Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reply to Protestant Apologist Jason Engwer's Post, "The Canon & Church Infallibility" (An Alleged Disproof of Catholic Development of Doctrine), Pt. I


St. Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202)


Introduction

I have temporarily suspended my ongoing policy of not interacting with anti-Catholic arguments and polemics, for a very good reason (one of the best reasons I can imagine). David Waltz, who had been a Catholic from 2002, and an online apologist, has recently announced that he can no longer be a Catholic in good conscience. He stated:

I have reached the point wherein I can no longer reconcile certain historic data with a couple of non-negotiable elements in the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The first and foremost component which has led to my decision is that I can no longer affirm Papal infallibility, nor the inherit infallibility of the Ecumenical councils. Back in 2002 when I entered the RCC, I was able to acknowledge both via the assistance of Newman’s theory of doctrinal development; however, in the spring of 2008, certain cracks in Newman’s theory began to appear on my ‘radar’ while engaged in some historical research.

One article in particular that was troublesome to David was the one I shall critique now. David wrote about it on 19 September 2008:

Jason Engwer . . . posted what may in fact be the most cogent and substantial contra-Roman Catholic Church thread I have encountered during my forays into the blogsphere [sic] world of Catholic and Protestant apologetics. . . . solid evidence that brings into question the issue of authority—more precisely, whether or not any Christian church can substantiate the claim of infallibility.

In the combox for Jason's post, David observed that it was a "very interesting thread, and one that certainly needs some deep reflection" and a "provocative post." I admire the fact that David was humble enough to admit that an opposing argument had considerable strength. So many people in the same subjective scenario barge right in, whether they have a good reply or not. By the same token, given David's open-mindedness, I know he will consider my thoughts, too, as I provide a different, pro-Newman, pro-Catholic perspective and try to expose some rather deep "cracks" in Jason's own argumentation.

Before I begin, let me state that I have considerable experience in debating Jason Engwer in the past, and even in the same general subject area: a three-part dialogue on development of doctrine with regard to the papacy and the canon of Scripture (one / two / three). We also engaged in an extremely in-depth discussion (one / two) concerning sola Scriptura and the views of the Church fathers in relation to that concept.

Jason, though a very able (and amiable) disputant and quite clever and industrious and ambitious in argument, is prone, unfortunately, to warring against straw men. He tends to define opposing positions to his own liking and then shoot these new creations down. This is a famous logical fallacy. It runs as follows:

1) Position X (in this instance, a distinctively Catholic one).

2) Jason defines position X according to distinctively Protestant criteria (thus, in effect, making it now position X2).

3) Jason now subjects conveniently molded and transformed position X2 to all sorts of criticisms, showing how it is unworthy of belief.

4) But X2 is not the same as X.

5) Therefore, X2 is a straw man, as one of the most basic rules in constructive, legitimate debate is to properly understand and define that which one is disputing.

6) Thus, refutation of X2 accomplishes nothing whatsoever in the way of refuting X, and the counter-argument completely fails, as irrelevant and completely off-point.

In a nutshell, what he has done in his present argument that I shall critique, is define Catholic development according to hostile Protestant conceptions of it. He seems to expect papal infallibility and the nature of the papal office to appear almost whole and entire in the early centuries (which is the Protestant tendency in approaching Church history), whereas in fact, development of doctrine (and particularly Venerable Cardinal Newman's formulation of it) is precisely an explanation of organic development over time, meaning (by its very definition) that in many ways doctrines and doctrinal beliefs of large masses of people will look quite different in the year 300 than they would in, say 1870.

The essence is what remains the same throughout. Therefore, the key consideration is not to find fully-developed doctrines before (in our theory) there is any reasonable expectation of same, but to find the kernels or seeds of what later become the fully-developed doctrines (just as an oak tree has little outward resemblance to an acorn, even though it is organically derived from it: to use the most frequent analogy of development). Thus, all of Jason's searching for something that Newman would freely concede isn't there in the first place, is a huge non sequitur. Obviously, if he sets out to refute Newman's development, he has to first understand what it is that he is now "refuting." He can't redefine his opponent's view going in.

The second thing he does is to make an analogical argument with the canon issue, with the canon being more closely allied, as he sees it, with Protestant sola Scriptura: its rule of faith, over against the Catholic Scripture + Tradition + Church, and apostolic succession. He argues that Catholic development regarding the papacy is less worthy of belief than "Protestant" development regarding the canon. But there are numerous problems with this approach as well, as I shall attempt to demonstrate.

Jason's third methodology (often seen in his apologetics) is to make general statements of a sweeping negative nature and mount these up one after another in machine-gun fashion, thus presenting an illusion of great strength and invulnerability of his positions. In order to overcome this, it takes a huge amount of time and labor, in refuting each statement thrown out matter-of-factly. It's the "death-by-a-thousand-qualifications" approach. Much as a thousand mini-criticisms may appear impressive, if all or most of the criticisms are based on false premises or muddleheaded thinking, then it is irrelevant how many are given, and to the extent that many or most or all are refuted, then the person looks rather foolish and quite prone to at least the suspicion of being a sophist or special pleader with no case, and only the appearance of one.

Jason's anti-Catholic colleagues often commit the same fallacies in battling against Newmanian development. William Webster, supposedly some sort of pseudo-scholar on the fathers and development (despite having unknown or dubious academic credentials), demonstrated that he had little inkling of that which he was supposedly refuting, as I documented twice (one / two). He made the most elementary, rudimentary category mistakes. His co-author David T. King, was so ignorant of Newmanian development, that he claimed on a public discussion board that Cardinal Newman was an advocate of the theologically liberal notion of evolution of dogma: a thing roundly condemned by the Catholic Church as an aspect of modernism. Thus he asserted that the Church (particularly Pope St. Pius X) condemned Newman. I refuted that in no uncertain terms, too. Neither of those efforts of mine evoked any defense from these men.

This is the sort of thing that Catholics have to deal with: pretenders who lack even a rudimentary understanding of the nature of the thing they supposedly have "refuted". Its extremely frustrating, especially when they refuse to defend their weak, incoherent arguments and lack of solid logic and factuality.

I don't claim to be a scholar; never have. I'm not; I'm merely a lay apologist, who writes on a popular level. But I claim to know more than a little about both development and Cardinal Newman, and to know glaring logical fallacies and butchering of verifiable facts when I see them. And I claim to know how to argue positions properly, with real strength and force, not just the clever appearance of same by a bunch of questionable words and assertions strung together, so that readers are overwhelmed and made to feel that they are in the realm of TRUTH, by the sheer force of multiple thousands of words. These words and arguments have to fit into a cohesive whole. And they do
not, in this case, as I will be contending.

Part I

[Jason's words will be in blue throughout]

Steve Hays and I have been involved in an e-mail discussion with another person about some arguments against sola scriptura and for an infallible church. The discussion has primarily been about the claim that one of the arguments for the Protestant New Testament canon could also be used to support church infallibility. Supposedly, just as the patristic support for the canon suggests the apostolicity of that canon, so also the patristic support for church infallibility suggests the apostolicity of that concept.

What's below is most of the text of two e-mails I wrote on these issues, . . .

Jason explains the basic analogical structure of his argument. He'll argue, of course, that patristic support for infallibility is far less profound and far more troublesome than that for the canon of Scripture.

1. Though you asked about external evidence and referred to what the church fathers believed about the church, we also have internal evidence and other forms of external evidence for the canon. Even if the canon and church infallibility had comparable external evidence from the fathers, or church infallibility had better evidence in that category, we would have to take the other categories of evidence into account as well.

2. If some fathers refer to a form of church infallibility or contradict sola scriptura in some other way, it doesn't follow that all such beliefs should be categorized together in the manner you've suggested. If church father A claims that church Y is infallible, whereas church father B claims that church Z is infallible, then there is no single church that those two fathers are pointing to as infallible. If five alternatives to sola scriptura are offered by the patristic Christians, but none of the five have support comparable to the support we see for the Protestant canon, then what does it prove to compare the support for five different alternatives combined to the support for our canon? As you said in your first letter, the testimony for an infallible church could be ambiguous, such as by not allowing us to discern which church is infallible.

Now we start to observe Jason's methodology. He is the master of the general statement and the subtle anti-Catholic insinuation. But as I noted above, his assertions are often quite questionable, even from factual considerations of history: as "neutral" as any biased observer is able to present them. He starts right in by implying massive contradictory data in the fathers. But he is already confusing some things. The basic kernel of infallibility is the following:

There is such a thing as an authoritative Church, that has binding authority in matters of the faith.

That's it, and the concept is already (I would contend) explicitly present in Scripture, in the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), which not only claimed profoundly binding authority, but even the express sanction of the Holy Spirit, making it close to the concept of biblical inspiration: a thing that goes beyond all Catholic claims for infallibility: an essentially lesser gift than inspiration. The authoritative Church also includes apostolic succession. The true apostolic tradition or deposit is authoritatively passed down.

All that really needs to be found, then, is a notion of an authoritative Church that can "bind and loose," over against sola Scriptura, in which Scripture alone is the infallible authority. Aspects of particulars such as where this Church resides, exactly how it is governed, etc., are distinct from this basic kernel, and we would fully expect relatively more disagreement in the early centuries, just as we would expect the known fact of disagreement over the NT books (the canon): more so, the further we go back. That should surprise no one or make no one think Catholic doctrine is brought into question on this ground by itself. Men could differ on the exact nature of the infallible Church, while agreeing that there is such a thing, just as men can differ on individual books, while agreeing that there is such a thing as a Bible, that is inspired.

3. My position is that we do see a variety of rules of faith among the patristic Christians. Sola scriptura is sometimes advocated, and it's sometimes contradicted. However, the alternatives to sola scriptura that are offered are different from and contradictory to one another.

And here is the trademark Engwer ultra-simplification leaning (unsurprisingly) towards the Protestant position. There were differences, of course, but the fathers were far closer overall to the Catholic position than anything resembling a Protestant one. Jason's method of simply noting these disagreements on secondary matters, does not overcome the overwhelming consensus in favor of an authoritative Church and against a Scripture Alone rule of faith. I demonstrated this again and again in my own debate with him about sola Scriptura and the fathers, linked above. He decided to split before it was anywhere near over with; I had analyzed the view of four fathers out of ten that I chose, when he left without further reply; and this was a planned, though relatively informal, debate at the anti-Catholic CARM discussion board. The way Jason presents the situation, it sounds as if it is almost an even battle between the proto-Protestant fathers and the Catholic ones, with the latter hopelessly divided amongst themselves. This is simply not the case. And he can't fine support for these assertions among reputable patristics scholars. Perhaps that is why he rarely troubles himself to cite any in the course of his revisionist history escapades, whereas I utilize the supporting opinions of Protestant scholars all over the place in my work.

4. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy aren't the only candidates for church infallibility in this context. Why couldn't the infallible church include some or all Catholic and Orthodox churches, but also include others, such as Protestant churches?

Well, obviously -- if we are talking about the fathers --, because Protestantism didn't exist. When it does come around over a thousand years later, it obviously has to be derived from Catholicism (being a western European phenomenon) in order to claim historical continuity, and then it has to provide a rationale for the "primacy" supposedly being switched over to them over against the existing Catholic Church. This it has never been able to do in any convincing way (to put it mildly).

Or, if it's to be argued that each church must have a succession of bishops going back to the apostles (a conclusion that must be argued, not just assumed),

It is plainly asserted by many fathers. The existence of apostolic succession as a major part of the rule of faith in the fathers isn't even arguable. It is simply a fact. It also has a directly biblical basis and a secondary, indirect (deductive) biblical basis, if the thing itself is to be disputed.

why not include Oriental Orthodox and Anglicans as well, for example, not just Catholicism and Orthodoxy? Why couldn't the infallible church be something other than Catholicism or Orthodoxy or something that goes beyond those two groups?

They could conceivably be so, but the historical pedigree in those cases is far inferior to the pedigree of Rome: largely because of the historical function of the papacy.

5. If we were to conclude that there's an infallible church, a third option (something other than Catholicism or Orthodoxy) would not only be possible, but would also be more likely. The earliest sources, like Irenaeus, don't define the church as Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy.

East and West were united at that time, not separated, so it is anachronistic to apply those categories of some 800 years later, after the schism, to him. St. Irenaeus refers to Rome, with the express implication that it was of primary importance in Church affairs:

. . . while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church.

(Against Heresies, III, 1, 1)

2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

(Against Heresies, III, 3, 2-3; there is a textual dispute about the exact meaning, but in any event, the overall tenor and thrust of the passage can hardly be disputed. St. Irenaeus also mentions Ephesus, but in far more simplistic terms; thus showing a huge qualitative difference: "Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles." -- III, 3, 4). In III, 4, 1 he refers to "the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse" -- but again this is a far cry from how he describes Rome)

The Catholic Encyclopedia ("The Pope") observes about this passage:

He then proceeds to enumerate the Roman succession from Linus to Eleutherius, the twelfth after the Apostles, who then occupied the see. Non-Catholic writers have sought to rob the passage of its importance by translating the word convenire "to resort to", and thus understanding it to mean no more than that the faithful from every side (undique) resorted to Rome, so that thus the stream of doctrine in that Church was kept immune from error. Such a rendering, however, is excluded by the construction of the argument, which is based entirely on the contention that the Roman doctrine is pure by reason of its derivation from the two great Apostolic founders of the Church, Sts. Peter and Paul. The frequent visits made to Rome by members of other Christian Churches could contribute nothing to this. On the other hand the traditional rendering is postulated by the context, and, though the object of innumerable attacks, none other possessing any real degree of probability has been suggested in its place . . .

Nor is there the slightest ground for the assertion that the language of Irenaeus, III:3:3, implies that Peter and Paul enjoyed a divided episcopate at Rome — an arrangement utterly unknown to the Church at any period. He does, it is true, speak of the two Apostles as together handing on the episcopate to Linus. But this expression is explained by the purpose of his argument, which is to vindicate against the Gnostics the validity of the doctrine taught in the Roman Church. Hence he is naturally led to lay stress on the fact that that Church inherited the teaching of both the great Apostles.

And again about other related utterances:

Irenaeus, however, supplies us with a cogent argument. In two passages (Against Heresies I.27.1 and III.4.3) he speaks of Hyginus as ninth Bishop of Rome [link], thus employing an enumeration which involves the inclusion of Peter as first bishop (Lightfoot was undoubtedly wrong in supposing that there was any doubt as to the correctness of the reading in the first of these passages. In III:4:3, the Latin version, it is true, gives "octavus"; but the Greek text as cited by Eusebius reads enatos.

The relative absence of earlier papal references is explained in the same article as follows:

In the second century we cannot look for much evidence. With the exception of Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement of Alexandria, all the writers whose works we possess are apologists against either Jews or pagans. In works of such a character there was no reason to refer to such a matter as Peter's Roman episcopate.

The doctrines the earliest sources describe as held by the apostolic churches are ones that are held by Protestants as well (monotheism, the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc.),

Yes, of course, but it is irrelevant to the present discussion.

and they argue for some doctrines that contradict what Catholicism and Orthodoxy believe. We know that the churches of Irenaeus' day disagreed on some issues (eschatology, the celebration of Easter, etc.).

St. Irenaeus wrote to Pope Victor, suggesting leniency, but presupposed that he had the authority to make a sweeping decision one way or the other. Needless to add, the setting of the dates of feasts and eschatology are not issues that occupy the center of dogmatic concerns. So Jason is majoring in the minors, in an attempt to minimize the supreme Roman influence.

Irenaeus and other sources tell us so. Whatever rhetoric Irenaeus may use to the contrary at times, hyperbolically or carelessly or with a more limited context in mind perhaps, he didn't believe that every church agreed on every issue.

Again, irrelevant to our present discussion . . .

If we were to look for an infallible church with the beliefs Irenaeus outlines when discussing the beliefs held in common by the churches (monotheism, the resurrection, etc.), we wouldn't limit ourselves to Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

We can't jump from the second century to the 16th and after. If one wants to discuss Irenaeus, then one must stay in his period. And in St. Irenaeus there is no semblance of a Protestant rule of faith (not even in a "proto" or primitive sense), no matter how hard Jason special pleads to try to manufacture such a reality. In our debate on the fathers and sola Scriptura, I went into St. Irenaeus; opposition to this notion in extreme detail, with copious documentation from the saint, and corroboration from Protestant historians Philip Schaff and J. N. D. Kelly (see Part II, second section down: X.). I need not delve into all that now. Jason is dead wrong. By that time in our debate he had long since departed, so there is no reply from him to all my patristic data. He prefers to dwell mostly in the region of vague summary statements of his own.

It's commonly assumed that Catholicism and Orthodoxy would be our only options if we were to conclude that there's an infallible church. Not only is that assumption not true, but it's also not true that Catholicism or Orthodoxy would even be the best option among others. If we're going to use people like Irenaeus as our standard, then we need to look for an infallible church that's much broader than merely Catholicism or Orthodoxy or the two combined.

Sola Scriptura by definition excludes the option of an infallible church. By its very nature it holds that only the Bible is an infallible authority. Therefore all forms of Protestantism that hold to sola Scriptura (as Jason does) are necessarily excluded from consideration. This is rather elementary; I'm surprised Jason seems to have missed it altogether. And we Catholic apologists are so often accused of not understanding the nature of sola Scriptura. Here even a Protestant proponent of it and defender of the concept seems to not grasp it; else he wouldn't frame the available choices of "repeatedly infallible churches" in these terms.

6. I've read everything Irenaeus wrote, and I'm not familiar with any affirmation of church infallibility in his writings.

We wouldn't expect to find such a detailed understanding early on (which gets back to my basic point made at the top). What we would expect to find is a notion of profound, binding authority, apostolic succession, and related ideas. These are certainly present; therefore, exactly what Cardinal Newman would predict in a theologian of the second century, is present. Here are a few examples:

. . . carefully preserving the ancient tradition . . . by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established.

(Against Heresies, III, 4, 2)

Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, . . .

(Against Heresies, III, 5, 1)

And then shall every word also seem consistent to him, if he for his part diligently read the Scriptures in company with those who are presbyters in the Church, among whom is the apostolic doctrine, as I have pointed out.

(Against Heresies, IV, 32, 1)


Hence Philip Schaff describes St. Irenaeus' view:


Irenaeus confronts the secret tradition of the Gnostics with the open and unadulterated tradition of the catholic church, and points to all churches, but particularly to Rome, as the visible centre of the unity of doctrine. All who would know the truth, says he, can see in the whole church the tradition of the apostles; and we can count the bishops ordained by the apostles, and their successors down to our time, who neither taught nor knew any such heresies. Then, by way of example, he cites the first twelve bishops of the Roman church from Linus to Eleutherus, as witnesses of the pure apostolic doctrine. He might conceive of a Christianity without scripture, but he could not imagine a Christianity without living tradition
. . .

(History of the Christian Church, Vol. II: Ante-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 100-325, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970; reproduction of 5th revised edition of 1910, Chapter XII, section 139, "Catholic Tradition," pp. 525-526)


Conceiving of a Christianity without Scripture is hardly any sort of Protestantism or anything remotely like it. Jason's contention falls flat in a heap of ashes. Yet Jason is still playing the game. Protestant patristics scholar J. N. D. Kelly concurs:


But where in practice was this apostolic testimony or tradition to be found? . . . The most obvious answer was that the apostles had committed it orally to the Church, where it had been handed down from generation to generation. Irenaeus believed that this was the case, stating [Haer. 5, praef] that the Church preserved the tradition inherited from the Apostles and passed it on to her children. It was, he thought, a living tradition which was, in principle, independent of written documents; and he pointed [Ib. 3,4,1 f.] to barbarian tribes which 'received this faith without letters'. Unlike the alleged secret tradition of the Gnostics, it was entirely public and open, having been entrusted by the apostles to their successors, and by these in turn to those who followed them, and was visible in the Church for all who cared to look for it [Ib. 3,2-5].

(Early Christian Doctrines, HarperSanFrancisco, revised 1978 edition, 37; cf. similar statements from Kelly on pages 38-39, 44, and 47)


Steve is correct in differentiating between infallibility and inerrancy,

And Cardinal Newman is correct in distinguishing between basic binding authority in the early Church and the later far more highly developed infallibility (just as Christology became far more complex as time went on: all the way to the seventh century or later).

and other distinctions could be made.

They certainly could, but Jason so often doesn't make crucial ones, and so readers are ultimately led astray.

Irenaeus does refer to the current reliability of the apostolic churches. But he gives reasons for their reliability that could change with the passing of time.

Passing down an unbroken tradition or set of truths does not change over time. It either has happened and can be verified or it hasn't.

The historical proximity of the bishops of his day to the time of the apostles isn't applicable to the bishops of our day.

That's right. But we can compare what we believe now with these early bishops and see if it agrees. In that way we have a "line" to the earliest Church teachings. Scripture is even earlier, so if we can line it up with that we're on even better ground.

The fact that the churches of Rome and Ephesus had been faithful to apostolic teaching until the time of Irenaeus doesn't prove that they would be faithful fifty, five hundred, or five thousand years later as well.

That's correct, too. But again, the answer is the same: if we show that our beliefs today are consistent with the early ones, then time is irrelevant. Truth and consistency is the standard, backed up by the Bible: the source all Christian parties agree is infallible and inspired.

Since Irenaeus cites the Roman church as the primary example of a reliable apostolic church in his day, would Eastern Orthodox maintain that the church of Rome should be our primary standard today?

No, of course not. But simply saying this accomplishes nothing. One must look at the reasoning of both sides. The Orthodox decided to split off. That was simply yet another instance of the constant schismatic (as well as caesaro-papist) tendency of the East. After all, they had done so at least five times before in the previous 700 years, and were on the wrong side of the debate in every case (231 out of 500 years, or 46% of the time!), according to their own judgment now (and our Catholic standard):


    The Arian schisms (343-398)

    The controversy over St. John Chrysostom (404-415)

    The Acacian schism (484-519)


    Concerning Monothelitism (640-681)


    Concerning Iconoclasm (726-787 and 815-843)


These are historical facts, that can be easily verified. Anyone can go look it up if my report isn't trusted. For much more along these lines, see my paper, A Response to Orthodox Critiques of Catholic Apostolicity .

Secondly, if an Orthodox wishes to claim primacy, then he has to show that his doctrines are that of the early Church, over against Catholic doctrines. But they clearly are not, in several clear instances. The most clear ones are in the case of the papacy (we continue to have it like the early Church; they do not), ecumenical councils (we continue to have them like the early Church; they do not), divorce (we continue the overwhelming patristic consensus on no divorce and no remarriage; they do not, and this first changed in the sixth century in the East), and contraception (they now widely sanction it; we continue to regard it as grave sin, as all Christians did until 1930, including the fathers, as contraception was not unknown at all in ancient times).

Take your pick. If one desires apostolic Christianity: the Christianity of the apostles and Church fathers, there is no contest: Catholicism is for you. Orthodoxy caved to Byzantine cultural pressure in the sixth century, to change the apostolic and patristic teaching on divorce and indissoluble marriage, and it caved into the sexual revolution and modernity in the last fifty years, to change its views on contraception and allow what it once regarded as a grave sin, while Catholic teaching in both regards remains as it always has from the beginning.

How often do you see Roman Catholics appealing to the churches of Ephesus and Smyrna in the manner Irenaeus does?

We could and do refer to them exactly as he does: as apostolic churches. So what? That doesn't make them the preeminent See of Christendom. How he treats them over against the Roman See, where Peter and Paul were martyred, makes this abundantly clear. But desperate folks utilize desperate arguments.

How many Catholic and Orthodox bishops have met the moral and doctrinal requirements that Irenaeus says bishops must meet?

I don't know. A reference might be helpful, so I don't have to find what he is talking about. But I suppose that would put Jason out. How many Christians, period (including Protestant pastors), abide by the scriptural admonitions of John?:


1 John 3:9 (RSV) No one born of God commits sin; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.

1 John 5:18 We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.


The Christian moral standard is extremely high. We would fully expect men to fall short of it, and they do. But in any event, St. Irenaeus alone does not decide the criteria of bishops: the Church ultimately does that.

When Irenaeus says that all apostolic teaching is known to every church and is available to the public, are we to conclude that concepts like praying to the deceased, the veneration of images, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the papacy were accepted by all of the churches and known to the public?

Yes; in primitive form. The latter two doctrines have much explicit scriptural data in favor of them (that I have written about at length in several papers and more than one book). The former two, less so, but a fairly solid case can be made by speculating upon the doctrine of the communion of saints and the consciousness of our earthly activities of saints in heaven: seen particularly in Hebrews 12:1 and Revelation 6:10, and angels and dead saints having our "prayers" in heaven and presenting them to God: Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, thus implying that we can ask for their prayers; and the implications of the incarnation for the holiness of images representing holy persons, whom we are to imitate, as we do Paul (1 Cor 4:16; Phil 3:17; 4:9; 2 Thess 3:9), and honor (Rom 13:7; 1 Pet 2:17).

In other words, all of this was already in Scripture, so it is apostolic doctrine, and only remained to be developed. All of this appeared fairly quickly, in the practice and beliefs of early Christians, and developed rapidly in the patristic period.

Catholics and Orthodox can cite some agreements they have with Irenaeus' view of the church, but they also disagree with him on some points and would add qualifications to Irenaeus' comments that Irenaeus himself doesn't include.

Great. None of this proves that Irenaeus is a witness for any tradition other than the Catholic one, and the primacy of the Roman See.

END OF PART I
GO TO PART TWO

25 comments:

Nick said...

I havn't read your full post yet, because I'm in the middle of going back to read Jason's original post.

Anyway, I can see this is only Part 1 for you, so you havn't gotten further into Jason's paper, but this quote from Jasons Paper, paragraph 10, pretty much condemns him:

"I've said before that if I were in the position of somebody like Papias, I wouldn't adhere to sola scriptura. But we aren't in his position. We're in a much different position. If sola scriptura had been widely or universally rejected early on, it wouldn't follow that it couldn't be appropriate later, under different circumstances."

In otherwords, by his own admission, Sola Scriptura is relative. He wouldn't have 'seen enough' in Scripture way back then in Papias' time to embrace it...but somehow SS becomes "appropriate" later on. This is self condemnation because he's willingly rushing to embrace a system (SS) he's shown to be false.

What's unfortunate about Engwer's approach to the Fathers is that it's self destructive, burning down the very edifice from which supports him today. Tearing apart the fathers, making them look silly and untrustworthy, only can harm the one claiming to be Christian. Engwer's approach is much like the Joker's on The Dark Knight.

Frank said...

I admire the vigor and intellectualism when you feel called to defend your faith. Reading your blogs started me off on a journey researching the reformation, and thinking alot about mankind and his "development." Because of the way i was raised, a had a hard time understanding how a cotholic could share the same faith, and passionately, that i claimed to follow. Your love for Christ, and the depth of your knowledge in the subjects you address makes you interesting to read. I cannot fathom how you find the time to research and write as frequently and heavily as you do, but if you could find the time, i would appreciate your opinion on an essay i started. i posted my intro on my blog, but i have alot more research to do and wanted to make sure i am not going awry. i respect your opinion.

Nick said...

Quote: In a nutshell, what he has done in his present argument that I shall critique, is define Catholic development according to hostile Protestant conceptions of it.

That is precisely what I saw throughout his paper. With his logic, the Trinity was an invention because so many various ways (even some that appear contradictory) of explaining it were used. After the first few centuries, when people spoke of the Trinity they had a very robust understanding in their mind, an understanding built from centuries of meditation, and thus something the average Christian way back wouldn't have comprehended or appreciated.

Quote: The second thing he does is to make an analogical argument with the canon issue, with the canon being more closely allied, as he sees it, with Protestant sola Scriptura

Agreed. The laughable thing was that Jason proceeded throughout as if there weren't variations in the canon among Fathers (even though giving lip service to the fact).

Quote: Jason's third methodology (often seen in his apologetics) is to make general statements of a sweeping negative nature and mount these up one after another in machine-gun fashion, thus presenting an illusion of great strength and invulnerability of his positions.

Yes, and he is at his 'worst' when he does this to the Fathers, making them come off as a bunch of individualists promoting all sorts of contradictory doctrines and thus as a whole untrustworthy and childish. Of course, using the typical Protestant stealth tactics, he can call them "Christian" on one hand while affirming they weren't promoting a true Gospel on the other.

Quote: In order to overcome this, it takes a huge amount of time and labor, in refuting each statement thrown out matter-of-factly.

It's the standard operating procedures of the Reformers: toss out as many accusations as possible, hope some of them draw blood, and leave the Catholic to pick up the smear mess. And, if you're really lucky, the Catholic will either get frustrated and give up, or unfortunately respond in personal attacks, making the Protestant look victorious and innocent while the Catholic side looks very weak and full of ill will.

Quote: And in St. Irenaeus there is no semblance of a Protestant rule of faith (not even in a "proto" or primitive sense), no matter how hard Jason special pleads to try to manufacture such a reality.

It's both sad and funny at the same time. It's the typical Protestant method of appealing to a father as a 'genuine Christian testimony' who doesn't support the Protestant position in the first place. It's a 'blind spot' in Protestant thinking; they honestly cannot see it.

Quote: Hence Philip Schaff describes St. Irenaeus' view: He might conceive of a Christianity without scripture, but he could not imagine a Christianity without living tradition

Speaking of this quote, the protestant apologist who runs the site JustForCatholics quotes this VERY section of Schaff in SUPPORT of Sola-Scriptura, but leaves out this very quote!
http://tinyurl.com/yka59fq


Good Part 1. You've obviously been down this path enough times to know how to approach it, what to say, etc, but unsuspecting folks can be misled. I fear such garbage and lies poisoned people such as David Waltz, but we have not given up hope for him and others. Thank you Dave A for this this; many people needed to see this.

Maroun said...

Hi Dave.
I really dont understand the way people like Jason think...
I mean,if the church is not infallible as he claims,then how could the church ever correct anyone about anything?protestantism is the best example,no authority means confusion . The protestants will die not knowing what is correct and what is false,in fact they are confused and relativism is the result of their confusion,because by denying the authority and infallibility of the church , no one ever is allowed to correct another,because if i claim to be correct and you disagree with me , and i claim to know scripture and so do you , and then again i claim to be led by the Holy Spirit and so do you , then i could say that you are wrong and so do you...But without the authority of the church,there is no solution to the problem,just divisions and confusion and disagreement...
How could saint Paul or saint Peter or saint John or saint James or the Church itself tells us that this is true orthodox teaching and this is heresy if the church is not infallible and dosent have the authority from God?
So plz Jason , we dont need more confusion in this world .
No authority and no infallibility means just relativism and confusion and our God is not the God of confusion.
Maroun

Author said...

THANK YOU!!!

Your blog is terrific. I use it all the time for my own research. I love how Protestants prefer to argue the "details" of history as though each moment stands alone. When all of it is taken together their arguments fall apart. I suppose "the devil is in the details," would be in poor taste but I can't help but say it.

btw: I used to be a non-Denominational Protestant. But, I couldn't in good conscience subscribe to, or even make sense of all the conflicting ideas and theology of Protestantism. In the end, it is rather peaceful to just submit to Church authority and not remain a Papacy unto myself.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for all the nice words and helpful insights of everyone in this thread. Truth has its own inherent power, doesn't it?

"Author" has a lovely website. Good work!

Frank,

You're very kind. I do this full-time (have for over eight years now), so that's how I find the time! Even then, projects like this present one about development are extremely time-consuming.

I'll give you my thoughts on your essay as soon as I can. If I forget, please remind me!

Right now, I'm in my "intense focus" mode of the reply to Jason Engwer, and so it is difficult to concentrate on much else until that gets done.

Jon said...

Jason Engwer is "amiable"? Please. Here's a barrage of insults from him from threads picked at random. Here's evidence of him nearly being banned at str by the Christian moderator due to his rude behavior. Do amiable people stubbornly refuse to admit blatant and obvious errors?

He is informed on some subjects and he writes well. That's why I like interacting with him because I do often learn from him. When pushed though he tends to dissemble and obscure.

Dave Armstrong said...

I didn't say he was perfect. But he is infinitely better in his demeanor and conduct than folks like Svendsen, White, David T. King, Steve Hays, and the whole lot of big-mouthed, boorish anti-Catholics and their sycophantic followers who cheer them on.

I try to give credit where it is due.

Sophia's Lover said...

Dave, this is Pito.

I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I was wondering if you'd kindly do me a favor. You see, my friend has recently asked some questions about the Catholic view of Luther, as well as objective truth and morality. I don't see my friend often, and he doesn't have a computer.I am also in financial limbo, and so will have trouble paying, but could I possibly be e-mailed your books on Luther and postmodernism respectively, so that my friend can read them when I next see him? I'd be eternally grateful; thanks, Dave.

Dave Armstrong said...

Sure. What's your e-mail?

Sophia's Lover said...

My e-mail is pitoro7@gmail.com, Dave; once again, thanks.

Lvka said...

I wasn't aware that St. Basil lived in the sixth century...

Dave Armstrong said...

Who said that he did?

Ken said...

Dave, you wrote:

“self-servingly molded” [describing Jason’s method of critique]

“self-servingly” is ascribing evil motives to his argumentation. You use words that are seeking to read motives, and that is bad form in argumentation.

In a nutshell, what he has done in his present argument that I shall critique, is define Catholic development according to hostile Protestant conceptions of it.

You seem to have immediately poisoned the well in your argumentation by calling it a “hostile” conception. You say he “defines” it according to his own understanding of it, rather than understanding the Roman Catholic view of the development of doctrine.

Jason understands quite well Newman’s development of doctrine theory. It is anachronistic by nature. Ideas and doctrines are not like seeds or organic material. They do not grow like seeds or eggs or embryos. Biblical Doctrine does develop in church history, but right doctrine (not just any claim to have right doctrine) must have Scriptural material and sound exegesis to back it up; the Roman Catholic claims of Pope and Mary and indulgences and relics and NT priests have no credible exegesis or Scriptural backing.

Everyone has some kind of Presuppositions; you do also; our human minds are not “tabula rosa” ( blank slates in our minds) (John Locke)

Ken said...

Dave wrote:

"He seems to expect papal infallibility and the nature of the papal office to appear almost whole and entire in the early centuries (which is the Protestant tendency in approaching Church history), whereas in fact, development of doctrine (and particularly Venerable Cardinal Newman's formulation of it) is precisely an explanation of organic development over time, meaning (by its very definition) that in many ways doctrines and doctrinal beliefs of large masses of people will look quite different in the year 300 than they would in, say 1870."

Since it is such an important and all encompassing doctrine, and indeed the main doctrinal claim that makes the RCC claim to be the Church over all Christendom and all others are in rebellion, we would expect it to be there both in the Scriptures and in the early church history, but, alas, it not in either one. If it was true, we would expect Peter to at least mention some seed form of it in his second letter. 2 Peter does not mention it all; instead he says “this is the second letter I am writing to you” ( 3:1) Let that sink in, “writing to you”; he is emphasizing Scripture. He says his writing to them is “being diligent” and “reminding them of the truth” ( 3:1; 1:12-21) He knows he is going to die. (1:12-18) He says, essentially, “after I am gone, I am writing now, so I will be diligent by writing this, so that when I am gone you will have something written to refer to and build yourselves up and remind yourselves in the truth.” This is Sola Scriptura in a simple form, not any kind of Papal doctrine or dogma or even the existence of a Papal office, much less infallibility of the Pope. Peter does not even mention any presbyter / overseer who would be his successor. Why? Because the early church was a plurality of elders and there was no such thing as one man being the successor of one apostle or presbyter as an authoritative buck stops here kind of office. He called himself a “fellow-elder” (fellow presbyter) in I Peter 5:1. Not only is infallibility not there, the Papal office is not there, and successor to Peter is not there in I Peter, 2 Peter, nor Matthew 16:13-18. Nada, zilch. The mono-episcopate developed later; even the Didache (15:1 - deacons and episcopate) and I Clement only mention 2 offices (presbyters/episcopais as one office and deacons as the other office) and I Clement uses episcopais and presbuteros interchangeably.(I Clement 44 and 47) Both the Didache and I Clement are earlier history than Ignatius, and way earlier than any other juridicitional claims of Rome by Stephen (255 AD), Leo (401 AD) or Gregory (601 AD).

Ken said...

Dave wrote:

". . . is precisely an explanation of organic development over time, meaning (by its very definition) . . .

Jason and others of us understand Newman’s theory well enough. “organic development” means “seeds and acorns into oak trees”. We are saying the theory itself is wrong, unbiblical and unhistorical in the earliest centuries. We are not imposing our understanding of it on it, as you claim, rather we are refuting the idea itself, that doctrines/thoughts/ideas are parallel to organic material of seeds, acorns, embryos, eggs, DNA, etc. that grow naturally over time in history. Since the seeds of the Papacy are not there in the Bible, nor in Early Church history, it is non-existent. The mono-episcopate comes later, with Ignatius, later than Clement and the Didache, and even that is nothing compared to the audacity of the Bishop of Rome jurisdictional claims. Cyprian was right to oppose Stephen, bishop of Rome around 255 AD.

There is such a thing as an authoritative Church, that has binding authority in matters of the faith.

Doctrinal Protestants believe in this idea in its basic form. We believe in the local church, and the local church is God’s instrument on the earth to be the body of Christ to minister to people, preach the gospel, teach sound doctrine, discipline the unrepentant, administer baptism and the Lord’s supper. The word “authoritative” would need more definition, as also does the word “binding”.

So, this statement is no better than Protestantism and we can affirm it in the bare statement as is and therefore, we are just as much a part of early church history as you are; we are small "c" catholics. History is history; whatever happened is whatever happened.

It is easy for the Roman Catholic Church to look back over history and claim it is the one infallible church, because its power and might forced it as the winners in the issue of the Papal doctrines. The Papacy and Infallibility developed slowly over the centuries from the beginning of jurisdictional claims, starting in 255 AD with Stephen, but he was wrong. Even then it did not really start developing until after Gregory and after Islam conquered the east and became more pronounced with the 1054 filoque clause schism with the Greek Orthodox church. The Eastern /Greek and Oriental churches knew it (Papacy, infallibility, jurisdictional claims over all Christians) was wrong also. Boniface VIII made one of the most arrogant statements in history in Unam Sanctum in 1303 AD. Basically, every one must submit to the Pope for salvation. Not only arrogant, but contradictory to Romans, Galatians, John, Acts, Philippians, Ephesians, the whole NT !!

The RCC anathematized the EO in 1054 and the Protestants in 1521; then 1545-1564 (bull and trial against Luther and then Trent).

They just claim Papal infallibility by raw power and an attitude of "whatever we say goes"

Ken said...

Dave wrote:

That's it, and the concept is already (I would contend) explicitly present in Scripture, in the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), which not only claimed profoundly binding authority, but even the express sanction of the Holy Spirit, making it close to the concept of biblical inspiration: a thing that goes beyond all Catholic claims for infallibility: an essentially lesser gift than inspiration. The authoritative Church also includes apostolic succession. The true apostolic tradition or deposit is authoritatively passed down.

Since the Jerusalem council of Acts 15 is in Scripture, we are assured of its authority by the inspiration of the Scriptures. It is history recorded in Scripture. It does not say that the churches are to go out and copy that model of gathering all the leaders of other churches together (not a sin to do that; Nicea and Chalcedon were good; but they were not infallible or inspired by the Holy Spirit on the same level as Scripture) and that whatever they decide is infallible or 100% in all areas guided by the Holy Spirit. We know that the decision of Acts 15 was guided by the Holy Spirit because the text tells us this. They also quoted Scripture there, so they were acting in a Sola Scriptura kind of way. Peter’s statements in Acts 15:7-10 are consistent with Paul’s epistle to the Galatians; faith alone and grace alone. James quotes from Amos 9:12. There is nothing in the text that says extra-canonical meetings between leaders of church later in history will have the same level of binding authority or inspiration (as you seem to be claiming) or infallibility. The authority of Nicea against the Arians is authoritative because it was biblical; same for the doctrinal issues of Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. They were right on the issues of the nature of Christ and the Trinity because those doctrines are biblical; but only the Bible is infallible and inerrant.

Ken said...

Dave wrote,
Quoting from Philip Schaaf,

Irenaeus confronts the secret tradition of the Gnostics with the open and unadulterated tradition of the catholic church, and points to all churches, but particularly to Rome, as the visible centre of the unity of doctrine. All who would know the truth, says he, can see in the whole church the tradition of the apostles; and we can count the bishops ordained by the apostles, and their successors down to our time, who neither taught nor knew any such heresies. Then, by way of example, he cites the first twelve bishops of the Roman church from Linus to Eleutherus, as witnesses of the pure apostolic doctrine. He might conceive of a Christianity without scripture, but he could not imagine a Christianity without living tradition;

Dave stopped the quote here. (I don’t know why)

It goes on -
and for this opinion he refers to barbarian tribes, who have the gospel, "sine charta et atramento," written in their hearts.

Obviously, if they could not read or write yet, and the Scriptures have not been translated yet into their language, they will have to rely on oral teaching and acceptance until that can be done. Oral cultures can be saved by hearing the gospel and repenting and trusting Christ and being able to memorize basic truths as a catechism. Ulfilas (ca 310-383 AD)was an Arian and he was the first to translate the Scriptures in Gothic German. Even Arians were not Gnostics. But Irenaeus is writing around 200 AD, so this is stronger for oral/living tradition to be used as the way of spreading the gospel until the Scriptures can be translated.

Ken said...

He might conceive of a Christianity without scripture, but he could not imagine a Christianity without living tradition;

Irenaeus is not teaching RCC doctrine about development here nor Newman’s theory nor 1870. Irenaeus is not even saying what Schaaf says. In another place, which Dave also quoted, Irenaeus says, “Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, . . .
(Against Heresies, III, 5, 1)
This proves the Scriptures are the basis for the oral preaching and teaching to the barbarian tribes. Irenaeus is just saying the tradition orally went to the Barbarian tribes and even they agree against the Gnostics by their oral tradition or simple catechism, even without having written Scriptures.

Remember the context is about combating Gnosticism, which Protestants also disagree with. We are like Irenaeus because we also are against the heresies of Gnostism.

Schaaf again:
“Irenaeus confronts the secret tradition of the Gnostics with the open and unadulterated tradition of the catholic church, and points to all churches, but particularly to Rome, as the visible centre of the unity of doctrine.”

This is no problem for Protestants because the tradition is a basic proto-Apostles or proto-Nicean Creed and against Gnosticism. There is nothing in Irenaeus’ tradition that teaches Roman Catholic distinctives on the Pope and Mary and indulgences and relics and purgatory.


The Schaaf quotes are from - (History of the Christian Church, Vol. II: Ante-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 100-325, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970; reproduction of 5th revised edition of 1910, Chapter XII, section 139, "Catholic Tradition," pp. 525-526)

Dave wrote:
“Conceiving of a Christianity without Scripture is hardly any sort of Protestantism or anything remotely like it. Jason's contention falls flat in a heap of ashes. Yet Jason is still playing the game.”

Jason's contention did not fall flat; rather it is your anachronistic reading of RCC definition of "living tradition" read back into Irenaeus that falls flat.

As I wrote above, Schaaf is not saying what Dave Armstrong is making him say; otherwise, how would Schaaf have consistently remained Protestant his whole life? (Same for J.N.D. Kelly, who Dave quotes later) He is not defining “living tradition” the way the RCC does today. He is only saying that even the Barbarian tribes were not Gnostic, believe in the God of the OT, have been taught the tradition without the Scriptures yet; because they were wild tribes that needed the gospel before the time it takes to translate. They can learn the tradition and basic doctrine orally and believe in their hearts without having the Bible.

Ken said...

At the end of the section of Philip Schaaf, that Dave quotes from, Schaaf recovers from the statement (that Irenaeus can conceive of a Christianity without the Scriptures, but not without living tradition) that Dave took out of context:

“In the substance of its doctrine this apostolic tradition agrees with the holy scriptures, and though derived, as to its form, from the oral preaching of the apostles, is really, as to its contents, one and the same with there apostolic writings. In this view the apparent contradictions of the earlier fathers, in ascribing the highest authority to both scripture and tradition in matters of faith, resolve themselves. It is one and the same gospel which the apostles preached with their lips, and then laid down in their writings, and which the church faithfully hands down by word and writing from one generation to another.”

Dave Armstrong said...

I'll await Jason's and/or David's reply.

And the spelling is "Schaff."

Ken said...

Thanks for the heads up on the spelling!

Lvka said...

You implied it in Your article, when You wrote that Orthodoxy caved to Byzantine cultural pressure in the sixth century, to change the apostolic and patristic teaching on divorce and indissoluble marriage. Allowing up to three marriages was already a tradition in St. Basil's time in the East, as can be seen from the canons of St. Basil.

Dave Armstrong said...

"Self-servingly" is a bit over the top. I'll remove that.

Now it would be refreshing to see Ken condemn the mountain of potshots taken at me at all the big anti-Catholic sites (I'm a liar, vow-breaker, "evil," nuts, narcissistic, neglect my wife and family, claim to be a scholar, etc. ad nauseum).

The last time I asked him directly about White's latest comments, he was strangely silent.

For that matter, will he also condemn the numerous potshots that Jason took at "Seraphim," especially towards the end of the combox in the thread I critiqued?

Will he write an article decrying all those, too, as attacking motivation and intelligence of someone else?

Dave Armstrong said...

I wasn't referring to St. Basil, but to the following info:

"The Church is opposed to divorce in principle and sees it as a failure and an evil. However, . . . Jesus did not prohibit all divorces . . . In the year 541 a law was passed by the state (Novel 117) and was later made a ruling of both the Church and the state which recognized several reasons for divorce, all of which presupposed the breakdown of the unity of the couple, corresponding to physical death and adultery. These reasons have since become expanded somewhat, but it is always a sad and sorrowful thing for the Church to acknowledge the end of a marriage."

(Orthodox scholar, Fr. Stanley S. Harakas, The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, Minneapolis: Light & Life Pub. Co., 1987, 107)