Friday, February 02, 2007

Comments on the Question: "Are Protestants Heretics?"

Image:UtrechtIconoclasm.jpg

Statues in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, attacked
by Protestant iconoclasts in the 16th century.

The topic was first brought up at The Boar's Head forum, with reference to the article of the same name by Edward T. Oakes, S.J. (First Things, 31 January 2007). It was then noted by Reformed writer Alastair Roberts, on his adversaria blog, and in turn cited by ReformedCatholicism.com. As I am banned from the latter site because I have protested more than once the rather (somewhat ironically) "un-ecumenical" treatment of Catholics, and especially Catholic converts (and notably, Cardinal Newman) in that venue, I commented at adversaria, since I have enjoyed many amiable dialogues with Alastair. Other commenters on that blog will be listed in various colors:

It's a good article, though the sentence you quote does betray a typical misperception of the Reformation, common (but not exclusive) to Roman Catholics: "the Reformers took a portion…"

Whenever I read about the Reformers having "left" the Roman Catholic Church, or being schismatic, or whatever, I feel an urge to scream, in words of one syllable: "They! Did! Not! Leave!!! They! Were! THROWN! OUT!!!!!"

By John H on 02.01.07 9:08 am [I link to John's blog on my sidebar; he's a Lutheran]

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, "When we booted out the Protestants, they did not entirely plunder us of our patrimony"?

By Christopher Witmer on 02.01.07 12:57 pm

If they kick me out, and I didn't do anything except preach the truth, then who's the real schismatic?

By Xon on 02.01.07 5:50 pm [Reformed]

"Thrown out"? I suppose in one way this is true, but one must look at the impossible position that they forced the Catholic Church to be in.

I would contend that no one who is conscious and in his right mind would say that any church, confronted with a dissident who denied fifty of its long-held tenets, would tolerate this; nor should they be expected to.

Reformed Protestants (at least the "conservative" ones) don't even tolerate deviation from TULIP, for heaven's sake, and that only has to do with soteriology. We Catholics were faced with a frontal attack on many different areas of our faith: things we held sacred: just as you do with regard to your beliefs.

I ask my Protestant friends: what were we supposed to do? Anyone who has any belief system that had been developed for 1500 years is not gonna simply ditch it because one man comes along, in effect (and sometimes almost literally) claiming to be some sort of pseudo-prophet from God.

No self-respecting Protestant denomination today would consider such a radical change in their own system for a second. Yet that is what the Catholic Church in 1521 was expected to do, because, well, "everyone knows" that Luther was right and the 1500-year received tradition wrong.

No, we don't all "know" that. And I "know" it less and less the more I study the issues involved. I gave a more extended presentation of the above argument in this paper:

50 Ways In Which Luther Had Departed From Catholic Orthodoxy or Established Practice by 1520 (and Why He Was Excommunicated)

I haven't read the article cited yet; I'm just giving my initial reaction to this very common Protestant piece of highly unreasonable and unjust rhetoric.

* * *

Ironically, the reasoning that N.T. Wright uses in a post not far below, with regard to morality, almost exactly applies analogously to Luther's demands in 1517-1521. If I change just a few key words, you'll see how this is the case:

N.T. Wright:

There is no way that the Catholic Church is going to change its mind on this one given 18 months or so. This completely fails to take into account the views and beliefs of all those involved. The idea that New Labour - which has got every second thing wrong and is backtracking on extended drinking hours, is in a mess over this cash-for-peerages business, cannot keep all its prisons under control - the idea that New Labour can come up with a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 years - I am sorry - this is amazing arrogance on the part of the Government.

Legislation for a nouveau morality is deeply unwise. That is not how morality works. At a time when the Government is foundering with so many of its policies - and I haven't even mentioned Iraq - the thought that this Government has the moral credibility to be able tell the Roman Catholic Church how to order one area of its episcopal teaching is frankly laughable. When you think about it like that, it is quite extraordinary. I suppose the hope is that in 18 months time there will be a different Prime Minister who might take a different view, and this will kick it into the long grass until then.
And my analogy (changing a few words):
There is no way that the Catholic Church is going to change its mind on its theological doctrine given 18 months or so. This completely fails to take into account the views and beliefs of all those involved. The idea that New Sects and one man, Martin Luther . . . can come up with a new theology which it forces on the Catholic Church after 1,500 years - I am sorry - this is amazing arrogance on the part of the New Sects and Martin Luther.
Legislation for a nouveau theology is deeply unwise. That is not how theology works. . . . The thought that this New Sect and one man, Martin Luther, have the moral credibility to be able tell the Roman Catholic Church how to order any areas of its episcopal teaching is frankly laughable. When you think about it like that, it is quite extraordinary. I suppose the hope is that in 18 months time there will be a different [self-proclaimed] "Restorer of the Gospel" who might take a different view, and this will kick it into the long grass until then.
What is the difference of principle between the two? When it comes to government forcing advocacy of homosexuality onto the Catholic Church, you guys all cheer on the Catholics and readily see the invalidity of the principle. 



But when we rewind back to 1521, no one sees that the same exact dynamics apply with regard to Luther's 50 or more departures from Catholic precedent, and how the Church was supposed to react to that.

Someone please tell me what the difference is between the two scenarios? If the Catholic Church should not budge on one moral teaching, why should it simultaneously budge on 50 theological teachings, all at once? Just because one man claims to have a direct line to God and His will, and truth?
Nuh-uh. Makes no sense to me at all. At best, Luther made a few good points about reform (mostly, the hypocritical practices of most of the corrupt clergy at that time). He could have been a great reformer indeed, if he had controlled and restrained himself.

But instead he decided to become a revolutionary dissident. That is not a reformer, by definition, because the reformer restores things to how they used to be. That's (largely) not what Luther advocated. He overturned and overthrew many Catholic tenets, and introduced many things previously unknown, which is precisely why he is more properly regarded as a revolutionary, from any sensible historical understanding of the history of Christian doctrine.

* * *

I agree (having read the article now) with Fr. Oakes that there is much practical common ground in the area of justification. I have been arguing just that on a Lutheran blog (Three Hierarchies) lately. 


"Heresy" simply means "selection." Protestants, therefore, are "heretics" with regard to individual doctrines in the apostolic Tradition that they reject. So, e.g., a Protestant rejects the Sacrifice of the Mass. Therefore, they are heretics with regard to that particular doctrine, since it is strongly grounded in the Fathers, and (I would contend) in the Bible itself.

There are many such doctrines that were rejected by the so-called "Reformers." But as a blanket term for Protestants, I would agree with Fr. Oakes that it is inappropriate, because Protestants are indeed Christians. "Heretic" as a blanket term applies infinitely more to groups like Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons, or Christian Science, or Unitarians.

It is the anti-Catholic wing of Protestantism that has the big problem here, when defining Catholicism out of the realm of Christianity altogether. But in so doing, they are largely following the lead of the vehement, vitriolic anti-Catholicism of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bullinger, Melanchthon et al. The original movement was anti-Catholic precisely because of its revolutionary nature.

I agree completely with Stephen Barr, in his counter-reply to Fr. Oakes: "Response to Oakes on Protestants and Heresy" (First Things, 1 February 2007):
While I agree with the general sentiment of Fr. Edward Oakes’ observations yesterday concerning the invidious or vituperative use of the word heresy, I feel that he is turning into a matter of sentiment what should be a matter of precise definition. If the word heresy is thought of merely as an insult or a taunt, then I agree that it is improper for Catholics to use it of Protestants, or Protestants to use it of Catholics. We should not be attempting to wound one another. Much better to call each other brothers.

The word heresy in Catholic teaching, however, has a very precise technical meaning today. It is not, as Oakes would have it, "explicitly [to] deny key doctrines of the faith." The word key is not part of the definition of heresy given in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which reads: "Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith."

The Catholic Church says that all things (though not only those things) taught by Ecumenical Councils as revealed truths under pain of anathema are to be believed "by divine and Catholic faith." There are propositions on justification and other matters that were taught by the Council of Trent under pain of anathema. So, if a baptized person were obstinately to deny one of those propositions, the term heresy, as used technically by the Catholic Church, would apply to him.

. . . With all due respect, this is not a question of how Edward Oakes feels about it. . . . This is a question of facts and definitions, not sentiment. Nor is it a question of whether something is a "key teaching," even of an Ecumenical Council. The term key teaching does not name a technical concept in Catholic doctrine or canon law, as far as I am aware.

. . . I agree with my good friend Fr. Oakes that the way the word heresy is apparently tossed about by some people on the Web is not at all helpful. But ecumenical dialogue is also not advanced by muddying the meanings of words and by confusing feeling for clear thought.
* * *

I would like to challenge some of the above comments about the simplistic view of who-did-what (as if we can speak in those terms about church-institutions, but hey). I follow the argument of The myth of religious neutrality here, not directly quoting:

Although expressed in many ways, perhaps, like the '50 Ways In Which Luther Had Departed From Catholic Orthodoxy or Established Practice', I think it is primarily the challenge to Scholasticism that is the real point. Not all those ways in which it is expressed. And certainly not just by one man, in this case Luther.

Scholasticism upholds a distinction between earth and heaven, between a natural realm and a realm of supernature of Grace. It regards religion as controlling theories in the negative sense, that is: any theory may be accepted, as long as it not (visibly) contradicts revealed doctrine. At the same time, any 'neutral' doctrine can be taken aboard by 'the church', by adding the information that God was the primary cause of it.

This view was challenged in the 16th century by both the reformation and enlightenment, but for very different reasons. Enlightenment sought to abolish the necessity of the religious control, either by entirely separating religious from theoretical thought, or posing the opposite relationship of religious thought being controlled by theoretical reason.

The reformation sought a return to a radical biblical position, where all theoretical reason is thought to be controlled by religion. False religion will lead to false beliefs and theory. This operates in a way that biblical belief directs thinking and theorising, it is not a source though for the proper basis of science as it is used by fundamentalists.

Leaving those arguments aside maybe, I think it is important to hold for instance Luther against this background where the Roman Catholic Church (RC) was under pressure not on many fronts per se, but mainly on one front, namely how to relate the bible and religious doctrine to daily life and theorizing in the natural world. In this perspective, Enlightenment posed the same threat to Scholasticism as the Reformation, in a way, namely that the authority of the RCC would be damaged. I can't help but see the similarities to the gospels, although I don't believe the same change of order in the Cosmos took place in the reformation: Jesus Christ is still the head of the Church and the One who gathers and will complete the Church. But I do believe that there was a measure of falsehood in the idea that the authority of the RCC was challenged: for who can challenge the authority of the RCC, if Jesus Christ is head of the Church, and on what basis would any one be able to do so?

Now from here should be noted that Luther was not alone in posing this threat of authority. Nor is it right to say that initially the reformators rejected RCC authority. On the contrary, I believe they sought primarily a reformation of or within or by the Church, to return to the bible as the source for our ‘primary direction’ in life, thought and acting, uncompromised by ‘baptised’ Greek thinking of a Pagan source.

The Reformation was certainly not without fault. Also, after the initial Reformation, the broad stream of reformed continued in Scholastic ways of thinking, I currently believe that creationist and intelligent design theories are sadly still examples of this, despite well meant effort to 'apply Gods Word' to the Natural world and science.

But what good does it to the Protestant/Reformed AND to the RCC to maintain the distinctives on the basis of 'what happened', if no serious exchange takes place about 'why it happened'?

By Elbert on 02.02.07 4:06 pm
These are the 50 things that the Catholic Church was supposed to reverse (stop on a dime and go in a completely different direction) because Luther said so at the Diet of Worms and in his three treatises of 1520 alone:
1. Separation of justification from sanctification.
2. Extrinsic, forensic, imputed notion of justification.
3. Fiduciary faith.
4. Private judgment over against ecclesial infallibility.
5. Tossing out seven books of the Bible.
6. Denial of venial sin.
7. Denial of merit.
8. The damned should be happy that they are damned and accept God’s will.
9. Jesus offered Himself for damnation and possible hellfire.
10. No good work can be done except by a justified man.
11. All baptized men are priests (denial of the sacrament of ordination).
12. All baptized men can give absolution.
13. Bishops do not truly hold that office; God has not instituted it.
14. Popes do not truly hold that office; God has not instituted it.
15. Priests have no special, indelible character.
16. Temporal authorities have power over the Church; even bishops and popes; to assert the contrary was a mere presumptuous invention.
17. Vows of celibacy are wrong and should be abolished.
18. Denial of papal infallibility.
19. Belief that unrighteous priests or popes lose their authority (contrary to Augustine’s rationale against the Donatists).
20. The keys of the kingdom were not just given to Peter.
21. Private judgment of every individual to determine matters of faith.
22. Denial that the pope has the right to call or confirm a council.
23. Denial that the Church has the right to demand celibacy of certain callings.
24. There is no such vocation as a monk; God has not instituted it.
25. Feast days should be abolished, and all church celebrations confined to Sundays.
26. Fasts should be strictly optional.
27. Canonization of saints is thoroughly corrupt and should stop.
28. Confirmation is not a sacrament.
29. Indulgences should be abolished.
30. Dispensations should be abolished.
31. Philosophy (Aristotle as prime example) is an unsavory, detrimental influence on Christianity.
32. Transubstantiation is “a monstrous idea.”
33. The Church cannot institute sacraments.
34. Denial of the “wicked” belief that the mass is a good work.
35. Denial of the “wicked” belief that the mass is a true sacrifice.
36. Denial of the sacramental notion of ex opere operato.
37. Denial that penance is a sacrament.
38. Assertion that the Catholic Church had “completely abolished” even the practice of penance.
39. Claim that the Church had abolished faith as an aspect of penance.
40. Denial of apostolic succession.
41. Any layman who can should call a general council.
42. Penitential works are worthless.
43. None of what Catholics believe to be the seven sacraments have any biblical proof.
44. Marriage is not a sacrament.
45. Annulments are a senseless concept and the Church has no right to determine or grant annulments.
46. Whether divorce is allowable is an open question.
47. Divorced persons should be allowed to remarry.
48. Jesus allowed divorce when one partner committed adultery.
49. The priest’s daily office is “vain repetition.”
50. Extreme unction is not a sacrament (there are only two sacraments: baptism and the Eucharist).
As I wrote in my paper about this:
Is that enough to justify his excommunication from Catholic ranks? Or was the Church supposed to say, "yeah, Luther, you know, you're right about these fifty issues. You know better than the entire Church, the entire history of the Church, and all the wisdom of the saints in past ages who have believed these things. So we will bow to your heaven-sent wisdom, change all fifty beliefs or practices, so we can proceed in a godly direction. Thanks so much! We are forever indebted to you for having informed us of all these errors!!" Is that not patently ridiculous?
No one has yet touched my argument, let alone dealt with the analogies I brought to bear. If you want to believe your thing in some fideistic sense, then feel free, but don’t pretend, then, that it is able to be talked about rationally with someone else. Presuppositionalism simply creates an impenetrable bubble. You may be safe inside of it, but no one outside of it is impressed, because it is closed to critique and rational scrutiny.
Related Papers

Martin Luther's Dogmatic Self-Proclaimed Super-Duper Infallibility and Virtual Inspiration


Martin Luther the "Super-Pope" and de facto Infallibility: With Extensive Documentation From Luther's Own Words

N.T. Wright & the "New Perspective" on St. Paul: Did Luther Misinterpret Paul's Soteriology?

Luther's Error Concerning Justification (N.T. Wright)

Reflections on Luther's Novel Soteriology

Erasmus on Luther and Protestantism, and Luther on Erasmus


Dialogue With a Lutheran on Whether Lutheranism or Catholicism is More Consistent With Patristic and Early Church Beliefs (+ Part II)



Honor Thy Denominations Rather Than Thy Church Fathers? (Lutherans, Sola Scriptura, and the Fathers) (Dave Armstrong vs. "CPA" and Steve Parks)




Why I am a Catholic / Why I am a Lutheran / The Protestant Myth of Origins (Dave Armstrong vs. Eric Phillips)

The Real Diet of Augsburg (Protestant Intolerance in 1530)

Diet of Regensburg (1541) and Colloquy of Poissy (1561): Protestant "Ecumenical" Efforts at Christian Unity?

The Early Protestants Were Ecumenical? NOT! (+ Part II) (Dave Armstrong vs. Dr. Paul Owen)

Why I Sometimes Write About "Bad" and Scandalous Stuff Concerning Early Protestant Leaders (aka "Reformers")



Calvin, Calvinism, and Violent Iconoclasm



The Early Protestant Attitude Towards Art & Strong Iconoclastic Tendency


25 comments:

enquiries 808 said...

I have a few questions that I need answers to for the last few years:

1. Did the reformers have the authority to reform the Church? Where, what, by whom, when, how, any sign?

2.Who sent Luther, Calvin, Zwingli et al to reform the Church? When, by whose authority, mandate, spiritual, legal and otherwise?

3. Have they immediate mission to reform the Church? Where, when, how?

4. Are the reformers not violating the Bible and the word of God by trashing seven books from the Bible?

5. Isn't it blasphemy to say that the Catholic Church has perished and need reform?

6. Isn't there a supreme council where issues concerning the Church, interpretation of the Bible, corruption, malpractices etc. can be discussed?

7. The one Catholic and Apostolic Church has weathered numerous heretics, challenges for 1500 years and won - through dialogue, council etc... why is that Calvin, Luther, Zwingli take it upon themselves to reform the Church? Wher is their authority, mandate?

8. If they are so smart. so good, why is that the interpretation to German by Luther has 3,000 mistakes?

9. Do they really want to reform the Church or is it really to suit their personal needs?

10. Do they possess what it takes to be a respected, honoured, admired and men of integrity and not VULGAR, Conceited, arrogant?

11. Who gave them the authority to trash the five sacraments of God? Where is the sign, the mandate?

12. Are they prophets or imposters or heretics?

13. Don't they encourage non actions, no need good deeds as faith alone is enough?

14. Why are they are contradicting James "of straw",Matthew 25:34-36; 19:16-21; 16:27 etc.

15. Surely Christ never intends to found so many different types of Churches, so many versions of Christianity, which one is the correct one? The Catholic Church has been around for 1500 before those reformers come along, why is it that is is suddenly a wrong Church?

16. Do they instead want to reform to satisfy their needs, lust and glory?

17. If they have no authority, no mandate, no signs, no revelation to trash the Bible in what ever they like, reform the Church to their liking - what do that make them? Heretics? Where do heretics go - DAMNATION?

18. If they have no mandate, no authority to do so, what does it make the Church they found then - not a Church of God - what do that make the followers - heretics, damnation, hell?

Dave Armstrong said...

These are for Protestants to answer, and we don't get many active Protestant contributors here. We'll see!

churchstate times said...

Will try to give some answers on points 11, 13 and 15:

11. Who gave them (Reformateurs) the authority to trash the five sacraments of God? Where is the sign, the mandate?
Only believer's baptism and the Communion (Lord's Supper) as public declarations of Christian faith are in the Bible.

13. On works:
Man cannot merit salvation through his own works. Christ paid the price in full at Calvary for mankind's redemption, once only for all time. To say, as the Catholic Church does, that we can somehow bribe our way into heaven by means of works is to deny the all-sufficiency of Christ's work at Calvary as somehow deficient. We are not saved by good works, we are saved by a faith in Jesus Christ that works. (Spoken like a true Protestant, if I may say so myself.)

15. Because of the doctrinal and historical religio-political corruptions that the Roman Church has brought into Christianity over the centuries including Papal infallibility and primacy, the exaltation of the Pope above both the Bible and above Jesus Christ, and transubstantiation (perversion of the Lord's Supper), in my Protestant opinion.

I don't claim infallibility and other Protestant viewpoints may be possible, or better.

Adomnan said...

Responding to your answers, churchstate times (CST):

CST: Only believer's baptism and the Communion (Lord's Supper) as public declarations of Christian faith are in the Bible.

Me: The leading Reformers (Luther, Calvin, the Anglicans, etc.) didn't believe in "believers' baptism." They taught infant baptism. (By the way, are you French-speaking? Why "Reformateurs?")

CST: the Communion (Lord's Supper)

Me: Protestants mistakenly call Holy Communion or the Eucharist "the Lord's Supper." The Lord's Supper, described by Paul in 1 Corinthians, was an early Christian communal meal that no one practices anymore. Holy Communion might have sometimes occurred during this Lord's Supper, or at the end, but it is not at all the same thing.

The general Protestant confusion about the "Lord's Supper" is an example of how careless their reading of the Bible is. I mean, why should we take seriously people who can't even get right the distinction between the Lord's Supper and the Eucharist/Holy Communion?

Laying on of hands to impart the Holy Spirit (confirmation), laying on of hands to make ministers (Holy Orders), ministers' anointing the sick (Sacrament of the Sick), and the power of ministers to forgive or retain sins confessed to them (Confession/Penance) are all in the in Bible. Moreover, Christ changed the Old Testament law regarding marriage, thus making Christian marriage a sacrament of the law of Christ. That makes seven rites/signs, all instituted by Christ, to give grace; thus, seven sacraments.

If you want the biblical citations for all these, you can find them here on Dave's site. Look for them yourself. It's easy if you try.

Adomnan said...

Further response to CST:

CST: Man cannot merit salvation through his own works.

Me: Paul disagrees with you.

Phil 2:12: "Earn (merit) your salvation in fear and trembling."

Rom 2:7: "For those who aimed at glory and honor and immortality by persevering in doing good, there will be eternal life."

Rom 2:13: "The doers of the law will be justified by God."

Gal 7-9: "Don't delude yourself: God is not to be fooled. Whatever someone sows, that is what he will reap. If his sowing is in the field of self-indulgence, then his harvest will be corruption. If his sowing is in the Spirit, then his harvest from the Spirit is eternal life. And let us never slacken in doing good: for if we do not give up, we shall have our harvest in due time."

And so on, in innumerable passages, not only Paul, but all the Scriptures, teach that doing good works saves. The harvest of doing good is eternal life.

When Paul writes that "works/works of the Law" do not justify, the works he is excluding are specifically Jewish observances. The example he gives is circumcision. He is not excluding good works or what he calls "the righteous requirement of the Law" from justification or salvation, as the above passages show.

The notion many Protestants put forth that Paul posited an antithesis between faith and good works in justification and/or salvation is a lie. The faith/works dichotomy, as imagined by Protestants, is utterly foreign to Paul and the Bible.

Adomnan said...

CST: Christ paid the price in full at Calvary for mankind's redemption, once only for all time.

Me: True, if the "price" He paid is understood as a "ransom," which is what one pays when someone is "redeemed" or "bought back." That means that Christ paid NOTHING to the Father, because the Father did not hold sinners captive and sinners did not have to be redeemed from Him.

Thus, there is no such thing as "penal substitutionary atonement."

If we agree on that, then I can concur with your statement above.

CST: To say, as the Catholic Church does, that we can somehow bribe our way into heaven by means of works...

Me: To say, as Protestants do, that we can somehow bribe our way into heaven by means of faith...

Lay off the empty rhetoric.

Adomnan said...

More on CST's "bribing our way into heaven by means of works."

Paul writes in 2 Cor 5:9-10: "Whether at home or exiled, we make it our ambition to please Him. For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad."

Imagine Paul thinking that we could "please" Christ with the good we have done! Obviously, Paul was no true Christian, but a "works righteousness" guy who thought he could bribe Christ the judge to let him into heaven "by means of works." Tsk. Tsk.

CST: ...is to deny the all-sufficiency of Christ's work at Calvary as somehow deficient

Me: Yet Paul writes this in Col 1:24: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church."

Oh, my. Now Paul appears to be denying the all-sufficiency of Christ's work on Calvary as somehow deficient (lacking).

Whatever Paul means here, he certainly doesn't sound like CST, does he?

The point is: Doctrine and right belief are not a matter of mindless slogans that sound pious but can mean anything or nothing. If you're trying to be biblical, it's best to use the sort of language the Bible uses.

CST: We are not saved by good works, we are saved by a faith in Jesus Christ that works. (Spoken like a true Protestant, if I may say so myself.)

Me: Well, if your faith in Jesus Christ doesn't "work," then you have a faith without works that doesn't save. In other words, you need faith and works to be saved, which is why, for Paul, justifying faith is a "faith that works by love" and not a faith that is "alone." (Spoken like a true Catholic, if I may say so myself.)

Adomnan said...

CST: Because of the doctrinal and historical religio-political corruptions that the Roman Church has brought into Christianity over the centuries

Me: The amazing thing is that the Catholic Church has stayed so faithful to Christ despite it's total involvement in history. Must be the Holy Spirit.

CST: including Papal infallibility and primacy,

Me: Jesus Christ gave Peter and his successors in the Petrine Office (the papacy) infallibility: "Thou art Peter(Rock) and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Thus, the Rock of Peter is infalliable. Also, Peter is called "protos" in Luke. Protos means "first, prime." Thus, primacy.

CST: the exaltation of the Pope above both the Bible and above Jesus Christ,

Me: If the Pope is exalted over the Bible because he interprets it, then you also exalt yourself over the Bible by interpreting it.

Jesus Christ Himself instituted the papacy, and so you exalt yourself over Him when you reject what He set up.

CST: and transubstantiation (perversion of the Lord's Supper), in my Protestant opinion.

Me: The "Lord's Supper" is not Holy Communion, as I pointed out previously. I reject your Protestant opinion, and hold to the opinion of the New Testament (e.g., John 6) that we really eat the body of Christ and drink His blood in Holy Communion. Paul says the same in 1 Corinthians.

CST: I don't claim infallibility and other Protestant viewpoints may be possible, or better.

Me: You just admitted that your opinions are very much your own and are as likely to be wrong as to be right. Doesn't this make your intervention here rather pointless?

churchstate times said...

Will try to take some of these further points from Adomnan

1. Paul writes in 2 Cor 5:9-10: "Whether at home or exiled, *we make it our ambition to please Him*. For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad."

I do not think that Paul is saying that we are saved by works, but rather, we would want also to do what Christ would wish, that is to do good in the world here and now, each one according to his means and ability, however imperfect we may be. We are only saved through faith in Christ's completed work done at Calvary. To do good works simply to somehow merit our salvation is to do so out of selfish motives and therefore is the wrong reason.

2. Jesus Christ gave Peter and his successors in the Petrine Office (the papacy) infallibility: "Thou art Peter(Rock) and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Christ is the only Rock upon which the Christian church is founded. Cannot speak for the Roman Church. Je suis Protestante.

3. Jesus Christ Himself instituted the papacy, and so you exalt yourself over Him when you reject what He set up. ???
We reject the Papal infallibility and the Papacy's claims of supremacy and worldly dominion. Nous rejetons toutes les inventions humaines et toutes les lois qu'on voudrait introduire sous prétexte de servir Dieu et par lesquelles on voudrait lier les consciences.(Calvin)

4. You just admitted that your opinions are very much your own and are as likely to be wrong as to be right. Doesn't this make your intervention here rather pointless?

They wanted a Protestant viewpoint, so tried to answer some of the earlier points. It would be preferable to have a range of Protestant viewpoints, but I cannot speak on behalf of others. I should say, as a Protestant, that everyone is free (or ought to be free) to hold whatever belief or faith they choose, freely and according to their conscience. If this seems pointless to you, then so be it. Au revoir.

Adomnan said...

CST: I do not think that Paul is saying that we are saved by works, but rather, we would want also to do what Christ would wish, that is to do good in the world here and now, each one according to his means and ability, however imperfect we may be.

Me: It doesn't matter what you think, CST. What matters is what the Bible teaches. In this passage, Paul says that "at the judgment seat of Christ" -- that is, when Christ, as Judge, either justifies (acquits) us or condemns us, His decision will be based on on the fact that "we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad."

That's what Paul teaches. I'm sorry you can't accept it because you think you have a better gospel than Paul. But I do accept it.

Paul doesn't merely say, as you claim, that we should "wish" to do good and that suffices. He says that Christ's judgment of us -- that is, our justification -- will be based on whether we did good or not.

CST: We are only saved through faith in Christ's completed work done at Calvary.

Me: And yet Pauls says the opposite; namely that we are justified on the basis of our works.

By the way, Christ's suffering and death on Calvary is never called a "work" in the Bible. Moreover, Paul denies that salvation was "completed" on Calvary. He wrties rather that Christ "died for our sins and was raised for our justification." Thus, no justification without resurrection, and the resurrection wasn't "completed" on Calvary, but came after.

CST: To do good works simply to somehow merit our salvation is to do so out of selfish motives and therefore is the wrong reason.

Me: According to you, then, Paul was urging selfish motives and wrong reasons when he told the Philippians to "earn their salvation in fear and trembling" and when he said to the Galatians that doing good and sowing to the Spirit brought a harvest of "eternal life."

So you consider yourself a better Christian than Paul, with better motives for doing good?

CST: Christ is the only Rock upon which the Christian church is founded. Cannot speak for the Roman Church. Je suis Protestante.

Me: No. He is not the only rock. He called Peter "Rock" in Matthew 16 -- that's what "Peter" (Kepha in Aramaic) means. "Rock" is a metaphor and does not have to refer to the same person or thing every time it is used. We determine its meaning from context. Christ can be a rock in one passage and Peter can be a rock in another passage. No contradiction.

By the way, Paul calls Christ the "cornerstone," which is not a foundation rock. He says the Church is built on the apostles (including Peter) and Christ is the "cornerstone," a stone that is not even in the foundation. Thus Paul's use of "rock" happens to coincide with that of Jesus, although, as a general metaphor, it didn't have to.

CST: We reject the Papal infallibility and the Papacy's claims of supremacy and worldly dominion.

Me: Well, then you reject an institution founded by Christ Himself, and thus you reject Christ. (I agree that the Pope doesn't have worldly dominion, nor does the Pope claim it, although some popes did claim a kind of dominion over Western Europe -- to the great benefit of Western Civilization -- at a certain time in history, now past. They resisted submission to the Emperor and the idea of a state-run church, fortunately for all of us.)

Calvin, by the way, thought the church (his church) should rule over the state. He was no different from some medieval popes in that respect.

Adomnan said...

CST: Nous rejetons toutes les inventions humaines et toutes les lois qu'on voudrait introduire sous prétexte de servir Dieu et par lesquelles on voudrait lier les consciences.(Calvin)

Moi: La papauté n'est pas une invention humaine, plutôt une fondation du Christ. Et l'Eglise a bien le droit de lier les consciences de ses membres. Calvin lui-même imposait les lois de son église sur les habitants de Génève -- sous prétexte de servir Dieu. Donc, il s'est contredit. A son avis, on pouvait ignorer les lois de l'Eglise, mais devait suivre celles de Calvin.

For non-French speakers, translation: The papacy is not a human invention, rather Christ's foundation. The Church has indeed the right to bind the consciences of her members. Calvin himself used to impose the laws of his church on the inhabitants of Geneva -- under the pretext of serving God. Thus, he contradicted himself. He thought that people could ignore the Church's laws, but had to follow Calvin's.

Adomnan said...

CST: They wanted a Protestant viewpoint, so tried to answer some of the earlier points.

Me: Sure. And I responded to your Protestant viewpoint. I hope you don't mind. It's just an open exchange of views.

CST: It would be preferable to have a range of Protestant viewpoints, but I cannot speak on behalf of others. I should say, as a Protestant, that everyone is free (or ought to be free) to hold whatever belief or faith they choose, freely and according to their conscience.

Me: Agreed. However, just as you challenged Catholic beliefs, we have a right to challenge yours.

CST: If this seems pointless to you, then so be it. Au revoir.

Me: What seems pointless to me is that you have views that you admit yourself might as likely be wrong as right. I realize, however, that women sometimes hold opinions for other than logical reasons, and that, in the end, there's no point arguing with them. Au revoir.

churchstate times said...

Adomnan said: However, just as you challenged Catholic beliefs, we have a right to challenge yours. - Ca va.

Just a quick point on Col. 1:24.
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church. - KJV meaning of Col. 1:24 differs from that given previously:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is *lacking* in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. - this other Bible translation changes the meaning of this verse.

I will also add the earlier part of Col 1:12-14:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: *In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins*


Also the fact that many old line Protestants accepted infant baptism and rejected Believer's baptism does not negate the fact that only Believer's baptism and the Lord's Supper as public declarations of Christian faith are found in the Bible.

Dave Armstrong said...

Excellent comments from Adomnan, as always. Thanks, bro!

churchstate times said...

Adomnan said: The Church has indeed the right to bind the consciences of her members.
Maybe so, but the Roman Church does not have the right to bind the consciences of others, including Protestants. But equally, the same applies vice versa. Let us agree to disagree w.r.t. our beliefs in a civil manner. Au revoir.

Adomnan said...

CST: Just a quick point on Col. 1:24.
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church. - KJV meaning of Col. 1:24 differs from that given previously:

Adomnan: The KJV translation of this passage is odd. The original Greek of the relevant passage is "antanaplero ta husteremata ton thlipseon tou Christou," which means "I fill up the deficiencies of the afflictions of Christ."

Here are the definitions of the verb "antanaplero" and the singular "husterema." The passage under consideration has the plural "husteremata." This is from the Perseus on-line Greek English lexicon (Liddell and Scott):

ἀντανα-πληρόω ,
A.fill up, “τὴν θέσιν τοῦ ὀνόματος” A.D.Synt.14.1; “τὰ ὑστερήματα τῶν θλίψεων τοῦ Χριστοῦ” Ep.Col.1.24.

ὑστέρ-ημα , ατος, τό,
A.shortcoming, deficiency, need, LXX Ps.33(34).10, Ev.Luc.21.4, Corp.Herm. 13.1, etc.

Thus, "husteremata" (ὑστερήματα in the Greek alphabet) means "deficiencies." Paul writes here that there are "deficiencies" in Christ's afflictions that he (Paul) can "fill up."

Consequently, your assertion that the Church's teaching "is to deny the all-sufficiency of Christ's work at Calvary as somehow deficient" flies in the face of Paul's teaching, when he calls Christ's work at Calvary (i.e., His afflictions) "somehow deficient," that is, having "deficiencies" that can be "filled up."

Hey, it's not I who said it. It's Paul. Take it up with him.

Meantime, please stop staying that Christ's work on Calvary has no deficiencies, when Paul said that it did.

I'm merely trying to be biblical about this, to stick to the Bible's language.

Adomnan said...

Adomnan: CST, you suggested that the translation I provided of Col 1:24 was "somehow deficient." Here's how you put it:

CST: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is *lacking* in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. - this other Bible translation changes the meaning of this verse.

Adomnan: Well, the "other Bible translation" is not a Catholic version. I used the English Standard Version (ESV). Here's the information from "Bible Gateway" about the ESV:

"(The ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526; marking its course were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). In that stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of accuracy were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Our goal has been to carry forward this legacy for a new century.

"To this end each word and phrase in the ESV has been carefully weighed against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, to ensure the fullest accuracy and clarity and to avoid under-translating or overlooking any nuance of the original text. The words and phrases themselves grow out of the Tyndale-King James legacy, and most recently out of the RSV, with the 1971 RSV text providing the starting point for our work. Archaic language has been brought to current usage and significant corrections have been made in the translation of key texts. But throughout, our goal has been to retain the depth of meaning and enduring language that have made their indelible mark on the English-speaking world and have defined the life and doctrine of the church over the last four centuries.

"The ESV is an "essentially literal" translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. It seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.

"The ESV Study Bible was created by a team of 95 outstanding evangelical Bible scholars and teachers. They were chosen, first, because of their deep commitment to the truth, authority, and sufficiency of God’s Word; and, second, because of their expertise in teaching and understanding the Bible. The team of contributors comes from 12 countries, representing nearly 20 denominations and more than 50 seminaries, colleges, and universities."

Adomnan: Given your willingness, CST, to regard the opinions of "other Protestants" as at least as valid as your own, I don't see how you can reject so nonchalantly the ESV's translation of Col 1:24.

Adomnan said...

CST: I will also add the earlier part of Col 1:12-14:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: *In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins*

Adomnan: Great! This of course doesn't contradict one bit what Paul said about the "deficiencies" of Christ's "work on Calvary" in the very next sentence.

Justification includes forgiveness of sins, but it also includes an infusion of righteousness (albeit not "Christ's righteousness"). The Reformers understood this. That is why they did not say that justififdation was solely a matter of forgiveness of sins, but they were constrained to invent a non-existent and anti-biblical "imputation of Christ's righteousness" to supplement the forgiveness of sins.

CST: Also the fact that many old line Protestants accepted infant baptism and rejected Believer's baptism does not negate the fact

Adomnan: Obviously infant baptism "negated the fact" of believer's baptism for the "old-line Protestants." And you've conceded that their opinion can be just as valid as yours.

CST: only Believer's baptism and the Lord's Supper as public declarations of Christian faith are found in the Bible.

Adomnan: And so the laying on of hands for ordination and confirmatiion in the Spirit, the anointing of the sick (see James), the public confession and absolution of sins, and the celebration of Christian marriage weren't "public?"

Once again, "the Lord's Supper" was not Holy Communion. Holy Communion in the early church was hardly "public." In fact, even aspiring Christians weren't allowed to participate in it until after baptism.

None of these sacraments are intended as "public declarations of Christian faith." They accomplished what they signified. They did not merely "declare" an accomplishment that occurred elsewhere at another time. Thus, Paul hardly describes baptism as a mere "declaration" but as a transforming reality when he writes (Galatians 3: 26-27}: "For all of you are the children of God through faith, in Christ Jesus, since every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ." Or in Romans 6: 3-4: "You cannot have forgotten that all of us, when we were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into his death. So by our baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father's glorious power, we too should begin living a new life."

Baptism is no mere "public declaration," according to the Bible. It is rather being clothed in Christ and dying to sin with Christ and rising with Him into new life.

Christians don't need rites to declare their faith publicly. All they have to do is to open their mouths and say aloud that they believe. No need of a ritual mime show to do that.

Adomnan said...

Dave: Excellent comments from Adomnan, as always. Thanks, bro!

Adomnan: And thanks for your endorsement, Dave.

churchstate times said...

Adomnan said: Well, the "other Bible translation" is not a Catholic version. I used the English Standard Version (ESV).
Col. 1:24. Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is *lacking* (?) in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

Then the ESV translation changes the meaning of this verse as compared against the KJV.

Col. 1:24.
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church. - KJV

Considerez-vous ce passage précisement:
Je me réjouis maintenant dans mes souffrances pour vous; et ce qui manque aux souffrances de Christ, je l'achève en ma chair, pour son corps, qui est l'Église.

Et ces autres passages dans la Bible:

Col 1:12-14
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son; In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins. - KJV

Colossiens 1v.12-14
Rendez grâces au Père, qui vous a rendus capables d'avoir part à l'héritage des saints dans la lumière, qui nous a délivrés de la puissance des ténèbres et nous a transportés dans le royaume du Fils de son amour, en qui nous avons la rédemption, la rémission des péchés.


Jean 3v.16
Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu'il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne périsse point, mais qu'il ait la vie éternelle. (Salut par la foi seule.)

Jean 12v.47
Si quelqu'un entend mes paroles et ne les garde point, ce n'est pas moi qui le juge; car je suis venu non pour juger le monde, mais pour sauver le monde. (Liberté de foi - Merci Jésus).

churchstate times said...

Adomnan said: I used the English Standard Version (ESV)

Regardez-vous l'autre traduction de la KJV avec la version Louis Second:
Col 1:24 Qui maintenant me réjouis dans mes souffrances pour vous et qui complète ce qui reste à souffrir des afflictions de Christ dans ma chair pour son corps, qui est l’église, - KJV

Col 1:24 Je me réjouis maintenant dans mes souffrances pour vous; et ce qui manque aux souffrances de Christ, je l'achève en ma chair, pour son corps, qui est l'Église. - LSG

Adomnan said...

I don't see how the French version you supplied differs by much from the ESV.

"Ce qui manque aux souffrances de Christ, je l'achève en ma chair" merely means, "I accomplish in my flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ." In other words, this French version also has the "lacking" ("ce qui manque") that you singled out as so problematic in the ESV.

The KJV rendition of this passage is hopelessly uninformative and verges on the incoherent. What could "that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" possibly mean in modern English? No one knows. I suggest we leave it aside and go atraight to the original Greek.

The Greek original of Col 1:24 has the word ὑστερήματα, which means, precisely, "deficiencies." Anyone who translates the verse to English without using the word "deficiencies," or something close to it -- like "lacking" -- is not being honest.

The other verses you cited have no bearing on this discussion.

churchstate times said...

Adomnan said: I don't see how the French version you supplied differs by much from the ESV.

Col 1:24 Je me réjouis maintenant dans mes souffrances pour vous; et ce qui manque aux souffrances de Christ, je l'achève en ma chair, pour son corps, qui est l'Église. (LSG)

Col 1:24 Maintenant, je me réjouis des souffrances que j'endure pour vous. Car, en ma personne, je complète, pour le bien de son corps - qui est l'Eglise - ce qui manque aux détresses que connaît le Christ. (BDS)

*BDS Notes*: Colossiens 1:24 D'autres comprennent: car, en ma personne, je complète ce qui manque aux souffrances du Christ pour son corps, qui est l'Eglise.


Adomnan: Christians don't need rites to declare their faith publicly. All they have to do is to open their mouths and say aloud that they believe.

True. I should clarify what I mean by 'public'. In this context I mean being part of a fellowship with other believers.

Sur notre croyances:
Les Réformateurs ont témoigné de la grâce libre et inconditionnelle de Dieu, manifestée dans la vie, la mort et la résurrection de Jésus-Christ et offerte à quiconque met sa foi en cette promesse.

Le Baptême et la sainte Cène
Le baptême est une confession de foi en la mort et la résurrection de Jésus-Christ, un témoignage de la mort du baptisé au péché et de sa décision de mener une vie nouvelle. C'est un symbole de l'union avec Christ, du pardon des péchés et de la réception du Saint-Esprit. « Si quelqu'un ne naît d'eau et d'Esprit, il ne peut entrer dans le royaume des cieux » (Jean 3:5) Son baptême est une décision libre et consciente, impliquant une profession de foi en Jésus et des preuves de repentance.

Les emblèmes de la Cène, le pain et le vin, sont des symboles du corps et du sang de Jésus. La préparation à ce service implique un examen de conscience et un esprit de repentance. Durant cette joyeuse expérience de communion, Christ est présent pour rencontrer son peuple. C'est un mémorial de son sacrifice, une commémoration de la délivrance du péché, une communion collective avec lui. On exprime sa foi en lui comme Sauveur et Seigneur. On annonce sa mort jusqu'à-ce qu'il vienne.

Anyway, I better leave off for now because others, including other Protestants may wish to participate in this forum. Hopefully over time, a range of Protestant voices will participate here. Merci pour votre recherches et idées. Also thanks to Dave Armstrong.

Adomnan said...

CST: True. I should clarify what I mean by 'public'. In this context I mean being part of a fellowship with other believers.

Adomnan: Fine, but I don't see the point. Why declare your belief publicly to other believers by acting it out through performing a ceremony? If they have any doubts about your faith, then they can just ask you about it.

In my view, the early Christians saw the sacraments as effecting, not merely declaring, what they signified. One was actually "born again" through baptism, for example, which was why Jesus said that one must be born "of water" and the Spirit.

CST: Les Réformateurs ont témoigné de la grâce libre et inconditionnelle de Dieu, manifestée dans la vie, la mort et la résurrection de Jésus-Christ et offerte à quiconque met sa foi en cette promesse.

Adomnan: If grace is unconditional, as you say, then how can faith be a condition of receiving it? In other words, the ssecond part of your statement (that grace is offered to whoever puts his faith in this promise) contradicts the first part (that grace is unconditional). One condition is still a condition. (In French: Une seule condition est toujours une condition.)

I'm happy to see that the defintion of baptism that you supplied from a French Protestant catechism acknowledges that John 3:5 is a reference to being born again through baptism: "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, one cannot enter the Kingdom of God."

The problem I see with the catechism's description of Holy Communion, apart from the questionable use of the word "symbol," is that it is not enough, in my opinion, to say that "Christ is present" in Holy Communion. After all, Christ is present whenever two or three are gathered in His name. Communion is not needed to make Him present. Rather, the more accurate statement is that the body and blood of Christ are truly present in the form of bread and wine.

Additionally, in the Bible a memorial of a sacrifice is always itself a sacrifice (e.g. the Passover memorial). Thus, the Eucharist is a sacrifice.

CST: Hopefully over time, a range of Protestant voices wil participate here. Merci pour votre recherches et idées. Also thanks to Dave Armstrong.

Adomnan: I'm sure Dave would very much like more Protestants to participate in this forum. When he sees your message, I know he'll thank your for your participation, as I thank you for your kind words.

Dave Armstrong said...

Yes; many thanks to both of you for your comments. I haven't been able to participate for lack of time, but it's good to see a substantive and fairly amiable back-and-forth take place.