Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dialogue on Whether the Church Fathers Were Closer to Protestantism or Catholicism (vs. Ken Temple)

By Dave Armstrong (8-31-06)

[Ken Temple is a Baptist and frequent contributor to my blog. His words will be in blue. My cited words from the earlier paper will be in green.]

* * * * *

Your article here is a good example of what you accused me of many times, something like, "Ken, you bring up too many things in one post", "so many things, too many things in one post".

Nice try. Of course the difference is that my paper is a mere summary on one subject (albeit multi-faceted by nature) - also pretty short (as befits a summary!), whereas what I objected to in your posts was extensive, lengthy forays into quite distinct subject matter. So the comparison doesn't fly.

It is a synthesis, a big picture of your position against Protestantism and seeking to bolster Newman's famous saying, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant".

Which is extremely easy to do . . .

Whenever I tried to do the same thing, you objected.

I objected to straying from subject matter. A blog thread is not the same thing as a book. If I don't try to keep control of the topics, they will go all over the ballpark. It's just how people are, in writing and when they talk in person (and then very little gets accomplished: folks talk a lot about many things and don't solve any problems at all). I used to have strict rules and enforcement on topics in my live ecumenical meetings in my home, too.

There are good Protestant answers to each of your points.

Naw; I don't believe it. But give it the old college try. We'll see if you can refute what I have produced here.

Evangelical Protestants can also be "deep in history"

Sure (anyone can read and study history if they wish), but they won't be able to support an early origin for all their innovations-corruptions of doctrine.

and Newman's statement is wrong. I summarize them, though not in the same order that you gave. If you can do that, (summarize, synthesize,) why can't I ??

First of all, a post like that (a short book chapter) is, again, different from a discussion thread. But I suppose if the thread itself is devoted to such a summary, then you can deal with each topic. It all depends on the nature of the thread. If you try to refute any one of my assertions, then that is on-topic. You act like it is the weirdest thing in the world to want to have a rule for staying on the topic in blog discussions.

I. The Papacy

1. The papacy had strong, binding authority (Kelly, 417-21; Pelikan, 352-354; Schaff, I [II]: 155-162, II [III]: 299-319).

Not in the early church, that was much later, slowly developed over time.

That's your claim. Let's look briefly at how the cited historians look at it:

Kelly calls Damasus (366-384), Siricius (384-99), and Innocent (402-17) "popes", so he obviously doesn't accept your utterly arbitrary and incoherent notion that this is "anachronistic" and that the papacy supposedly didn't exist till Leo the Great (440-461). That's as silly as saying that a preborn baby is not itself until the fourth month. It is obviously a human being from the beginning (we know now that all the DNA which determines growth and looks, etc. is present from conception) . The only difference is time and nutrition. Likewise, the popes existed from St. Peter. Just because the papacy developed (like everything else) doesn't prove that it was nonexistent until the arbitrary time when you think it sprang into existence out of nowhere, like wildflowers in the desert after a big rain.

Schaff (II, 155; I listed the column numbers wrong in my original paper) states: "In the present period [100-325] we already find the faint beginnings of the papacy, in both its good and its evil features." This is all that the Catholic position requires. Schaff agrees far more with my scenario than yours. He doesn't like the papacy at all, but he won't deny it is there early on, as you do. He says Clement (d. 102) exercised "a sort of papal authority" (p. 157). He refers to "Pope Zephyrinus and Pope Callistus" (ibid.). They reigned from 199-217 and 217-222: that's at least 218 years before Pope St. Leo the Great. He mentions "Pope Victor, about the year 190 . . ." (p. 160).

That's good enough for me; you haven't proven that they didn't say exactly what I summarized: that the early papacy "had strong, binding authority." But even granting your position that Leo was the first "real" pope, that would still be pretty early, seeing that even doctrines so central to Christianity and Christology as the Hypostatic Union were not fully developed until the Council of Chalcedon in 451. So if the Leonine "new" papacy was a corruption of what came before it, so was the Two Natures of Christ. Goose and gander . . .

Cyprian (circa 250 AD) was more biblical than bishop of Rome Stephen on that issue.

The "biblical" view very strongly supports central authority, both in one man (Peter, initially) or in a Church Council (Council of Jerusalem). It also supports hierarchy and episcopacy. So let's see: Baptists have no hierarchy (since they hold to congregational ecclesiology), they have no central authority, no episcopacy, and no councils. Therefore, their belief on Church government is thoroughly unbiblical; even anti-biblical.

Cyprian did not hold to a primacy of jurisdiction of Rome. He wrote, "no one sets himself up as bishop of bishops". He and Augustine and others also wrote that each bishop has the authority in their own areas, as long as they hold to "the faith of Peter", which is what Protestants agree with, that it was Peter's confession of faith, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God",

But that is not how Jesus looked at the matter when He called Peter the Rock, as I have shown at the greatest length. So your starting assumption is wrong and unbiblical.

and all that is connected to that in the canonical scriptures, that is the truth which our unity is around. Biblical unity must only be around the truth, doctrine, not an organization or location or church building or person.

Then how do you explain the Jerusalem Council making absolutely binding interpretations of Scripture, which even Paul was bound to, and which he proclaimed?

The foundation was built on Peter, because of his faith and doctrine and confession,

Again, this is not true, even according to many of the best Protestant exegetes, when they examine Matthew 16:18-19. 

not on successors who will later add the other Roman Catholic distinctives in, thus corrupting the faith.

St. Cyprian is only one Father. So what? That doesn't prove anything. Even he (i.e., if we accept your word without examining the question more closely) was only wrong on how the papacy was to be applied. He didn't reject the papacy itself, as Protestants do. That's like saying, "Martin Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary, so that means all, or a majority of Protestants do also."

But this may be a wrong interpretation of what St. Cyprian meant. Art Kelly, in his article, "A Response to 'Evangelicals, Catholics, and Unity'", puts the "bishop of bishops" quote in context. He states:

Dr. Horton quotes the Seventh Council of Carthage in 258 as saying "neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops," but that passage refers to the Council not forcing all bishops in Northern Africa to go along with re-baptisms. Specifically, it was a statement by St. Cyprian that he was not attempting to impose his opinion regarding re-baptism on Bishop Jubaianus.

There is no one who thinks that refers to the Bishop of Rome. In fact, the deliberations of the Council of Carthage were sent to Pope Steven for approval, but he rejected them, making it very clear that Catholic doctrine was once baptized, always baptized. He forbade re-baptisms and threatened excommunication to those who performed them. The Pope emphasized that he was the successor to St. Peter, about whom Cyprian had written about so enthusiastically. He told St. Cyprian he must obey him.
Likewise, The Catholic Encyclopedia: "St. Cyprian of Carthage":
In September, 256, a yet larger council assembled at Carthage. All agreed with Cyprian; Stephen was not mentioned; and some writers have even supposed that the council met before Stephen's letter was received (so Ritschl, Grisar, Ernst, Bardenhewer). Cyprian did not wish the responsibility to be all his own. He declared that no one made himself a bishop of bishops, and that all must give their true opinion.
The quotes in the two articles above have Cyprian's letter translated as "neither does any of us set himself up" and "For no one [of us] has set himself up" (emphases added presently) and not "no one". Therefore, it can reasonably be argued that the "bishop of bishops" comment referred to the African bishops at the council, not to the Church as a whole.

The Roman bishops slowly began claiming authority over time,

It developed (and remember that early persecution didn't exactly make Church government - whatever one thinks it was like then - very easy to run), but Peter already had extraordinary authority.

so it is a misnomer to call the Early Church period until Leo I (440 AD) "the papacy". That seems anachronistic.

It didn't to Schaff and Kelly. So it is you vs. them. I'll take their opinion, thank you, since they are the historians.

The east did not call the Bishop of Rome "the Pope",

So what? That doesn't mean the office didn't exist. The East was always going astray. This doesn't prove, again, that there was no papacy.

and much of the division between the east and west comes from the arrogant claims of "universal bishop", sometimes by both sides. Gregory the Great (around 601 AD) rebuked John of Constantinople for this.

I refuted this long-cherished Protestant and Orthodox myth concerning what he meant by that. See what claims Gregory the Great himself made (in my same paper), if you doubt for a second that he held to a strong papal supremacy view.

In the early period all the bishops were called "papa" (father) and it was meant in the sense of a spiritual father in the biblical sense that Paul teaches us in I Cor. 4:14-17 and in his dealings with Timothy in I and 2 Timothy.

The existence of bishops does not contradict a papacy, so this is a non sequitur.

II. Justification and Sola Fide

2. Organic connection of justification and sanctification, not Faith Alone (sola fide) (Geisler, 85, 89, 91-93, 99, 222, 502; McGrath, 108-109, 115; Schaff, II: 588-589).

First, you misunderstand the Protestant definition of Sola Fide, as we also believe in a "connection" of justification and sanctification. The one who is justified by faith alone in Christ alone, is also sanctified, cleansed, and changed, and will necessarily and immediately begin to manifest new attitudes, godliness, purity, good works, and fruit.

I didn't misunderstand anything. That is not an "organic" connection, as I stated. Protestants formally separate the two. Catholics do not. There is not a lot of practical difference, but there is a theological or abstract difference which sometimes
adversely affects Protestant soteriology.

Sola Fide says that faith is the only instrumental method by which a sinner is justified and can stand before God. Faith alone is what imputes Christ's righteousness to us and covers us.

We understand that, as you have reiterated it a million times on this board. This is your definition of justification, which is precisely the point. You make this claim and then add on sanctification as a second element. We combine both things organically.

But we are changed and sanctified also. So there is connection, but our sanctification is not what commends us or is not the basis or ground by which we able to stand before God.

Exactly (in Protestantism).

Second, the doctrine of justification and faith and the relevant verses in the Scriptures that feed the doctrine of Sola Fide was neglected, true.

So you concede this doctrine: that it was not grounded in the Fathers. Thank you. You're the one who says Protestants can be deep in history too; yet one of your two pillars has such scanty patristic evidences that you don't even attempt to defend that and instead appeal to the Bible.

But since it was already taught there in Paul, in Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians, and in John, and the book of Acts, all written before 70 AD, then the teaching was already there. (John may have written later, but that is another discussion.) The early church later seems to have neglected it for externalistic and ritualistic emphasis, beginning with baptismal regeneration and later then adding in infant baptism, because of the good conviction over original sin, based on Psalm 51, Romans 5:12, Genesis 6:5, 8:21, and other verses.

This is a discussion on the Fathers and what they generally believed, not the Bible.

But notice that Clement of Rome, the earliest of all the extra-canonical writings, taught an equivalent of Sola Fide. So did Mathetes or "The Epistle to Diognetes".

Furthermore, the enigmatic writer, Ambrosiaster, used the term "sola Fide" four times in his commentary on Romans and I Cor. The teaching was clearly there in Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, John, Acts, and even James, since God cannot lie and has no contradiction, James is exegetically talking about the works that vindicate or prove that our faith is real.

Like I said before, you can always find a few Fathers here and there to support almost any doctrine (or appear to support it when he really doesn't, closely examined). But I was not contesting that proposition (indeed, I readily admit it). Rather, I was contending for the proposition: "the fathers as a whole were much more 'Catholic' in their beliefs than they were some kind of primitive 'Protestants'". Schaff (II, 588) wrote about this issue: "If anyone expects to find in this period [100-325], or in any of the church fathers, Augustin himself not excepted, the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone, . . . he will be greatly disappointed." Couldn't-a said it better meself . . . so your "case" utterly fails on this one, too. Not impressive . . .

III. The Communion of Saints

3. The veneration and intercession of the saints (Cross, 1227-28; Kelly, 490-91; Schaff, III: 428-42)

The earliest indication of any kind of veneration of saints and relics, etc. is usually claimed to go all the way back to Polycarp, who was martyred around 155 AD. But this happens after Polycarp died, and they preserved his bones and brought them out on the 1 year anniversary of his martyrdom.

155 AD is well within the patristic period. But again, our present debate (here we go, wrangling about topic again) is not how early in Church history various evidences appear, or even strictly about very early Church history, but about patristic consensus. This period is usually considered to extend all the way to St. John Damascene (d. c. 749), or (in the East) to St. Isidore (d. 636)

I seriously doubt Polycarp would have approved of this; and there is no historical evidence that the early generations prayed to him or bowed down in front of his bones or kissing them. You cannot prove that he or the apostles would have approved of such a thing.

155 is very early; it isn't likely that much proof would be found, but so what? It would be just as hard to find "proof" of original sin in this period, or of elaborate trinitarian theology. One expects this.

Since John discipled Polycarp, he left us with clear warnings not to bow down or worship or kiss anything in a worship context, except God alone. Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9. That un-biblical practice was slowly introduced by popular simple folk, similar to the numerous Marian apparitions and sightings and subsequent setting up of shrines and violations of John 4:23-24 and Rev. 19:10, 22:8-9;

Now we're back to appeal to Scripture, rather than discussing the Fathers.

and when the "pious" go over-board, no serious rebuke comes from the teachers in authority, in the RCC. These scriptures and warnings are older and therefore deeper in history than the much later developed veneration and intercession of the saints.

Nice sophistical exercise of obfuscation and special pleading. This "answer" is particularly striking in that you didn't mention a single Church Father and what he actually taught; except for denying that Polycarp would believe this. So (you make it so easy) I need simply appeal back to the Church historians who do give an opinion on the patristic views. Another miserable showing for the Protestant side . . .

IV. Bible, Tradition, and the Rule of Faith

4. Bible, Church, and Tradition, not Bible Alone (sola Scriptura) as the rule of faith (Oberman, 366-367; Pelikan, 115-119, 303-304; Schaff, II: 169-72, 525-2.

Until the collection of the canon was finalized, the rule of faith was very clearly laid out by Ireneaus, Tertullian, and Athanasius and every bit of the content of the rule of faith in their writings were creedal or doctrinal statements that followed the structure of the doctrine of the Trinity.

At least you provide some kind of statement as to patristic opinion this time. I've debated whether Athanasius believed in sola Scriptura with someone else, and you yourself. He did not. I urge readers to follow the links and see the clear evidence that he was no proto-Protestant. I also have written about St. Irenaeus' views (same conclusion: he was thoroughly Catholic). I haven't dealt with Tertullian, to my knowledge, but I won't bother presently, since you gave me nothing from him to dispute.

They may have mentioned other doctrines or practices elsewhere in their writings, for example, Athanasius supposedly wrote about the perpetual virginity of Mary, but that is not there in his doctrinal statements when he calls the rule of faith, "the tradition", "the preaching", "the faith". There is nothing in these early writers when they enumerated what the rule of faith is, that is in conflict with Protestant teaching.

This is untrue, as I have shown in my papers mentioned (and the historians I cite make very strong statements). You keep talking; I provide hard evidences to disprove your contentions.

It was all a belief in one God, the Father, the creator (against Gnosticism and doceticsm and Marcionism), and in Jesus Christ, His Deity, His Messiah-ship, His virgin birth from Mary, his suffering, death on the cross and burial, and His resurrection from the dead. There was also affirmation of the Holy Spirit and the universal church and the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the flesh and judgment day. The Scriptures were the only infallible rule of faith, not the only thing any one is supposed to study or read or use to help understand history and interpret the Scriptures.

Not to be blunt or disrespectful at all, but you aren't a Church historian, so your word on this doesn't carry any weight. Mine carries exactly none, too, unless I back it up with proofs and statements from historians (which is exactly what I've done).

Jerome is older and therefore deeper in history than the council of Trent on the Apocrypha. Melito of Sardis and Athanasius; they are also older and deeper in history on the Apocrypha, than the Council of Trent. Gregory the Great (601 AD) and Cardinal Cajetan (against Luther, 1517-1520s) are older and deeper also than Trent on the Apocrypha.

That's a different issue.

V. Perpetual Virginity of Mary, 2nd Eve, Theotokos

5. Mary was a perpetual virgin, the Second Eve, and Mother of God (Theotokos) (Cross, 882-83; Kelly, 491-99; Schaff, III: 409-425, 716-22)

These would not be a problem, if they were left in their early church form, in their early church understanding, and in their true historical context. The problem is that they are extra-biblical and later doctrines build upon them, corrupting the faith. The second Eve parallel depends on the assumption that Eve was a virgin before sin entered. That is an assumption that Ireneaus and Justin Martyr seem to make, but it does not make sense. In Genesis 2:24-25, the implications are that Adam and Eve were created fully mature, were immediately married and had godly and beautiful sexual "one flesh" relations before sin entered into the picture.

We're trying to determine patristic consensus. Picking out a few Fathers to talk about doesn't answer that question. That's like trying to figure out the consensus opinion of a Senate committee by only consulting the two dissident opinions out of 15. It makes no sense at all. The historians I cite made their statements and it supports a Catholic position far more than your own.

Proper exegesis of Matthew 1:18-25 speaks against the Perpetual virgin traditions that began to be added in around 300 with Athanasius (?) There is some scholarly debate over whether he even wrote the work "on Virginity" and it is not even in the standard Early Church fathers collections.

Exegesis is not the topic. But at least now you also make some claim we can sink our teeth into and accept or dispute. Around 300, huh? Kelly (p. 493) writes: "Irenaeus [d.c. 202], it is true, held that Mary's childbearing was exempt from physical travail, as did Clement of Alexandria [d. c. 215]." So that is 85 years to 100 years or more before your estimate. Kelly tells us also (ibid.) that "Origen [d.c. 254] maintained that she had remained a virgin for the rest of her life."

The earliest "seeds" of this doctrine are in Gnostic and other non-canonical and spurious writings, "The Odes of Solomon" and the Ascension of Isaiah, and implied in the Proto-evangelion of James.

They may be orthodox to more or less degrees. Just because they aren't inspired Scripture doesn't mean they can't preserve a legitimate early Christian tradition. But in any event, these aren't the Fathers that we are talking about.

Tertullian, who agrees that Jesus was born of a virgin, but that after His birth, Joseph and Mary had a normal married life and Mary had other children through the normal process, is older and therefore deeper in history than Jerome.

And he is deeper in error than Jerome too, and got this wrong. So what? Give me some statements by historians that contradict what the ones I cited said. This is your burden. But you either don't understand that or realize you are fighting a hopeless battle on this, and so switch the subject to individual patristic anomalies, or Scripture, or when a tradition supposedly began, etc. None of those things answer the question you have to answer. I went through this with Jason Engwer, too, when we had the debate on the Fathers and sola Scriptura. It's almost like a game that Protestants play to pretend that these aren't huge difficulties for their position if they attempt to be the least bit "historical." Topic switching, non sequiturs, inability to see what the issues at hand are, etc.

There is only one time in all the other writings of Athanasius that "ever-Virgin" is written, and that is doubted as original by some scholars. Jerome, Ambrose and Augustine, and I think ( ?) Origen also promoted this. On that issue, they just got it wrong.

That's what you think, but our topic is not: "what is the proper teaching on whether Mary was a lifelong virgin or not, and who got it right?" Rather, it is: "what is the broad patristic consensus on this question?" That can be talked about without delving into one's own personal opinion. In other words, it's history, not theology.

Their asceticism tendencies clouded their judgment, as Origen's clearly did when he castrated himself, and as Simon Stilytus did in the Syrian desert. They were over zealous and sincere, but sincerely mis-guided, on that issue.

More non sequiturs. If we're gonna go down this road, I could talk about all the nutty things about Luther, and then dismiss his weird novelties, too. But that is a form of the ad hominem fallacy and isn't what this is about in the first place. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Cross) informs us that the perpetual virginity "was accepted by orthodox Fathers of the East and West from the 5th cent. onwards" (p. 882). That is what we are looking for: what did the Fathers en masse (always with exceptions here and there) believe on thus-and-so? You haven't disproven my assertions in the slightest thus far, and I don't expect the next five things to be any different.

The "Mother of God" is a Latin translation of the Greek, "Theotokos", the original term, which is literally, "the God-bearing one", which was only meant to talk about Jesus as God from conception and it protected the virgin birth of Christ. It was used later in history to promote Mary, and not Jesus, and then other Mary doctrines and dogmas that were added, thus corrupting the original deposit.

Not one word about the Fathers here, so you offer no disproof. Cross says that Theotokos "became common in the 4th cent. . . . and became generally accepted after 431" (p. 882). Case closed. Man, it's like my opinions here prevail without the slightest challenge. You make Catholic apologetics easy, my friend.

VI. Real Presence in the Eucharist

6. Real presence (not mere symbolism) in the Eucharist (Cross, 475-76; Kelly, 447; Pelikan, 166-67, 236-37; Schaff, III: 492, 500).

Real presence is fine, but not transubstantiation. There were many ways to understand "real presence". "mere symbolism" is not the only Protestant view of the Lord's supper. Jesus could not have meant what the RCC tries to make Him mean, when He is in His physical body right there when He says about the bread, "This is My body". There cannot be two incarnations.

Real presence is not (technically) another incarnation; it is a miraculous change of substance, whereby what appears to be one thing has ceased to be so. But if God can take on human flesh, He can just as easily make a piece of bread transform into Himself. If He can be everywhere, He can do this miracle. No problem. So the a priori philosophical objection has no basis. It's perfectly possible within the prerogatives of His omnipotence. The "problem" comes not in mythical perceptions of what God supposedly can't do, but in people's lack of faith in believing this extraordinary miracle. Since you keep straying, why not follow you a bit once in a while, I figure?

Christ communicates His Spiritual presence with us in a special way when there is repentance and confession of sin and faith in remembering His death by partaking of the Lord's supper. And Spiritual presence is still "real". Christ is omni-present, but has only one physical, now glorified body, one incarnation.

This is an amazing response once again, as not a single word was spoken about any Church Father at all, let alone summaries of consensus. Another easy one for my side, making it now 6-0 in my favor. I don't envy you trying to argue this position, believe me.

VII. The Sacrifice of the Mass

7. The sacrifice of the mass (Cross, 476, 1221; Pelikan, 146-47, 170; Schaff, III: 500).

The language of "sacrifice" comes from the quotes from the OT, especially used by the Early Church was Malachi 1:11. The words, "incense", "offering", etc. are using OT temple worship contexts and sometimes described in the NT referring to the general idea of the need to reconcile before one seeks to pray and worship God. Matthew 5:23-24 is an example of this. Just because the early writers used the word "sacrifice" and "offering" in the context of the Eucharist, does not mean that is means what Rome wants to read back into it from the 8th Century to the 11 and 12 Centuries.

So, rightly understood with the OT background of using the word sacrifice and offering to describe worship in the NT contexts, does not mean that the Christ's once for all sacrifice is repeated or re-presented. Hebrews chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10, and the repeated phrase "once for all", show that it was a mistake for the medieval church to take the words "sacrifice", "altar", and "offering" and make them into the hideous doctrines of transubstantiation.

Second time in a row now you mention no Fathers at all. I appreciate this, because I'm trying to finish this paper and go watch a movie. If you give no argument at all, then I don't have to spend time trying to counter it. To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh: "more ease than an apologist should be allowed to have" . . .

VIII. Episcopacy / Bishops

8. Episcopacy, or the rule of bishops (Cross, 176; Pelikan, 159-160; Schaff, II: 133-39).

See discussion under #1 about Cyprian.

Yeah? What am I supposed to see there about patristic views on bishops? What I found was everyone talking about bishops, so I fail to see how that supports your position. It's simply more proof of mine.

Also, Clement of Rome, the earliest extra-canonical writer, clearly taught that presbyters and episcopos (bishop or overseer) were the same teaching and ruling office in the local church. The earliest form of church government in history is plurality-elder-rule, in harmony with the congregation (not "lording it over" them, but being accountable to them and confirmed by them).

There was some overlap of function in the offices early on, yes - as they were being developed and defined over time. That doesn't prove that the Fathers did not accept episcopacy. All you've done is talk about one very early Father.

This is clearly taught in Acts 13:1-4, 14:21-23, I Timothy 3, and Titus 1, I Peter 5. This is one of the strongest cases against the RCC claim to be deep in history.

It is???!!!! Then your case is super-pitiful, because episcopacy is very firmly established in the Fathers.

If they were deep in history in Clement of Rome and deeper in I Timothy, Titus and the book of Acts, they would repent of these later developments that corrupted good church government. Ignatius begins to take the elder-rule into the mono-episcopacy, but even he does not say or teach what the RCC reads back into him.

Thank you! So even another very early Father shows the kernel of the doctrine. Bishops are already a biblical category. As for the early establishment of it, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states (p. 176): "By the middle of the 2nd cent. all the leading centres of Christianity would appear to have had their Bishops, and from then until the Reformation, Christianity was everywhere organized on an episcopal basis." Slam dunk again, and 8-0 in favor of the Catholic interpretation of the Fathers' views. Going for the shutout . . .

IX. Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead

9. Purgatory and prayers for the dead (Cross, 1144-45; Schaff, II: 603-606).

These are later developed traditions that are corruptions. Only because of time and space and lack of "off the top of my head" content do I lightly deal with this one.

Alright. Presumably in VI. and VII. you still had some time, but were unable to discuss any Fathers at all, so why not do it again? I can save you trouble in the future though: this one ain't any different from the others. This was firm patristic tradition.

X. Baptismal Regeneration / Conclusion

10. Baptismal regeneration (forgiveness of sins) (Kelly, 207-211; Pelikan, 290-92; Schaff, II: 253-54).

I can't wait to see how you try to "spin" this one.

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed (justified) from all things, from you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

That's Scripture, not the Fathers.

Acts was written in AD 61, therefore deeper in history and closer to the apostolic deposit.

The Book of Acts is not the Fathers (none of the Bible is). You started this "deep in history" thing. My paper was about the Fathers. I didn't even use the phrase "deep in history" in it, yet somehow you seem to think that is the main theme.

This is one of the many verses that teach "Sola Fide", justification by faith alone.

Non sequitur.

Protestants are deeper in history, as we have the first century, which is "deeper in history", and when the canonical Scriptures were written, between 49 AD-70 AD (mostly) and Jude (80 AD ?) and maybe John and John's letters and Revelation (traditionally, 90-96 AD), but there is strong evidence that they also were also written before 70 AD.

Ditto. So I see that once again you managed - astonishingly enough - to "reply" in a paper about what the Fathers believed, without mentioning any Father at all. So it is 10-0: Catholics: 10, Protestants: 0. A shutout! Almost a no-hitter, too. Cuz you made so many errors . . . :-)

Clement of Rome, Mathetes, and Ambrosiaster are deeper in history (On justification by faith alone); than the Council of Trent's statements on justification.

Clement of Rome on the plurality of elders and equality with overseers is deeper in history than Ignatius and Stephen, Leo and Gregory and 1870.

Tertullian is older and deeper than the Perpetual Virginity doctrine. Cyprian is deeper in history than Boniface in 1302 and Vatican I in 1870. Origen, Tertullian, and Chrysosotom are deeper in history on Mary's sins than 1854.

Individual exceptions to the rule are irrelevant. It's still a rule.

So, if the canon existed ontologically; in real time and space at that time, but only some of the churches had some or most, but all the books and letters together, were not put under one cover yet, the RCC attack on Sola Scriptura falls flat.

It does? I don't see how.

As in Athanasius' famous festal letter 39 in 367 AD; in that context he said, "In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness". He even uses the word,"alone" here. (Greek, "mono")

I referred readers to two debates on Athanasius' views, above.

And we also believe in church, and teachers and pastors, and even good traditions, as long as they do not contradict Scripture. The "alone" of sola Scriptura only means that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith, not the only source to which we can look to or the only rule of faith. It is the only infallible rule of faith. History, traditions, archeology, creeds, councils, pastors, and teachers in the church, are secondary "rules" or "standards" by which we can humbly interpret the Scriptures. These all together help us interpret the Scriptures when it is still difficult after grammatical and historical exegesis has been followed.

Nothing to do with the subject at hand. Did you think I would allow you to systematically ignore the topic? Not a chance . . .

I showed in nine out of ten of the issues that Dave made, that there are more ancient and "closer to Protestantism" Early church doctrines and practices.

You did? Where? I must have missed it.

That does not mean the EC was full blown protestant. They were catholic with a little c; meaning Universal and all the later branches are found there - RC, EO, Evangelical Protestant. The seeds of these three branches are there - which one kept closest to the original deposit is Evangelical Protestant, Sola Scriptura.

I deny that the seeds of Protestantism (now you talk about "seeds" and thus imply development? Interesting) are found in the Fathers, in any sense of consensus. At best, you can find a stray Father on this or that issue, here or there, or one who became a heretic, like Tertullian. But consensus? Nope. It is impossible to prove that any Protestant distinctive was a consensus view of the Fathers. It can't be done.

Every generation must be tested by Scripture.

Fathers, Ken, the Fathers. That is the topic.

The Early Church was heavily persecuted. In the USA and west, Christians are not, as in those days, even though we are spoken ill of in the media. If we had all out persecution, then maybe his students will see the connection and difference.

Otherwise, it is impossible to judge history and contexts this way, each era, generation is different. The key is to keep testing all things by Scripture to see if things are true, resorting back to the once for all delivered to the saints faith, which is only found in the Canonical Scriptures.

Thanks for the concluding sermon and the dialogue.

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