Friday, April 02, 2010

Biblical Proof of Church Infallibility and Disproof of Sola Scriptura in One Bible Verse -- Reinforced by Closely Related Cross-References

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_FOIrYyQawGI/S7A_0PZhiBI/AAAAAAAACxM/r-p6DyJIQSY/s1600/BrooklynBridge.jpg

[now available only in Chapter Six of my book, Biblical Proofs for an Infallible Church and Papacy]

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166 comments:

Dan Marcum said...

That's really good, David.

Any edifice stands or falls with its foundation; truth is God's edifice, the Church is its foundation. Therefore, truth stands or falls with the Church.

How are we to understand this idea of truth standing or falling? By its very nature truth cannot be error; it cannot fall. Well, then, this gives us one conclusion. An edifice that cannot fall must have a sure foundation, for what edifice could stand if its supports were cut from under it? Therefore the truth, which cannot fall, must have a sure foundation, which is the Church, which if sure, can be trusted to go on upholding and sustaining God's veritable word. Woe, then, to those who have taken God's foundation, and dashed it against the rocks, by admitting a crumbling foundation to God's own work! What builder built His masterpiece on sand and an unsure foundation? Do they say this of God? Then they blaspheme. The truth's foundation, as laid by God, cannot be unsure, or God is a fool; but the truth's foundation is the Church. Therefore the Church is sure in its upholding of the truth, and why do you, O Protestant, not join with the sure guide, rather than sit lonely on a heap like poor Job, with a crumbled household rather than our sure one? God help you come home; this home has a sure foundation, rest easy.

Ken said...

Hi Dave,
1. You left out verse 14, of I Timothy 3:15, which provides the immediate context of the passage and tells us the reason why the church of the living God can uphold and support the truth.

I write these things to you, (hoping to come to you soon), so that if I am delayed, you may know how to conduct yourselves in the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

The writings (epistles, gospels, Scriptures), in this specific case, I Timothy provide the church with guidance and truth and the writings are infallible.

If Timothy and the church follows the writings, teaching them and obeying them, then the church will be supporting and upholding (buttressing; being a bulwark) the truth.

2. The word in I Timothy 3:15 is not "foundation", but pillar and buttress/bulwark/building tresses. this is a different word that "foundation" in I Cor. 3 and Ephesians 2.

Christ is the foundation, the cornerstone, and the apostles and prophets; but once they died, their writings and teachings are the foundation; the truth.

3. Also, it was a local church in Ephesus that Paul was writing to, and which Timothy lead. Today, there is no known church there. (In Turkey) In fact, there is no church in Ephesus, Pergammum, Sardis, Philadelphia, Thiatyra, Laodicea. (There is a Mary Shrine near Ephesus, which the government of Turkey allows for tourism, but no church there.

If it was infallible, what happened to it?

These three points show that the passage is not implying the church itself is infallible like the truth or the gospel or the Scriptures; but that if the church follows the writings, which are truth, and obeys them, then it will uphold and support the truth and it will be stable.

Only Smyrna (Izmir) has an orthodox church.

So, I don't think it was the "worst exegesis ever", but you made three exegetical mistakes that skewed your exegesis in order to support the RCC tradition. It is not great exegesis.

It was poor exegesis, leaving out the context of I Timothy 3:15 (verse 14) and the emphasis on the writings, the Scriptures, and the other historical background of I Timothy (emphasis on teaching sound doctrine and appointing elders); and leaving out the fact that it was if they would teach correctly (chapter 1) and follow the writings, then they would be upholding and supporting the truth.

Christ is the truth and the foundation in other passages ( I Cor. 3; Ephesians 2:19-20); and there are certainly no cracks in Him or in the Scriptures (the teachings of the apostles and prophets), [those were very weak points that some of the commentators made] but the rest of Scripture and history shows that human beings can drift from the truth and foundation and fail to uphold it and teach it and support it.

Galatians 1:6 "I am amazed that you are so quickly abandoning Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.

ESV: "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—"

"Repent, . . . or else I will remove your lamp stand" See Rev. 2:4-5

Rev. 1:20 - "the lamp stands are the churches"

"As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." (ESV)

So, you did not prove that the church is infallible nor that the RCC is what Paul is talking about, and you did not even prove that the church is the foundation of the truth. It is a support and bulwark to the truth, not the foundation of the truth. and as I Timothy 3:14-15 clearly teaches, IF the church teaches the truth and obeys the truth, then it will be in reality, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

Ken said...

14 Ταῦτά σοι γράφω, ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ τάχιον

These things to you I am writing (or I write), hoping to come toward you soon

15 ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας.

But If I am delayed, in order that you may know how it is necessary in the house of God to behave, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and a support of the truth."

Furthermore, the words "pillar" στῦλος and "bulwark/buttress/support"
ἑδραίωμα are both without articles, which points to the emphasis that they are "a pillar and a support" of the truth, not "the only" pillar and support of truth; much less infallible.

Ronnie said...

Dave, continuing with the metaphors of foundations and supports your logical errors become obvious.

First, if one foundation is infallible(i.e. Apostles and Prophets under inspiration ) then it doesn't follow that all foundations(i.e. church leaders not inspired) are therefore infallible. Second, one foundation(i.e. the uninspired church) may have cracks, but it doesn't follow that the entire truth structure would collapse. This is true because 1) the truth could still be supported by other supporting foundations(i.e. other churches, therefore no one church needs to be infallible). 2) Because cracks in a foundation does not entail the structure collapsing, and therefore the truth is still standing. Furthermore, cracks can be repaired(e.g. Reformation ). Of course Christ is working through all these means to prevent the gates of hades from prevailing.

Adomnan said...

Thanks for the nod, Dave!

Adomnan said...

Ken, you should lay off the attempted Greek exegesis. You don't know the language well at all and yet you would like to give the impression that you have some privileged insight into the New Testament because you own a lexicon and a grammar book.

Ken: 2. The word in I Timothy 3:15 is not "foundation", but pillar and buttress/bulwark/building tresses. this is a different word that "foundation" in I Cor. 3 and Ephesians 2.

Adomnan: Yes, it's a different word. Greek has more than one word for "foundation." Surprised?

You have the annoying habit of discarding established Bible translations and replacing them with your own, based on your idiosyncratic hunches and poor grasp of Greek.

Liddell and Scott, the standard Greek-English lexicon, defines hedraioma (the word used in this passage) as "foundation, base." The King James Version translates it as "ground." It certainly refers to a foundation because it is derived from the root meaning "sit;" i.e., what sits on the ground (the base, the foundation) and supports the superstructure.

So your assertion that "the word in 1 Timothy 3:15 is not 'foundation'" is false. Apologize and retract it.

Ken: Furthermore, the words "pillar" στῦλος and "bulwark/buttress/support"
ἑδραίωμα are both without articles, which points to the emphasis that they are "a pillar and a support" of the truth, not "the only" pillar and support of truth; much less infallible.

Adomnan: Wrong again! In Greek Grammar by Herbert Weir Smyth, one of the standard Greek grammar texts in English, we read:

"1146. A substantive followed by an attributive genitive and forming with it a compound idea, usually omits the article: 'teleute tou biou' (the) end of his life. (Less commonly 'he teleute tou biou.')"

That's exactly what's happening in this verse. The definite articles are omitted before "stulos" and "hedraioma" because they are followed by the attributive genitive "tes aletheias."

That's why all translations, including, say, the King James Version, translates it as "THE pillar and foundation (or ground) of the truth."

So please stop throwing out established, scholarly translations and replacing them with off-the-wall conjectures based on your paltry Greek.

Adomnan said...

And, Ken, regarding your contention that the church in 1 Timothy 3:15 is just the local church, not the universal church, why does Paul call it "the church of the living God"? Is it just the local church in Ephesus that is the church of the living God, or is it the church as a whole?

Think about it.

Finally, your suggestion that this passage is somehow a proof of "sola scriptura" because Paul mentions his motive for writing doesn't make sense. It is the church of the living God that Paul calls the pillar and foundation of the truth, not his letter.

Besides, Paul minimizes the importance of this letter. He says it's an ad hoc measure, an expedient, just in case he's delayed and can't instruct them in person:

"I write these things to you, (hoping to come to you soon), so that if I am delayed, you may know how to conduct yourselves."

After saying this, how could he then go on to describe what he's just characterized as a mere expediency as "the pillar and foundation of the truth"? (I'm not suggesting that the letter isn't inspired and canonical, just that Paul doesn't treat his writing -- as opposed to his viva voce communication -- as any sort of "foundation," at least not in the context of this passage.)

Dave Armstrong said...

The writings (epistles, gospels, Scriptures), in this specific case, I Timothy provide the church with guidance and truth and the writings are infallible.

Of course they are. All right, then, Ken. I'll call your bluff. Since we have these infallible writings and they are the foundation, what is, e.g., the scriptural teaching on baptism? And if Protestants don't agree on what it is, why is that, if Scripture is the foundation and is so clear?

One time I made a list of 18 things that Protestants couldn't agree on, despite sola Scriptura and perspicuity of Scripture.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Ronnie,

Are you the anti-Catholic Ronnie I have dealt with in the past (e.g., in my paper about scholars and anti-Catholicism)?

1) the truth could still be supported by other supporting foundations(i.e. other churches, therefore no one church needs to be infallible).

This is logically impossible, per my arguments. Errors and falsehood cannot support truth. Jesus said that the devil was the father of lies and also that a house divided against itself could not stand. Therefore, a fallible structure could not possibly support an infallible superstructure of truth. It is logically impossible because a stream cannot rise higher than its source, etc.

2) Because cracks in a foundation does not entail the structure collapsing, and therefore the truth is still standing.

More muddled thinking. The analogy and metaphor (in the Bible and in my argument) is to a foundation being stronger than the superstructure above it.

If the foundation has cracks, it can still (clearly) be stronger than what is above it. If it weren't stronger, obviously the building would collapse. That is the metaphor and analogy. But to say that a foundation is fallible (weaker) and the structure above it infallible (truth / stronger) is impossible to do, because it would collapse. The foundation must be stronger in order to support what is built upon it.

Therefore, the foundation must be pure truth (i.e., infallible) in order to support truth (which is without any admixture of error whatsoever). The clincher is in the nature of truth. To say that something supports truth is to say at the same time that it can't possibly contain error and falsehood (or heresy).

There is no way out of it. You guys can play around all you like, but it's airtight. Catholics can follow the plain teaching of Scripture here. Protestants cannot, without it entailing the collapse of their rule of faith. The stakes are as high as they can be: the essence of the Protestant conception of authority and its distinctive (heretical) rule of faith.

Therefore (YAWN) we see the inevitable game-playing with words, context-butchering, sophistry, special pleading, obfuscation, and obscurantism (as typified in Ken's pathetic reply).

The only redeeming value of these "replies" are their entertainment value and bolstering of my opinion in a reductio ad absurdum fashion: to observe what the counter-"arguments" are reduced to, in their desperation.

I don't mean to pile on, but you guys are hard enough on us (even denying that Catholicism is a Christian system): you deserve every bit of it back.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I haven't read all the comments here, but I'll add my own. Sorry if I'm repeating someone.

I would argue that the analogy breaks down particularly at a couple of places:

First, this idea that a support for a building must be perfect is nonsense. All throughout history buildings have stood, survived and thrived, even under the most difficult circumstances. If every building was in imminent danger of collapsing because its supports weren't exactly perfect, we would have a heck of time of it.

On the other hand, the supports, though imperfect, do hold up the one thing that is perfect: Christ Himself and His gospel. He chooses to be supported thus by His imperfect ones.

And here, regarding the Marriage/Bride of Christ typology--

My wife and I are married. We have become one flesh. And yet, we remain individuals. She cannot ride into heaven on my coattails (by my faith) no more than I can get there on hers. God deals with us both as individuals in the context of his electing process and the Church, the body for whom He died. It's both/and, not either/or.

Dave Armstrong said...

As of 4 PM EST Monday, I have added to the end of the original post a survey of 51 Bible versions, and also a quick refutation of Ken Temple's absurd claims (following up on Adomnan's previous quite-sufficient refutation).

Hi pilgrim,

this idea that a support for a building must be perfect is nonsense. All throughout history buildings have stood, survived and thrived, even under the most difficult circumstances. If every building was in imminent danger of collapsing because its supports weren't exactly perfect, we would have a heck of time of it.

I didn't use the terminology of "perfect" as to the foundation. I already basically answered this objection in my reply to Ronnie above, so I wont repeat myself (just go read it). In a nutshell, I argued that the foundation didn't have to be perfect, but rather, at least as strong as the structure it supports. That's two different concepts. More on this below.

This objection has more force with the first part of the two-part argument, where I say that the Church is built upon Christ, the apostles and prophets. They can be perfect and infallible without necessarily (in logical terms) the Church built upon them also being so. But note that this was only a secondary support of my main argument. It didn't even have to do directly with 1 Timothy 3:15.

I already admitted the validity of this principle by saying, "What is built upon a foundation can indeed be weaker than the foundation. That's perfectly possible. You can build a house of wood and plaster (like the one I am sitting in right now, on the second floor, on a wood floor) above a foundation of concrete, and it can last, while being weaker than its foundation."

I would still argue, nevertheless, that this isn't plausible (while possible) because of Christ Himself being the cornerstone and the equation of the Church and His own Body. But I grant that it is still possible to argue (and already stated as much in a way).

OTOH, the second part of the argument that deals with 1 Timothy 3:15 itself is, I continue to assert, invulnerable, because by these same analogies (the foundation cannot be weaker than what it supports) it is logically required for the foundation of truth (which is 100% truth) to also be 100% truth (i.e., infallible insofar as it is proclaiming Christian doctrine to be binding, which is what we mean by infallible authority).

In other words, it is not an argument that a clearly infallible foundation necessitates an infallible superstructure as well (that is the first part). Now it is an argument that flips the first part: the foundation and support is upholding what is infallible ("truth"); therefore it also must be. It cannot not be, by the nature of what truth is, and the analogy of foundations and the structures built upon them.

Conclusion: your argument fails.

The last part of your comment about Bride of Christ / Body of Christ is a decent point, but it doesn't touch the second part of my argument, which is logically airtight and unassailable, by virtue of logic itself. It on;y goes to show that what is weaker can be built on what is perfect (which principle I already acknowledged in the post before anyone commented).

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: "This idea that a support for a building must be perfect is nonsense. All throughout history buildings have stood, survived and thrived, even under the most difficult circumstances."

Adomnan: You're missing the whole point. This is a metaphor, not the description of a physical building. It may be that, empirically, buildings have stood for ages on shaky foundations, although I can't think of an example.

But that's beside the point. Again, this is a metaphor. The only reason for talking about the "foundation" of truth is to emphasize that truth cannot stand unless it is placed on a strong, firm basis. It is absurd to suggest that Paul uses words like "pillar and foundation" and yet doesn't mean that these are firm, reliable supports, but could just as well be something cracked and unstable.

He wouldn't have used the foundation metaphor if that was what he was trying to say.

Secondly, it makes no sense to claim that Paul is calling the Church "the pillar and foundation of Jesus Christ." Simply by my writing this out, you can see that it sounds wrong (without my even getting into the reasons why).

That's the problem with Protestant private interpretation. Men can use their imaginations and the ambiguity of language to interpret anything to mean anything, scripture as a wax nose to be formed into any shape.

A private interpreter needs to find only one empirical example of a building that has survived despite an unstable foundation -- or even just imagine to himself that such a thing is theoretically possible -- and he can immediately reduce the meaning of "supporting the truth on a foundation" to "supporting the truth on any old rickety mess."

You might object that you agree that the foundation has to be firm and strong to hold up the truth, but contend that it needn't be perfect. Aside from the inherent, improbability of Paul using the metaphor of a foundation to indicate an imperfect foundation, your point might have some color of plausibilty if Paul were writing about the foundation of fellowship or love or preaching or whatever. But he is writing about the foundation of the truth, and the truth is of course inerrant by definition. As Dave has pointed out, Paul would never posit a foundation that was weaker than the superstructure it supported. This would contradict the metaphor. Therefore, for the Church to support the truth, it must be as strong and firm as the truth; i.e., it must be infallible.

(By the way, Ken agrees with us that the foundation -- or "bulwark" as he calls it -- in this passage must be perfect. He just claims that the foundation is not the church -- as Paul says -- but the scripture. Maybe you two could hash that out?)

Adomnan said...

A clarification: Dave writes that the foundation need not be perfect to uphold the truth, whereas I suggested it did. I don't think there is a real disagreement here. I meant "perfect" in the sense of "infallible in preserving the truth", not "perfect" in the sense of "impeccable."

Ronnie said...

Are you the anti-Catholic Ronnie I have dealt with in the past (e.g., in my paper about scholars and anti-Catholicism)?

LOL … yeah, I guess so :)


I said:
1) the truth could still be supported by other supporting foundations(i.e. other churches, therefore no one church needs to be infallible).

Dave responds:
This is logically impossible, per my arguments. Errors and falsehood cannot support truth. Jesus said that the devil was the father of lies and also that a house divided against itself could not stand. Therefore, a fallible structure could not possibly support an infallible superstructure of truth. It is logically impossible because a stream cannot rise higher than its source, etc.

Dave, you are really confusing things. I’m not saying a falsehood in and of itself supports the truth, which is what your argument amounts to. I’m saying an organization or a complete structure maybe faulty on a point and still be considered as supporting the truth. For example, the Old Covenant leaders(i.e. priest, elders, and teachers )were not infallible, but do you say they did not support the truth of God’s inspired revelation? Remember even Jesus told the people to do as they say. So were they supporting the truth? Were they infallible?


I said:
2) Because cracks in a foundation does not entail the structure collapsing, and therefore the truth is still standing.

Dave responds:
More muddled thinking. The analogy and metaphor (in the Bible and in my argument) is to a foundation being stronger than the superstructure above it.

Well I don’t believe that is the Bible’s metaphor, but yes it is yours and it is illogical. Dave, there are Foundations and there are foundations. You are assuming all foundations are exactly the same in every sense. That is begging the question in one sense and a non sequitur in another, because it evidently not the case.


Dave continues:

If the foundation has cracks, it can still (clearly) be stronger than what is above it. If it weren't stronger, obviously the building would collapse. That is the metaphor and analogy.

Sorry Dave, but this makes no sense. A foundation does not have to be stronger than what is above it. How are you defining “stronger”? Stronger in the sense, that steel is stronger than paper? But guess what a sheet of paper could support piece of stee! Or a piece of string could support a piece steel. Is the string stronger? Or string and paper together could support a piece of steel. The string or paper could fail in one area but together they continue to support the steel?

But of course this type strength doesn’t even apply for immaterial things such as ideas. For example, I could support the truth of the Trinity. Does it follow that I need to be infallible or stronger?

..continuing in next post

Ronnie said...

... continuing


Dave continues:

But to say that a foundation is fallible (weaker) and the structure above it infallible (truth / stronger) is impossible to do, because it would collapse. The foundation must be stronger in order to support what is built upon it.

Makes no sense my friend as demonstrated above, but again in one sense are you defining stronger.

Dave continues:

Therefore, the foundation must be pure truth (i.e., infallible) in order to support truth (which is without any admixture of error whatsoever). The clincher is in the nature of truth. To say that something supports truth is to say at the same time that it can't possibly contain error and falsehood (or heresy).

Oh brother. Do you really believe this nonsense? Do you “support truth”? Do you ever err?


Dave continues:
There is no way out of it. You guys can play around all you like, but it's airtight.

Yep, as airtight as a fishing net.


Dave continues:

Catholics can follow the plain teaching of Scripture here. Protestants cannot, without it entailing the collapse of their rule of faith. The stakes are as high as they can be: the essence of the Protestant conception of authority and its distinctive (heretical) rule of faith.

Therefore (YAWN) we see the inevitable game-playing with words, context-butchering, sophistry, special pleading, obfuscation, and obscurantism (as typified in Ken's pathetic reply).

You are not replying to Ken here and I will leave to any objective reader to decide who is engaging in “sophistry, special pleading, obfuscation, and obscurantism”


Dave continues:

The only redeeming value of these "replies" are their entertainment value and bolstering of my opinion in a reductio ad absurdum fashion: to observe what the counter-"arguments" are reduced to, in their desperation.

I don't mean to pile on, but you guys are hard enough on us (even denying that Catholicism is a Christian system): you deserve every bit of it back.

Yes, your response definitely has “redeeming value” .

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Conclusion: your argument fails.

LOL

When has it not on your blog?

Dave Armstrong said...

When has it not on your blog?

Well, there's always a first time. Keep pluggin' away. ROFL

Pilgrimsarbour said...

O.K. Sorry for posting without really studying the interactions in the combox. My bad.

Interestingly, Young's Literal Translation puts it this way:

15 and if I delay, that thou mayest know how it behoveth [thee] to conduct thyself in the house of God, which is an assembly of the living God -- a pillar and foundation of the truth,

Paul is speaking here regarding questions of appropriate behaviour during the gathering of believers. Now where do believers gather? In local assemblies. "An assembly of the living God" is a local congregation. And the local congregation in the community is "a pillar and foundation of the truth," meaning one of a series of others.

We can argue about what a pillar and foundation actually do in relation to the truth, and what is meant by "truth," but I think Ken's assessment is right. At issue is how we behave in church, not how we behave in Church.

Dave Armstrong said...

For example, the Old Covenant leaders(i.e. priest, elders, and teachers )were not infallible, but do you say they did not support the truth of God’s inspired revelation?

They supported it when they upheld its truths. When they did not, they did not! It was a mixed bag back then. The Church was established on a much stronger basis. It supports the truth as a foundation, so it has to be also infallible, or else the superstructure would be stronger than the foundation, and that is not possible.

The New Covenant is much stronger than the old. It was built upon Jesus and the apostles (both infallible). The only part of the Old Covenant that was mentioned as part of the foundation of the Church was the prophets, who were infallible too when they spoke for God.

Since I no longer do debates / dialogue with anti-Catholics, I won't continue with you and Ken (just so you know). But others are free to do so, of course (and they probably will).

It's already degenerating, anyway: "Oh brother. Do you really believe this nonsense?" Etc. Granted, I was hard on Ken, but I have long experience with him, and he says equally tough things about me. It is specifically the anti-Catholic position that I am particularly harsh in reply with, because of its viciously self-defeating circularity.

Ronnie said...


I said:
For example, the Old Covenant leaders(i.e. priest, elders, and teachers )were not infallible, but do you say they did not support the truth of God’s inspired revelation?

Old Dave:
Therefore, a fallible structure could not possibly support an infallible superstructure of truth.
New Dave:
They supported it when they upheld its truths. When they did not, they did not! It was a mixed bag back then.

So we see Dave is debating himself. I agree with New Dave. This is exactly my point. The church doesn’t have to be infallible to support infallible truth. Furthermore, because you support something, it doesn’t follow that you are stronger than the thing you are supporting. This is basic logic and can be demonstrated empirically.

Dave continues:
The Church was established on a much stronger basis. It supports the truth as a foundation, so it has to be also infallible, or else the superstructure would be stronger than the foundation, and that is not possible.

Dave, repeating yourself without dealing with the counter reply doesn’t advance your position. Your argument makes no sense on the face of it, yet you repeat it as if you are stating an axiom.

Dave continues ..
The New Covenant is much stronger than the old. It was built upon Jesus and the apostles (both infallible). The only part of the Old Covenant that was mentioned as part of the foundation of the Church was the prophets, who were infallible too when they spoke for God.

And what is your point? You are admitting that the old covenant church supported infallible revelation, but yet it was 1) not stronger than the revelation 2) it was fallible, but yet it supported infallible revelation. You have given away the debate, regardless how much you wave your hands and jump up and down saying “look over here”.


Old Dave:
That's usually how it goes. Some sweeping, extreme criticism is made with seeming brisk confidence, yet when challenged with a counter-response, the one who made the charge (in terms of producing and sustaining rational arguments) high-tails it to the hills (usually indefinitely).
New Dave:
Since I no longer do debates / dialogue with anti-Catholics, I won't continue with you and Ken (just so you know). But others are free to do so, of course (and they probably will).

Whatever man :)

Old Dave:
More muddled thinking.

to observe what the counter-"arguments" are reduced to, in their desperation.

New Dave:
It's already degenerating, anyway: "Oh brother. Do you really believe this nonsense?" Etc.

So Dave calls my thinking “muddled” and says that I responded in desperation. He used a bunch of other unflattering adjectives in reference to Protestant that he said were typified by Ken. In my first response there was no personal reference to Dave’s thinking, I just addressed his arguments. But once I respond in kind to his post which started off with personal references he cries foul. Classic Dave.

Dave continues …
Granted, I was hard on Ken, but I have long experience with him, and he says equally tough things about me. It is specifically the anti-Catholic position that I am particularly harsh in reply with, because of its viciously self-defeating circularity.

Well, I guess since you label me as “anti-Catholic” you have a right to be harsh, because it is so “viciously self-defeating circularity “ but yet you blame me for “degenerating” the conversation. Whoo boy!

Dave Armstrong said...

And the local congregation in the community is "a pillar and foundation of the truth," meaning one of a series of others.

I already dealt with the argument from the indefinite article in the addition to the post, added today. Ken Temple tried to argue the same way. You want to take the position of just six out of 51 translations, or just 12% of those translations and seize upon the obscure Young's Translation?

The definite article (in English) appeared in 78% and 80% of these translations (the two different words).

You can agree with a tiny minority of translators (that's fine), but by the same token, we can agree with 88% of them, and if we value the opinion of these Greek scholars taken as a whole, that has considerable force.

You argue that the mere local church is referred to. I think this is one possible avenue, but many Protestants casually assume that it is the universal Church with a big C in the passage.

Baptist Greek scholar A. T. Robertson (Word Pictures in the NT) says: "Probably here the general church or kingdom as in Colossians and Ephesians, though the local church in verse 5."

Marvin Vincent (Presbyterian) in his Word Studies in the NT does the same; referring to "the church" twice.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary (Anglican and Presbyterian) concurs.

Baptist Augustus Strong, in his Systematic Theology agrees: "the responsibility of the whole church for maintaining pure doctrine and practice . . . pastoral charges are given, not by a so-called bishop to his subordinate priests, but by an apostle to the whole church and to all its members" (p. 905 of one-volume edition).

Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT applies ekklesia in this passage (word #1577) to "the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth; collectively, all who worship and honor God and Christ in whatever place they may be" (p. 196 in Baker Book House edition, 1977).

Matthew Henry (Presbyterian) assumes it is the whole Church being discussed, while he comes up with his contra-Catholic take: "The church itself is the pillar and ground of truth. Not that the authority of the scriptures depends upon that of the church, as the papists pretend, for truth is the pillar and ground of the church; but the church holds forth the scripture and the doctrine of Christ, as the pillar to which a proclamation is affixed holds forth the proclamation."

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc6.iTim.iv.html

Barnes' Notes (Presbyterian) also casually assumes it is talking about the universal Church:

http://www.studylight.org/com/bnn/view.cgi?book=1ti&chapter=003

Adam Clarke (Methodist) gives several theories, but when he talks about the Church as one exegesis, it is the universal Church, not the local.

http://www.godrules.net/library/clarke/clarke1tim3.htm

Looks pretty much like a consensus to me . . .

Dave Armstrong said...

Old Dave: . . . New Dave:

You got it all mixed up. It ain't "Old Dave" and "New Dave" The proper distinction is "Old Covenant" and "New Covenant."

Dave Armstrong said...

Classic Dave.

Classic Anti-Catholicism.

Ronnie said...


Old Dave: . . . New Dave:

You got it all mixed up. It ain't "Old Dave" and "New Dave" The proper distinction is "Old Covenant" and "New Covenant


Can't be, because the New and Old Covenant never makes the contradictory claims as New and Old Dave.


Classic Dave.

Classic Anti-Catholicism


LOL ... some things never change ... later Dave with your new "Proof of Church Infallibility ... Reinforced by Closely Related Cross-References", except you forgot to consider the entire structure of the fallible Old Covenant church supporting infallible revelation and glaring non-sequitur stating a foundation is always stronger than the source it is supporting. And you thought this was a great argument, eh?

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: Interestingly, Young's Literal Translation puts it this way:

15 and if I delay, that thou mayest know how it behoveth [thee] to conduct thyself in the house of God, which is an assembly of the living God -- a pillar and foundation of the truth,

Adomnan: You shouldn't put any stock in this book. The author apparently doesn't know that definite articles are generally omitted in Greek when a definite substantive is qualified by an attributive genitive, as I pointed out earlier in this thread, providing a reference. The book is based on bad scholarship. (But just because it's built on a foundation of bad scholarship doesn't mean its scholarship is always bad! sarc/)

Note that Young's so-called literal translation differs from the translations in such well-established versions as the King James.

Dan Marcum said...

"you forgot to consider the entire structure of the fallible Old Covenant church supporting infallible revelation"

There is a great difference between supporting the truth as a matter of personal integrity to God's word, and supporting the truth as the very foundation upon which it is built.

God built His word, which is truth, upon the foundation of the Church, which you say is fallible and weak. Are you so foolish, or is God, that you say He set His word on an unsure foundation?

If you were going to build a structure, and had limitless resources, would you build it on a weak foundation or a sure one? Well, are you better than God? Say the truth's foundations are weak and you place yourself in jeopardy, for it is that truth which sets you free and you are calling it built on sand; but say the foundations are sure and you must admit yourself into that Church which never erred. No Protestant church even claims to be that, so you are left with Catholicism.

"[it's a] glaring non-sequitur stating a foundation is always stronger than the source it is supporting."

We are talking of the foundation of truth. If those can be doubted, what can be trusted? Take the example of a building: If your house does not fall down, it is because it has a strong foundation. Show me in the Scripture where the house built on the unsure foundation stood; for I can show you where Christ said it would not stand. Either admit, then, that the truth's foundation is solid, or admit that truth will not stand. That is the only way you can be faithful to Scripture: by admitting one inerrant Church or by admitting that the truth is unattainable and all hope is lost.

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: "An assembly of the living God" is a local congregation.

Adomnan: That would be true if the phrase meant "AN assembly of the living God." But since it means "THE church of the living God," as, for instance, the King James Version translates it, your point is invalid.

It's telling when you have to make your doctrinal points by "correcting" your own Protestant Bibles.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pilgrimsarbour said...

Adomnan,

I'm not trying to be snarky here, just sincerely asking a question. Are you a Greek scholar? The reason I am asking is because I have access to Greek scholars. I would like to ask them about the rendering of this verse. If it's o.k. with you, I'll put in my request and see what we come up with, o.k.?

I will accept whatever the result is. Of course, they're Protestant scholars, so I don't know if you would even consider their exegesis.

I hope you will at least consider this offer. I don't know how soon I can do this, but I can get back to you, I'd expect, within a week.

Best,

Pilgrimsarbour

ljchristian said...

I don't have anything to say, really, other than that I am enjoying reading Dave's posts and the comments box (and I truly appreciate the help I received the other day from Adomnan)

Plus, I have to say that I find it hilarious that most of the day today at school, in my introduction to architecture class I was learning about/working on a foundation plan, then when I visit this blog, I come across this post. I just can't get away from foundations today! lol. :-)

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: "The Old Covenant leaders(i.e. priest, elders, and teachers )were not infallible, but do you say they did not support the truth of God’s inspired revelation?"

Adomnan: If the Bible had said that what you call "the Old Covenant leaders" were the pillar and foundation of the truth, then I would believe they had been infallible. Does it? No? Then why are we even discussing this?

This thread is about what the Bible actually says, not what it didn't say or might theoretically have said or any of that fundamentalist sophistry and vain wordplay.

The truth cannot be upheld on a foundation of lies and errors. It's as simple as that.

Paul would not have talked about a FOUNDATION of truth that is mixed with error, which would be a house built on sand. If he wanted to say that the Church was fallible and error-prone but could nevertheless proclain some or much of the truth, he would have written that. He would not have spoken of pillars and foundations.

You people can't even grasp the simplest of metaphors.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Adomnan,

You said something somewhere (I read it quickly in my e-mails but dumped it and now I can't find the post) about repentance preceding (or not preceding) forgiveness. Excuse the confusion. What I was intending to say is that regeneration (the heart of flesh given to the sinner by God) precedes repentance. This is necessary before the sinner can repent. The new heart leads to awareness of and sorrow for sin which leads to repentance and then forgiveness.

I know you don't agree with this, but that more accurately portrays the Reformed position than saying that forgiveness precedes repentance, which I did not intend to convey.

PA

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: Are you a Greek scholar?

Adomnan: I'm a rather accomplished linguist. I speak 14 languages, including some accounted very difficult like Chinese and Arabic. Many of them I've used professionally. Greek is quite easy for me. I can read the New Testament as if it were the morning paper, including with correct (i.e., ancient) pronunciatlon, pitch accents and all.

Concerning the grammatical point I discussed above, by the way, please keep in mind that my opinion wasn't based on my own authority. I provided a reference for the correct use of the definite article in Greek (a better one than Young's). I almost always do. So you don't have to rely on my assertions; you can consult the reference immediately, which I've cited for your convenience.

Pilgrimsarbour: The reason I am asking is because I have access to Greek scholars. I would like to ask them about the rendering of this verse. If it's o.k. with you, I'll put in my request and see what we come up with, o.k.?

Adomnan: Sure. But I will of course be skeptical of their scholarship if they don't agree with me, because I am certain I am correct.

Any assertions your scholars make about the grammar should not just amount to "I am a scholar and I say it means this," but should include references from credible (e.g., non-fundamentalist) grammars or commentaries.

Pilgrimsarbour: I will accept whatever the result is. Of course, they're Protestant scholars, so I don't know if you would even consider their exegesis.

Adomnan: Hm. This is very problematical. I accept the scholarship of credentialed, maintream Protestant scholars; but I don't consider "fundamentalist" students of Greek to be worthy of note. (I'm sorry to use the word "fundamentalist" because I know you don't like it -- no doubt for good reason -- but without this word I'm at a loss what to call the sort of people I have in mind. They would be people who accepted notions like penal substitution, the righteousness of Christ imputed to sinners, a young earth, etc. I think you know what I mean.)

RD Miksa said...

Hopefully I am not too late to join this discussion, but I wished to add two logical arguments in reference to this post and this topic. Note that these arguments are just off-the-cuff thoughts, so they could certainly use improvement and any suggestions are appreciated:

Argument One:

1. The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15, NIV);

2. Christ is the only foundation that has been laid (1 Cor 3:11, NIV);

3. Therefore Christ and the Church are the same foundation of the truth;

4. Christ is infallible;

5. Therefore the Church is
infallible.



Argument Two:

1. The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15, NIV);

2. Christ is the cornerstone of the Church;

3. God laid a precious cornerstone (Christ – As per Point 2) for a sure foundation (Church – As per Point 1)) (Is 28:16);

4. “Sure” means unerring, unfailing and certain beyond question;

5. Therefore the Church is unerring, unfailing and certain beyond question;

6. Therefore the Church is infallible.


Again, please note that these are just initial thoughts and as such, need improvement, but they lay an initial argument that I believe will have merit once it is fleshed out.

God Bless,

RD Miksa
- radosmiksa [at] blogspot [dot] com
- theargumentfromevolution [at] blogspot [dot] com

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: What I was intending to say is that regeneration (the heart of flesh given to the sinner by God) precedes repentance. This is necessary before the sinner can repent. The new heart leads to awareness of and sorrow for sin which leads to repentance and then forgiveness.

I know you don't agree with this, but that more accurately portrays the Reformed position than saying that forgiveness precedes repentance, which I did not intend to convey.

Adomnan: As you correctly surmised, I disagree. Regeneration comes with baptism, and baptism follows on repentance and faith (in that order). Well, baptism is practically synonymous with faith.

The order is the same as in that passage I cited from Acts 2:37-38, which I will now repeat:

"'What are we to do, brothers?' 'You must repent,' Peter answered, 'and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

RD Miksa said...

And one final note, the end of both arguments should read:

- Therefore, as the Church is infallible, sola scriptura is necessarily false.

God Bless,

RD Miksa

Dan Marcum said...

R.D. Miksa:

Here's another one.

1. One does not build a foundation except to provide stability;
2. God built the Church as a foundation for the truth;
3. Therefore the Church gives the truth stability.

Now in what does it mean to stabilize the truth? It is not as if truth can somehow become un-truth, so why does it need stability? Two ways: (1) in its preaching, and (2) in its apprehension, truth needs stability, for we do not always preach without error, nor do we always understand the truth without error.

And see how these two go together in this case! The Church is stable in its teaching precisely so that we can have stability in our understanding of truth.

If, as Protestants say, the truth's foundation is fallible, what can we trust when the foundation of truth is shaken? But if, as Catholics say, the Church is INfallible, we can be certain of God's truth, and never doubt.

Dave Armstrong said...

I find it hilarious that most of the day today at school, in my introduction to architecture class I was learning about/working on a foundation plan, then when I visit this blog, I come across this post.

That's a great story! Life is filled with these remarkable coincidences, isn't it?

Dave Armstrong said...

RD,

I think you're onto something there. The Bible is always rich in analogies and double meanings. Keep fleshing it out. I'm sure our Protestant friends will be more than happy to help you along in that end. :-)

Adomnan said...

Young's Literal Translataion: "a pillar and foundation of the truth,"

Adomnan: You know, Pilgrimsarbour, it just occurred to me. I of course stand by my assertion, which I share with most translations including the KJV, that this should be "THE pillar and foundation of the truth." However, when you think of it, one can see that this in the case (at least, as concerns the foundation) even without knowing Greek grammar. While a structure can have more than one pillar, it can only have one foundation. Therefore, there would be no actual difference between a foundation of the truth and the foundation of the truth. "I'm going to build a foundation for the house" and "I'm going to build the foundation of the house" would amount to the same thing.

Adomnan said...

I guess when Ronnie and Pilgrimsrbour hear that hymn that goes, "The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord," they must be thinking: "I dunno. Foundations are pretty shaky, imperfect, unstable and unreliable things. Can't they find something better to compare Jesus to than a crummy ol' foundation?"

Ronnie said...


I guess when Ronnie and Pilgrimsrbour hear that hymn that goes, "The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord," they must be thinking: "I dunno. Foundations are pretty shaky, imperfect, unstable and unreliable things. Can't they find something better to compare Jesus to than a crummy ol' foundation?"

LOL … you guys are a hoot. As I’ve replied to Dave, because one foundation is infallible and perfect(i.e. Jesus Christ ) it doesn’t follow that all foundations are infallible and perfect ( i.e. new and old covenant church) in order for them to support the truth.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Ronnie,

You wrote:

"As I’ve replied to Dave, because one foundation is infallible and perfect(i.e. Jesus Christ ) it doesn’t follow that all foundations are infallible and perfect ( i.e. new and old covenant church) in order for them to support the truth."


But this statement does not address my argument that, as scripture shows, the foundation that is the Church and the foundation that is Christ must be the same and therefore as Christ is infallible than so is the Church.

Furthermore, Adomnon's point about there logically being only one foundation for a structure further support my point.

I summit, therefore, that your point fails.

God Bless,

RD Miksa

- radosmiksa.blogspot.com
- theargumentfromevolution.blogspot.com

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Dave,

I will be looking to develop the argument further and when I do, I will post it on my blog and send you a quick e-mail.

God Bless,

RD Miksa

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Hm. This is very problematical. I accept the scholarship of credentialed, maintream Protestant scholars; but I don't consider "fundamentalist" students of Greek to be worthy of note. (I'm sorry to use the word "fundamentalist" because I know you don't like it -- no doubt for good reason -- but without this word I'm at a loss what to call the sort of people I have in mind.

Hm. Mainstream Protestant scholars; read: liberals. Well, that pretty much settles it. At least you present your biases up front without equivocation. There really doesn't seem to be any point in me going forward with this as it's a done deal. It's too bad. I was hoping you would be more tolerant and open-minded about it.

"Conservative" or "Reformed" scholar would suffice for Reformed scholarship. The words fundamentalist and scholar don't always go together in my mind as fundamentalists are often notoriously both legalistic and anti-intellectual.

"I'm going to build a foundation for the house" and "I'm going to build the foundation of the house" would amount to the same thing.

I see your point, but of course, I should think one would not say that they are going to use only one pillar to hold up one's house.

I still can't see why the foundation, as it is used in 1 Tim. 3:15 in reference to the Church, must be perfect. Let's remember that the same word in the NT doesn't necessarily mean exactly the same thing in another context. For example, the foundation in 1 Corinthians 3:10 ff. that Paul speaks of having laid is Christ Himself. Now, Christ is always perfect. As a foundation He is perfect. Obviously, Paul is using the word "foundation" in two very different ways in two different places. Why must we give exactly the same attributes to the word in both places when Paul is using them differently? Why should the perfect foundation of 1 Cor. mean that the foundation of 1 Tim must also be perfect?

I had stated much earlier in another combox, I think, that I had spoken to Catholics who insisted that the Church (meaning the Roman Catholic Church) was perfect and never in need of reformation. Would you? Would Dave? Initially, Dave didn't agree with that assessment and challenged me to provide details about who told me this. Now it looks like he agrees with that assessment. I'm just wondering what changed from a couple of days ago until now?

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Furthermore, Adomnon's point about there logically being only one foundation for a structure further support my point.

And yet, Paul describes two distinct foundations in two different letters. Analogies are meant to take us only so far.

Ronnie said...


I said:
"As I’ve replied to Dave, because one foundation is infallible and perfect(i.e. Jesus Christ ) it doesn’t follow that all foundations are infallible and perfect ( i.e. new and old covenant church) in order for them to support the truth."

RD Miksa
But this statement does not address my argument that …

I wasn’t writing to address your argument, I was responding to Adoman.

RD Miksa continues …
… as scripture shows, the foundation that is the Church and the foundation that is Christ must be the same and therefore as Christ is infallible than so is the Church.

These are just assertions not real arguments. I see no biblical or logical reason to say just because the Scriptures refer to both as foundations it means they are identical in their attributes. For example, the Prophets and Apostles laid a foundation(i.e. the word ). They were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God for this task. You would agree that the Church is not inspired and it is not laying a foundation but supporting the foundation that the Apostles and Prophets laid. So right off the bat we see your statement doesn’t jive with the Scriptures or simple reasoning.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

"I'm going to build a foundation for the house" and "I'm going to build the foundation of the house" would amount to the same thing.

Normally I would agree and say "Yes, every building only has one foundation." But in this context "a" foundation makes more sense to me than "the" foundation because Paul is speaking of two distinct foundations in two distinct letters.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Pilgrimsarbour,

You said:

"Let's remember that the same word in the NT doesn't necessarily mean exactly the same thing in another context. For example, the foundation in 1 Corinthians 3:10 ff. that Paul speaks of having laid is Christ Himself. Now, Christ is always perfect. As a foundation He is perfect. Obviously, Paul is using the word "foundation" in two very different ways in two different places. Why must we give exactly the same attributes to the word in both places when Paul is using them differently? Why should the perfect foundation of 1 Cor. mean that the foundation of 1 Tim must also be perfect?"

I state:

Why should they not be viewed in the same manner. My argument, when reading scripture in a clear and direct fashion, is clearly sound. The fact that you do not like the conclusion of that argument, and thereby argue that the two foundations cannot mean the same thing, just strikes me as a pre-supposition that you are inserting into otherwise clear scriptural verses that point to my argument.

Perhaps you could elaborate as to why the two foundations mentioned are different?

God Bless,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Ronnie,

You said:

"I wasn’t writing to address your argument, I was responding to Adoman."

Obviously, but I wished to draw your attention to my argument in order to generate discussion.


You said:

"These are just assertions not real arguments. I see no biblical or logical reason to say just because the Scriptures refer to both as foundations it means they are identical in their attributes."

Here is a reason that they must be the same: Paul says that the only foundation laid is Jesus Christ and thus when any foundation is discussed, it is directed linked to the foundation of Christ. In light of this, I just find your statement to be an assertion without biblical support.

"For example, the Prophets and Apostles laid a foundation(i.e. the word ). They were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God for this task. You would agree that the Church is not inspired and it is not laying a foundation but supporting the foundation that the Apostles and Prophets laid. So right off the bat we see your statement doesn’t jive with the Scriptures or simple reasoning."

This supports my point. The foundation of the prophets and apostles, meaning the Word, is infallible precisely because it is inspired and thus linked to the foundation that is Christ, who inspired and ensured the infallibility of this Word. Thus the infallible foundation of the Word, because it is linked to Christ, supports the claim that the foundation that is the Church is infallible.

God Bless,

RD Miksa

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I'll add too, and I'm not trying to be snarky here, merely stating how I see it, that I suspect Adomnan's concept of theopneustos and my concept are worlds apart; much as our understanding of the meaning of Christ's suffering and death is. I suspect he does not try to harmonise the Scriptures the way a Reformed believer would since, as he has said previously, the Bible is a mixture of narrative history, poetry and "tall tales." Why would one want to harmonise such a vast collection of writings written over such a long period of time and from many sources and many cultural influences outside of Israel if it is not uniquely God's book?

An acquaintance of mine, OT scholar Dr. Peter Enns, has argued this very thing in his book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, though I maintain that he argued his points poorly and failed to interact in any depth with conservative, Reformed scholarship answers to his questions. It may very well be that he wanted to play with "the big boys," and to do that a conservative must bend over, grab the ankles and kiss his Reformed butt goodbye. It has happened to others before and it will happen again.

Conservative doesn't necessarily mean "Young Earth," or "anti-intellectual," or that we hide our heads in the sand when faced with textual and other difficulties. I can't help it, of course, if "mainstream" folks don't like our answers. It doesn't mean that we haven't answered their objections--merely that we can't answer them in a way that satisfies them, which means "to be in agreement with them."

Dave Armstrong said...

I had stated much earlier in another combox, I think, that I had spoken to Catholics who insisted that the Church (meaning the Roman Catholic Church) was perfect and never in need of reformation. Would you? Would Dave? Initially, Dave didn't agree with that assessment and challenged me to provide details about who told me this. Now it looks like he agrees with that assessment. I'm just wondering what changed from a couple of days ago until now?

Nothing. The Church is always in need of reformation in terms of its members more perfectly following Christ. That is distinct from the apostolic doctrine, which was received whole and entire and which cannot change.

Here is the original exchange, for those who didn't read it, and don't know what you refer to. It was in the sexual abuse thread, so I assumed from the outset that you were talking about morals, not doctrine:

================

And what complicates the problem is the RCC claim to be the "One True Church."

I don't see how sin disproves that. That argument fails, just by looking at, e.g., the Galatian and Corinthians churches in Scripture.

In addition, many Catholics have told me that the Church is perfect and never in need of reformation,

I don't know what Catholics you meet. I don't believe I've ever heard a Catholic say such a ridiculous thing in my 20 years as a Catholic. Some of these might be referring strictly to doctrine. We could say that, just as we say that the apostolic deposit was whole and entire and doesn't change (except for non-essential development). I don't see how any sane, conscious person, however, could say that about morals and conduct, etc.

which in our view, and in light of these developments, strikes us as absurd.

It is absurd (if meant in the second, moral sense). I just don't know where you hear these things. Can you give me a few examples from written sources? I'm curious.

---------------

So, as anyone can see, I was clearly distinguishing between moral and doctrinal reformation. I haven't changed in the slightest. I am defending doctrinal infallibility, which I believe the Catholic Church has always possessed.

But if we're talking about moral reformation and revival in individual Catholic souls, we always need that. "ecclesia semper reformanda" is not just a Protetant slogan. I believe it was a catholic one before you guys ever began (though I'm not sure).

In the Decree on Ecumenism from Vatican II, we find these words:

". . . all are led to examine their own faithfulness to Christ's will for the Church and accordingly to undertake with vigor the task of renewal and reform." (ch. I, section 4)

"Christ summons the Church to continual reformation as she sojourns here on earth. The Church is always in need of this, in so far as she is an institution of men here on earth. Thus if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in church discipline, or even in the way that church teaching has been formulated-to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself-these can and should be set right at the opportune moment." (Ch. II, section 6)

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Dave,

Thanks for finding that. I've been posting so much in so many comboxes lately that I'm about to collapse! Nonetheless, in the context of the clergy abuse scandal, several Catholics used the perfect Church model as a defence for the way the Church handled the cases. I see now that you would not. Thanks for clearing it up.

PA

Dave Armstrong said...

several Catholics used the perfect Church model as a defence for the way the Church handled the cases.

If you want to cross-post it, I'll make a response. But if so, please post it in the sexual abuse thread so it can be properly found under the right category.

Dave Armstrong said...

Needless to say, too: not all Catholics are equal in their knowledge of, and ability to defend, the Church's actual teachings and practices.

Don't just trust what any old guy on a blog tells you. Find someone who has some credentials and lengthy experience with Catholicism and (preferably) one who has an above-average knowledge of Protestantism too.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Don't just trust what any old guy on a blog tells you. Find someone who has some credentials and lengthy experience with Catholicism and (preferably) one who has an above-average knowledge of Protestantism too.

Still looking...

Ha! Revenge is sweet after all! ;-)

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Sorry, RD--I missed your comment completely.

You said...

Perhaps you could elaborate as to why the two foundations mentioned are different?

I would say they are different because Christ and his Bride are different. Yes, it's true that the two become "one flesh" in marriage, but they remain distinct. When we receive our resurrected glorified bodies in heaven at the consummation of all things, we will be immortal, but we will not be God Himself.

Likewise, the Church on earth and Christ, though inextricably linked, are not the same thing/person. Thus, it follows that the two foundations would be distinct as well. And we know from history and human nature that individual believers, who make up the Church, are imperfect and sinful still, though growing in grace.

I see Christ's body of believers as more of an organism than an organisation. I do not believe He intended to leave behind a huge religio/political institution. But forgive me, I need to go to bed and I don't want to get into all this now--merely wishing to clarify my point and answer your question--didn't want you to think I was dodging you.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Maroun said...

Hi Pilgrimsarbour.
Look,the problem is that you think that st Paul is speaking of 2 different foundations,when in one place he says that Christ is the foundation , and then in another he speaks of the Church as the foundation.
Actualy Christ and the Church are one and not two.
Christ is the head and the Church is His body,now the head and the body are not separated as the protestants believe but are one.
Plz check Ephesians 5 :30-32 , For we are members of his body , of his flesh , and of his bones . For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother , and shall be joined unto his wife , and they two shall be one flesh . This is a great mystery: But i speak concerning Christ and the Church.
GBU

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: It doesn’t follow that all foundations are infallible and perfect ( i.e. new and old covenant church) in order for them to support the truth.

Adomnan: It does follow if the foundation is the "foundation of the truth." What you call the "Old Covenant Church" was never called "the pillar and foundation of the truth" in the Bible, even if it did "support" the truth in some way. If the foundation fails, the whole structure collapses. The truth cannot be upheld by a fallible foundation.

Besides, you're equivocating in your use of the word "support." It's one thing to support something in the sense of endorsing it. It's quite another to support it in the sense of maintaining its integrity. It would be more accurate to say that the truth supported the "Old Covenant leaders," in this weightier sense of the word "support," rather than to say that these leaders supported the truth. The truth was their foundation; they were not its foundation.

But Paul says that the Church is the foundation of the truth, that is, maintsins it in its integrity in the way that a foundation supports a building.

Frankly, it amazes me that this simple and unmistakable metaphor has gone right over your head. Paul would NEVER call a fallible institution the foundation of the truth. It would be a misuse of language, a prevarication.

The oddest thing is that your interpretation reduces Paul to saying something that is totally banal and otiose. Of course the Chruch is going to support or proclaim the truth in some ssnse IF it has the truth -- that's a truism; not worth saying; empty chatter. You have Paul leaving it entirely uncertain whether the Church possesses the truth or not, even as speaks of the truth and the Church together, connecting them! But this is just to say that you depict him as saying precisely nothing.

Flash from Ronnie's Paul!: The Church supports the truth if it has the truth. But who the heck knows if it has the truth or not? (Gee, thanks. That's really useful information.)

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: You would agree that the Church is not inspired and it is not laying a foundation but supporting the foundation that the Apostles and Prophets laid.

Adomnan: In 1 Tim 3:15, the Church is not said to be "supporting the foundation," as you state here, but to BE the foundation of the truth. Big difference.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...
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Dave Armstrong said...

Here's a fantastic passage about truth and particularly truth in the Church:

EPHESIANS 4:4-6, 11-25 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, [5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. . . .
[11] And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, [12] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, [13] until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; [14] so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. [15] Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, [16] from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. [17] Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; [18] they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; [19] they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.
[20] You did not so learn Christ! -- [21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. [22] Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts,
[23] and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
[25] Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Sounds real weak and fallible, doesn't it? And did you notice one thing that wasn't mentioned in there? That's right: Scripture. Truth is mentioned all over the place, and the Church is alluded to over and over, but the Bible ain't mentioned. Isn't that fascinating?

Ronnie said...

Adomnan: In 1 Tim 3:15, the Church is not said to be "supporting the foundation," as you state here, but to BE the foundation of the truth. Big difference.

On the contrary, the Church is called the “pillar and foundation” of the truth which communicates it is supporting the truth. Furthermore, based on “closely related cross-reference” the Apostle Paul says the following:
I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.( 1 Cor. 3:10-11)
So if the church is another foundation then who laid it? Is it a foundation on top of Christ or under Christ?

Dan Marcum said...

Ronnie:

The Church is called a pillar of the truth, and you are right that this means supporting the truth. But it is different than when you say truth is supported by you or I, or by the Old Covenant 'Church.' Come now, would you claim to be a pillar upon which the truth is built? Are you not rather a supporter in the sense of endorsing the truth, than in the sense of connecting it to its foundation? Without a column, a structure built on a column collapses; I suppose there can be more than one pillar, but not more than one foundation. When that is shaken, the structure shakes with it, else it would have some more stable connection, some other foundation. But the Church is the truth's foundation and as the truth is immobile, that proves that it's foundation is also immobile, for if the foundation could move, then so would the superstructure built on it.

Ronnie said...


Dave said:
Sounds real weak and fallible, doesn't it?

There ya go. Typcial Catholic strawman to prop up an infallible church. If something is fallible it must be “weak” and basically useless from the Catholic perspective. One wonders how the Old Covenant church ever survived without this infallibility, being that it was so “weak”.

Dave continues …
And did you notice one thing that wasn't mentioned in there? That's right: Scripture. Truth is mentioned all over the place, and the Church is alluded to over and over, but the Bible ain't mentioned. Isn't that fascinating?

What is fascinating is that a man who promotes himself as a professional apologist could resort to such point as “fascinating”. Think about these things Dave to help put your fascination into perspective.

1. The Scriptures are literally referred to as “God speaking.”(Matthew 22:31)
2. Heaven and earth may pass away, but not jot or tittle of the word( Matthew 5:18)
3.The Scriptures cannot be broken( John 10:35)

This is just a very small sampling, but the point here is that everyone already believed as an axiom of faith that the Scriptures were truth, because they were God speaking. There is no need to constantly state or argue or convince believers of their truthfulness. Now this new fledging church is a different matter, but in your apologetic prowess you think you have stumbled upon something “fascination”

Ken said...

Wow! I was gone for a day and came back and the comboxes are up to 63!

Dave, your site was going pretty slow unless Pilgrimarbour or Ronnie or I come and stir things up a bit, right?

I concede on the grammar and the attributive genitive issue - I did not take the time to study that more deeply, and I admit I am not a Greek scholar, but I can and did make my own rough translation above.

It is significant that the scholar you guys quoted from is careful and says "usually", meaning their can be exception to this grammatical rule.

1146. A substantive followed by an attributive genitive and forming with it a compound idea, usually omits the article: 'teleute tou biou' (the) end of his life. (Less commonly 'he teleute tou biou.')

But, Dave, please don't call that "Jehovah Witness like" interpretation, because the issue there in John 1:1 is the predicate nominative and the word order, with the verb "to be", totally different issue.

I haven't read every word of the rebuttals; but basically it is clear that Christ is the foundation and He is unshakable and the cornerstone. Local churches together with true believers in them make up the universal church.

I still think you have left out the main point, the purpose for Paul's writing the letter, the emphasis on teaching sound doctrine, and that by leaving out verse 14 in your exegesis, you have skewed and shifted the emphasis from the writing/letter/I Timothy/Scripture/instructions

that by writing this, he says, "you will know how to behave in the church of the living God."

and the implication is that knowing truth and teaching it and obeying it, then the church at Ephesus is truly living out the witness to the world of being the pillar and support of the truth.

The church (local churches(with true believers) , which make up the Universal body of Christ from all nations (Rev. 5:9) is God's instrument of working in this world, by worship and teaching and preaching, evangelism and missions.

If the church does not pay attention to the letters/Scripture, then they won't have sound doctrine, then they won't teach sound doctrine, and they won't behave right and that church will not be supporting and upholding and teaching the truth.

J.N.D. Kelly in his commentary favors the word buttress/bulwark/support for "ground or foundation". I am traveling, so I don't have it handy, but I hope to go over his commentary again and post the relevant points.

The main things are that you did not prove any infallibility of the RCC; and you certainly did not disprove Sola Scriptura.

In fact by Paul saying that "in case I am delayed" (meaning, I won't be there); I write this letter (Scripture). You will have Scripture instead of me.

Peter did the same thing - 2 Peter 1:12-21.

Without the apostles, we have their writings, they are the truth that Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would led them into all the truth.

We have the writings; churches are to know them and follow them.

You did not refute Sola Scriptura at all.

Dan Marcum said...

There are several places where Scripture is referred to as truth: Psalms 119:160, 119:43, 2 Tim. 2:15, Acts 28:25, 2 Peter 2:22, Daniel 10:21.

Dan Marcum said...

Ken:

You said, "If the church does not pay attention to the letters/Scripture, then they won't have sound doctrine, then they won't teach sound doctrine, and they won't behave right and that church will not be supporting and upholding and teaching the truth."

True enough, but Paul doesn't say "if the church has my writings, it will support the truth." He says it (the Church) is the foundation of truth, and as such as its members should behave accordingly, so he writes to encourage us in this regard. Adomnan had a ready answer to your idea when Ronnie posited it earlier. Adomnan replied:

"The oddest thing is that your interpretation reduces Paul to saying something that is totally banal and otiose. Of course the Chruch is going to support or proclaim the truth in some ssnse IF it has the truth -- that's a truism; not worth saying; empty chatter. You have Paul leaving it entirely uncertain whether the Church possesses the truth or not, even as speaks of the truth and the Church together, connecting them! But this is just to say that you depict him as saying precisely nothing.

Flash from Ronnie's Paul!: The Church supports the truth if it has the truth. But who the heck knows if it has the truth or not? (Gee, thanks. That's really useful information.)"

Ronnie said...


Flash from Ronnie's Paul!: The Church supports the truth if it has the truth. But who the heck knows if it has the truth or not? (Gee, thanks. That's really useful information.)"

Dan, you are introducing a red herring and think you are making a great observation. This discussion was not about if the church has the truth or how you know if it does or not, but instead the role the church plays as “pillar and foundation”. So stick with the topic and quit expecting someone to answer a question that is not even on the radar screen.

Dan Marcum said...

"Dan, you are introducing a red herring and think you are making a great observation."

Well, at least part of that's true. Lol.

"This discussion was not about if the church has the truth"

In a sense, it can be defined that way, since to sustain the truth infallibly is to have it in some sense. David's first post was a proof that the Church is infallible because it is called the foundation of an infallible structure.

"So stick with the topic and quit expecting someone to answer a question that is not even on the radar screen"

I was rebutting an interpretation that you put forth to explain the passage without implying Church infallibility. That is very much on the radar screen. Adomnan's rebuttal is very apt: you guys are wrong to say that the passage means the Church sustains truth whenever it is faithful to Scripture, for that would a statement without a force. The passage says the Church sustains truth: that implies that is is faithful to Scripture. Then you guys are wrong to say that it can do otherwise, for then the structure of truth would no longer be what God made it originally.

Ken said...

Hi Dan,
Thanks for the interaction.

You wrote:
True enough, but Paul doesn't say "if the church has my writings, it will support the truth."

This is implied by the context with verse 14, that he is writing in order to provide the church with instructions on how to behave in the household of the living God, the church. I also included the overall emphasis in I Timothy on sound doctrine and teaching. (chapter 1, I add chapter 4, on public reading of Scripture and sound doctrine, etc.) and I also included the context.

Dave was building an edifice to try and refute Sola Scriptura and he is seeking to establish the RCC dogma of the infallibility of the RCC.

The only way to do that is to isolate the phrase from both the immediate context and the overall context and purpose of I Timothy.

By isolating the phrase, "the church of the living God, which is the pillar and support of the truth" from its context, especially of verse 14, he is doing eis-egesis (reading too much into the text), not exegesis.

Also, the examples of Galatians and the 6 churches of the 7 in Rev. 2-3 show that local churches can fall away and be judged and God judged them because they drifted from the truth. I Timothy is written to Ephesus. There is no church in Ephesus today.

And for Ben, it does not go against the perseverance of the saints or effectual grace, because the end of each of the 7 passages to the 7 churches, closes with, "to him who overcomes" - this is to individual believers. True believers persevere to the end; but local churches can drift by false doctrine, false believers, false leadership.

Jesus says about those kind of people, who are in the church and claim to be believers, but are not, "I never knew you" Matthew 7:21-23

Dan Marcum said...

Ken,

You said, "local churches can fall away and be judged and God judged them because they drifted from the truth. I Timothy is written to Ephesus. There is no church in Ephesus today."

Local churches can fall away, but "The Church" cannot. Would you say God builds His truth upon your local church as upon a foundation? Or upon "the 6 churches of the 7 in Rev. 2-3" which fell away? I hope not, because if truth itself has a fallible foundation, then what can we trust? "The Church as foundation of truth" must be infallible, so it cannot refer to particular churches, so it must refer to the Church general.

Your second problem regards your interpretation of 1 Tim. 3:14-15.

"(1) I write...so that you may know how to behave in the household of God, (2) which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth."

You say #2 depends on #1, i.e. the Church can't uphold the truth without the writings. Your interpretation has two problems: first, there is no preposition or genitive or any kind of linguistic measure which connects obeying Paul's writings to "Church as foundation of truth." It does not say "the Church is foundation" BECAUSE Paul wrote to exhort them. You are demanding that we make it say that based solely on their being mentioned in a sentence together. But who is to say that "the Church as foundation" isn't a basis for our obedience, rather than vice-versa? They are merely mentioned together; nothing merits your conclusion that the Church is only infallible when its members obey Paul's exhortations/God's will.

Second, you make #2 ("Church as foundation") dependent on the writings while Paul said the writings were only an ad hoc measure. (See the rest of verse 14.)

You also said if we isolate v. 15 from its context then we are correct. Well, we are not isolating it from its context but demanding that it be granted its full force as a particular expression of the Church's role. "foundation of truth" means the Church is part of truth. What is true cannot be false. Quit pro quo, the Church cannot be false.

Ken said...

You also said if we isolate v. 15 from its context then we are correct.

Did you mean, "not correct" or "incorrect" ?

I mean by isolating verse 15 from verse 14, Dave was doing bad exegesis, and so you are incorrect; (building a false case) because the context includes the writings and the purpose for Paul's letter.

The RCC is not "the Church"; nor is it infallible.

Dave Armstrong said...

a man who promotes himself as a professional apologist

Is this to imply that I am not, as if I have to "promote" what isn't the case in actuality?

If that is your position, please define both "professional" and "apologist." Thanks.

Dan Marcum said...

Ken said, ...
You also said if we isolate v. 15 from its context then we are correct.


Did you mean, "not correct" or "incorrect" ?


Thanks for catching that.

I mean by isolating verse 15 from verse 14, Dave was doing bad exegesis, and so you are incorrect; (building a false case) because the context includes the writings and the purpose for Paul's letter.

The context includes the writings, fine, but you take this too far when you say this means the Church is only foundation when Paul's writings are present. Let me put it this way:

Paul says, "(1) I write because I want you to behave in (2) the Church which is the pillar and foundation of the truth."

Yes, Church-as-foundation and writings are both present.

You claim this demands a causal connection: "the Church can only be the foundation of truth so long as you (members) obey my writings." (2-depends on-1)

But why could he not mean instead, "I write because I want you to behave BECAUSE the Church is the foundation of truth"? (1-depends on-2)

Or better yet, "I write because I want you to behave, AND the Church is the foundation of truth"? (no causation between the two)

"The RCC is not "the Church"; nor is it infallible."

Even if that were true, the existence of ANY infallible church disproves that Scripture is our only infallible guide to faith and morals. Our conclusion still follows from these premises:

(1) "Foundation of truth" means the Church is part of truth.
(2) To be part of truth is to be true.
(3) What is true cannot be false. (4) Therfore, the Church cannot be false.

Dave Armstrong said...

Dave, your site was going pretty slow unless Pilgrimarbour or Ronnie or I come and stir things up a bit, right?

Correct. When folks agree on things, they tend to talk a lot less: at least in theological circles. When there is strong disagreement, then the discussion is endless.

It's always been difficult to get Protestants to engage Catholics in exegetical discussion (unless the latter are -- actually or perceived -- dumbbells who can be mocked and made fun of), so we are deeply indebted to you three for being willing to do so (wholly apart from the merit of the counter-arguments produced!).

But, bottom line, my site is simply the place where my latest writings are put up. If someone wants to talk about 'em, great. If not, that's fine, too, since we know that many others are reading without commenting.

I love discussion, but my deeper goal is to communicate Catholic, biblical truth in order to help people lead better, more fruitful, happy lives, and to receive more grace and be saved.

I have been getting an average of about 600 hits a day for six years now. I don't seem to be able to achieve higher stats. I don't know why. But 600 is a respectable figure, and I have had well over a million hits total. For a field like apologetics, for which there is a limited interest, compared to many other things, that's pretty good, I think.

Dave Armstrong said...

By isolating the phrase, "the church of the living God, which is the pillar and support of the truth" from its context, especially of verse 14, he is doing eis-egesis (reading too much into the text), not exegesis.

In supposedly doing so, I'm delighted to be in the company of eight eminent Protestant Greek scholars / Bible commentators / theologians, who all likewise interpret "church" there as referring to the universal church, not the local:

1) A. T. Robertson (Word Pictures in the NT, Baptist)

2) Marvin Vincent (Presbyterian) in Word Studies in the NT.

3) Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary (Anglican and Presbyterian).

4) Baptist Augustus Strong, in his Systematic Theology.

5) Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT.

6) Matthew Henry Commentary (Presbyterian).

7) Barnes' Notes (Presbyterian).

8) Adam Clarke Commentary (Methodist).

Of course, none of them interpret as a Catholic does, but what they do not do is exegete it as if Paul were merely talking about one local congregation. Once we determine that it is indeed in reference to the universal Church, then we go from there and determine what is the most plausible additional interpretation.

Ken's special pleading is not even in line with historic Protestant (evangelical / conservative, largely Calvinist) exegesis of the passage.

For details, see the previous post:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/03/biblical-proof-of-church-infallibility.html?showComment=1269902510211#c5979313224477210782

Ronnie said...

I said:
a man who promotes himself as a professional apologist

Dave responded:
Is this to imply that I am not, as if I have to "promote" what isn't the case in actuality?

If that is your position, please define both "professional" and "apologist." Thanks.

Hey Dave,

No, I’m not implying that you are not, but instead the irony that you promote/publish yourself as one(i.e. a professional in that you get paid for doing apologetics ), and in the same thread you are fascinated by something that should cause your employer to doubt if they have made a wise decision :) I say that in jest, but that really was a very very very weak point that cause your fascination. I think the issue was that you got so caught up in trying to pump up your church authority and diminish the Protestant Scripture authority that you didn’t think carefully before posting.

Anway …

Ben M said...
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Dave Armstrong said...

Your "argument" (more so a cynical, hyper-critical observation) falls completely flat. I love and revere and defend Holy Scripture as much as any Protestant on the face of the earth: certainly at least as much as you do. That's not at issue. The issue is sola Scriptura: whether Scripture is the only infallible authority.

I didn't have to think carefully before posting what I did. It is part of a nuanced cross-referenced, analogical argument that I have made for many years now. It was part of my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (pp. 15-16). That book was completed in 1996, and parts of it were written as early as 1991.

But you dimly comprehended even what my point was (Protestants very often poorly understand arguments from analogy; it is not their usual approach).

At least you don't stoop so low as to mock the validity of my very vocation and life's work, as many of your cronies regularly do. Good for you.

The fact remains that sola Scriptura is nowhere taught in Scripture. I've seen the innumerable attempted prooftexts. None of them succeed. It's merely an assumed, axiomatic viewpoint imposed onto Holy Scripture.

Scripture itself gives equal authority to the Church and to Sacred, Apostolic Tradition. And we see that in the text under present consideration.

Ronnie said...


Dave said:
Your "argument" (more so a cynical, hyper-critical observation) falls completely flat. I love and revere and defend Holy Scripture as much as any Protestant on the face of the earth: certainly at least as much as you do. That's not at issue. The issue is sola Scriptura: whether Scripture is the only infallible authority.

No you don’t defend Holy Scripture as much as I do. This statements reminds me of the liberals that claim the stand for the defenseless as much as anyone while arguing for abortion. Protestants are daily defending Holy Scriptures against Catholics who treat it as any other book. The claim it is dead, confusing, and impossible to understand is part of the typical Catholic apologetic arsenal on the net. Have you defended Scriptures against those charges often? Well, we do it almost on a daily basis.

Nice try Dave, but on this specific point it wasn’t about sola Scriptura. It was about the church, and is she required to be infallible because she is mentioned as a “pillar and foundation of truth”. Here is what fascinated you:

Truth is mentioned all over the place, and the Church is alluded to over and over, but the Bible ain't mentioned. Isn't that fascinating?

So if you are switching to attacking sola Scriptura implicitly then you shouldn’t expect everyone to see this sleight of hand so easily.


Dave continues …

I didn't have to think carefully before posting what I did. It is part of a nuanced cross-referenced, analogical argument that I have made for many years now. It was part of my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (pp. 15-16). That book was completed in 1996, and parts of it were written as early as 1991.

But you dimly comprehended even what my point was (Protestants very often poorly understand arguments from analogy; it is not their usual approach).

I wasn’t commenting on your “nuanced cross-referenced analogical argument”, but instead on why you were fascinated by such an weak (now this is when the word is appropriate for a fallible source ) point. So maybe you are dimly comprehended the critique of my point ;) I’m glad you are so gifted at analogous arguments, however I must confess this current one is not impressive a little bit.


Dave continues …
At least you don't stoop so low as to mock the validity of my very vocation and life's work, as many of your cronies regularly do. Good for you.

Hey, if you get paid for doing something then it is your profession.

Dave continues …
The fact remains that sola Scriptura is nowhere taught in Scripture. I've seen the innumerable attempted prooftexts. None of them succeed. It's merely an assumed, axiomatic viewpoint imposed onto Holy Scripture.

Scripture itself gives equal authority to the Church and to Sacred, Apostolic Tradition. And we see that in the text under present consideration.

No, we don’t see that in the text under discussion. All I see is a number of non sequiturs(i.e. 1. if one foundation is infallible then all must be infallible. 2. A foundation has to be stronger than the source it is supporting). Have you ever paused to wonder why you are the first one to come up with this “nuanced cross-referenced analogical argument”?

Dan Marcum said...

I don't think Dave was the first one to come up with this argument. The Haydock Catholic Commentary comments on this verse, in part:

"...therefore, the Church of the living God can never uphold error, nor bring in corruptions, superstition, or idolatry."

That's essentially what Dave is saying, though Haydock (in the parts I left out) brings in other Scriptures to support his point. But still, the idea that in order to be the foundation of truth, the Church can never uphold error, is essentially the same thing as what David argued in his post.

Dan Marcum said...

Ronnie: also, if you think it's a sly switch that he's using this against sola scriptura, maybe you should re-check the title of the post.

Sola Scriptura means the Bible is the only infallible guide to faith and morals. Proving that the Church is infallible disproves that assertion. So it's no switch from one to the other; they are logically linked one to the other.

And here's one form of logical deductive that you haven't dealt with (to my knowledge):

1. The Church as foundation of the truth implies that the Church is part of the truth.
2. To be a part of truth is to be always true.
3. What is always true is never false.
4. What is part of truth is never false (from 2 and 3).
5. Therefore the Church is never false.

Ben M said...
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Adomnan said...

Ronnie: This discussion was not about if the church has the truth or how you know if it does or not, but instead the role the church plays as “pillar and foundation”.

Adomnan: So your position is that a passage that describes the Church as the pillar and foundation of the truth is "not about if the church has the truth or not"?

If this interpretation works for you, well, what is there left to say?

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronnie said...


Sheer nonsense. I have defended it for 30 years now: far more than you ever have or ever will.

Here we see how fallacious Dave’s arguments can get. On what basis does he conclude that he has defended Scripture “… far more than you[Ronnie] ever have or ever will.”? Dave doesn’t know much about me. So please tell me Dave on what rational basis did you come to such a dogmatic conclusion? No matter what you document in reference to your defenses of Scripture it doesn’t mean you have defended them more than I have unless you know the extent to which I have defended them.

But folks this is typical Dave. He always makes strong, dogmatic statements. I believe he thinks it makes his argument stronger if he says it louder, bolder, and dogmatically.

Dan Marcum said...

Quoting St. Francis de Sales is apt. Here he is again, on the same topic, in The Catholic Controversy.

"It is the same as S. Paul teaches when he calls the Church the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. iii. 15). Is not this to say that truth is solidly upheld in the Church? Elsewhere truth is only maintained at intervals, it falls often, but in the Church it is without vicissitude, unmovable, unshaken, in a word steadfast and perpetual. To answer that S. Paul's meaning is that Scripture has been put under the guardianship of the Church, and no more, is to weaken the proposed similitude too much. For to uphold the truth is a very different thing from guarding the Scripture. The Jews guard a part of the Scriptures, and so do many heretics; but they are not an that account a column and ground of truth. The bark of the letter is neither truth nor falsehood, but according to the sense that we give it is it true or false. The truth consists in the sense, which is, as it were, the marrow. And therefore if the Church were guardian of the truth,the sense of the Scripture would have been entrusted to her care, and it would be necessary to seek it with her, and not in the brain of Luther or Calvin or any private person. Therefore she cannot err, ever having the sense of the Scriptures. And in fact to place with this sacred depository the letter without the sense, would be to place therein the purse without the gold, the shell without the kernel, the scabbard without the sword, the box without the ointment, the leaves without the fruit, the shadow without the Body. ... In short, the words of S. Paul cannot suffer this sense that you would give them: he speaks of the visible Church, for where would he direct his Timothy to behave himself? He calls it the house of Our Saviour; therefore it is well founded, well ordered, well sheltered against all storms and tempest of error. It is the pillar and ground of truth; truth then is in it, it abides there, it dwells there; who seeks it elsewhere loses it. It is so thoroughly safe and firm that all the gates of hell, that is, all the forces of the enemy, cannot make themselves masters of it."

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: One wonders how the Old Covenant church ever survived without this infallibility, being that it was so “weak”.

Adomnan: Paul thought the Old Covenant "church," as you call it, was weak. To the Galatians who wanted to embrace the Old Covenant, he wrote:

"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the WEAK and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." (Gal 4:9-10) These "days, etc." refer to the ritual days of the Jewish calendar, adopted by the Judaizing Galatians.

And Paul refers to the Jewish Christian who continues to adhere to Old Covenant customs as "him that is weak in faith." (Rom 14:1).

Thus Paul definitely saw the Old Covenant -- a pedagogue for children, the slave woman Hagar -- as something that was weak, especially in comparison with the New Covenant.

Ronnie said...


Dave says:
As noted (and as its title states), the paper from the beginning was about both things. If you establish an infallible Church, SS collapses by that fact, since it allows nothing to be infallible but Scripture. So the two are always related: when one is established the other necessarily falls, as an antithesis and contrary.

I’m sure you realize that every point discussed in a combo box is not explicitly a discussion of the title of the article. Now for sure there should be some relation between the two, assuming there are no big rabbit trails. However, from my perspective I was critiquing the fallacy of your argument where you stated the following:
1. If one foundation is infallible, then all must be infallible.
2. A foundation has to be stronger than the source it is supporting
This is a fallacious argument whether we are talking about sola Scriptura or not. It refutes your current argument without necessarily refuting your claim that the church is infallible under certain conditions. So maybe you are the one not understanding my argument. But this is typical of Catholics, for them everything is about defending the infallible church and therefore they can’t distinguishing between saying your current argument is fallacious and your belief is false ;)


Dave continues …
Stay tuned for a brand-new paper I am working on today, inspired by Ronnie's critiques. I love it. A misguided critique inspired the present paper and whole new avenues of defense heretofore unthought-of.

Yeah, typical Dave. Use all kinds of colorful negative adjectives in reference to those he is discussing things, and use all kinds of bold, confident, and dogmatic assertions about his own. Sounds impressive!

Dave continues …
Just as the present paper highly developed an initial argument in The Catholic Verses that was savaged ("worst exegesis ever"), so the next one will develop an old argument of mine from the early 90s, that is in my book A Biblical Defense of Catholicism.

See … “highly developed” argument. Not just an argument :)


Dave continues …
Ronnie has mocked (a version of) it and scarcely even comprehended it, thus stimulating me on to another significant development of my old outline-argument.

Uh oh … talking about me now. Now time for negative adjectives and descriptions … “scarcely even comprehended”. :)


Dave continues …
His inanities have stimulated my mind in a new direction in yet another area that I think might be fruitful in the collection of "1001 ways to refutesola Scriptura."

Talking about me, you know what that means … “His inanities” :)

Ronnie said...


Ronnie: One wonders how the Old Covenant church ever survived without this infallibility, being that it was so “weak”.

Adomnan: Paul thought the Old Covenant "church," as you call it, was weak. To the Galatians who wanted to embrace the Old Covenant, he wrote:

"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the WEAK and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." (Gal 4:9-10) These "days, etc." refer to the ritual days of the Jewish calendar, adopted by the Judaizing Galatians.

Adomnan, you are really stretching here. Paul is not saying the church is weak. He is speaking about their rituals and sacraments are now weak, in light of the fact that the shadows and types have now been fulfilled with the reality.


Adomnan continues …
And Paul refers to the Jewish Christian who continues to adhere to Old Covenant customs as "him that is weak in faith." (Rom 14:1).

Still stretching. A believer being weak in faith says nothing about the church. There are members of the Catholic church that can be considered weak in the faith. If you do a ‘closely related cross-reference” you would see in 1 Cor that Paul says believers in the New Covenant can be weak in the faith even though the participate in something that is true and right. By your logic that proves something about the New Covenant Church I guess.


Adomnan continues …
Thus Paul definitely saw the Old Covenant -- a pedagogue for children, the slave woman Hagar -- as something that was weak, especially in comparison with the New Covenant.


Yes!! The Old Covenant is now considered outdated, because it purposes have been fulfilled. The Old Covenant was given to last until the right time. However, he is not talking about the church, but the covenant is now considered inferior.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Yes, as far as I can tell, no bait & switch here. The issues in this combox are based on the post itself and are reflected in the post title. They have always been regarding the Universal Church (which Catholics believe is the Roman church), the question of its infallibility or fallibility, and that relationship to Sola Scriptura. We may get caught up in rabbit trails now and then. I know. I am particularly tempted in that direction.

Maroun asked me something, which showed up in my e-mail but I can't find it posted here anywhere. And I dumped the e-mail figuring I would find the post here. Well, I must remember to hang onto the email notifications.

At any rate, I know Dave thinks Protestants typically don't understand analogies. I agree that we don't understand Catholic analogies very well sometimes. I don't mean Paul's analogy here, but the conclusions that Catholics draw from them.

For example, I think we're pushing this analogy too far in order to construct a doctrine of an infallible Church. I won't repeat everything I've said in the combox here (Catholics may stop applauding, it's rude!) But let me reiterate a few points about this and some related to it for clarification:

PILLAR, SUPPORT, FOUNDATION

1) Paul calls the Church "a pillar and buttress of truth," (ESV), or "the pillar and ground of the truth," (KJV), speaking of the universal Church. Other translations sometimes use "foundation."

2) Paul calls the apostles the "foundation" (Eph. 2:20).

3) Paul calls Christ the "foundation" (1 Cor. 3:11).

4) Paul calls Christ the "cornerstone" of the foundation (Eph. 2:20).

5) John says of the Celestial City (which is the Church): "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." This reaffirms what Paul said in Ephesians 2:20 about the twelve apostles.

So the Church is the foundation, the apostles are the foundation and Christ Himself is the foundation. Christ is also the "cornerstone of the foundation." I was told in this combox that no building has more than one foundation. Well, when you're dealing with Biblical analogies, expect the unexpected. There are at least three distinct uses of the word foundation in relation to Christ and His Church in the New Testament.

THE CHURCH AND CHRIST RELATIONSHIP

1) Jesus Christ is the bridegroom and His Church is the bride.

2) In marriage, there is a mysterious union when the man and the woman come together and become "one flesh." So it is logical to conclude that in at least some sense Christ and His Church are "one flesh."

3) The man and woman in a marriage remain two individuals with all that entails, and remain accountable to God as individuals, though they are said to be "one flesh."

4) Christ and the Church are "one flesh," but the Church is not Christ, and the man is not the woman in marriage.

5) Christ is the Head of the body, His Church.

6) The body cannot live without the Head.

7) However, the Head can most certainly live without the body, not to say that the Church can be destroyed--but neither does this truth require it to be infallible.

My point is to make sure that we are doubly careful with analogies and not try to make them say more than they should. For these reasons, and some other presuppositional ones which should be obvious to those familiar with Reformed theology, I cannot conclude, based on 1 Timothy 3:15, that the pillar and buttress, or pillar and foundation, that is, Christ's Church, is infallible, though our Blessed Saviour and Lord most certainly is.

Dan Marcum said...

Pilgrimsarbour said...
"So the Church is the foundation, the apostles are the foundation and Christ Himself is the foundation. ... I was told in this combox that no building has more than one foundation. ... There are at least three distinct uses of the word foundation in relation to Christ and His Church in the New Testament."


Well if there is more than one way of using the word foundation, than in one way it can be true that there is only one foundation (e.g. "no other foundation can be laid," 1 Cor. 3:11) while in another way it is false.

Nevertheless, to refer to something as foundational is very strong language. Foundation of truth is even stronger, since "the foundation of truth" has to be infallible. If the foundation of truth fell through, nothing true would stand.

Pilgrimsarbour said...
"However, the Head can most certainly live without the body, not to say that the Church can be destroyed--but neither does this truth require it to be infallible."


What decapitated head can live? This sounds outrageous to me, Pilgrim. If I try to give this the best possible reading, I'm left with problems.

If you mean that the whole Church could be separated from Christ, there are many biblical problems with that. It would mean the devil prevailed against the whole Church. (Matt. 16:18)

If you only mean that local churches can be separate from Christ, that is fine, but we are making a claim re: an infallible general Church, not about infallible particular churches.

If you mean that being part of The Infallible One still allows whole-Church fallibility, I answer, can something wholly united to Christ be in error? To err is nothing else than to fall from Christ to some particular degree; if the Body of Jesus can be separate to any degree from Christ, as you say, then she can err, and is not fit to be called the foundation of truth.

RD Miksa said...

I note that none of the Protestant posters have tackled my Argument 2:

1. The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15, NIV).

2. Christ is the cornerstone of the Church;

3. God laid a precious cornerstone (Christ – As per Point 2) for a sure foundation (Church – As per Point 1)) (Is 28:16);

4. “Sure” means unerring, unfailing and certain beyond question;

5. Therefore the Church is unerring, unfailing and certain beyond question;

6. Therefore the Church is infallible.

7. Therefore sola scriptura is necessarily false.

Furthermore, I think that previous scriptural passages that demonstrate that Christ and the Church are one body, and therefore supports rather than weakens the idea that they are the same foundation, further blosters my Argument 1. Either way, I think that sola scriptura is in serious trouble when these arguments (meaning all the ones presented here) are considered.

RD Miksa
radosmiksa.blogspot.com
theargumentfromevolution.blogspot.com

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Hey Dave,

Any idea why some of my comments don't show up in the combox when I post them? Dan Marcum must have gotten an e-mail notification of my latest comment because he responded very specifically to it, but I can't find it here anywhere.

PA

Ronnie said...


Ronnie: One wonders how the Old Covenant church ever survived without this infallibility, being that it was so “weak”.

Adomnan: Paul thought the Old Covenant "church," as you call it, was weak. To the Galatians who wanted to embrace the Old Covenant, he wrote:

"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the WEAK and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." (Gal 4:9-10) These "days, etc." refer to the ritual days of the Jewish calendar, adopted by the Judaizing Galatians.

Adomnan, you are really stretching here. Paul is not saying the church is weak. He is speaking about their rituals and sacraments are now weak, in light of the fact that the shadows and types have now been fulfilled with the reality.


Adomnan continues …
And Paul refers to the Jewish Christian who continues to adhere to Old Covenant customs as "him that is weak in faith." (Rom 14:1).

Still stretching. A believer being weak in faith says nothing about the church. There are members of the Catholic church that can be considered weak in the faith. If you do a ‘closely related cross-reference” you would see in 1 Cor that Paul says believers in the New Covenant can be weak in the faith even though the participate in something that is true and right. By your logic that proves something about the New Covenant Church I guess.


Adomnan continues …
Thus Paul definitely saw the Old Covenant -- a pedagogue for children, the slave woman Hagar -- as something that was weak, especially in comparison with the New Covenant.


Yes!! The Old Covenant is now considered outdated, because it types and shadows have been fulfilled. The Old Covenant was given for a time period, not all of salvation history. However, he is not talking about the church in the sense you guys are talking about the church, but instead the rituals and sacraments that are now considered inferior.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I'm going to try to post this again.

Yes, as far as I can tell, no bait & switch here. The issues in this combox are based on the post itself and are reflected in the post title. They have always been regarding the Universal Church (which Catholics believe is the Roman church), the question of its infallibility or fallibility, and that relationship to Sola Scriptura. We may get caught up in rabbit trails now and then. I know. I am particularly tempted in that direction.

Maroun asked me something, which showed up in my e-mail but I can't find it posted here anywhere. And I dumped the e-mail figuring I would find the post here. Well, I must remember to hang onto the email notifications.

At any rate, I know Dave thinks Protestants typically don't understand analogies. I agree that we don't understand Catholic analogies very well sometimes. I don't mean Paul's analogy here, but the conclusions that Catholics draw from them.

For example, I think we're pushing this analogy too far in order to construct a doctrine of an infallible Church. I won't repeat everything I've said in the combox here (Catholics may stop applauding, it's rude!) But let me reiterate a few points about this and some related to it for clarification:

PILLAR, SUPPORT, FOUNDATION

1) Paul calls the Church "a pillar and buttress of truth," (ESV), or "the pillar and ground of the truth," (KJV), speaking of the universal Church. Other translations sometimes use "foundation."

2) Paul calls the apostles the "foundation" (Eph. 2:20).

3) Paul calls Christ the "foundation" (1 Cor. 3:11).

4) Paul calls Christ the "cornerstone" of the foundation (Eph. 2:20).

5) John says of the Celestial City (which is the Church): "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." This reaffirms what Paul said in Ephesians 2:20 about the twelve apostles.

So the Church is the foundation, the apostles are the foundation and Christ Himself is the foundation. Christ is also the "cornerstone of the foundation." I was told in this combox that no building has more than one foundation. Well, when you're dealing with Biblical analogies, expect the unexpected. There are at least three distinct uses of the word foundation in relation to Christ and His Church in the New Testament.

THE CHURCH AND CHRIST RELATIONSHIP

1) Jesus Christ is the bridegroom and His Church is the bride.

2) In marriage, there is a mysterious union when the man and the woman come together and become "one flesh." So it is logical to conclude that in at least some sense Christ and His Church are "one flesh."

3) The man and woman in a marriage remain two individuals with all that entails, and remain accountable to God as individuals, though they are said to be "one flesh."

4) Christ and the Church are "one flesh," but the Church is not Christ, and the man is not the woman in marriage.

5) Christ is the Head of the body, His Church.

6) The body cannot live without the Head.

7) However, Christ the Head can most certainly live without the body, not to say that the Church can be destroyed--but neither does this truth require it to be infallible.

My point is to make sure that we are doubly careful with analogies and not try to make them say more than they should. For these reasons, and some other presuppositional ones which should be obvious to those familiar with Reformed theology, I cannot conclude, based on 1 Timothy 3:15, that the pillar and buttress, or pillar and foundation, that is, Christ's Church, is infallible, though our Blessed Saviour and Lord most certainly is.

Ronnie said...


Dave says:
As noted (and as its title states), the paper from the beginning was about both things. If you establish an infallible Church, SS collapses by that fact, since it allows nothing to be infallible but Scripture. So the two are always related: when one is established the other necessarily falls, as an antithesis and contrary.


I’m sure you realize that every point discussed in a combo box is not an explicit discussion of the title of the article. Now for sure there should be some relation between the two, assuming there are no big rabbit trails. However, from my perspective I was critiquing the fallacy of your argument where you stated the following:

1. If one foundation is infallible, then all must be infallible.
2. A foundation has to be stronger than the source it is supporting

This is a fallacious argument whether we are talking about sola Scriptura or not. It refutes your current argument without necessarily refuting your claim that the church is infallible under certain conditions. So maybe you are the one not understanding the argument. But this is typical of Catholics, for them everything is about defending the infallible church and therefore they can’t distinguishing between saying your current argument is fallacious and your belief is false ;)


Dave continues …
Stay tuned for a brand-new paper I am working on today, inspired by Ronnie's critiques. I love it. A misguided critique inspired the present paper and whole new avenues of defense heretofore unthought-of.


Yeah, typical Dave. Use all kinds of colorful negative adjectives in reference to those he is discussing things, and use all kinds of bold, confident, and dogmatic assertions about his arguments. Sounds impressive!


Dave continues …
Just as the present paper highly developed an initial argument in The Catholic Verses that was savaged ("worst exegesis ever"), so the next one will develop an old argument of mine from the early 90s, that is in my book A Biblical Defense of Catholicism.


See … “highly developed” argument. Not just an argument :)


Dave continues …
Ronnie has mocked (a version of) it and scarcely even comprehended it, thus stimulating me on to another significant development of my old outline-argument.


Uh oh … talking about me now. Now time for negative adjectives and descriptions … “scarcely even comprehended”. :)



Dave continues …
His inanities have stimulated my mind in a new direction in yet another area that I think might be fruitful in the collection of "1001 ways to refutesola Scriptura."


Talking about me, you know what that means … “His inanities” :)

Pilgrimsarbour said...

What decapitated head can live? This sounds outrageous to me, Pilgrim.

It is to be regretted that you couldn't follow the argument. Let me try it again.

The body of Christ cannot live without Christ, its Head.

But Christ, the Head, can live without His body, the Church, unless you think Christ would die if the Church did. You don't think that, do you?

This is one way in which the analogy breaks down. It's possible to equate the two, body and Head, too closely. They are one, yet distinct, and this has to be considered when drawing conclusions from analogies. The Church is not Christ.

Picturesque language is tricky. You don't expect that when you die you'll be found in "Abraham's bosom," do you?

Ronnie said...


I said:
Protestants are daily defending Holy Scriptures against Catholics who treat it as any other book.

Dave responded:
Is that so? Your ignorance and stupidity of what we believe is astounding, even by rock-bottom anti-Catholic standards. Now we don't even believe in inspiration, either?


Typical Dave apologetic as documented in the previous post is in full affect. He’s talking about me so here goes … “You ignorance and stupidity … is astounding”. Of course his conclusion that, “Now we[Catholics] don’t even believe in inspiration, either?” is consistent with the fallacious and illogical conclusions Dave draws. I was only repeating what I have read Catholics say on the internet on a number of occasions. But somehow Dave uses all his negative colorful adjectives in reference to as if I’m stating what Catholics believe. Weird.

I said:

The claim it is dead,

Dave continues …
Dead???!!!!! Where is this? Please provide some examples of reputable Catholics calling the Bible "dead." This I'd love to see. And let it be from some human being with a name and credentials, and visible personal history and curriculum vitae, not just a nickname, Johnny-come-lately who puts up a blog and acts as an authority (like Tim Enloe with his two self-published books and nothing published anywhere else: whoop-de-do!).


Yes “dead”, Dave. In case you didn’t know I used to spend almost 6 days a week debating Catholics on a number of prominent boards. Most of the time it was defending the Scriptures against the most scurrilous charges. I’ve seen Catholics that will not stop at no level to denigrate the Scriptures if it helps to prop up the infallible church. Now you can act all shocked and demand all details, but this came from discussions on a number of forums all on the internet. As a matter of fact you and I have had discussions on at least 2 or 3 of them back in the day. However, I did do a quick search on the internet and found this in less than 10 seconds:

"The Scriptures indeed is a divine book but it is a dead letter, which has to be explained, and cannot exercise the action which the preacher can obtain." Our Priesthood, by Rev. Joseph Bruneau, S.D.D., p 155, B. Herder Company, 1911 ("nihil obstat" by M.F. Dinneen, S.S.,D.D. -Censor deputatus, "imprimatur" by James Cardinal Gibbons -Archbishop of Baltimore, "Re-Imprimatur" by Michael J. Curley -Archbishop of Baltimore).

"...(The Bible is) A dead and speechless book." Bertrand L. Conway, Question Box, p 67, The Columbus Press, 1913.

"The simple fact is that the Bible, like all dead letters, calls for a living interpreter." The Faith of Millions, by Rev. John A. O'Brien, Ph.D., LL.D., p 155, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 1938, ("nihil obstat" by Rev. T. E. Dillon-Censor Librorum and "imprimatur" by John Francis Noll, D.D. -Bishop of Fort Wayne).

"We confess that the Holy Scripture is imperfect, and a dead letter, until it is explained by the Supreme Pontiff, and allowed by him to be read by the laity." Roman Catholic Confessions for Protestants Oath, Article XXI, (Confessio Romano-Catholica in Hungaria Evangelicis publice praescripta te proposita, editi a Streitwolf), as recorded in Congressional Record of the U.S.A., House Bill 1523, Contested election case of Eugene C. Bonniwell, against Thos. S. Butler, Feb. 15, 1913.

"It is the Church, the holder of Tradition, that gives life to the dead letter of Scripture. Experience shows that it is only in the life of the Church, the Bride of Christ, that Scripture, divinely inspired as it is, becomes 'living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword' (Heb 4:12)"
-A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, 1951 (pg 2)

Dan Marcum said...

Pilgrimsarbour said...
"Christ, the Head, can live without His body, the Church, unless you think Christ would die if the Church did. You don't think that, do you?"


It's sort of like a loaded question. You assume that the Church could hypothetically die. That's like asking if the Father would still exist if the Son did not, both questions are incompatible with the idea of Trinity because the Church isn't just its conquerable members; it's also its head (Christ) and its spirit, the Holy Ghost, and they can't "die."

I don't think you can speak of Christ without the Church or vice-versa, which makes your hypothetical question contradictory. "Christ, the Head, can live without His body, the Church, unless you think Christ would die if the Church did." - No. A head without its members would be no body, and the members without the head would be no body. I don't mean to call them identical; but the Church is "in" Christ and Christ is "in" the Church just as God is "in" Christ and Christ is "in" the Father. So they can't be separated like that.

Ronnie said...


I stated:
confusing, and impossible to understand is part of the typical Catholic apologetic arsenal on the net.

Dave continues …
Really? That is news to me. "Impossible to understand," huh? Who does this? You say it is "typical." Then it will be easy foe you to provide several "typical" examples. I eagerly look forward to seeing them.

Yes, “impossible to understand” unless … of course … you have the infallible interpreter. Again this is based on my long history of discussing these things with Catholics on various forums. With the advent of blogs and lot of those boards are now defunct. But I will try to find something for you on tomorrow. Heading to bed for the night …

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Dan Marcum,

Well, my comments don't seem to be appearing in this combox anymore, although you are seeing them somehow--email notifications?

I don't mean to call them identical; but the Church is "in" Christ and Christ is "in" the Church just as God is "in" Christ and Christ is "in" the Father. So they can't be separated like that.

I absolutely agree. The fact that you are able to admit, finally, that the two are not identical, is sufficient for me at this time. Thank you--but you guys really are an awful lot of work sometimes, you know that? ;-)

I'm going to sign off of this combox now and discontinue posting here. Be well.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: Adomnan, you are really stretching here. Paul is not saying the church is weak. He is speaking about their rituals and sacraments are now weak, in light of the fact that the shadows and types have now been fulfilled with the reality.

Adomnan: I disagree. While it had a certain validity, Paul unquestionably thought the Old Covenant was "weak" in itself, not just as a result of Christ's fulfillment. It was never able to convert the Gentiles, which the Christian Church was now doing.

Paul calls the Old Covenant "of the flesh," pointing to the fleshly symbolism of circumcision. He says Moses' face was veiled because of the inferiority of the Law he brought down from Sinai. 2 Cor 3:11-13: "For if that which was transitory had any glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts forever. With a hope like this, we can speak with complete fearlessness; not like Moses who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites should not watch the end of what was transitory" (that is, the glory of the Old Covenant). And there are many other passages to the same effect.

Calvinism wrongly depicts what you typically call the "church" of the Old Covenant as just a BC version of Christianity. Christianity was a completely new departure and incomparably more powerful and glorious. a "new creation" in Paul's description.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie (concerning Rom 14:1): A believer being weak in faith says nothing about the church. There are members of the Catholic church that can be considered weak in the faith.

Adomnan: Paul says they're "weak in faith" because they still adhere to the "weak" Old Covenant. He is specifically talking about Jewish Christians in Romans, not just any "believer" who happens to be weak in faith.

Ronnie: Yes!! The Old Covenant is now considered outdated, because it purposes have been fulfilled. The Old Covenant was given to last until the right time. However, he is not talking about the church, but the covenant is now considered inferior.

Adomnan: The word "church" should not be used to describe the Hebrew religion of the Old Testament. The Church refers to the institution founded by Christ on the Rock of Peter together with the other apostles. The Church was founded by Jesus Christ during His lifetime and through His passion and resurrection. It did not exist before Jesus.

Paul was not saying that the Old Covenant became Hagar, the slave woman (in contrast to the free woman of the Church), once it was fulfilled, He is saying that the Old Covenant always was the slave woman.

So, yes, to reiterate my reaction to your original claim: The Old Covenant was indeed weak and made up, as Paul wrote, of "weak and beggarly elements."

Maroun said...

Pilgrimsarbour said...
"Christ, the Head, can live without His body, the Church, unless you think Christ would die if the Church did. You don't think that, do you?"
I love it when people go against scriptures just to convince themselves that they are right ....It`s what is called the people of the ( wish bible ) .
Pilgrimsarbour , look,what God has united , let no man separate . Sounds familiar?So again,why do you insist on separating the head from the body?When God said that they are one,but again you insist on separating the head from the body...
So plz , accept things as God want you to accept them , and not as you wish them to be...
GBU

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: "The Scriptures indeed is a divine book but it is a dead letter, which has to be explained, and cannot exercise the action which the preacher can obtain." Our Priesthood, by Rev. Joseph Bruneau.

Adomnan: But Fr. Bruneau is absolutely right, and he is simply repeating Paul's observation in 2 Cor 3: 6-7: "He has given us the competence to be ministers of a new covenant, a covenant which is not of written letters, but of the Spirit; for the written letters kill, but the Spirit gives life."

The written letter is, of course, the scripture. And this letter will kill, Paul writes, unless the Spirit gives it life. But the Spirit is the Spirit only of the Church.

Notice, too, that this activity of the Spirit depends, according to Paul, on the "ministers of the new covenant," which is precisely Fr. Bruneau's point; that is, the letter "has to be explained" by the (Catholic) preacher. Otherwise, it is dead.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronnie said...


Ronnie: Adomnan, you are really stretching here. Paul is not saying the church is weak. He is speaking about their rituals and sacraments are now weak, in light of the fact that the shadows and types have now been fulfilled with the reality.

Adomnan: I disagree. While it had a certain validity, Paul unquestionably thought the Old Covenant was "weak" in itself, not just as a result of Christ's fulfillment. It was never able to convert the Gentiles, which the Christian Church was now doing.

Adomnan, you are equivocating on Old Covenant. There is a difference between the Old Covenant = Old Testament Scriptures, and Old Covenant = Church during that time. Now of course Paul is not saying everything about the Old Covenant is “weak” as much of it is still binding today. He is speaking of certain elements that were meant to be temporary until the Messiah arrived at just the right time. It is also false that it was not able to convert Gentiles, as a number of Gentiles were converted under the Old Covenant(e.g. Ruth and Rahab) and played significant roles in salvation history. You must know the Old Covenant believers had the same Gospel as we do, that is the point being made in Hebrews 3&4 and Romans 3 & 4.

Adomnan continues …

Paul calls the Old Covenant "of the flesh," pointing to the fleshly symbolism of circumcision. He says Moses' face was veiled because of the inferiority of the Law he brought down from Sinai. 2 Cor 3:11-13: "For if that which was transitory had any glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts forever. With a hope like this, we can speak with complete fearlessness; not like Moses who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites should not watch the end of what was transitory" (that is, the glory of the Old Covenant). And there are many other passages to the same effect.

I agree with this but none of this proves your point. You are supposed to be proving that the Old Covenant church is a weak/no foundation for the truth because it was not infallible. Pointing out that the Old Covenant was not perfect, transitory, and consisting of types and shadows is not even beginning to make that point. There are things in the New Covenant that are not perfect, transitory, and types. We do not see things as the really are, but “see in a mirror dimly”, we “know in part”, faith and hope are transitory until heaven, etc.

Calvinism wrongly depicts what you typically call the "church" of the Old Covenant as just a BC version of Christianity. Christianity was a completely new departure and incomparably more powerful and glorious. a "new creation" in Paul's description.

The Old Covenant church is some sense a BC version of Christianity. There is continuity and discontinuity. Christ was present and active under the Old Covenant, and it is only by faith in Christ is anyone saved. Of course the God-man and His redeeming work was not as explicity, which is why they knew Him in types and shadows, but knew Him nonetheless. The New Testament makes the point over and over .

Ronnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for the clarifications. I apologize if I misrepresented you at all. In any event, I have further explained the Catholic position.

I added the following section from Calvin in support of one of my arguments:

***

Paul testifies that the Church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” (Eph. 2:20). If the doctrine of the apostles and prophets is the foundation of the Church, the former must have had its certainty before the latter began to exist. . . . if the Christian Church was founded at first on the writings of the prophets, and the preaching of the apostles, that doctrine, wheresoever it may be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned antecedently to the Church . . .

(Institutes, I, 7:2)

***

When Calvin refers to the views of some on Scripture being "dead" and a "dead letter," he refers to the Libertines (Inst., I, 9:1, 3) and the arguments he makes as a retort, Catholics would agree with.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.x.html?highlight=dead,letter#highlight

Ronnie said...


Dave said:
Thanks for the clarifications. I apologize if I misrepresented you at all.

All is forgotten and forgiven.

In any event, I have further explained the Catholic position.

I added the following section from Calvin in support of one of my arguments:

***

Paul testifies that the Church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” (Eph. 2:20). If the doctrine of the apostles and prophets is the foundation of the Church, the former must have had its certainty before the latter began to exist. . . . if the Christian Church was founded at first on the writings of the prophets, and the preaching of the apostles, that doctrine, wheresoever it may be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned antecedently to the Church . . .

(Institutes, I, 7:2)

***


I’m curious as to how this supports your argument. You were arguing that the church is the foundation of the truth. This quote from Calvin says the truth as proclaimed by the Apostles and Prophets is the foundation of the church. So is the truth of the Apostles and Prophets the foundation of the Church or the Church is the foundation of the truth of the Apostles and Prophets?


Dave continues …
When Calvin refers to the views of some on Scripture being "dead" and a "dead letter," he refers to the Libertines (Inst., I, 9:1, 3) and the arguments he makes as a retort, Catholics would agree with.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.x.html?highlight=dead,letter#highlight


This is curious that you would claim to agree with Calvin as Calvin is saying something different than the quotes I provided from Catholic sources that you agreed with. From the Catholic perspective it seems the necessary condition to make the Scriptures alive is the interpretation of the magisterium. Calvin is agreeing with my critique of this position even though his target is different. He is essentially saying you cannot separate the word of God(i.e. Scripture ) from the Spirit of God as the libertines were trying to do. Likewise, Catholics call it a dead letter without the infallible interpreter. Calvin and I would say the word of God and Spirit of God are “joined together with an inviolable bond” and therefore the word is always alive accomplishing what God pleases. Jesus himself said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

Dave Armstrong said...

So is the truth of the Apostles and Prophets the foundation of the Church or the Church is the foundation of the truth of the Apostles and Prophets?

As I have argued in my paper, per Scripture (Eph 2), the Church is built upon the prophets and apostles and Jesus Christ (hence I cited Calvin in agreement).

The Church is then in turn the foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). I argued that being built from infallible prophets and apostles did not in itself necessitate the Church being infallible (as a strictly logical matter); but OTOH, being in turn itself a foundation of the infallible truth does necessitate infallibility, by the rules of logic and common sense alike.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi pilgrim,

Any idea why some of my comments don't show up in the combox when I post them?

Nope. I thought I noticed a post of yours just now that I hadn't seen before. I'm not a whiz at the technical aspects of computers and blogs.

I would recommend to everyone to always save anything you are sending in, in case something goes wrong. That's my regular practice before posting anything (right-click on mouse: "select all" / "copy").

I do know THAT much! :-) But the technical questions about glitches, forget it . . .

Dave Armstrong said...

I will be removing some of my combox posts above that were exchanges with (anti-Catholic Protestant apologist) Ronnie, because they became acrimonious and I feel that some of my remarks were uncharitable. Even if they didn't fail in that fashion, they are unedifying to readers.

I have already apologized to him for misunderstanding some of his positions, and he accepted it (those posts remain above).

Whether he feels the same about his posts is for him to decide and delete should he choose to do so. I won't delete any of his comments.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: Adomnan, you are equivocating on Old Covenant. There is a difference between the Old Covenant = Old Testament Scriptures, and Old Covenant = Church during that time.

Adomnan: The "Old Covenant" is never used to refer to Israel, or what you call "the Old Covenant = Church." Rather, Israel is referred to as those who are "under the Law," the Law being the Old Covenant.

Moreover, there was no Old Covenant Church. You are equivocating between the Church, which was founded by Jesus Christ during His lifetime, and Israel, the Jewish people, which was not the same thing as the Church.

Ronnie: Now of course Paul is not saying everything about the Old Covenant is “weak” as much of it is still binding today. He is speaking of certain elements that were meant to be temporary until the Messiah arrived at just the right time.

Adomnan: Paul regarded the Old Covenant as weak as a whole, with its weak and beggarly elements. It's beside the point that some aspects of it were stronger than others. As a way of life, as a source of grace, it was weak.

"For the promise to Abraham and his descendants that he should inherit the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is those who live by the Law who will gian the inheritance, faith is worthless and the promise is without force, for the Law produces nothing but God's retribution, and it si only where there is no Law that it is possible to live without breaking the Law." (Rom 4:13-15)

The Law, the Old Covenant was weak, weakened by the flesh. It could not do what Christ did:

"What the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do, God did, sending His own Son..." (Rom 8:3)

We are freed from the weak written code of the Old Covenant:

"But now we are released from the Law, having died to what was binding us, and so we are in a new service, that of the Spirit, and not in the old service of a written code." (Rom 7:6)

So, yes, Paul taught that the Old Covenant was weak, as a whole, not just its transitory aspects. (And there is no distinction between the Old Covenant and the Jewish Law.)

Ronnie said...

I deleted a post where I went after Dave after his gracious gesture of apologizing and removing posts that he thought went a little to far.

Ronnie said...


Dave said:
As I have argued in my paper, per Scripture (Eph 2), the Church is built upon the prophets and apostles and Jesus Christ (hence I cited Calvin in agreement).
The Church is then in turn the foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). I argued that being built from infallible prophets and apostles did not in itself necessitate the Church being infallible (as a strictly logical matter); but OTOH, being in turn itself a foundation of the infallible truth does necessitate infallibility, by the rules of logic and common sense alike.


Since you are agreeing with Calvin that the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets which is the doctrine found in the Scriptures, then how can you say in the next breath that the Church is the foundation of the same Scriptures without a nuance definition of foundation in one or the other verses? Furthermore, Paul states in 1 Cor. 3:11 that “…no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”.

The way I reconcile the two verses is that “pillar and foundation” is used to carry a different connotation in 1 Tim. 3:15 than in Eph 2 and 1 Cor 2. So, in Eph 2 and 1 Cor 3 the Apostle is talking about foundation in the sense of the basis on which everything is built. It has to be infallible or there is no certainty of infallibility for the Christian faith. In 1 Tim 3 foundation is used with pillar to denote the church holds up and supports the truth. There is no logical reason that this need to be infallible in order for it to carry out its job. For example, individuals can hold up and support the truth even though they sometimes err.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: You must know the Old Covenant believers had the same Gospel as we do, that is the point being made in Hebrews 3&4 and Romans 3 & 4.

Adomnan. No, they didn't have the same gospel. They had vague presentiments of a coming Messiah, with some prophets having a clearer idea; but they did not believe in the gospel, because the gospel is the message that Christ died for our sins and rose for our justification. And no one believed in that until it happened.

Moreover, the Old Covenant righteous did not participate in the sacraments of Christ, which flowed from the Cross. Therefore, they were not "born again again by water and the Spirit" and they were not "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). That is why Jesus had to descend into Hell (Hades) to rescue the just of the Old Covenant, bringing them the glad tidings and opening to them the way to heaven. Before Christ's resurrection, virtually no one went to heaven, because no one shared in the divine nature (with the exception of a few special souls like Enoch, Elijah and Moses). Christ brought the Spirit to all humanity, so that every Christian could have that intimacy with God that the prophets enjoyed:

"I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young people shall see visions, your old people dream dreams. Even on the slaves, men and women, shall I pour out my Spirit." (Acts 2:17-18; Joel 3:1-2)

Joel foresaw the vast improvement of the New over the Old Covenant.

Perhaps the most poignant description of the situation of the believers of the Old Covenant is expressed in one of my favorite hymns, "Veni, veni, Emmanuel":

"O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of Man appear."

Dan Marcum said...

"In 1 Tim 3 foundation is used with pillar to denote the church holds up and supports the truth."

The verse says: "The Church [is] the pillar and foundation of the truth."

You say it means the Church supports the truth in the same way that you or I might support it -- by accepting it and promoting it. Would you, then, be comfortable calling YOURSELF the pillar and foundation of truth? I hope not -- "foundation of truth" by its very nature means more than acceptance and promotion of truth. Without a supporter, truth doesn't collapse; without its foundation, it does. It's similar with the word pillar: it connects the structure to its base. You might think it is easier to say that all Christians are pillars of truth, but we aren't, because even without all of us supporting the truth, truth itself would still remain, but when you cut down a structure's pillars, the structure collapses. Pillar and foundation are both foundational terms: the Church as foundation is a part of the truth; to be a part of the truth is to be true; what is true cannot be false; ergo, the Church cannot be false. How do you answer that? I've asked you more than once without getting a response yet.

Ronnie said...

Ronnie: You must know the Old Covenant believers had the same Gospel as we do, that is the point being made in Hebrews 3&4 and Romans 3 & 4.

Adomnan. No, they didn't have the same gospel. They had vague presentiments of a coming Messiah, with some prophets having a clearer idea; but they did not believe in the gospel, because the gospel is the message that Christ died for our sins and rose for our justification. And no one believed in that until it happened.


Hebrews 4:1-2
1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.2For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

Romans 3:29-30
Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

Adomnan, they had the same gospel in types and shadows. Of course that means it wasn’t as explicit and clear, but it was the same gospel. The ritual, ordinances, and sacrifices all typified the messiah dying for their sins and being their only hope for life.
The rest of your comments about the improvement of the New Covenant is not in debate. Of course the New Covenant is better, but how does that cancel out that they had the same gospel, though in types and shadows? If they didn’t, then how could they be saved?

Dan Marcum said...

Ronnie said...
"Of course the New Covenant is better, but how does that cancel out that they had the same gospel, though in types and shadows?"


The point in dispute should not be whether or not they had the Gospel in types or shadows, but you just said "the New Covenant is better," which was his point: you may claim that the New Covenant has more glory, but you stop short of applying this to the new instution's trustworthiness as the fallible-or-infallible safeguarder of revelation. Under the Old Covenant God did not provide an infallible institution to safeguard the truth; is the New Covenant better in this respect, by providing us with an infallible institution, or not?

Ronnie said...

Ronnie: Adomnan, you are equivocating on Old Covenant. There is a difference between the Old Covenant = Old Testament Scriptures, and Old Covenant = Church during that time.

Adomnan: The "Old Covenant" is never used to refer to Israel, or what you call "the Old Covenant = Church." Rather, Israel is referred to as those who are "under the Law," the Law being the Old Covenant.

I wasn’t using it in a technical sense, but instead just stating that sometimes the things you say when referring to Old Covenant is properly attributed to the Old Covenant Church and other times when you use the phrase Old Covenant it is more properly referring to the Old Testament Scriptures. So I will try to be more specific and precise and I suggest you do the same.
“The law” is equal to the Old Covenant. The Law is a part of the Old Covenant, but the Old Covenant is also gracious and contains the gospel. The Old Testament contains the Old Covenant, but more than that. It contains historical books and other literature all chronicling God’s covenant people through salvation history.


Moreover, there was no Old Covenant Church. You are equivocating between the Church, which was founded by Jesus Christ during His lifetime, and Israel, the Jewish people, which was not the same thing as the Church.

They were a church, with church meaning the called out ones. They were not the Christian church, but a church nonetheless.


Ronnie: Now of course Paul is not saying everything about the Old Covenant is “weak” as much of it is still binding today. He is speaking of certain elements that were meant to be temporary until the Messiah arrived at just the right time.

Adomnan: Paul regarded the Old Covenant as weak as a whole, with its weak and beggarly elements. It's beside the point that some aspects of it were stronger than others. As a way of life, as a source of grace, it was weak.

"For the promise to Abraham and his descendants that he should inherit the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is those who live by the Law who will gian the inheritance, faith is worthless and the promise is without force, for the Law produces nothing but God's retribution, and it si only where there is no Law that it is possible to live without breaking the Law." (Rom 4:13-15)

The Law, the Old Covenant was weak, weakened by the flesh. It could not do what Christ did:

"What the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do, God did, sending His own Son..." (Rom 8:3)

We are freed from the weak written code of the Old Covenant:

"But now we are released from the Law, having died to what was binding us, and so we are in a new service, that of the Spirit, and not in the old service of a written code." (Rom 7:6)

So, yes, Paul taught that the Old Covenant was weak, as a whole, not just its transitory aspects. (And there is no distinction between the Old Covenant and the Jewish Law.)

You are conflating law with Old Covenant. Let me ask you this. If no one can be saved by the law, and the Old Covenant is equal to the law how were the Old Covenant believers saved?

Dan Marcum said...

Ronnie said...
"Let me ask you this. If no one can be saved by the law, and the Old Covenant is equal to the law how were the Old Covenant believers saved?"


At the risk of answering for him, I think he meant something along the lines of what it says in 1 Peter 3:19-20 + 4:6 - "[Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey... this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God."

They didn't have the gospel explicit to them. They might have had it in types and shadows, but those which never saw it in the types and shadows were still presented with the gospel explicitly. This they did not have before; and as Scripture says, "this was because God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:40)

Ronnie said...


Ronnie said...
"Of course the New Covenant is better, but how does that cancel out that they had the same gospel, though in types and shadows?"

Dan said …
The point in dispute should not be whether or not they had the Gospel in types or shadows, but you just said "the New Covenant is better," which was his point: you may claim that the New Covenant has more glory, but you stop short of applying this to the new instution's trustworthiness as the fallible-or-infallible safeguarder of revelation.

Dan, sorry I haven’t been responding to your posts, but I was trying to limit my interaction. Since Dave and Adomnan were the brains beyond this post I was focused on them.
Well their having the gospel is in dispute, even though I don’t understand why. The scriptures are clear that they had it in Hebrews 4.

Dan continues …
Under the Old Covenant God did not provide an infallible institution to safeguard the truth; is the New Covenant better in this respect, by providing us with an infallible institution, or not?

Aaah, but Catholics claim an infallible institution is necessary. If as you are saying it was not required under the Old Covenant dispensation then why must it be required under the New Covenant? Now you may want to argue that it is this way, but you can’t argue that is necessary to guard or support the truth.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie, quoting Hebrews 4:2; "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did."

Adomnan: As you know, the word gospel (euangelion) simply means good news in Greek. The author of Hebrews is not referring to the good news of Jesus Christ being preached to those OT people, but rather to the good news of the Promised Land. Both Christians and these Hebrews heard good news, but it was not the same good news.

Moreover, the original Greek does not refer to "the gospel preached to us." The Greek uses a verb meaning "informed of good news." There is no definite noun "the gospel" in the original. The original "esmen euengelismenoi kathaper kakeinoi" means "we have been informed of good news as they had been," not literally "we had the gospel preached to us, just as they did." I'm not saying this latter translation is flat-out wrong, but it is misleading if taken to mean that the same gospel was preached to both groups, which the Greek in no way implies.

The gist of the passage is that we should not neglect the good news we heard, as those Hebrews neglected the (different) good news they heard.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie, citing Romans 3:30: "who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith."

Adomnan: Paul is speaking of the current situation; that is, now that Christ has come, the same faith in Christ will justify both Jews and Gentiles. Note that Paul writes "will justify," and so he is not speaking of the past, of the Old Covenant. By the way, the word "same" used in the phrase "that same faith" doesn't occur in the Greek.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: They were a church, with church meaning the called out ones. They were not the Christian church, but a church nonetheless.

Adomnan: If you want to use the word "church" to describe Israel, I suppose there's no law against it. However, I reiterate that the word is an equivocation, because it confuses Christ's church with Israel. You apparently think they should be confused, and I don't.

Ronnie: The ritual, ordinances, and sacrifices all typified the messiah dying for their sins and being their only hope for life.

Adomnan: I disagree. The Christians saw the fulfillment of Old Testament sacrifice in Christ's sacrifice, because naturally they understood "sacrifice" as the Hebrews did. However, for the Hebrews themselves, the purpose of their sacrifices was not to foreshadow the Messiah, but to expiate sin.

As the Letter to the Hebrews makes clear, both the Hebrew sacrifices and the sacrifice of Christ were reflections of the ideal heavenly sacrifice, with Christ's sacrifice being a perfect earthly enactment of it that took away sins permanently. The OT sacrifices anticipated Christ's sacrifice only in that they were reflections of the heavenly archetype of sacrifice. But their intended purpose was to expiate present sin, not to foreshadow future events, as the Letter to the Hebrews explains.

Dan Marcum said...

Ronnie said...
Well their having the gospel is in dispute, even though I don’t understand why. The scriptures are clear that they had it in Hebrews 4.


They had it in type and foreshadow. Those that didn't pick up on that, had it revealed to them explicitly by Jesus in the underworld. Doesn't that close the case?

Ronnie said...
Dan said...
is the New Covenant better in this respect, by providing us with an infallible institution, or not?


Aaah, but Catholics claim an infallible institution is necessary. If as you are saying it was not required under the Old Covenant dispensation then why must it be required under the New Covenant?

The fallible system was not a good enough safeguard against error. Hence in the New Covenant Christ built His institution to be infallible, to be truth's foundation.

I'd also like your thoughts on my syllogism. I'll repeat it here so you don't have to go searching:

1. The Church as foundation of truth means the Church is a part of truth.
2. To be a part of the truth is to be true.
3. What is true cannot be false.
4. Therefore the Church cannot be false.

RD Miksa said...

I think that if anything this entire comment section points—in the sense of the disagreement that so many have when arguing solely from scripture in good faith—to a further argument against sola scriptura:

1A. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33);

2A. If Protestants are confused, then God is not the author of Protestantism;

3A. Protestant are confused (see Dave’s post about 18 key doctrinal issues that Protestants cannot resolve, thus sowing confusion);

4A. Therefore, God is not the author of Protestantism.

Furthermore:

1B. If sola scriptura is the cause of Protestant confusion, then God is not the author of sola scriptura;

2B. Sola Scriptura is the cause of Protestant confusion;

3B. Therefore, God is not the author of sola scriptura;

4B. Therefore, sola scriptura is necessarily false.

Thoughts?

RD Miksa
radosmiksa.blogspot.com
theargumentfromevolution.blogspot.com

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: You are conflating law with Old Covenant. Let me ask you this. If no one can be saved by the law, and the Old Covenant is equal to the law how were the Old Covenant believers saved?

Adomnan: Yes. I conflate the Old Covenant and the Law. The gospel was preached in the Law in a veiled and anticipatory way, but OT believers were not expected to believe in it, and few (if any) did. Their faith, like ours, was a readiness to believe in what God had revealed clearly, as Abraham did. But the content of our belief and theirs is different because God had not revealed to them what He has revealed to us. Remember, the Gospel is essentially the good news that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It was not there to believe in until it happened.

Old Covenant believers weren't "saved" in the sense of being born of the water and the Spirit, dying and rising with Christ in baptism. They had no baptism, and so they had no Christian salvation.

That is why "[Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey... this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh in accordance with (kata) men, they might live in the spirit in accordance (kata) with God."

So, the Old Testament believers, though they had been "judged in the flesh," had not begun to "live in the Spirit" until Christ preached the gospel to them "in prison."

Thanks, Dan Marcum, for locating that passage from I Peter. That's precisely what I had in mind.

Ronnie said...


Ronnie, quoting Hebrews 4:2; "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did."

Adomnan: As you know, the word gospel (euangelion) simply means good news in Greek. The author of Hebrews is not referring to the good news of Jesus Christ being preached to those OT people, but rather to the good news of the Promised Land. Both Christians and these Hebrews heard good news, but it was not the same good news.

Adomnan, the promise land was a type of the eternal rest that all believers have in Christ. The author of Hebrews is not talking about the physical land of Canaan, but the eternal rest. Notice in the following verses the author speaks of this rest still being available today for those who join the hearing of the message with faith. He also says if you believe you enter that rest! Of course you don’t enter Canaan land by believing, right? Instead the Scriptures over and over communicates we are saved by believing.

Hebrews 4:1-3
“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3Now we who have believed enter that rest…”

Also if you keep reading a few verses later the author makes it clear that he is not talking about the physical earthly land when he says the following:

Hebrews 4:8-11
8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

So you see those that entered the Canaan land with Joshua did not receive the rest that the author is talking about. This rest is for the people of God who believe the Gospel. Old Covenant believers were saved by faith in Christ and the promises of God, even though Christ and the promises were given to them in types and shadows.

Is it official Catholic teaching that Old Covenant believers did not have the same Gospel as we do, even in types and shadows?

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: Adomnan, the promise land was a type of the eternal rest that all believers have in Christ.

Adomnan: If you want to think that belief in the promised land and belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead are the same thing, well, what can I say? They're obviously not.

Ronnie: The author of Hebrews is not talking about the physical land of Canaan, but the eternal rest. Notice in the following verses the author speaks of this rest still being available today for those who join the hearing of the message with faith. He also says if you believe you enter that rest!

Adomnan: The author of Hebrews does an allegorical or typological reading of the Biblical text in applying it to his audience, but he is not suggesting that the ancient Hebrews understood the promised land as "eternal rest." In fact, the ancient Hebrews had quite vague ideas about the afterlife and the sense in which it would be an eternal rest.

In any event, you are evading the essential point, which is that I showed that the Greek does not provide any basis for suggesting that the same gospel was preached to them and us.

Ronnie: He also says if you believe you enter that rest! Of course you don’t enter Canaan land by believing, right?

Adomnan: He's making an allegorical application, and a rather beautiful one at that, of the OT passage to his audience. He is not suggesting that the OT people involved thought the promised land was a spiritual rest.

The author of Hebrews also thinks that the promise to enter Canaan wasn't fulfilled, except for Joshua and Caleb. That's why he writes that it still remains to be fulfilled and so applies it to Christians. However, this is no way implies that the promise was understood in the same sense under the Old and New Covenants. It's an allegorical, not a literal, reading of scripture.

Ronnie, quoting Hebrews 4:8: "For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day."

Adomnan: This "speaking later about another day" is a reference to Psalm 95:11. So, the author of Hebrews apparently sees the original passage coupled with the psalm as having relevance for Christians. Thus, he is not commenting on the original passage alone or its meaning to the people involved.

Ronnie: This rest is for the people of God who believe the Gospel. Old Covenant believers were saved by faith in Christ and the promises of God, even though Christ and the promises were given to them in types and shadows.

Adomnan: It is rather absurd for you to draw this sweeping conclusion from a rather obscure, allegorical text. There is absolutely no suggestion in Hebrews that the people in Moses' day, or Moses himself, thought this "rest in the promised land" was understood to mean being "saved by faith in Christ and the promises of God."

Talk about a stretch!

If someone else wants to take up this surreal discussion of whether the Chosen People's aspiration to reach the promised land was the same thing as belief in the Gospel of Christ, please feel free. I think I'm done.

Ronnie: Is it official Catholic teaching that Old Covenant believers did not have the same Gospel as we do, even in types and shadows?

Adomnan: Yes, it is official teaching that they weren't "saved" and so I suppose you would say they "did not have the same Gospel as we do."

This is from the Catholic Catechism:

"633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, 'hell' -- Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek -- because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer.....Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him."

Dave Armstrong said...

how can you say in the next breath that the Church is the foundation of the same Scriptures

I didn't say that. I said that the Church is the foundation of truth, which is what the Bible says.

Ronnie said...


Dan said:
The fallible system was not a good enough safeguard against error. Hence in the New Covenant Christ built His institution to be infallible, to be truth's foundation.

Well, the fallible system seems to have less heresy than the infallible system. So I’m not sure how it has worked so much better in that regard. Furthermore, if the purpose of the infallible institution was to prevent error why wasn’t it even dogmatically defined until ~1900 years after the church? And there were many opportunities to define it as there were many disputes, schisms, and heresies? So it doesn’t follow that it was given to protect the church from error and there was no official teaching of this crucial doctrine during the time when there were many errors.

Dan continues ..
I'd also like your thoughts on my syllogism. I'll repeat it here so you don't have to go searching:

1. The Church as foundation of truth means the Church is a part of truth.
2. To be a part of the truth is to be true.
3. What is true cannot be false.
4. Therefore the Church cannot be false.

I don’t think syllogism is valid, as you are committing some fallacies.

First, begging the question on the meaning of foundation. Second, a foundation of something doesn’t mean it is a part of that thing. Even if the church is infallible that doesn’t make it a part of the truth that makes it an infallible witness to truth.

Ronnie said...


I said:
how can you say in the next breath that the Church is the foundation of the same Scriptures

Dave responded:
I didn't say that. I said that the Church is the foundation of truth, which is what the Bible says.

Yes, but isn’t the Scriptures the primary source of the truth in church’s possession? So if this verse is not referring to the Scriptures then what truth is the church the foundation of? And yes, I know what the Bible literally says, but we are discussing what it means .

Dan Marcum said...

Ronnie said...
"Well, the fallible system seems to have less heresy than the infallible system."


You have to see that this is begging the question. If there is anything infallible besides the Word of God, then that at least disproves Sola-Scriptura.

Furthermore, if the purpose of the infallible institution was to prevent error why wasn’t it even dogmatically defined until ~1900 years after the church?

Dogmas aren't defined until denied by arguments that actually convince people to leave the Church. In the early Church, heretics argued that infallible authority had been given to themselves, not that
infallible authority was gone.

(Witness the gnostics, who claimed a secret private revelation, or the Montanists, who claimed a divinely inspired prophet; or, read the whole "History of Heresies" by St. Alphonsus of Liguori, at http://goo.gl/OtM8)

So what good would it have done them to define the Church as infallible, since the heretics admitted the same and called themselves the true Church. It mattered not to argue that the true Church was infallible, but, which is the true Church, that founded by the Apostles or that founded by later men? And this they did define, hence the Council of Nicaea declared that the Roman Church was first in jurisdiction and honor. (Canons 6 and 7)

Dan said...
1. The Church as foundation of truth means the Church is a part of truth.
2. To be a part of the truth is to be true.
3. What is true cannot be false.
4. Therefore the Church cannot be false.

Ronnie replied...
I don’t think syllogism is valid, as you are committing some fallacies.

First, begging the question on the meaning of foundation. Second, a foundation of something doesn’t mean it is a part of that thing.
Both of your objections are about the word foundation. Without its foundation, any structure collapses. Can you think of any more basic meaning or usage of "foundation" than this? Probably not. I think that's standard fare.

Truth has a foundation. If the foundation of truth collapses, nothing true will stand. There's no getting around that: the conclusion that the Church cannot collapse re: the truth is also inescapable. This is the same thing as infallibility. See where I'm coming from?

Ronnie said...


Ronnie: Adomnan, the promise land was a type of the eternal rest that all believers have in Christ.

Adomnan: If you want to think that belief in the promised land and belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead are the same thing, well, what can I say? They're obviously not.

I’m not sure if to take you serious on this point. Of course I’m not saying belief in the promised land is the same as “belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead”. I’m saying the promised land was a type of the eternal rest they should seek in God, which is analogous to heaven. Now when dealing with the gospel under the Old Covenant it was presented as types and shadows in different forms. At some points more clear than others and at different points in salvation history with more detail.

Christ was first preached as the Savior immediately after the fall when God promised a Seed that would crush Satan’s head. From that point on God’s people were to hope and trust in this coming Seed. The picture kept getting clearer as salvation history progressed. God made promises to Abraham about a Seed, and as Paul confirms in Galatians that Seed was Christ! All the sacrificial animals and the rituals for covering of sin were pointing to their need of a sacrifice to take away their sins. They needed a Passover Lamb, they needed a sacrifice. Their hope of entering a land of rest was only another part of the Gospel that they had heard in conjunction with the other pieces from salvation history. As the Apostle Peter explained in Acts 2 in reference to David:

“Seeing what was ahead,he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay”

David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ!! And what of the prophet Isaiah prophesying in great detail the passion of Christ for his people. But if you don’t agree with any of the above can you disagree with the Lord? Here is what He said to the disciples on the Emmaus road:

Luke 24:44-47
44He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

I don’t think it is a tenable position to argue the Old Covenant people did not have the same gospel that we do, even though it was in types and shadows.

Dave Armstrong said...

So if this verse is not referring to the Scriptures then what truth is the church the foundation of?

Truth is its own entity. It is not identical with Scripture. "2+2=4" is true. To say that I exist and that I am not you, and that a square is not a circle,or Detroit, Los Angeles, are all truths. Truth is that which actually is; fact, certitudes.

And I am the one who is supposedly eisegeting?

Dan Marcum said...

Dave:

Earlier in the conversation I pointed out these passages re: truth and Scripture. Maybe they'll help with your tallying and percentaging.

There are several places where Scripture is referred to as truth: Psalms 119:160, 119:43, 2 Tim. 2:15, Acts 28:25, 2 Peter 2:22, Daniel 10:21.

Dave Armstrong said...

But to play along a bit, when Paul uses the word "truth" he is mostly referring to tradition, and/or the gospel, fuller new covenant Christian revelation, etc. (e.g., Eph 1:13; Col 1:5; 2 Thess 2:10-13; Titus 1:1). He does this in chapters before and after 1 Timothy 3:15 (2:4 and 4:3).

Cf. 2 Timothy 2:18, 25; 3:7-8; 4:4; Rom 2:8; 2 Cor 4:2; 11:10; 13:8; Gal 5:7.

In none of these instances is Scripture mentioned in the immediate context. In a few cases it occurs about 8-10 verses away.

Conclusion: when "truth" is used in Scripture it almost always stands for something other than Scripture. I did a search for "truth / "Scripture" and "true" / "Scripture" within 80 characters of each other in the NT and got no results.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/r/rsv/prox.html

In the OT there is some correlation between "true" or "truth" and "word" (of God, of the Lord), but in almost all cases it is certainly or likely or at least as plausible to interpret this "word" as a prophetic or otherwise oral proclamation, not the written word (e.g., Deut 18:22; 2 Sam 7:28; 1 Ki 17:24; Ps 141:6; Prov 30:5; Dan 10:1).

I found a few passages that mention "true" or "truth" and seem to refer wholly or primarily to written Scripture: Ps 119:160 ("Word"); Neh 9:13; Ps 19:9 ("ordinances"); Ps 119:142 ("law").

But the fact remains that in the NT, truth is far more associated with oral proclamation / tradition, not Holy Scripture.

That ain't to say that Scripture isn't true; it is simply more biblical evidence (of an endless array) of the Catholic three-legged stool notion of authority.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks, Dan. Some observations: I would say that 2 Tim 2:15: "the word of truth" is not necessarily confined to written Scripture. "Truth" three verses later refers to orthodox Christian tradition that Hymenae'us and Phile'tus have strayed from.

Acts 28:25 is good in that it has Paul citing the OT as inspired by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 2:22 is a citation of OT Scripture.

Daniel 10:21 is an interesting passage: "But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince."

Thanks again for noting these.

Like I said in my last comment,: Catholics aren't denying the truth of Scripture. Far from it. But we are saying that truth and tradition are categories large than only Scripture.

Ronnie said...


I said:
So if this verse is not referring to the Scriptures then what truth is the church the foundation of?


Dave responded:
Truth is its own entity. It is not identical with Scripture. "2+2=4" is true. To say that I exist and that I am not you, and that a square is not a circle,or Detroit, Los Angeles, are all truths. Truth is that which actually is; fact, certitudes.

And I am the one who is supposedly eisegeting?

Dave, I am quite aware that truth is not identical with the Scriptures as some of the example that you gave. As a matter of fact I consider this response from you when I ask the question. However, I’m also aware that the Roman Catholic Church only considers itself infallible with issues pertaining to faith and morals, therefore I assumed you were not talking about truth such as “2 + 2 = 4”.

Oh, BTW I wasn’t even attempting to exegete/eisegeting the Scripture I was just asking you a further question about your exegesis.

mac said...

it seems hard to believe that the church is infallible, in light of the abuses throughout the ages. starting recently with the abusive priest and the churches decision to " keep it quit and avoid scandal", How about the decision that they could sell absolution to assure ones place in heaven? or that it was OK to torture and burn at the stake heretics and scientists who said that the earth was not the center of the universe? , in spite of the fact that Jesus taught non-violence and to turn the other cheek at the point of death himself? Or maybe there decision in the middle ages that only single men can priest and they must be celibate, even though many bishops and priest including the apostles were married and had children? hmmm should i go on? no i guess that is enough for now

Dave Armstrong said...

I was just asking you a further question about your exegesis.

If you're so interested in that, there is my post, that goes into it in excruciating detail. So go pick that apart, point-by-point, and show where it went astray (and I know you think you have already done some of that). But you know my policy of not debating with anti-Catholics, so I can only go so far with this.

Nothing is ever accomplished by it. I tried for 12 years online. The dialogues are still posted for all to see what happened. It's always the same. We already went through it in this thread. Ships passing in the night.

Generally (I will say this, since it occurs to me at the moment), not every jot and tittle of a view has to be present in any biblical passage that one might cite in support of a view. The Bible was not written in rigorously logical, rationalistic terms, but from the practical, concrete Hebrew worldview. We often wrongly impose later thought-categories onto it.

I would say that Paul, however, often seems to think in Greek categories as well as Hebrew, but in this instance, his is simply a proverbial sort of observation about truth that was not intended to either anticipate or foretell the fine distinctions of the infallibility discussion.

I exegeted it with that in mind, by examining what a foundation is, and what the thrust of the word-picture seems to be implying: by entering into the biblical thought-world, not imposing post-Enlightenment rationalism onto the Bible.

The proof remains elegantly simple, and remarkably successful, I think: truth is truth. It contains no error; it is infallible. Therefore, the foundation of it (and a foundation is part of a thing, too, remember, just as the basement of my house is part of my house; not separate from it) has to also be infallible.

Dave Armstrong said...

it was OK to . . . burn at the stake heretics and scientists who said that the earth was not the center of the universe?

Who was burned at the stake for asserting heliocentrism and denying geocentrism? Please inform.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: I’m not sure if to take you serious on this point. Of course I’m not saying belief in the promised land is the same as “belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead”.

Adomnan: Good. I'm glad you clarified that. Because when you write that "Old Covenant believers were saved by faith in Christ," what is one supposed to think you are saying?

Faith in Christ means faith that He died for our sins and was raised for our resurrection. What else could it mean? The Christian "good news" is a very specific messasge, a message of something that has come to pass, not simply a vague promise that God will someday intervene in human affairs.

You say people in the Old Covenant believed in the gospel in "types and shadows." But types are not seen as such until they're fulfilled. No one in the Old Covenant thought of the sacrificial system as a mere "type" of something that would occur in the future, and Old Covenant sacrifices did actually expiate sin when they were performed. They did not merely remind people that a Messiah would come some day and expiate sin.

At any rate, that's what the Epistle to the Hebrews says: "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience of dead works to serve the living God?"

The author of Hebrews thus supposes that the Old Covenant sacrifies were effective in themselves and did indeed purify, although they did not take away sin permanently, as Christ's sacrifice does, and so had to be repeated regularly.

(By the way, Hebrews, to return for a moment to our underlying discussion about the "weakness" of the Old Covenant, is full of statements stressing how weak the Old Covenant was in comparison with the New.)

But back to "types": An Old Covenant type was not something consciously seen as a type at that time, but only in retrospect. And what makes it a type is not so much that it anticipates something that will occur in the New Covenant, but rather that both the Old Covenant occurrences (sacrifices in this case) and the New Covenant fulfillment are instances of an eternal, heavenly archetype.

This is how Hebrews explains it: "(The priests) maintain the service only of a model or a reflection of the heavenly realities; just as Moses, when he had the Tent to build, was warned by God who said: 'See that you work to the design that was shown you on the mountain.'" (Heb 8:5)

In short, then, the Old Covenant believers did not believe in "types or foreshadowings." These things can not be the basis of faith. They rise to level of revelation only for us, who have seen their fulfillment. They did believe, as Hebrews 11 explains, in promises made by God to be fulfilled in the future, but only to the extent of what God had revealed. And God had never revealed to them anything as specific as the gospel of Christ. If He had, they would already have been baptising into Christ's death and resurrection in the Old Covenant.

Adomnan said...

Mac: It seems hard to believe that the church is infallible, in light of the abuses throughout the ages.

Adomnan: Did Jesus not choose twelve apostles, and one of them betrayed him? I don't agree with your list of abuses, but even if there were abuses -- and there were of course some -- that would not prove anything about the infallibility of the Church. Besides, you're confusing infallibility -- the impossibility of teaching error -- with impeccability -- the impossibility of sinning.

If one assesses the historical contribution of the Church, even just to civilization and Western culture, it far outways any abuses. Without the Catholic Church, and more specifically the Papacy, Europe (and America) would be nothing, at the most a mere appendage to a Muslim khalifate.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Adomnan,

You said...

...Old Covenant sacrifices did actually expiate sin when they were performed. They did not merely remind people that a Messiah would come some day and expiate sin.

At any rate, that's what the Epistle to the Hebrews says: "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience of dead works to serve the living God?"


What would you say is the difference, if any, between "the purifying of the flesh" as seen in the OT, and "the purging of one's conscience of dead works" in the NT? If they are two different things, does this suggest that the OT sacrifices were incomplete? If the OT sacrifices were incomplete, how, in fact, could they have expiated sin?

Thanks,

PA

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronnie said...


But to play along a bit, when Paul uses the word "truth" he is mostly referring to tradition, and/or the gospel, fuller new covenant Christian revelation, etc. (e.g., Eph 1:13; Col 1:5; 2 Thess 2:10-13; Titus 1:1). He does this in chapters before and after 1 Timothy 3:15 (2:4 and 4:3).

Cf. 2 Timothy 2:18, 25; 3:7-8; 4:4; Rom 2:8; 2 Cor 4:2; 11:10; 13:8; Gal 5:7.

In none of these instances is Scripture mentioned in the immediate context. In a few cases it occurs about 8-10 verses away.

Conclusion: when "truth" is used in Scripture it almost always stands for something other than Scripture. I did a search for "truth / "Scripture" and "true" / "Scripture" within 80 characters of each other in the NT and got no results.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/r/rsv/prox.html

OK, for the sake of argument I will not dispute anything you are saying here, but going back to the original line of questions.

If you are saying the truth of 1 Tim. 3:15 consist of “tradition, and/or the gospel, fuller new covenant Christian revelation” then what is the source of this truth besides the Apostles and Prophets? Don’t Catholics believe all infallible Traditions originated from the Apostles? If that is true then we are back to square to my original query with just a minor adjustment that really doesn’t change anything. Here it is:

Since you are agreeing with Calvin that the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets which is their teaching whether by mouth or letter, then how can you say in the next breath that the Church is the foundation of the same truth(i.e. tradition, gospel, and new revelation they taught) without a nuance definition of foundation in one or the other verses? Furthermore, Paul states in 1 Cor. 3:11 that “…no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid …”.

I’m interesting in how you break out of this circular dependency?

Ronnie said...

Adomnan,

I'm interested in your response to the following from above:

In Acts 2 the Apostle Peter says David in Psalm 16 was talking about the resurrection of Christ:

“Seeing what was ahead,he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay”

David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ!! And what of the prophet Isaiah prophesying in great detail the passion of Christ for his people. But if you don’t agree with any of the above can you disagree with the Lord? Here is what He said to the disciples on the Emmaus road:

Luke 24:44-47
44He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: In Acts 2 the Apostle Peter says David in Psalm 16 was talking about the resurrection of Christ:

“Seeing what was ahead,he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay”

David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ!!

Adomnan: The relevant part of Psalm 16 is the following: "So my heart rejoices, my soul delights, my body too will rest secure, for you will not abandon me to Sheol, you cannot allow your faithful servant to see the abyss. You will teach me the path of life, unbounded joy in your presence, at your right hand delight forever."

Now, clearly Peter saw this psalm as messianic, and -- after Christ's resurrection! -- saw it as a prophecy of the resurrection. Are you contending that Jews of David's time would have understood the psalm in this way, before the resurrection? And are you contending that, to be "saved," they would have to have interpreted the psalm as Peter did? That strikes me as absurd on the face of it.

But, fine, let's suppose for the sake of argument that David, and other Jews who were his contemporaries, had to believe this was a prophecy of the resurrection of the future Messiah, and so believe in the gospel of Christ. Well, what about all the Jews prior to this crystal-clear prophecy, prior to David? They didn't have any information about the resurrection, because this prophecy had not yet been revealed, and so how were they "saved"?

Ronnie: And what of the prophet Isaiah prophesying in great detail the passion of Christ for his people.

Adomnan: Some Jews before Christ did indeed understand Isaiah's prophecy of the Suffering Servant to be Messianic, as Dave has pointed out on this blog. However, surely you are not suggesting that an Old Covenant Jew HAD to give a Messianic interpretation to Isaiah 53 to be "saved"?

There is a deeper issue, though, which I have pointed out a number of times and now need to emphasize. Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Christ justifies only because it culminates in baptism. Justifying faith is baptismal faith, the faith that is acted out by being baptised. Paul says as much in Romans 6, when it becomes clear that all his talk about faith was talk about baptism. And, as Paul says in Rom 10:9, referring to the confession of faith made at baptism, "If you confess with your lips 'Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Paul also makes this indissolubility of faith and baptism plain in Gal 3:26-27: "For all of you are the children of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, since every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ."

No baptism, no faith in Christ. The Old Covenant people had no baptism.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: But if you don’t agree with any of the above can you disagree with the Lord? Here is what He said to the disciples on the Emmaus road:

Luke 24:44-47
44He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Adomnan: I am, of course, not denying that there were prophecies of the coming Messiah, and even -- in Isaiah at least and the psalms, if interpreted messianically -- prophecies that He would suffer. However, all of this became clear only after it happened. Even in this case, after the resurrection, Jesus had "to open their minds so they could understand the scripture." Thus, it was only after He explained it to them -- and after His resurrection -- that the messianic import of these OT passages became clear. Old Covenant believers were not expected to know this or believe this, even if a few had prophetic intimations of it.

You seem to be implying that all prophecies of the Messiah -- even if they could easily be interpreted in other ways -- had to be immediately understood as we understand them (in the wake of their fulfillment) for someone in the Old Covenant to be "saved." (I put "saved" in quotes because salvation in the Christian sense wasn't even entertained as a concept under the Old Covenant -- well, okay, maybe occasionally as an eschatological eventuality in prophecy. Your reading is woefully anachronistic.)

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: What would you say is the difference, if any, between "the purifying of the flesh" as seen in the OT, and "the purging of one's conscience of dead works" in the NT? If they are two different things, does this suggest that the OT sacrifices were incomplete? If the OT sacrifices were incomplete, how, in fact, could they have expiated sin?

Adomnan: Certainly they are two different things. The "purifying of the flesh" was an expedient, a measure to cleanse sin temporarily (and frequently) until a more perfect and permanent sacrifice replaced it.

I didn't use the word "incomplete," although,yes, I suppose you can say they were incomplete. Nevertheless,they were effective in doing what they were intended to do. Hebrews accepts that they were good as far as they went, though they could not deal with sin at the level of inner consciousness and put that right permanently. It was what the Law prescribed for atonement for the period of operation of the Old Covenant.

Now, these sacrifices were "weak," as the Old Covenant was weak; but they were not a nullity.

The essential thing about the sacrifice of the New Covenant is that it doesn't only cleanse sin, it imparts the Holy Spirit. This is the purification of the conscience of which Hebrews speaks.

You'll recall that I don't regard Old Covenant believers as "saved" until Christ's descent into Sheol to bring them to heaven. So, the "incompleteness" of OT sacrifices is not a problem for me.

Ronnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronnie said...


Ronnie: In Acts 2 the Apostle Peter says David in Psalm 16 was talking about the resurrection of Christ:

“Seeing what was ahead,he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay”

David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ!!

Adomnan: The relevant part of Psalm 16 is the following: "So my heart rejoices, my soul delights, my body too will rest secure, for you will not abandon me to Sheol, you cannot allow your faithful servant to see the abyss. You will teach me the path of life, unbounded joy in your presence, at your right hand delight forever."

Now, clearly Peter saw this psalm as messianic, and -- after Christ's resurrection! -- saw it as a prophecy of the resurrection. Are you contending that Jews of David's time would have understood the psalm in this way, before the resurrection? And are you contending that, to be "saved," they would have to have interpreted the psalm as Peter did? That strikes me as absurd on the face of it.
But, fine, let's suppose for the sake of argument that David, and other Jews who were his contemporaries, had to believe this was a prophecy of the resurrection of the future Messiah, and so believe in the gospel of Christ. Well, what about all the Jews prior to this crystal-clear prophecy, prior to David? They didn't have any information about the resurrection, because this prophecy had not yet been revealed, and so how were they "saved"?

Here is a previous quote from me in this thread:

“Adomnan, they had the same gospel in types and shadows. Of course that means it wasn’t as explicit and clear, but it was the same gospel. The ritual, ordinances, and sacrifices all typified the messiah dying for their sins and being their only hope for life. “

As salvation history progressed the gospel picture became more explicit and clearer as we see in Moses vs Abraham or Isaiah vs Moses. So the Jews at every period was responsible for believing the gospel as it was revealed. The essence of the Gospel is to believe in God’s Messiah as your savior to be made right with God. One becomes responsible for believing in more specifics as more is given(i.e. progressive revelation), which is something Catholics often claim for their dogmas( e.g. Marian dogmas ) so it shouldn’t be something you object to. So no, not everyone believed in the specifics of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as we know it, but neither was that required in order for one to be believing in the Gospel in its essence(i.e. God’s Messiah as the savior).

So yes, Old Covenant believers were saved. Romans 4 makes this abundantly clear in reference to Abraham and David. Now of course they had not received the full benefits of their salvation(e.g. ascension into heaven), but we too have not received the full benefits of our salvation until the consummation at Christ’s return when our redemption will be complete.


Ronnie: And what of the prophet Isaiah prophesying in great detail the passion of Christ for his people.

Adomnan: Some Jews before Christ did indeed understand Isaiah's prophecy of the Suffering Servant to be Messianic, as Dave has pointed out on this blog. However, surely you are not suggesting that an Old Covenant Jew HAD to give a Messianic interpretation to Isaiah 53 to be "saved"?


No, I’m not saying that they had to interpret this text exactly that way to be saved, because they could have believe the gospel of their Messiah based on other teachings. However, I am saying they had to believe the gospel of their coming Messiah and this the same gospel that was preached to us( Hebrews 4 ).

Ronnie said...


Adomnan said:
There is a deeper issue, though, which I have pointed out a number of times and now need to emphasize. Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Christ justifies only because it culminates in baptism.

This could really lead us down a rabbit trail discussing justification. Though I would love to do that this is just demanding too much time. However, let me say this. This maybe Catholic theology, but it is definitely not biblical theology. There are too many instances of individuals being justified/saved in the Scripture without baptism.


Adomnan continues …
Justifying faith is baptismal faith, the faith that is acted out by being baptised. Paul says as much in Romans 6, when it becomes clear that all his talk about faith was talk about baptism. And, as Paul says in Rom 10:9, referring to the confession of faith made at baptism, "If you confess with your lips 'Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

How could this be so when Paul says Abraham and the Jews of the Old Covenant were justified by faith, and this is the same faith as the Gentiles?


Paul also makes this indissolubility of faith and baptism plain in Gal 3:26-27: "For all of you are the children of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, since every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ."

No baptism, no faith in Christ. The Old Covenant people had no baptism.

As the Samaritan woman at the well told Jesus:

25The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
26Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

So their faith in the coming Messiah was faith in Christ. Water baptism is not a necessary or sufficient condition for one to have true justifying faith in Christ.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: Adomnan, they had the same gospel in types and shadows. Of course that means it wasn’t as explicit and clear, but it was the same gospel.

Adomnan: But I disagree. The Christian gospel is the specific message that Christ died for our sins and rose for our justification. That is what is called "the good news." Many Old Covenant people believed that a Messiah would come, but this hope -- it was really more hope than faith -- was not the same as the Christian Gospel.

Ronnie: The ritual, ordinances, and sacrifices all typified the messiah dying for their sins and being their only hope for life.

Adomnan: Absolutely not. The Jews did not carry out an elaborate and expensive temple ritual simply as a symbolic enactment of future events. The sacrifices were seen as expiating sins themselves, not because they foretold a coming Messiah. Hebrews makes this clear. They are types for us, as I explained, but that is in retrospect because we see them fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ. That was not how the Jews viewed them.

Nowhere in the OT is the purpose of the sacrifices described as foreshadowing something the Messiah would do. In Isaiah 53, the saving act of the Suffering Servant is assimilated to a particular kind of sacrifice (the sin offering), but that doesn't in any way imply that all sacrifices were seen in their time as typifying or foretelling this sacrifice.

Ronnie: As salvation history progressed the gospel picture became more explicit and clearer as we see in Moses vs Abraham or Isaiah vs Moses. So the Jews at every period was responsible for believing the gospel as it was revealed.

Adomnan: But that's my whole point. They were responsible for believing what was revealed, but if the gospel was revealed progressively, then obviously the earlier belief was not identifical with the later belief, because their content varied. "Sufficient to the day are the revelations thereof."

Ronnie: The essence of the Gospel is to believe in God’s Messiah as your savior to be made right with God.

Adomnan: No. I don't accept that the Christian "good news" is an essence. It is a specific message, a specific item, if you will, of news; namely, that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose for our justification. The Old Covenant had hope for a coming Messiah, but they did not have faith in an event that had not yet occurred.

Ronnie: One becomes responsible for believing in more specifics as more is given(i.e. progressive revelation), which is something Catholics often claim for their dogmas( e.g. Marian dogmas ) so it shouldn’t be something you object to.

Adomnan: If we have the gift of faith, we will believe everything that God has revealed, including the Marian dogmas. However, though they must be believed as revealed, these other dogmas are not "the Gospel."

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: So yes, Old Covenant believers were saved. Romans 4 makes this abundantly clear in reference to Abraham and David.

Adomnan: I don't believe that Abraham and David are ever referred to as "saved." Salvation is a Christian concept. They were righteous men, and so justified, but their justification was not the same thing as Christian justification, because Christian justification includes not only forgiveness of sins (Rom 4:7, of David: "Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven"), but union with Christ through the Holy Spirit, which Abraham and David did not have.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: However, let me say this. This maybe Catholic theology, but it is definitely not biblical theology. There are too many instances of individuals being justified/saved in the Scripture without baptism.

Adomnan: No one in the NT is ever described as being saved without baptism. The counterexamples given don't hold up. These include:

-- The good thief on the cross: Christian baptism is into the death and resurrection of Christ. Evidently, there was no baptism before Christ died and was resurrected. Therefore, the good thief was still under the Old Covenant, and was promised bliss by Jesus in the way Old Covenant people were blessed. The "paradise" to which Jesus referred was not heaven.

-- Cornelius and his family: Cornelius and his family were led to baptism by the Holy Spirit, just as Old Covenant prophets could possess the Spirit and yet not be saved in a Christian sense. They were not "born again" until the Spirit led them to baptism.

-- Those who had received the baptism of John: They had already been baptised by John for "remission of sins." But they lacked the Holy Spirit that came with Christian baptism. They did not have to be rebaptised, John's baptism being valid for taking away sins, but they had to receive the Spirit by the laying on of hands. This unique situation no longer occurred after the last of those baptised by John died.

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: How could this be so when Paul says Abraham and the Jews of the Old Covenant were justified by faith, and this is the same faith as the Gentiles?

Adomnan: Faith as a virtue is always the same; namely, a disposition to assent to what God reveals. However, faith as in "faith in" something differs as the object of faith differs. In the first sense, Abraham did have the same faith as we. In the second sense, his faith was certainly different, as Paul himself points out. Abraham believed God would make him the father of many nations, while we "believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was handed over for our trespasses and raised for our justification."

It is evident that, in content, Abraham's faith wasn't "the same faith as the Gentiles."

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Adomnan,

These "dead works" to which the writer refers; they are the works of the law, yes? Wouldn't they comprise the ceremonial laws and ordinances, such as the animal sacrifices mentioned here? If the sacrifices are "dead works," how can they expiate sin?

PA

Adomnan said...

Ronnie: As the Samaritan woman at the well told Jesus:

25The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
26Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

So their faith in the coming Messiah was faith in Christ.

Adomnan: She had a certain faith -- or better, hope -- but she did not have Christian faith until the Messiah "explained everything to her" and she began to believe in Jesus, the Christ.

According to your reading, no one, his disciples included, came to believe in Jesus because they were all awaiting a Messiah, and so already believed even before encountering Jesus. I could adduce so many texts from John alone to refute this thesis that it would be better just to recommend that you reread John's gospel.

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: These "dead works" to which the writer refers; they are the works of the law, yes?

Adomnan: Yes, they are what Paul calls "the works of the Law," which helps to confirm my contention that works of the Law are limited to specifically Jewish customs, as you say: "ceremonial laws and ordinances, like animal sacrifices" (and like circumcision, of course).

Pilgrimsarbour: Wouldn't they comprise the ceremonial laws and ordinances, such as the animal sacrifices mentioned here?

Adomnan: Yes, they would.

Pilgrimsarbour: If the sacrifices are "dead works," how can they expiate sin?

Adomnan: They're dead now, but they weren't dead under the Old Covenant when they were operative.

Jews no longer even perform animal sacrifices since the destruction of the temple, so I guess that makes them deader than a doornail.

By the way, Dave is probably thinking we should move this discussion to the Open Forum because it's wandered away from the original topic. You first?