Friday, January 27, 2012

Biblical Arguments Against the Supposed "Proof " of Sola Scriptura in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 on the Basis of the Phrases, "Man of God," "Profitable for Teaching," Etc.

 Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman (1802-1865)

By Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong

I came across the preliminary basis for this argument (quite new to me), by perusing the work, Lectures on the Doctrines and Practices of the Roman Catholic Church, by Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman (London: J. S. Hodson, 1836), in preparation for my upcoming book (a collection of excerpts), Classic Catholic Biblical Apologetics: 1525-1925.

First, here is the Bible passage under consideration (RSV):

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

On pages 208-209 of his book, Cardinal Wiseman comments upon it:

. . . it is manifest that St. Paul is speaking of the Scriptures here used, not as it has to be read and used for the individual instruction and edification of all the faithful, but as it is to be observed by pastors—for observe what he says; he says, expressly, it is profitable for those purposes which are the exclusive function of the ministry, and not of others, for the learners, for the subjects of the Church of Christ; for he says, it is "profitable for doctrine," that is, as the word means in its proper native sense, "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Therefore, he is to hold fast the doctrines which St. Paul taught, remembering upon whose authority he received them— that is, the authority of the Apostles. . . . he is to know besides, that this Scripture is profitable for the practice of his ministry, for correcting, for reproving, for instructing. These are points not for individual improvement, not for each one's edification; but they are essentially acts for the ministry of the priesthood, for those who have to teach others; and, consequently, if this text prove anything regarding Scripture, it only goes to prove that the pastors of the church should be familiar with it, and make use of it for the purpose of correcting, and edifying their flocks.

This (for me) was a new approach to the passage, and I was struck by how "individualistic" my take in the past had been: shot through with the casually non-institutional assumptions of my "low church evangelical" Protestant past. I had assumed without conscious analysis, that the "teaching," "reproof," "correction," and "training" referred to came straight from the Bible to the individual, whereas Cardinal Wiseman noted that it specifically referred to priests and pastors teaching their flocks. The Bible was, in other words, profitable as the essential aid for Christian teachers (essentially priests) to learn, in order to pass on Christian doctrine to laypeople. That is far different from the populist, anti-institutional, or anti-sacerdotal notion of sola Scriptura: the "me, my Bible, and the Holy Spirit" mentality.

It's very interesting also, how in the larger context (the two previous verses: 3:14-15) of the passage as usually cited in Protestant polemics in favor of sola Scriptura (3:16-17 only), we see clear reference to apostolic tradition ("continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it"). St. Paul is talking about himself and how he passed on the Christian tradition to Timothy (compare his language about receiving and delivering tradition -- including oral tradition -- in 1 Cor 11:2, 23; 15:1-3; Gal 1:9; 1 Thess 2:13; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2).

Now here comes my part in this "new" analysis of a very familiar passage (much-beloved by Protestants as a supposed "proof" of sola Scriptura). Having discovered a better way to analyze in a general way the root meaning of the verses here, it occurred to me that the phrase "man of God" may be a further clue or key as to what St. Paul's intention was. I thought that it could very well be a description of the clergyman or person otherwise very specially devoted to serving God. And then I was curious how it was used elsewhere in Scripture. This turned out to be a very fruitful avenue indeed. hence, the (Catholic) Navarre Bible (commentary) on 1 Timothy 6:11, the only other place in the New Testament where the phrase appears ("But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness"):

“Man of God”: this expression was used in the Old Testament of men who performed some special God-given mission — for example, Moses (Deut 33:1; Ps 40:1), Samuel (1 Sam 9:6–7); Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:18; 2 Kings 4:7, 27, 42). In the Pastoral Epistles (cf. also 2 Tim 3:17) it is applied to Timothy insofar as ordination has conferred on him a ministry in the Church. 

Protestant reference works concur in the general sense of noting that the phrase was used in the Old Testament to refer to exceptionally prominent followers of God; not any believer at all. Accordingly,  The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary ("Man of God", p. 684) notes:

A designation for early prophets in Israel . . . The term is used of unnamed prophets (1 Sam. 2:27; 1 Kgs. 13; 2 Chr. 25:7, 9), Moses (Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:6; 1 Chr. 23:14; 2 Chr. 30:1; Ezra 3:2), the angel of the Lord -- thought to be a prophet (Judg. 13:6, 8), Samuel (1 Sam. 9:6-10), . . . Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:18, 24), and Elisha (e.g., 2 Kgs. 1:9-13; 5:8-15). In later periods the term apparently came to be applied to some, other than prophets, who were thought of as bearing some special relationship to God, such as David (Neh. 12:24, 36; cf. Jer. 35:4).

Likewise, Keil and Delitzsch' Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 5: Psalms, Part III, p. 48 -- a renowned Lutheran work -- (on Psalms 90), observes:

To the name, which could not be allowed to remain so bald, because next to Abraham he is the greatest man known to the Old Testament history of redemption, is added the title of honour [Hebrew] (as in Deut. xxxiii. 1, Josh. xiv. 6), an ancient name of the prophets which expresses the close relationship of fellowship with God, just as "servant of Jahve" [Yahweh] expresses the relationship of service, in accordance with the special office and in relation to the history of redemption, into which Jahve has taken the man and into which he himself has entered.

Wikipedia ("Man of God") gives a nice and handy summary of the usage, noting that only Moses was given this title in the Torah (first five books). Clearly, it was not used of any Jewish believer. See the entirety of all of the passages with the phrase, from an online RSV search page.

The argument then becomes, of course, that Paul was referring specifically to Timothy (an apostle) and other "men of God" of like eminence (priests) in 1 Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 3:14-17. If so, the authority of Scripture was specifically to be delegated through authoritative, ordained interpreters, in accordance with the larger apostolic tradition (2 Tim 3:14-15, etc.). This is quite different from sola Scriptura in its usual Protestant definitions, and it is precisely harmonious with (if not identical to) the Catholic "three-legged stool" of Church-Scripture-Tradition.

If we go even deeper into the passage and reflect on the terms used, the case is strengthened all the more. For example, "profitable for teaching" (2 Tim 3:16). Does this make more sense as describing the Bible, or rather, a teacher (the "man of God") who is teaching from the Bible with authority? If we search "teach" or "taught" or "instructed" or any similar terms in the Bible, we are hard pressed to find them ever applied to a mere book. In every instance I have found so far, it is always applied as a description of a man or God teaching (at times using the Bible as an aid). Examples:

God Teaching Moses


Exodus 4:12, 15 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak. . . . [15] And you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do.

Deuteronomy 5:31 But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandment and the statutes and the ordinances which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess.
 
Moses

Exodus 18:20 and you shall teach them the statutes and the decisions, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do.

Deuteronomy 4:1 And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, gives you.

Deuteronomy 4:14 And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances, that you might do them in the land which you are going over to possess.

Deuteronomy 6:1  Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the ordinances which the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it;

Aaron

Leviticus 10:11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by Moses.

The Levites

Deuteronomy 33:10 They shall teach Jacob thy ordinances, and Israel thy law; . . .

Ezra

Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Parents Teaching Children

Deuteronomy 6:7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (cf. 11:19)

Eleven Disciples

Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . . .

Paul and Barnabas

Acts 15:35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Paul

Acts 20:20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,

Timothy 

1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching.(cf. 4:11, 16)

Elders

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching;

I can't find a single example of "the Bible taught" or some sense of teaching directly from the Bible, in Scripture itself. If anyone finds this, please let me know. Here are all the instances of "teach" in the Bible, and "taught", and "instruct[ed]", and "learn[ed]".

When I search "word / teaches" to find some connection, I come up with nothing. When I search ""taught / word" I don't get passages referring to learning directly from the Bible; rather, I find passages (again) about people teaching the Word:

Galatians 6:6 Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches. 

Then when I found "word" and "taught" together in another instance, it turned out to be an astonishingly striking corroboration of the Catholic interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, in similar words, and reinforcing the concept of authoritative interpretation and teaching of the Bible, since it is about a bishop:

Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, [8] but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; [9] he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it. 

I want to make it clear that I am not arguing that no one can learn directly from Scripture. Of course they can. I'm referring specifically to the meaning and exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and the phrase "profitable for teaching" and contending that according to all (far as I can determine) other instances of the notion of teaching in connection with the Bible or the Law (or separate from same) in Scripture itself, it always comes through human teachers or God, not directly from the Bible or the Law (that eventually comprised most of the first five books of the Old Testament). Therefore, I conclude that the phrase in 2 Timothy means "Scripture is profitable for the purpose of priests and other authoritative teachers in the church to pass on Christian teaching / tradition to all other believers."

The same scenario applies to the other words used. The notion of "reproof" or "reprove" in Scripture is always used of God or persons, not the Bible or the Law. For example:

Titus 2:15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. 

Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 

It is the same for "correction" and for "training" (also never applied directly to the Bible apart from a teacher of it, and is applied to tradition):

1 Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, [4] nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; 

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, [12] training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, 

Everything we can find in the Bible itself along these lines leads inexorably to the same conclusion: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is no proof for sola Scriptura at all, and is, to the contrary, a strong proof for the Catholic belief regarding authority and the rule of faith: the "three-legged stool" of Bible-Church-Tradition.


***

37 comments:

nannykim said...

Wow, thanks, this is a different way of looking at this subject.

Dave Armstrong said...

You're very welcome. I'm excited about it!

Nicholas Hardesty said...

I'll be interested to see what James White and the other AOMin people make of this.

Dave Armstrong said...

He ignores everything I do, and has for some time (and I, him).

CD-Host said...

I imagine what James White would say is just note that there is a complete failure to separate off the teaching role from the ritual role. You can't use any of those quotes because teaching is not a function of the Jewish priesthood. Levites in general don't teach they are taught. Rather there is a separate group of people who have doctrinal teaching authority... Moses vs. Aaron.


The analogy here would be the priesthood that performs the mass and under rituals learning from experts within the laity. Quite simply the old testament quotes could never "refer to priests teaching their flocks" since priests don't teach.

So the teaching would look like a group of laity getting together to work through the meaning of scripture and produce semi-authoritative guides which over the centuries gain acceptance through consensus.... that's a model James White would agree with.

Dave Armstrong said...

Levites in general don't teach they are taught. . . . Quite simply the old testament quotes could never "refer to priests teaching their flocks" since priests don't teach.

Deuteronomy 17:0-11 and coming to the Levitical priests, and to the judge who is in office in those days, you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision. [10] Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place which the LORD will choose; and you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you; [11] according to the instructions which they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do; . . . (cf. 19:16-17)

Deuteronomy 33:10 They [Levites: v. 8] shall teach Jacob thy ordinances, and Israel thy law;

2 Chronicles 19:8, 10 Moreover in Jerusalem Jehosh'aphat appointed certain Levites and priests and heads of families of Israel, to give judgment for the LORD and to decide disputed cases. They had their seat at Jerusalem.
[9] And he charged them: "Thus you shall do in the fear of the LORD, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart: [10] whenever a case comes to you from your brethren who live in their cities, concerning bloodshed, law or commandment, statutes or ordinances, then you shall instruct them, . . . (cf. 17:8-9)

2 Chronicles 35:3 (RSV) And he said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the LORD,

Ezra 7:10 For Ezra [a priest: v. 11] had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Nehemiah 8:9 And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. (cf. 8:1-8)

Malachi 2:7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

CD-Host said...

Dave notice that the Levites who have this teaching role are judges. It doesn't come from them being Levites it comes from them being judges. Judges are not necessarily Levites:

Othniel from the tribe of Judah
Ehud from tribe of Benjamin
Gideon tribe of Manasseh
Total tribe of Issachar

Some Levites are judges but not all judges are levites.

___

Blessing in Deut 33:10. Absolutely talks about teaching, but as the list of judges which happens right after shows. That is not how things work out.

2 Chr 19:8 Funny how you fail to notice 2Chr 19:4-7 which puts in context that Jerusalem is different and that the judges being levites are unique to Jerusalem. And the reason is given that in Jerusalem the judges are to administer the law.

2 Chr 35 in context actually supports my position. 2 He appointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the LORD’s temple. 3 He said to the Levites, who instructed all Israel and who had been consecrated to the LORD: “Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of David king of Israel built. It is not to be carried about on your shoulders. Now serve the LORD your God and his people Israel.

______

As for Ezra/Nehemiah verses, first off you are talking about the system that existed right after the Babylonian exile, and this system is subtly different than the one before. But during Ezra's rein as a prophetic teacher Jeshua ben Jozadak is High Priest. So again you see a separation of priestly and teaching, with Ezra being a teacher. Ezra himself is a Levite and his followers are as well so during Ezra's lifetime both the teaching the restoration of the temple (which isn't restored yet) are happening within the Levites. But since you accept the apocrypha you will note that teaching becomes a non-levite function with ritual being purely levite directly beyond his life.

If you look at the Rabbinic literature Ezra is the one who establishes the Sanhedrin, which is a lay body (except for one of the 70 who is always a priest) that decides matters of law. Sanh.21b, Suk. 20a.

So I'm not sure how Ezra supports your theory, since Ezra seems to create the very separation you are claiming doesn't exist.

Restless Pilgrim said...

Wow...I never read it that way before...

Dave Armstrong said...

My reaction, too!

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cms454 said...

Wow...amazingly blasphemous.Congrats...in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. That is enough proof for me of sola scriptura. Nothing man has added to the Word (Jesus Christ by the way) improves or edify's scripture.

Dave Armstrong said...

Wow...Amazingly profound reasoning. Who could argue against it?

ECK said...

Its interesting that you rely on the bible to corroborate the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, since the the bible was compiled at the behest of Constantine and who's advisers were in charge of choosing which writings should be included or excluded. I also find it interesting that prior to Constantine and his compiled writings, Christians followed Jesus' teachings of non-Violence and Love thy neighbor- to the point of death! However, after constantine it became the duty of every good Roman Catholic Christian to Kill in the name of Christ. And that Pagans & heretic's should be put to death as enemies of Christ?

Dave Armstrong said...

Too historically ignorant to waste any time replying to . . .

Maroun said...

Eck,wow,your knowledge in history and especially Church history is amazing(rofl) . What does Constantine has got to do with the bible to begin with?and according to you after Constantine the Christians began persecuting and killing all the non Christians?says who ? Muhammad? lol

CD-Host said...

after Constantine the Christians began persecuting and killing all the non Christians? says who ?

ECK's comments about the bible are wrong but... his stuff about persecution... not so much. In terms of who says:

Peter Brown, Rise of Christendom details some of the restrictions under Constantine. Some specific bans and some temple closings. Primary though he was focused on restricting magic and divination cults and not paganism more broadly.

MacMullen, Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100-400. Talks about later in his rein where there was state authorized theft from pagan temples.

This turns into the more aggressive persecution under Constantius II. There was some advocacy of the death penalty for paganism, see for example "On The Error of Profane Religions" by Julius Firmicus Maternus. These were unsuccessful.

Where there was the sort of broad persecution ECK was talking about was under Theodosius I. This continued with his son and from 393-435, institutional paganism was completely destroyed.

So ECK is 70 years early, but not entirely wrong. And of course this is the really the time when the New Testament is solidifying (modulo 3 books that get resolved with the post Trent Vulgates). I'm not sure what books he is advocating for, but there are still plenty of Christian sects by that date, and even more Christian literature in use by Christian influenced sects.

ECK said...

For Maroun, much of this information can be found in the Catholic encyclopedia.

ECK said...

also for Maroun, if you look up the coucil of nicaea and arianism you will see that That constantine is a prominent figure in forming the beliefs of the early church and which writings will be allowed and which will be burned etc. i find it even more interesting that writings from Peter and some of the other apostles were not included in the bible. not sure why?

ECK said...

For Dave A, historically ignorant? perhaps i am but the catholic encyclopedia seems to cover the information quite completely. of course there is some bias when the material is covered. but i assumed there would be.

Roberto Jung said...

ECK:

"Its interesting that you rely on the bible to corroborate the teachings of the Roman Catholic church,"

What New Testament canon do you accept? If the same as Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants, on what basis? If not, when was your canon determined, of what books is it composed, and who gathered them into one volume?

"since the the bible was compiled at the behest of Constantine and who's advisers were in charge of choosing which writings should be included or excluded."

Do you have a scholarly source for this?

"I also find it interesting that prior to Constantine and his compiled writings, Christians followed Jesus' teachings of non-Violence and Love thy neighbor- to the point of death!"

To the best of my knowledge, they also believed in baptismal regeneration and the real presence in communion. Do you hold these doctrines?

"However, after constantine it became the duty of every good Roman Catholic Christian to Kill in the name of Christ. And that Pagans & heretic's should be put to death as enemies of Christ?"

If this is true, what does it really prove, apart from the well-known reality that power corrupts those who wield it?

Since early Protestants, advocated execution by drowning for Anabaptists who denied infant baptism, should sola scriptura and sola fide then be immediately discarded as a result?

Roberto Jung said...

Also...

cms454:

"Wow...amazingly blasphemous.Congrats...in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. That is enough proof for me of sola scriptura. Nothing man has added to the Word (Jesus Christ by the way) improves or edify's scripture."

If anything, it's the above paragraph that commits blasphemy. Jesus and the Bible are not equivalent. To put a book up on the same level as an individual you believe to be God incarnate is frankly and laughably preposterous.

Someone, please, call a Calvinist! A true case of brazen idolatry-advocacy has surfaced on this blog, and the intervention of at least one iconoclast is most definitely in order!

Maroun said...

Eck said : For Maroun, much of this information can be found in the Catholic encyclopedia.
Which information are you talking about please?where?be more specific plz.Show us some quotes plz.Show us some informations from the Catholic encyclopedia about what u mean...Thanks

CD-Host said :MacMullen, Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100-400. Talks about later in his rein where there was state authorized theft from pagan temples.
So? if once as the bible says that pagan gods are not gods but demons,what`s wrong with destroying these temples?Or do you think that we should worship these false gods?
Then you said : Where there was the sort of broad persecution ECK was talking about was under Theodosius I. This continued with his son and from 393-435, institutional paganism was completely destroyed.

Maybe you should read this about Theodosius . However Sozomen says that the emperor "made severe punishment by his laws but did not carry them out, for he did not wish to punish, but only to frighten his subjects, that they might think as he did about Divine things, And he praised those who were converted of their own accord"
And again , Theodosius was an emperor and not a pope , in fact listen to what saint Ambrose did with Theodosius :During the greater part of his reign Theodosius was in intimate relation with St. Ambrose. The story of the emperor's worst crime, the massacre of at least 7000 citizens of Thessalonica in revenge for a tumult (April, 390); of St. Ambrose's refusal to allow him to enter the Church; of his acceptance of eight months of penance, is one of the memorable incidents of Church history.
So again , my question is this , what does this has got to do with what ECK said :I also find it interesting that prior to Constantine and his compiled writings, Christians followed Jesus' teachings of non-Violence and Love thy neighbor- to the point of death! However, after constantine it became the duty of every good Roman Catholic Christian to Kill in the name of Christ. And that Pagans & heretic's should be put to death as enemies of Christ?
I want to see the peaceful ECK when Islam will atack his country or family , i want to see how peaceful and lovable he is going to be?Is self defence nowadays a crime?

CD-Host said...

Maroun --

CD-Host said :MacMullen, Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100-400. Talks about later in his rein where there was state authorized theft from pagan temples.
So? if once as the bible says that pagan gods are not gods but demons,what`s wrong with destroying these temples?Or do you think that we should worship these false gods?


You were arguing before, with ECK that Constantine and later emperors wasn't utilizing state terror against pagans. If you want to argue that state terror was used, but is justified that's a different argument.

And my counter to your point of ethics is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". If it was OK for Constantine it is OK for the Chinese Communists, it is OK for Oliver Cromwell.

CD -- Then you said : Where there was the sort of broad persecution ECK was talking about was under Theodosius I. This continued with his son and from 393-435, institutional paganism was completely destroyed.

Maybe you should read this about Theodosius. However Sozomen says that the emperor "made severe punishment by his laws but did not carry them out, for he did not wish to punish, but only to frighten his subjects, that they might think as he did about Divine things, And he praised those who were converted of their own accord"


Mass executions of Manicheans.
war against Eugenius and Arbogastes
Serapeum of Alexandria destroyed -- with considerable loss of life
Destruction of temples at Gaza
Seizure of the temples of Alexandra and conversion to Christian

etc...

He's not an Innocent III but he's far worse than say the Chinese Communists are today.

And again , Theodosius was an emperor and not a pope

So what? Christianity was a state religion. Your state Department of Transportation doesn't carry out issuing tickets and making arrests to enforce traffic laws, that doesn't make the laws any less their policy.

(end part 1)

CD-Host said...

(part 2)
in fact listen to what saint Ambrose did with Theodosius :During the greater part of his reign Theodosius was in intimate relation with St. Ambrose. The story of the emperor's worst crime, the massacre of at least 7000 citizens of Thessalonica in revenge for a tumult (April, 390); of St. Ambrose's refusal to allow him to enter the Church; of his acceptance of eight months of penance, is one of the memorable incidents of Church history.

That city had Christians and pagans. That was Ambrose objecting to a massacre in a purely civil sense, an uprising objecting to a sports hero being charged with rape. This had nothing to do with Ambrose objecting to pagan persecution.

Incidentally though, it was after his restoration following the massacre that Theodosius I issued the "Theodosian decrees". Ambrose not only failed to discourage he both encouraged and demanded Theodosius I commit more acts of religious persecution. Example: Ambrose Epistle 18.

So again , my question is this , what does this has got to do with what ECK said

ECK made some remarks that lacked nuanced. You all issued a denial which went well beyond the truth. I responded with a more nuanced assessment of the events.

I also find it interesting that prior to Constantine.... it became the duty of every good Roman Catholic Christian to Kill in the name of Christ. And that Pagans & heretic's should be put to death as enemies of Christ?

I disagreed with his date. But the destruction of paganism via. violence and state terror was the policy of the church. Christian persecution of paganism after Theodosius I until the fall of the Roman Empire, does a good job of covering the end of paganism and how it was achieved.

I want to see the peaceful ECK when Islam will atack his country or family , i want to see how peaceful and lovable he is going to be?Is self defence nowadays a crime?

What does self defense have to do with a dominant group engaging in a policy of state terror?

CD-Host said...

Roberto --

Since early Protestants, advocated execution by drowning for Anabaptists who denied infant baptism, should sola scriptura and sola fide then be immediately discarded as a result?

The figure who most publicly advocated for drowning anabaptists was Ferdinand I (Roman Catholic). I wouldn't be too proud here. While Protestant persecution of anabaptists is a shameful and disgusting lapse, in terms of sheer magnitude it pales in comparison to what Catholics were doing to them. And the meta-denomination that eliminated persecution and created toleration for re-baptizers was Protestantism.

Roberto Jung said...

CD-Host:

"The figure who most publicly advocated for drowning anabaptists was Ferdinand I (Roman Catholic). I wouldn't be too proud here. While Protestant persecution of anabaptists is a shameful and disgusting lapse, in terms of sheer magnitude it pales in comparison to what Catholics were doing to them. And the meta-denomination that eliminated persecution and created toleration for re-baptizers was Protestantism."

My argument was *not* "Look at how bloody-minded Protestants were back then--Catholics were such angels by comparison!" but *rather* "Any bad behaviour of adherents to a particular religion does not automatically and thoroughly discredit their beliefs."

Dave Armstrong said...

See my web page:

Protestantism: Historic Persecution and Intolerance

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/protestantism-index-page.html

CD-Host said...

My argument was *not* "Look at how bloody-minded Protestants were back then--Catholics were such angels by comparison!" but *rather* "Any bad behaviour of adherents to a particular religion does not automatically and thoroughly discredit their beliefs."

I would re-qualify that and then partially disagree. I thin that bed behavior of adherents to a particular religion that arises from their religion should be treated as counter evidence regarding their beliefs. Protestant reformers believed that a robust orthodoxy was possible without tradition. The fact that they had to almost immediately begin persecutions to maintain uniformity discredited that belief. There is no reason today to believe that sola scriptura will result in a robust orthodoxy.

In the same way, centuries of massive state terror being needed to maintain Catholicism (from the early 13th to the mid 18th century) do fully discredit the Catholic state / church theology. It doesn't prove anything about justification, but it does prove the church can err badly on a matter of faith and morals.

CD-Host said...

I thin that bed

Wow, talk about typos. That should of course be, "I think that bad"

Roberto Jung said...

CD-Host:

"I would re-qualify that and then partially disagree. I [think] that [bad] behavior of adherents to a particular religion that arises from their religion should be treated as counter evidence regarding their beliefs. Protestant reformers believed that a robust orthodoxy was possible without tradition. The fact that they had to almost immediately begin persecutions to maintain uniformity discredited that belief. There is no reason today to believe that sola scriptura will result in a robust orthodoxy."

"In the same way, centuries of massive state terror being needed to maintain Catholicism (from the early 13th to the mid 18th century) do fully discredit the Catholic state / church theology. It doesn't prove anything about justification, but it does prove the church can err badly on a matter of faith and morals."

Why do you say that "centuries of massive state terror" were *necessary* to keep 'Catholics' in line? The falling numbers of devout adherents in the twentieth century is attributable to factors other than the change in the legal and social milieu in which Western Catholics reside, I expect. Catholicism is reportedly doing well in some parts of Africa without inquisitions and heretic-burnings being practiced on the continent.

And are you arguing that this dark period in Catholic history disproves its claims on infallibility? If so, where do you suggest Christians go when they have a desire to follow a faith with strong roots in history (i.e., not Protestantism, bogged down by sola scriptura as it is)?

Roberto Jung said...

PS: For full disclosure, I've been looking at both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as that "faith with strong roots in history".

CD-Host said...

Why do you say that "centuries of massive state terror" were *necessary* to keep 'Catholics' in line?


I didn't quite say that, what I said was "In the same way, centuries of massive state terror being needed to maintain Catholicism". Catholicism as it existed from Constantine (to get back to ECK) and up until the last few hundred years was a state church.

While there was some church violence prior to the Albigensian Crusade, there wasn't what I'd call "massive state terror" prior to that directed at Christians. The church had been focused on pushing back Islam in the south, the vikings in the north and Mongels in the east. Internal conflict was handled by negotiation and broad tolerance. For example the death of Arianism in the West was peaceful and gradual.

Once the external pressure disappeared there were people who became very concerned with corruption and financial resource allocation. These began to merge with fringe sects in particular in the rise of the Cathari. Innocent III fundamentally shifts the church to dealing with this problem via terror and this became the norm for dealing with rebellions. The Hus rebellion being another example where you see this resolved primarily through terror. The same thing is attempted during the Reformation as well.

The falling numbers of devout adherents in the twentieth century is attributable to factors other than the change in the legal and social milieu in which Western Catholics reside,

Well that's more recent. I think the factors are primarily social. So what factors do you see the fall in West? (I'd personally separate Europe and America where I think there are different problems entirely).

BTW Latin America is also an interesting case since

Catholicism is reportedly doing well in some parts of Africa without inquisitions and heretic-burnings being practiced on the continent.

Look Catholocism won the first time around without inquisitions and heretic burnings. The only "heretical" sect that thrived into the middle ages was Collyridianism which became Islam. Most of the others died and those that survived were rather fringe. The anti-pagan violence we've been talking about didn't include much anti-Gnostic or anti-Marcionite violence because that battle was over by the time Catholicism could use state terror.

In terms of Africa, I'd agree up from about 12.5% to around 17%. Roman Catholocism seems to be beating groups like Copts and Ethiopian Orthodox and Episcopalians in providing a niche for Africans interested in a high church experience. We'll have to see how it plays out.

But I'm not claiming Catholicism can't do well without state coercion. What I am claiming is that Christianity is naturally diverse and without state coercion there isn't a (small-c) catholic faith in a nation.

Dave Armstrong said...

See many links about the Inquisition here:

Inquisition, Crusades, and "Catholic Scandals"

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/inquisition-crusades-catholic-scandals.html

CD-Host said...

And are you arguing that this dark period in Catholic history disproves its claims on infallibility?

I'm saying it directly. The idea that a 13th century version of Pol Pot represents an infallible guide to faith and morals, makes a mockery of morality.

If so, where do you suggest Christians go when they have a desire to follow a faith with strong roots in history (i.e., not Protestantism, bogged down by sola scriptura as it is)?

Great question. The first thing I'd ask is "when"? The answer depends greatly if you are talking 1st, 2nd or 3rd century. The second thing I'd ask is what aspects of the primitive faith do you want to capture?

I don't think the answer is nearly as simple as I suspect you do based on the form of the question. For example if I want to capture the group rule and apocalyptic feel of the Essenic Sophia Cult, which is likely what John the Baptist came from, I'm not going to find that in Catholicism at all, but I can still find it in Branch Davidians. If I want to capture syncretic speculative theology, similar to what Jews to embrace primitive Logos proto-Christianity, Bultmannesque Liberal Protestants are perfect.

On the other hand if I think that's going back too far, before the pieces came together, and want to go for the 3rd century where the emphasis is on morals, community, liturgy... absolutely Western or Eastern rite Catholicism is a great choice.

If we are talking America... I think the Reformation has had the problem of tearing different aspects of the church away. In the 4th century that sort of apocalyptic fire that created the Branch Davidians is what created the Palestinian Monasteries. That's where Saint Jerome, and arguably the entire convent movement came out. Instead the same passion happened within the Adventist community and had no impact on monasticism which was its natural home.

In other words I'd agree with I agree with Hilaire Belloc (and C.S. Lewis) that broad Christianity has the pieces of primitive church but not the totality.


(end part 1)

CD-Host said...

(part 2)
_____

Now let me rephrase that answer into Baptist, the way ECK would answer. There was a faithful remnant church that existed alongside the Catholic church that went into hiding but preserved the gospel. That there is no historic church, and there never was meant to be. The one church Jesus was even possibly directly connected to, the Jerusalem church, he made sure was utterly and totally destroyed so that the church would never become an idol.

The belief that emerged historically that the church was not just a vehicle for the gospel was what caused the mainstream church, the Catholic church, to fall into total apostasy. Read the book of Hebrews and grasp the message. In asking for a historical church, you are basically asking what kind of goat's blood does the best job in sanctifying, Hebrews 9:8-14.

You should not follow any church. You need to believe the gospel. A church primarily exists to spread the gospel. For active believers it is a vehicle for believers to support one another in their gospel walk. Nothing in the church is holy.

The true historic Christianity was rejection of Jewish rites whether the high temple rites sacrifice of the Sadducees or the embedded rituals of the Pharisees. You don't have to reject Jewish rites, that's not the iconoclasm sin which draws you. But God hates all iconoclasm and every attempt by man to construct his own religion.

Judaism is more historical than any Christianity, Paganism more historical than Judaism and Animism more historical than Paganism. If you want history worship thunder and ignore the God of Abraham. The God of Abraham is known through revelation not history.

_____

Man I love Baptist preaching. I can hear my pastor thundering that sort of answer.

Finally as for Protestants and sola scriptura. Not all Protestants hold to that. Methodists hold to prima scriptura which is the same position the RCC officially endorses (dei verbum). One can be Protestant and reject sola scriptura.

CD-Host said...

PS: For full disclosure, I've been looking at both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as that "faith with strong roots in history".

Oh I thought you were were just debating. If you are interested in a serious conversation on the topic of history, I actually did a post aimed at people who want to think about the history of the church: Sects to the Reformation.

The answer I gave you in the previous posts ... is the dilemma you are going to face. But in reality there is no going back. Its not the 1st century, there is no Roman empire, all the sects evolved and most of the sects died off.

When you read the bible. Paul's theology is deeply tied to his astrology. You cannot believe in the heaven he does, you simply know too much about space (see for example Venus translation vs. transculturation). At the same time Paul can take for granted a middle Platonism, a philosophical background and sets of connections which most modern westerners don't have. On those sections Paul's arguments need to be simplified. You are trapped in thinking about space and "heaven" in a way Paul never could. So you inevitably must apply a modern metaphorical layer to Paul to make him "relevant", and that layer is something Paul himself could never understand. It is a distortion caused by distance in culture and time.

Even if we drastically reduce the distance, 500 years and and not 2000 you face the same problem. This site the focus is on the reformation, and Protestant theology like sola scriptura. But if you were to get into a time machine and talk to reformers in the 12th through early 16th century they might not even know what sola scriptura meant. When the Yorks (Henry VIII's family on his mother's side) talked about reformation what they meant was firing the Bishop of York, not some grand plan to remake Christianity.

You could never, knowing what you know, have the conversation with them about reform. You see their acts as the early stages of the fall of a unified Christendom. They see their acts as just day to day politics. You can understand their ignorance but you cannot share in it.

So when you talk about the "historic faith" there is no one historic faith and moreover none of the historic faiths are available to you. To use Heideger's language you are a dasein, a being in time. You are incapable of thinking about the historic texts and beliefs the way the historic people were. The only thing you can do is construct as part of a society a modern religion for you to relate to.

I did both a debate response a Baptist sermon and a postmodern response. I'm not sure where you want to go from here, let me know.

Dave Armstrong said...

Paul's theology is deeply tied to his astrology.

That does it. I'm closing the thread now. It has long since left the topic anyway.

My blog is not the platform for a self-described atheist with a theosophical bent (CD-Host). I can handle some degree of nonsense in an opponent but this is too much . . .