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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An array of Reformed tetimony of the ahistorical nature of Sola Scriptura

The following are quotes from well known Protestant Apologists teaching publicly on the subject of Sola Scriptura and admitting the ahistorical nature of it:

  • James White: The main element of [Catholic apologist] Mr. Ray’s misrepresentation of sola scriptura can be seen in just this: the doctrine speaks of a rule of faith that exists. What do I mean by this? One will search high and low for any reference in any standard Protestant confession of faith that says, “There has never been a time when God’s Word was proclaimed and transmitted orally.” You will never find anyone saying, “During times of enscripturation—that is, when new revelation was being given—sola scriptura was operational.” Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is “sufficient.” It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, “See, sola scriptura doesn’t work there!” Of course it doesn’t. Who said it did? (Source

  •  William Webster: The sixteenth century Reformation was responsible for restoring to the Church the principle of sola Scriptura, a principle that had been operative within the Church from the very beginning of the post apostolic age. Initially the apostles taught orally, but with the close of the apostolic age, all special revelation that God wanted preserved for man was codified in the written Scriptures. Sola Scriptura is the teaching, founded on the Scriptures themselves, that there is only one special revelation from God that man possesses today, the written Scriptures or the Bible. (Source)
 
  • Joe Mizzi: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is the doctrine that the Holy Bible, being the Word of God, is the only infallible rule of faith and practice for Christians in the post-apostolic age. (Source)
 
  • R.C. Spoul Junior: The Bible does not have specific text that suggests that the Bible alone is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. ... ... Sola Scriptura is a biblical doctrine not because the Bible says so. That would be a tautology- the kind of argument we find in that collection of lies the Book of Mormon. Instead the Bible is our alone final authority because it alone is the Word of God. (Source)
 
  • John Piper: Beware of imputing advantage to antiquity. Seventy years after the death of Jesus the churches had neither the collected New Testament nor a living apostle. It was a precarious and embattled time. Neither the experiences nor the teachers of the first 300 years of the church are as reliable as the finished New Testament. The church did not rescue the New Testament from neglect and abuse. The New Testament rescued the early church from instability and error. We are in a better position today to know Jesus Christ than anyone who lived from AD 100 to 300. They had only parts of the New Testament rather than the collected whole. That’s how valuable the fullness of revelation is in the finished Bible. Beware of idealizing the early church. She did not have your advantages! (Source
 
  • John MacArthur: Jude 3 is a crucial passage on the completeness of our Bibles. This statement, penned by Jude before the New Testament was complete, nevertheless looked forward to the completion of the entire canon: Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. ... ... Also important in Jude 3 is the word "delivered." In the Greek it is an aorist passive participle, which in this context indicates an act completed in the past with no continuing element. In this instance the passive voice means the faith was not discovered by men, but given to men by God. How did He do that? Through His Word--the Bible. And so through the Scriptures God has given us a body of teaching that is final and complete. (Source) 
 
  • John H. Armstrong: Further, no true advocate of the supreme and final authority of Scripture would assert that the immediate hearers of the preaching of Jesus, or the apostles, were free to pick and choose what they would submit to since they did not receive it in written form. What is asserted in believing that Scripture alone has final and full authority is this: God revealed His Word orally and temporarily through prophets and apostles and then subsequently through the inscripturated text. Oral communication, in this post-apostolic era, is powerful precisely because it relies so faithfully on the "more certain" word of Scripture itself. Thus we conclude, with the Apostle, himself a faithful preacher, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). (Source)
 
  • Robert Godfrey: [Catholics] will try to say that the phrase “the Word of God” can mean more than just the Bible. I have already granted that. The question before us is whether today anything other than the Scriptures is necessary to know the truth of God for salvation. The Scripture texts I have cited show that nothing else is needed. Our opponents need to show not that Paul referred to his preaching as well as his writing as the Word of God — I grant that; they need to show that Paul taught that the oral teaching of the apostles would be needed to supplement the Scriptures for the Church through the ages. They cannot show that because Paul did not teach that, and the Scriptures as a whole do not teach that! (Source)
 
  • Greg Bahnsen: The Word of God, which was originally delivered orally, needed to be reduced to writing in order for the rest of God’s people to know about it and for it to function as an objective standard for faith and obedience. Where God had spoken by personal address orally, if that was going to be a standard for the Church at large (for all of God’s people), that oral instruction (as authoritative as it was in itself) needed to be reduced to writing so that it would be an objective standard that governed all of God’s people... God’s Word needed to be inscripturated to govern His people through all generations. (Source)
 
Why are these admissions so significant? Because in each case the Protestant is admitting that Sola Scriptura was not practiced in the Apostolic age of the Church; the Apostles didn't go around teaching Christians to engage in Sola Scriptura in word or epistle. Why? Because, as the above quotes show, the full canon of Scripture didn't exist at the time, making the practice of Sola Scriptura functionally impossible. It would be like saying we can write a dictionary (a 'word bible' so to speak) without first having and knowing all 26 letters of the alphabet. To read "Sola Scriptura" into any passage of Scripture would be anachonistic by definition. Thus, whether these well respected Protestant preachers truly realize it or not, by their own logic Sola Scriptura is unbiblical, ahistorical, and unapostolic.

68 comments:

Jim Paton said...

LOL. This is excellent. You do know that you will be charged with the usual nonsense of "This is a canard" or "sophistry, mere sophistry" from the likes of the "beggars all" crowd.[it beggers belief why they even bother]

I read a comment made by that "Bugay" guy, or whatever his name is, on Dave Armstrongs blog not that long ago. Rather amusing to see him confuse the Monarchical bishopric with Apostolic succession. Honestly, you would think they would get it right before they type :¬) But then again, it doesn't matter if they get it right or not because whatever a Catholic writes will always certainly amount to nothing more than mere sophistry. This is how they deal with everything. It surely does Beggar belief.

Again, great post.

Nick said...

Hi Jim,

For once I was able to get back to you in a reasonable time frame!

The most damning thing about that array of quotes is that the usual crowd can't just deny their authenticity and accurate representation - but, as you said, they can pretend they never saw these quotes.

It's funny that, as a rule, whenever some big claim arises from a Protestant blog, there are Catholics (often converts) that are eager to address and refute them......but when Catholics present major arguments, there is quite often a 'conspiracy of silence' by Protestant apologists.

Sadly, too often Protestant apologetics (and the Reformation itself) is based upon making mountains out of molehills while avoiding addressing the major Catholic arguments. Otherwise, we'd be seeing Protestants openly and honestly be addressing issues like Penal Substitution and Imputation and such. The problem is, when they do give a honest look, you end up with quotes like the ones I presented above.

As for John Bugay, when he first began posting I respected him, but the venom and utter anti-intellectualism that soon emerged from his work was too much to handle. The bulk of his "apologetics" is to find some biased source, quote it as gospel truth, all to smear and bash the Catholic Church. And when confronted, dance around the issue and hide behind the biased source. Sad. It gets exhausting, and that's why I almost never post or read anything that he authors.

Jim Paton said...

Hi Nick,

"The problem is, when they do give a honest look, you end up with quotes like the ones I presented above."

And their honesty destroys their pet project. Even though they know SS is false, they will defend it to the end. Kamikaze's all.

"As for John Bugay, when he first began posting I respected him, but the venom and utter anti-intellectualism that soon emerged from his work was too much to handle."

Yes, I did notice that he was about as bright as a smashed lightbulb. The way in which he comes across in his writings smells of someone who was a Catholic at one time [not a very bright one I might add] He may never have been Catholic. But if he was, then all the worse for the other side. He's like a Laurel and Hardy type character who has left the good life and entered into the camp of the enemy, only for him completely goof up all their good work. He might be an agent of the Vatican, secretly placed amongst Protestants to destroy it from within. If he isn't, he's doing a brilliant job impersonating one.
I have learned to laugh at guys like him. You have to admit, guys like him add comical value sometimes. I know it isn't a laughing matter, but sometimes you can't help yourself.

Nick said...

I keep saying Bugay makes the Beggars All blog look bad, since folks like Swan at least put out reasonable work at times. Why Swan let these people be "contributors" to his blog is beyond me, but one thing is clear, the blog is going down hill in quality.

A. M. said...

Yes. Protestants must also admit that their various forms of church government are also post-apostolic traditions of men, since during the time of the NT's composition, the apostles were ruling the church. They have to argue for their governmental theories from principles derived through autonomously chosen interpretative methods. The problem with this is that the Holy Scripture was not given to be subjected to reason but to be understood in the context of the faith that was originally granted.

And Nick, your dictionary analogy would be better stated as, "It would be like telling people to consult the dictionary (a 'word bible' so to speak) for the meanings of words before one was even made available." I.e., There is nothing impossible or anachronistic about producing a dictionary for a language prior to its alphabet being fully settled. I'm sure it happens all the time during the process of committing purely oral languages to writing.

I'm not trying to nitpick here. It's just that I find effective analogies hard to come by and a joy when discovered.

Nathan said...

What galls me particularly are the quotes from Bahnsen and Piper. How is it necessary for God's people to have a written final authority? Clearly Abraham and his ancestors and descendants were out of luck. And not out of luck in a Christocentric way, not seeing the fullness of God in Christ, as Paul might incline to say. But any time you make something necessary for God, you run the risk of saying, "God could not have done otherwise," and that's dangerous territory, in my opinion.

Piper's delusions are especially fanatical. Papias, for one, not only had access to the bulk of the New Testament, he also heard directly from eyewitnesses of Jesus and the first generation of disciples following the apostles. He may or may not have heard directly from an apostle, though John himself lived nearby, but he certainly listened to hearers of John. It's a monumental shame that his works have been lost, but even what little we know of his writings are sufficient to demonstrate the absurdity of Piper's claims.

Which is greater, a selection of apostolic writings, or hearing the apostolic voice day after day, week after week? I know which one I would pick if given the choice. The early church had many children who sat at the feet of the apostles: how is that not an advantage? If the first hearers of the apostles are so unreliable, the apostles must be less reliable than their own writings. This is absurd.

And how did the church not rescue the New Testament from abuse? Marcion and Valentinus just refuted themselves? Should we not beware of trusting ourselves and our private interpretations because of our advantages?

scotju said...

Although oral and written tradition are equally important, I think oral tradition is primary in the life of the Church. In the begining all traditions were oral. The Gospels, containing the life and basic teachings of Christ, and the various epistles containing comments about doctrinal matters that would effect the life of the Church thoughout the ages (Judaizing, the Incarnation Etc.)were written down, but the rest was left to oral tradition.
I believe the main reason why it was left to oral tradition is that manuscripts tend to pick up copyists errors during their transmission and translation. Because of this, it would be dangerous to trust in the written scripture alone like the Protestants insist. To the best of my knowledge, only Islam and Protestantism believe in a sola scriptura doctrine. All the other traditional religions inthe world have oral and written traditions like the Catholic faith.

John Lollard said...

Hey Nick,

You're right. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura was not adhered to during the apostolic age. What was taught was to obey the teachings of the apostles. Those teachings took two forms: 1) the oral preaching, and 2) the written teaching.

The apostles are now asleep in Christ, so we no longer have (1). We still have (2). We only have (2). Therefore the Church only trusts in (2) as an infallible guide.

Love in Christ,
John Lollard

Nick said...

Hi John,

If the Apostles didn't go around teaching Sola Scriptura, then you must logically admit the doctrine is non-Apostolic.

As has been shown numerous times:

Premise 1: The Apostles wrote to Christians during the Apostolic times.

Premise 2: Sola Scriptura wasn't practiced during Apostolic times

Conclusion: The Apostles could not have told their congregations to practice Sola Scriptura.

Thus, no passage in Scripture could instruct the Christian to practice Sola Scriptura; thus Sola Scriptura is un-Biblical and self refuting - in short, it cannot be true.


As for your argument, it fails on two primary levels: First, nowhere are you getting that information from the Bible, you're assuming it (even if some of it might be true). But assumptions don't carry the weight of divine authority. Second, logically speaking, if someone gives you instructions orally, and they die, nothing necessitates those oral instructions are subsequently lost.

John Lollard said...

Hey Nick,

What do you mean I'm not getting that from the Bible? The apostles constantly entreat the people to whom they write to study the Scriptures, to study their letters, to remember the things that they said when they were there and to prepare for the things they are going to say. While holding up these sources, they refuse and deny other sources like human wisdom and philosophy, even angelic messengers are to be ignored if they do not conform to the Gospel that Paul preached to the Galatians. I can probably pull quotes from your own website substantiating my claim.

Aside from the Bible, it is true from history. That is how the Church operated, and thus the earliest Christian writers like St. Ignatius take pains to remind their audience that they are not giving commands as the Apostles did.

Again, Sola Scriptura is a historical reality more than a doctrine. The Church only obeys the revelation of God. The revelation of God has taken many forms through out history. At one time, the revelation of God existed simultaneously in a spoken preaching and a written text. The content of that spoken preaching was eventually written down in the New Testament. The last of those to whom the spoken preaching had been given (the Apostles) have fallen asleep. We don't have prophets, angels, apostles the incarnate God or urim and thummim. We have a book. The book is all that we have, and as the book is the only revelation of God in our possession the book is the only thing that the Church places her trust in.

You're right, it is feasible that the oral preaching of the Apostles might have carried on. It could have happened. But it didn't. When you speak of "tradition" you don't actually mean teachings that have been passed on from the apostles but rather some authority for innovative ideas that have crept into your church's dogmata over the centuries.

One of your commenters mentioned Islam not having tradition. He is gravely mistaken. Islam is very influenced by oral traditions, more so than Judaism or Catholicism. The thing is Islam can actually trace the transmission of its ahadith back to the mouth of Muhammad. This person reports that this person reports that this person... reports that Muhammad said "___".

When Muslims say they have an oral tradition, it's a meaningful claim.

Yours isn't.

You cannot demonstrate an oral tradition from the Apostles, and you cannot because you do not have one. If you can, then please do so.

Peace be with you,
JL

Nick said...

Hi John,

What I mean by you weren't getting that from the Bible is that you were claiming/assuming the oral teaching of the Apostles somehow got lost or 'expired' though the Bible doesn't say this, and second you claim/assume on purely rationalistic grounds that since the Bible is all we have then the Bible must be formally sufficient though no Biblical mandate is provided for any of these.

A good example is 2 Timothy 3:16f, which is instruction Paul wrote to Timothy while the Apostles were still alive. But if Sola Scriptura was not practiced during the Apostolic age, then Timothy couldn't have interpreted that to mean "Sola Scriptura", but rather something else.

For you to say "Sola Scriptura is a historical reality more than a doctrine" is to me a concession that it really isn't testified to in Scripture. We all know that if a Catholic were to claim something like infant baptism were largely a "historical reality" the Baptists wouldn't have any of that and reject it.

Also, you said: "it is feasible that the oral preaching of the Apostles might have carried on. It could have happened. But it didn't."

The problem with your claim is that it's pure assumption, and dogmatic at that.

John Lollard said...

Nick,

My dear friend, we have been over this road before. My claim is not a dogmatic assumption but a historical reality.

But look, you can settle this matter very easily:

SHOW ME THE TRADITION TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES.

Whether my claim is dogmatic assumption or historical reality, you can silence it once for all by actually tracing some sort of tradition as being actually taught by the Apostles. Go ahead and do so. Ideally, do so with one of the more objectionable dogmas like the assumption of Mary.

If you cannot show me this tradition, and given the apparent lack of any other form of revelation, then I'm afraid I must again fall back to the only revelation that I have, which is a book.

The book is the only revelation that the Church now possesses, so the Church only trusts in that book.

In Christ,
JL

Nick said...

Hi John,

How do you know the oral teachings of the Apostles didn't survive or were eventually written down? To say it is a "historical reality" is ambiguous. If you're getting this from secular history, then you have to face the fact this is uninspired source and thus not doctrinally authoritative.

As for your "challenge," even if I cannot give an answer doesn't let you off the hook, since my above question remains. If a Jehovah's Witness refutes the Mormon doctrine of many gods, that does not automatically make the JW concept of God orthodox.

But I will answer your challenge: One Apostolic teaching is that Christians can and should direct prayer the Holy Spirit, not only the Father (and Son).

This teaching is ambiguous at best in Scripture, and not answered by Scripture at most, but it is Apostolic.

John Lollard said...

Hey Nick,

"But I will answer your challenge: One Apostolic teaching is that Christians can and should direct prayer the Holy Spirit, not only the Father (and Son)."

Thank you.

While I don't doubt that the Apostles did teach that, and while I do doubt that it is ambiguous from Scripture, please prove so. Please provide some sort of evidence that the Apostles taught this. Maybe Polycarp or Ireneaus or Ignatius or Clement mention having learned this teaching from an Apostle or someone close to an Apostle?

If you can do so, and if it were the case that Scripture did not teach prayer to the Holy Spirit (who is God, and hence who we pray to according to Scripture), then I would believe in Scripture and that Apostolic tradition of praying to the Holy Spirit.

In Christ,
JL

Nick said...

Hi John,

Please show me where Scripture clearly teaches prayer to the Holy Spirit. I see numerous references of directing prayer to the Father, a few of directing them to the Son, but not a single unambiguous example of praying directly to the Holy Spirit. A popular Reformed apologetics resource CARM (Matt Slick) says this on an article devoted to this very question: "we never see an instance in the Bible where anyone prays to the Holy Spirit"

While I cannot think of what the earliest testimony of prayers to the Holy Spirit are, there is the famous Prayer of St Augustine to the Holy Spirit and also in ancient liturgies (especially in Doxologies).

John Lollard said...

Nick,

I have no idea whether Scripture does or does not teach prayer to the Holy Spirit. I must confess that I do now know it well enough.

Can you please trace prayer to the Holy Spirit back to the Apostles? Does Augustine claim that he received this prayer from a line of people who originally received it from one of the Apostles?

Or is it that Augustine just prays to the Holy Spirit, and you assume that if Augustine does it the Apostles must have passed this on as a tradition?

Are the ancient liturgies traceable back to the Apostles? Can it be shown that they were constructed under Apostolic instruction?

How do you know that the Apostles actually taught this?

In Christ,
JL

John Lollard said...

Nick,

I understand that you are probably busy at the moment and might not have time to answer my question, but I didn't want you to forget about me.

Where is the tradition traceable to the Apostles?

I can find one, from Irenaus:
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103222.htm

Irenaus testifies that the Apostles passed on a tradition that Jesus lived to be fifty years old. Do you believe that? It can be traced to the Apostles, all the same.

Can you trace at least one belief as being taught by the Apostles? You claimed that prayer to the Holy Spirit is an Apostolic tradition, and I am still waiting to see the testimony that this teaching was passed on from the Apostles to those who knew the Apostles.

Maybe there's some other belief that you have that you can actually trace to the Apostles? If so, you can show me that one instead. Really, any thing, at all, that can be traced as an oral teaching passed on from the Apostles.

Thanks.

JL

Nick said...

Hi John,

The simple answer is that the Church has told me Praying directly to the Holy Spirit is Apostolic. Testimonies such as the ancient liturgies and such can be regarded as having Apostolic roots.

As for the Irenaeus claim of Jesus being 50 years old, that never was a doctrinal tradition, nor is it even clear that St Irenaeus was even espousing that. His argument was that Jesus taught with the authority of a 50 year old (which he claims was the official age of 'elder' in Jewish circles, Cf Num 4:3), not that Jesus actually lived 50 years.

John Lollard said...

Hey Nick,

"The simple answer is that the Church has told me Praying directly to the Holy Spirit is Apostolic."

Thank you for this admission.

You don't actually base your faith on what Scripture says, nor do you actually base it on "Tradition", but merely on what "the church" says. Sola Ecclesia.

Since you cannot actually demonstrate that there really are any Apostolic traditions remaining, I can only conclude that the only source of doctrine in our possession is Scripture.

Hence I only trust in Scripture. Sola Scriptura.

If you ever change your mind and decide that you actually CAN show me a tradition that the Apostles actually taught, please do so and I will revoke my statement on only possessing Scripture.

In Christ,
JL

Nick said...

Hi John,

That's not an accurate representation of what I said. The Church teaching is historically supported by testimonies such as ancient liturgies and old prayers like Augustine's. In this case the Church is indispensible, since as you admit you cannot definitively answer whether praying directly to the Holy Spirit is proper or not based on Scripture alone.


As for your "conclusion," you said:
"Since you cannot actually demonstrate that there really are any Apostolic traditions remaining, I can only conclude that the only source of doctrine in our possession is Scripture."

There are two significant problems with your argument. First, just because I or any other person cannot answer a question to your liking does not automatically make your position the default correct one. Second, your logic is effectively "Sola Lollard," since you admit you're not getting your Sola Scriptura doctrine anywhere but your own human logic.

You said: "Hence I only trust in Scripture. Sola Scriptura."

This argument is again effectively Sola Lollard, since only trusting Scripture is not equal to Sola Scriptura. If you only have the Book of Mark, and don't know about the other NT Writings, and no Catholic can tell you the other NT Writings, you cannot jump to the conclusion Christians are to go by "Sola Gospel of Mark". Either Mark must tell you Sola Mark, Tradition must tell you Sola Mark, or Sola Lollard Ecclesia must tell you Sola Mark - of course the latter two options logically refute "Sola Mark".

John Lollard said...

Hey Nick,

Again with the Sola Mark?

Let's try it.

I only believe in what has been revealed. Mark is the only book in my possession (I don't know the rest of the canon) that has been revealed. How do you prove that there is such a thing as non-Markine apostolic teaching?

You show me the Gospel of John.

SHOW ME THE TRADITIONS TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES.

I never admitted this reasoning is from my own logic. It is all over the place in Scripture, where people are commanded and expected to obey the entire counsel of God, whether through angels, visions, prophets, or what-have-you. We receive revelation and we obey it, is the Biblical norm.

I only have the Bible. It is all I have, and I have been for almost a week now BEGGING you to please show me these Apostolic traditions you claim to have. You cannot even show me one. Since you can't produce them, I am incapable of believing in them.

If you ever can show me a teaching from the Apostles not in Scripture, then let me know.

In Christ,
JL

Nick said...

Hi John,

I don't think you understood my point about St Mark. The point was that clearly there is more to the canon than Mark, but if Mark is all you or anyone you know is aware of, it's wrong to jump to the conclusion we are to go by "Sola Mark" or even that Mark is sufficient.

Ultimately, proving a given doctrine is Apostolic is no different than proving a given book of the New Testament is Apostolic. There is an element of faith and an element of trust in an external authority. It's like an atheist demanding I prove St Mark the disciple wrote the Gospel of Mark. Obviously, I cannot "prove" it, I can only give reasons why I believe it was indeed written by St Mark. The very authorship of Mark comes purely from Tradition.

With that in mind, when it comes to proving any given aspect of Christianity is of Apostolic origin, there is no definitive 'proof', only faith combined with plausible arguments.

Also, another common error is to see Tradition as a totally separate 'box' than Scripture, such that neither can or do share the same essential teachings, simply stated different ways or emphasized differently. Thus it's wrong to see Tradition as only teaching doctrines Scripture does not touch upon in any way. For example, infant baptism while not clearly taught in Scripture was very clearly taught in Tradition by the very fact infant baptism was a common liturgical practice for the remission of sins.

And with the example I gave of praying directly to the Holy Spirit, while Scripture at best indirectly permits this, this teaching was performed regularly in ancient liturgy.

Another good example is Sunday Worship, which at best is permitted by the New Testament, nowhere commanded though, yet was in place from the earliest Christian times.

St Justin Martyr's First Apology, written near 150 AD, in Chapters 66-67 especially explain the weekly Christian Liturgy in fairly detailed fashion, yet one which would have a hard time reconstructing by just NT bits and pieces of evidence alone.

Now can I prove the Apostles actually taught or did these things? No, but I can take at least some confidence in the testimony of folks like Justin Martyr and ancient liturgies and such.

John Lollard said...

Hey Nick,

No, I understand your Sola Mark point just fine. I don't think you understand my point, though.

If the only source of revelation I have ever seen is the Gospel of Mark, then I should believe in Sola Mark. I shouldn't believe in Mark PLUS something else, because the something else isn't revelation and Mark is. I should only believe in what is theopneustos and only in what is theoneustos, to the fullest extent that I possibly can. If all I have is mark, that means Sola Mark, if all I have is Scripture, that means Sola Scriptura, if all I have are angelic visitations that means Sola Angelos, if all I have are Scripture and angelic visitations that means Sola Scriptura et Angelos.

You cannot believe in revelation that you've never seen, you must not believe in something that isn't revelation, and you must believe in the revelation that you do receive however you receive it.

I have only received revelation in the form of the written Scriptures. I have acknowledged plenty of possible other sources, and that one possible source would have been the oral preaching of the Apostles. If you could demonstrate an oral preaching of any of the Apostles that is still handed down, I would believe it.

You've suggested some examples might be prayer to the Holy Spirit, meeting on Sunday, and infant baptism. As proof that these were taught by the Apostles, you've alluded to ancient liturgies.

I will accept that the liturgy Justin describes is likely the form of liturgy that the Apostles themselves would have held - or something very similar to it - and that we should therefore consider collecting money for the poor, receiving communion, and reading from the Bible until we run out of time to be Apostolic practices for how to conduct Sunday meetings. I'm not sure that the Apostles taught this in a revelatory sense, but I don't doubt that they would have taught this.

Since the liturgy described by Justin is likely the Apostolic one, or is the closest form you have shown me to the Apostolic one, we should also then conclude that deviations from it are non-Apostolic.

I'm noticing that Justin Martyr's liturgy doesn't include asking Jesus' mom to pray for you for forgiveness before receiving Eucharist. I'm noticing that Justin doesn't call the eucharist at their meetings a propitiatory re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ, done at the altar for the further forgiveness of sins. I'm noticing that there is no alter christus who has to say the proper words over the proper materials in the proper way in order to properly confect a substantial change in the communion elements that maintain their accidents while taking on the substance of the Body and Blood and Divinity of Christ.

I'm noticing that his meetings sounds much, much more like the meetings at house churches I go to. But we don't receive Apostolic liturgies as binding or revelatory, and I doubt we've even heard of Justin Martyr's first apology. We reconstructed this by reading the book of Acts and other letters, where the form of worship is also described in about as much detail as here.

It would seem much more likely, then, that this form of the liturgy was passed on primarily through the words of the Apostles... as they existed in written form, and that Justin did not claim to have an oral tradition from the Apostles.

But I'm still willing to accept one, if you can find one.

In Christ,
JL

jimpaton82 said...

@John

You wrote "If the only source of revelation I have ever seen is the Gospel of Mark, then I should believe in Sola Mark"

Why? Why should you believe a Church that said that Mark wrote Mark when that same Church believed in Sacred Tradition and the indefectibility of the Church? Why trust them on Mark and not on the other points?
Sola Lollard Ecclesia indeed.

jimpaton82 said...

@ John
You wrote: “Again, Sola Scriptura is a historical reality more than a doctrine.”

It only became a reality with Luther. I don’t for one second believe Wycliffe or Hus believed or practised Sola Scriptura as Luther and the other reformers did (Read the German scholar H.G. Reventlow’s with regards to Luther’s view and that of Wycliffe’s) and let me just say that 1500yrs after Christ and His apostles is hardly “historical reality”.

You wrote: “The content of that spoken preaching was eventually written down in the New Testament. . . The book is all that we have”

And your proof for this is both subjective and viciously circular which amounts to no proof at all.

jimpaton82 said...

@John
You wrote: “You're right, it is feasible that the oral preaching of the Apostles might have carried on. It could have happened. But it didn't.”

And you’re proof for this claim? See above.

You wrote: “When you speak of "tradition" you don't actually mean teachings that have been passed on from the apostles but rather some authority for innovative ideas that have crept into your church's dogmata over the centuries.”

And how would you know this? Again, see above.

You wrote: “You cannot demonstrate an oral tradition from the Apostles, and you cannot because you do not have one. If you can, then please do so . . . SHOW ME THE TRADITION TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES”

I know Nick provided prayer to the Holy Spirit as an oral tradition coming from the apostles. But I think you neglect the fact that the Holy Spirit leads the Church into all truth and thus we find the development of doctrine within the early Church as espoused by the likes of St Vincent of Lerin etc and not a static faith.

It was Augustine who pointed out in (On baptism against the Donatists, 2, 7:12. 4, 24:31) that as matter of invariable custom that which is held by the whole Church is how one can tell that something derives from the apostles.

Since you asked “SHOW ME THE TRADITION TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES”

Here it is in bold letters for you so you don’t miss it: THE BELIEF THAT THE EUCHARIST CONVEYS IMMORTALITY.
THIS IS AN ORAL TRADITION TRACABLE TO THE APOSTLES.

jimpaton82 said...

@John
You wrote: “You don't actually base your faith on what Scripture says, nor do you actually base it on "Tradition", but merely on what "the church" says. Sola Ecclesia.”

Your comment implicitly (whether you know it or not) separates the apostles from the Church. You cannot do that. Anyone reading your comment would come to the conclusion that revelation and the Church were separate from each other. They are not because God used the Church to give us revelation simply because the apostles were the Church. You cannot have one without the other. But you seem to think you can. To quote Peter Kreeft, if Scripture is infallible then so is its cause i.e. the Church, for it not to be would violate the principle of causality. But your belief violates this principle because Sola Scriptura is illogical.

Let me state this also, you write as if the first believers didn’t listen to what the Church had to teach them. But we know they did. So we can only conclude from your Sola Ecclesia statement that the apostolic Church believed in Sola Ecclesia because everyman and his dog learned the faith from the Church and nowhere else. Unless of course you can show me that they didn’t. But I feel the real problem is that you don’t understand the term “Sola Ecclesia” and throw it about slanderously without giving any thought to what you write. It was a canard invented by Bishop James White who learnt the faith all by himself without any outside influence. (Forgive me for the sarcasm and contempt shown here)

One other point about your above statement “You don't actually base your faith on what Scripture says” is that it seems as if you’re saying that the individual can make decisions on doctrine? I believe you are and shows double standards at play here. Protestantism doesn’t allow for the individual make decisions on matters of doctrine, but when debating Catholics, it seems that it is perfectly ok for the Catholic to do so – so long as it removes them from Rome. It’s disingenuous to say the least.

jimpaton82 said...

[I have already posted this, but it didn't show]

@ John
You wrote: “You're right. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura was not adhered to during the apostolic age. What was taught was to obey the teachings of the apostles. Those teachings took two forms: 1) the oral preaching, and 2) the written teaching.

The apostles are now asleep in Christ, so we no longer have (1). We still have (2). We only have (2). Therefore the Church only trusts in (2) as an infallible guide.”

Firstly, how do you know that we don’t have the unwritten teachings of the apostles? There is no way for you to prove this other than delving into subjective nonsense. The only way that YOU can prove that we don’t have them is because YOU say so. There is no other way to prove your claim. (below I provide an oral tradition that goes back to the apostles)
Secondly, you don’t really know if the Scriptures are Scriptures without the Catholic Church. You need the Catholic Church to tell you that. But then again, as R.C. Sproul admitted, the Church could have erred in compiling the Canon simply because Protestantism believes the Church to be fallible. So you really have no clue if Scripture is Scripture without trusting wholeheartedly the judgments of the Catholic Church. You know the same way the layman in the early Church knew as St Cyril of Jerusalem states: “Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what the books of the Old Testament are, and what those are of the New” (Catechetical Lectures, 4:33) Is Cyril championing Sola Ecclesia?

jimpaton82 said...

[I have already posted this, but it didn't show]

@John
You wrote: “You're right, it is feasible that the oral preaching of the Apostles might have carried on. It could have happened. But it didn't.”
And you’re proof for this claim is again subjective and viciously circular which amounts to no proof at all.

You wrote: “When you speak of "tradition" you don't actually mean teachings that have been passed on from the apostles but rather some authority for innovative ideas that have crept into your church's dogmata over the centuries.”
And how would you know this? Again, see above.

You wrote: “You cannot demonstrate an oral tradition from the Apostles, and you cannot because you do not have one. If you can, then please do so . . . SHOW ME THE TRADITION TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES”

I know Nick provided prayer to the Holy Spirit as an oral tradition coming from the apostles. But I think you neglect the fact that we find the development of doctrine within the early Church as espoused by the likes of St Vincent of Lerin etc and not a static faith.

It was Augustine who pointed out in (On baptism against the Donatists, 2, 7:12. 4, 24:31) that as matter of invariable custom that which is held by the whole Church is how one can tell that something derives from the apostles.

Since you asked “SHOW ME THE TRADITION TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES”
Here it is in bold letters for you so you don’t miss it: THE BELIEF THAT THE EUCHARIST CONVEYS IMMORTALITY.
THIS IS AN ORAL TRADITION TRACABLE TO THE APOSTLES.

John Lollard said...

Jim,

All of my entire dialogue with Nick can be summed up in this simple little snippet right here:

SHOW ME THE TRADITION TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES.

Rather than speaking for eight or so posts on my unproveable assumptions or how I distrust the church, it would have been much more expedient for both of us if you had traced even a single tradition to the Apostles. Just show me some. I cannot believe in it if no one has ever presented it in front of me.

So PLEASE: show me these traditions that you claim to have.

You said that the eucharist imparts immortality is a tradition from the Apostles. Why doesn't Justin Martyr say that? Why doesn't he mention this at all in his apology. Does anyone else mention this teaching of the eucharist and do they claim that this teaching on the nature of the eucharist was taught them by the Apostles? Polycarp? Ireneaus? Anyone?

As I said, I'm willing to believe, on the authority of Justin Martyr, that the Apostles did actually teach the liturgy that he describes, and as I also said, that liturgy is very much the liturgy in house churches that I go to reconstructed from the New Testament descriptions of the Church.

When you argue that development is to be believed just as if the Apostles taught it, what you are also admitting is that the things you believe were not taught by the Apostles. The Apostles didn't pray to Mary and would never have dreamed of praying to Mary. The Apostles didn't sit in front of a piece of bread and worship it and would never have dreamed of doing so. The Apostles didn't believe in a sacramental method of justification with an ongoing priesthood and would never have dreamed of it. Later people made this stuff up. I do not accept later people making stuff up as revelation, and no one should - especially when the people doing the making-up stress that they do not teach with authority as Christ or the Apostles did.

I will accept the deposit of faith handed from Christ to the Apostles as revelation, whatever form it takes. Just show me this deposit of faith in any other form than Scripture, please.

In Christ,
JL

Jim Paton said...

@John

"SHOW ME THE TRADITION TRACEABLE TO THE APOSTLES."

I believe I did.

Here it is in bold letters for you so you don’t miss it: [THE BELIEF THAT THE EUCHARIST CONVEYS IMMORTALITY.]
THIS IS AN ORAL TRADITION TRACABLE TO THE APOSTLES.

scotju said...

Jim and Nick,this Lollard fellow ought to give himself a new surname. I'd like to suggest "Broken Record" because he keeps repeating the same thing over and over! He just can't get the concept that the Church never relied on scripture alone. One only has to go over to www.scriptrecatholic.com/scripture_alone.html and read the section Tradition/Church Fathers I. Scripture Must Be Interpeted By The Light Of Tradition to realize the ancient church used scriptures and oral tradition as equally authoritive to teach the doctrines and dogmas of the Christian faith. If Lollard is so knowledgable about church history, why is he so ignorant about what the ECF's actually taught about scripture and oral tradition? Especially, that scripture must be interpeted according to tradition?

John Lollard said...

jim,

Yes, I saw that claim. As I said, can you please show me anyone with any connection to the Apostles teaching thjs as a belief from the Apostles. There is no dearth of early church writings on the eucharist, so this should be no provlem at all for you, assuming this was a tradition that the Apostles taught.

Thank you.

In Christ,
JL

John Lollard said...

scotju,

Yes, I realize that I am repeating myself over and over, and there's a reason I am repeating myself over and over: for as many times as I ask to be shown the tradition to the Apostles, I am not shown this tradition.

Instead I get very scornful lecturizings on my "presuppositions" et al.

I hope I haven't pretended to be educated on church history. I'm not. Which is why I keep asking you Roman Catholics who surely know vast sums more than I do of the teachings of the early church, who no doubt are steeped in their wisdom, to please, pretty please, have pity on an uneducated Prot with faulty presuppositions and please show me something that the Apostles taught orally to the Church that was handed down in tradition.

Please do so, because I'm afraid that I don't even know where to begin on this issue.

Thank you.

in Christ,
JL

scotju said...

Mr Lollard, I don't think you're really sincere about finding out wheather Sola Scriptura is ahistoric or not. You could have done a search on your own on other Catholic blogs, like the one I mentioned in my last post, and found dozens of quotes from ECF's that back up what Nick, Jim, and myself have been trying to tell you. But when you are cornered, you special plead, " I don't know anything, and, like a broken record, you keep repeating , Sola Scriptura". IMHO, if you are 'ignorant", it's because you want to be. I was that way when I was in the Armstrong cult a few years ago. Then, one fine day, I realized willfull ignorance wasn't getting me anywhere. So, I stopped being ignorant and left the cult, and later Protestantism, because the history of the cult I was in and Protestantism show both are the products of the willfull ignorance of their founders. If you want to know the truth, you can do what I did. Make a decision to stop being willflly ignorant, quit the foolish 20 questions game with us, and study everthing the ECF's said about tradition and scripture. If you don't cherry pick with a Protestant bias, and just allow the Father's to speack for themselves, you'll have to give up ss. Try it, instead of wasting your time trying to convince us that we're wrong.

John Lollard said...

Translation: no, you can't show me any traditions traceable to the Apostles. Good enough, and good of you to come clean and admit it.

I'll just wait patiently then for one of the other educated and intelligent RCs here to show me from their years of approaching the early church writers with both eyes open and all willfull ignorance suspended just one tradition that can be traced to the Apostles. I'm sure you musy have those, as you talk about them all the time, base your beliefs on them, and you all know much more about the ECFs than any Protestant might.

So please, show me the traditions traceable to the Apostles. Anyone.

Thank you.

In Christ,
JL

John Lollard said...

scotju,

I visited the webpage that you recommended. Maybe I didn't read carefully enough or maybe I didn't read the right section, but I can't help but notice that this is not a list of traditions that we can trace to the Apostles, or references showing a tradition that was handed down to the Apostles, but rather references to mostly third and fourh century churchmen speaking highly of tradition.

Great. People in the third and fourth centuries appealed to tradition to strengthen their claims. I have never arged this.

Please show me the tradition traceable to the Apostles. The traditions that the Apostles taught, that the Church is commanded to hold to.

Thank you.

In Christ,
JL

Jim Paton said...

@John
(1)
I will work my way from the father’s of the later patristic era, let’s say Augustine down to those who knew the apostles.
St Augustine: “and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation . . . we do sin by not adoring.” [Explanations of the Psalms, 98, 9; on p.20]
St. Cyril of Alexandria: “Christ said indicating (the bread and wine): 'This is My Body,' and "This is My Blood," in order that you might not judge what you see to be a mere figure. The offerings, by the hidden power of God Almighty, are changed into Christ's Body and Blood, and by receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying efficacy of Christ." (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 26,27)
St Gregory of Nyssa: “that by this communion with Deity mankind might at the same time be deified, for this end it is that, by dispensation of His grace, He disseminates Himself in every believer through that flesh, whose substance comes from bread and wine, blending Himself with the bodies of believers, to secure that, by this union with the immortal, man, too, may be a sharer in incorruption. He gives these gifts by virtue of the benediction through which He trans-elements the natural quality of these visible things to that immortal thing." ( The Great Catechism, 37.)
St Basil: "It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy body and blood of Christ. For He distinctly says, 'He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.' And who doubts that to share frequently in life, is the same thing as to have manifold life.” ( To Patrician Caesaria, Epistle 93)

Jim Paton said...

@John

(2)

Hilary of Poitiers: "For as to what we say concerning the reality of Christ's nature within us, unless we have been taught by Him, our words are foolish and impious. For He says Himself, My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him. As to the verity of the flesh and blood there is no room left for doubt. For now both from the declaration of the Lord Himself and our own faith, it is verily flesh and verily blood. And these when eaten and drunk, bring it to pass that both we are in Christ and Christ in us. Is not this true? Yet they who affirm that Christ Jesus is not truly God are welcome to find it false. He therefore Himself is in us through the flesh and we in Him, whilst together with Him our own selves are in God." (On the Trinity, 8:14)
Saint Epiphanius of Salamis: "We see that the Saviour took [something] in His hands, as it is in the Gospel, when He was reclining at the supper; and He took this, and giving thanks, He said: 'This is really Me.' And He gave to His disciples and said: 'This is really Me.' And we see that It is not equal nor similar, not to the incarnate image, not to the invisible divinity, not to the outline of His limbs. For It is round of shape, and devoid of feeling. As to Its power, He means to say even of Its grace, 'This is really Me.'; and none disbelieves His word. For anyone who does not believe the truth in what He says is deprived of grace and of a Savior." (The Man Well-Anchored, 57)
St Cyril of Jerusalem: "Therefore with fullest assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to thee His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that thou by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, mightest be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are diffused through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, (we become partaker of the divine nature.) [2 Peter 1:4] (Catechetical Lectures [22 (Mystagogic 4), 3])

Jim Paton said...

@John

(3)

St Ephraim: "Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was only bread; and He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy in the name of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and He broke it and in His gracious kindness He distributed it to all His disciples one by one. He called the bread His living Body, and did Himself fill it with Himself and the Spirit. . . And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy: 'Take, all of you eat of this; which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread, and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, (and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it.)" (Homilies" 4,4)
St Cyprian: As the prayer proceeds, we ask and say: 'Give us this day our daily bread.' This can be understood both spiritually and simply, because either understanding is of profit in divine usefulness for salvation. For Christ is the bread of life and the bread here is of all, but is ours. And as we say 'Our Father,' because He is the Father of those who understand and believe, so too we say 'our Bread,' because Christ is the bread of those of us who attain to His body. Moreover, we ask that this bread be given daily, lest we, who are in Christ and receive the Eucharist daily as food of salvation, with the intervention of some more grievous sin, while we are shut off and as non-communicants are kept from the heavenly bread, be separated from the body of Christ as He Himself declares, saying: 'I am the bread of life which came down from heaven.
St Clement of Alexandria: "The Blood of the Lord, indeed, is twofold. There is His corporeal Blood, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and His spiritual Blood, that with which we are anointed. That is to say, to drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His immortality. The strength of the Word is the Spirit just as the blood is the strength of the body. Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in faith, while the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both, however, - of the drink and of the Word, - is called the Eucharist, a praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word." (The Instructor of the Children, 2,2,19,4)

Jim Paton said...

@John
(4)

St Irenaeus: "So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ's Blood and Body and is His member?” (Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely Named Gnosis, Book 5:2, 2-3)
Justin Martyr: "This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus." (First Apology", Ch. 66)
St Ignatius of Antioch: "Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ."
(Letter to the Ephesians", paragraph 20)

St Ignatius was a disciple of the apostle John. Thus we can trace the belief of the one, holy Catholic and apostolic Church that the Eucharist conveys immortality from the late patristic period all the way back to the apostles.

scotju said...

Well Jim, you've proven that this tradition can be traced back to the Apostles, let's see if John will admit it or go into his Sgt. Schulz routine!

Jim Paton said...

@scotju

I wonder if he will take on baptismal regeneration or infant baptism? But let's wait to see what he has to say first.

John Lollard said...

Jim,

Thank you very much for taking me up on my request. I do appreciate it.

I have absolutely no doubt that St. Ignatius believed exactly what the Apostle wrote down in his gospel,
"I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
which is exactly what he seems to be saying.

Notice, just for the point of clarity, what St. Ignatius is not saying. St. Ignatius is not saying that this is a doctrine that St. John taught him orally and that he has likewise transmitted in oral form. St. Ignatius is not saying that the Apostle ever used these words or taught these words. Not that John didn't say something like this out loud while teaching Ignatius - he certainly did - but the Ignatius makes no claim of relaying Apostolic oral teaching in this statement and might just as well be basing it off of Scriptural teaching.

However, given that it agrees with what we know the Apostle taught (his letters and gospels), I think it is reasonable to receive Ignatius' statement "the medicine of immortality" as being indicative of the type of teachings the Apostle would have given Ignatius. Not an actual oral preaching of the Apostle, but an indication of what that oral preaching might have contained.

For the sake of argument, suppose this statement is something that St. John did in fact teach (and it may have been). Notice what this statement is not - it is not the belief that a priest (and the word Ignatius uses is not "priest" by "elder") is capable of pronouncing certain special words on the proper kind of bread and wine that causes it to undergo a change in its substance while maintaining the accidents of bread, transforming in to the true blood, body and divinity of Christ and therefore worthy of the same adoration that we would give to Jesus Himself. Ignatius doesn't make this claim of eucharist, or if he does then it is not in the letter you cited.

To my knowledge, St. Irenaeus - having met and learned from Polycarp - is the only other person in your entire list capable of reliably reporting on oral teachings which originate in the Apostles, and Irenaeus' statement really says less than Ignatius'. Irenaeus also doesn't claim to have received this belief from the Apostles, nor that the Apostles ever taught it, a claim that he is not shy to make in his apologetic writings. But I can't find the document you are citing in any form but the snippet you cited, so maybe I am missing most of the picture.

So yes, the early church believed the Gospel of John and the real presence of the eucharist as taught in Scripture. Any of the writers you cite who go further than what is said by Justin, Irenaeus and Ignatius are doing so based on their own fallible philosophy and not on something taught by the Apostles or Scripture, and many of the people in your list are actually deriving their understandings by interpreting Scripture, not by citing Apostolic teachings that had been passed on to them intact.

What you have shown is how the original doctrine of the real presence grew and changed with innovation, philosophy and insertions over the centuries from the Apostolic and Scriptural understanding evidenced from earliest writings to something non-apostolic that would eventually become what Rome teaches today.

Thank you for taking the time to track down all of these sources, and for demonstrating that the Apostles did in fact covey the teachings of Scripture to their students, who did in fact believe them and teach others to do the same.

In Christ,
JL

Jim Paton said...

@John
(1)

Thanks for your reply.

You wrote: “For the sake of argument, suppose this statement is something that St. John did in fact teach (and it may have been). Notice what this statement is not - it is not the belief that a priest (and the word Ignatius uses is not "priest" by "elder") is capable of pronouncing certain special words on the proper kind of bread and wine that causes it to undergo a change in its substance while maintaining the accidents of bread, transforming in to the true blood, body and divinity of Christ and therefore worthy of the same adoration that we would give to Jesus Himself. Ignatius doesn't make this claim of eucharist, or if he does then it is not in the letter you cited.”

This is beside the point. My point was that the Eucharist conveyed immortality. You completely missed the point. Or you are dodging it. It’s one or the other. Anyway, you wrote “Ignatius doesn't make this claim of eucharist, or if he does then it is not in the letter you cited.”
Ignatius states clearly that the Eucharist is the flesh of Christ:
“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead."

How clear do you need it to be? If the Eucharist is the flesh of Christ then, well, you know the rest.

Jim Paton said...

@John
(2)

You wrote: “To my knowledge, St. Irenaeus - having met and learned from Polycarp - is the only other person in your entire list capable of reliably reporting on oral teachings which originate in the Apostles, and Irenaeus' statement really says less than Ignatius'. Irenaeus also doesn't claim to have received this belief from the Apostles, nor that the Apostles ever taught it, a claim that he is not shy to make in his apologetic writings. But I can't find the document you are citing in any form but the snippet you cited, so maybe I am missing most of the picture.”

Here is most of the quotation. Keep in mind that Irenaeus uses Scripture as he does in his other apologetics works to prove his case and he does this with the Eucharist conveying immortality e.g.
"So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ's Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, 'For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones' (Eph. 5:30). He is not talking about some kind of 'spiritual' and 'invisible' man, 'for a spirit does not have flesh an bones' (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body. The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and 'the grain of wheat falls into the earth' (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use. These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ." (Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely Named Gnosis". Book 5:2, 2-3)

The question Irenaeus asks is “how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ's Blood and Body and is His member?” This was my point, the Eucharist conveys eternal life because as Ignatius says before him, the Eucharist is the flesh of Christ.

Jim Paton said...

@John
(3)

You wrote: “So yes, the early church believed the Gospel of John and the real presence of the eucharist as taught in Scripture. Any of the writers you cite who go further than what is said by Justin, Irenaeus and Ignatius are doing so based on their own fallible philosophy and not on something taught by the Apostles or Scripture, and many of the people in your list are actually deriving their understandings by interpreting Scripture, not by citing Apostolic teachings that had been passed on to them intact.”

And your proof for this is?

The fact of the matter is that the Eucharist is the flesh of Jesus Christ which conveys immortality. Read both Ignatius and Irenaeus to see that. You cannot make them say that they didn’t believe the Eucharist didn’t convey immortality because it is clear as the nose on your face that they believed that it did convey immortality.

scotju said...

Jim, I just knew ol' JL was going to slip and slide around giving a clear answer to or questions. You gave him solid proof about the Eucharist being the food of eternal life as an apostolic tradition and he just hemed and hawed like he usaully does. He can't bring himself to admit, for whatever reason(s) that the Catholic Chrch has the true doctrine on the Eucharist being the food of eternal life. He is indeed a Lollard, a holder of false doctrine in the style of John Wyciff.

John Lollard said...

Jim,

You're right. Whether or not the Apostles taught your beliefs on the eucharist are aside the point in this discussion.

Thank you for the full Irenaeus quote. I note that he uses Scripture, which isn't a problem. The problem is that he doesn't use a reference to an oral teaching that he has learned from the Apostles.

I don't remember arguing that Ignatius and Irenaeus didn't believe the eucharist to convey eternal life. For all it really matters they believed the eucharist was a flying saucer from outer space. I'm trying to figure out what the Apostles taught. One source of what the Apostles taught is Scripture. You claim that there is a second source - tradition. I'm trying to get you to show me the things that the Apostles taught that are passed down in tradition. You have shown me things that all kinds of people taught, but as of yet not one thing that the Apostles taught - except those things the Apostles taught as recorded in Scripture.

The two most likely oral traditions thus far are Justin Martyr's description of the liturgy and Ignatius' description of the Eucharist. Neither of these are what your church teaches (which is aside the point) and both of these are actually found in Scripture, and only Justin Martyr makes claim to having received this tradition from the Apostles (which he almost certainly did).

Again, I can do better than this with Irenaeus telling us that the Apostles taught that Jesus lived to be over 50.

Trying to argue with me about my (supposed) beliefs isn't going to help you. For one, you don't know my position on the eucharist, and for two, I am not one of the apostles. This conversation is about what the apostles taught and believed.

Aside from the things in Scripture that Justin Martyr and Ignatius later affirm, what else did the Apostles teach and believe?

In Christ,
JL

John Lollard said...

scotju,

I don't know if you realize this, but my name is a pseudonym. I actually chose it with specific reference to the Lollards.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=lollard&searchmode=none
I want to be associated with their "heresy" and their ignorance, and at my judgment I hope to be found among the foolish and uneducated. So thank you for noting as much.

In Christ,
JL

Jim Paton said...

@John
(1) Can you show me from Scripture where it says that the Eucharist is the flesh of Christ?
(2) If Irenaeus and Ignatius believed the Eucharist to convey eternal life (which you are not arguing because you know they both did) can you show me from Scripture where it teaches that the Eucharist does convey eternal life?

Jim Paton said...

@John

(2)
You wrote: “Thank you for the full Irenaeus quote. I note that he uses Scripture, which isn't a problem. The problem is that he doesn't use a reference to an oral teaching that he has learned from the Apostles.”

Not one of the fathers tells us what apostle told him that the gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew. In fact no one says that ANY apostle (told them) who wrote what book. So using your logic, since they don’t state that this is an oral tradition (and it has to be since NOWHERE in the Gospel of Matthew does it say that it was Matthew) then we can be sure that the Gospel of Matthew wasn’t written by Matthew since no one claims to have received this from the apostles. Give one reference to ANY father stating that this knowledge was passed to them from an apostle. You cannot, and thus proves your line of argumentation fallacious.

scotju said...

John, sure I noticed that "Lollard" was a pseudonoum. And I know all about the Lollards. They were followers of the heretic Wychiff, who had some very strange beliefs. For example, they believed God ought to obey the devil. Yes, you are indeed a fool!

John Lollard said...

@Jim,

Does John 6 not state that the flesh of Christ is truly bread and truly wine, and that whoever eats thereof will have eternal life? Did John not teach Ignatius and Polycarp?

Mark me if I'm wrong, but every single Roman Catholic I have ever spoken to has agreed with me on this meaning of John 6.

Ignatius says:
"...and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ."

John in his gospel quotes our Lord as saying:
"But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Looking at Irenaeus, I actually don't see this quote as propounding what you claim it is, but rather using the eucharist as an example of how the eternal is capable of taking on a material form to argue against the gnostics who do not believe that Jesus had a physical body.

@scotju

Good. 1 Corinthians 1:27-31.

jimpaton82 said...

@John
(1)

“Does John 6 not state that the flesh of Christ is truly bread and truly wine, and that whoever eats thereof will have eternal life?”

Actually no, He didn’t. He said His flesh was really food and that His blood was drink. Not bread and wine.

“Did John not teach Ignatius and Polycarp?”

Yes! But you are assuming that everything that John had to say to Ignatius and Polycarp is what is explicitly set down in John’s Gospel. That’s complete nonsense and you have no proof of that either.
But what I really want you to do is give me the verse from John where our Lord says that His flesh is truly bread and truly wine?

This will prove your line of argumentation is fallacious

Let me ask this: When Ignatius wrote that “Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His blood; one altar of sacrifice, as there is one bishop and presbyter and my fellow servants the deacons”

Patristic scholars such as J.N.D Kelly noted that Ignatius’ reference to “one altar of sacrifice” shows that Ignatius as the entire Church did, believed that the Eucharist was a sacrifice.
Now can you show me from John’s Gospel were he states that the Eucharist was a sacrifice since it was John who taught Ignatius?

jimpaton82 said...

@John
(2)

“Mark me if I'm wrong, but every single Roman Catholic I have ever spoken to has agreed with me on this meaning of John 6.”

There is a first for everything :) here’s a tip; Catholics believe that verses 1-47 are symbolic. Verses 48-58 are non-symbolic and verses 59-71 are the reasons for disbelief.

“Ignatius says:
"...and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ."”

Tell me John, is it faith plus the Eucharist that conveys immortality? Or is it faith alone?

“Looking at Irenaeus, I actually don't see this quote as propounding what you claim it is, but rather using the eucharist as an example of how the eternal is capable of taking on a material form to argue against the gnostics who do not believe that Jesus had a physical body.”

They were called Docetists. Ignatius fought against them. Anyway, I was arguing that the Eucharist conveys immortality which you state that Ignatius believes. But now you are arguing that Irenaeus doesn’t.
Ok, can you tell me what is meant by Irenaeus when he wrote that:

“if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ's Blood and Body and is His member?"

Please explain how Irenaeus can state that the gift of eternal life is given through the Eucharist if the Eucharist doesn’t convey eternal life?

Could you please tell me what denomination you belong to? Thanks.

John Lollard said...

Hey Jim,

He said that he was the bread that came down from heaven, that whoever ate this bread would live forever, that this bread was his flesh that he was giving this bread for the life of the world. I've noticed Nick's blog has the awesome Bible verse roll-over feature, so look at John 6:51.

As to John teaching Polycarp and Ignatius: it is possible that John taught them something that he did not write down in his writings. So far the only things you have shown me are things that he did write down in his writings, in particular in his gospel. John develops a theology of eucharist in his gospel, Polycarp and Ignatius seem to convey that same theology of the eucharist.

Are you saying that John's written theology would have been different from his spoken theology? Because I'm saying that whatever John said out loud to these two godly men about the eucharist, it will be coherent and cohesive with what he also taught in writing, which teaching we can go and read. If John had taught Polycarp about thetans and how to use them to fly, that isn't in John's written theology and so I wouldn't be able to make the comparison I am making now. That isn't explicit or implicit in John's gospel. I wouldn't be able to say "yes, they believed what John taught in the Xth chapter of his gospel" like I can with the teaching that Jesus is the bread of life. Further, whatever Polycarp and Ignatius are intending to say about the eucharist, they are most likely intending to be saying it in a manner coherent with what we know John would have taught them about the eucharist. We know what John taught about the eucharist because, again, we have John's writings on the eucharist. We don't know what John taught about thetans, because there exist no writings on thetans from John.

I won't argue with J.N.D. Kelly because I am not learned enough. If Ignatius did believe that, did he believe it because John taught this to him? Can you show that John taught this to him? I can show you what John did for sure teach on eucharist.

No, it is not faith plus eucharist that conveys immortality. The body of Christ, the true Bread from heaven, is indeed the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, just as Ignatius says in line with what the Apostle says. We are saved by God's grace (Romans 3:21-26, Ephesians 1:4-8, Ephesians 2:4-10), who calls us to faith and repentance (John 6:37-40, Romans 5:1-2, Galatians 1:6) that we might be justified - that is, the punishment that is owed to us is imputed to Christ - , and having been so justified we receive the gift of the Spirit who sanctifies us and works in us to complete the calling of Christ that we received. Eucharist is one of the means by which God reveals his grace and sanctification.

I don't belong to a denomination. And I'm not non-denominational either. I am from a Methodist background and I tend to align with Wesleyan theology. I'm also charismatic and fairly emergent. But my beliefs aren't what are being discussed, and trying to refute what I believe isn't the purpose of this conversation. Rather, it is to discover the oral teachings of the Apostles. Whatever those oral teachings are, I will have to believe them. Let's stick to those.

In Christ,
JL

jimpaton82 said...

@John
(1)

You wrote: “He said that he was the bread that came down from heaven, that whoever ate this bread would live forever, that this bread was his flesh that he was giving this bread for the life of the world. I've noticed Nick's blog has the awesome Bible verse roll-over feature, so look at John 6:51.”

I have no problem with John 6 my friend. My problem is that you said Christ said in John 6 that the flesh of Christ is truly bread and truly wine. That’s my problem because Christ doesn’t say that in John’s Gospel which means that for men like Ignatius, John’s gospel wasn’t formally sufficient.

You wrote: “As to John teaching Polycarp and Ignatius: it is possible that John taught them something that he did not write down in his writings. So far the only things you have shown me are things that he did write down in his writings, in particular in his gospel.”

Two things I would like to point out, first, show me where Christ says that the flesh of Christ is truly bread and truly wine in John’s Gospel? This will show that John didn’t possibly teach them something that he didn’t write. But rather, he did teach them something which he didn’t write down; meaning that you don’t have a leg to stand on. Second, is the role of the bishops (as shown below) This blows your pet theory out of the water.

You wrote: “John develops a theology of eucharist in his gospel, Polycarp and Ignatius seem to convey that same theology of the eucharist.”

But since John doesn’t say what you said Christ said in his Gospel, then we can only conclude that since it isn’t in there, then Ignatius is either holding to both the written and un-written Gospel and not the written alone. Or, he is a liar. Or, you are wrong.

jimpaton82 said...

@John
(2)

You wrote: “Are you saying that John's written theology would have been different from his spoken theology?”

No not at all, that’s totally Catholic. What it means is that the ONLY way to understand John’s theology is through the spoken and the written, not the written alone. But the real question is – is how is one to know what John taught?
The answer is through the bishops of the Church as Ignatius teaches e.g. “It is necessary, therefore, and such is your practise, that you do nothing without the bishop. . . Be subject to the bishop. . . it has been my privilege to see you in the person of your God-inspired bishop Damas. . . We must look upon the bishop as the Lord Himself. . . Let us be careful then, if we would be submissive to God, not to oppose the bishop. . . the bishops who have been appointed throughout the world, are the will of Jesus Christ. . . with the bishop presiding in the place of God”

It was the bishops who were in possession of the correct teachings of the apostles, not anything or anyone else.
Now, if you we be so kind, could you show me from John’s Gospel where “these two godly men” would have found in John’s Gospel this description of the bishops? Or did they make this up all by themselves? It’s one or the other.

jimpaton82 said...

@John
(3)

You wrote: “ Because I'm saying that whatever John said out loud to these two godly men about the eucharist, it will be coherent and cohesive with what he also taught in writing, which teaching we can go and read.”

That would be like saying that if the apostle Jude had taught both men then we should be able to find everything that these men teach should concur with what Jude wrote. You’re assumption makes no sense because Jude preached as well as wrote. So the fact is, that because John’s Gospel doesn’t say that Christ flesh is bread and wine and that it doesn’t give us a description of the bishops as Ignatius gives; we can only conclude that both “these godly men” were in fact nothing more than liars. And you have no basis for calling them godly men if they teach something alien to John’s gospel. But I don’t believe they were liars and so it shows that John’s Gospel isn’t formally sufficient. That took the written and the spoken plus the bishops of the Church who John taught to convey his entire message.

You wrote: “ We know what John taught about the eucharist because, again, we have John's writings on the eucharist. We don't know what John taught about thetans, because there exist no writings on thetans from John.”

But let’s say for argument sake that the fathers did teach thetans, we have to ask where they got that teaching? If we say that because John doesn’t mention thetans in his Gospel, then according to you we must conclude that this cannot be a teaching of John. But you would first have to prove that everything that John wished to convey to the fathers is expressly set down in writing. But you have no way of knowing that. Therefore you are in no position to dictate dogmatically that belief in thetans isn’t apostolic. So it comes down to this, who am I going to listen to, you or those who were taught by John? That’s what it boils down to.

jimpaton82 said...

@John
(4)

You wrote: “I won't argue with J.N.D. Kelly because I am not learned enough. If Ignatius did believe that, did he believe it because John taught this to him? Can you show that John taught this to him? I can show you what John did for sure teach on eucharist.”

Ignatius was taught by John and the same John wrote that the Holy Spirit leads the Church into all truth, that’s how I know what John taught. Simple!
Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch and his letters were sent all over. There isn’t one cry of foul play or heresy coming from anyone, which means that either the Church completely apostatized after John’s death. Or, this was a teaching of John’s. Again, who am I going to listen to? The men who knew him, or YOU? I will give you two guesses.

You wrote: “Eucharist is one of the means by which God reveals his grace and sanctification.”

So it isn’t faith alone. You can’t have it both ways. You cannot say that we are saved by faith alone and there be something else other than faith that provides immortality. 1+1=2. It is obvious from this that faith alone isn’t enough. In fact, Ignatius states that obedience to the bishop is needed also:
“He that is within the sanctuary is pure; but he that is outside the sanctuary is not pure. In other words, anyone who acts without the bishop and the presbytery and the deacons does not have a clean conscience.” No faith alone found here.

You wrote: “I don't belong to a denomination. And I'm not non-denominational either. I am from a Methodist background and I tend to align with Wesleyan theology. I'm also charismatic and fairly emergent. But my beliefs aren't what are being discussed, and trying to refute what I believe isn't the purpose of this conversation. Rather, it is to discover the oral teachings of the Apostles. Whatever those oral teachings are, I will have to believe them. Let's stick to those”

I just wanted to know what your theology was, that’s all. But thanks anyway.

jimpaton82 said...

@John
(2)

You wrote: “Are you saying that John's written theology would have been different from his spoken theology?”

No not at all, that’s totally Catholic. What it means is that the ONLY way to understand John’s theology is through the spoken and the written, not the written alone. But the real question is – is how is one to know what John taught? The answer is through the bishops of the Church as Ignatius teaches e.g. “It is necessary, therefore, and such is your practise, that you do nothing without the bishop. . . Be subject to the bishop. . . it has been my privilege to see you in the person of your God-inspired bishop Damas. . . We must look upon the bishop as the Lord Himself. . . Let us be careful then, if we would be submissive to God, not to oppose the bishop. . . the bishops who have been appointed throughout the world, are the will of Jesus Christ. . . with the bishop presiding in the place of God”

It was the bishops who had the correct teachings of the apostles, not anything or anyone else.

Now, if you we be so kind, could you show me from John’s Gospel where “these two godly men” would have found in John’s Gospel this description of the bishops? Or did they make this up all by themselves? It’s one or the other.

jimpaton82 said...

@John

(I POSTED 4 COMMENTS AND 1 OR 2 OF THEM HAVE GONE AWOL. I WILL WAIT AND SEE IF THEY APPEAR LATER)If they don't show I will re-post. :)

Nick said...

Wow, I've been so busy I've not been able to keep up with this. What I've seen through the years is that most Protestants tend to fall onto the slippery slope to total ahistoricism in their attempt to banish all traces of non-Biblical influence on the faith.

The biggest error/fallacy I see with John's position is that he's embracing the very same "sola ecclesia" paradigm he accuses Catholics of embracing en route to establish his doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

As others have pointed out, it's not approaching the situation correctly to ask the question "Show me a doctrine the Apostles taught that is not found in Scripture" with the IMPRESSION Apostolic teaching can ONLY be found in one or the other source.

The typical informed convert from Protestantism to Catholicism can see a stronger case for Real Presence in Scripture than Sola Scriptura in Scripture.

Jae said...

@ John Lollard,

Peace of Christ be with you.

I read your comments which basically boils down to and in the same position as Reformed theologian Dr. Keith Mathison's dilemma as admitted:

"Is there any way to ever resolve the hermeneutical chaos and anarchy that exists within the Protestant church largely as a result of its adoption of radical individualism? Most Protestants do not seem to have taken this question seriously enough if they have considered it at all. If we proclaim to the unbelieving world that we have the one true and final revelation from God, why should they listen to us if we cannot agree about what that revelation actually says? Jesus prayed for the disciples that they would be one (John 17:21a). And why did He pray for this unity? He tells us the reason, “that the world may believe that You sent me” (17:21b). The world is supposed to be hearing the Church preach the gospel of Christ, but the world is instead hearing an endless cacophony of conflicting and contradictory assertions by those who claim to be the Church of Christ."

Basically "sola scriptura" doctrine in reality and real practice is each person is deciding for himself what is the correct interpretation of Scripture. Dr. Mathison and the famous side kick of James White Mr. TurrentinFan also admitted that “primacy of conscience” doctrine, where if one christian finds in his conscience that his current church contradicted his own interpretation of the Scripture, he is allowed to leave it- and thus basically maybe setting-up a new church.

This is the root cause of the “radical individualism” that Mathison deplores as being the cause of the “chaos and anarchy that exists within the Protestant church.” And yet Mathison affirms the Reformer‘s novelty of the “primacy of conscience!

Contradiction? This is a big problem that in reality of things well, even heretics appeal to Scriptures.

Further reading between Dr. Mathison (Reformed) and Dr. Cross and Dr. Judisch (catholics) could be found:

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/

John, the ultimate problem of making Scripture the authority is that it is of necessity subject to interpretation. INTERPRETATION IS A HUMAN ACT, therefore authority (interpretive authority included) must rest in humans. Now, if everyone is their own authority, nobody can claim authoritative interpretation, because their authority is no higher than anyone else's. But this entails subjectivism, and not a "faith once delivered".

You must now seek the ONE characteristic that Jesus ordained to His Church that would settle this problem.

Don't appeal to Scripture because this is an appeal to one's interpretation of Scripture beside, the problem and dispute started from the Scripture itself and thus also it can not pass and make a judgment of who got it right and who got it wrong.

Seek and you find the Truth.

Peace

Jim Paton said...

@Jae

I believe that Mathison completely misses the pink elephant which sits in the Protestant Church.
You pointed out that interpretation is what humans do. But the fact is that Protestantism is built on the belief that an inanimate object infallibly interprets itself.

Mathison asks the question "Is there any way to ever resolve the hermeneutical chaos and anarchy that exists within the Protestant church"
The simple answer is for the Protestant Church to get a grip on reality. It's the 21st century, so surely people are educated enough to realise that inanimate objects cannot "infallibly" interpret themselves. My 1yr old knows that. Amoeba on Mars would know that. So it should be no surprise to find the Protestant Church in complete disarray.

Ps, nice post.

Jae said...

@ Jim,

Peace to you and thanks.

I'm just disturbed by the sad reality facing our protestant brethren.

They keep on pointing to the Scripture as the final Authority when in fact the very disagreement arose from the Scripture itself. The Book can't decide and pass a judgment of who is right and wrong between disputants.

It's like asking the Book of U.S. Constitution to make a judgment on a case. IT IS THE JOB of a the Supreme Court - a Living Organic Authority to interpret and pass judgments and not the book of U.S. Const.

You are right, it's SOMEBODY and not SOMETHING who is an Authority.

Now the question is WHO? Because everybody's interpretation is just a mere human opinion even how eloquent.

This is the only characterestic of the Catholic Church who proclaimed and CLAIMED to have an Apostolic Succession With the Chair of Peter in the helm. Even the orthodox churches who appeal to Sacred Tradition (as rebuttal of the prots) don't even dare to claim this ONE.

Ther must ONLY be ONE! One God, One Truth, One Church, One Shepherd.

Peace.

John Lollard said...

Hey, I wanted to apologize for my delinquency. I'm heading in to finals and haven't had time to read any of the comments since my last post. Lord willing, I would like to respond before the end of the semester, but certainly after that.

In Christ,
JL