Saturday, April 26, 2014

Reply to Ken Temple's Extensive (Anti-Catholic) "Review" of Rod Bennett's Book, "Four Witnesses": Part III

By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (4-26-14)

[link to the article being critiqued below]


Page 11 – Rod is wrong about the meaning of Sola Scriptura.   “Raised in a strong, Bible-believing branch of Protestant Evangelicalism, I was taught to glory in the famous Reformation rallying cry of “Sola Scriptura” – the fiery conviction that the Bible and the Bible alone constitutes the basis for Christian belief.”

This may be the sentiment and mis-understanding that Rod, in his experience, felt, and this is a very common idea about what Sola Scriptura is, but it is incorrect.  Rather “Sola Scriptura” says that the Bible is the only infallible rule for faith, doctrine, and practice for the church.  It does not say it is the “only” basis for Christian belief; rather it is the  “only infallible rule”.   So, Protestants believe in secondary authorities that are good and useful, but not infallible, such as local church elders/teacher/pastors/overseers, whose ministry is to teach the Scriptures properly and interpret the Scriptures properly(but we can never claim that any human is infallible); also consulting church history, historical theology, great writers and theologians of the past, ancient creeds, ancient councils, doctrinal statements, good exegetical commentaries. 

That's fine (it's what I understand the definition of sola Scriptura to be and how I define it in my two books against it); however, Rod may have been using the word "basis" in the sense of "[implied, infallible] rule of faith". In any event, Rod, on the same page and the next one, acknowledges that the best Protestants did indeed make recourse to history:

Even Luther and Calvin -- the very men who taught us Sola Scriptura in the first place -- knew and respected these venerable saints whom ancient custom has given the title Fathers of the Church. They quite often used the writings of early giants like Ambrose and Augustine to bolster their various arguments.

Thus, Ken leaves a false impression (by the ever-present selective citation) that Rod thinks Protestantism teaches an absolute, Bible-Only view. This is untrue.

Page 11 – When discussing the various Evangelical groups and churches Rod was a part of, he talks about the Evangelical spirit of always seeking to base things on the pure New Testament Church.  He states,  “Not one of them had ever sent me back to any first or second-century documentation for evidence.”

But on the same page, what Ken conveniently omits is the sentence immediately before the one above, where Rod also made reference to these groups "whose publicly announced intention was 'to restore the pure Christianity of the early Church.' " Thus he shows that his own experience with Protestantism was not a phenomenon of Bible Only with no Church history whatever (only inadequate particular knowledge of that history). Things must be interpreted in context. Ken ignored the context both before and after Rod's statement that he knocked down (likely misunderstanding it in the first place). Or he saw the context, but chose only to cite things that give an impression that Ken wishes to create, rather than what Rod actually was trying to express. This will not do. Readers can see through this dubious technique, once it is exposed for what it is.

p. 14 -  Seems to imply that the early church fathers were more clear than the Scriptures themselves. 

I don't see that he implied it at all. He commented on the fathers'  "clear, unambiguous teaching . . . the actual doctrine of primitive Christianity set down in black and white." He made no comparison of that with Scripture. It would be like someone saying, "wow, this river here is so clear!" and someone else concluding that he therefore thought it was clearer than some other particular river. Maybe so, but that can't be determined by a self-referential statement of that sort. Ken assumes it because it is what he imagines Rod to be saying, according to the usual caricature that Catholics think Scripture is an utter mystery that no one can figure out (I exaggerate some, but not much).

Ken then makes a point about the equivalency of elders and bishops in 1 Clement, claiming that "overseers/bishops (Greek: επισκοποις - episcopois ) is the same office as elders (Greek: πρεσβυτερους - presbuterous)." I already dealt with that argument at length in Part I; also offering various clear New Testament evidences of ecclesiastical hierarchy. No need to reiterate it here, except to note one thing.

He tries to enlist St. Irenaeus in favor of his notion expressed above (Against Heresies, 4:26:5). But elsewhere the saint is very clear as to the primacy and "pre-eminent authority" of the Roman See, with which "every Church should agree". That sure sounds like a higher level of authority of the Roman bishop in relation to other bishops. He possesses the primacy. The Roman See is preeminent because it was founded by Peter and Paul, and Irenaeus also makes reference to "apostolical tradition" which has been passed down through apostolic succession (cf. 4:26:2). It's Catholic all-around, and very foreign to a Protestant outlook:
Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. (Against Heresies, 3, 3, 2; ANF, Vol. I)

p. 54 – “the church had been preaching the gospel, saving souls, and founding congregations all over the Near East for at least ten years before a single line of the New Testament was written.”  While this is technically true, it seems the way it is framed is to make the reader downplay the importance of the written word.

Not at all. That is Ken's hostile and cynical assumption. When the Catholic makes any point at all about Scritpure that is contrary to sola Scriptura, then it is said that they are denigrating the Bible. We're gonna hear this false charge till Kingdom Come. The Protestant of Ken's sort can't seem to grasp that by saying Tradition and Church are also authoritative with Scripture, it's not required to be "against" Scripture. The fact remains that Tradition and Church played a supremely important role, especially during the period that canonization was still taking place. 

For the anti-Catholic Protestant like Ken, in order to truly respect and honor Holy Scripture, one must adhere to sola Scriptura. He acts as if the Bible and sola Scriptura are almost identical, and that no one could possibly respect the Bible without holding to the late-arriving, unbiblical notion of sola Scriptura. But this is completely false and an untrue "equivalence." That leads to silly statements like the above. The Bible is revered if it is regarded as the inspired, infallible, revelation from God; it's not required to believe it is the only infallible source of authority (which it itself does not teach, and massively contradicts!) in order to revere it.

Ken then goes on to make trite, inane, rather silly and logically circular arguments about tradition and Scripture. I'm afraid I don't have the patience to deal with them (having done so many times before), seeing that they are not directly addressing Rod's arguments. I'll have to refer readers to my two books on sola Scriptura (one / two), and web page on the same topic. 

Clement mentions 1 Corinthians in his letter – 1 Clement 47 . . . Clement quotes from OT and NT passages . . . 

Big wow. This is quite a minimalistic statement, and proves little or nothing with regard to the overall thrust of Ken's argument. What he neglects to tell his readers is that St. Clement of Rome cites, alludes to, or names as authentic, only ten books out of the 27 in the New Testament (Matthew, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter). See Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), chart on p. 109.

So all of Paul’s letters and for sure the 3 synoptic gospels and Acts were already written by this time, along with 1 Peter. These are almost 30 years before Clement.

Great; I'm absolutely delighted that Ken pointed this out, as it is a great aid to the Catholic argument. Assuming this is true, why, then, Does St. Clement show no knowledge of Mark, Luke, Acts,  2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, Philemon, 1 Peter, and five other NT books? Ken apparently assumes that he does merely because they were already written, but that doesn't follow. Obnly the hard evidence of what we know establishes his point, not bald assumptions that because a biblical book exists, therefore everyone in the early Church was aware of it.

Rod seems to emphasize that Clement had nothing to go by except the claim that he was taught by Peter himself and everything was all oral and in their memories and hearts.

No; Rod emphasized that the canon was incomplete, so that Tradition and Church were that much more important as a result. The fact remains that from what we know, Clement knew about or used in his letters, only ten out of 27 New Testament books. That's not exactly a "grand slam" bit of information for sola Scriptura in the 1st century Church.

p. 62 – “. . . the proud city of Rome must learn to look where Clement looked – to the simple man to whom the Good Shepherd said, “Feed My sheep.” Rod is trying to build the case that the deposit of correct doctrine was in the person of Peter, in his office as bishop of Rome or "Pope", in Rome, passed on to Clement, and that that was the solution to the problem of disunity and Gnosticism at the time of 1 Clement. Rod seems to imply that Clement is a "living voice" of authority and can solve the disunity problems by commanding obedience.

Absolutely. St. Irenaeus made the same argument some 100 years later, as we have seen. St. Irenaeus always grounded his anti-heretical arguments in apostolic succession and the fact that no heresy could trace its beliefs back to the beginning in unbroken succession. That was sufficient in his mind to prove falsity of the belief, even if biblical argumentation is not yet introduced. The argument is already won against the heretic, by that fact. And it works against Protestants, too, in instances where they hold to doctrines that started in the 16th century and have no pedigree in Church history.

I Clement has a passage that teaches that justification is by faith alone, . . . (1 Clement 32)

Here is a classic case of Ken's constant technique of citing one aspect of a thing while ignoring other equally relevant passages that contradict his assertion based on the half-truth presentation that he thinks is compelling. It's cute and amusing but intellectually detestable. In the same book it's stated: "For her faith and hospitality Rahab the harlot was saved" (12:1). That ain't faith alone. It's faith and hospitality (a work) leading to salvation.  And again, St. Clement shows an emphasis not unlike St. James: 
Let us therefore cleave unto those to whom grace is given from God. Let us clothe ourselves in concord, being lowlyminded and temperate, holding ourselves aloof from all back biting and evil speaking, being justified by works and not by words. (30:3)

Keeping God's ordinances and commandments is directly tied to salvation (just as it is at least 50 times in the Bible):
Receive our counsel, and ye shall have no occasion of regret. For as God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit, who are the faith and the hope of the elect, so surely shall he, who  with lowliness of mind and instant in gentleness hath without regretfulness performed the ordinances and commandments that are given by God, be enrolled and have a name among the number of them that are saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is the glory unto Him for ever and ever. Amen. (58:2)

So much for that silly argument . . .

* * * * *

Reply to Ken Temple's Extensive (Anti-Catholic) "Review" of Rod Bennett's Book, "Four Witnesses": Part II

By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (4-26-14)

[link to the article being critiqued below]

I will be improving upon this, Lord willing, as time allows. 

I sure hope so, because it is a pathetic historical "argument" thus far: wrong and incoherent at every turn.

This book and my friend's conversion to Rome in 1996 was one of the main reasons I sought to understanding early church history and the early church fathers better, and apologetic answers to the issues that Rod was bringing to me.

Unfortunately, that understanding has advanced very little these last 18 years. And it won't, as long as the fathers are viewed through the dim, decrepit glass or "filter" of anti-Catholic bias.

A few months after I returned from the mission field in Turkey, he called me (I think, it was sometime early in 1996 ? I cannot remember exactly) and invited me and my brother to his house.   I had just been reading R. C. Sproul's book, Faith Alone.   It was a real shock when he announced he was converting to Roman Catholicism.  We then had 8 years (1996-2004) of informal debates by sometimes 5 hour discussions, lunches, emails, phone calls, etc.  Then, sometime in 2004, Rod told me he did not want to "debate" or discuss theology anymore.

I think we can see why . . .  I spent 11 years online trying to debate anti-Catholics (the papers remain up on my Anti-Catholicism page) and finally gave up in 2007, since it was always a completely futile effort. This present effort is strictly an exception to my rule, as explained in Part I. The only redeeming value such exchanges have is for those reading, who may be able to be persuaded to see how very bad and misleading anti-Catholic arguments about the Church fathers are. Once in a blue moon an anti-Catholic is persuaded of the truthfulness of Catholicism. It does happen. Scott Hahn was an anti-Catholic. I was not; but I was extremely "pro-Protestant" as the superior option.

I was motivated to find answers, even though I basically knew that Roman Catholicism was wrong; I was seminary trained afterall (smile), and thought I had a fairly good grasp of church history.  However, 3 courses in church history does not adequately prepare one for these arguments that most Evangelicals had never heard before. 

Exactly right.

Rod was using a lot of Cardinal John Henry Newman and his "development of doctrine hypothesis" and other former Evangelical Protestants like Scott Hahn and similar arguments that other Roman Catholics, both former Evangelicals and cradle Catholics make, like . . . Jimmy Akin, Patrick Madrid, Mitch Pacwa, Robert Sungenis, Tim Staples, Peter Kreeft, Kenneth Howell, the Surprised by Truth book series, Karl Keating, Catholic Answers, etc. were making.  That is what motivated me to find Dr. White's materials, web-site, and debates (around 1996), and James Swan's work here, and other good answers by William Webster, David King, Eric Svensen, R. C. Sproul, John Bugay, and Jason Engwer, Steve Hays, and others at Triablogue, Keith Matthison, Turretinfan's blog, and Michael Kruger's material on the canon.

We are what we eat. I'm familiar with all the anti-Catholics listed, excepting Kruger, and have refuted them all, again and again (see them listed under their names on my Anti-Catholicism page). Webster and King, especially, have shown times without number that they don't have the slightest clue what they're talking about, when it comes to Church history (i.e., in the conclusions they draw). Both men are completely out to sea when attempting to discuss Cardinal Newman and/or development of doctrine. One can either understand a subject matter or not. They do not. To see why I believe that (mine is not mere empty rhetoric), read the papers I have written about them. I've done the homework. I've shown how they distort facts and engage in sophistry and historical obfuscation and obscurantism. Even their own credentialed Protestant historians don't agree with them.

Oddly enough,. Ken gravitates to the very worst historical argumentation from anti-Catholics with an axe to grind. We are what we eat. If this garbage is all that Ken reads on the topic (from his "side"), then he will come out regurgitating the same fallacious arguments. I know from personal experience with Ken, that he keeps repeating the same thing over and over, like a parrot, no matter how many times he is refuted. This is standard anti-Catholic methodology. If roundly refuted, simply assert the same thing again as if nothing had happened. It may impress, say, a six-year-old, but not a conscious, sane adult who actually understands what true dialogue and the burden of proof require.

Since that time, there has emerged other Evangelicals converting to Rome, such as the Called to Communion web-site and other folks like Jason Stellman and Frank Beckwith, also making the same basic arguments. 

And we see the same desperate, pathetic, utterly fallacious, false "arguments" attempted by anti-Catholics against them.

I have waited a long time to publish this, because I never wanted to hurt Rod personally, and, the biggest reason, is that I also felt I really needed to study the issues deeper.   I hope anyone and everyone who comments will keep the discussion to the issues and not go ad hominem or bombast on either side.

I think Ken is a nice guy. He's probably the nicest anti-Catholic person I've met, and truly does refrain from ad hominem attacks. He writes mainly on a site whose owner is on record, saying (with a straight face!) that I am a psychotic. Steve Hays has said that I am of "evil character" and Eric Svendsen (since, thankfully departed from the Internet) made a satirical spoof claiming that I am in league with Holocaust deniers. "Dr." (???) White has made every insult under the sun about me.

But despite all, hanging around all these slanderers, whom he trusts as legitimate sources for serious theological and historical argument, Ken maintains his gentlemanly demeanor. I greatly appreciate and commend that. It's his arguments that I think are atrocious and terrible. It's not "personal" on my end anymore than it is personal from Ken against Rod (I believe him when he states that).  But bearing false witness against fellow Christians (in the doctrinal sense) is a serious offense. That is what we object to.

I will delete any comment I think is mocking or bombast or ad hominem or off topic.  Another reason I have not done this before is that I personally think some on my side are too hot-headed and mocking; and that is not a good witness for Christ. 

Very true, and I commend Ken for saying it. Believe me, I know, having been on the receiving end of such mockery online for 18 years.

As an additional note, I really appreciate what Dr. White has been saying recently on recent Dividing Line programs;  to some other Reformed folks who go overboard against Arminians and Charismatics and those that are not balanced when dealing with Muslims and Islam.  We need to both stand for the truth and be godly in our behavior.  Let that be a warning. 

And let it become a trend. But, sadly, I see no sign whatever of that happening. Ken would have to rebuke the folks above publicly and by name, if he thinks it would ever stop or even lessen. But if he did that, he'd quickly become a pariah in his own community and would be outcast. Anti-Catholics don't police themselves. Ken makes these general condemnations of insults, which is good, but he won't rebuke specific examples of it by the big shots of anti-Catholicism. So nothing really changes. Glad to see "Dr." [???] White softening a bit about Arminians. Back in 1995, in our postal debate, he claimed that I was never truly a Protestant because I wasn't a Calvinist.

Please pray for Rod Bennett.  If and when Rod sees this, I hope he will see my efforts are focused on doctrines and principles and issues, historical facts, and not ad hominem attacks.

I think he would see that. I see it. But the arguments are absolutely pathetic and weak. That's what I assert, and Rod would agree, no doubt.

Except for baptismal regeneration, none of the dogmas or doctrines that Rome claims were there, were actually there, in the same way that Rome promotes them today.

"In the same way" refers to development of doctrine, which is a huge discussion, and a topic that anti-Catholics to a person misunderstand or don't understand at all. I have the experience in debate with them to make this claim, believe me.

(Baptismal regeneration is the one belief in the early church that seems to be there; but without the ex opere operato RC take on it; but, even then, I sincerely believe that the early comments and interpretions on John 3:5 and Titus 3:5, and related passages, etc. were wrong on that issue.  It was a wrong interpretation of the Biblical texts.)

If Ken can see this fact, then it is within the realm of possibility that he can come to see that a host of other Catholic doctrines were also present in the fathers. A ray of hope . . .

Just because the early church used the words "catholic" or "eucharist" or "tradition" or "bishop", etc. does not mean what Rome claims they mean.  

I will see how he argues these things specifically, in Part III. It's easy to assert things; much more difficult to demonstrate them.

* * * * *

Friday, April 25, 2014

Reply to Ken Temple's Extensive (Anti-Catholic) "Review" of Rod Bennett's Book, "Four Witnesses": Part I: The Amazon Review

By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (4-25-14)

Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words, by Rod Bennett, was published by Ignatius Press (San Francisco) in 2002. It's an introduction to four early Church fathers: St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin Martyr, and St. Irenaeus of Lyons.

Ken Temple is a Baptist pastor and missionary to Muslims, who used to be more ecumenical, and in recent years, unfortunately, decided to become anti-Catholic (meaning that he thinks the Catholic system of theology is at bottom, sub-Christian and that one can't be saved, who believes all of it).  He used to be close friends with Rod Bennett, who is a convert to the Catholic Church. This should be known, as it may perhaps account for some of the zeal, vehemence, and vitriol of his review. I was thankfully spared such critical treatment from my Protestant friends after I converted (in my case it's almost always total strangers who are the most unreasonable and insulting). But it must be a very unpleasant thing.

I consider Rod a good friend (full disclosure), and part of my motivation is to see that he is defended from ludicrous and groundless charges, and that the Catholic Church is also vindicated against such patent, relentless absurdities as we find in Ken's three-part treatment. That's plenty enough motivation for me to suspend temporarily my policy of not debating anti-Catholics (in place since 2007). This is only the third or fourth time that I have made an exception to my rule, and it is on behalf of a friend, for whom I have a great deal of personal and professional respect.

Ken's initial review appeared on Amazon (1-20-14). He then expanded his treatment with a lengthy tome (1-22-14) on the anti-Catholic Boors All website, where he is an active contributor.  This was followed by a Part II (2-1-14), making it three parts altogether.  I shall reply to it, point-by-point (excepting a few instances where Ken agrees with the book), as is my usual custom in debate. My opponents in debate may (and often do) choose to ignore many things; I ignore nothing in dispute, don't shy away from anything. I may also reply to some of the comments in the discussions underneath the two papers at Boors All. Ken's words will be in blue throughout.

* * * * *

because of the negative aspects that lead people astray from Biblical truth, I give it a "2 star".

I hope to show, of course, that this is wrong, and that it is Ken who is straying from biblical truth, not Catholics.

The book is a Roman Catholic apologetic and biased popular introduction to these four men in early church (adding others in also to expand the RC idea that the whole early church agreed with Roman Catholic centuries later doctrines and dogmas).

I can assure everyone, from years of personal experience observing and debating with Protestants concerning the Church fathers, that there is plenty of bias to go around. I've seen Ken argue about these things, too, and he -- along with the secondary anti-Catholic sources he cites -- certainly has a strong bias, that (I will contend) stretches the "patristic facts" (as far as we can ascertain them) beyond the breaking point.

he also leaves out some key parts of Clement (page 87, see below), and especially Irenaeus that actually go against his stated purpose. (to let the early church speak for itself)

Well, that remains to be seen. Anti-Catholic patristic analysis is nothing if not super-selective prooftexting, with other relevant or contradictory (to their purpose) passages being utterly ignored, as if they didn't exist. This is its leading trait, that I've observed every time I refute it. It's become the usual modus operandi, a given, when anti-Catholics try to futilely mold early history into an argument for their side. The results are always humorous and pathetic, once readers learn the relevant facts that had been ignored (provided by the Catholic debater). Stay tuned! It's gonna happen again here; I guarantee it.

He skewed Cyprian of Carthage (died, being beheaded, around 258 AD) by leaving out important aspects of his life and writings, that pertain to the whole Roman Catholic vs. Protestantism debate.

Again, we'll see what Ken comes up with and if it is any evidence against Catholicism.

However his real purpose seems to be - to show that Protestantism is not historical, which is subtle. His main purpose seems to be to show that Sola Scriptura and Protestantism is wrong, especially when we read the afterward and the appendix of all the Roman Catholic distinctive doctrines that are the main issues that Protestants have against the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

I'm sure that's central to the book (or at least its premises), which is historical argumentation. Protestants and Catholics both claim the fathers for themselves, so it's a battle as to who can more accurately claim them. This is established by the abundance of historical facts / writings that can be brought to bear.

The intro is skewed in a few places toward the RC side of things, as is the Afterward and the Appendix; - the last 2 sections of the book, Afterward, and on "Catholic Teaching in the Early Church" and "Catholic Teaching Today" are very skewed, in that they are trying to show that the doctrines and dogmas of the RCC that Protestants dis-agree with were there from the beginning of church history. They were not.

Well, yes they were, but in more primitive form. All doctrines develop. The classic one that we all agree on is the Trinity, which developed in all its aspects for over 600 years.

The biggest problem is that he leaves out key elements of the quotes from Clement, which would show that Clement treated presbyterois (elders) and episcopais (overseers/bishops) as one church office/same person - as in Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4; 1 Timothy chapter 3.

Here's the first actual argument, rather than merely bald assertion. It is true that in the early Church and the New Testament, the offices were much more "fluent" and overlapping than they are now (I noted this in my first book, completed in 1996; mentioning three of the passages Ken brings up above). We see this clearly in the essentially synonymous use of the different terms in Titus 1:5-7. What is not true, however, is that the Bible teaches no distinctions in these offices at all. It certainly does.

St. Peter himself functions as a "super elder" or "super bishop". He casually assumes this overarching authority in, e.g., his first Epistle. He is exhorting the elders, as if he is higher in authority than they are: "Tend the flock of God that is your charge . . ." (1 Pet 5:2; RSV, as throughout). The letter reads as if it were an early sort of papal encyclical letter. It's not written to one church, but to people from all over the place. His second Epistle is the same: ". . . To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours . . ." (2 Pet 1:1). I wrote in my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (Sophia Institute Press, 2003, p. 252):

St. Paul often referred to himself as a deacon or minister (1 Corinthians 3:5; 4:1; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 6:4; 11:23; Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23-25), yet no one would assert that he was merely a deacon, and nothing else. Likewise, St. Peter calls himself a fellow elder (1 Peter 5:1), whereas Jesus calls him the rock upon which He would build His Church, and gave him alone the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:18-19). These examples are usually indicative of a healthy humility, according to Christ's injunctions of servanthood (Matthew 23:11-12; Mark 10:43-44).

Upon closer observation, clear distinctions of office appear, and the hierarchical nature of Church government in the New Testament emerges. Bishops are always referred to in the singular, while elders are usually mentioned plurally.

Later in the same Appendix, I noted functions of bishops that were different from (going beyond) those of the elders / presbyters (or what we would call priests):

Bishops (episkopos) possess all the powers, duties, and jurisdiction of priests, with the following important additional responsibilities:

1) Jurisdiction over priests and local churches, and the power to ordain priests: Acts 14:22; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6; Titus 1:5. 

2) Special responsibility to defend the Faith: Acts 20:28-31; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Titus 1:9-10; 2 Peter 3:15-16.

3) Power to rebuke false doctrine and to excommunicate: Acts 8:14-24; 1 Corinthians 16:22; 1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:10-11.

4) Power to bestow Confirmation (the receiving of the indwelling Holy Spirit): Acts 8:14-17; 19:5-6.

5) Management of Church finances: 1 Timothy 3:3-4; 1 Peter 5:2.

In the Septuagint, episkopos is used for "overseer" in various senses, for example: officers (Judges 9:28; Isaiah 60:17), supervisors of funds (2 Chronicles 34:12, 17), overseers of priests and Levites (Nehemiah 11:9; 2 Kings 11:18), and of temple and tabernacle functions (Numbers 4:16). God is called episkopos at Job 20:29, referring to His role as Judge, and Christ is an episkopos in 1 Peter 2:25 (RSV: "Shepherd and Guardian of your souls").

The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29) bears witness to a definite hierarchical, episcopal structure of government in the early Church. St. Peter, the chief elder (the office of pope) of the entire Church (1 Peter 5:1; cf. John 21:15-17), presided and issued the authoritative pronouncement (15:7-11). Then James, bishop of Jerusalem (kind of like the host-mayor of a conference) gives a concurring (Acts 15:14), concluding statement (15:13-29). That James was the sole, "monarchical" bishop of Jerusalem is fairly apparent from Scripture (Acts 12:17; 15:13, 19; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:12). This fact is also attested by the first Christian historian, Eusebius (History of the Church, 7:19). (pp. 254-255).

Since Clement, along with the Didache are the earliest writings outside of the NT and they are compatible with a two office local church government (elders/overseers who do the work of shepherd/pastors and deacons); and all scholars of church history agree, and Rod agreed with me when I pointed this out, that it was not until Ignatius around 107-117 AD, who exalted one of the presbyters out from the college of presbyters and made him the mono-episcopate (one bishop over the college of elders. When I pointed this out, Rod eventually agreed with me that he will need to add information in a subsequent edition on that issue. The way Clement is left, he has made it appear that the early church from the beginning had a three office structure, rather than just two.

Ken neglects to see something important here. Clement himself (a bishop of Rome), writes very authoritatively in his letter, to other churches.  So he states, for example:

If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger; . . . (Letter to the Corinthians / 1 Clement, 59)

Max Lackmann, a Lutheran, comments on this letter of St. Clement:

Clement, as the spokesman of the whole People of God . . . admonishes the Church of Corinth in serious, authoritative and brotherly tones to correct the internal abuses of their ecclesiastical community. He censures, exhorts, cautions, entreats . . . The use of the expression send back in the statement: Send back speedily unto us our messengers (1 Clement 65,1), is not merely a special kind of biblical phrase but also a form of Roman imperial command. The Roman judge in a province of the empire sent back a messenger or a packet of documents to the imperial capital or to the court of the emperor (Acts 25:21). Clement of Rome doubtless also knew this administrative terminology of the imperial government and used it effectively.

(In Hans Asmussen, et al, The Unfinished Reformation, translated by Robert J. Olsen, Notre Dame, Indiana: Fides Publishers Association, 1961, 84-85)

Thus, according to this Lutheran (not Catholic) commentator, Clement is already acting very much like a presiding bishop, and even in writing to a completely different city; thus, he acts like the pope that we claim that he indeed was. He's telling folks in Corinth what to do, from Rome. Therefore, Ignatius was not the first one to do that at all; Clement  the bishop of Rome was.

But there are many things that he leaves out, that, if they had been included, would weaken his case against Protestantism.

Well, I hate to say it, but hey, I just showed several things -- didn't I? --  that Ken conveniently omitted in order to put forth his Protestant case . . . 

He is a former Protestant, a Southern Baptist, and evangelical, and by leaving out certain parts of Irenaeus and Clement, at the exact places that balance these men and their writings a little more toward Protestantism, his purpose seems clear.

I'll deal with those as ken proceeds. But again, I guarantee that Ken will do exactly that which he condemns. I will demonstrate it, as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being selective, and no one can include everything in his or her research,

Of course one can't do everything. But it is dishonest to omit crucial evidence that can be brought to bear, when discussing a Church father. Protestants habitually do this, in direct proportion to how anti-Catholic and agenda-driven or polemically motivated they are. In doing so, they are not presenting the "whole truth" (as they say in court cases in the swearing in). A half-truth is as good as a lie. This will be (as I'll prove) Ken's downfall as he tries to make his case.

And certainly, I realize that I would be accused of the same thing, if I wrote an apologetic for Protestantism and the early church and I leave out some parts of Irenaeus and Tertullian that seem to teach Mary as the New Eve (that, according to R. Catholic claims, provide seeds of the later ideas of the intercession of Mary, prayers to Mary, that she is an advocate for us, a co-mediatrix ideas of Mary); or if I leave out other passages of other early church fathers/writers that seem to teach some kind of baptismal regeneration or apostolic succession.

Yes he would!

Some ancient passages are anachronistically interpreted to be something about the Roman Catholic church, the Pope, etc.; but they do not really teach that at the time of the early church, in the Roman Catholic Papal sense that took centuries to develop.

Likewise, the Protestant polemicist of a certain sort (ahem, Ken's sort) will often project or "superimpose" back onto the early Church later Protestant doctrines that would have been completely foreign and utterly unknown to the minds of that period (being inventions of the 16th century).

. . . someone else also the right to come along and show how certain things have been left out, and at just the precise place, so as to seemingly, although innocently, skew the evidence.

Yes! That's what I'll be doing here; already have done so. It's always droningly the same in these discussions of the fathers with anti-Catholic Protestants.

Clement of Rome

In his section on Clement, on page 87, Rod Bennett stops the quote short of confirming that episcopais (overseer or bishop) and presbuteras (elder) are used interchangeabl[y] and teach that they are the same office in the local church. (see I Clement 43:6 - 44:1-4) In 44:3-6, if the quote is allowed to continue, shows that the earliest churches, closest to the written Scriptures, still held to the teaching that elders and overseers were one and the same office in the church, charged with the responsibility of teaching, pastoring, and guarding the flock from false teaching. (Acts 20:17-30, Titus 1:5-7, I Timothy 3, I Peter 5:1-5) All of these passages show that elders and bishops are the same, and that their job is to pastor/ feed/ shepherd the flock, and do the work of "overseeing" (leading).

I've already granted that this is sometimes, even often the case, in the New Testament and in the earliest fathers, but I deny that it is always the case, as already shown from both. A very clear case of "super bishops" occurs in the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29), comprised of "apostles" and "elders" (15:2, 4, 6, 22-23). Now, when this council finished its business and made its decrees, we see St. Paul  and St. Timothy proclaiming it as binding. In order for this to be the case, there had to be an authority overarching the local churches. Thus, the Bible states:

Acts 16:4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.

That isn't just ordinary elders. It's elders who clearly have authority over elders in many other regions. And that is Catholic ecclesiology, not Protestant. The decisions were not optionally received. They were delivered in no uncertain terms "for observance." If someone tries to argue, "well those were apostles, so it was a special case," there are two responses:

1) why would God provide an example of a council in Church governance in Scripture, only to be ignored altogether later, as if it has no modeling significance?

2) It is said of Judas that "His office [episkopos] let another take" (Acts 1:20). That was passed on to Matthias. Thus, an apostle was called a bishop and succeeded by another man, which is apostolic succession: another very Catholic (and alas, biblical) doctrine.

Paul himself has authority over many churches. The counter-argument would be, again, that he was an apostle, so that it is a special, temporary case. Yet, even being an apostle, he is subject to the authority of Peter when he went to visit him early in his ministry, and also the the Jerusalem council, that confirmed or ratified Paul's practice of not circumcising Gentile converts to Christianity and then sent him out to proclaim what the council had decreed. Therefore, Paul was under authority, and we once again see multi-level hierarchy in the Church, right in the New Testament. I fail to see what could be clearer than that. Ken's conclusions are incomplete, ignore large relevant portions of Scripture, and half-truths. I have presented the whole truth of the matter, granting some of what he claims, but introducing equally important themes that he ignored.

Clement agrees with this, with the Scriptures, that elders and bishops are the same,

No he doesn't, because he himself commands elders in other regions and says that if they disobey it is a sin. In Scripture, Paul, Peter, and the Jerusalem council act similarly.

so this is hardly an early church document in which teaches a papacy or Roman Catholicism.

It's precisely such (as is Peter's predominance at the Jerusalem council and precedence in many ways: that I have documented).

Also, in the Irenaeus section, he cuts the quotes and re-arranges them out of order in such a way as to give a false impression.

This appears to be a charge of deliberate deception.

Irenaeus believed in the rule of faith, but how does Irenaeus define the rule of faith?

I'm delighted that Ken asked. Here is how St. Irenaeus defined the rule of faith, according to the prominent Protestant church historian Philip Schaff:

Besides appealing to the Scriptures, the fathers, particularly Irenaeus and Tertullian, refer with equal confidence to the "rule of faith;" that is, the common faith of the church, as orally handed down in the unbroken succession of bishops from Christ and his apostles to their day, and above all as still living in the original apostolic churches, like those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and Rome. Tradition is thus intimately connected with the primitive episcopate. The latter was the vehicle of the former, and both were looked upon as bulwarks against heresy.

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

(History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Chapter XII, section 139, "Catholic Tradition")

Ken goes on to argue:

On page 246, he leaves out part of the quote that shows that Irenaeus is using Scriptural proofs for his arguments against the Gnostics.

On page 247, Rod claims that the Gnostics always appealed to Scripture for their views:

"To what did they appeal when they offered their various insights? To Scripture always . . . though always to Scripture properly understood of course."

Where is the proof of this? I have not found this anywhere in Irenaeus. Rod is making it seem like Protestantism is like Gnosticism. Actually, Irenaeus says just the opposite!
He says that the Gnostics:
a. gather their knowledge from other sources other than the Scriptures. (Against Heresies, 1:8:1)
b. claim that the Jesus gave the apostles a secret, oral tradition. (3:2:1)
c. accuse the Scriptures of being unclear and ambiguous. (3:2:1)

Thus, according to Schaff, Ken has fundamentally distorted Irenaeus' views. He tried to make out that Irenaeus was opposing any extrabiblical tradition, or oral tradition, and by extension, apostolic succession. In fact, according to Schaff's reading, Irenaeus opposed the Gnostics' false heretical traditions not with Scripture only, but with true, apostolic, oral Catholic tradition, pointing to Rome as the orthodox center and guarantor of true Christian doctrine. It's all (true) tradition and church authority.

Schaff even goes so far as to say (shockingly to Protestant ears!): "He might conceive of a Christianity without scripture, but he could not imagine a Christianity without living tradition". That is hardly sola Scriptura, by any stretch of the wildest imagination. So how could Ken get it so wrong? Well, it's that bias we've both been talking about. He saw what he wanted to see in Irenaeus and ignored the rest, and his it from his readers; whereas Schaff, as an honest (still thoroughly Protestant) historian, presents the whole picture and doesn't try to hide things.

Ken pretends that Irenaeus would deny authoritative apostolic tradition (his take of Against Heresies, 1:8:1). This is a joke. And we can show that it is by looking at he next passage he trots out (3:2:1), which Ken tries to summarize as an "anti-tradition" sentiment. It clearly is not. In 3:2:1 Irenaeus refers to the Gnostics being "confuted from the Scriptures" but then in 3:2:2 he positively endorses Christian / Catholic tradition (my bolding and italics):

2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. . . . It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

Once again, then, we see that it is not a "Bible [Protestantism] vs. [evil Catholic] Tradition" scenario. It is, rather, a "bad, false tradition vs. true apostolic tradition scenario": with the Bible (rightly interpreted in light of the passed-down tradition) being the trump card for the Catholic position. It turns out that Ken has engaged in thoroughly distorted interpretation of fundamental aspects of Irenaeus, making him out to be some sort of primitive or proto-Protestant, when he is not at all. His teaching bears little or no resemblance at all to the Protestant rule of faith, sola Scriptura. He's not nearly as concerned with prooftexts from Scripture here as he is with apostolic succession and true tradition.

But these 3 things are what the Roman Catholic church actually does do.

Yes we do; so does (very clearly) Irenaeus.

They have other sources of authority that the Scriptures. Secret oral tradition, historical development of interpretation throughout history, the other councils after the first four ecumenical councils, creeds, and interpretations that grew centuries later, writings of the Popes, and the Apocrapha [sic] books, which are called "Deutero-canonicals", meaning, "secondarily received into the canon as God-breathed."

Yes we do. And the fathers and the Bible agree with us all down the line.

Jerome and Athanasius and Melito of Sardis have enough evidence to show the Apocrapha [sic] books were not inspired or part of the canon in the way that Roman Catholic apologists try to make them out to be.

Is that so? Ken misrepresents (we will assume out of ignorance) St. Athanasius, who accepts several deuterocanonical books as canonical. St. Athanasius is one of the favorites of Protestants (probably second to St. Augustine in that regard). It's true that he did seem to lower the status of the deuterocanonical books somewhat, but not to a sub-biblical level, as noted by my good friend Gary Michuta, in his excellent book, Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger (Port Huron, Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007, 110-112; footnote numbering my own):
Athanasius quotes both Baruch and Susanna right along passages from Isaiah, Psalms, Romans, and Hebrews; he makes no distinction or qualification between them [1]. Wisdom also is used as an authentic portion of sacred Scripture . . .:
But of these and such like inventions of idolatrous madness, Scripture taught us beforehand long ago, when it said, 'The devising of idols, as the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them, the corruption of life . . .' [Ws 14:12] [2]
And later in the same work:
For since they were endeavouring to invest with what Scripture calls the incommunicable name . . . [3]
This reference to the "incommunicable name" comes from Wisdom 14:21 . . .

Athanasius quotes another passage from Wisdom as constituting the teachings of Christ, the Word of God. He undoubtedly uses it to confirm doctrine. [4] In another argument against Arians, he calls both the Protocanonical Proverbs and the Deuterocanonical Wisdom "holy Scripture" . . . [5] . . .

Athanasius also quotes the book of Sirach without distinction or qualification, in the midst of several other scriptural quotations. [6] . . . Athanasius calls the Book of Judith Scripture. [7] Tobit is cited right along with several Protocanonical quotations [8] , and even introduced with the solemn formula "it is written." [9]

Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 1.12.
[2] Against the Heathen, 11.1. Emphasis added.
[3] Against the Heathen, 1, 17.3.
[4] On the Incarnate Word, 4.6; 5.2.
[5] Defense Against Arius, 1, 3.
[6] Life of Anthony, 28 and Apology Against the Arians, 66.
[7] Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 2.35 . . .
[8] Defense of Constantius, 17. Tobit is cited after Matthew and Isaiah.
[9] Defense Against Arius, Part 1, 11.
The great Protestant Bible scholar F. F. Bruce confirms Michuta's analysis (my bracketed comments):

As Athanasius includes Baruch and the 'Letter of Jeremiah' in one book with Jeremiah and Lamentations [in his list of the OT canon], so he probably includes the Greek additions to Daniel in the canonical book of that name, and the additions to Esther in the book of that name which he recommends for reading in church [but doesn't list as a canonical book] . . .

In practice Athanasius appears to have paid little attention to the formal distinction between those books which he listed in the canon and those which were suitable for instruction of new Christians. He was familiar with the text of all, and quoted from them freely, often with the same introductory formula -- 'as it is written', 'as the scripture says', etc.

(The Canon of Scripture, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1988, 79-80; my bracketed comments, based on the larger context of Bruce's analysis)

St. Jerome submitted to the Church with regard to the canon. That's something a guy like, say, Luther, would never do. He would go his own way. But because St. Jerome believed in Church authority (not sola Scriptura), he submitted. Nor was St. Jerome consistent. His view (already isolated and against that of unbroken tradition) had several anomalies (or changes of mind or vacillations?), of such a nature that the would shock many a Protestant who rely on him as a "champion" in opposing the Deuterocanon. Gary Michuta enumerates several of these curious inconsistencies:
He . . . flatly denies that Tobit is part of the canon, [1] although elsewhere he cites it without qualification! [2] . . . Jerome adopts the popular convention in his Letter to Oceanus by quoting Baruch as a voice made by "the trumpets of the prophets." [3] Sirach is both rejected and quoted as Scripture, [4] although it is formally quoted [5] and occasionally used without qualification. [6] Wisdom is also occasionally formally quoted. [7] Jerome even attributes the passages from Wisdom to the Holy Spirit. [8] Maccabees is used without distinction. [9] Jerome at times alludes to the Deuterocanonical sections of Daniel in his letters. [10] Deuterocanonical passages from Esther are likewise quoted. [11] . . . he lists Judith as one of the virtuous women of sacred Scripture . . . [12].

[1] Prologue to John.
[2] Commentary in Eccles. 8.
[3] Letter 77:4.
[4] Commentary on Isaiah, Book 2, 3:12; Letters 77:6: 108:22; 118:1; 148:2,16,18.
[5] Commentary on Jeremiah, Book 4, 21:14; Commentary on Ezekiel, Book 6, 18:6; and Letter 64:5.
[6] Commentary on Isaiah, Book 8, 24:4; Commentary on Ezekiel, Book 6, 18:6; Letter 57.1 To Pammachius; and Letter 125.19, To Rusticus.
[7] Commentary on Isaiah, Book 1, 1:24; Commentary on Zechariah, Book 3, 14:9; and Commentary on Malachi, 3:7 ff.
[8] Commentary on Galatians, Book 1, 3:2 . . . and Breviarium in Psalmos, Ps 9.
[9] Against Pelagians, Book 2:30; Letter 7, To Chromatius, Jovinus and Eusebius.
[10] Letter 3, 1 To Rufinus the Monk; Letter 22,9-10, To Eustochium; Letter 1, 9 to Innocent.
[11] Letter 48, To Pammachius, 14.
[12] Letter 65,1.

(Michuta, ibid., 149-150; again, my own footnote numbering)
Certainly these guys do not offer "slam dunk data" in favor of a "Protestant" interpretation. Ken brings up Melito of Sardis also. But his canon list omits Lamentations and Esther, and includes the book of Wisdom. There is a good reason that Ken doesn't bring up someone like St. Augustine, in reference to the canon issue. He knows that that great father and dozens of others do not agree with him, so he trots out three, and even with those it is by no means all in the Protestant's favor. Pick and choose, and selectively even with the ones chosen: conveniently omitting all anomalous facts.

Roman Catholics say the Scriptures are unclear, whereas Protestantism says that the Scriptures are clear to those who are born again by God's Spirit and are willing to honestly look at them and do proper exegesis. ("My sheep hear My voice . . . " John 10:27-30)

We don't say that the Bible is unclear per se or as a general trait, but we say that it is complex, nuanced, and that one needs to study it carefully in order to understand, in conjunction with the tradition that was passed-down from the beginning. The heretic disregards that tradition (just as Ken did with the deuterocanon, citing three ambiguous "witnesses" for his side and ignoring all the others). The heretic, as a result, eisegetes and reads into Scripture what he wants to see and not what is really there.

There are plenty of biblical indications that Scripture is not crystal-clear at all times, provided one is open to it. In my 2012 book. 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura (Catholic Answers), I had  14 distinct arguments from Scripture against perspicuity (clearness). Here is just one of the 14:

51. The Bible Asserts that Its Teachings Have to Be “Opened”

In Luke 24:32, two disciples on the road to Emmaus marveled how Jesus “opened to us the scriptures.” The Greek word for “opened” is dianoigo (Strong’s word #1272). According to Joseph Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, it means “to open by dividing or drawing asunder, to open thoroughly (what had been closed).” This meaning can be seen in other passages where dianoigo appears (Mk 7:34-35, Lk 2:23, 24:31, 45, Acts 16:14, 17:3). 

Here then, Scripture itself appears to be informing us that some parts of it were “closed” and “not plain” until the infallible teaching authority and interpretation of our Lord Jesus opened it up and made it plain. This runs utterly contrary to the Protestant notion of perspicuity of Scripture and its more or less ubiquitous self-interpreting nature.

This is not to say that all things are equally clear; (granted some secondary and minor things are unclear), but only to say that the main things necessary for salvation are clear. This is called the Protestant doctrine of the "perspicuity of Scripture", which the Roman Catholic denies.

Yes we do, because it is inherent. Baptism is very important in Christianity, and to salvation, according to the Bible. Yet Protestants cannot agree on it at all, and have five distinct major camps on this score.  Ken himself, being a Baptist, would have been drowned (capital punishment) as an insufferably heretical seditionist by both Luther and Calvin, whereas I would have been allowed to practice my Catholicism (banished at worst). And that is his fellow Protestants. That happened because Protestants couldn't (still can't) figure out the truth of baptism by the supposedly always "clear" Scripture alone.

But with the help of history and tradition (that Luther himself followed and even appealed to), it's quite clear: baptism regenerates, and is to be given to infants. Tradition provides the authoritative answer as to what Scripture teaches. Without it, we get five different views and Protestants drowning each other as rank heretics. Ken, in the early Protestant setting that he so champions and loves, would have been drowned, ending up as food for the fish in Lake Geneva or the Elbe River, as a result of this Protestant chaos and inability to arrive at unified doctrinal truth.

Knowledgeable Evangelical Protestants do not hate the word, "tradition", nor "Eucharist", nor "catholic". Properly understood, there is no problem with these words as originally meant. When reading the early church fathers, those words come up a lot; but that does not mean that the early church was Roman Catholic.

Naw; it just so happens that we are finding at every turn, with every example, that it indeed was quite strikingly Catholic. After seeing dozens, scores of such examples, it is difficult to resist the obvious conclusion, and many Protestants, such as Rod and myself, must conclude that they had been given a bill of goods, and that Catholicism really was there from the beginning (with development of doctrine); hence, is worthy of any Christian's allegiance today, as the fullness of apostolic Christianity.

What is "the tradition"?
The tradition that Irenaeus is talking about, is the right Biblical tradition, he defines it, in context (belief in One God, who created all things, Jesus as Son of God, the same God in OT as NT, against Gnosticism, etc.) (See, Against Heresies, 1:10:1 and 1:10:2; 3:4:2)

Okay, if Ken insists, we'll play this game some more with him. It won't end up as a net gain for his side, as in all the other examples above. One has to virtually enter the theater of the absurd (as with St. Augustine) to even have to deal seriously with a claim that Irenaeus held to sola Scriptura. Many dozens of passages can easily be found countering such a claim. Here are some of the clearest and most indisputable:

It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. (Against Heresies, 3, 3, 1; ANF, Vol. I)

Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. (Against Heresies, 3, 3, 2; ANF, Vol. I)

In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth. (Against Heresies, 3, 3, 3; ANF, Vol. I)

Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches? (Against Heresies, 3, 4, 1; ANF, Vol. I)

. . . carefully preserving the ancient tradition . . . by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established. (Against Heresies, 3, 4, 2; ANF, Vol. I)

[W]e refute them out of these Scriptures, and shut them up to a belief in the advent of the Son of God. But our faith is stedfast, unfeigned, and the only true one, having clear proof from these Scriptures, which were interpreted in the way I have related; and the preaching of the Church is without interpolation. For the apostles, since they are of more ancient date than all these [heretics], agree with this aforesaid translation; and the translation harmonizes with the tradition of the apostles. (Against Heresies, 3, 21, 3; ANF, Vol. I)

For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is truth. (Against Heresies, 3, 24, 1; ANF, Vol. I) 
True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor [suffering] curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; . . . (Against Heresies, 4, 33, 8; ANF, Vol. I.)

The proofs here are endless, and Protestant patristic scholars like J. N. D. Kelly go on at great length about how this is not sola Scriptura, but a very different rule of faith (Catholic). I won;t even bother to cite Kelly. We've seen more than enough to establish the point.

On page 250, leaves out a key part of Irenaeus that defines what the "faith", the preaching, the tradition is. He quotes 1:10:2 and makes it seem like what Irenaeus is saying is that tradition that the church protects is some thing different from the basic doctrines of the apostles creed, and the Nicean Creed.

Basically, Irenaeus is presenting an Apostles' Creed-sort of basic outline of tradition (since he is pretty early in Church history), but he does allude to very unProtestant things in his writing like the Real Bodily Presence in the Eucharist, Mary as the Second Eve and indirect participant in human redemption, and the elements of tradition and the rule of faith that we have already seen; also strong suggestions of the papacy and primacy of Rome. And of course, he believed in baptismal regeneration, as all the fathers did.

The way he treated Cyprian (bishop of Carthage, lived around 200-258 AD) was very problematic (pages 272-273, as part of Irenaeus), leaving out key aspects and historical information. While Cyprian operated on the mono-espiscopate principle, which started with Ignatius; he did not agree with any kind of "universal bishop over all other bishops", that Rod skews it toward. The chair of Peter, the faith of Peter, only meant the doctrinal content of Matthew 16, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. It did not mean any kind of "ex cathedra Papal sense" of the 1870 dogma. Cyprian, Firmillian and 85 other bishops from all over the Christian empire in the 7th Council of Carthage wrote; "no one has the right to claim he is bishop over all the other bishops" - the claim that Stephen, bishop of Rome, made. This was an arrogant claim, and those 86 bishops rightly rebuked Stephen. There is no such office as "Pope" in the early centuries of Christianity. Even Gregory, bishop of Rome in 601 AD argued against the concept in his disagreement with John of Constantinople.

I agree that St. Cyprian had some "anti-papal" elements in his thinking (as do many fathers in the east). I strongly disagree that there was no pope at all in the earliest centuries of Christianity. Thats a much more ambitious (and absurd) claim and is a gigantic discussion in itself. Fortunately, I have a paper that has a huge section on the papacy as taught in the fathers and in the early Church (final section). Nor does Pope St. Gregory the Great disagree with the papacy, as Ken ridiculously claims, as I have documented. Pope St. Leo the Great also very strongly asserted papal supremacy 150 years earlier. Many more historical evidences can be found in various paper on my Papacy website.

In summary,  it remains the case that Ken cannot show us even one Church father who would qualify as a teacher in his own Baptist congregation. They would all fail the "admission / qualifications" test. They would flunk the courses in a Baptist seminary. He can't find a single straight up "evangelical Protestant" in the whole lot -- who "gets" what he thinks is so utterly obvious in theology and in the Bible -- , none who don't present any  "embarrassing" or "Catholic-sounding" passages in their works. Surely this is most telling against his position. 

Anti-Catholic polemicists like Ken always point to "evangelical-sounding" passages in what were in reality thoroughgoing  Catholic writers and thinkers, but when push comes to shove they cannot produce one completely "sound" teacher (according to their Protestant perspective) in the whole bunch of Church fathers.  They desperately search the brilliant writings of these men (or, more often, utilize the same old passages that they inherit from polemical works of the past) in order to find something -- anything -- that appears on the surface to sound "Protestant" and can be used as a prooftext in the usual half-truth, hyper-selective manner that has become the anti-Catholic polemicist's stock-in-trade.

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"Dr. Dave" Cures Wife Once Again (Calcium Deposits in the Shoulder and Extreme Pain)

By Dave Armstrong (4-25-14)

My wife Judy and I are very much into a health food diet (sugar-free, semi-vegetarian, and for her, also gluten-free and dairy -free), holistic health, herbalism, homeopathy, a full regimen of daily vitamins and minerals, preventive and alternative medicine, and chiropractic. We follow these practices because they work. I had hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in the early 80s and vastly improved my health by going sugar-free (i.e., table sugar): as did Judy shortly after we got married in 1984.

Judy has had a variety of ailments through the years (so many I have even forgotten some of them), and almost always I have managed to either cure them or greatly alleviate symptoms through natural supplements. These include fairly serious depression (originally post-partum), overall menopausal symptoms, pleurisy, hot flashes, and fibromyalgia.

The latest thing was an extremely painful shoulder, apparently brought on (longterm) by a fall on the ice some weeks back, and (immediate cause) lifting a good number of books (that I obtained for free) last week. Yes, I told her not to do it three or four times (for those of you about to blame me!). The next day she woke up and couldn't move her left arm at all, and had extreme pain in the shoulder: so bad that she thought it was dislocated.

So she went to the chiropractor, who "put it back into place" (thinking it was dislocated). But it seemed to make it worse. She took codeine (which we had around the house from one of my son's injuries), which only helped slightly, and gave her nausea. She took Tylenol (aceteminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen), and they didn't take the pain away at all. Ice packs and hot baths offered only minimal relief. We then went to the doctor, hoping at first to get a shot of cortisone or something (which she never got). The doctor recommended an x-ray. This revealed a calcium deposit of 1 cm in the rotator cuff area of her shoulder (pretty much like the photo above). It's called calcified shoulder or calcified tendonitis. Thus, the original chiropractic diagnosis of a dislocated shoulder was erroneous.

One we got the definitive diagnosis, I immediately went to work, doing research on natural remedies. Judy was still in constant severe pain and couldn't even lie down in bed at night. She had to sleep on our reclining loveseat. I came up with a regimen of seven natural supplements (mostly herbs and homeopathic). Lo and behold, within hours and certainly by the next morning of the regimen starting, Judy experienced dramatic improvement. She could start to move her arm again. Last night, after a few days' treatment, she reported that she had no ongoing pain at all; only if she attempted to move her shoulder much. The improvement is gradual but steady and getting better all the time

Once again, then, conventional medicine could offer no quick solution and no help at all other than a diagnostic x-ray. Had we pursued that route, it would be weeks of physical therapy with an orthopedist (most of which can be done at home). Even chiropractic (which usually works for us) failed. But holistic medicine, from an hour or so of Internet research, brought about dramatic improvement. Yet to this day, many doctors and conventional medicine as a whole remain significantly hostile to these methods, because they are alternative and not controlled by the health industry.

It's slowly changing, with some doctors combining conventional and alternative methods, but the hostility is still a major phenomenon. Those of us who find cures and relief don't care. Let the doctors and scientists fight amongst themselves, while we feel better and save lots of money in so doing, also. The proof's in the pudding, I always say. While these methods are put down and dismissed as quack medicine or based on no scientific studies and "anecdotal" only, or "snake oil salesman" stuff, we feel better and are cured of our ills. We don't care (in terms of getting cured)  how it works, or what the scientific explanation is (though the more of that the merrier). All we care about, bottom line, is feeling better.

Here is the regimen I used. Those of you suffering acute joint pain / arthritis / symptoms of gluten intolerance / rheumatism and related problems may benefit from it.We obtained all of these supplements from the local Vitamin Shoppe. It has a large site online to order from if you don't have one near you. It currently has a "buy one, get one 50% off" sale till the end of April: a sale that comes around twice a year. I have linked each supplement below to Wikipedia articles (with one exception), for general information, and to Vitamin Shoppe for purchase of the exact supplement we used.

[all taken with meals unless indicated otherwise]

Bromelain (2000 GDU) [buy] (between meals) 500 mg 3x [3 times a day]
Boswellia serrata [buy] 250 mg 4x

White Willow Bark [buy] 400 mg 3x

Turmeric (95% circumin) [buy] 300 mg 4x

MSM [buy] 500 mg 2x

Arnica Montana 6c or 6x [buy] [buy] (between meals) 3 4x or 5 3x depending on brand
Rhus Toxicodendron 6c or 6x [buy] [buy] (between meals) 3 4x or 5 3x depending on brand

The only problem we had was headaches. I looked up turmeric and MSM, which I was less familiar with, and discovered that MSM can be accompanied by headaches, especially when introducing it. It's thought that they are a result of the body detoxifying (which is a good thing). But we reduced the dosage by half (what it is, above) and her headaches went away. If you experience a seeming side effect, simply search the supplements with the side effect, and if they are widespread, several pages will be found, to confirm the problem. This is where the Internet becomes an amazing font of knowledge, allowing almost "doctor-like" analyses and diagnoses and treatments: at least in terms of these kinds of supplements. It's an amazing synthesis of ancient, time-honored healing methods and modern searching / Internet capability.

I found most of the cures we have used simply by typing in a symptom into Google and searching with "natural remedies" or "holistic medicine" or "alternative medicine" etc. This will yield lots of information, and then one can reach a conclusion from cumulative evidence.

Once again, the "proof's in the pudding." With herbalism and homeopathy, the idea is trial and error: you do what works, and if it doesn't, you modify until it does work; or if it fails, you begin again in a different direction. If you have side effects, search those with the suspected cause till you can isolate it. But combinations of remedies means that several of them probably are working, and working together for a cure.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brief Exchange with an Atheist on the Definitions of "Deism" and "Atheism" and Whether Mark Twain was an Atheist

By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (4-24-14)

This occurred on my blog. One "Robotczar" (safely anonymous, with no further access information known) commented on my 2006 paper,  "Were Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain Atheists?" His words will be in blue.

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Your comment is remarkable in its utter non-interaction with anything in the post. But that is a fashionable thing to do in these days of lack of rationality and rational dialogue.

A couple of points: First, the religious try hard to make atheism have a very precise definition--one that has atheism apply to the smallest number of people. 

Really? I didn't notice that. Random House Dictionary ( defines atheism as:

1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

That's not rocket science. The etymology is derived from the Greek atheos which means literally, "without god". The more recent origin was c. 1580s, from the French athéisme.

They have invented terms like "deist" to not count people as atheists, even though they don't believe in any sort of god that any real religion does.

You're just filled with interesting "factoids" (??) today. Random House Dictionary defines "deism" as:

1. belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism ).

2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.

You're the one who has smuggled in the notion that deism is actually atheism because it involves no (supernatural) religion. But that is a non sequitur, since belief in God is not necessarily, inherently religious in the first place. Hence, many philosophers have believed in a bare theism, while not adhering to any particular religious view.

In other words, theism and deism are larger categories, that transcend religion alone. Deism is precisely a sort of "theism stripped of supernatural / religious elements." But it doesn't cease to be belief in God altogether, merely because it isn't "religious."

I have not noticed what you claim. If we look, for example, at what an actual deist states concerning the belief-system's origins, we see something very different from your scenario. See: "A Brief History of Deism" by Chuck Clendenen.

In fact, everyone is an atheist because they all don't believe in somebody else's god.

Again, that is your peculiar slant; and neither general nor dictionary usage. Atheism is a denial that God exists, not a denial of "somebody else's god."

But you show yourself at least an interesting thinker, if not particularly accurate to reality.

Second, even in these semi-enlighted [sic] times, a majority of the mindless despise atheists.

One would expect that. It's also true at the same time that many atheists utterly despise Christians and other religious believers as dolts and ignoramuses, as even a cursory glance at atheist sites online will quickly prove. Bottom line: folks of all stripes tend to be prejudiced against those who are different than they are.

Speaking for myself, I have infinitely more respect on many levels, for thoughtful, amiable atheists I have interacted with than for fundamentalist anti-Catholic Protestants: even though the latter are Christians.

Admitting to being one will guarantee you won't get elected, many people won't buy your stuff, and they won't let you marry their daughter or son.

There has been a lot of prejudice, yes, although if your definitions hold (which I deny), Thomas Jefferson was close to deist in belief, and he was the President over 200 years ago. Others are scarcely "religious" according to many of us who are that, including the current office-holder.

It's almost if not just as likely that an overtly religious person will also be scorned from high office. Thus, e.g., Rick Santorum was scorned and slandered in the 2012 primaries as a religious fanatic.

So, there is a big incentive to prevaricate, or avoid the topic. In the past this situation was even worse. Imagine what would happen to his sales if it got out that Twain was an atheist, which he certainly was.

Again, you merely assert things, which is not rational argument. My article gave actual quotes from Twain. But you simply ignore them and make your bald claims. This is most unimpressive.

"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” -- Mark Twain.

This is not incompatible with Christianity, since we were not in existence before we were born, either; hence, proves nothing with regard to your claim. It does, I grant, imply that after death he will be nonexistent as well, but it's not absolutely certain from this one quote; therefore, more data is needed to make a final determination of Twain's beliefs regarding God or lack thereof. My article provided some of that, but you ignored it, which is almost par for the course today, since dialogue seems to be almost an unknown (if not despised) art anymore..

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