Penance/self sacrifice done for the love of God is VERY BIBLICAL, in fact our God Himself demanded it form us and not in ANY WAY contradictory to the "once and for all" Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace :-)

Looney said...

Regarding the abortion item, I will throw in a puzzle: Why is it that Catholic politicians (Pelosi, Kennedy?) are more likely to be pro-abortion, while Catholic voters are also more likely to vote pro-abortion?

I have been in many conservative evangelical churches over the years as I have moved here and there and they are all anti-abortion - to the point of having special sessions and fund raisers, as well as giving voting information. Evangelicals' voting record against abortion is well known and sends liberals into a state of hysteria.

I find the position of the Roman Church on this matter laudable, but does the official statement of the church matter more? Or the teaching that the church members receive and accept?

Jae said...

"but does the official statement of the church matter more". Definitely YES! The Catholic church already made it into a doctrine and part of the Articles of Faith and Morals same with artificial contraception that are all against the Will of God. Those who violate still according to the Church's teachings are committing acts of grave sin to God. (heavier burden falls to catholics coz' of willful act and not of ignorance).

Peace:)

Jae said...

Dan your message was duly noted, thanks. As a said, we are all sinner...Peter, Paul , pope, priests and their sins within the church has nothing to do with the proclamation of Truth as guaranteed by Jesus in (JN 16:13)

Jesus said ALL, not one, or two or three ....but ALL- meaning: every one, whole, FULLNESS of Truth.

Now for Absolution it is also very Biblical, here's why:

It's good to confess to each other (do you really do it?) or directly to God as often as possible but we can not deny that God also ordained the sacrament of confession for His Church. God already "knows" about our sins. Confession is a gift from God that allows us to not only confess our sins, but to receive the assurance of God's forgiveness , absolution and the spiritual guidance that we need to help us overcome these sins. A communal celebration of the sacrament provides a rich opportunity to experience the social nature of sin and forgiveness.

Remember, sin has two fold consequences – it offends not only God, but others – the Church, the Body of Christ, is wounded whenever we sin. (Adultery, anger and racism are obvious examples.)
Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins BUT IT IS Christ (God) Who ultimately forgives sins, the priest only acts as a “persona christi”. When the priest speaks the word of absolution, we are forgiven by the Church as well as by God. We are reconciled. Our relationships are healed.

In John 20:19-23, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has SENT me, so I send you.” And when he said this, HE BREATHED on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are FORGIVEN them, and whose sins you retain are RETAINED.”

2 Very Important points:

1.) To SEND: means, authority was given to the apostles for their mission. In the upper-room where it happened ONLY the Apostles were present and this authority was not given to any fellow who professes to be a believer.

2.) GOD-BREATHED: means, inspired by God with His Own Authority – you know who He gave it to? ONLY 3 - Creation of Man, Scriptures and His Apostles.

This moment, when Jesus BREATHED only to his Apostles in the upper room (not to any fellow believer), constituted both the institution of the Catholic ministerial priesthood and the sacrament of confession. Christ gave his first priests, the apostles, the authority to forgive and retain sins. It was his intention that all sin be forgiven though the Church by aural confession of sins to the priests (auricular means: listening through the ears-how could one tell his confession without the other one hearing them?). We should realize that in Holy Scripture God breathed on man only twice: once when he breathed life into the clay of earth to create man (Genesis 2:7) and the second time when He breathed the life of grace into his Apostles. Both instances were that of an intimate, riveting moment between God and man. It is clear that the ability to forgive and retain sin given to the apostles, requires that each of us (even to this day) confess our sins to the priests of the Church so that our sins can be forgiven or retained.

The best protestant defense and reply to the passages above is that the authority Jesus gave to His Apostles to forgive sins had DIED and CEASE TO EXIST with them and not passed on to their successors. So, in other words they are saying, the Divinely inspired Command of God (God-Breathed) was not Eternal, ONLY TEMPORAL, powerful but with limitations.


Some More Biblical verses about confession/atonement/priest:

Leviticus 4:26 "And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and THE PRIEST shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be FORGIVEN him."

Leviticus 4:31; Leviticus 4:35; Leviticus 6:7; Mark 1:4-5


Bishops are the modern day successors of the Apostles in the Church as Paul clearly described it.

So, absolution is indeed Biblical!

Peace:)

Dan Martin said...

Jae, I wasn't actually opposing absolution in my earlier comment...my opposition was to the notion that absolution was granted, not for confession of sin, but for going off and slaughtering thousands of Muslims, some innocent and some guilty. Whatever Biblical basis there may be for absolution of sin, fighting in a war--just or unjust--is not and never has been a valid criterion for it.

That said, I will partly agree and partly disagree with your parallel of Jesus breath and God's breath in Genesis. I, too, believe that those two stories are absolutely and deliberately parallel, but not in the way you suggest. When God breathed into man the breath of life (remember "Adam" is rather like the generic word for "man" in Hebrew), "man became a living soul." This was true not only for Adam, but for all of us who ALSO are "living souls" having inherited God's breath through Adam. In the same way, when Jesus breathed on the disciples, he said "receive the Holy Spirit" and so imparted to them the life/spirit (pneuma = "breath" too) of the New Creation of which he, himself, was the first fruit. As all humanity partakes in the original "breath" of creation, so those of us who have become part of the New Creation, take part in that new breath which is the Holy Spirit. The "disciples" were the first recipients, followed by the 120 in the upper room (which, interestingly enough, included the eleven again), and as the story of Acts unfolds, we hear of repeated outpourings of the Spirit, sometimes on the same people, and sometimes on new ones (e.g. Cornelius & friends). Nothing in the N.T. account supports the restriction of that Spirit only to apostles.

As to the John 20 passage you reference, nowhere does the text indicate that only the eleven (or ten; Thomas was missing) were present. The term "disciples" used in that passage sometimes refers to the twelve, but is also clearly used of a much broader swath of Jesus' followers (e.g. John 6:66, and most importantly John 8:31). It MAY have only been the eleven minus Thomas, but it may also have been many of the group that were together again in Acts 2. The text does not say.

As for forgiveness of sins, James, brother of Jesus and highly influential leader in the early church, puts it in perspective in his epistle, James 5:14-16 where he counsels BOTH prayer by "the elders of the church" for the sick, and the confession of sins, not to the elders, BUT TO ONE ANOTHER (v. 16). One of the greatest tragedies of the church, both Catholic AND Protestant, is the depth to which we have forgotten what it means to be a "royal priesthood" as the apostle Peter exhorts (1 Pet. 2:9). We have all devolved the responsibilities delegated to us by Christ himself, to a priestly class that parallels the old covenant and not the new.

So yes, confession of sin is important and Biblical. And yes, Jesus granted authority to forgive confessed sin. . .but not only to the Apostles, and certainly not to a particular priestly class.

(continued below)

Dan Martin said...

(continued from above; hit the character limit)

Which brings us, I guess, to the true core of disagreement, as Nick and I have elucidated before. You guys see the truth embodied in an institution which you believe to have been founded by, and granted authority by, Jesus Christ. Therefore you accept the authority and primacy of that institution. I see the teaching and ministry of Jesus and his apostles after him, about breaking down those institutional barriers which men (both Jews and Gentiles) had set up between each other; eliminating of hierarchy and instituting a fellowship of believers equal before Him. So where you see the authority of the church as necessary to the preservation of the truth, I see the very institution of formalized authority and hierarchy (within the Body of Christ, that is; I'm not advocating social anarchy) to be inimical to the truth that Jesus taught. These are truly irreconcilable concepts.

I don't believe that such disagreement must necessarily prevent us from recognizing and blessing those elements of either of our lives, where Christ is manifest; in fact I believe it is incumbent upon us to recognize those things. But institutionally speaking it's pretty well an unbridgeable gap.

Having said that, I realized last night that I allowed myself to fall into the trap of bashing your church. While I believe it to be mistaken in certain aspects of faith (as, indeed, I believe my own church to be mistaken in others of equal seriousness), I was wrong to try to justify my position by cutting down your church, and for that I apologize.

Again, peace!

Dan

Jae said...

The Catholic Church accepts the priesthood of believers while at the same time maintaining a ministerial priesthood (see the Catechism 1546-1547). The word for "elder" is where we get our word "priest" and James 5:14ff specifically refers to the "elders" of the church involved in the Sacrament of anointing the sick with oil. (Mark 6:13) "They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them."

CCC:
1546. Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church "a kingdom, priests for his God and Father" [Rev 1:6; cf. Rev 5:9-10; 1 Peter 2:5,9]. The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ's mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be... a holy priesthood" [Vatican II LG 10 1].

1547. The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, "each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ." While being "ordered one to another," they differ essentially [LG 10 2]. In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace -- a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit -- the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

How about 2 Corinthians 2:10 -- "Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ." (NKJV)

The context is the re-acceptance of the sinner causing grave scandal in Corinth probably involved in the sin of incest (1 Cor 5:1ff). Sounds to me like the apostle Paul exercising the power of priestly absolution according to Christ's command "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them" (John 20:23). And this power was given to the apostles alone and to their successors in the priesthood. There is a LOT of evidence from the Bishops and Fathers of the Church that that is exactly how Christ intended His words to His apostles to be so understood (Mt 18:17-18; Jn 20:21-23; cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20; James 5:14-16; 1 John 1:7-9; Acts 19:18). Also, there is a whole book about Confession to priests in Scripture -- it is called Leviticus. Simply because there is no explicit mention in the New Testament of sacramental absolution does not mean the Church fell into "apostasy" on the Sacraments.

The apostles had the Spirit in a special way. They were inspired preachers and teachers -- they had the "Spirit of the Father" speaking through them (Matt 10:19-20). That is not true of all believers. Jesus said "if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them."

"Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose so ever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:23

Lastly, do you RETAIN the sins, or should we say have the authority to retain the sins of a confessing sinner?

Peace:)

Jordan Cooper said...

Augustine was not a Roman Catholic. He was also not a Calvinist. Nor was he a Lutheran. He was Augustine. Its clear that all three of these traditions have found much to love in Augustine, and I believe we all would disagree with him on certain issues. Let him speak for himself and don't read later controversies back into his writings.

Nick said...

Jordan,

If St Augustine wasn't Catholic, nor Calvinist, nor Lutheran, then what's left? If you believe Lutherans are the "true Christians" and Augustine wasn't "Lutheran" (doctrinally, not by name), then you're left saying Augustine wasn't a full fledged Christian. That cannot be.

That said, Catholics claim Augustine as one of their own, and we produce the evidence to do so. If you believe St Augustine was "Lutheran" in any sense incompatible with Catholicism, the burden is on you.

Reginald de Piperno said...

It is amusing as well as worth noting that the best I've seen here in the way of reactions to the passages I've documented (and which you have kindly cited) amounts to nothing more than a hand-waving snort: "that doesn't mean he was Roman Catholic!"

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, odds are pretty good it's a duck.

The Catholic distinctives to which St. Augustine held aren't bolt-ons to a purported "Protestant" view. On the contrary, they were an integral part of an organic whole. To claim that his views on relics, on baptism, on the Eucharist, on prayers for the dead, on the intercession of the saints, etc. are somehow irrelevant and discontinuous with the rest of his theology simply isn't credible.

RdP

Nick said...

RdP,

That's a very good point which is very easy to miss. It's easy not to put 2 and 2 together when people are looking at these teachings as appendages to a Protestant framework.

But as is clear upon stepping back and thinking about it is that these "Catholic distinctives" are precisely what Luther knew had to be thrown out due to logical consistency upon embracing his own heresies. In other words, Luther saw how these "Catholic distinctives" all tied together, and this is only recognized within a Catholic framework.

Dan Martin said...

But unless you ascribe to Augustine some level of canonical or apostolic authority, what does it matter? I see your point that Protestants who appeal to Augustine may be cherry-picking to justify a position the man himself would not have held. It's a fair and reasonable objection.

But if one sees Augustine (as I do) as a deeply flawed logician and theologian who nevertheless did his level best to lay out a case for faith as he saw it, then whether he was "Catholic" or "Protestant" is beside the point. I take what he says and evaluate it against the words of Jesus first and foremost, and of the biblical authors next, and accept, discard, or oppose it on those grounds.

In other words, the "Catholicness" or "Protestantness" of Augustine is entirely irrelevant to whether he, or for that matter, Catholic or Protestant thought, are right or wrong. Both Catholic and Protestant faith and teaching appeal to far higher authorities than Augustine--or they'd better.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Dan,

My point in my posts (and Nick's here in this post, as the title makes clear) is merely that Protestant attempts to claim St. Augustine as their own do not work.

I for one am grateful that you apparently concede this point.

But unless you ascribe to Augustine some level of canonical or apostolic authority, what does it matter?

The Catholic Church has designated St. Augustine a Doctor of the Church. So his authority, while not on the level of Scripture or Sacred Tradition, is certainly greater than yours or mine in the eyes of a faithful Catholic. In this sense, it does matter: foolish Protestant attempts to pretend he wasn't Catholic need to be corrected, both for the sake of integrity and for the sake of apologetics: if they will read all his works with the same teachable spirit that they read those works of his that they think they'll like, perhaps they will return to the Church.

But if one sees Augustine (as I do) as a deeply flawed logician and theologian who nevertheless did his level best to lay out a case for faith as he saw it, then whether he was "Catholic" or "Protestant" is beside the point.

That's a typical Protestant viewpoint, yes. And no doubt that is how some Protestants will react to the facts: by falling back upon their presumed right to decide for themselves whether St. Augustine taught the truth on any given subject, and by giving up the attempt to claim him as their own. It is more consistent to do so.

But that's really off-topic for the present thread, so I'll leave it alone.

Peace,

RdP

Dan Martin said...

I for one am grateful that you apparently concede this point.

I do, Reginald, and without qualification. Whatever else we may disagree on, we agree that to use Augustine's authority in Protestant apologetics is silly at best and disingenuous at worst. I've actually read this thread with some amusement because the identity of Augustine with controversies which he predates by so long, seems so completely ludicrous to me. From my (perhaps stubborn?) point of view, you all can have him! ;{)

But then, as Nick has observed before, I'm not really a typical Protestant, any more than I'm a candidate for "reunion" with Catholicism. I won't bore you with a rehash of prior discussions.

Pax Christi!

Dan

Nick said...

Dan,

My main goal, as RdP said, is to stop Protestants from appealing to Augustine, especially when they're so fond of using him as a club to beat up unsuspecting Catholics.

And it's not hard to see that Augustine is the most 'important' post-apostolic historical testimony Lutherans or Calvinists appeal to, by far. And this to me is implicit evidence the Reformers recognized the rest of the Fathers were far too 'corrupted' by various Catholic teachings to be of any value quoting. As work like RdP has shown, even the mighty Augustine could in no way be considered Lutheran or Calvinist, which is a seriously crushing realization as far as historical witness goes for the Reformation's cause. Regardless of how often I'm told by Lutherans or Calvinists that it doesn't matter how many fathers support them, the fact is to not have a single one doesn't sit well (deep down) with them.

Dan Martin said...

the mighty Augustine could in no way be considered Lutheran or Calvinist

When you put it that way, I honestly don't see how anyone, Catholic or Protestant, can suppress a giggle. We may not agree on a lot, but I'm with you there. 'Course for me it seems more than a little silly, once one has accepted Sola Scriptura (as you do not, but Protestants purportedly do), to feel the need to appeal to the fathers anyway. That is IMO an internally-inconsistent logic.

Of course by this I mean appealing to the fathers for authority. It's perfectly reasonable to appeal to them as historical evidence of the evolution or consistency of thought...but either they are authoritative (a la the "Doctor of the Church" you describe), or they are merely a window onto a time in the faith (which SS would imply).

Nick said...

Dan,

I'm glad you thought that was funny. I often speak that way to get a point across, in this case the honor Lutherans and Calvinists give Augustine, which is a few stair steps below what they designate to Luther and Calvin themselves.

I see your point about SS in this regard, and that is why many Protestants dispose of the Fathers wholesale. The historical testimony, while not necessarily authoritative, is not something the 'intellectual' types would dispose with, for historical continuity is of much benefit.

Surely it would look silly for one to believe a succession of true believers is in no way shown in any historical fashion over the 2,000 year history. And if one were to claim all these true believers were 'underground' during these 2,000 years due to the fake Christians ruling the day, they'd have to account for how the fake Christians were the ones preserving and copying the Scriptures and distributing them. The idea that there are no "true" Christian witnesses prior to Luther simply doesn't sit well with me, nor others.

Dan Martin said...

The historical testimony, while not necessarily authoritative, is not something the 'intellectual' types would dispose with, for historical continuity is of much benefit.

True, as long as you keep it in perspective. I think studying Marx is valuable from a historical perspective. Or, to be less inflammatory, I think it's important to study Plato and Aristotle (something I have yet to do in any depth), not because they were right, but because their thought was highly influential on those who came after them. Augustine likewise, though as a believer, he enjoys higher regard IMO than the three just mentioned.

The idea that there are no "true" Christian witnesses prior to Luther simply doesn't sit well with me, nor others.

I have to take issue with the implication of this paragraph. You seem to be implying that for ANY truth to have been preserved through the ages, those passing it on would have to be infallible and inerrant in their ENTIRE faith and doctrine. Such an all-or-nothing stance makes no sense. Truth can have been preserved in the scriptural record, despite the manifold sins and errors of those who preserved it. And they can have been sinful and in error, without being completely apostate. To imply, as I hear you doing, that either all of the traditions they passed on are infallible, or the passers of those traditions were completely false believers and apostate, is a false choice.

You have argued before that it's possible for the church as an institution to be infallible and true, even as its members are grossly deluded or sinful (my words, but I think I represent you accurately). I argue the converse: that it's entirely possible that the institution was hopelessly corrupt and deluded, but that within it God always preserved "a remnant who had not bowed the knee to Baal," that is, that despite the failings of the institution, Jesus has always preserved a faithful and functioning body.

Either of these scenarios--particularly with the protection of the Holy Spirit--allows truth (and faithfulness) to be preserved.

Nick said...

The problem with your Marx, Plato, etc, example is that we don't look to them for historical continuity.

Also, I *never* intended to convey an 'all or nothing' approach when examining historical Christian figures. They don't have to talk and think like a 21st Century Catholic, but we'd largely expect them to sound very similar in many ways and doctrines. Marx, Plato, etc, don't fit this at all, for they weren't Christian and are not considered Christian testimony.

This is the way one should look at the historical Christian testimony: which modern day 'denomination' do they sound *most closely* aligned to. I'm not asking for 'all or nothing', but rather 'overall'.

When framed in this way, it becomes a matter of examining individual persons to see whether they fit the "Catholic", "Protestant," or "Other" designations. I have confidence that if I were to use a 10-point grading scale, I can point to various folks from the earliest days of the Church up to today and say "this guy was Catholic", where as I've yet to see Protestants or anyone else make that same claim.

If you believe Augustine would rate 3/10 on the 'grading' scale of Christian orthodoxy, I wouldn't be comfortable calling him a Christian witness. So my 'challenge' is simply, name a couple of folks from the early centuries you believe score 7 or better according to your standard of orthodoxy. If you can't name a few, I'd start to question if whether maybe you're the one outside the true standards of Christian orthodoxy.

Dan Martin said...

So my 'challenge' is simply, name a couple of folks from the early centuries you believe score 7 or better according to your standard of orthodoxy. If you can't name a few, I'd start to question if whether maybe you're the one outside the true standards of Christian orthodoxy.

Well, that's somewhat of a circular challenge since the very ones who DEFINED the terms and standards for "Orthodoxy" were largely in the fourth century and on, which is precisely the point at which I believe a great deal of error crept into both doctrine and practice. That said, I don't think it's helpful to define any person as "orthodox" or "heterodox" as most people, then as now, are/were closer to the truth on some issues and off the mark on others.

That said, I've found some really helpful stuff in Tertullian, Hippolytus, Justin, to name a few. Do I agree with everything they wrote? Of course not. But I do see some interesting teachings (regarding military service for believers, for example) that had already been pretty thoroughly abandoned by the time of the ecumenical councils.

But the whole notion of having to create elaborate creeds to separate the "orthodox" from all others is, in and of itself, part of the error that crept into the church in the fourth century, leading to a massive shift of emphasis from the life of the Christian to thoughts, beliefs, creeds, and dogmas.

But those who emphasize the "true standards of Christian orthodoxy" probably consider me outside the pale...that is true among Protestants, including many in my own church, so you're definitely in good company.

Dan Martin said...

By way of clarification--when I refer to "defining a person as heterodox or orthodox," I mean the process of placing a big "approved" or "rejected" stamp on their chest that then predicates how we'll take everything they say from then on. You aren't orthodox or heterodox as a person, and neither am I. You may say or teach some orthodox things, others not so much, and so may I. It is individual teachings, as much or more than a whole person, that ought to be evaluated.

Nick said...

Dan,

I understand what you mean by "circular challenge," but I'm speaking of "orthodoxy" as seen and defined from *your* perspective.

You mentioned Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Justin. Do you believe these men "score" at least 7 based on *your* standard of orthodoxy? If no, then this highlights my main objection: if the "Christians" of the past were only 50/50 at any given time, then maybe it's us today that are making up our own standards as we go and not them.


As for "elaborate creeds," that's a sort of loose charge. I wouldn't say the Nicene or Apostle's Creed are 'eleaborate' to any extent the common believer cannot understand the essence of them, nor so detailed that it becomes a check-off-list of doctrines. One cannot live as a Christian if one's position isn't authoritatively defined to some extent. Otherwise you have no grounds to exclude anyone who affirms Christ to any extent, be they Mormon, Mulslim, Judaizer, Arian, etc. All these groups respect and revere Christ, but their view of Him is sufficiently distorted that one can be led astray.

The dispute is really whether Christianity is supposed to be an abstract concept in which each person makes up their own definition and standards, or whether it's a Heavenly Kingdom manifested on earth, with rulers and standards.

Nick said...

Just for the record, what is your take on Paul's words to the Galatians where he says "if anyone is preaching a gospel other than what we preached to you, let him be anathema"?

I'd say at the very least that involves defining the Person of Christ incorrectly. John and others strongly emphasize the danger of the anti-christ's who distort who Christ is, as well as the false prophets and false teachers. All of which would be nonsense if Christianity were about merely affirming a Name without any foundation behind it and living according to their own projections of that Name.

Looney said...

I am pleased to see the news today that the Pope acknowledges that the issue is sin within the Roman clergy, and not something else.

Dan Martin said...

Do you believe these men "score" at least 7 based on *your* standard of orthodoxy?

I'm not sure I've read enough of their writing to give any of them an overall "score" such as you suggest, Nick. I'm not trying to dodge your question, I'm merely saying I'd have to have a more comprehensive command of their works to say with confidence. I've read more of Tertullian than the other two, and I'd say he probably DOES score that high, if I were to use your criteria (but my understanding of belief).

One cannot live as a Christian if one's position isn't authoritatively defined to some extent. Otherwise you have no grounds to exclude anyone who affirms Christ to any extent, be they Mormon, Mulslim, Judaizer, Arian, etc.

But perhaps it's that penchant for "excluding" that is exactly my problem. Despite the (bind on earth/bound in heaven) stuff you've quoted before, the reality remains that neither you, or I, nor the Pope and his councils, finally "includes" or "excludes" anyone--and here I'm with Luther contra the Catholic church of his day and ours. Jesus called people to follow him--and that included a lot of folks the religious establishment of his day wanted to exclude. Mind you, I am categorically NOT saying that those who follow Jesus are not expected to have their character and behavior conformed to his--Jesus' message is "come as you are, but don't plan to stay as you are."

...or whether it's a Heavenly Kingdom manifested on earth, with rulers and standards.

Oh, no, I agree that it is this latter; where I disagree with you is WHO are the rulers and WHAT are the standards.

Just for the record, what is your take on Paul's words to the Galatians where he says "if anyone is preaching a gospel other than what we preached to you, let him be anathema"?

Take a look at the context--and by context I mean the entire epistle to the Galatians (in which that command appears in 1:8). Paul is blasting the Galatians for getting taken in by the Judaizers and becoming convinced they had to follow the Judaic law (dare I say, Tradition?) rather than simply following Christ. It has categorically nothing to do with the "defining the person of Christ correctly" and everything to do with the rule and practice of faith--that is, what they had to DO, not what they had to THINK or BELIEVE. This is the crux of the misunderstanding that puts dogma over following the person of Jesus, and is the error to which I refer when I claim the church erred in reducing "faith" to "belief" and used creeds as the tool to define the latter.

So thanks for your reference to Galatians. Taken as a whole, and not carved up into little doctrinal bits, I think that epistle does as good a job as anything I've read, to summarize my problems with authoritarian religious institutions trying to codify and stratify faith. To go back to your "ratings" scale, I'd say Paul rates an 8 or 9 on my scale, at the least.

Nick said...

Dan,

This is good to hear. I was under the impression you held the Fathers in the lower ranges of 3-5. From my perspective, if I can rate the Fathers at 7 or better, I would see that as clear visible historical testimony.

As for Gal 1:8, I agree we need to take the whole epistle into account, but I wouldn't limit the warning to merely the issue of Judaizing. That said, the Judaizer issue was doctrinal and not about living moral Christians lives (which the former already did).

You appear to be saying Christianity is about 'living as Christ would' (which I don't really see defined), while not so much concerned about doctrine/theology. The problem I see is that theology and living are complementary. If Jesus was only a thought, a phantom, merely human, etc, then 'living as Christ would' will be interpreted radically different.

I liked how you jokingly said Paul rated 8 on your scale, that was funny.

Dan Martin said...

That said, the Judaizer issue was doctrinal and not about living moral Christians lives (which the former already did).

Not exactly. Circumcision, after all, is not just doctrinal...

Nick said...

It's not *only* doctrinal, sure, but it's more than simply living a moral Christian life. After all, Jesus lived as a 'good Jew', and the Judaizers were more or less seeing the Torah get spat upon, so their reaction is not totally unwarranted.

Scott Windsor said...

Hi Nick, Scott from the CathApol Blog here. I put together a website, years ago, of a compilation of St. Augustine quotes I've been collecting:

http://www.americancatholictruthsociety.com/articles/augustinecatholic.htm

Check it out!

Nick said...

Scott, that is a pretty impressive list, way more than what I put together.